Epictetus the Stoic
Little is known about the Stoic philosopher whose Discourses
share much with Christian thought. Epictetus (c. 50/60-c.
130/138) may have been born at Hieropolis in Phyrgia. He was a slave and
attended the lectures of the Stoic, Musonius Rufus. Epictetus later became
a freedman and was expelled from Rome with all philosophers by Domitian c.
90. Epictetus settled in Nicopolis in Epirus. He is said to have suffered
from ill-health all his life. His disciple Flavius Arrianus wrote down his
sayings and published them.
Epictetus taught that ethics is the primary concern of man. Man must learn
to realize what he can control (his will) and what he cannot (everything
else). Like the Desert Fathers, he said that one is not responsible for
the thoughts that one has; one is responsible only for the way in which
one uses one's thoughts. Ultimately, a person should conform his will to
the will of God (the will of the universe or the will that directs all
Karen Rae Keck
Return to St Pachomius Library.