Life

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Born a slave, Epictetus (ehp-ihk-TEET-uhs) was brought to Rome at an early age and became the slave of Nero’s freedman and secretary, Epaphroditus, a cruel master. According to theologian Origen’s anecdote, Epictetus did not flinch when Epaphroditus broke his leg. Epictetus learned Stoicism from Gaius Musonius Rufus and at some point became a freedman. When Domitian expelled all philosophers from Rome (c. 89 c.e.), Epictetus went to Nicopolis, Epirus, Greece, where he established a school. He may have returned to Rome during the reign of Hadrian.

Epictetus wrote nothing himself. His Enchiridion (n.d.; known as the Manual, 1916) and four books of Discourses (translation 1916) were transcribed by his student, Arrian (also known as Flavius Arrianus).