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Epictetus: Discourses


Epictetus (AD 55-135), a Greek who lived in both Rome and Roman-occupied Greece at various times, was probably not named Epictetus (which means "acquired") and is not known to have written anything.

The works that bear his name were "class notes" by a student named Arrian, who died in about 190 or so. (Having seen a lot of students' class notes, this should give us pause, but never mind that now.)

Epictetus argued (if Arrian's notes are to be believed) that the only thing we truly own is our will and our ability to link it to our responsibilities. Even our ideas, which may come from anywhere, are not entirely our responsibility. (Wikipedia Article) (Hey! He said anywhere, right?)

In the following passage, Epictetus tells us about the responsibilities associated with various social statuses (definition).

The line numbering used here is traditional except in English versions, and I have trivially modified it only when it interrupted the flow of ideas. The blue subtitles are my addition. Links to on-line versions of the full text are given at the end of the page.


Epictetus: Discourses

Selections from Book 1, Chapter 10
Tr. by George Long
(Go to English-only version.)

The full text is available on-line in Greek and in the public-domain English translation of George Long.

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