Seneca was essentially a billionaire advisor to Nero who was exiled and compelled to commit suicide while Aurelius was part Roman Emperor + part Stoic philosopher who wrote his while leading battles in the Danube.
Epictetus was a former slave turned philosopher who lived from 55-135 (a little later than Seneca and before Aurelius). After all the philosophers were kicked out of Rome, he settled in to a town called Nicopolis on the Adriatic coast of Greece where he ran a school of philosophy attended by Rome’s elite young men.
This book is a transcription of the informal lectures Epictetus gave to his students. While the Enchiridion is incredibly potent, with this one we get to see just how witty Epictetus is as he unpacks his ideas during lectures.(Get the book .) (Both the Enchiridion and Discourses were transcribed and published by one of his students, Arrian. Thank you, Arrian.)
Epictetus’s work has influenced everyone from Marcus Aurelius to —who leaned heavily on Stoic philosophy to create his Rational-Emotive Behavioral Therapy which led to the very popular (and effective!) cognitive behavioral therapy widely in use today. He also deeply influenced James Stockdale who called Epictetus his patron saint.
The book is packed with Big Ideas. I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump in!