Epictetus, a stoic philosopher said that “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.

No writings by Epictetus are known. His discourses were transcribed and compiled by his pupil Arrian. Epictetus maintains that the foundation of all philosophy is self-knowledge; that is, the conviction of our ignorance and gullibility ought to be the first subject of our study.

Both his main work, the Discourses and a popular digest, the Enchiridion begin by distinguishing between those things in our power (prohairetic things) and those things not in our power.

– That alone is in our power, which is our own work; and in this class are our opinions, impulses, desires, and aversions. On the contrary, what is not in our power, are our bodies, possessions, glory, and power. Any delusion on this point leads to the greatest errors, misfortunes, and troubles, and to the slavery of the soul.

Epictetus was born around AD 50. He spent his youth in Rome as a slave to Epaphroditus, a wealthy freedman and secretary to Nero. With the permission of his wealthy master, he studied Stoic philosophy under Musonius Rufus. Epictetus obtained his freedom sometime after the death of Nero in AD 68.