Nowadays people tend to think a "stoic" person is one who bears up under sorrow without complaining. While this is somewhat true, it is a blindered view of what a Stoic aspires to. Epictetus was a freed slave, apparently born sometime during the middle of the first century. He became the leading teacher of Stoicism and an immense [though indirect] influence upon the emperor Marcus Aurelius, the closest the world has ever come to having a "philosopher-king." The Enchiridion is a "digest," a sampling of the heart of Epictetus' teaching, which must not be thought of as Epictetus' own ideas, but rather as his embodiment and distillation of the "truths" of Stoicism as brought forward over several centuries to his day. His aim was to live a life, and to teach his students to live a life, of calm and peace and happiness, in which outward events, no matter how hideous, cannot disturb. In this, he was similar to the Buddha, teaching his students to rise toward nirvana. The basic principle of Stoic philosophy, as maintained by Epictetus, was simple: we, as human beings, control only our responses to what happens around us: we cannot control events; we cannot make others do what we wish; we cannot even control whether we get sick or not: we CAN control how we react toward events, and it is toward this that we should direct our efforts. The Enchiridion is a wonderful book, a soothing balm, a great place to begin: read it slowly; think about how its teachings can be applied to your daily situation; then strive to apply them. When you feel that you have a good grasp of the Enchiridion, THEN go on to the Discourses. Stoicism is not a matter of learning "doctrines" or "dogmas": it is a matter of bringing your spirit into line--a goal to strive toward, without ever truly reaching it. The Buddha believed that all life is suffering, and that we must learn how to transcend that suffering. Epictetus' view of the world is more positive: life contains both good and bad, but we must learn how to control our reactions to both. His teachings are a manual for the striver.