Born into slavery in the first century AD, Epictetus was a leading Greek philosopher of the Stoic school. He spent most of his life in Rome before the Emperor Domitian banished all philosophers from the city in AD 93; his exile then took him to Nicopolis in Greece. His teachings were recorded by his pupil Arrian, who published both the Encheiridion and Discourses.
What’s the big idea? Former slave Epictetus argues that since we cannot control the external world, true freedom comes from the reasoned control of one’s own desires and passions. This is the core of stoic thought that Epictetus taught in Western Greece about 100 AD. Stoicism became the dominant moral philosophy of the Hellenistic and Roman world and Epictetus became its dominant and most respected teacher. Though Epictetus wrote nothing that has survived, writer Arrian attended his lectures and took those notes that preserved Epictetus’ teachings.