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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.

“Bonhöffer’s Die Ethik des stoikers Epictet, published in 1894, is still absolutely essential reading. There is no corner of Epictetus’s thought that he leaves unexplored. William O. Stephens’s translation of the book could not be bettered: with a fluent pen, he preserves the clarity and readability of the original. Everyone interested in Epictetus, from professional scholars to Modern Stoics, is in his debt for having made the book more widely available.”—Robin Waterfield, translator of Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus

“If there were a Bible of studies on Epictetus, it would certainly have to be Bonhöffer’s The Ethics of the Stoic Epictetus. Bonhöffer’s understanding of Epictetus is deep. Even today, as more and more research is being produced on Epictetus, it always pays dividends to look back to Bonhöffer’s foundational study. For this reason, the translation by William O. Stephens is extremely welcome and it belongs on the shelf of every scholar working on Stoicism.”—Brian E. Johnson, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Fordham University

“Adolf Friedrich Bonhöffer’s The Ethics of the Stoic Epictetus is a foundational text for the modern understanding of Epictetus, instrumental in retrieving his work from its dismissals as a later ancient falling away from the rigors of the early Stoa, and indeed as a key source for our understandings of the Stoic school. Via Pierre Hadot’s work, Bonhöffer’s work also exerts an indirect influence over the contemporary revival of Stoicism as a way of life around the world. This text, carefully translated by William O. Stephens, is an essential text for any student of Stoicism today.”—Matthew Sharpe, Deakin University (Australia)