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Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings Paperback – January 22, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cynthia King (translator) is associate professor, emerita, of classics, and William B. Irvine (editor) is professor of philosophy at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 102 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; Revised edition (January 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145645966X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1456459666
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William B. Irvine is professor of philosophy at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. For more on his life and writings, visit his author website at WilliamBIrvine.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This text is best seen as an additional resource for those interested in classic Stoicism, rather than as a stand alone representation of a philosophic system. This is due to the fact that we have only fragments (many approximately chapter length) of Musonius' teaching. However, as an additional resource, this a gem. Especially precious are Musonius' reflections on what it is a to be a philosopher, what work is appropriate to a philosopher, the nature of marriage, and the education of female philosophers. As this list suggests, Musonius sees philosophy not as a specialized discipline, but as an essential human task compatible with a fully human life (and the mundate fabric of that life). Many of these remarks are Musonius' replies to questions from students. Therefore, while not systematic, they show a philosophic mind in action, going where the concern of the student demands.
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I've been looking for a good English translation of Musonius Rufus for a while, I was very pleased to find this. If you like Seneca, Marcus Aurelius or Epictetus, you'll love this. highly recommended
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Finally, after about 50 years, a new translation of this great Stoic is available. King's translation in transparent, allowing us to sit at the feet of this great teacher. While there are a few terms that are transliterated, they are accompanied by explanatory footnotes, and serve to remind us that while these words are desperately needed in our day, they were taught nearly 2000 years ago. Wonderful work, and congratulations to both Bill and Cynthia for a successful, if long and hard fought, accomplishment.
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I just finished this superb and surprisingly easy to read translation of Rufus. I have read Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus thoroughly - and just came upon Rufus. I ordered the book, and loved the translations, the formatting, and of course the wisdom of Rufus. I love his practical advice in life. Some of the lessons I have learned from him in the book (just a summary):

On how to become a philosopher:

"The person who is practicing to become a philosopher must seek to overcome himself so that he won't welcome pleasure and avoid pain, so that he won't love living and fear death, and so that, in the case of money, he won't honor receiving over giving."

On acquiring good things by pain

"In order for us to withstand more easily and eagerly the pains we would be suffering on account of virtue and noble character, it is useful to consider how much trouble those who pursue illicit love-affairs undergo because of their wicked passions, how much others put up with for the sake of gain, and again how many ills some suffer in pursuit of fame.

On controlling your desires:

"And yet, wouldn't everyone agree that it is much better to work to gain control over one's own desires than it is to work to gain possession of someone else's wife-- and for a person to train himself to want little instead of struggling to become wealthy? And instead of exerting effort to gain fame, shouldn't a person strive to overcome his thirst for it? Instead of searching for a way to damage a person whom he envies, shouldn't he contemplate how not to bear envy against anyone? Instead of being slavish to some so-called friends, who are actually insincere, shouldn't he make sacrifices to win true friends?
Read more ›
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The Roman Stoics, Rufus, Epictetus, Seneca, and Aurelius, had much to say to 21st Century humanity. Rufus is both the most obscure of the lot, and the teacher of the rest, in one way or another. He is far from political correctness, which only demontrates his wisdom. This translation makes him easily understood, and is a good place to begin study of how to live a human life.
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Review of Musonius Rufus Lectures & Sayings Translated by Cynthia King.

As the author of the preface, William B. Irvine, notes, “Gaius Musonius Rufus (c. AD 30-100) was one of the four great Roman Stoic philosophers…” (p. 9). When Alexander the Great conquered the Near East he introduced many aspects of Greek culture—not least the philosophic erudition of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and the special perspectives of Pythagoreans, Epicureanism, Stoicism and other philosophic views. When historians seek to investigate the relationship of Greek philosophy to Judaism and later, to Christian approaches to life, they want to get as close to the original time frame and language in use to the subject matter they are studying. Judaism, and later, Christianity, picked up through syncretism many ideas that were carried into the Near East by the Greeks. But they put their own “spin” on these ideas. Scholars investigating the links between Stoicism and Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity would do well to have access to this useful translation into English of the original Greek texts (in in at least one case, Latin).
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I'm so glad Cynthia King translated Musonius Rufus' Lectures and Sayings, a crucial, but little appreciated collection of texts of ancient Stoicism. Musonius was Epictetus' teacher, and the latter turned out to be one of the most influential Roman writers on virtue ethics in general, not just Stoicism (among other things, Epictetus' had an impact on the emperor Marcus Aurelius, as well as on the early Church Fathers). Part I covers the more extensive material, which King groups under the "Lectures." It is followed by the shorter "Sayings," as well as by two appendices, one collecting further fragments by Musonius as reported by a number of other ancient authors, the second one dealing with a letter Musonius wrote to his friend Pankratides, on the value of a philosophical education for children. I also appreciated William Irvine's introduction to the new translation.
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