LIVES OF THE STOICS: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius | Ryan Holiday, Portfolio/Penguin Press, p326.
This is a breathtaking survey of 26 leading Stoic figures from the founder of this school, "Zeno the Prophet," to "Porcia Cato, the Iron Woman," to "Marcus Aurelius, the Philosopher King." The arch of this tome follows a rough chronology from 330 BC to 180 AD.
We learn Zeno's story, a shipwrecked tradesman turned philosopher who became the founder of the "Stoic School" of thought. In a bookshop, he discovered the tale of Socrates, which connected him to the advice an oracle had advocated: To have more conversations with the dead. We learn what fruits those dialogues bequeathed.
This is not merely a book of biographies. Nor is it only a compilation of Stoic teachings. It is a melded blend of their lives - where they lived up to and applied their worldview and where they tragically fell short - along with the substance of these world-views, relevant today as it was in the ancient world.
These Stoics were men, women, wealthy, poor, multi-ethnic, and often in disagreement. Like all humans, they struggled with the challenges of living a life of virtue amidst a culture that did not value Truth. As history so often instructs, what was remains what is.
The book is extremely accessible and easy to read. However, spanning 26 lives and 500 years, it is dense. There is a lot to take in. It's a book, like any good one, that should be read, re-read and re-read again. It is highly recommended.