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Discourses and Selected Writings (Penguin Classics) 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140449464
ISBN-10: 0140449469
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1 edition (November 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449464
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a nice, flowing, intelligent translation of the Discourses of Epictetus by an important and respected scholar in the field. The edition also includes the Enchiridion (Handbook) and fragments. The notes and recommended readings are current and helpful.

There is one caveat though: The text is ABRIDGED. The product description does not make this clear. Dobbin justifies omitting selected discourses from books 3-4 due to repetition of themes. For example in book 3, sections 1-2, 6-7, 9-15, 17-19, 21, 24-26 are missing. In book 4, discourses 5-12 have been omitted. This unfortunately limits the usefulness of the text. If you want the complete text, I recommend the Everyman edition (edited by Christopher Gill, with a revised translation by Robin Hard). Better yet if you can afford it, get the two volume Loeb Classical Library edition with the facing Greek text.

In short, this is a nice abridged edition of Epictetus, useful for those who want a streamlined introduction to the philosopher, but limited due to the abridgment.
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Format: Paperback
Dobbin's translation attempts to 'modernize' Epictetus, but succeeds only in rendering the text awkward and clunky. Far, far better is the Everyman's Library edition, translated by Robin Hard. The Discourses of Epictetus - The Handbook - Fragments (Everyman's Library) Here's a comparison to illustrate my point, from Book 3, Chapter 22 (On The Cynic Calling) Line 20:

Dobbin: "My mind represents for me my medium - like wood to a carpenter, or leather to a shoemaker. The goal in my case is the correct use of impressions."

Hard: "From this time forth, the material I must work upon is my own mind, as wood is the material of a carpenter or leather that of a shoemaker; for my business is to make right use of my impressions."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have taught an Ancient Philosophy course a few times, always including a few meetings on Epictetus. In my experience, Dobbins' Penguin version of Epictetus is easily the best edition for such a course. Since the course is a survey (covering the Pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, and Marcus Aurelius), but with a sustained focus on Plato and Aristotle, we don't have time to read every line of Epictetus. Dobbins' edition, however, affords students considerable exposure, the translation is accurate and fresh, and Penguin editions do an amazing job of keeping the prices well within an undergraduate's budget. I highly recommend this edition.
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Format: Paperback
Philosophy has intrigued me since I was eighteen years old (never mind how long ago that was!) While I am hardly an expert in philosophy, it has made for some fascinating reading, and the writings of the Stoics have particularly grabbed me, especially Epictetus. He was the first Stoic writer I read. I later went on to read Marcus Aurelius and parts of Seneca, but I must confess that Epictetus is my favorite.

I was pleasantly surprised the first time I began the DISCOURSES. I had confused STOICISM with SPARTAN and was expecting to read admonitions to sleep on nails, sleep outside in the freezing cold wearing only one thin garment and to self-flagellate regularly. Well, I found none of the above. Basically, Epictetus teaches that happiness consists of learning what is in our control and what isn't, and to live in harmony with God and nature. Also central to Stoic thought is the importance of correct reasoning.

I was also pleasantly surprised that Stoicism does not advocate an uncaring view of the world. The DISCOURSES are full of examples of family, politics, friendship issues as well as dealing with hardships. I had a good chuckle over the the title: "To those who tackle philosophy just to be able to talk about it." (Book 2, chapter 19) On page 126, he says "Just pay attention to the way you behave and you will discover the philosophy you really belong to."

The introduction and "Further Reading" sections give examples of prominent people whose lives were (and some still are) profoundly influenced by Epictetus.

This volume contains all four "Books" of Epictetus' DISCOURSES as well as the ENCHIRIDION, a condensation of his teachings into smaller paragraphs and sayings. I was also pleased to find fragments of other writings from Epictetus as well which I didn't know still were around.

They are well worth reading.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Length: 18:34 Mins
“The true man is revealed in difficult times. So when trouble comes, think of yourself as a wrestler whom God, like a trainer, has paired with a tough young buck. For what purpose? To turn you into Olympic-class material. But this is going to take some sweat to accomplish. From my perspective, no one’s difficulties ever gave him a better test than yours, if you are prepared to make use of them the way a wrestler makes use of an opponent in peak condition.”

~ Epictetus from Discourses

Epictetus is known as one of the world’s leading Stoic philosophers. Along with Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, the three make up a very interesting bunch.

Seneca was essentially a billionaire advisor to Nero who was exiled and compelled to commit suicide while Aurelius was part Roman Emperor + part Stoic philosopher who wrote his Meditations while leading battles in the Danube.

Epictetus was a former slave turned philosopher who lived from 55-135 (a little later than Seneca and before Aurelius). After all the philosophers were kicked out of Rome, he settled in to a town called Nicopolis on the Adriatic coast of Greece where he ran a school of philosophy attended by Rome’s elite young men.

We covered another one of Epictetus’s books called the Enchiridion which literally means “ready at hand” or a “handbook.” That one is a short little distillation of some of his more pithy wisdom.

This book is a transcription of the informal lectures Epictetus gave to his students. While the Enchiridion is incredibly potent, with this one we get to see just how witty Epictetus is as he unpacks his ideas during lectures. (Both the Enchiridion and Discourses were transcribed and published by one of his students, Arrian. Thank you, Arrian.
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