Although the content is derived from the Discourses of Epictetus, it is not a summary of the Discourses, but rather it is compilation of practical precepts. The Handbook is a guide to daily life. Unlike some of his forefathers in Greek philosophy (i.e. Plato and the other metaphysicists), Epictetus focuses his attention on how to practically apply oneself on a philosophical level. The primary theme in this short work is that one should expect what will happen and wish it to happen so. The other motif that appears is Epictetus' opinion on the judgment of events:
What upsets people is not things themselves but their judgments about the things. For example, "death is nothing dreadful (or else it would have appeared dreadful to Socrates)..."
-- Chapter Five of the Handbook.
Underlying all of this, however, is the idea that "Some things are up to us and some are not up to us" and we must react and interact with those things accordingly.
Even in antiquity the Enchiridion was regarded as a suitable manual of practical philosophy, and maintained its authority for many centuries, both with Christians and Pagans. In the 6th century, Simplicius wrote a commentary upon it, and two Christian writers, Nilus and an anonymous author wrote paraphrases of it, adapted for Christians, in the first half of the 5th century. The Enchiridion was first published in a Latin translation by Poliziano, Rome, 1493, and in 1496, by Beroaldus, at Bologna. The Greek original, with the commentary of Simplicius, appeared first at Venice, 1528.