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Discourses, Books 1-2

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4.41  ·  Rating Details ·  156 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
The ne plus ultra of Stoicism, Discourses outline clear-cut principles of right conduct and true thinking, offering secular thinkers a mode of reasoning that dismisses the strictures of absolutism and emotionalism in exchange for a more peaceful and productive life. The Discourses report wide-ranging discussions between Epictetus and his students.
Hardcover, 436 pages
Published January 1st 1925 by Harvard University Press (Cambridge)
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jon
Sep 02, 2013 jon rated it it was amazing
I find it near to impossible to rate a work of antiquity as I might try to rank a contemporary work. How does one choose subtraction over addition in ranking an artifact of historical interest? The Discourses of Epictetus possess such a special status and have greater merit at the start than contemporary works. By various measures, I commend the Discourses. One measure, mentioned above, is the historical measure. Reading the Discourses is time travel. How rare and privileged is it to see the wor ...more
Brian Gee
May 06, 2017 Brian Gee rated it really liked it
Liked Seneca and Marcus Aurelius more. Still has some great pieces of wisdom.
Ξιτσυκα
Feb 08, 2016 Ξιτσυκα rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
It's interesting that my Nietzsche commentary soundtrack kept silent almost throughout the book. I've been experiencing more and more frequent "Ah, Nietzsche would say this and this to this paragraph" interruptions nowadays, as if I'm being possessed somehow. And yet, miraculously, I didn't even realize myself reading "the slave morality" until the very end of the book.

One thing is that, this criticism towards Epictetus is simply not true. Epictetus, once enslaved, was on the side of the weak. B
...more
Matt
Aug 28, 2010 Matt rated it liked it
A follower of Zeno and Chrysippus (as evidence by the numerous references), Epictetus expounds the lessons of Stoicism. On a superficial level, it’s kind of like Western Buddhism. Detachment from worldly desire being a core concept in both. Whereas Buddhism seeks to train the mind in the ways of sila (ethical behavior) to cut the chain of endless rebirth, Epictetus teaches how virtue helps you pass through the purpose of this existence.
Men act like a traveller on the way to his own country who
...more
Paula
Jul 19, 2008 Paula rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Humans
Recommended to Paula by: The Great Books collection
Shelves: favorite-books
The ideals of Stoicism are not very popular today. Only the military truly appreciates what they have to offer, and for some that alone is enough to turn them away. Yet, there is no wisdom the world needs more than what Epictetus offers. His insights are so startlingly right, his presentation so witty, his life so exemplary that we would be fools to ignore him. He teaches us, not just to be Men (as the military interprets stoicism), but to be fully Human in the best sense. Here is just a taste:

H
...more
James
Oct 18, 2013 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: thinking, keepers
Wisdom persists. Some sections felt painfully outdated (aided in that endeavour by Oldfather's somewhat anachronistic translation), but perhaps only noticeably so for the fact that much of Epictetus’ Stoic philosophy translates so well in a modern context. Undeniably repetitive; however, I think that was rather the point. I find the relationship between Stoic thought (which itself persisted in popularity through much of the heyday of Rome and throughout its decline) and contemporary cognitive be ...more
Nathan
Sep 17, 2013 Nathan rated it liked it
Monumentally influential on moral thought, particularly with regard to Christianity, these short essays - presented as notes of his conversations with students - have a certain charm but there's only so much Graeco-Roman "Braveheart" philosophy I can take in a single sitting.

There is another volume containing two more books of his discourses. I am in no hurry to continue with it.
matt
Apr 13, 2008 matt rated it it was amazing
Sure, it would be almost impossible to live as a stoic all the time, but there is a comfort here that I really appreciate. I like the idea that we should accept death like one who has borrowed and appreciated something he never fully possessed. It reminds me of what I like about Thoreau--without the meandering treatises on beans.
Colin
Lessons in Stoicism from a master, a freed slave writing for a Roman audience. One of the sources from antiquity on Stoicism.
Mark
Sep 14, 2015 Mark rated it it was amazing
What can I say? I really get a kick out of reading ancient philosophy. I wish I had the well-honed mind of a philosopher.
Asrik
Jun 13, 2008 Asrik rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics
This was really hard to get through. If I were doing it again I'd try the Enchiridion or try a different translation (maybe one that isn't 80 years old).
Tye Patchana
Jan 05, 2011 Tye Patchana rated it it was amazing
A book that deserves to be read every morning.
Josh Paul
Feb 11, 2008 Josh Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
The best of the stoics. This is the sort of stuff most people probably think of when they think of philosophy. Advice on how to live your life.
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Epictetus was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was probably born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey), and lived in Rome until his exile to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece, where he lived most of his life and died. His teachings were noted down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses. Philosophy, he taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. ...more
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“Difficulty shows what men are. Therefore when a difficulty falls upon you, remember that God, like a trainer of wrestlers, has matched you with a rough young man. Why? So that you may become an Olympic conqueror; but it is not accomplished without sweat.” 41 likes
“It has been ordained that there be summer and winter, abundance and dearth, virtue and vice, and all such opposites for the harmony of the whole, and (Zeus) has given each of us a body, property, and companions.” 6 likes
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