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The Roman Stoics: Seneca and Epictetus

Among the ancient philosophers, the Roman Stoics are perhaps most concerned with bringing philosophy down to earth, and treating it as something that ought to be lived. The central role of doing philosophy is to take care of oneself, and to reflect on how best to live a life that is worth living. The strong comeback that Stoicism has made in the past twenty years or so is mainly grounded in a short period of the early Roman Empire (30–180 CE), and is due to the work of only a few philosophers. We will focus our study on Seneca and Epictetus, with occasional glances at Marcus Aurelius, Musionus Rufus, and the original Athenian Stoics.

As they contrast widely in terms of their education, wealth, and status, Seneca and Epictetus strikingly exemplify the essential Stoic idea that practical moral questions and reflections on one’s life concern anyone. In our thematic sessions, we read and discuss a range of exemplary passages from the works of Seneca (e.g., from On Anger) and Epictetus (e.g., from the Discourses). We will explore to what extent, and in what ways, philosophy matters for our everyday lives.

Date created:

2019-10-07 12:18
Course type: 

Resources for this course

Displaying 1 - 19 of 19
Type Resource Description People Full details
Document Stoicism: Early, Middle, Late, and New

The handout for the first session.

Peter Wyss
Document Coursework 1

Questions for the readings for the second meeting.

Peter Wyss
Document Willing the Good: Agathon and Prohairesis

The handout from the third session.

Peter Wyss
Document Seneca's 'One the Happy Life' (De Vita Beata)

The handout from the second session.

Peter Wyss
Document How to Keep One's Cool

The notes from the fourth meeting.

Peter Wyss
Document Passions and 'Passions'

Further notes from the fourth session.

Peter Wyss
Document Coursework 4

Leading questions and some backgrund for the fifth set of readings.

Peter Wyss
Document Coursework 3

Some questions and information for the fourth readings.

Peter Wyss
Document Impressions, Grasps, and Preconceptions

The notes from the fifth meeting.

Peter Wyss
Document Coursework 5

Some leading questions for the readings for the sixth session.

Peter Wyss
Document Fate and Providence

From the sixth meeting: sketch of Stoic physics and notes on fat-ing.

Peter Wyss
Document Coursework 6

A range of questions for the readings for the seventh session.

Peter Wyss
Document Playing One's Cosmic Role

Afterhoughts and notes for the seventh meeting.

Peter Wyss
Document Coursework 7

Some questions about the readings for the eighth meeting.

Peter Wyss
Document Coursework 8

A few leadings questions for the readings of the ninth session.

Peter Wyss
Document Cosmic Love and Friendship

The notes from our eighth session: oikeiosis, philia, and cosmopolitanism.

Peter Wyss
Document Epictetus on God: Extracts

The passages on God from Epictetus.

Peter Wyss
Document Leaving the Festival

The notes from our ninth session on death, life, and God.

Peter Wyss
Document 'How I Long to See a Stoic!'

The notes from the final session on Stoic pedagogy.

Peter Wyss