Epictetus (Ἐπίκτητος) was a Greek-speaking Stoic philosopher who lived from 55 – 135 AD. He was born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey), and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Nicopolis in north-western Greece for the rest of his life. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses and Enchiridion.

Epictetus' primary philosophical lesson was that philosophy is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. In short: a true Stoic. In 'Discourses' Epictetus' views come to light best, and I would like to share some of his wise words today, because my life has been a little rough and I have been using some of these as a mantra.

"The gods then, as was but right, put in our hands the one blessing that is best of all and master of all, that and nothing else, the power to deal rightly with our impressions, but everything else they did not put in our hands." [Bk.1, Ch. 1]

"If it were possible I [Zeus] would have made your body and your possessions (those trifles that you prize) free and untrammelled. But as things are—never forget this—this body is not yours, it is but a clever mixture of clay. But since I could not make it free, I gave you a portion in our divinity, this faculty of impulse to act and not to act, of will to get and will to avoid, in a word the faculty which can turn impressions to right use." [Bk.1, Ch. 1]

"If a man could only take to heart this judgement, as he ought, that we are all, before anything else, children of God." [Bk.1, Ch. 3]

"Miserable man, there is only one place to seek it [virtue]—where your work lies. Where does it lie? It lies in the region of will; that you may not fail to get what you will to get, nor fall into what you will to avoid; it lies in avoiding error in the region of impulse, impulse to act and impulse not to act: it lies in assent and the withholding of assent, that in these you may never be deceived." [Bk.1, Ch. 4]

"O great good fortune! O great benefactor, who shows us the way! And yet—though all men have raised temples and altars to Triptolemus, for teaching us the cultivation of the crops, yet what man of you ever set up an altar in honour of him who found the truth and brought it to light and published it among all men—not the truth of mere living, but the truth that leads to right living? Who ever dedicated a shrine or an image for this gift, or worships God for it? I say shall we, who offer sacrifices because the gods gave us wheat or the vine, never give thanks to God that they produced this manner of fruit in the mind of men, whereby they were to show us the true way of happiness?" [Bk.1, Ch. 4]

"Zeus, send me what trial Thou wilt; for I have endowments and resources, given me by Thee, to bring myself honor through what befalls." [Bk.1, Ch. 6]