Epictetus Handbook and the Tablet of Cebes - Guides to Stoic Living


How much do I want to read more? 8/10

Another great book on stoicism. The original text from Epictetus translated with commentaries


Preface

What makes our lives go badly is feeling that things are wrong, living from day to day with negative emotions that taint what satisfaction and enjoyment may come our way.

Very different in character is the Tablet of Cebes, probably dating from the late first or early second centuries AD, from the hand of an unknown author who offers a graphic allegory of the journey to Happiness through a strange, bewildering and somewhat disturbing landscape portrayed in a fictional tablet.

Part I - The Handbook of Epictetus Stoic transformation of the soul

Introduction to Epictetus

The role of the Stoic teacher was to encourage his students to live the philosophic life, whose end was eudaimonia (‘happiness’ or ‘flourishing’), to be secured by living the life of reason, which – for Stoics – meant living virtuously and living ‘in accordance with nature’.
The eudaimonia (‘happiness’) of those who attain this ideal consists of ataraxia (imperturbability), apatheia (freedom from passion), eupatheiai (‘good feelings’), and an awareness of, and capacity to attain, what counts as living as a rational being should.

The key to transforming oneself into the Stoic sophos (wise person) is to learn what is ‘in one’s power’, and this is ‘the correct use of impressions’ (phantasiai), which in outline involves not judging as good or bad anything that appears to one.

The task of the prokoptôn, therefore, is to ‘live according to nature’, which means (a) pursuing a course through life intelligently responding to one’s own needs and duties as a sociable human being, but also (b) wholly accepting one’s fate and the fate of the world as coming directly from the divine intelligence which makes the world the best that is possible.