Some Things Are In Our Control And Others Not

In times like these, when hopes are dashed and all seems lost, when the red tide of battle has sown the fields with the corpses of your brethren, when a dark night has fallen that dawn may never break, it’s time to consult the Stoics.

One of the greatest of them was Epictetus (55-135), a slave of Rome who, after enduring unspeakable cruelty throughout his early life, achieved his freedom and became a teacher of philosophy. His lectures were transcribed by his young student Arrian, and the choicest of them come down to us in a slim volume known as the Enchiridion.

Read it here.

Read also this, if you want a tale of Stoicism in the face of unimaginable oppression: a speech by the late Admiral James Stockdale, who was tortured for seven years in Hanoi, and who, carrying the teachings of Epictetus in his heart, made them more than mere philosophy.

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  1. Alex says

    James Stockdale’s heroic conduct was down to more than merely reading the Stoics or even internalizing what they have to say. I believe there has to be an innate mental toughness to endure what he endured – without which no study of Epictetus’ doctrines would hinder the native hue of resolution being sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought etc. Mental toughness is the natural soil in which stoicism can flourish, I think.

    Posted November 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    No doubt.

    Posted November 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink