Epictetus

From Academic Kids

Epictetus (c.55–c.135) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was probably born at Hierapolis, Phrygia, lived most of his life in Rome until his exile to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece, where he died. The name given by his parents, if one was given, is not known - the word epiktetos in Greek simply means "acquired."

Epictetus spent his youth as a slave in Rome to Epaphroditos, a very wealthy freedman of Nero. Even as a slave, Epictetus used his time productively, studying Stoic Philosophy under Musonius Rufus. He was eventually freed and lived a relatively hard life in ill health in Rome. It is known that he became crippled, owing to cruel treatment by his master, Epaphroditus, according to most reports. He was exiled along with other philosophers by the emperor Domitian in 95.

It was Epictetus' exile by Domitian that began what would later come to be the most celebrated part of his life. After his exile, Epictetus traveled to Nicopolis, Greece, where he founded a famed philosophical school. This school was even visited by Hadrian, and its most famous student, Arrian, became a great historian in his own right.

True to Stoic form, Epictetus lived a life of great simplicity, marked by teaching and intellectual pursuits. He is known to have married once, late in life, to help raise a child who would have otherwise been left to die.

Epictetus' main work is The Discourses in four books. A popular digest, entitled the Enchiridion--or "Handbook"--also survives. It is not believed that Epictetus wrote these, himself, but that they were penned by his pupil, Arrian. Epictetus focused on ethics to a greater extent than the early Stoics had. He held that our aim was to be masters of our own lives. The role of the Stoic teacher, according to Epictetus, was to encourage his students to live the philosophic life, whose end was eudaimonia (‘happiness’ or ‘flourishing’), to be secured by living the life of reason, which meant living virtuously and living ‘according to the will of nature’.

References

  • Epictetus, George Long (trans.), Enchiridion, ISBN 0879757035, 1955.
  • Adolf Friedrich Bonhoffer, William O. Stephens, The Ethics of the Stoic Epictetus, ISBN 0820451398, 2000.
  • A. A. Long, Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life, ISBN 0199245568, 2002.
  • The Discourses (The Handbook, Fragments), Everyman Edition, Edited by Christopher Gill, ISBN 0460873121, 2003.
  • Robert Dobbin, Epictetus Discourses: Book 1 (Clarendon Later Ancient Philosophers), Oxford: Clarendon Press, ISBN 0198236646, 1998.

External links

  • Epictetus (http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/e/epictetu.htm) entry at The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Epictetus' writings at the Internet Classics Archive (http://classics.mit.edu/Browse/browse-Epictetus.html)
  • Books of the Discourses (http://www.philosophyarchive.com/text.php?era=100-199&author=Epictetus&text=Discourses)
  • Epictetus quotations (http://quote.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epictetus) (Wikiquote)de:Epiktet

eo:Epikteto es:Epicteto fr:Épictète pt:Epiteto nl:Epictetus fi:Epiktetos sv:Epiktetos

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