Lives of the Stoics Buchzusammenfassung - das Wichtigste aus Lives of the Stoics
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Zusammenfassung von Lives of the Stoics

Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius

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28 Min.

    Lives of the Stoics
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    Kernaussage 1 von 8

    Zeno (334 BCE–262 BCE)

    Here we are, on the island of Cyprus, in the fourth century BCE. With us on this island is a man named Zeno. He’s a wealthy merchant, and he makes his living trading in a rare purple dye. This dye, which enslaved laborers make from the blood of sea snails, is in high demand among the rich and powerful, who use it to color their sumptuous robes.

    It’s a good life. Zeno is comfortable, he wants for nothing, but today tragedy strikes. The ship carrying Zeno’s precious cargo is wrecked at sea. Just like that, with the swiftness of a crashing wave, all is lost. Zeno and his family are left with nothing.

    This is one possible account of Zeno’s misfortune. In another, he was on the ship. Or maybe he was safely on land. We don’t know. But we do know how he reacted. Some people – most people – would have been broken by this devastating turn of events, but not Zeno. He confronted his bad luck with resilience and courage – exactly the sort of qualities that Stoicism would come to represent.

    Rather than cursing his fate, he embraced it. He moved to the city of Athens, the beating heart of Ancient Greece, and reinvented himself as a philosopher. He even went so far as to praise fate: “Well done, Fortune,” he’s said to have said, “to drive me thus to philosophy!”

    Fourth century Athens was the perfect place for a budding philosopher. Fueled both by business and, shamefully, by the slave trade, the city was a commercial success. Its educated elite had plenty of time to ponder life’s biggest existential questions. Before long, Zeno found a respected teacher, a man named Crates of Thebes, who introduced him to the basics of philosophy.

    Zeno’s education began with an eccentric lesson. Crates asked Zeno to carry a pot of lentil soup across the city. Believing that this task was beneath him, Zeno took the soup through the back streets, in an attempt to avoid being seen. Crates was having none of that. He came up to Zeno and tipped the soup down legs, plain for all to see. The lesson was simple: Zeno should care less about what other people thought of him.

    Before long, Zeno became a respected philosopher in his own right. He founded a new philosophy, called Stoicism, and formulated its four guiding principles: courage, wisdom, moderation, and justice.

    Like the Stoics who came after him, Zeno believed that philosophy should not be confined to the classroom but should instead be put into action in daily life. So, rather than shouting from a bell tower or speaking in a grand lecture hall, Zeno and his followers discussed their ideas in the middle of the city, on the Stoa Poikile – the “painted porch” – of the Agora of Athens. Which is where Stoicism gets its name from – the “Stoa” in Stoa Poikile.

    And that is perhaps the greatest testament to Zeno’s modesty. Rather than naming his philosophy after himself, he named it after the porch on which he taught. Next up, we’ll meet one of the people who studied on that porch, a student of Zeno’s named Cleanthes.

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    Worum geht es in Lives of the Stoics?

    Lives of the Stoics (2020) explores Stoicism through the lives of its earliest followers. Packed with insights into the leaders, wars, and politics of classical antiquity, these blinks provide a fresh yet historical look at this popular philosophy.

    Wer Lives of the Stoics lesen sollte

    • Philosophy buffs seeking new insights
    • Strivers looking for inspiration
    • Budding historians looking for a fresh perspective

    Über den Autor

    Ryan Holiday is an American author, media strategist, and bookstore owner. He’s also the host of the Daily Stoic podcast. His other books include Stillness is the Key, Ego is the Enemy, and The Obstacle is the Way.

    Stephen Hanselman is an author and publisher. He studied at Fresno Pacific University and obtained a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School. His previous books include The Daily Stoic

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