Monday, July 30, 2007

The Year of the Books About Stoics, or the Continuing Stoic Revival

A new book on ancient Stoicism is due in September.

At least three books about ancient Stoicism have been re-released in paperback this year.

Several more books about Stoicism or the thought of individual Stoics have been released in the past few years.

Why are people into the Stoics these days? I'm trying to answer that question for an upcoming article in, but for the moment, I'll give a broad-brush backgrounder and then get back to this year's books.

Founded in ancient Greece by Zeno of Citium in Cypress (344-262 B.C.), this philosophical school lived about 600 years through Roman Imperial times. The writings of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor who lived 121-180 A.D., are considered key texts for Stoicism as we know it today.

Due in September is Stoicism and Emotion (University of Chicago Press, 2007) by Margaret R. Graver.

The book "shows that they did not simply advocate an across-the-board suppression of feeling, as stoicism implies in today’s English, but instead conducted a searching examination of these powerful psychological responses, seeking to understand what attitude toward them expresses the deepest respect for human potential," according to the description at

The three books re-released in paperback this year, suggesting an ongoing interest in the subject matter, are:

Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy Behind the Military Mind (Oxford University Press, 2005, 2007), by Nancy Sherman

The Stoic Life: Emotions, Duties, & Fate (Oxford University Press, 2005, 2007), by Tad Brennan

The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness (HarperSanFrancisco, 1995; HarperOne, 2007), which was co-authored by Epictetus, an ancient Stoic, and Sharon Lebell, a writer and musician who lives, in our time, in Northern California.

Note that two of the three paperback re-releases were published just two years ago.

Graver's books and those paperbacks are priced within a range one might expect to pay for a book.

However, if you really wanted to dig deep into this subject matter, you could buy one of these expensive academic books, released this year:

The Corinthian Dissenters and the Stoics (Studies in Biblical Literature) (Peter Lang Publishing, 2007) by Albert V. Garcilazo for $71.95 at, or

Spinoza and the Stoics: Power, Politics and the Passions (Continuum Studies in Philosophy) (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2007) by Firmin Debrabander for $120 at

The priceless online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has an entry on Stoicism here: .

-Colin Burch

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