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Epictetus (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.

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 Domitian in 90.

Epictetus' main work is the Enchiridion --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’.


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