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Enchiridion by Epictetus

The Enchiridion, or "Handbook," is a summary of the teachings of the slave-turned-Stoic philosopher Epicetus (first century A.D.) posthumously compiled and published by one of Epictetus' students. Though brief, this work is universally considered to be the living spirit of Stoicism, wherein the principles of right conduct and true thinking are outlined. The Enchiridion has played a significant role in the development of modern philosophy and intellectual attitudes, showing secular thinkers how sound reasoning can free them from the shackles of absolutism and emotionalism and, in so doing, live a more tranquil and productive life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780672601705
Publisher: Macmillan Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/28/1955
Series: Great Books in Philosophy
Edition description: New Edition

About the Author

EPICTETUS was born the son of a slave woman about 55 CE in the city of Hieropolis in Phrygia. He went to Rome as the slave of the freedman Epaphroditus, who held the distinguished post of secretary to the emperor Nero and later to Domitian. Epaphroditus allowed Epictetus to attend the lectures of the Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus, who was impressed by the young slave and trained him to be a Stoic philosopher. After being freed by Epaphroditus, Epictetus began to teach philosophy at Rome.

In 89, when the emperor Domitian banished all phi­losophers from the capital, Epictetus traveled to Nicopolis in Epirus (northwest Greece). There he opened his own school, giving lectures which attracted many students and followers, including the historian Arrian, who collected his master's lectures, probably in eight books, of which four survive. Arrian later compiled a summary of Epictetus' philosophy in the famed Enchiridion, or Handbook.

The Enchiridion is a brief introductory manual on how to transform Stoicism into a way of life. In it are covered rules for proper social and sexual conduct, and for true thinking. Part of right thinking entails knowing how to distinguish that which we can change from that which we cannot. Our lives are subject to many intractables: the vagaries of health and fortune, and, finally, death. But we retain the power to control our thinking, passions, and decisions. In this way we can come to terms with our environment, and thus free ourselves from a world of chance and dependencies.

Epictetus was one of the most important Stoic phi­losophers of the first century CE, along with Seneca, Lucius Annaeus Cornutus, and Musonius Rufus. Stoicism's em­phasis on reason, austerity, and self-control continued to appeal to sober-minded individuals during the next century (the emperor Marcus Aurelius being Stoicism's most dis­tinguished late exponent), before fading as a school in the third century CE. Nevertheless, the works of Epictetus as compiled by Arrian have played an influential role in the development of the modern philosophies of rationalism and secularism.

Epictetus died about 135 CE.

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Enchiridion 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Epictetus's teachings helped prepare the western world to achieve the secular foundations necessary for the rule of reason as law. Religious rule would wane significantly, allowing the rise of liberty of thought and wide participation in political life. While retaining the mystery of the 'logos' of the universe, particularly given the relatively recent rise of uncertainty in quantum mechanics, the simple Stoic elements promote the acceptance of reality within political systems and an imperfect nature with a minumum of violent conflict. Epictetus's mitigated skepticism laid groundwork for later thinkers like Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and David Hume, the true fathers of modern constitutional systems based primarily on reason and the rule of law. Enchiridion is a brilliant work to most readers, as all humans are at least in part Stoic.
Anonymous 10 months ago
One of the shortest books I've ever read and yet one of the most insightful.
Dustfinger009 More than 1 year ago
A classic text of great examples of how to live according to the Stoic philosophy! Once a slave of ancient Rome, Epictetus became one of the greatest Stoic philosophers. His works influenced many thinkers, including Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius known for his Meditations. Within the Enchiridrion, one finds several tenants on how to live life and recognize what is and is not within our control. If one is looking for a short yet interesting look into philosophy, specifically Roman stoicism, or simply is looking for a new way of thinking and living, this book is an excellent introductory work to read and ponder about! If this sparks one's interest, one may consider further reading of longer and deeper works such as Epictetus's Discourses or Marcus Aurelius's Meditations
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JWL More than 1 year ago
I found this book very insightful. It has a lot of truth, which remains relevant in today's standards as it did in Epictetus's time. This book is mostly composed of fragments, however, the fragments are very compelling and will give the reader a sense of knowledge. What I mean by knowledge is that the fragments are about how to live a good life, how to ignore people who insult us, how to act when we are among friends, how to view justice, what is fair, and many many more. The length of book is only 56 pages, and it will only take you probably a few hours to get through it. Like I said, it's mostly composed of fragments, which are a sentense or two in legnth. Overall, this was a great read and i enjoyed it immensely. A lot of the quotes i will carry with me throughout life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book had a profound sense of easing to my life. I read this book to see how it supplemented his other writings. Basic, simplistic, and powerful. It rises above politics and religion. The Ancient Romans read this book as well as their society collapsed. Here you find great inner peace.