- Paperback: 328 pages
- Publisher: Clarendon Press; 1 edition (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: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #925,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life 1st Edition
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"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.
Top customer reviews
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.
Reading this book was frustrating at first because it felt like a lot of set-up with little payoff. The first five chapters provide a mother lode of background material on the life of Epictetus, his place in history, the record of philosophy up to that time, other schools of thought that were prevalent in his time, who Arrian was and how he transcribed Epictetus's words, who Epictetus's students were, plus an excessively detailed discussion of Epictetus's rhetorical style and the methods he used to construct his arguments. It isn't until chapter 6 that Long really starts analyzing the actual message of the Discourses, which is what I, and probably most readers, really want to get at. In the latter half of the book, Long's insightful commentary on the Discourses is accompanied by a generous helping of judiciously selected excerpts, and Long's translations of these are a pleasure to read. I would have preferred more of this concentration on Epictetus's words themselves and less of the contextual foundation that preceded it. On the other hand, I thought the epilogue about the effect of Epictetus's thought over the last 2,000 years was one of the more interesting parts of the book.
In his introduction Long states he has "tried to make this book as accessible as possible," but to that end he only achieves mixed results. At times the intended audience seems unclear. There is a lot of introductory material that would seem elementary to a philosophical scholar, yet there are more complex passages that seem directed towards Long's peers and would probably be over the head of a novice. The result is a book that philosophy professors would probably love to assign to their students, but not one the average student himself would necessarily enjoy nor perhaps even understand. Those serious about the subject, however, will find it a rewarding read and well worth the effort.
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"...Epictetus often uses the vocative 'anthrope', literally '(O) human being' or (O) man'; but neither of these translations works...Read more