Enchiridion by Epictetus: A Stoic Summary

Enchiridion by Epictetus: A Stoic Summary

Table of contents


The 'Enchiridion', often translated as "The Handbook" or "Manual," is one of the foundational texts of Stoic philosophy. Written by the philosopher Epictetus and compiled by his student Arrian, this guidebook serves as a practical roadmap to living a life of virtue and wisdom. This blog post aims to offer a detailed yet accessible summary of its essential teachings.

The Man Behind the Manual: Who Was Epictetus?

Epictetus was born a slave and spent much of his early life in Rome. After gaining his freedom, he dedicated his life to philosophy and teaching. He didn't pen the Enchiridion himself; rather, it was his student Arrian who compiled Epictetus' teachings into this concise guide.

Core Teachings in the Enchiridion:

1. Control vs. Lack of Control

One of the most famous teachings from the Enchiridion is the concept of control. Epictetus teaches that understanding the difference between what we can and can't control is the key to tranquility.

2. Virtue as the Ultimate Good

According to Epictetus, the ultimate goal in life is to live virtuously. Wealth, fame, and even health are secondary to the pursuit of a virtuous life.

3. Emotional Resilience

Epictetus argues that our emotional suffering comes from our judgments about events, not the events themselves. Changing our perspective can free us from negative emotions.

4. The Role of Reason

Epictetus emphasizes that reason is the path to understanding what is virtuous and what is not. Through reason, we can interpret events in a way that aids rather than hinders our pursuit of virtue.

5. Detachment

The Enchiridion also advocates a form of emotional detachment. It encourages us to love and appreciate things, but also to be ready to give them up.

6. Judgment and Assent

Epictetus instructs that we should be cautious about giving our assent to judgments without examining them carefully. Impulsive judgments often lead to irrational emotions and actions.

7. Endurance and Courage

Being virtuous often requires enduring hardships. Epictetus encourages us to face difficulties with courage and integrity.

8. Adapting to Circumstances

Life is full of unpredictable events. The Enchiridion teaches that a wise person adapts to whatever happens, turning obstacles into opportunities.

Read the best quotes from Enchiridion here and the best Stoic quotes from Epictetus here.

Practical Applications:

Be Mindful of Your Reactions

    Take a step back when you find yourself getting emotionally charged. Ask, "Is this something I can control?"

Practice Virtue in Daily Life

    Every day presents an opportunity for small acts of courage, wisdom, and kindness.

Accept What You Cannot Change

    Instead of worrying about things out of your control, direct your energy where you can actually make a difference.

You can put all of Epictetus' teachings to practical use in your day-to-day life with stoic.

Stoic Journaling for Reflection

Journaling is a practical way to integrate these Stoic principles into your daily life. stoic offers guided journals that can help you reflect on your actions, thoughts, and emotional patterns, enabling you to develop greater resilience and wisdom over time.

If you want to dive into more Stoic wisdom from Epictetus, we highly recommend checking out 'Discourses' – a more expansive collection of his teachings.


The Enchiridion serves as a timeless guide for living a virtuous and wise life. Its lessons are just as relevant today as they were nearly two millennia ago. Whether you're new to Stoicism or a seasoned practitioner, revisiting Epictetus's Enchiridion can be a worthwhile exercise in sharpening your philosophical toolkit.

Looking for more Stoic wisdom?

Find lessons, quotes, guided journals, and more in our app ↓