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on 31 July 2017
Fascinating
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on 8 June 2007
I regard this book as a master piece of very early social psychology, its worth its weight in pure solid platinum and gold as a counselling tool or guide for anyone aiming at the examined life or simply trying to make sense of the trials and set backs of life.

I'm so, so disappointed to see that it is out of print since I searched Amazon a couple of times unsuccessfully trying to find copies for my friends, its much better than the small books laying out the thoughts of roman ceasars or later philosophers.
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on 2 March 1997
Many of us are prone to think of ourselves as somewhat "pitiful" in comparison to others: we drive a Chevrolet; they drive a BMW: we have 1900 sq. ft. in our home; they have 3200: we make $35,000 a year; they have a yacht on the Caribbean. Suppose you were lame; a freed slave; and subject to arrest by "the leader of the free world" if he didn't like your teaching. Such was Epictetus who, along with other philosophers, was expelled from Rome by the emperor some 19 centuries ago. Epictetus was not the founder of Stoicism, but he was--apparently--its greater teacher because it is his discussions which have survived in the most nearly complete form for us. This volume contains not only the four "books" of discourses, but also the distillation called the "handbook" or "enchiridion", and various fragments preserved in other writings. These teachings were written down by Arrian, a student of Epictetus and author of a biography of Alexander the Great. Here we hear, as it were, the voice of Epictetus teaching: often within the text we have the questions of a student to whom Epictetus is replying; we are able to catch the teacher's irony and wit. It is as if we are sitting in his presence, just a little farther away than we might wish. Epictetus's "program" is simple: to teach us how to live without fear or grief or unsatisfied desire; to teach how to "worry" ourselves only over those things which we can control, which--to put it simply, as Epictetus always does--are our own reactions and responses. I cannot control my wife; I can control how I respond to her. I cannot control the Senators; I can control how I respond to them. I cannot control whether I have cancer or not; I can control how I react to that situation. Much like the Buddha's insistence that we can attain nirvana by controlling our desires, Epictetus's teaching leads, if applied, to a calmer, more "centered" and peaceful life. And who doesn't need that? [If you want Epictetus's work in a more permanent form than this paperback, buy the Loeb Classical Library hardcovers, listed as Discourses Books 1 and 2, and Discourses Books 3 and 4. The second volume also contains the Enchiridion and the Fragments.]
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on 3 March 2006
From an email received 3 March 2006 from the publisher:
>>>Unfortunately, we still have no plans at present to re-print this title. I am afraid that it is unlikely that we will proceed with another print run.<<<
This is a shame, as Robin Hard's translation is probably the best to date. But try the 2-volume Dover edition of Matheson's 1920s translation of the Discourses (alas, without the Handbook). For the Handbook alone, but with extensive commentaries and supporting material (glossary, indexes, and such), try Keith Seddon’s Epictetus’ Handbook and the Tablet of Cebes (Routledge, ISBN 0415324521).
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on 29 August 2010
I came across this book by reading 'A Man in Full' by Tom Wolf, and it was as eye-opening as Wolf's hero, Conrad, found it. It is full of ways to view life events that prevent one from getting down-hearted and depressed, and enlarges the way that one can view Cognitive Behaviour Therapy outcomes. It is as relevant to today's problems of life as it was when it was written 2500 years ago. It is no wonder that Conrad found it changed his life -- it has changed mine as much as 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' did.
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on 11 May 2015
Having now read all the classic surviving books on Stoicism I've personally found this one to be the most powerful, its one of the best books I've ever read, it has strongly influenced my thinking and I feel wiser having read it. Its very insightful and probably just as relevant to readers today as it was when it was written so many years ago. Most people I've heard discuss Stoicism seem to prefer Seneca and Aurelius works, their books are both shorter Seneca for me was definitely the easiest to of them to read, it doesn't really feel like an ancient book. Although there are a lot of very quotable passages in the Meditations, for me it lacked structure and therefore I found it hard going and the least enjoyable of the 3. The Discourses is quite a big book, a more condensed version of his message can be found in the Enchiridion (The Handbook), which I'd also recommend. I personally prefer the discourse as it fleshes out Epictetus' message more fully but the Enchiridion is a good start if you just want an introduction to Epictetus' views.
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on 29 June 2000
I will always remember the first time I read that book, it was a revelation for me. Epictetus just gives you the key. At first sight, the book may seem simple, the thoughts obvious. When you look deeper, you realize all has been said: how to live a happy life, not to fear death and to go on whatever happens. Thank you, dear Master. This was my dedication to your higly appreciated contribution in my life.
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