I’d heard of Musonius Rufus but didn’t realize there was a collection of his wisdom I could read. So, of course, when I heard about this book, I got it. And, when I got it, I immediately dove in.
Unless you’re really into Stoicism, you’ve probably never heard of Musonius but he was one of the four great Roman Stoics. In fact, he was known as the “Roman Socrates.”
To put him in historical context with the other three great Roman Stoics: He was born in AD 30, about 34 years after Seneca. He taught Epictetus (who was born in AD 55—making him about 25 years younger than Musonius). Epictetus died in 135 but taught the guys who taught the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (who was born in AD 121) his Stoic philosophy—which is why Aurelius refers to him more than any other teacher in .
Like Socrates and Epictetus, Musonius never wrote a book. This book is a translation of a collection of his lectures and sayings as captured by one of his students—a guy named Lucius.
(Socrates had a guy named Plato take some good notes. Epictetus had Arrian.)
In addition to the old school wisdom, we get a glimpse into some (fun) details of daily life in Roman culture—which kinda reminded me of some parallel ancient wisdom and (fun) details of daily life in Chinese culture in Confucius’ .
If you’re into Stoicism, I think you’ll really enjoy the book. Musonius has the same no-nonsense energy as his top student, Epictetus. It’s a joy to read and to feel his clarity and unequivocal conviction on the power of philosophy/living a life of virtue. (Get a copy .)
Of course, it’s packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share a few of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!