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Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life Paperback – March 11, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0199268856 ISBN-10: 0199268851

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199268851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199268856
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.9 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Will be most welcome to all serious scholars of the slave turned Stoic student turned Stoic teacher. ... [Long's] contributions...help to ensure that Epictetus will continue to enjoy an active 'afterlife'."--Ancient Philosophy


"With deft sensitivity to how Epictetus' pedagogic concerns influence what he says in different contexts.... Long's focus on questions of how one might live as a philosopher keeps his book accessible and engaging throughout, as do the extensive quotations from Epictetus' discourses in Long's own lively translations."--Choice


"A. A. Long's splendid Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life...could be used successfully in everything from an introductory survey-course on Greek philosophy to a graduate seminar on Stoicism."--Wolfgang Mann, Note Dame Philosophical Reviews


"The first monograph for 34 years devoted to that most readable and read of all Stoics.... This is an exemplary work of intellectual history: it has never taken much to see that Epictetus is a witty, direct, and humane teacher of an interesting philosophy; it is good to have a study which explains something of what he (as opposed merely to it) is about."--Greece & Rome


"[A] splendidly accessible study...Long's book offers expert and lucid guidance on every aspect of Epictetus' philosophy and his various teaching strategies, illustrated by numerous excerpts from the Discourses. It is written in a manner that is both calmly accepting of Epictetus' peculiarities and, in the proper sense, philosophical."--Times Literary Supplement


About the Author

A. A. Long is in the Department of Classics, University of California, Berkeley.

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Customer Reviews

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A.A. Long is a well-established specialist in the philosophical schools of the Hellenistic period.
Thomas
This is worth every penny if you are interesting in rediscovering the powerful message of the Stoic approach to life and happiness.
Timothy E. Gressett
The result is that anyone who reads this book will, if they haven't already, be compelled to read Epictetus.
Curtis Steinmetz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 131 people found the following review helpful By Jean-Francois Virey on December 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
There are three types of books : the Great Books, those that distract us from them and those that lead us to them. A. A. Long's *Epictetus* belongs to the latter category : it is the perfect introduction to the thought of Roman Stoic philosopher Epictetus (c.50- c.130) and what little has survived of it (I was particularly distressed to learn that what I knew as his Discourses are only about half of the original text, as only four of the original eight books have survived.)

A leading proponent of Late Stoicism («the phase of Stoics during the Roman Empire» (19)), converted by his teacher Musonius Rufus, Epictetus may well be the most attractive figure of the movement. Unlike Seneca, he was a «practicing teacher» (11) and had no «fascination with suicide» (204.) And unlike Marcus Aurelius, he was not involved in the persecution of Christians (In his brilliant *The Founding of Christendom*, historian Warren Carroll writes that «Marcus Aurelius would never have approved the hellish tortures inflicted on the martyrs of Lyons in 177, yet they were inflicted on his authority» (p488.))

Moreover, contrary to the pantheism of most members of the school, he had a personalist conception of God (21) which makes his thought much more germane to the worldview of modern Christians, as this tends to replace the «point of view of the [impersonal] universe» cherished by Aurelius with a much more benevolent and purposive divine point of view as a frame of reference (205.) Epictetus's understanding of Providence and of the Natural Law should also appeal to modern conservative Catholics. As for his saying that «No one is free who is in error» (108), it finds a clear echo in its more famous converse : « the Truth shall make you free.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Curtis Steinmetz on June 23, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
[Note added later: I had originally given this book a 4 star review. Almost two years later I came back and bumped it up to 5. This is a book to cherish and to come back to over and over again. Stoicism is a way of life, and it requires a lifetime to study it. Long's book is an invaluable companion on the journey. The rest of this review is the same as originally written.]

The great strength of A. A. Long's book on Epictetus is that Long views Epictetus, and Stoicism in general, as being firmly rooted in the broader tradition of ancient philosophy. This is reflected in his reference to Socrates in the book's title.

Throughout the book Long engagingly draws the reader into the world of philosophy as it was lived. Especially in the first half of the book Long emphasizes Epictetus' humanity - as well as that of his students. The result is that anyone who reads this book will, if they haven't already, be compelled to read Epictetus.

The two things that I wasn't crazy about are (1) Long's dismissal of the Epictetus' "Handbook" as unimportant (Long prefers to only look at the "Discourses"), and (2) the second half of the book is more technical and less fun to read than the first half. Long is, after all, a contemporary philsopher, and the second half of the book seems to be more aimed at his colleagues and students of academic philosophy rather than the general public.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Thomas on September 7, 2005
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This is a fine introduction to the thought of the ex-slave Epictetus. A.A. Long is a well-established specialist in the philosophical schools of the Hellenistic period. While professional philosophers have paid attention to the technical and "academic" side of this period, it is finally refreshing to see serious, thoughtful engagement with the practical and humanistic thinkers. Philosophy used to be a guide for living and perhaps it can be again some day. The work of Pierre Hadot, especially his studies on Marcus Aurelius or Plotinus, is also be recommended.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By John P. Morian Jr. on March 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Professor Long is an outstanding scholar, but as important, he is an excellent writer and a genuine pedagogue. Not content with a vehicle for academic display, he manages to produce an extremely readable book. I am most impressed with his obvious devotion to teaching, as his careful presentation makes evident. After reading this book, I am very impressed with Epictetus, but even more impressed with Professor Long. Thank you Sir.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Timothy E. Gressett on January 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
The book reads well and is full of information. It's like taking an entire course about Epictetus at a major university--becuase it is. I am a student at Tulane University and I just used this book for an Independent Study course on Epictetus. I designed the course myself. This book was the only one I needed to buy in order to get an A from my advisor whose discipline is in Ancient Philosophy. This is worth every penny if you are interesting in rediscovering the powerful message of the Stoic approach to life and happiness.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By not me VINE VOICE on May 5, 2008
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I don't have much to add to the glowing reviews of this book. It's gracefully written, philosophically sensitive, and of manageable length. If I had any complaint, it's that the author, Berkeley prof A.A. Long, doesn't devote enough attention to the Stoic thinkers who preceded Epictetus. Instead, he explores Epictetus's affinities to Socrates. This makes his book less-than-ideal as an introduction to Stoicism -- but anyone who already has that background and wants to deepen his understanding of Epictetus's Discourses should start here. Highly recommended.
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