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David Heinemeier Hansson (Co-Founder / Basecamp)
Despite being an avid student of Stoicism for many years, I somehow never got around to reading the last of the three big stoic writers, Epictetus, directly. What a mistake. The Manual is a profound work. It’s perhaps the most tensely packed tome of wisdom I’ve ever had the good fortune to read. Seriously. You can read it in about an hour, but you’ll spend weeks, years, hell, probably the following lifetime, trying to internalize and master its hard-hitting truths and techniques.
It was a great reminder that even if you think you know a topic, there’s a big gap between knowing and knowing. None of the themes in The Manual would be novel to anyone who’ve read Aurelius or Seneca, but the delivery is so different, so direct, that the material still comes across as entirely fresh.
The Manual is the double espresso of stoicism.
Epictetus (c. 50-135 CE) was brought as a slave to Rome, where he became a great teacher, deeply influencing the future emperor Marcus Aurelius among many others. His philosophy, Stoicism, was practical, not theoretical--aimed at relieving human suffering here and now.
And Epictetus knew suffering. Besides being a former slave, he was lame in one leg and walked with a crutch. After a decade of teaching in Rome, he was banished by Emperor Domitian; undaunted, he established a school in Greece.
The Manual is a collection of Epictetus' essential teachings and pithy sayings, compiled by his closet student. It is the most accessible and actionable guide to Stoic philosophy, as relevant today as it was in the Roman Empire.
This new edition is rendered in contemporary English, with a foreword, by Sam Torode. A companion volume, The Meditations: An Emperor's Guide to Mastery by Marcus Aurelius, is also available from Ancient Renewal.
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