Stoic Stories: A Heroic Account of Stoicism
Stoicism by its best stories.
This is a book of Stoic stories: stories about Stoics, stories told by Stoics, and stories with a Stoic bent. Snuck between these heroic tales, and exemplified by them, are the main tenets of Stoic philosophy, served up in small, bite-size chunks.
In the Classical World, the old religion privileged ritual over doctrine, and people turned instead to philosophy for guidance and consolation. In the imperial period, Stoicism rose into the foremost philosophy among the Roman elite. It was, in a sense, the real religion of ruling Romans, including, under the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the emperor himself.
In that much, Stoicism can be thought of as the first and original self-help. But ancient though they are, Stoic principles and practices are timeless and universal insofar as they speak to our deepest human nature: for all our progress in science, technology, and education, we are still plagued and tormented by anger, fear, greed, grief, death, and mis-living. Unlike many modern interventions, Stoicism is not merely about feeling better, but about being better—which, all considered, is the surest way of feeling better, and not just better but better than ever before.
Stoicism is, to an extent, just a byword for reason or philosophy: it is what we would do anyway, had we thought about it long and hard enough. We all, through experience and defeat, become slightly more Stoical as we age, with the witless, wailing child representing the antithesis of the Stoic. So, let's join Hercules, Zeno, Hipparchia, Cato, Musonius, Epictetus, Seneca, and the rest of the varied cast, to grow wiser faster, and painlessly—which is, after all, the main function of reading.