Who Was the Real Epictetus?


Epictetus is my favorite character in The Purloined Boy but he is more than a character — I based him partly on a real person named Epictetus.

The real Epictetus was Greek and lived in the first century A.D.

He had a couple of things in common with the Epictetus in my story. First, he was a slave; and second, he was wise — very wise, in fact. He was so wise that, despite being a slave and never writing anything down himself, many of his sayings come down to us in the wonderful little book, The Golden Sayings of Epictetus.

Like Socrates, what we know of Epictetus comes to us through one of his disciples — a fellow named Arrian.

The real Epictetus was lame. According to legend he was lame because of the tortures he received at the hand of his master. In my story my Epictetus is blind in one eye. Perhaps I’ll explain why I changed that detail sometime.

In the days ahead I share with you some of the things the real Epictetus said. I think you’ll agree he was as wise as the legends say he was.


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