Epictetus born a slave exemplifies the universal appeal of Stoicism
Bust of Epictetus

Epictetus

Stoicism is intriguing to study because its most famous practitioners came from different walks of life. Marcus Aurelius, the powerful emperor of Rome, Seneca, a wealthy adviser and playwright, and Epictetus, who was born a slave, all exemplify the universal appeal of Stoicism. Epictetus, born in Hierapolis, Turkey, gained permission to study philosophy and later taught in Rome before founding a philosophy school in Greece. Despite never writing down his teachings, Epictetus’s lessons, like “To make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it occurs,” continue to influence and guide those who choose to follow them.

There are three areas in which the person who would be wise and good must be trained. The first has...
EPICTETUS
There are three areas in which the person who would be wise and good must be trained. The first has to do with desires and aversions - that a person may never miss the mark in desires nor fall into what repels them. The second has to do with impulses to act and not to act - and more broadly, with duty - that a person may act deliberately for good reasons and not carelessly. The third has to do with freedom from deception and composure and the whole area of judgment, the assent our mind gives to its perceptions. Of these areas, the chief and most urgent is the first which has to do with the passions, for strong emotions arise only when we fail in our desires and aversions. 
EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 3.2.1–3a
EPICTETUS
DISCOURSES, 3.2.1–3a
Frame your thoughts like this —you are an old person, you won’t let yourself be enslaved by this any longer...
MARCUS AURELIUS
Frame your thoughts like this—you are an old person, you won’t let yourself be enslaved by this any longer, no longer pulled like a puppet by every impulse, and you’ll stop complaining about your present fortune or dreading the future.
MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 2.2
MARCUS AURELIUS
MEDITATIONS, 2.2
You cry, I’m suffering severe pain! Are you then relieved from feeling it, if you bear it in an...
SENECA
You cry, I’m suffering severe pain! Are you then relieved from feeling it, if you bear it in an unmanly way?
SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 78.17
SENECA
MORAL LETTERS, 78.17
Of all people only those who are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only they truly live. Not satisfied with merely ...
SENECA
Of all people only those who are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only they truly live. Not satisfied with merely keeping good watch over their own days, they annex every age to their own. All the harvest of the past is added to their store. Only an ingrate would fail to see that these great architects of venerable thoughts were born for us and have designed a way of life for us.
SENECA
SENECA
Our soul is sometimes a king, and sometimes a tyrant. A king, by attending to what is honorable...
SENECA
Our soul is sometimes a king, and sometimes a tyrant. A king, by attending to what is honorable, protects the good health of the body in its care, and gives it no base or sordid command. But an uncontrolled, desire-fueled, over-indulged soul is turned from a king into that most feared and detested thing—a tyrant. 
SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 114.24
SENECA
MORAL LETTERS, 114.24
Let’s pass over to the really rich - how often the occasions they look just like the poor! When they travel...
SENECA
Let’s pass over to the really rich - how often the occasions they look just like the poor! When they travel abroad they must restrict their baggage, and when haste is necessary, they dismiss their entourage. And those who are in the army, how few of their possessions they get to keep . . .
SENECA, ON CONSOLATION TO HELVIA, 12. 1.b–2
SENECA
CONSOLATION TO HELVIA, 12. 1.b–2
For if a person shifts their caution to their own reasoned choices and the acts of those choices, they will at the ...
EPICTETUS
For if a person shifts their caution to their own reasoned choices and the acts of those choices, they will at the same time gain the will to avoid, but if they shift their caution away from their own reasoned choices to things not under their control, seeking to avoid what is controlled by others, they will then be agitated, fearful, and unstable.
EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 2.1.12
EPICTETUS
DISCOURSES, 2.1.12
All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and ...
MARCUS AURELIUS
All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.
MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 9.6
MARCUS AURELIUS
MEDITATIONS, 9.6
Tranquility can’t be grasped except by those who have reached an unwavering and firm power of judgment - the rest constantly fall and rise in...
SENECA
Tranquility can’t be grasped except by those who have reached an unwavering and firm power of judgment - the rest constantly fall and rise in their decisions, wavering in a state of alternately rejecting and accepting things. What is the cause of this back and forth? It’s because nothing is clear and they rely on the most uncertain guide - common opinion.
SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 95.57b–58a
SENECA
MORAL LETTERS, 95.57b–58a
I don’t agree with those who plunge headlong into the middle of the flood and who, accepting a turbulent life...
SENECA
I don’t agree with those who plunge headlong into the middle of the flood and who, accepting a turbulent life, struggle daily in great spirit with difficult circumstances. The wise person will endure that, but won’t choose it—choosing to be at peace, rather than at war.
SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 28.7
SENECA
MORAL LETTERS, 28.7

THE HALL OF STOIC PHILOSOPHERS

Junius Rusticus

Seneca

Marcus Aurelius

Epictetus

Statue of Thrasea Paetus

Thrasea Paetus

Lucius Annaeus

Diotimus

Publius Rutilius Rufus

Porcia of Cato

Cicero

Posidonius

Panaetius of Rhodes