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The Stoic Path

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Books like these are soothing. I loved reading through this. Some of the things I read really hit close to home. Read this and feel!
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The Stoic Path: The Golden Sayings is a quick and interesting compilation of Epictetus’s guidance. It is billed as a “pocket classic” and is meant to capitalize on recent renewed interest in Stoicism, though the reader should be aware that this book is not a commentary on or guide to Epictetus or Stoic thought, but a reissued 19th century translation of work attributed to this 1st-2nd century philosopher. There are some gems in this collection, but due to the lack of context provided, it would not serve the purpose of an informative introduction to Epictetus. Still, even the lay/introductory reader will find some clever gems and sound advice among this aphoristic and fragmented work—particularly with respect to Epictetus’s emphasis on reason over emotion, individual agency, and responsibility to avoid being duped and, consistent with the current popular appeal of mindfulness practices, his admonition that it is fruitless to react to circumstances beyond one’s control.
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The Stoic Path: The Golden Sayings by Epictetus (translator Hastings Crossley) is a compilation of quotes or perhaps ideas of Epictetus. Since there are no writings by Epictetus, his pupil Arrian transcribed his discourses. That is what remains of Epictetus through his Discourses as well as the Enchiridion. Epictetus lived by his words—a simple life. His words are worth reading and his life is a remarkable one. The inclusions in The Stoic Path follow some pattern Crossley himself selected. Having read the remarkable Meditations of Marcus Aurelius and various easily accessible and memorable letters of Seneca, I expected something rounding out and connecting the sayings of Epictetus with at least a concise biography of or an introduction to Epictetus and his philosophy. Crossley’s translations are from a hundred years ago and are at times less than clear, perhaps due to the era, language, and sentence structures. This might better be a book for someone already knowledgeable of Epictetus and his thoughts, someone who finds Epictetus filled with the wisdom of how to live well--someone who wants the distillation of thoughts and can open the book at random and find wise words. If someone is just delving into the world of Epictetus and that of the Stoics, it may be interesting and could well be supplemented with other works including the Discourses and the Enchiridion and the lives of the Stoics.

I appreciate the early access opportunity provided by St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley to read The Stoic Path: The Golden Sayings by Epictetus.
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It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Stoicism. The Stoic philosopher’s practices and points of view helped me through the most difficult time of my life some years ago and I found peace of mind amidst the storm. Epictetus is famous for writing, “If anyone is unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone.” In other words, how we frame and react to the incidents in life matters more to our well-being than the actual incidents themselves. So, when I came across The Stoic Path: The Golden Sayings by Epictetus from St, Martin’s Press, I knew I’d like to read it.

This book is a collection of thoughts and quotes by Epictetus, translated from the original Greek.  This book shouldn’t be confused with a book on Stoic practices. It’s a collection of wise quotes from one Stoic philosopher, which in my opinion, highlight the commonalities amongst “man” across time and circumstances. Epictetus has left an indelible mark on humankind. In fact, Cognitive Behavioral Theory used by many therapists today overlap with many Stoic principles.  Epictetus was not a man born into fortune, as you might think. He was born into slavery. In this respect his teachings were more than theory to him; They were prescriptive.  He knew hardship. He suffered from intolerance  and poor reputation as a result of his early status in life. But he also knew compassion. He knew wisdom and he developed an affinity for knowledge. According to Epictetus, self-knowledge, proper logic to ensure good reasoning, and virtue lead a man to the good life – not individual circumstances. Thus, he led a life of satisfaction regardless of his circumstances. 

You’re not going to find a comprehensive guide and explanation of Stoic practices in this collection. What you will find are golden nuggets of wisdom as they were spoken all those years ago.
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This is not an organized introduction to Stoic thought or an outline of principles and practices. It is a more or less random collection of sayings attributed to Epictetus. They are interesting and often thought provoking, but won't set you on track to develop a deep or broad understanding of the range of Stoic philosophy. That said, there is a lot of value here, and the insights are pointed, surprisingly modern, and worth reflecting on.
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I thought this book would be organized a little differently--there really isn't much of a set-up to explain the quotations. My personal preference is there is a common language version shared but again, that's a personal preference. I just feel that it is more impactful.
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A collection of ways to better your life. Really interesting read and premise.

Thank you for the advance reading copy
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