100 Quotes By Epictetus For Travel, Life, and Love (New 2022)

100 Quotes By Epictetus For Travel, Life, and Love (New 2022)

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These quotes by Epictetus can change you life. I know, because they have changed mine.

Epictetus is a Greek philosopher, and some of his most famous quotes are about the art of living and overcoming adversity.

He says that humans have a natural tendency to worry and focus on things outside their control, but we should only focus on the things we can control, our emotions, and impressions.

And his teaching have provided some of the best inspirational quote in Stoicism.

Epictetus Quotes and a Quick History

Who was Epictetus?

Epictetus was born the son of a slave woman and spent the first 30 years of his life as a slave. When he was a boy, a depraved and violent man purchased him.

He suffered a lot in slavery. But at one point, something good happened. Epictetus attended the lectures of Musonius Rufus, a stoic philosopher.

And when Epictetus was freed from bondage in his thirties, he became a philosophy teacher. His lectures gained a sizable following. The modest, the prosperous, and the powerful came to hear what Epictetus had to say. Even the great Emperor Hadrian traveled to hear Epictetus speak.

Epictetus’s Impact on Stoicism

Why? Why were people from all walks of life, and all corners of the Roman Empire, coming to hear Epictetus? Why would a future emperor sit at the feet of a former slave?

Because Epictetus could teach them how to be resilient, a subject he was well versed him.

One story that comes from his time as a slave is that at one point his master was twisting Epictetus on his leg with all his might. All we know from Epictetus is that he repeatedly warned his master, “You’re going to break my leg.” “You’re going to break my leg”.

Finally, when his leg broke, he turned and looked at his master and said, “I told you that would happen” Epictetus’ leg was shattered and for the rest of his life, he walked with a limp.

Epictetus has mastered the art of being resilient. Which was already a key pillar of stoicism.

And It was this art that Epictetus said would lead to a full and untroubled life.

With resilience, we can overcome the worst and darkest of circumstances.

How did Epictetus tell us how to endure and cultivate resilience? Well, this brings us to his main impact on the stoic philosophy. Epictetus so famously said, “your chief task in life, which is to identify and distinguish between what is up to us and what is not up to us, the things we control and the things we cannot.”

That’s the essential difference that every person must make. Epictetus used the example of being insulted, “What other people say is not up to us. How we respond is”. He said, if some anger you, then you must realize your mind is complicit in the provocation. You’re choosing to be upset by. And life is short! We don’t have time to waste.

And that is it. The very stoic teaching of focus on what we control. And let go of everything we do not control.

And if you master this, then you are always in control.

When you are traveling, whether it is something small like your plane gets delayed. Or something huge, like your passport getting stolen.

But can also reshape your life! It takes back the power from those who wish you ill, or want to harm you. It lets you take life on because you are never sweating the small things. Let the little thing go, and you have more freedom. Stop carrying about other peoples views, and you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself.

Of course, resilience takes work, this doesn’t happen overnight. We are talking about building resilience.

We must work at it, strive to practice it every day, and prepare for the challenges of life.

This is the core of Epictetus’ teaching, and while he had other major influences on stoicism, this is arguably his biggest. 

Epictetus still inspired us today. He had inspired people like Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Enchiridion of Epictetus Quotes

Here are 19 quotes by Epictetus, from the Enchiridion (The Art of Living). A collection of his teachings was written down by his student. And his most famous work.

“Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things.”

“To accuse others for one’s own misfortune is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete.”- Epictetus.

“Whoever would be free, let him wish nothing, let him decline nothing, which depends on others else he must necessarily be a slave.”

“A city is not adorned by external things, but by the virtue of those who dwell in it.”- Epictetus.

“The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others.”

“Everything has two handles, the one by which it may be carried, the other by which it cannot.”- Epictetus.

This quote comes from some of his most popular teachings.

“These reasonings are unconnected: “I am richer than you, therefore I am better”; “I am more eloquent than you, therefore I am better.” The connection is rather this: “I am richer than you, therefore my property is greater than yours;” “I am more eloquent than you, therefore my style is better than yours.” But you, after all, are neither property nor style. “The condition and characteristic of a vulgar person, is, that he never expects either benefit or hurt from himself, but from externals. The condition and characteristic of a philosopher is that he expects all hurt and benefit from himself.”

“It is better to die with hunger, exempt from grief and fear, better to die than to live in affluence and be disturbed; and it is better your servant should be bad than you are unhappy.”

“If you ever happen to turn your attention to externals, for the pleasure of anyone, be assured that you have ruined your scheme of life.”- Epictetus.

“Don’t be prideful with any excellence that is not your own.”

“He who exercises wisdom exercises the knowledge which is about God.”- Epictetus.

“If you ever happen to turn your attention to externals, so as to wish to please anyone, be assured that you have ruined your scheme of life. “Don’t demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.”

“When any person harms you, or speaks badly of you, remember that he acts or speaks from a supposition of its being his duty… say upon every occasion, “It seemed so to him.”

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”- Epictetus.

Quotes By Epictetus from ‘discourses’

These Epictetus quotes are from his other work, also recorded by students, Discourses. 

“You see, then, that it is necessary for you to become a student, that creature which everyone laughs at if you really desire to make an examination of your judgments. But this, as you are quite aware, is not the work of a single hour or day”- Epictetus, The Discourses.

“Τίς εἶναι θέλεις, σαυτῷ πρῶτον εἰπέ: εἶθ’ οὕτως ποίει ἃ ποιεῖς. (First, say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do.)”

– Epictetus, The Discourses

I bet you didn’t expect Epictetus quotes in Greek! 

“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, The Discourses.

“Put up with being laughed at on occasion; look around you, and give yourself a good shaking to find out who you really are.”

– Epictetus, The Discourses.

“The object of your love is mortal; it is not one of your possessions; it has been given to you for the present, not inseparably nor forever.”

– Epictetus, The Discourses.

“There are two things that must be rooted out in human beings – arrogant opinion and mistrust. Arrogant opinion expects that there is nothing further needed, and mistrust assumes that under the torrent of circumstance there can be no happiness.”- Epictetus, The Discourses.

– Epictetus, The Discourses.

“The philosopher’s school, ye men, is a surgery: you ought not to go out of it with pleasure, but with pain. For you are not in sound health when you enter.”

– Epictetus, The Discourses.

“God save me from fools with a little philosophy-no one is more difficult to reach.”

Epictetus Quotes on Success

“Demand not that things happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do, and you will go on well.”

– Epictetus, The Discourses.

“Don’t just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are very helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents.”

– Epictetus, The Discourses.

For this you ought to say to your brother Epicureans: but ought you not to conceal it from others, and particularly before everything to persuade them, that we are by nature adapted for fellowship, that temperance is a good thing; in order that all things may be secured for you?

“A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope”

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

To accuse others of one’s own misfortune is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun. To accuse one’s self nor others shows that one’s education is complete.

– Epictetus

Epictetus Quotes For a Happy Life and Freedom

Stoic Quotes By Epictetus

“We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.”

“What then, is it not possible to be free from faults? It is not possible; but this is possible: to direct your efforts incessantly to being faultless. For we must be content if by never remitting this attention we shall escape at least a few errors.

When you have said “Tomorrow I will begin to attend,” you must be told that you are saying this: “Today I will be shameless, disregardful of time and place, mean;it will be in the power of others to give me pain. Today I will be passionate and envious.

See how many evil things you are permitting yourself to do. If it is good to use attention tomorrow, how much better is it to do so today? If tomorrow it is in your interest to attend, much more is it today, that you may be able to do so tomorrow also, and may not defer it again to the third day.”- Epictetus, The Discourses.

“Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of men’s desires, but by the removal of desire.”

– Epictetus

Whoever then would be free, let him wish for nothing, let him decline nothing, which depends on others; else he must necessarily be a slave.

Your happiness depends on three things, all of which are within your power: your will, your ideas concerning the events in which you are involved, and the use you make of your ideas.

– Epictetus

Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.

– Epictetus

Quotes by Epictetus on Circumstances

“What would have become of Hercules do you think if there had been no lion, hydra, stag or boar – and no savage criminals to rid the world of? What would he have done in the absence of such challenges?

Obviously, he would have just rolled over in bed and gone back to sleep. So by snoring his life away in luxury and comfort he never would have developed into the mighty Hercules.

And even if he had, what good would it have done him? What would have been the use of those arms, that physique, and that noble soul, without crises or conditions to stir into him action?”

– Epictetus, The Discourses.

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

No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.

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

– Epictetus

“For God hath made all men to enjoy felicity and constancy of good”

Man is not worried about real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.

– 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

Epictetus Quotes on Death

“What is death? A “tragic mask.” Turn it and examine it. See, it does not bite. The poor body must be separated from the spirit either now or later, as it was separated from it before. Why, then, are you troubled, if it be separated now? for if it is not separated now, it will be separated afterward.

Why? That the period of the universe may be completed, for it has need of the present, and of the future, and of the past.

What is pain? A mask. Turn it and examine it. The poor flesh is moved roughly, then, on the contrary, smoothly. If this does not satisfy you, the door is open: if it does, bear. For the door ought to be open for all occasions; and so we have no trouble.”

– Epictetus, The Discourses

For it is not death or pain that is to be feared, but the fear of pain or death.

– Epictetus

“Give me, by all means, the shorter and nobler life, instead of one that is longer but of less account!”

– Epictetus

I must die. Must I then die lamenting? I must be put in chains. Must I then also lament? I must go into exile. Does any man then hinder me from going with smiles and cheerfulness and contentment?

– Epictetus

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but of having few wants.

– Epictetus

“Know you not that a good man does nothing for appearance sake, but for the sake of having done right?”

– Epictetus

Epictetus Quotes Control

I like to use these quote as motivation in my daily life.

We don’t have control over most things in life! This is scary, but once we realize this, then we take ownership, and can even help our mental health

“Man, what are you talking about? Me in chains? You may fetter my leg but my will, not even Zeus himself, can overpower.”

– Epictetus, The Discourses.

“On the occasion of every accident that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and inquire what power you have for turning it to use.”

– Epictetus, The Discourses.

It is better to do wrong seldom and to own it, and to act right for the most part than seldom to admit that you have done wrong and to do wrong often.

– Epictetus

Take care not to hurt the ruling faculty of your mind. If you were to guard against this in every action, you should enter upon those actions more safely.

– Epictetus

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

– Epictetus

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

Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power.

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

– Epictetus

Everyone’s life is warfare, and that is long and various.

– Epictetus

I refuse nothing which seems good to Thee. Lead me whither Thou wilt. Clothe me in whatever dress Thou wilt.

Epictetus Quotes Love

Who is good if he knows not who he is? And who knows what he is, if he forgets that things which have been made are perishable and that it is not possible for one human being to be with another always?

At the times when you are delighted with a thing, place before yourself the contrary appearances. What harm is it while you are kissing your child to say with a lisping voice, “Tomorrow you will die”; and to a friend also, “Tomorrow you will go away or I shall, and never shall we see one another again”?

This Epictetus quote inspires Marcus Aurelius. He wants almost the same thing in his journal, Meditation.

When you are delighted with anything, be delighted as with a thing which is not one of those which cannot be taken away.

but as something of such a kind, as an earthen pot is, or a glass cup, that, when it has been broken, you may remember what it was and may not be troubled…

What you love is nothing of your own: it has been given to you for the present, not that it should not be taken from you, nor has it been given to you for all time.

Tentative efforts lead to a tentative outcome. Therefore, give yourself fully to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character through excellent actions and determine to pay the price of a worthy goal.”

What did you think about these quotes by Epictetus! Which one is your favorite? I love “To accuse oneself shows that ones education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete.”

But really I love all of them!

These quotes are just as good as our quotes about adventure! And can help you fight your fears.

I know these quotes by Epictetus can help you in your life, from traveling, to forgiving mans fault, to just becoming a better person. These stoic quotes can change you life.

And there we go! Over 100 Inspirational quote by Epictetus.