He used to say, the school itself initiated him a great way (I remember that was his very expression); for great schools are little societies, where a boy of any observation may see in epitome what he will afterwards find in the world at large.
-- Henry Fielding, The Adventures of Joseph Andrews, 1742
But far beyond all other creatures of the herd is the goat, the epitome of all that in an animal is worth living for; full of frolic when a baby, and knowing nothing but to jump off small eminences, and to cry mamma; conceited and pugnacious in youth; and in maturity solemn to a degree that is at times exasperating.
-- Oswald Parry, Six Months in a Syrian Monastery, 1895
Epitome came to English in the 1500s from the Greek meaning "abridgment" or "surface incision."