The Enchiridion or Handbook of Epictetus is a short manual of Stoic ethical advice compiled by Arrian, a 2nd-century disciple of the Greek philosopher Epictetus. Although the content is mostly derived from the Discourses of Epictetus, it is not a summary of the Discourses but rather a compilation of practical precepts. Eschewing metaphysics, Arrian focuses his attention on Epictetus’s work applying philosophy to daily life. The book is thus a manual to show the way to achieve mental freedom and happiness in all circumstances. The Enchiridion appears to be a loosely-structured selection of maxims.
In his 6th-century Commentary, Simplicius divided the text into four distinct sections suggesting a graded approach to philosophy:
Chapters 1-21. What is up to us and not, and how to deal with external things:
1-2. What is up to us and not, and the consequences of choosing either.
3-14. How to deal with external things (reining the audience in from them).
15-21. How to use external things correctly and without disturbance.
Chapters 22-28. Advice for intermediate students:
22-25. The problems faced by intermediate students.
26-28. Miscellania: the common conceptions, badness, and shame.
Chapters 30-47. Technical advice for the discovery of appropriate actions (kath’konta):
30-33. Appropriate actions towards (a) other people, (b) God, (c) divination, (d) one’s own self.
34-47. Miscellaneous precepts on justice (right actions).
Chapters 48-53. Conclusions on the practice of precepts:
48. Final advice and his division of types of people.
49-52. The practice of precepts.
53. Quotations for memorization.