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Discourses, Books 1-2

Discourses, Books 1-2


Translated by W. A. Oldfather

ISBN 9780674991453

Publication date: 01/01/1925

From slave to sage.

Epictetus was a crippled Greek slave of Phrygia during Nero’s reign (AD 54–68) who heard lectures by the Stoic Musonius before he was freed. Expelled with other philosophers by the emperor Domitian in 89 or 92, he settled permanently in Nicopolis in Epirus. There, in a school that he called “healing place for sick souls” he taught a practical philosophy, details of which were recorded by Arrian, a student of his, and survive in four books of Discourses and a smaller Encheiridion, a handbook that gives briefly the chief doctrines of the Discourses. He apparently lived into the reign of Hadrian (AD 117–138).

Epictetus was a teacher of Stoic ethics, broad and firm in method, sublime in thought, and now humorous, now sad or severe in spirit. How should one live righteously? Our god-given will is our paramount possession, and we must not covet others’. We must not resist fortune. Man is part of a system; humans are reasoning beings (in feeble bodies) and must conform to god’s mind and the will of nature. Epictetus presents us also with a pungent picture of the perfect (Stoic) man.

The Loeb Classical Library edition of Epictetus is in two volumes.


  • William Abbott Oldfather (1880–1945), one of America’s most important classicists, was a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Book Details

  • 480 pages
  • 4-1/4 x 6-3/8 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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