The Discourses are a key source for ancient Stoicism, one of the richest and most influential schools of thought in Western philosophy. They not only represent the Stoicism of Epictetus' own time, but also reflect the teachings of such early Stoics as Zeno and Chrysippus, whose writings are largely lost. The first of the four books of the Discourses is philosophically the richest: it focuses primarily on ethics and moral psychology, but also touches on issues of logic, epistemology, science, and rhetoric. Other notable schools of ancient thought, including Epicureanism, the Sceptics, and the Cynics, are discussed.
Robert Dobbin presents a new translation into clear modern English of this important work, together with the first commentary on the work since the eighteenth century. Each of the thirty discourses that make up Book 1 is introduced and summarized; then the arguments are examined in detail. The general introduction gives background information about Epictetus' life, the intellectual context of the work, the style of the discourses, and the history of the text. A bibliography surveys the literature. The volume serves as a guide to Epictetus' thought as a whole.