The Discourses of Epictetus are a series of extracts of the teachings of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus written down by Arrian c. 108 AD. There were originally eight books, but only four now remain in their entirety, along with a few fragments of the others. In a preface attached to the Discourses, Arrian explains how he came to write them:
I neither wrote these Discourses of Epictetus in the way in which a man might write such things; nor did I make them public myself, inasmuch as I declare that I did not even write them. But whatever I heard him say, the same I attempted to write down in his own words as nearly as possible, for the purpose of preserving them as memorials to myself afterwards of the thoughts and the freedom of speech of Epictetus.
The Discourses are unlikely to be word-for-word transcriptions and are probably written-up versions of Arrian's lecture notes. The books did not have a formal title in ancient times. Although Simplicius called them Diatribai (Discourses), other writers gave them titles such as Dialexis (Talks), Apomnêmoneumata (Records), and Homiliai (Conversations). The modern name comes from the titles given in the earliest medieval manuscript: "Arrian's Diatribai of Epictetus" (Greek: Αρριανου των Επικτητου Διατριβων).
Famous quotes containing the words discourses of and/or discourses:
“I have been told, that in some public discourses of mine my reverence for the intellect has made me unjustly cold to the personal relations. But now I almost shrink at the remembrance of such disparaging words. For persons are loves world, and the coldest philosopher cannot recount the debt of the young soul wandering here in nature to the power of love, without being tempted to unsay, as treasonable to nature, aught derogatory to the social instincts.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“Hath homely age th alluring beauty took
From my poor cheek? Then he hath wasted it.
Are my discourses dull? Barren my wit?
If voluble and sharp discourse be marred,
Unkindness blunts it more than marble hard.”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)