WISDOM OF MARCUS AURELIUS & SAYINGS OF EPICTETUS
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Of course, if I get this book, it will be for the Epictetus. The volume they included in the Reader's Choice series a few years back was atrocious (an adaptation of a reimagining of an imitation of a student's record of the words of Epictetus -- or something like that -- ugh!). I would have been more than happy if they had just reprinted the Macy edition of the Discourses with a leather cover (and all the original art)...
(edited for grammar)
edit: and wow, the illustrations are no less beautiful than those of Flint in the DLE!
This short book by Sharon Lebell is an "imitation" (in Robert Lowell's sense) of the Enchiridion (or Manual) of Epictetus, a handbook of ethical precepts compiled in the early 2nd century by Arrian (who had studied under the Stoic philosopher). Lebell's book is not, in the strict sense, a new translation of Epictetus, but rather a "selection, interpretation, and improvisation with the ideas," the result of Lebell having "consulted various translations" in order to give "fresh expression to what I think he would have said today" (from the Prologue). Although Lebell's highly subjective "improvisations" may give scholars good cause to cringe, they have nevertheless introduced Stoicism (not as historical, but rather as popular philosophy) to a new generation of readers. To appreciate the nature and extent of Lebell's liberties, you need only compare the following three versions of the same passage from the Enchiridion:
Avoid public and vulgar entertainments; but, if ever an occasion calls you to them, keep your attention upon the stretch, that you may not imperceptibly slide into vulgar manners. For be assured that if a person be ever so sound himself, yet, if his companion be infected, he who converses with him will be infected likewise. (1758 translation by Elizabeth Carter)
Refuse the entertainments of strangers and the vulgar. But if occasion arise to accept them, then strain every nerve to avoid lapsing into the state of the vulgar. For know that , if your comrade have a stain on him, he that associates with him must need share the stain, even though he be clean in himself. (1916 translation by P.E. Matheson)
Avoid Most Popular Entertainment: Most of what passes for legitimate entertainment is inferior or foolish and only caters to or exploits people's weaknesses. Avoid being one of the mob who indulges in such pastimes. Your life is too short and you have important things to do. Be descriminating about what ideas and images you permit in your mind. If you yourself don't choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will, and their motives may not be the highest. It is the easiest thing in the world to slide imperceptibly into vulgarity. But there's no need for that to happen if you determine not to waste your time and attention on mindless pap. (Sharon Lebell's "interpretation" of this passage)The copyright page of the 2007 Reader's Choice edition of this book (one of the Reader's Choice Non-Fiction Titles) tells us that the main section of the book "substantially reproduces" Lebell's text--which is itself an "interpretation" of "various translations" of a handbook derived from lectures transcribed from memory by a famous student of Epictetus. That's six degrees of separation!
Easton Press already has the reprint rights to the fabulously illustrated LEC/HP edition of the Discourses (an edition that also includes the Enchiridion). I've been hoping for quite some time that EP would issue a leather-bound edition of this book.
I'm not meaning to disparage the new Deluxe Limited Edition of Aurelius/Epictetus, which looks really nice too (expensive...but nice) -- I'll probably buy one myself!!
The endpapers are marbleized and the paper feels nice and thick. Both title pages has a protective film/tissue but not really sure why it's there.
It doesn't say anywhere who the translator is so I had to look it up but I think it's Jeremy Collier? If anyone knows let me know. What I really love about the book are the beautiful illustrated borders each books has. What I'm not a fan of are the font. Looks runny and really small but I guess that's what the 1903/4 version of the book used. What I find really unfortunate is the lines are not numbered which is a shame as I wanted to cross reference the different translations. Not a big deal for those that just want to read through the book. If someone can tell me if the other EP Marcus Aurelius have the numbered lines I would appreciate it. Overall it's a really nice volume, pricey for a small book but it is beautiful.
The earlier Marcus DLE is one of Easton's finer productions. The translation is by George Long with 12 beautiful tipped-in illustrations by Russell Flint The font is easy to read and not "runny" like several of their more recent DLEs. However, like your edition, it does not contain line numbers.
Thanks for the pictures. Very representative. This confirms for me, though, that I need to pass on this edition. These are both lower-priority titles for me and works I own in other editions. And while I too like the border illustrations, certainly not enough to justify the asking price.
PM me if you're interested in.
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