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Epictetus: is believed to have been born sometime between 50-60 AD in Phrygia, near present-day Turkey, and may have died around 135 AD (Long preface). Born a slave, he gained his freedom and went on to teach philosophy in Rome (Bonaforte vii-viii). Epictetus, one of the first significant stoic philosophers, emphasizes reason and self control. His works influenced more later philosophies such as rationalism and secularisim.

Epictetus is relevant to “Signs of the Times” in two ways. First, Carlyle refers to him as a free spirit who had become enslaved; historically, this is true. Epictetus was a slave, but his mind was able to take flight and produce revolutionary and influential ideas. Second, his philosophy of stoicism is in line with Carlyle's stance throughout the work.


Bonaforte, John. The Philosophy of Epictetus. New York: Philosophical Library, 1955.

Last modified 25 March 2010