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Epictetus (Greek: Ἐπίκτητος; AD 55 – AD 135) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey), 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 in his Discourses. Philosophy, he taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control, but we can accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. Individuals, however, are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power. As part of the universal city that is the universe, human beings have a duty to care for all fellow humans. The person who followed these precepts would achieve happiness and peace of mind.



Epictetus was born c. 55 AD,[1] at Hierapolis, Phrygia.[2] The name given by his parents, if one was given, is not known—the word epiktetos in Greek simply means "acquired." He spent his youth as a slave in Rome to Epaphroditos, a very wealthy freedman and secretary to Nero.[3] Epictetus studied Stoic philosophy under Musonius Rufus,[4] as a slave.[5] It is known that he became crippled, and although Origen tells that his leg was deliberately broken by Epaphroditus,[6] more reliable is the testimony of Simplicius who tells us that he had been lame from childhood.[7]

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