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Notes on Enchiridion by Epictetus

Notes on Enchiridion by Epictetus#


Things in our power - opinion, movement, desire, aversion - our own acts. Things not in our power - property, reputation, power, offices - not our own acts. Things in our power are free - not subject to hinderance. Things not in our power are subject to restraint - the power of others. If you think that only which is your own - to be your own - you will have no problems. Anything not in our power - does not concern us.


He who fails in desire in unfortunate. He who falls into that he wants to avoid, is unhappy.


In everything you love and desire - add the description.

If you love an earthen vessel (pot), say it is an earthen vessel you love. When it breaks you will not eb disturbed. If you are kissing your wife or child, say it is your wife or child which you kiss. When your wife or child dies you will not be disturbed.




Men are disturbed not by the things which happen, but by the opinions about the things. It is the act of an ill-instructed man to blame others for his own bad condition; it is the act of one who has begun to be instructed, to lay the blame on himself; and of one whose instruction is completed, neither to blame another, nor himself.


Be not elated at the advantage of another which you are associated - it is not your own…?


Weird one - Do your duty - you may have to leave your wife and child to continue when the captain calls…?


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.


Disease is an impediment to the body but not to the will. Reflect on this for all things - you will find it an impediment but not to yourself.


On every event or accident - see how you can put it to use. A sexy woman - the power to resist. A painful hard job - endurance. Abusive words - patience.


You do not own a thing - you merely borrow it. A wife, child or your estate. When you wife dies, you have not lost her - she has been restored.


Allow certain annoying things to occur…if they keep you tranquil, without anxiety.


Wish to be considered a fool - when you are seen as important - distrust yourself?


Whoever then wishes to be free, let him neither wish for anything nor avoid anything which depends on others.


Behave in life as it is a banquet. Suppose something is carrier to you - reach and take a decent amount. If it passes you - do not detain it. It has not come yet - do not call for it. Do this and be a worthy partner at banquet with the gods. If you take none of the things - you will partner with the gods in power.


When you see a person weeping over the death of a child or loss of a property. Do not be carried away by the appearance. Make the distinction in your own mind - what has happened does not afflict this man, his opinion about what has happened afflicts the man. Show sympathy but do not lament internally.


You are just an actor in a play. Accept it. You do not write the play - you cannot select your part.


When a bad omen is noticed. Know that none of it is signified to you or any other things. It is in the things and your own power to derive benefit from it.


Be careful not to perceive someone in power as happy. Carried away by appearance. If the nature of good is in our power - there is no jealousy or envy in you. You willl only be free to despise of things not in your power.


Master yourself and your opinion. It is the appearance and the opinion that hurts us.


Let death and exile and every other thing which appears dreadful be daily before your eyes; but most of all death: and you will never think of anything mean nor will you desire anything extravagantly.


Do not be overpowered by the opinions of others, for taking them on you do double the damage to yourself.


If it should ever happen to you to be turned to externals in order to please some person, you must know that you have lost your purpose in life.

Appear to yourself as a philosopher and you will appear to others as one.




Don’t suck up to people. You gain not having to endure the person wanting flattery. You lose the potential to obtain what you wanted though.


Learn about how good or bad things happen to others. These things may also happen to us. Our reaction if they happen to us, should be the same as it happening to others.


God makes the mark to aim towards - there is not evil.




Observe what precedes actions and what follows. Be consistent. One man, day in and day out. Do not give up - but strive to continue and endure.


One can not damage you. Only when you think you are damaged.


every animal is formed by nature to this, to fly from and to turn from the things which appear harmful and the things which are the cause of the harm, but to follow and admire the things which are useful and the causes of the useful


For if it is any of the things which are not in our power, it is absolutely necessary that it must be neither good nor bad. ?


And let silence be the general rule, or let only what is necessary be said, and in few words.

For you must know, that if your companion be impure, he also who keeps company with him must become impure, though he should happen to be pure.

When someone reports another speaking ill of you, say: “The man did not know the rest of my faults, for he would not have mentioned these only”

In company take care not to speak much and excessively about your own acts or dangers: for as it is pleasant to you to make mention of your dangers, it is not so pleasant to others to hear what has happened to you

Take care also not to provoke laughter; for this is a slippery way toward vulgar habits, and is also adapted to diminish the respect of your neighbors


Do not let pleasure conquer you.


When you decide to do a thing. Never fear or avoid being seen doing it. For if doing it is right - why are you afraid of those that will find fault wrongly?


Respect and observe the host as well as the food when eating…?




When walking you avoid nails and sharp objects. Do the same to avoid damage to your ruling faculty - control of yourself. There will be external factors trying to damage your freedom of choice.




Women over 14 need not decorate themselves and think their only function is laying with men. Women are valued when decent and modest and discreet.


The body, exercise, eating, drinking, copulation (sex) are subordinate things to the mind. Spend more time on the mind.


When any person treats you ill or speaks ill of you, remember that he does this or says this because he thinks that 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. Accordingly if he is wrong in his opinion, he is the person who is hurt, for he is the person who has been deceived

It seems so to him.


Everything has 2 handles. One where it can be carried and one where it cannot. If your brother acts unjust to you - do not hold that handle. Hold the handle that he is your borther and that you were nurtured together.


People are complex and individual. No one is better than anyone else. Only in certain small aspects can comparisons be made.

These reasonings do not cohere: I am richer than you, therefore I am better than you; I am more eloquent than you, therefore I am better than you. On the contrary these rather cohere, I am richer than you, therefore my possessions are greater than yours: I am more eloquent than you, therefore my speech is superior to yours. But you are neither possession nor speech.


Do not judge things as good and bad. Merely what they are.

A man drinks much. He does not drink badly. He just drinks much. You cloud your own mind.


Do not call yourself a philosopher. Do not say how a man should eat - but eat as you are ought to eat. If a conversation arises among the uninstructed - remain silent.

You do not need to prove yourself to others, you just need to prove to yourself.


When doing things do them for youself. Not because or for others.


An uninstructed person - never expects profit or harm from himself - but from the external. An instrucuted man knows that all profit and harm comes from himself.

  • he censures no man
  • he praises no man
  • he blames no man
  • he accuses no man
  • he says nothing about himself as if he were somebody or knew something

  • when he is impeded, he blames himself

  • if he is praised, he ridicules the praiser to himself
  • if a man censures him, he makes no defence


What is it that I wish? To understand Nature and to follow it.

The lesson is important - not who said it or how it was said.




Instead of not lying. We concern ourselfs with demonstrations that one should not lie. Just don’t lie.