120+ Best Epictetus Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Epictetus was a Greek Stoic philosopher best known for his works The Enchiridion (the handbook) and his Discourses, both foundational works in Stoic philosophy. Profoundly inspirational Epictetus quotes will encourage you to think a little deeper than you usually would and broaden your perspective.

If you’re searching for philosophical quotes that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of quotes by Epicurus, best Friedrich Nietzsche quotes and greatest Immanuel Kant quotes.

Famous Epictetus Quotes

Once you know who you are and to whom you are linked, you will know what to do – Epictetus

If you see anybody wail and complain, call him a slave, though he be clad in purple. – Epictetus

No living being is held by anything so strongly as by its own needs. Whatever therefore appears a hindrance to these, be it brother, or father, or child, or mistress, or friend, is hated, abhorred, execrated. – Epictetus

Every difficulty in life presents us with an opportunity to turn inward and to invoke our own submerged inner resources. The trials we endure can and should introduce us to our strengths. – Epictetus

Living a good life leads to enduring happiness. Goodness in and of itself is the practice AND the reward. – Epictetus

Covetousness like jealousy, when it has taken root, never leaves a person, but with their life. Cowardice is the dread of what will happen. – Epictetus

You can be happy if you know this secret: Some things are within your power to control and some things are not. – Epictetus

When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it. – Epictetus

When we act pugnaciously, and injuriously, and angrily, and rudely, to what level have we degenerated? To the level of the wild beasts. Well, the fact is that some of us are wild beasts of a larger size, while others are little animals, malignant and petty. – Epictetus

In order to please others, we loose our hold on our life’s purpose. – Epictetus

Don’t seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and all will be well with you. – Epictetus

God has entrusted me with myself. – Epictetus

From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do — now. – Epictetus

No great thing is created suddenly. – Epictetus

Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly. – Epictetus

Do not seek to bring things to pass in accordance with your wishes, but wish for them as they are, and you will find them. – Epictetus

It is difficulties that show what men are. For the future, in case of any difficulty, remember that God, like a gymnastic trainer, has pitted you against a rough antagonist. For what end? That you may be an Olympic conqueror; and this cannot be without toil. – Epictetus

If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid with regard to external things. Don’t wish to be thought to know anything; and even if you appear to be somebody important to others, distrust yourself. For, it is difficult to both keep your faculty of choice in a state conformable to nature, and at the same time acquire external things. But while you are careful about the one, you must of necessity neglect the other – Epictetus

Be free from grief not through insensibility like the irrational animals, nor through want of thought like the foolish, but like a man of virtue by having reason as the consolation of grief. – Epictetus

Don’t be concerned who is watching you. The triumphs and merits of others belong to them – as do yours to you. Make the most of what you’ve got. – Epictetus

It is no easy thing for a principle to become a man’s own unless each day he maintains it and works it out in his life. – Epictetus

Don’t regard what anyone says of you, for this, after all, is no concern of yours. – Epictetus

In trying to please other people, we find ourselves misdirected toward what lies outside our sphere of influence. In doing so, we lose our hold on our life’s purpose. – Epictetus

Who are those people by whom you wish to be admired? Are they not these whom you are in the habit of saying that they are mad? What then? Do you wish to be admired by the mad? – Epictetus

Any person capable of angering you becomes your master. – Epictetus

You are a little soul carrying around a corpse. – Epictetus

Let silence be your general rule; or say only what is necessary and in few words. – Epictetus

I have to die. If it is now, well then, I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch, since the hour for lunch has arrived – and dying I will tend to later. – Epictetus

Give yourself fully to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character through excellent actions and determine to pay the price of a worthy goal. The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths. – Epictetus

Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest as it happens. – Epictetus

It doesn’t take much to lose everything, just a little departure from reason – Epictetus

It is our attitude toward events, not events themselves, which we can control. Nothing is by its own nature calamitous — even death is terrible only if we fear it. – Epictetus

Men are disturbed not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen. – Epictetus

No man is free who is not master of himself. – Epictetus

First tell yourself what you want to be, then do what you need to do. – Epictetus

When we name things correctly, we comprehend them correctly, without adding information or judgements that aren’t there. Does someone bathe quickly? Don’t say be bathes poorly, but quickly. Name the situation as it is, don’t filter it through your judgments. Give your assent only to that which is actually true. – Epictetus

I laugh at those who think they can damage me. They do not know who I am, they do not know what I think, they cannot even touch the things which are really mine and with which I live. – Epictetus

Our duties naturally emerge form such fundamental relations as our families, neighborhoods, workplaces, our state or nation. Make it your regular habit to consider your roles-parent, child, neighbor, citizen, leader-and the natural duties that arise from them. Once you know who you are and to whom you are linked, you will know what to do. – Epictetus

When you actively engage in gradually refining yourself, you retreat from your lazy ways of covering yourself or making excuses. Instead of feeling a persistent current of low-level shame, you move forward by using the creative possibilities of this moment, your current situation. – Epictetus

Do not try to seem wise to others. – Epictetus

Freedom isn’t the right or ability to do whatever you please. Freedom comes from understanding the limits of our own power and the inherent limits set in place by nature. By accepting life’s limits and inevitabilities and working with them rather than fighting them, you become truly free. – Epictetus

Anything worth putting off is worth abandoning altogether. – Epictetus

Let death and exile, and all other things which appear terrible be daily before your eyes, but chiefly death, and you win never entertain any abject thought, nor too eagerly covet anything. – Epictetus

If someone speaks badly of you, do not defend yourself against the accusations, but reply; you obviously don’t know about my other vices, otherwise you would have mentioned these as well – Epictetus

Wish that everything should come about just as it does. – Epictetus

A man that seeks truth and loves it must be reckoned precious to any human society. – Epictetus

We can’t control the impressions others form about us, and the effort to do so only debases our character. – Epictetus

Nothing truly stops you. Nothing truly holds you back. For your own will is always within your control. – Epictetus

Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed. Quit evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now. – Epictetus

Be careful whom you associate with. It is human to imitate the habits of those with whom we interact. We inadvertently adopt their interests, their opinions, their values, and their habit of interpreting events. – Epictetus

In prosperity it is very easy to find a friend; but in adversity it is the most difficult of all things. – Epictetus

We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them. – Epictetus

Dare to look up to God and say, Deal with me in the future as Thou wilt; I am of the same mind as Thou art; I am Thine; I refuse nothing that pleases Thee; lead me where Thou wilt; clothe me in any dress Thou choosest. – Epictetus

At every occasion in your life, do not forget to commune with yourself and ask of yourself how you can profit by it. – Epictetus

Seek not the good in external things; seek it in yourselves. – Epictetus

Other people’s views and troubles can be contagious. Don’t sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others. – Epictetus

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. – Epictetus

It is the sign of a dull mind to dwell upon the cares of the body, to prolong exercise, eating and drinking and other bodily functions. These things are best done by the way; all your attention must be given to the mind. – Epictetus

Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants. – Epictetus

Every habit and faculty is preserved and increased by correspondent actions, as the habit of walking, by walking; of running, by running. – Epictetus

To get or not to get what we desire can be equally disappointing. – Epictetus

All religions must be tolerated for every man must get to heaven in his own way. – Epictetus

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will. – Epictetus

What matters most is what sort of person you are becoming. Wise individuals care only about whom they are today and who they can be tomorrow. – Epictetus

You become what you give your attention to…If you yourself don’t choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will, and their motives may not be the highest. – Epictetus

Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it. – Epictetus

No one who is in a state of fear or sorrow or tension is free, but whosoever is delivered from sorrows or fears or anxieties is at the same time delivered from servitude. – Epictetus

Men are not troubled by things themselves, but by their thoughts about them – Epictetus

To a longer and worse life, a shorter and better is by all means to be preferred. – Epictetus

Attach yourself to what is spiritually superior, regardless of what other people think or do. Hold to your true aspirations no matter what is going on around you. – Epictetus

Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible. – Epictetus

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. – Epictetus

No matter where you find yourself, comport yourself as if you were a distinguished person. – Epictetus

Whoever wants to be free, therefore, let him not want or avoid anything that is up to others. Otherwise he will necessarily be a slave. – Epictetus

Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. Once you have determined the spiritual principles you wish to exemplify, abide by these rules as if they were laws, as if it were indeed sinful to compromise them. Don’t mind if others don’t share your convictions. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. – Epictetus

Although we can’t control which roles are assigned to us, it must be our business to act our given role as best we possibly can and to refrain from complaining about it. Wherever you find yourself and in whatever circumstances, give an impeccable performance. – Epictetus

If a person had delivered up your body to some passer-by, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in delivering up your own mind to any reviler, to be disconcerted and confounded? – Epictetus

An ignorant person is inclined to blame others for his own misfortune. To blame oneself is proof of progress. But the wise man never has to blame another or himself. – Epictetus

Truth is a thing immortal and perpetual, and it gives to us a beauty that fades not away in time, nor does it take away the freedom of speech which proceeds from justice; but it gives to us the knowledge of what is just and lawful, separating from them the unjust and refuting them. – Epictetus

Practice yourself, for heaven’s sake, in little things, and thence proceed to greater. – Epictetus

When our friends are present, we ought to treat them well; and when they are absent, to speak of them well. – Epictetus

Ask yourself, how are my thoughts, words and deeds affecting my friends, my spouse, my neighbour, my child, my employer, my subordinates, my fellow citizens? – Epictetus

Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire. – Epictetus

Never depend on the admiration of others for self-satisfaction. It is a fact of life that other people, even people who love you, will not necessarily agree with your ideas, understand you always, or share your enthusiasms. – Epictetus

To live a life of virtue, you have to become consistent, even when it isn’t convenient, comfortable, or easy. – Epictetus

Remember that you ought to behave in life as you would at a banquet. As something is being passed around it comes to you; stretch out your hand, take a portion of it politely. It passes on; do not detain it. Or it has not come to you yet; do not project your desire to meet it but wait until it comes in front of you. So act toward children, so toward a wife, so toward office, so toward wealth. – Epictetus

Freedom and happiness come from understanding – and working with – our limits. Begin at once a program of self-mastery. Stick with your purpose. Do not seek external approval. Do not worry about anything outside of your control. The only things you command are your thoughts and actions. We choose our response. Stop aspiring to be anyone other than your own best self: for that does fall within your control. – Epictetus

What is the first business of one who practices philosophy? To get rid of self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows. – Epictetus

You have been given your own work to do. Get to it right now, do your best at it, and don’t be concerned with who is watching you. Create your own merit. – Epictetus

The people have a right to the truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. – Epictetus

Never say about anything, I have lost it, but only I have given it back. Is your child dead? It has been given back. Is your wife dead? She has been returned. – Epictetus

You bear God within you, poor wretch, and know it not. – Epictetus

When any person treats you ill or speaks ill of you, remember that he does this or says this because he thinks it is his duty. It is not possible, then, for him to follow that which seems right to you, but that which seems right to himself. – Epictetus

Don’t be concerned with other people’s impressions of you. They are dazzled and deluded by appearances. Stick with your purpose. This alone will strengthen your will and give your life coherence. – Epictetus

Events do not just happen but arrive by appointment. – Epictetus

If your heart is quite set upon a crown, make and put on one of roses, for it will make the prettier appearance. – Epictetus

Keep silence for the most part, and speak only when you must, and then briefly. – Epictetus

Desire and happiness cannot live together. – Epictetus

Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily. – Epictetus

Lampis the ship owner, on being asked how he acquired his great wealth, replied, My great wealth was acquired with no difficulty, but my small wealth, my first gains, with much labor. – Epictetus

It was the first and most striking characteristic of Socrates never to become heated in discourse, never to utter an injurious or insulting word — on the contrary, he persistently bore insult from others and thus put an end to the fray. – Epictetus

A half-hearted spirit has no power. Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. Average people enter into their endeavors headlong and without care. – Epictetus

A ship should not be held by a single anchor; neither should life depend upon a single hope. – Epictetus

If you wish to be a writer, write. – Epictetus

Wisdom means understanding without any doubt that circumstances do not rise to meet our expectations. Events happen as they may. People behave as they will. – Epictetus

You may be always victorious if you will never enter into any contest where the issue does not wholly depend upon yourself. – Epictetus

Nothing great is produced suddenly, since not even the grape or the fig is. If you say to me now that you want a fig, I will answer to you that it requires time: let it flower first, then put forth fruit, and then ripen. – Epictetus

It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows. – Epictetus

When your thoughts, words, and deeds form a seamless fabric, you streamline your efforts and thus eliminate worry and dread. – Epictetus

So, you wish to conquer in the Olympic Games, my friend? And I, too… But first mark the conditions and the consequences. You will have to put yourself under discipline; to eat by rule, to avoid cakes and sweetmeats; to take exercise at the appointed hour whether you like it or not, in cold and heat; to abstain from cold drinks and wine at your will. Then, in the conflict itself you are likely enough to dislocate your wrist or twist your ankle, to swallow a great deal of dust, to be severely thrashed, and after all of these things, to be defeated. – Epictetus

I am always content with what happens; for I know that what God chooses is better than what I choose. – Epictetus

The greater the difficulty the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests. – Epictetus

Is freedom anything else than the power of living as we choose? Nothing else. Tell me then, you men, do you wish to live in error? We do not. No one who lives in error is free. Do you wish to live in fear? Do you wish to live in sorrow? Do you wish to live in tension? By no means. No one who is in a state of fear or sorrow or tension is free, but whoever is delivered from sorrows or fears or anxieties, he is at the same time also delivered from servitude. – Epictetus

Fortify yourself with contentment, for this is an impregnable fortress. – Epictetus

Learn to distinguish what you can and can’t control. Within our control are our own opinions, aspirations, desires and the things that repel us. They are directly subject to our influence. – Epictetus

Remember that you are but an actor, acting whatever part the Master has ordained. It may be short, or it may be long. If he wishes you to represent a poor man, do so heartily; if a cripple, or a magistrate, or a private man, in each case act your part with honor. – Epictetus

Freedom is secured not by the fulfillment of one’s desires, but by the removal of desire. – Epictetus

Choose the life that is noblest, for custom can make it sweet to thee. – Epictetus

By accepting life’s limits and inevitabilities and working with them rather than fighting them, we become free. – Epictetus

The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things. – Epictetus

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