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September 2011

The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness
by Epictetus


MON SEP. 26 1:15 - 2:15 p.m. McDowell Center
Hosted by: ENG 102 Class
Instructor: Ela Rybicka

MC 200 B-C
Panel Discussion
TUE SEP. 27 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Bradner Library
L 105
THU SEP. 29 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. Radcliff Center
RC 645


Epictetus was born into slavery about 55 CE in the eastern outreaches of the Roman Empire. Once
freed, he established an influential school of Stoic philosophy, stressing that human beings cannot
control life, only their responses to it. By putting into practice the ninety-three witty, wise, and razor-sharp instructions that make up The Art of Living, readers learn to meet the challenges of everyday life successfully and to face life’s inevitable losses and disappointments with grace.



Epictetus (circa 55–135 CE) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He lived and taught in Rome until the year 94 CE, when Emperor Domitian banished philosophers from the city. In exile, he established a school of philosophy where his distinguished students included Marcus Aurelius, author of Meditations. Epictetus never wrote anything; our knowledge of his philosophy and his method as a teacher comes to us through two works composed by his student Arrian: the Discourses and the Encheiridion (titled in English either Manual or Handbook).

Compiled by Wayne Pricer, Schoolcraft College Librarian
 Prepared by Wayne Pricer, Schoolcraft College Librarian

1. According to Epictetus: How can you live a happy, meaningful, and fulfilling life?

2. What elements in your own life, can you identify that are within your control, and what elements of your life are beyond your control?

3. “We are disturbed not by events, but by the views which we take of them.” What does Epictetus mean by this quote?

4. What themes can you identify or relate to, in his writings?

5. "Don't just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are very helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents."  What do you think Epictetus is saying in this quote? Do you agree or disagree with him?

6. “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”   What is he saying here? Do you agree or disagree with him?

7. What does it mean to be a Stoic?

8. Do you agree with the following quote? “No man is free who is not master of himself.”

9. How well do you think his writings relate to the present day?

We would like to hear from you! What did you think of The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness? Please e-mail your thoughts, comments, and questions to:
Debbee Sheppard,
Sep 29, 2011, 4:49 AM