File Size: 437 KB
Print Length: 39 pages
Publication Date: October 2, 2014
A great little book (Enchiridion means "handbook") that can be read in an hour or so-and that was precisely what Epictetus or the compiler, his student Arrian, intended. Epictetus, possibly the clearest of Stoic philosophers, provides a outstanding system of "dos and don'ts" for the hunter of wisdom. His ideas go well beyond Stoicism--I myself have heard management consultants quote his most considerable idea: we should pursue things within our power and shun what is not within our power:
"In our power are opinion, movement towards some thing, desire, aversion (turning from your thing); and in a word, what are our own acts; not in our power are the body, property, reputation, offices (magisterial power), and in a word, whatever are not our own acts. "
In case you pursue things not in your power, "you will be hindered, you will lament, you will be disturbed, you will pin the consequence on both gods and men. "
Doesn't that about sum up the majority of the world's ills? All of those other handbook provides the details about how exactly to carry out this most important Stoic dictum.
Epictetus was a freed Roman slave born A. D. 55 in Phrygia, the Asian part of today's Turkey. With all philosophers (can't have those! ) he was prohibited from Rome in fifth there’s 89 by Domitian and founded his own school in Nicopolis in Greece. His / her student, Arrian, compiled two works, Discourses, which seems to record Epictetus' conversations with students, and this much shorter Enchiridion, or handbook, which is a kind of boiling down of the broader beliefs into principles for residing.
If the translation seems somewhat quaint, it's because it is. This is the mid-19th Century translation of George Long. It would have been nice of the publisher, Prometheus Books, to tell us what language Enchiridion was translated FROM. The original was written in Koine, Greek, the same vocabulary as the New Testament. Different from Classical Greek, this was the Stato Franca of the Asian Roman Empire., For a little book, "Enchiridion" packs a huge punch.
The features of life might have altered immensely since Epictetus's time, but human nature remains essentialy the same. We still all too frequently get worked up over things we cannot control, or throw our hands in the air and reject to make changes that are plainly within our capability. This book, then, reminds us of the futility of those behaviors and the necessity, instead, for some clear-eyed realizations.
Its classes are basic but effective: some things are within our control, and some things aren't. It is unreasonable to get worked up over things which not necessarily in our control. Generally we aren't disturbed by events, but by our opinion of those activities.
Taken together, these and other simple lessons give a path to serenity and peace of mind at chances with, but far more pleasurable than, the myriad worries of modern life. Being a Christian, I found it properly complemented Jesus' Sermon on the Mount teachings about avoiding worry and retaliation. (I happened to read it while proceeding through a career changeover, and what could have been a turbulent and traumatic experience instead proceeded to go rather smoothly, with no aggression and hard feelings one might have expected. ) Still, I think people from all belief systems will discover themselves richly compensated by its teachings.
This particular translation has its merits and quirks. In person, I liked the rather brief introduction and the relative paucity of supplementary materials. Great books should stand or fall on their own merits, rather than on the blovating opinions of modern-day bloggers. On the other hand, I didn't enjoy the translator's parenthetical explanations of words and phrases peppered through the written text. They disrupted the flow of the reading and weren't always very necessary.
Still, I aren't complain, with this book came out at exactly the right time in my life, and it came with the exact advice I needed. When, like me, you frequently think you know everything, pick it up, and pay attention to something.
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