Book of the Week #2

A. A. Long, Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life, Oxford University Press, 2002. In this excellent new book, Berkeley’s A. A. Long pulls off the tricky feat of writing a book about an ancient philosopher which will be a source of both utility and pleasure to specialist scholars of the subject on the one hand and to those lucky enough to be approaching Epictetus for the first time on the other. In a series of short, thoughtful and lucid chapters, served up with dollops of attractive translations of generous chunks of the Greek texts, Long introduces the reader to important aspects of Epictetus’s Stoicism, paying particular attention to two themes which have been relatively neglected in the critical literature: his relationship to the figure of Socrates; and his distinctive pedagogical strategies as a teacher of young members of the Roman elite. I was fortunate enough to be a member of Long’s Berkeley seminar on Epictetus in the Spring Semester of 1999, and reading the finished book brings back happy memories of a happy time. Splendid stuff.

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