Hardship and Happiness

University of Chicago Press
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Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BCE–65 CE) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, dramatist, statesman, and advisor to the emperor Nero, all during the Silver Age of Latin literature. The Complete Works of Lucius Annaeus Seneca is a fresh and compelling series of new English-language translations of his works in eight accessible volumes. Edited by Elizabeth Asmis, Shadi Bartsch, and Martha C. Nussbaum, this engaging collection helps restore Seneca—whose works have been highly praised by modern authors from Desiderius Erasmus to Ralph Waldo Emerson—to his rightful place among the classical writers most widely studied in the humanities.

Hardship and Happiness collects a range of essays intended to instruct, from consolations—works that offer comfort to someone who has suffered a personal loss—to pieces on how to achieve happiness or tranquility in the face of a difficult world. Expertly translated, the essays will be read and used by undergraduate philosophy students and experienced scholars alike.
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About the author

Elaine Fantham was the Giger Professor of Latin at Princeton University from 1986 to 1999. She has written many books and commentaries on Latin literature, including Seneca’s Troades. Harry M. Hine is professor emeritus in the School of Classics at the University of St Andrews in Scotland and the translator of Seneca’s Natural Questions, also in the series. James Ker is associate professor of classical studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the editor of A Seneca Reader: Selections from Prose and Tragedy. Gareth D. Williams is the Violin Family Professor of Classics at Columbia University and the author of many books, including The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca’s “Natural Questions.”
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Mar 5, 2014
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9780226108353
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Collections / Ancient & Classical
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Ancient & Classical
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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On the surface, stoicism and emotion seem like contradictory terms. Yet the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome were deeply interested in the emotions, which they understood as complex judgments about what we regard as valuable in our surroundings. Stoicism and Emotion 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.

In this elegant and clearly written work, Margaret Graver gives a compelling new interpretation of the Stoic position. Drawing on a vast range of ancient sources, she argues that the chief demand of Stoic ethics is not that we should suppress or deny our feelings, but that we should perfect the rational mind at the core of every human being. Like all our judgments, the Stoics believed, our affective responses can be either true or false and right or wrong, and we must assume responsibility for them. Without glossing over the difficulties, Graver also shows how the Stoics dealt with those questions that seem to present problems for their theory: the physiological basis of affective responses, the phenomenon of being carried away by one’s emotions, the occurrence of involuntary feelings and the disordered behaviors of mental illness. Ultimately revealing the deeper motivations of Stoic philosophy, Stoicism and Emotion uncovers the sources of its broad appeal in the ancient world and illuminates its surprising relevance to our own.
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