The Greek philosopher Epictetus was born into slavery about 55 CE in the eastern outreaches of the Roman Empire. While still a slave, Epictetus was brought to Rome and sent by his master Epaphroditus to study under the Stoic philosopher Gaius Musonius Rufus.
Epictetus was eventually freed from slavery, although the exact date is unknown. Afterwards he turned to teaching, and established an influential school of Stoic philosophy. His main concerns were with personal freedom, self-control and integrity, stressing that human beings cannot control life, only their responses to it. Epictetus was as respected a teacher as he was a philosopher, and his distinguished students included Marcus Aurelius, author of Meditations.
Nearly two thousand years after it was written, Epictetus's A Manual for Living still speaks to the challenges of human existence. This distillation of Epictetus's teachings, gathered together by his student Flavius Arrian, features aphorisms of stunning insight and simplicity. In straightforward, no-nonsense language, the author offers thoroughly pragmatic reflections on how best to live with serenity and joy.