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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happiness and contentment in the 1st century, 25 Mar 2011
This review is from: Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings (Paperback)
Gaius Musonius Rufus was a Roman 1st-century Stoic philosopher. The most famous works by Stoic philosophers are those by Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. There are however a number of lesser-known works by Stoic writers, of which the most important is perhaps this collection of lectures. Musonius Rufus himself wrote nothing, this collection of twenty-one lectures (totalling 59 pages in this 100 page book) is all that survives from the lecture notes compiled by one of his students. In some ways Musonius is similar to his pupil Epictetus in that they were both strongly in favour of simple living, but whereas the Discourses of Epictetus focus heavily on the psychological, the lectures of Musonius focus much more on giving practical advice to a series of specific questions. The questions range from whether girls should receive the same education as boys (something Musonius is firmly in favour of) to questions on marriage, sex, food, clothing, and even cutting the hair. Also included in this book are eight pages of fragments and sayings preserved by other writers, and a short appendix contains the (probably unauthentic) "letters of Musonius."

The 1st-century student who wrote these lectures was no great writer, and what has survived was compressed and edited to fit a 5th-century anthology. But the book provides a direct insight into the 1st-century world, and Musonius Rufus comes across as one of the most likeable and humane figures of the ancient world. Above all, this is a man who wants people to practice philosophy so that they can be happy.

There has only ever been one other English translation of the lectures of Musonius (by Cora Lutz in 1947) in a book which is incredibly hard to get hold of. This translation by Cynthia King is both clear and readable. The preface by William Irvine provides a basic background to Roman Stoicism, and Cynthia King's introduction gives information on Musonius and on the survival of his lectures.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2000 years ago?, 14 Dec 2012
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M. Davis "Matt" (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings (Paperback)
This book could have been written two weeks ago let alone nearly 2000 years ago, I found it very helpful in re-evaluating my life, recommended to anyone interested in ancient stoics and their theories
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Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings
Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings by Cynthia King (Paperback - 22 Jan 2011)
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