Epictetus (A.D. 55 - circa 135), Greek Stoic philosopher born probably at Hierapolis, Phrygia, lived in Rome, exiled and died at Nicopolis in northwestern Greece.
Epictetus spent his youth as a slave. His real name is not known - the word epiktetos in Greek means "acquired." He was eventually freed and lived a relatively hard life in ill health in Rome. He was exiled along with other philosophers by the emperor Domition in A.D. 90.
Epictetus' main work is the Enchirideon --or "Handbook", while his longer works are known as The Discourses. It is not believed that Epictetus wrote these, himself, but that they were penned by his pupil, Arrian. Like the early Stoics, Epictetus focused on ethics and on being 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’.
Epictetus would love the Wikipedia:
- "What is the first business of one who studies philosophy? To part with self-conceit. For it is impossible for any one to begin to learn what he thinks that he already knows." -- Epictetus
External links: Epictetus's writings can be found at the Internet Classics Archive: http://classics.mit.edu/Browse/browse-Epictetus.html