Memorize the Stoics!
Publication Date: March 22, 2022
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Memorize the Stoics! The Ancient Art of Memory Meets the Timeless Art of Living. The title says it all! Extolling the powers of God-given human reason, Stoic philosophers such as Roman knight Musonius Rufus and his student, the former slave, Epictetus, developed powerful practical lessons for living tranquil, virtuous, loving lives. These lessons were praised by such early Church Fathers as Justin Martyr and Origen. Epictetus's Handbook was later adapted as a moral guidebook for monks. A millennium later, Thomas Aquinas mined the Stoic Seneca's lessons on anger, gratitude, patience, and more for use in his Summa Theologiae. And in our own day, the psychological and moral teachings of the Stoics constitute an "art of living" that fairly cries out to act as compass for the nearly rudderless boat of our disordered contemporary world.
But still, it is hard to live out important life lessons if you cannot remember them! In those same early centuries before and after Christ, Greeks like Simonides and Romans like Cicero championed a specialized "art of memory." Early Church Fathers such as Augustine and Jerome championed this also, as did, centuries later, Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas.
The unique virtue of Kevin Vost's book is its wedding of the ancient art of memory to the timeless art of living. In his Handbook, Epictetus exhorts us to "remember" his lessons a full dozen times, and in his own book Vost shows us how to do just this, thereby opening our eyes to unrecognized powers of imagination and memory, and to unrecognized capacities for controlling thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Even so, the Stoics would not mind at all if you found this exercise of imagination and intellect a rather fun thing to do. Enjoy!