The little book by Epictetus called Enchiridion or "manual" has played a disproportionately large role in the rise of modern attitudes and modern philosophy. As soon as it had been translated into the vernacular languages, it became a best-seller among independent intellectuals, among anti-Christian thinkers, and among philosophers of a subjective cast. Montaigne had a copy of the Enchiridion among his books. Pascal violently rejected the megalomaniac pride of the stoic philosopher. Frederick the Great carried the book with him on all campaigns. It was a source of inspiration and encouragement to Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury, in the serious illness which ended only in his death; many pages of his diaries contain passages copied from the Enchiridion. It has been studied and widely quoted by Scottish philosophers like Francis Hutcheson, Adam Smith, and Adam Ferguson who valued stoic moral philosophy for its reconciliation of social dependency and personal independence.
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An audio version worth listening to
The Enchiridion has been in publication for centuries, so I'm not going to comment on the content or subject matter of this piece of classic literature. If you search on Amazon or similar sites, you'll likely see several versions of the Enchiridion for sale and may be confused about which version you should purchase. So, having listened to this particular audio version, I would recommend it to listeners.
It's a brief guide to the application of stoicism in everyday life. It's helpful to remember that it was written nearly two thousand years ago, so there are references to people (e.g., politicians, philosophers) who were famous during the days of early Greece, the Roman Republic, and early Roman Empire. The socio-cultural environment of that time (e.g., owning slaves) also flavours the writing. So, not only is the Enchiridion interesting when read as classic literature, but you'll find many nuggets of wisdom that are relevant today. Much of the material in the Enchiridion is simple to hear, while some of the content requires a bit more concentration to understand (because of the style in which it was written). Even though it's a short volume, there's a whole lot to reflect upon.
I'm not a stoicism expert by any stretch of the imagination, so my comments are just personal observations. But if the Enchiridion and stoicism are interesting to you, I would greatly recommend getting your hands on 'Meditations' by Marcus Aurelius. Meditations is a little bit longer than Enchiridion, but it is written in a similar style (easy to read and reflect in distinct chunks). Plus, we know a bit more about Marcus Aurelius, a highly regarded Roman Emperor who was heavily influenced by stoic philosophers such as Epictetus. So, if you're interested in exploring the topic of stoicism, you can certainly start with The Enchiridion... but please consider exploring other great classic literature on the topic of stoicism as well!
I felt that the narration was very well done and fit well with the tone of the book. The narrator has somewhat of a professorial/tutorial tone but I'm comfortable with that because The Enchiridion is supposed to be a guidebook to apply principles of stoicism. His speaking style is dynamic and I think that helps the novice reader understand which phrases and concepts to emphasize.
I provided my opinion in exchange for a complimentary copy of the audiobook from the author (not likely, in this case!), the narrator, or the publisher.
- Christine Newton
Always something to absorb from the classics
I would prefer to have both. The audio version is great for me as I learn more by hearing, but there are so many places in the book that should be looked at more in-depth that a print version would be great.
The solid truths that are still applicable today. It was refreshing and moving at times.
Jack Nolan did well. I feel that I would have enjoyed it more if there wasn't a constant preaching quality about the book, but it wasn't unbearable to listen to.
There were moments that this book made me take a look at myself and compare my motivations and desires. This was a moving book for me.
- debbye scroggins