Read Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings by Musonius Rufus William B. Irvine Cynthia King Online


Musonius Rufus (c. AD 30-100) was one of the four great Roman Stoic philosophers, the other three being Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Musonius' pupil Epictetus. During his life, Musonius' Stoicism was put to the test, most notably during an exile to Gyaros, a barren island in the Aegean Sea. Because Stoicism was, for Musonius, not merely a philosophy but a prescription forMusonius Rufus (c. AD 30-100) was one of the four great Roman Stoic philosophers, the other three being Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Musonius' pupil Epictetus. During his life, Musonius' Stoicism was put to the test, most notably during an exile to Gyaros, a barren island in the Aegean Sea. Because Stoicism was, for Musonius, not merely a philosophy but a prescription for daily living, he has been called "the Roman Socrates." MUSONIUS RUFUS: LECTURES AND SAYINGS will therefore be welcomed by those who seek insight into the practice of Stoicism. In this volume, readers will find Cynthia King's translation of Musonius' lectures, as recorded by his pupil Lucius; the sayings attributed to Musonius by ancient writers; an exchange of letters between Musonius and Apollonius of Tyana; and a letter from Musonius to Pankratides. This volume also includes a preface by William B. Irvine, author of A GUIDE TO THE GOOD LIFE: THE ANCIENT ART OF STOIC JOY....

Title : Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781456459666
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 102 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings Reviews

  • Daniel
    2019-01-03 01:41

    I like especially the practical and straightforward tone of Musonius Rufus with guidelines that basically aims to the daily life, with no mention of any abstruse issues of the stoic doctrine."If you choose to hold on to what is right, don't despair in difficult circumstances-reflect on how many things have already happened in your life in ways that you didn’t wish, and yet they have turned out for the best.""To help us to cheerfully endure those hardships which we may expect to suffer because of virtue and goodness, it is useful to recall what hardships people will endure for immoral reasons."There are even some instructions about diet:What cannot be satisfied is not a man's stomach, as most men think, but rather the false opinion that the stomach requires unlimited filling.Yet, the passage that I most enjoy:If we were to measure what is good by how much pleasure it brings, nothing would be better than self-control- if we were to measure what is to be avoided by its pain, nothing would be more painful than lack of self-control.

  • Tom Quinn
    2018-12-27 09:03

    A recommendation to new Stoics:First read Marcus for the foundation.Then read Seneca for the gravity.Then read Epictetus for a refresher.Then read this book.All of the Stoic authors say the same basic things, but with a variety of examples and personality that keeps them distinct. Their advice is practical, their words are quotable, and their philosophy of life and how to live it is tremendously freeing. Musonius in particular focuses on narrow, real-life areas where philosophy can be of benefit: work, marriage, study, home furnishings, and so on. His logical arguments aren't as strong as some other writers, but his counsel is still of great benefit. I especially liked this 2012 translation (by Ben White) for its breezy, contemporary style that still preserves the import of Musonius's intent.5 stars out of 5.

  • Grady McCallie
    2018-12-30 05:52

    If Seneca manifests the Stoic as a (neurotic) aristocrat, Gaius Musonius Rufus embodies the Stoic as a man of more modest means. His philosophical judgments are appealing and down to earth, as in this comment from a lecture on furnishing a house: "On the whole, we can judge whether various household furnishings are good or bad by determining what it takes to acquire them, use them, and keep them safe. Things that are difficult to acquire, hard to use, or difficult to guard are inferior; things that are easy to acquire, are a pleasure to use, and are easily guarded are superior." That practicality is intermixed with reflexive bias against the well to do, as suggested by this blanket assessment from later in the same lecture: "No on can acquire many things without being unjust." Rufus offers some rational arguments, but much of what he offers is a way of looking at the world that's either going to feel right or empty. One of the most appealing features of Rufus' thought is his certainty that Stoicism is for both men and women: "If men and women must be equally good in the virtue appropriate for a human - must, that is, be wise and self-controlled, and share in courage and justice - will we not educate both alike, and teach both in the same way the art by which a human would become good? We must do just that!" He acknowledges that, on average, men and women have different physical capacities, but suggests that this only applies to physical capacities, and even then with exceptions. Ultimately, while Rufus doesn't say much about political justice, he occasionally sounds like a modern social justice-oriented progressive: "Surely to shun excess, to honor equality, to want to do good, and for a person, being human, to not want to harm human beings -- this is the most honorable lesson and it makes just people out of those who hear it." That's quite a tonal contrast from the stoicism of Marcus Aurelius, informed by great privilege, and therefore focused almost entirely on self-control and acceptance of Nature, even when it expresses a parallel benevolence towards others.

  • Karl Nordenstorm
    2018-12-24 06:55

    Obviously the stoicism if fascinating, but you can get that from the other stoics. What I really remember from Musonius is something else, namely his terrible arguments for both terrible and very good ideas. Musonius is the only ancient I know who advocated the belief that women can get just as smart as men, and that the sexes should get the same education. But what are his arguments for this belief? That he- and she-dogs get the same skills if they get the same training and that the same applies to horses, ergo it should apply to humans. Cherry-picking? How many examples are there of animals for which the opposite is the case?Then he has a fantastic argument for being vegan. Namely "us humans are the animals the most similar to the gods. And what do the gods eat? The fumes from sacrificed meat. We humans should aspire to eat the same things as the gods, but we cannot eat fumes. But we should at least eat light food, that strive to reach the sky like ... like grain! Instead of heavy meet." (I paraphrase, but basically this is what he says)Such a fascinating thing that Musonius who was so right on so many issues could be so extremely wrong, or could be right but for absurd reasons.

  • Matthew
    2019-01-16 05:41

    Along with Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, Musionius Rufus was one of the four great Roman Stoics. This is a no-nonsense translation of his lectures. Translations of Rufus are apparently quite rare. This one can be had from

  • Htb2050
    2019-01-03 05:03

    not much in these. Epictetus gives a much more detailed description of the very same principles.

  • Marijke
    2019-01-16 06:59

    So much easier to read then the Epictetus Art of Living and yet coveying similar principles. I had never heard of this philosopher until I downloaded the Kindle version of this work. I am glad I did.

  • Chace Shaw
    2019-01-13 09:42

    In order for us to withstand more easily and eagerly the pains we would be suffering on account of virtue and noble character, it is useful to consider how much trouble those who pursue illicit love-affairs undergo because of their wicked passions, how much others put up with for the sake of gain, and again how many ills some suffer in pursuit of fame. Is it not amazing that they would put up with all this on account of dishonorable things, but that we—to gain a noble character, to escape the wickedness that ruins our lives, and to acquire virtue which provides for all good things—would not readily withstand every pain?I read the lectures of Musonius Rufus after having read the works of Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca. Musonius Rufus makes the fewest references to Stoic logic and physics, instead focusing exclusively on Stoic ethics. His lectures are comprised of practical advice for the application of Stoic ethics to mundane aspects of daily living. Musonius Rufus is probably the most accessible of the four great Stoic philosophers, but I would recommend that one start one’s exploration of Stoic philosophy with one of the other philosophers first so as to gain a more complete picture of Stoicism before using Musonius Rufus to hone in on its practical applications. Musonius Rufus proves to be a very sensible man, though possibly the most conservative of the Stoic philosophers, and at times his austerity resembles that of the Cynics. I would recommend any of the Stoic texts to every reader, and this text is a must-read for any reader with an appreciation for Stoic philosophy.

  • Olof
    2018-12-27 01:39

    A good read. Probably not the first book I'd recommend to someone who wants to learn about Stoicism, but a necessity for anyone who wants to go deeper. Especially interesting were Musonius Rufus views about women, which are lacking from other Stoic writings. Musonius believed that women should study philosophy and that it was wrong for men to have sex with their female slaves.

  • Scribbler
    2018-12-23 05:44

    Very well organized and the effort that went into producing this volume is evident. Three stars only because Rufus is not as dense with aphorisms applicable to modern times as, say, Seneca's Letters from a Stoic or Aurelius' Meditations - Rufus' advice for living is somewhat anchored to its age.

  • Mark Bridgeman
    2019-01-12 09:47

    Simple and brilliantWhat a wonderful book full of simple yet readily accessible wisdom, highlighted recommended for all people wishing to get the best out of life. Stoicism is joyous and for everyone.

  • George
    2019-01-18 06:44

    I found out about Musonius Rufus through William B. Irvine's brilliant book on Stoicism for the modern day (A Guide to the Good Life: and afterwards thought I'd search for a translation of Rufus' work and ideas.I found this version and wasn't disappointed at all.So, first of all, who was Rufus? A 1st century AD Roman philosopher, teaching Stoicism in Rome, who was three times exiled under the reign of autocratic emperors for his reasonable teachings and philosophy in troubled times. The most important time seems to be in 65AD, in the era of Nero, when he was sent to the barren Aegean island of Gyarus (infamous for its desolate qualities) and seemed to have his Stoicism thoroughly put to the test. He returned under Galba (in about 68AD, apparently) and continued teaching Roman students that included the soon-to-be famous Epictetus - who arguably went on to render more fame than Rufus himself. The whole biography of his life that has been to left to us seems blurry and incomplete, unfortunately, but luckily for us some of his teachings remain.And Cynthia King kindly translated them for us!I hadn't read the original texts but was immediately struck by the translator's apparent passion for the subject in trying to assemble as many parts of the puzzle as possible and to fit them into a single edition. The result, on the whole, is great. This book gave me a deeper understanding of Roman Stoicism and the way that it was taught, and it is a brilliant companion to the Enchiridion and lectures of Epictetus, and The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius - invaluable and humane texts that I love. The only negative point is that the edition is very slim. This is no fault of the translator's, though, I assume; I guess the amount of extant material is scarce. That's why I have to give this book only 3 stars.What it lacks for in quantity, though, it makes up for in quality. Reading this book won't give you a thorough guide to ancient Stoicism but it will add to the knowledge of it that you already would have (having read texts by Seneca, Epictetus, Aurelius etc.). It would also be a good introduction to the philosophy. As a companion text, however, it is superb. In particular the sections on farming, kings and philosophy, and the education of women are particularly interesting (the latter being also really refreshing - women's education is not a modern thought!). There's also a lot more in there to absorb if you read it and re-read it, let it sink into your mind and reasonably try to understand the teacher's ideas.What is also intriguing about Rufus is that he seemed to lecture his students on exact practicalities in life, even so far as talking about what to eat, how hair should be cut, and what furnishings to have. This is practical philosophy that you may not want to adopt, but is interesting nonetheless. Too much philosophy nowadays is deeply theoretical and lacks the practical focus of ancient masters such as Rufus.Also, at the back, there is a helpful section that features quotations from different philosophers such as his pupil Epictetus. It isn't a large section, but these quotes definitely add to the core teachings of Rufus.So, if you're interested in ancient philosophy, and fancy a book to add to your library, you definitely won't go wrong in buying this book. It'll enhance what information you already have garnered about Stoicism and could even offer a gateway to those who know nothing at all. It's also a credit to the translator and editor - Cynthia King - that the copy is even available!

  • Andrew
    2018-12-23 08:00

    Disappointment not with the translation, which was easy to read along with a careful introduction and footnotes, but with the content. Some of Rufus's arguments didn't make a lot of sense, compared with the rigor of Epictetus or even Marcus Aurelius (the latter shared the informal tone of this book).For example, one lecture makes the perfectly good point that if a person is willing to suffer to achieve something harmful or empty - such as wealth, adultery, celebrity, or intoxication - then surely we should be willing to sacrifice to achieve virtue and live the right kind of life. So far so good. Stoicism is all about valuing or shunning things based on their real value, not on how popular they are. But then in later lectures, he appeals to social conventions and common behavior to justify his positions. e.g. When asked if it's good to have a large family, he says yes, because who doesn't love to see a mom and dad walking through town with their gaggle of children? Doesn't everyone in town esteem them for having kids? Now, it might really be good to have a large family; and of course it's true that people smile when they see big families; but what kind of stoic reasoning is that? Social convention also esteems fancy clothes, physical beauty, money, and popular dictators - but no stoic (including Rufus) would endorse those. The strength and weakness of Rufus's lectures is that they deal with everyday topics in an everyday manner. His advice might be good, but it's too easy to see the holes in his arguments.

  • Timothy Kestrel
    2018-12-27 05:51

    I highly recommend this book to all who are interested in philosophy.Gaius Musonius Rufus is sometimes referred to as "the Roman Socrates." At his time, he was a well known and often quoted public figure. The other Roman Stoic philosophers were Seneca, Marcus Aurelius and Musonius' student Epictetus.Cynthia King has done a marvelous job in translating Musonius' texts from Greek notes taken from his lectures and preserved by others. The translator's introduction is also noteworthy. The text is easy to read and well edited, and the reader gets a very nice overview of what it meant during the Roman times, and still means, to be a practicing Stoic, to overcome our shortcomings and thereby live a good life.

  • Ryan Murdock
    2018-12-30 06:57

    Musonius Rufus is the lesser known of the 4 great Roman Stoic philosophers (the others being Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus). That's a shame, because there's a great deal of wisdom contained in this slim volume.

  • Richard Tullberg
    2019-01-18 04:51

    Short book on practical stoic teachings. Allot of it is second hand from what I believe was one of his students. Usually starts of with a broad topic followed by a short lecture by Musonius. Only complaint is that it is far to short but what can you do when the records don't exist.

  • Colin
    2018-12-21 03:38

    A good practical introduction to the thought of Musonius Rufus, "The Roman Socrates" . . .

  • Ross Cohen
    2018-12-27 09:38

    Spare and clearly stated. If Seneca's epistles are a Stoic smorgasbord, Musonius Rufus' writings are Stoic field rations.

  • Nick
    2018-12-21 01:57

    A general introduction to stoicism.

  • Eugene
    2019-01-07 01:48

    I had been meaning to read Rufus. While I enjoyed this it may noy be at the level of re-readability as Marcus or Seneca.

  • Matthew Trevithick
    2019-01-15 02:57

    A classic.

  • Kevin Mencarelli
    2019-01-07 05:47

    Musonius Rufus with out a doubt is my favorite Stoic author. He is the most positive of all the writers I have read thus far. I would highly recommend this book to all.

  • Peahen
    2018-12-22 04:34

    Excellent book if you are looking for inspiration, or to refine your thinking about your goals and troubles.

  • Abhi Yerra
    2019-01-15 06:47

    Musonius Rufus is a Stoic philosopher like Marcus Aurelius. This text assembled by his students since Rufus himself didn’t write is similar to Meditations in that regard.

  • Ajay
    2019-01-19 09:48

    It's fine, it just doesn't stand up to Seneca, Marcus or Epictetus. Actually, Epictetus gave a much more nuanced account of the principles Rufus articulates here, just read him instead.