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The Ethics of the Stoic Epictetus

An English Translation, Revised Edition


William O. Stephens

This text remains the only English translation of Bonhöffer’s classic, definitive examination of Epictetus’s ethics. Thorough, knowledgeable, perceptive, and accessible, the unity of this book and its thematic presentation make it an invaluable resource for both scholars and general readers eager to apply Stoic thinking in their daily lives. The translation is crisp, clear, consistent, and very readable. Careful attention to the details and nuances of the German as well as the Greek of Epictetus make this an excellent achievement. This new edition includes a useful biography of Bonhöffer, a new overview of the last twenty years of scholarship on Epictetus, and an extensive bibliography. It is essential reading for students taking courses on ancient Hellenistic or Roman philosophy, their instructors, and any non-academics who want to learn Stoicism.

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C. Ritter’s Biography of A. Bonhöffer


Adolf Friedrich Bonhöffer was born on June 19, 1859, the son of Pastor Adolf Bonhöffer in Eschelbach OA. Öhringen and his wife Christiane, née Pistorius,2 as the fourth of six brothers. He lived in his birthplace only a short time, since his father already changed his ministry in the following year with one in Leutkirch, and later, in 1867, in Ilshofen. When he was seven years old his mother died, in whose place his father soon brought a second wife into the house. After first attending the elementary school in his little hometown, the bright boy was sent to the Gymnasium3 in Hall. From there, he entered the seminary in Maulbronn in the fall of 1873, after passing the state examination, and two years later routinely transferred with his co-graduates to Blaubeuren. The four seminary years always occupied a privileged place in Bonhöffer’s memory. The time at Maulbronn filled the most formative years of his youth. The peaceful, cozy monastery village, the marvelous architecture of the old Cistercian Abbey itself with its cloisters and its small cloister garden, the surrounding cloister yard, the esplanade in front of the Paradies4 with its shady linden trees and the murmuring fountain and the lakes of the immediate vicinity, the grave forests, which were explored in all directions during the sparse free time, they became familiar to him and dear to him like his own home. The composition of the graduating class was favorable. The companionship of about forty...

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