Epictetus (AD 55 – AD 135) was a Greek sage and Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia, and lived in Rome until banishment when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece where he lived the rest of his life. His teachings were noted down and published by his pupil Arrian. Epictetus’ most well-know works are his Discourses and Enchiridion. Philosophy, he taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. Epictetus maintained that the foundation of all philosophy is self-knowledge.
The ancients taught “Know thyself.” Therefore we ought to exercise ourselves in small things and, beginning with them, to proceed to the greater.
What is the first business of one who practices philosophy? To get rid of self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows.
Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.
In contemplating thyself, never include the body which surrounds you.
Poor wretch, you carry about a god within you, and know nothing of it.
If any one tells you that such a person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you, but answer: “He does not know my other faults, else he would not have mentioned only these.”
Remember, when you are at the table, that you are entertaining two guests; your body, and your soul. What you give to your body you will presently lose. But what you give to your soul you will keep forever.