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Lives of the Stoics: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,205 ratings  ·  156 reviews
From the bestselling authors of The Daily Stoic comes an inspiring guide to the lives of the Stoics, and what the ancients can teach us about happiness, success, resilience and virtue.

Nearly 2,300 years after a ruined merchant named Zeno first established a school on the Stoa Poikile of Athens, Stoicism has found a new audience among those who seek greatness, from athletes
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 29th 2020 by Portfolio
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 ·  1,205 ratings  ·  156 reviews

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Sebastian Gebski
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
I don't want to be rude, but I can't help the following observation:

RH has got the brilliant idea of "re-inventing" the stoicism in XXI century "for masses" and currently he's milking the cow (mass-producing neo-stoicism books). RH is a smart person and not a bad writer, but ... it feels like the milk has almost run out ... "Lives of the Stoics" is a rather dry collection of short bios of key Stoic philosophers of ancient world. Obviously, there are no new facts, no new theories, no new observat
Gary Moreau
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a history of Stoicism. More accurately it is a compilation of mini-biographies of the most famous Stoics from Zeno (334 BCE – 262 BCE) to Marcus Aurelius (121 AD - 180 AD), the Platonian philosopher king, as well as Cicero, Cato the Younger, and Porcia Cato the Iron Woman, among others.

Stoicism is built around four virtues: “Courage, Temperance, Justice, [and] Wisdom.” And that’s pretty much it. There are no rituals, no sacred text, and no organized institution of worship.

There wer
Matt Hutson
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
I'd say the only reason why you might pick up this book is if you are extremely interested in the stoic philosophy history. Each chapter focuses very briefly on each stoic philosopher recorded in history.

Like every other Ryan Holiday book, he mixes the lessons in with the stories. So if you want to get anything practical from this book you have to pay attention very closely to each of the individual stories.

The thing this book did very well was to paint a big picture of all the stoic philo
Lucas Jarche
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Ryan Holiday; I’ve been subscribed to his newsletter for about a year now. On the one hand I like what he’s doing and appreciate the chance to get to think about some new aspect of life every day. On the other hand, I don’t think he’s a very strong writer and I’m often left wanting him to just quote the relevant passages and then shut up. All the interesting quotes I’ve flagged in this book are him quoting someone else. Couple that with some persiste ...more
Laura Noggle
Nov 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, history, nonfiction
Might read this one again.

Working on my second year through The Daily Stoic.

"There is no better definition of a Stoic: to have but not want, to enjoy without needing.”

"'Since the parts of philosophy are inseparable from each other, yet plants are distinct from fruit and walls are separate from plants, he claimed the simile for philosophy should rather be a living being, where physics is blood and flesh, logic the bones and sinews, and ethics the soul.' It's the perfect metaphor for the Stoics to
Bianca A.
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020, speed-read
Written by authors who are pioneering and riding the modern revival of stoicism as a trendy method of thinking and manifesting yourself. Although skeptical about the authors, I do not resent the modern revival of stoicism itself, as I find it worthy to be put on a pedestal and analyzed. The book offers a cool summary of the lives of some important philosophers and their words. Funnily enough, the book reminded me of David Goggins who has probably not himself heard of stoicism yet, since he alway ...more
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The stoicism tenets of courage, justice, wisdom, and temperance fascinate me. This account is organized in detailed, succinct biographies of the better known names in the stoicism movement---Cato, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius all receive their due. I philosophy fangirled a few times.
kartik narayanan
Oct 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Watch it on Youtube

or hear the Podcast

or read the full review at my blog Digital Amrit

tl;dr: 'Lives of the Stoics' teaches us about applying Stoicism to our daily lives through the telling of the stories of the various philosophers who helped shape it.

This book is a series of mini-biographies of about twenty-five philosophers who were instrumental in creating, defining, challenging and evolving Stoicism. They range from the creator Zeno to Chrysippus the codifier, from Cicero the avowed non-stoi
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m a Ryan Holiday fanboy. No shame. Dude writes books that are life changing. This one is perfect for a guy like me who has read along each year as he releases something new. He’s helped me unlock my inner student.

Philosophy has become my daily practice, so these bite sized biographies on the men and women who are part of the tradition I’ve been adopted into, are a perfect compliment to that habit.

I chose to read slowly. Deliberately. Pen in hand. Not sure I’ve annotated a work more than this
Sandeep Chandran
A wonderful introduction to stoicism and it's philosophers... Great effort by the authors to compile vast information together ...more
Tim O'Neill
Nov 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This a great introduction to the history of the original Stoic school, from its origins with Zeno through to its culmination and apogee in the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. It is not meant to be an original contribution to historical analysis; more of a popular overview using - as Plutarch did - the lives of the greatest Stoic thinkers to illustrate how this important school of thought arose and developed. For those, like me, for whom the names of key figures like Chrysippus or Musonius Rufus h ...more
Josh King
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020

I’m a fan of Stoic philosophy and also a fan of Ryan Holiday’s work. I feel many people are introduced to the Stoic ways by Holiday (others probably through Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations). When this book came out I was very interested - finally an accumulation of all the Stoics in history and what they contributed to the philosophy. I was wrong.

I believe I was mislead in what this book was about - it truly is just “Lives of Stoics” and not “The Art of Living...” as the sub title suggests. Th
David D.  Knapp, Ph.D.
I consider myself a Stoic, so I love reading the works of Ryan Holiday. "Ego is the Enemy," "The Obstacle is the Way," and "Stillness is the Key" are among my favorite nonfiction books. And I reflect upon "The Daily Stoic" each day.

Therefore, you may be surprised that I gave this latest work of his only three stars. (I debated between three and four, ultimately settling on three.)

It's not that I didn't like "Lives of the Stoics." I did. However, I think this work focused too much on the personal
Edwin Setiadi
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, stoicism
I began reading this book with a relatively good knowledge on Stoicism, after reading the 3 "main books" of Meditations, Discourses, and Letters, while adding Enchiridion and On the Shortness of Life into the "ancient" mix. For the modern Stoicism I have read books written by several authors including what many consider as the "main 3 modern philosophers" of Donald Robertson, Massimo Pigliucci, and of course Ryan Holiday with his Obstacle, Ego, and Stillness, while I have been reading The Daily ...more
Dane Cobain
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up after hearing about it on BookTube, which was a happy little coincidence because I’d already been getting into stoicism after being introduced to it by my girlfriend. I just wish I could remember whose channel I saw the video on.

What we have here is essentially a cracking little introduction to the key figures of stoicism in ancient Rome and Greece, and it’s written by a well-known figure in contemporary stoic circles. In fact, at the same time that I ordered this book, I a
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Anything Ryan writes on the stoics and their teachings im always quick on the up take. This book was no different and might possibly be one of the best books he’s done.
The stoics lives are cast before us and we get to hear of how they were faced with trials and challenges and the way they choose to deal with them. Like all humans they had faults, a craving for fame and wealth, fearful in the face of death or their anger or ego getting in the way. We all make bad decisions and even then we can st
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I hadn't really thought of the lives of the Stoics as an example to us of their philosophy until I listened to this audiobook. It helped bring to life figures who lived roughly two thousand years ago, and it illustrated just how much human nature has remained the same over a long period of time. They struggled with the same problems and questions back then as we do now. They were a truly varied lot, from slave to emperor, from those born into privilege to those who worked just as hard as they st ...more
Mohamad Kalaaji
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Unlike Ryan's other books, this books includes small autobiographies of some of the well known stoics that played a major (and sometimes crucial) role in Stoicism.

But not to burst your bubble this is not like his previous books where Ryan would use stoic methods to solve an issue or reach to a certain goal, this book is more oriented to the people who want to know about the history of Stoicism but don't know where to start as it serves as a good starting material.

Than again it is a good book, wo
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Stoicism guides us the virtues of courage and justice and implores us to do our part in politics for the greater good. Although the founding fathers of Stoicism did not always live up to their own philosophy, but through their lives and their mistakes, we could learn about the value of selfless integrity and the hangers of vanity and decadence.
Nov 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm a fairly recent addition to the school of Stoicism and have found Holiday's books a great avenue to learning. This is a great read for anybody looking to learn bits of Stoic philosophy and some history along the way. ...more
Niklas Heer
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is inspiring to read about the people who pioneered a philosophy that still is so useful today after over 2000 years. This book manages to look at the person rather than the philosopher and put their actions into context with their teaching. It also gives you a good sense of the connections between the different stoics and the timeline. I recommend this book to everyone who already knows what stoicism is and wants to go deeper.
Zhivko Kabaivanov
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lives of the Stoics (2020) explores Stoicism through the lives of its earliest followers. Packed with insights into the leaders, wars, and politics of classical antiquity, these blinks provide a fresh yet historical look at this popular philosophy.

Sergiu Telbisz
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Clear and inspirational. I finally have an universal perspective in regards to Stoicism. I have been reading the ancient texts but this book helped me see it all in a wider view angle.
Thank you Ryan!
Taylor Woodson
Dec 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a lover of Stoicism I found the most interesting parts of this book were not about stoic philosophy in theory but in practice. About the Roman leaders such as Julius Caesar and the evil emperor Nero and how the stoics responded to their corruption.
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
There are great anecdotes of philosophers, but also very much Roman history. If you like both of these, check it out... I don’t like both of these.
Megan Polley
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the contents of the book. Warning to those who choose the audiobook, RH is a terrible narrator of his own book, I would have preferred to read a physical copy or have a different narrator.
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good overview of the important stoics without delving too deep into any of them. I appreciated this restraint as I'm reading this not as a history book but to expand my understanding of stoic philosophy. I think Ryan got that just right here.

I read other books on specific emperors/philosophers but somehow I didn't get the gist like the authors present it here. Which is great and makes this book a valuable read for anyone interested in the stoics.

The only thing I'm still wondering: how much mor
Enzo Santos
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It took me about 50 pages to get into the rhythm of reading the book with a proper understanding. It’s definitely a further step into the world of Stoicism if you have read Ryan’s previous books - Obstacle + Ego. He’ll take you through biographies of different minds and how Stoicism as a Philosophy was crafted through decades of input from different people. It was passed on to different minds who would preach to tens or hundreds, lived its values day-to-day, or simply wrote about it, split from ...more
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was a page turner. At the very least will get you interested and reading further on the actual works of the stoics, Roman history or Plutarch's bios... Or all of them, even if just one of those happen, you may consider this a good investment. ...more
Oct 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading about Stoics I wasn't familiar with but the narrative felt thin and forced for much of the book. ...more
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Ryan Holiday is media strategist for notorious clients like Tucker Max and Dov Charney. After dropping out of college at 19 to apprentice under the strategist Robert Greene, he went on to advise many bestselling authors and multi-platinum musicians. He is the Director of Marketing at American Apparel, where his work in advertising was internationally known. His strategies are used as case studies ...more

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