Free Translations of Ancient Stoic Classics

Stoicism was never intended to be a singular dogma, and there is no reason that it shouldn't be buttressed by views and language that offer slightly different, but complimentary perspective. The below must-reads span the spectrum from ancient Hinduism, Buddhism, and even modern. Purchasing books through PocketStoics helps support the development of our app, blog and online resources.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Why it's essential: Reading Meditations is like peering into the soul of a man at the same time a great Roman emperor and sensitive philosopher. It's beautiful,  Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (a.d. 121–180) succeeded his adoptive father as emperor of Rome in a.d. 161—and Meditations remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. With a profound understanding of human behavior, Marcus provides insights, wisdom, and practical guidance on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity to interacting with others. Consequently, the Meditations have become required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations of ordinary readers have responded to the straightforward intimacy of his style. In Gregory Hays’s new translation—the first in a generation—Marcus’s thoughts speak with a new immediacy: never before have they been so directly and powerfully presented.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Why it's essential:
Reading Meditations is like peering into the soul of a man at the same time a great Roman emperor and sensitive philosopher. It's beautiful, 

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (a.d. 121–180) succeeded his adoptive father as emperor of Rome in a.d. 161—and Meditations remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. With a profound understanding of human behavior, Marcus provides insights, wisdom, and practical guidance on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity to interacting with others. Consequently, the Meditations have become required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations of ordinary readers have responded to the straightforward intimacy of his style.

In Gregory Hays’s new translation—the first in a generation—Marcus’s thoughts speak with a new immediacy: never before have they been so directly and powerfully presented.

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca For several years of his turbulent life, Seneca was the guiding hand of the Roman Empire. His inspired reasoning derived mainly from the Stoic principles, which had originally been developed some centuries earlier in Athens. This selection of Seneca's letters shows him upholding the austere ethical ideals of Stoicism—the wisdom of the self-possessed person immune to overmastering emotions and life’s setbacks—while valuing friendship and the courage of ordinary men, and criticizing the harsh treatmentof slaves and the cruelties in the gladiatorial arena. The humanity and wit revealed in Seneca’s interpretation of Stoicism is a moving and inspiring declaration of the dignity of the individual mind. (via Publisher)

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

For several years of his turbulent life, Seneca was the guiding hand of the Roman Empire. His inspired reasoning derived mainly from the Stoic principles, which had originally been developed some centuries earlier in Athens. This selection of Seneca's letters shows him upholding the austere ethical ideals of Stoicism—the wisdom of the self-possessed person immune to overmastering emotions and life’s setbacks—while valuing friendship and the courage of ordinary men, and criticizing the harsh treatmentof slaves and the cruelties in the gladiatorial arena.

The humanity and wit revealed in Seneca’s interpretation of Stoicism is a moving and inspiring declaration of the dignity of the individual mind. (via Publisher)

Discourses, Fragments, Enchiridion by Epictetus Epictetus was a teacher, and a freed slave, whose discourses have a vivid informality, animated by anecdotes and dialogue. Forceful, direct, and challenging, their central message is that the basis of happiness is up to us, and that we all have the capacity, through sustained reflection and hard work, of achieving this goal. They still speak eloquently to modern readers seeking meaning in their own lives. This is the only complete modern translation of the Discourses, together with the Handbook or manual of key themes, and surviving fragments. Robin Hard's accurate and accessible translation is accompanied by Christopher Gill's full introduction and comprehensive notes. (via Publisher)

Discourses, Fragments, Enchiridion by Epictetus

Epictetus was a teacher, and a freed slave, whose discourses have a vivid informality, animated by anecdotes and dialogue. Forceful, direct, and challenging, their central message is that the basis of happiness is up to us, and that we all have the capacity, through sustained reflection and hard work, of achieving this goal. They still speak eloquently to modern readers seeking meaning in their own lives.

This is the only complete modern translation of the Discourses, together with the Handbook or manual of key themes, and surviving fragments. Robin Hard's accurate and accessible translation is accompanied by Christopher Gill's full introduction and comprehensive notes. (via Publisher)

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. At the time of Frankl's death in 1997, Man's Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages. A 1991 reader survey for the Library of Congress that asked readers to name a "book that made a difference in your life" found Man's Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America.

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

At the time of Frankl's death in 1997, Man's Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages. A 1991 reader survey for the Library of Congress that asked readers to name a "book that made a difference in your life" found Man's Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America.