ENKHEIRIDION is ‘handy’. So this word stands for ‘convenient to handle and to use’. In the context of our philosophy the term designates a manual, a handbook. Then, it mainly refers to the writings of Arrianos (Arrian), the 2nd-century disciple of Epiktetos (Epictetus).
In the <Enkheirídion Epiktetou> we find basic prescriptions of Stoics. It begins this way: “some things depend upon ourselves, others do not depend upon ourselves“. So the main concern is with matters under one’s control, not depending on external chance or change. Firstly, Epiktetos differentiates between our inner dimension of mental pros and cons and the external world (out of our control). Hence, freedom is a privilege that should never regard what is not in our domain. If misfortune hits us, we should never let our pain overwhelm our inward mastery and freedom.
Constant awareness is important in realizing that it is judgement, not things, which affects people. Reason must be the ruling principle in everything. Therefore, we need to use our rational power of acceptance over impressions, and do not desire whatever is up to other people or major force.
Epiktetos’ Discourses motivates students with arguments and logic. Instead <Enkheiridion> is a set of rules to follow. That is why <Enkheiridion> is handy. Epiktetos thinks that a wise person, with the help of philosophy, might get advantages from experience. Thus the book is a manual on how to develop according to what is necessary and sufficient for good life.
Epiktetos uses images and analogies. For instance he describes life as a ship’s voyage, an inn, a banquet and as acting in a play. He takes many instances from everyday life, including: a broken jug, a trip to the baths, his own lameness, the loss of a child, and the price of lettuce.