Epictetus, a Greek philosopher, is famed for his Stoic teachings with a religious bent that resonated with early Christian thinkers.
Born a slave around AD 55, he was later freed and attended lectures by Stoic Musonius Rufus despite his physical ailments.
After being expelled from Rome by Emperor Domitian, Epictetus resided in Nicopolis.
His teachings, focused on ethics, were recorded by his student Arrian, as Epictetus himself wrote nothing.
He believed in the power of will, considering it the only thing fully belonging to an individual.
He held that humans are wholly responsible for how they utilize their ideas and urged acceptance of events with intelligence.
Epictetus also saw humans as part of a larger system encompassing God and mankind and stressed the importance of contributing to the common good for individual self-interest and preservation.
He taught that the philosopher’s goal is to align oneself with the will of nature, or God.
I have collected some of the best quotes from Epictetus for you.
Best Epictetus Quotes
1. “We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.” ~ (Epictetus).
2. “Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.” ~ (Epictetus).
3. “Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not.” ~ (Epictetus).
4. “First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” ~ (Epictetus).
5. “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” ~ (Epictetus).
6. “Keep silence for the most part, and speak only when you must, and then briefly.” ~ (Epictetus).
7. “If you wish to be a writer, write.” ~ (Epictetus).
8. “No man is free who is not master of himself.” ~ (Epictetus).
9. “No great thing is created suddenly.” ~ (Epictetus).
10. “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” ~ (Epictetus).
11. “If anyone is unhappy, remember that his unhappiness is his own fault. Nothing else is the cause of anxiety or loss of tranquility except our own opinion.” ~ (Epictetus).
12. “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” ~ (Epictetus).
13. “The world turns aside to let any man pass who knows where he is going.” ~ (Epictetus).
14. “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” ~ (Epictetus).
15. “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” ~ (Epictetus).
16. “Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.” ~ (Epictetus).
17. “When you are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.” ~ (Epictetus).
18. “It is not events that disturb the minds of men, but the view they take of them.” ~ (Epictetus).
19. “Books are the training weights of the mind.” ~ (Epictetus).
20. “Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.” ~ (Epictetus).
21. “Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.” ~ (Epictetus).
22. “Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily.” ~ (Epictetus).
23. “Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.” ~ (Epictetus).
24. “No matter what happens, it is within my power to turn it to my advantage.” ~ (Epictetus).
25. “The greater the difficulty the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.” ~ (Epictetus).
26. “It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” ~ (Epictetus).
27. “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).
Popular Epictetus Quotes
28. “It is the nature of the wise to resist pleasures, but the foolish to be a slave to them.” ~ (Epictetus).
29. “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).
30. “Man is not fully free unless he is master of himself.” ~ (Epictetus).
31. “It’s so simple really: If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you start something, finish it.” ~ (Epictetus).
32. “Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcome.” ~ (Epictetus).
33. “Men are disturbed not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen.” ~ (Epictetus).
34. “Try not to react merely in the moment. Pull back from the situation. Take a wider view. Compose yourself.” ~ (Epictetus).
35. “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” ~ (Epictetus).
36. “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).
37. “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).
38. “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).
39. “Nothing truly stops you. Nothing truly holds you back. For your own will is always within your control.” ~ (Epictetus).
40. “God has entrusted me with myself. No man is free who is not master of himself. A man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things. The world turns aside to let any man pass who knows where he is going.” ~ (Epictetus).
41. “To live a life of virtue, match up your thoughts, words, and deeds.” ~ (Epictetus).
42. “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” ~ (Epictetus).
43. “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).
44. “If you hear that someone is speaking ill of you, instead of trying to defend yourself you should say: ‘He obviously does not know me very well, since there are so many other faults he could have mentioned.’” ~ (Epictetus).
45. “The best place to get help is from yourself.” ~ (Epictetus).
46. “Freedom and happiness are won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.” ~ (Epictetus).
47. “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).
Top Epictetus Quotes
48. “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).
49. “Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control. Stop aspiring to be anyone other than your own best self: for that does fall within your control.” ~ (Epictetus).
50. “In life our first job is this, to divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where will I find good and bad? In me, in my choices.” ~ (Epictetus).
51. “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).
52. “You are a little soul carrying around a corpse.” ~ (Epictetus).
53. “Man is troubled not by events, but by the meaning he gives them.” ~ (Epictetus).
54. “Only the educated are free.” ~ (Epictetus).
55. “Don’t demand or expect that events happen as you would wish them do. Accept events as they actually happen. That way, peace is possible.” ~ (Epictetus).
56. “No great thing is created suddenly. There must be time. Give your best and always be kind.” ~ (Epictetus).
57. “It is not things in themselves which trouble us, but our opinions of things.” ~ (Epictetus).
58. “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).
59. “The Beginning of Philosophy is a Consciousness of your own Weakness and inability in necessary things.” ~ (Epictetus).
60. “Fortify yourself with contentment, for this is an impregnable fortress.” ~ (Epictetus).
61. “Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power.” ~ (Epictetus).
62. “It is the part of an uneducated person to blame others where he himself fares ill; to blame himself is the part of one whose education has begun; to blame neither another nor his own self is the part of one whose education is already complete.” ~ (Epictetus).
63. “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).
64. “Seek not that the things which happen should happen as you wish; but wish the things which happen to be as they are, and you will have a tranquil flow of life.” ~ (Epictetus).
65. “Practice yourself, for heaven’s sake in little things, and then proceed to greater.” ~ (Epictetus).
66. “We can’t control the impressions others form about us, and the effort to do so only debases our character.” ~ (Epictetus).
67. “The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.” ~ (Epictetus).
68. “Seek to be the purple thread in the long white gown.” ~ (Epictetus).
69. “Desire and happiness cannot live together.” ~ (Epictetus).
Famous Epictetus Quotes
70. “We all carry the seeds of greatness within us, but we need an image as a point of focus in order that they may sprout.” ~ (Epictetus).
71. “What disturbs people’s minds are not events but their judgments on events.” ~ (Epictetus).
72. “Happiness and personal fulfillment are the natural consequences of doing the right thing.” ~ (Epictetus).
73. “Never say of anything I have lost it, only say that I have given it back.” ~ (Epictetus).
74. “It is unreasonable to think we can earn rewards without being willing to pay their true price. It is always our choice whether or not we wish to pay the price for life’s rewards.” ~ (Epictetus).
75. “The flourishing life cannot be achieved until we moderate our desires and see how superficial and fleeting they are.” ~ (Epictetus).
76. “Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire.” ~ (Epictetus).
77. “If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please.” ~ (Epictetus).
78. “To pay homage to beauty is to admire Nature; to admire Nature is to worship God.” ~ (Epictetus).
79. “Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.” ~ (Epictetus).
80. “No greater 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 you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.” ~ (Epictetus).
81. “What is it to be a philosopher? Is it not to be prepared against events?” ~ (Epictetus).
82. “Know you not that a good man does nothing for appearance sake, but for the sake of having done right?” ~ (Epictetus).
83. “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).
84. “Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent.” ~ (Epictetus).
85. “What ought one to say then as each hardship comes? I was practicing for this, I was training for this.” ~ (Epictetus).
86. “Any person capable of angering you becomes your master.” ~ (Epictetus).
87. “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).
88. “Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.” ~ (Epictetus).
Short Epictetus Quotes
89. “Men are not afraid of things, but of how they view them.” ~ (Epictetus).
90. “One that desires to excel should endeavor in those things that are in themselves most excellent.” ~ (Epictetus).
91. “You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you appear to be.” ~ (Epictetus).
92. “You lose only the things you have.” ~ (Epictetus).
93. “Be not swept off your feet by the vividness of the impression, but say, Impression, wait for me a little. Let me see what you are and what you represent. Let me try you.” ~ (Epictetus).
94. “You can be invincible, if you enter into no contest in which it is not in your power to conquer.” ~ (Epictetus).
95. “Renew every day your conversation with God: Do this even in preference to eating. Think more often of God than you breathe.” ~ (Epictetus).
96. “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).
97. “We should not moor a ship with one anchor, or our life with one hope.” ~ (Epictetus).
98. “Cowardice, the dread of what will happen.” ~ (Epictetus).
99. “Confident because of our caution.” ~ (Epictetus).
100. “To be getting an education means this: to be learning what is your own, and what is not your own.” ~ (Epictetus).
101. “Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig.” ~ (Epictetus).
102. “The foolish and the uneducated have little use for freedom. Only the educated are free.” ~ (Epictetus).
103. “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).
104. “God has entrusted me with myself.” ~ (Epictetus).
105. “Let silence be your general rule; or say only what is necessary and in few words.” ~ (Epictetus).
106. “Fight against yourself, recover yourself to decency, to modesty, to freedom. And, in the first place, condemn your actions; but when you have condemned them, do not despair of yourself. For both ruin and recovery are from within.” ~ (Epictetus).
107. “Keep your attention focused entirely on what is truly your own concern, and be clear that what belongs to others is their business and none of yours.” ~ (Epictetus).
108. “You may fetter my leg, but Zeus himself cannot get the better of my free will.” ~ (Epictetus).
109. “Do not give sentence in another tribunal till you have been yourself judged in the tribunal of Justice.” ~ (Epictetus).
110. “What thou avoidest suffering thyself seek not to impose on others.” ~ (Epictetus).
111. “To make anything a habit, do it; to not make it a habit, do not do it; to unmake a habit, do something else in place of it.” ~ (Epictetus).
112. “Learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does.” ~ (Epictetus).
113. “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).
114. “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).
115. “First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.” ~ (Epictetus).
116. “When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it.” ~ (Epictetus).
117. “When we blather about trivial things, we ourselves become trivial, for our attention gets taken up with trivialities. You become what you give your attention to.” ~ (Epictetus).
118. “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).
119. “If you think you control things that are in the control of others, you will lament. You will be disturbed and you will blame both gods and men.” ~ (Epictetus).
120. “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).
121. “When your thoughts, words, and deeds form a seamless fabric, you streamline your efforts and thus eliminate worry and dread.” ~ (Epictetus).
122. “A half-hearted spirit has no power. Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. Average people enter into their endeavors headlong and without care.” ~ (Epictetus).
123. “All philosophy lies in two words, sustain and abstain.” ~ (Epictetus).
124. “Difficulties are things that show a person what they are.” ~ (Epictetus).
125. “Imagine for yourself a character, a model personality, whose example you determine to follow, in private as well as in public.” ~ (Epictetus).