The creed of Epictetus - PDF book by Ulysses Baker Pierce

The creed of Epictetus  as contained in the discourses, manual and fragments 

The creed of Epictetus PDF book

The saying that great men commonly have short biographies finds ample warrant and abundant illustration in the case of Epictetus. For of this noble soul, whose words of wisdom have afforded strength and inspiration to the choice spirits of many generations, we know neither the year of birth nor that of death.

Even his parentage is unknown to us. Indeed, it is by no means certain that his real name has not been supplanted by what looks like a sort of nickname. Of the outward life of Epictetus little more is known than that he was born of obscure parents at Hierapolis. 

While the year of his birth can only be inferred, the fact that he was teaching in the reign of Domitian makes it probable that he was born about the middle of the first century. In the reign of Nero Epictetus was taken to Rome as the slave of Epaphroditus. By his master — say rather his owner — Epictetus has given an education: perhaps because he was not strong enough for manual labour, perhaps because the youth showed signs of unusual promise, or it may be, as is most likely, simply because his owner, like many of his day, was taken with the fancy and fashion of possessing an accomplished slave. But, however that may be, educated he was. Epaphroditus sent the young man to the philosophical lectures of C. Musonius Rufus, the eminent and leading Stoic expounder in Rome.

And most fortunate Epictetus was in coming under the teaching and influence of so able a philosopher and so wise a teacher. And happily, we are not without some intimation of the high regard that Epictetus felt for his teacher. Rufus must have been a Stoic of no mean ability and amply endowed with the power of teaching and inspiring his pupils. For Epictetus pays his master this high tribute: " He used to speak in such a way that every one of us sitting there supposed that someone had accused him before Rufus: he so touched on what was doing, he so placed before the eyes every man's faults."

Upon the death of Epaphroditus, Epictetus, it would seem, obtained his freedom. For we find Epictetus teaching philosophy in Rome, and they're bringing to his work the same rare gifts that he had so warmly praised in Rufus. Upon the banishment of the philosophers by Domitian, Epictetus betook himself to Nicopolis, where he became the acknowledged leader of the Stoic school, continuing his labours until his death at a good old age.

So far as is known, Epictetus wrote nothing; at least no writing of his has been preserved. His discourses have come down to us through the reports of one of his pupils. For if Socrates had his Plato, Epictetus had his Arrianus. Flavius Arrianus, not unknown for his public services as senator and consul and for his literary attainments as a historian of Alexander the Great, was an admiring and devoted disciple of Epictetus. And it is to the amplification and publication of his lecture notes that we are indebted for what we have of the discourses of Epictetus. We say, for what we have; for unfortunately half of these reports have been lost, four books only being preserved to us.

Author: Ulysses Baker Pierce - Ulysses Grant Baker Pierce was a Unitarian minister who served as Chaplain of the United States Senate.
 Publication Date:1916


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