Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius are two people I hadn’t heard much about except the occasional mention of Emperor Aurelius. But Epictetus' Enchiridion or Aurelius' Meditations? Not so much.

That I was ignorant was probably as much my fault as that of anyone, but I’m grateful that I stumbled upon them. I forget the exact moment I started reading Epictetus' work…last year, perhaps. I’d become a bit disillusioned as a result of the crazy stuff going on with Christian Nationalism, as well as a reading of “actual” histories. Pretty sobering stuff. The more I’ve read, the more I realize how pervasive these types of sayings and bits of wisdom are.

Bits of Wisdom

So I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to get an AI model to summarize some of the best sayings of Epictetus and Aurelius? Save me the time of pulling those up. I don’t know if you do it, but I keep a few quotes written down in a notebook, if not an online space. Here is one of my favorite compilations, which I actually have engraved in one of my fancier notebooks. It’s not a bad reminder to keep in mind.

Rejoice in what you have, cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of your will, make the best of what is in your power and take the rest as it comes. Latin: non fui, fui, non-sum, non-curo.

Or, consider this one from Plato:

Those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed, by the masses.

Anyways, I thought it might be fun to see what Epictetus or Aurelius had to say about a cherished value. I had the idea as I was looking at one of those little Gideon New Testaments with a word followed by a scripture quote. Wouldn’t it be fun to have something similar with Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius?

Top 10 Sayings of Epictetus

While I’ve read Enchiridion (it’s pretty short) several times, I haven’t made my way entirely through Meditations. I hope I’ll get to rectify that going forward. In the meantime, here’s what Perplexity.ai Pro thought were the top 10 sayings for Epictetus and Aurelius…this time.


What are 10 top sayings of Epictetus from simplest to implement to the most difficult? Place a one word descriptor in front of each saying or lesson. Word the saying in modern language to make it easier to understand and write them at a fifth grade reading level.

Epictetus' Sayings in Modern Language

  • Acceptance: “Do your best with what you can control and accept everything else as it happens.”
  • Freedom: “You’re only truly free when you can control yourself.”
  • Friendship: “Finding a true friend when things are bad is very hard.”
  • Identity: “You are not just your looks or your stuff, but what you choose to do.”
  • Learning: “You can’t learn new things if you think you know everything.”
  • Patience: “We don’t know why people do what they do, so don’t be quick to judge them.”
  • Perception: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you think about it that matters.”
  • Self-Discovery: “Tough times show you who you really are.”
  • Self-Mastery: “Being in charge of your own thoughts and feelings is the best kind of freedom.”
  • Thoughtfulness: “Think carefully before you speak or act.”

The AI was kind enough to say:

These sayings, simplified for easier understanding, encapsulate key principles of Stoicism as taught by Epictetus, emphasizing self-control, the importance of inner freedom, and the value of understanding our own perceptions and reactions to the world around us.

Marcus Aurelius' Top 10


What are 10 top sayings of Marcus Aurelius (Meditations) from simplest to implement to the most difficult? Place a one word descriptor in front of each saying or lesson. Word the saying in modern language to make it easier to understand and write them at a fifth grade reading level. Link the one word descriptor to the citation.

A follow-up prompt

Put them in alpha order of one-word descriptor. Link the one-word descriptor with the citation included

The result:

  • Action: “Stop talking about what a good person should be and just be one.”
  • Anger: “Being angry hurts you more than what made you angry.”
  • Appreciation: “Be happy to be alive, to think, and to love every morning.”
  • Beauty: “Life is beautiful. Look at the stars and feel like you’re running with them.”
  • Control: “You can decide how you think and feel, not what happens outside.”
  • Fate: “Love the life you have and the people in it with all your heart.”
  • Perspective: “What we hear is just someone’s idea, not the whole truth.”
  • Revenge: “The best way to deal with someone who hurt you is to be nothing like them.”
  • Self-Reflection: “Your true self is about what you think, not just your body or breath.”
  • Thoughts: “Your happiness depends on how you think about things.”