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Virtue and Happiness (Shambhala Calligraphy) Paperback – April 8, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Greek (translation)
Original Language: Latin

From the Inside Flap

Claude Mediavilla brings to the Greek text his training as both a painter and calligrapher, marrying modern variants of both medium and style with classical forms in a way that brings Epictetus? words to life with beauty and startling immediacy.
Calligraphy (from the Greek for "beautiful writing") is an art where word and image meet, where the artist strives to give visual expression to the meaning of words in a way that transcends the text while remaining completely faithful to it. It is a discipline that has been invested with spiritual significance wherever it has arisen--and it has arisen throughout the world in every age, in virtually every language, culture, and religion.
The Shambhala Calligraphy series is a collection of books devoted to contemporary expressions of this "art of the word," featuring contemporary calligraphers' striking new interpretations of texts that have been traditional subjects for calligraphic interpretation. Whether in Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, or Chinese pictographs, the characters, words, and sentences are brought to life anew here in a choreography of mind, hand, and heart by which letter and spirit fuse in a single stroke.

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Product Details

  • Series: Shambhala Calligraphy
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1 edition (April 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590300521
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590300527
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,286,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Owen Hatteras on April 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
Do not ask for what happens

to happen as you desire it; rather desire

that things should happen

as they happen, and you will be happy.


We do not even know his name, (Epictetus means "slave") only little more than that he was owned by one of Nero's freedmen, who made him permanently lame from a savage beating. Under Roman law, a slave was not even considered human, only a 'talking tool'. (Livestock were 'semi-talking tools', while implements such as plows and hoes were 'silent tools'.) Yet from such a terrible beginning came one of the foremost exponents of the morality of Stoicism in the classical world. As with Socrates, we only know of his teaching what diligent students wrote down (and precious little of that survived).

This book consists of 24 well-chosen excerpts from the "Enchiridion" (meaning "Manual"). These are set off by beautiful reproductions of Greek-letter calligraphy done on various media and printed on the facing pages. The coated, heavy-stock paper that the book is printed on not only makes for durability, it also gives the book a rich feel that only augments the pleasure of reading it.

The message of the book is starkly simple: true happiness is to be found within and consists of cultivating an equanimity and independence of spirit. The former seeks to moderate unbalancing passions of whatever sort, while the latter works itself out in right conduct, whatever the crowd thinks or does.

For my money, such a book as this is far more helpful than the "Meditations" of Marcus Aurelius in turning Stoicism from a dry philosophy to a way of life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bronx book nerd VINE VOICE on February 1, 2014
Format: Paperback
When I ordered this book I thought I was going to receive a comprehensive book covering Epictetus' teachings. I guess I should pay more attention. This book contains only some short snippets from Epictetus' work, although I must say that they are probably the essence of his Stoicism. The book tries to combine the art of calligraphy with the core of Epictetus' teachings. If you are into calligraphy this is probably a very good book; however, for me, the art has very little to do with the text. It is beautiful to see but it is really secondary for someone interested in Stoicism. With 20-plus Stoic maxims or teachings, the book can be a useful companion that one could carry in a (large) pocket and refer to throughout the day. What I have discovered, however, in reading Stoic works, is that the messages often require a guide or a tutor for fuller comprehension and appreciation. Were it not for this portability and accessibility value, I would give the book only three stars, as the full Stoic text would otherwise fit on a two-sided 8.5 by 11 sheet. The calligraphy and art add value, but not that much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Mease on September 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
A poorly edited but well-intentioned echo of the calligraphic power of medieval illuminated manuscripts, this brief presentation of about a dozen maxims from the Echiridion is a nice coffee table relic for modern Stoics.

Notes and Observations
If you're not turned off by the blatant typo in the first sentence of the introduction, you will find a small treasure of newly designed Greek calligraphy to accompany a few short sententiae from Epictetus' Enchiridion. This would make an excellent gift for anyone passionate about Stoicism (as everyone should be!). The art work is beautiful, and the maxims well chosen.

A few of the calligraphic representations are so abstract as to be nearly illegible. As the artist notes in his afterword, his intention was an exploration of calligraphy as a medium, not a presentation of the Greek text prima facie.
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