87+ Epictetus Quotes On Life, Success, Difficulties

By Maxime Lagacé maxime lagace

Maxime is the founder and chief editor of WisdomQuotes. He has been collecting quotes since 2004. His goal? To help you develop a calm, peaceful and powerful mind. Learn more about him on his about page.

Top 10 QuotesControlLifeSuccessDeathDeep5 Lessons from Epictetus

Do you know Epictetus?

Do you know Stoicism?

If not, buckle up!

You’re about to discover 87+ Epictetus quotes about life, success, difficulties, control, death, and more.

And these will transform your life in the next 5 minutes.

Epictetus was a Greek Stoic philosopher (55–135 C.E.) who taught

  • ethics
  • philosophy
  • the importance of self-knowledge
  • that most things are outside your control
  • that you are responsible for how you react to external events

He even influenced the famous Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (See his book Meditations).

I hope you’ll enjoy his quotes, thoughts, and philosophy as much as I did.

Let’s begin!

Top 10 Epictetus Quotes

epictetus quotes man free master himself wisdom

No man is free who is not master of himself. Epictetus

Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself. Epictetus

If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid. Epictetus

How long will you wait before you demand the best of yourself? Epictetus

To make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it occurs. Epictetus

epictetus quotes value things control have wisdom

The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have. Epictetus

When someone is properly grounded in life, they shouldn’t have to look outside themselves for approval. Epictetus

Don’t demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen. Epictetus

People are not disturbed by things but by the view they take of them. Epictetus

You are hurt the moment you believe yourself to be. Epictetus

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Epictetus Quotes About Control

epictetus quotes not things upset judgments things wisdom

It’s not things that upset us but our judgments about things. Epictetus

The important thing is to take great care with what you have while the world lets you have it. Epictetus

Demand not that events should happen as you wish; but wish them to happen as they do happen, and your life will be serene. Epictetus

The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Epictetus

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will. Epictetus

What does it mean to be getting an education? It means learning to apply natural preconceptions to particular cases as nature prescribes, and distinguishing what is in our power from what is not. The operations of the will are in our power. Epictetus

What ought one to say then as each hardship comes? I was practicing for this, I was training for this. Epictetus

epictetus quotes man should live happiness possible external things wisdom

A man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things. Epictetus

The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Epictetus

You need to suspend desire completely, and train aversion only on things within your power. You should dissociate yourself from everything outside yourself. Epictetus

We get angry because we put too high a premium on things that they can steal. As long as you honour material things, direct your anger at yourself rather than the thief or adulterer. Epictetus

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Epictetus Quotes About Life And Happiness

epictetus quotes explain philosophy embody wisdom

Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it. Epictetus

Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly. Epictetus

If your choices are beautiful, so too will you be. Epictetus

Try to enjoy the great festival of life with other men. Epictetus

It is inevitable if you enter into relationships with people on a regular basis that you will grow to be like them. Epictetus

He who laughs at himself, never runs out of things to laugh at. Epictetus

Fortify thyself with contentment: that is an impregnable stronghold. Epictetus

We should discipline ourselves in small things, and from there progress to things of greater value. Epictetus

A person is not going to undertake to learn anything that they think they already know. Epictetus

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epictetus

epictetus quotes live life virtue become consistent wisdom

To live a life of virtue, you have to become consistent, even when it isn’t convenient, comfortable, or easy. Epictetus

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

It is more necessary for the soul to be cured than the body; for it is better to die than to live badly. Epictetus

It is better to die with hunger, exempt from grief and fear, better to die than to live in affluence and be disturbed; and it is better your servant should be bad, than you unhappy. Epictetus

Every habit and faculty is formed or strengthened by the corresponding act – walking makes you walk better, running makes you a better runner. If you want to be literate, read, if you want to be a painter, paint…So if you like doing something, do it regularly; if you don’t like doing something, make a habit of doing something different. Epictetus

Don’t pretend you have a particular skill if you don’t yet; yield to whoever has the requisite experience; and for your own part take satisfaction in an awareness that your persistence is helping you become expert in the subject yourself. Epictetus

Sickness is an impediment to the body, but not to the will, unless itself pleases. Lameness is an impediment to the leg, but not to the will; and say this to yourself with regard to everything that happens. For you will find it to be an impediment to something else, but not truly to yourself. Epictetus

Finally decide that you are an adult who is going to devote the rest of your life to making progress. Epictetus

Only the educated are free. Epictetus

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Epictetus Quotes About Success And Difficulties

epictetus quotes difficulties show person character wisdom

Difficulties show a person’s character. Epictetus

Nothing important comes into being overnight; even grapes and figs need time to ripen. Epictetus

No bull reaches maturity in an instant, nor do men become heroes overnight. Epictetus

You can’t hope to make progress in areas where you have made no application. Epictetus

In prosperity it is very easy to find a friend; but in adversity it is the most difficult of all things. Epictetus

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best. Epictetus

Never depend on the admiration of others. There is no strength in it. Personal merit cannot be derived by external source. Epictetus

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

Work, therefore to be able to say to every harsh appearance, “You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you appear to be.” Epictetus

No thing great 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

epictetus quotes progress achieved luck accident working daily wisdom

Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily. Epictetus

When you let your attention slide for a bit, don’t think you will get back a grip on it whenever you wish—instead, bear in mind that because of today’s mistake everything that follows will be necessarily worse. Epictetus

When trouble comes, think of yourself as a wrestler whom God, like a trainer, has paired with a tough young buck. For what purpose? To turn you into Olympic-class material. Epictetus

Every habit and capability is confirmed and grows in its corresponding actions. Epictetus

The world turns aside to let any man pass who knows where he is going. Epictetus

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. Epictetus

The true man is revealed in difficult times. Epictetus

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Epictetus Quotes About Death

epictetus quotes death pain feared wisdom

For it is not death or pain that is to be feared, but the fear of pain or death. Epictetus

I cannot escape death; but cannot I escape the dread of it? Must I die trembling and lamenting? Epictetus

Let death and exile, and all other things which appear terrible, be daily before your eyes, but death chiefly; and you will never entertain any abject thought, nor too eagerly covet anything. Epictetus

I must die. But must I die bawling? I must be put in chains – but moaning and groaning too? I must be exiled; but is there anything to keep me from going with a smile, calm and self-composed? Epictetus

Because we’re the only animals who not only die but are conscious of it even while it happens, we are beset by anxiety. Epictetus

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Deep Epictetus Quotes

epictetus quotes become what give attention wisdom

You become what you give your attention to. Epictetus

Seek not the good in external things; seek it in yourselves. Epictetus

Philosophers warn us not to be satisfied with mere learning, but to add practice and then training. Epictetus

If you yourself don’t choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will. Epictetus

If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation. Epictetus

Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him. Epictetus

Whenever anyone assents to what is false, one may be sure that he does not willingly give his assent to falsehood but rather that what is false seemed to him to be true. Epictetus

I cannot call somebody ‘hard-working’ knowing only that they read…Even if ‘all night long’ is added, I cannot say it – not until I know the focus of all this energy…If their efforts aim at improving the mind. Epictetus

Use only the appropriate actions of pursuit and avoidance; and even these lightly, and with gentleness and reservation. Epictetus

Let silence be your general rule; or say only what is necessary and in few words. Epictetus

epictetus quotes grow up cares other people think wisdom

Grow up! Who cares what other people think about you! Epictetus

Who is your master? Anyone who has control over things upon which you’ve set your heart, or over things which you seek to avoid. Epictetus

If you ever happen to turn your attention to externals, so as to wish to please anyone, be assured that you have ruined your scheme of life. Epictetus

But if we are endowed by nature with the potential for greatness, why do only some of us achieve it? Well, do all horses become stallions? Are all dogs greyhounds? Even if I lack the talent, I will not abandon the effort on that account. Epictetus

Place an extinguished piece of coal next to a live one, and either it will cause the other one to die out, or the live will make the other reignite. Since a lot is at stake, you should be careful about fraternizing with non-philosophers in these contexts. Epictetus

First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak. Epictetus

If the fruit of a fig tree is not brought to maturity instantly or in an hour, how do you expect the human mind to come to fruition, so quickly and easily? Epictetus

If you didn’t learn these things in order to demonstrate them in practice, what did you learn them for? Epictetus

Conclusion

epictetus quotes decide extraordinary what need now wisdom

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

5 Lessons from Epictetus?

  1. Control your mind, or someone else will.
  2. Don’t be a fool: don’t try to control what you can’t.
  3. Want to improve yourself?
    1. Practice daily.
    2. Don’t mind what others think of you.
  4. What’s the only source of strength and happiness? Your mind.
  5. Difficulties are opportunities. Face them calmly. Aim for progress. Not perfection.

Further Readings

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Author Bio

maxime lagace

Maxime Lagacé started collecting quotes in 2004 after he lost his girlfriend in a car accident.

In search of meaning, he dived in the self-improvement world, psychology and trail running.

Books, blogs, quotes and nature became his guide.

He started journaling, reflecting, writing thoughts, feelings and quotes.

His goal was to understand his pain, his depression, his fears, his lack of motivation and inspiration.

He finished his software engineering degree in 2007 at the École de Technologie Supérieure de Montréal. He also studied at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

A few years later, he started his first website to share his love of quotes.

Maxime is a father of two, INFJ and also loves running.

Other notable interests of Maxime are health (mental and physical), meditation, nutrition, bananas, SEO, human potential, productivity, education and minimalism.

Finally, he still considers himself a beginner.

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Last update

December 12, 2022

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