The Harvard Classics Vol. 2 | Plato, Epictetus, Aurelius

  • The Harvard Classics, Vol. 2
  • Includes: The Apology, Phaedo, and Crito (Plato), The Golden Sayings of Epictetus, and The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
  • New York: P. F. Collier & Son Corporation
  • 345 pages

This volume was interesting, enlightening, but profoundly frustrating.

Let’s start with interesting. Most Christians have little or no idea how much of their belief system is founded on Platonic and Stoic principles in place of Judaism. Reading these works helped me to see the extent of the damage!

Next comes enlightening. There is a lot of wisdom packed into this volume that can be mined and practiced even in a Christian milieu. Here’s some of the good stuff:

  • Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you. — Plato
  • The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs faster than death. — Plato
  • To you, all you have seems small: to me, all I have seems great. Your desire is insatiable, mine is satisfied. — Epictetus
  • I esteem what God wills better than what I will. — Epictetus
  • Tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind. — Aurelius
  • Where a man can live, there he can also live well. — Aurelius

Finally, reading this was frustrating. I became very irritated by the Stoic’s propensity to passively accept everything the universe might throw their way. The constant refrain of remember your death wears thin after a while also, because there’s no hope in Stoicism. The body’s just a prison that returns to dust while the divine part flies up and does something we’re not quite sure about until it happens.

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