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Aïtia, n°12/2022

Lectures du livre III des Entretiens d'Epictète


Aitia. Regards sur la culture hellénistique au XXIe siècle



Interpretations of Epictetus' Discourses, Book 3

Focusing on the practice and use of philosophical doctrines, Epictetus' Discourses include not only dialogues between the Stoic master and his disciples on the main Stoic principles, but also speeches and comments on texts which are often borrowed from Chrysippus.

The study concentrates here on Book 3, which is particularly noteworthy for the variety of topics it covers. In this book, Epictetus insists on exercise in all its forms - exercise for a man who wants to progress towards the good, asceticism of desires and propensities, training in order to deal with representations. He also describes the position of the philosopher in relation to the layman, the rhetorician, the teacher of philosophy and the external environment in general. Finally, he continues the polemic initiated by his Stoic predecessors against the Epicureans, whose principles he denounces as incoherent with the life they lead, and he draws a famous and laudatory portrait of cynicism, a philosophy with which the founder of Stoicism had a deep affinity.

Through an approach that brings together contributors from various specialties, this volume, which is the result of international meetings in ancient philosophy, seeks to give an account of Epictetus' thought in all its richness by examining the historical, rhetorical and philosophical issues at stake in Epictetus' Discourses, Book 3.