I was born around 50 C.E. in Hierapolis, a Greek city of Asia Minor. A significant portion of of my life has been spent as the slave of an important administrator in the republic. Since earning my freedom, I’ve shared stoic teachings regarding integrity, self-management, and personal freedom with those around.

Though the specifics of how my ancestors became slaves originally, I found myself bound in servitude from my first breath, and the course of my early life was set. As a young boy, I was taken to Rome as part of the endless procession of possessions from all corners of the Empire and put to work to ultimately serve the patricians.

My master was Epaphroditus, a powerful and wealthy freedman who served as a secretary to the Roman emperor Nero. Epaphroditus was known for his influence within the imperial court and his close ties to the emperor. Despite the precarious nature of my status as a slave, I was fortunate that my owner recognised my intellectual potential and allowed me to study philosophy.

My meagre origins never stifled my inquisitiveness; instead, it fueled an insatiable yearning for wisdom. Fortune smiled upon me when Epaphroditus, perceiving my keen intellect and recognising my potential, granted me access to the teachings of Musonius Rufus. Under his sagacious tutelage, I began comprehending the tenets of Stoicism, which would indelibly shape my philosophical outlook and guide my life’s trajectory.

As a consequence of my enslavement, my personal relationships were circumscribed by the exigencies of my station. I did not experience the joys and sorrows of traditional familial life. Nonetheless, the absence of family bonds compelled me to forge meaningful connections with those who shared my love for philosophy. These intellectual kinships transcended the limitations of my social status, affording me a profound sense of belonging and purpose.

A fresh start

The year 68 AD heralded a new epoch in my life and that of every one of my fellow citizens. The death of Nero, followed by the tumultuous Year of the Four Emperors, resulted in my emancipation from servitude. Freed from the fetters of bondage, I embarked on a new chapter, my erstwhile condition metamorphosing into a catalyst for my burgeoning career as a philosopher.

Once free, I relocated to Rome. There I resided in a humble dwelling, which housed not only myself but also my modest collection of possessions. Among these items was a simple yet functional oil lamp that cast its warm glow upon the room, providing light for my studies and philosophical ponderings. Without it, I was limited to studying during only daylight hours.

One fateful night, as I lay in slumber, a thief stealthily entered my abode, pilfering my lamp and vanishing into the darkness. Upon discovering the loss, I was struck by a moment of reflection, an opportunity to apply the Stoic principles I so fervently preached.

While I could have lamented the loss of my lamp and harboured resentment toward the perpetrator, I chose instead to embrace the wisdom discussed in the classroom. I reminded myself of the dichotomy of control, understanding that the thief’s actions were beyond my purview. I focused on my inner disposition, acknowledging the impermanence of material possessions and the futility of attachment.

As I contemplated the situation further, I found solace in the notion that the thief had gained something of value while I had not truly lost anything of significance. My true wealth resided in my inner virtues, wisdom, and the strength of character that no thief could ever purloin. The ripple effect of this act can be felt through the annals of time as it encouraged me and those who bore witness that the mindset I teach is a healthy one to adopt.

My School of Philosophy

My humble abode became an intellectual sanctuary for those who sought to understand the world and themselves, a forum for exchanging ideas and cultivating wisdom. My school, a modest yet vibrant intellectual sanctuary, attracted students from various backgrounds who were eager to understand the benefits of leading a life of proper reason.

At the school, I employed the Socratic method of dialogue and inquiry to seed profound truths in the students' minds. My pedagogical style, marked by a distinctive didacticism, fostered an environment that encouraged active participation, critical thinking, and self-reflection. My teachings centred around the core tenets of Stoicism, with a particular emphasis on the importance of understanding the dichotomy of control, cultivating inner resilience, and pursuing virtue as the ultimate goal in life.

The atmosphere within my school was one of camaraderie and mutual respect as students and teachers embarked on a shared journey of self-discovery and intellectual growth. I strived to instil in my pupils the belief that true wisdom could be attained through rigorous introspection, self-discipline, and the diligent application of sound principles in their daily lives. This was to last 15 years before events in Rome caused a sudden and dramatic twist in my life. One that would end up being most fortunate.

In 93 AD, the Roman Emperor Domitia implemented a series of measures against philosophers and other individuals he perceived as a potential threat to his rule. In his quest to consolidate power and suppress dissent, he banished all philosophers from inside the walls of Rome and, later, from Italy as a whole. As a prominent voice in the city’s philosophical circles, I was exiled along with thousands of my fellow thinkers.

Moving to Greece, I quickly settled in Nicopolis. The city was a bustling and thriving centre of culture and learning. Founded by the Roman Emperor Augustus around 31 BC to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Actium, Nicopolis sits on the western coast in the region of Epirus. Its strategic location near the Ambracian Gulf allowed for flourishing trade and connectivity with all corners of the Roman Empire.

Nicopolis is adorned with impressive public buildings, monuments, and amenities, showcasing the grandeur of Roman architecture and urban planning. The city boasted a theatre, an odeon, public baths, an aqueduct, and a variety of temples dedicated to various deities. Wide, well-paved streets crisscrossed the city, facilitating movement and commerce.

The city afforded its inhabitants all the trappings of modern life. Still, it acted as a melting pot of diverse cultures, religions, and philosophical traditions to create a vibrant intellectual atmosphere. Greek, Roman, and Eastern cultural elements coexisted and intermingled, fostering an environment conducive to exchanging ideas and scholarly pursuits.

It was within this stimulating context that I established my school of philosophy. Attracting students from far and wide, the school became a hub for studying and disseminating Stoic thought. Despite the challenges posed by my exile, I found Nicopolis a welcoming and fertile ground for nurturing the growth of our shared philosophy and continuing my life’s work as a teacher and philosopher with a new generation of students.

Among them was Arrian of Nicomedia, a respected historian, philosopher, and statesman who joined the call in 108AD. Arrian was an attentive and dedicated student, meticulously documenting my teachings during his time at my school in Nicopolis. His detailed accounts of my lectures and discourses were later compiled into two significant works: the Discourses of Epictetus and the Enchiridion, or the Handbook. These texts, which remain treasured contributions to Western thought, are invaluable in providing insight into my teachings and ensuring their preservation for future generations.

Arrian’s achievements extended beyond his role as my disciple. As a historian, he authored several important works, including The Anabasis of Alexander, which chronicled the campaigns of Alexander the Great. He also served as a high-ranking Roman official, eventually becoming the governor of Cappadocia, a province in modern-day Turkey.

Lasting Influence

My mortal existence, like that of all human beings, was transient. Subcuming to advanced years in 135 AD, I’m content with the impact my brief 85 years of life have had on humankind. I endeavoured to leave an indelible imprint upon the sands of time by sharing knowledge. My magnum opus, the Enchiridion, encapsulates the essence of my philosophical teachings, a compendium of practical wisdom designed to guide its readers through the vicissitudes of life. It serves as a beacon of hope and solace for the generations ahead.

Stoicism, as a school of thought, engendered profound insights into the nature of human existence. My contribution to this rich intellectual tradition emphasised the importance of cultivating equanimity in the face of adversity, recognising that external circumstances were beyond our control while our inner disposition remains firmly within our purview. I sought to highlight the path to tranquillity and contentment, urging my adherents to focus on the things that lay within their purview and to relinquish their attachment to that which they could not influence.

The legacy I leave behind is not one of personal grandeur or material wealth but of intellectual enrichment and spiritual nourishment. My life’s work continues to inspire scholars and laypersons alike, transcending the confines of the ancient world and permeating the annals of philosophical thought.

I am honoured that Albert Ellis, a renowned psychotherapist, acknowledged my teachings as instrumental in shaping his therapeutic approach. Ellis recognised the enduring relevance of my insights regarding human nature. His theory, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, evolved into a significant component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is today a powerful tool for addressing mental health issues.

My name may not be the most illustrious in the pantheon of Stoic philosophers. Yet, my influence has been far-reaching and enduring. My teachings have been embraced by diverse individuals, from Roman emperors such as Marcus Aurelius to modern-day thought leaders and scholars. My writings have been subjected to rigorous analysis and interpretation, yielding a rich tapestry of insights that have informed philosophical discourse through the ages.

As the pages of history turn, my place in history stands as a testament to the power of the human spirit, my humble beginnings serving as a poignant reminder that wisdom can be found in the most unexpected of places. My life’s journey, from the depths of enslavement to the pinnacles of philosophical enlightenment, exemplifies the transformative potential of Stoicism, a beacon of hope for those who seek to cultivate inner fortitude and serenity in the face of life’s vicissitudes.

My legacy, though intangible, continues to reverberate throughout the ages, inspiring generations to embrace the wisdom of the Stoic tradition and seek solace in the face of adversity. My teachings will continue to provide guidance and comfort to those who seek a deeper understanding of the human condition, transcending the bounds of time and space to touch the hearts and minds of people worldwide. For that, I am humbled for all eternity.