THE THE ULTIMATE STOIC READING LIST

The following is a collection of every book on Stoicism which I have currently found. I personally haven't read every one of these books yet, but the purpose of this list is to give you an idea of exactly what's out there so that you can start to sink your teeth into some great Stoic reading.

And another note: if you know of any books on Stoicism that have helped you to gain a better understanding and are not currently on this list then please feel free to reach out to me and request that they be added. This is an evolving list and I'm always happy to expand it. 

  • The Ancient Stoics
  • GREEK PHILOSOPHY & Stoic Influences
  • Modern Stoic Authors
  • As heard on the Podcast

Works by or on the Ancient Stoics 

Letters From a Stoic by Seneca the Younger (Translated by Robin Campbell)

BOOK DESCRIPTION: 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 treatment  of 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.

Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus (Translated by Robert Dobbin) 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Despite being born into slavery, Greco-Roman philosopher Epictetus became one of the most influential thinkers of his time. Discourses and Selected Writings is a transcribed collection of informal lectures given by the philosopher around AD 108. A gateway into the life and mind of a great intellectual, it is also an important example of the usage of Koine or ?common? Greek, an ancestor to Standard Modern Greek.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Translated by Gregory Hays)

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Few ancient works have been as influential as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and emperor of Rome (A.D. 161–180). A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus’s insights and advice—on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others—have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations of ordinary readers have responded to the straightforward intimacy of his style. For anyone who struggles to reconcile the demands of leadership with a concern for personal integrity and spiritual well-being, the Meditations remains as relevant now as it was two thousand years ago.

In Gregory Hays’s new translation—the first in thirty-five years—Marcus’s thoughts speak with a new immediacy. In fresh and unencumbered English, Hays vividly conveys the spareness and compression of the original Greek text. Never before have Marcus’s insights been so directly and powerfully presented.

With an Introduction that outlines Marcus’s life and career, the essentials of Stoic doctrine, the style and construction of the Meditations, and the work’s ongoing influence, this edition makes it possible to fully rediscover the thoughts of one of the most enlightened and intelligent leaders of any era.

The Enchiridion by Epictetus (Translated by Elizabeth Carter)

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Although he was born into slavery and endured a permanent physical disability, Epictetus (ca. 50–ca. 130 AD) maintained that all people are free to control their lives and to live in harmony with nature. We will always be happy, he argued, if we learn to desire that things should be exactly as they are. After attaining his freedom, Epictetus spent his entire career teaching philosophy and advising a daily regimen of self-examination. His pupil Arrianus later collected and published the master's lecture notes; the Enchiridion, or Manual, is a distillation of Epictetus' teachings and an instructional manual for a tranquil life. Full of practical advice, this work offers guidelines for those seeking contentment as well as for those who have already made some progress in that direction.

On the Shortness of Life by Seneca (Translated by C. D. N. Costa)

BOOK DESCRIPTION: The Stoic writings of the philosopher Seneca, who lived from c. 5 BC to AD 65, offer powerful insights into the art of living, the importance of reason and morality, and continue to provide profound guidance to many through their eloquence, lucidity and timeless wisdom. This selection of Seneca's works was taken from the Penguin Classics edition of Dialogues and Letters, translated by C.D.N. Costa, and includes the essays On the Shortness of LifeConsolation to Helvia, and On Tranquility of Mind

The Lives of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius (Books 1-5) 

This rich compendium on the lives and doctrines of philosophers ranges over three centuries, from Thales to Epicurus (to whom the whole tenth book is devoted); 45 important figures are portrayed. Diogenes Laertius carefully compiled his information from hundreds of sources and enriches his accounts with numerous quotations.

Diogenes Laertius lived probably in the earlier half of the 3rd century CE, his ancestry and birthplace being unknown. His history, in ten books, is divided unscientifically into two 'Successions' or sections: 'Ionian' from Anaximander to Theophrastus and Chrysippus, including the Socratic schools; 'Italian' from Pythagoras to Epicurus, including the Eleatics and sceptics. It is a very valuable collection of quotations and facts.

The Lives of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius (Books 6-10)

This rich compendium on the lives and doctrines of philosophers ranges over three centuries, from Thales to Epicurus (to whom the whole tenth book is devoted); 45 important figures are portrayed. Diogenes Laertius carefully compiled his information from hundreds of sources and enriches his accounts with numerous quotations.

Diogenes Laertius lived probably in the earlier half of the 3rd century CE, his ancestry and birthplace being unknown. His history, in ten books, is divided unscientifically into two 'Successions' or sections: 'Ionian' from Anaximander to Theophrastus and Chrysippus, including the Socratic schools; 'Italian' from Pythagoras to Epicurus, including the Eleatics and sceptics. It is a very valuable collection of quotations and facts.

On the Happy Life by Seneca The Younger (Translated by Aubrey Stewart) 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: De Vita Beata ("On the Happy Life") is a dialogue written by Seneca the Younger around the year 58 AD. It was intended for his older brother Gallio, to whom Seneca also dedicated his dialogue entitled De Ira ("On Anger"). It is divided into 28 chapters that present the moral thoughts of Seneca at their most mature. Seneca explains that the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of reason – reason meant not only using logic, but also understanding the processes of nature. Seneca, in agreement with Stoic doctrine, argues that Nature is Reason (logos) and that people must use their powers of reason to live in harmony with nature and thus achieve happiness. In his words, "rerum naturae adsentior; ab illa non deerrare et ad illius legem exemplumque formari sapientia est," which means "I follow nature; it is common sense not to stray from it but to be molded according to its law and example." Seneca proposes to follow a logical sequence in this approach, starting with the definition of the objectives that the person wants to obtain. In decision-making he scorns the ways of the masses ("the most beaten and frequented paths are the most deceptive") since people are "more willing to trust another than to judge for themselves" and "a mistake that has been passed on from hand to hand finally involves us and works our destruction."

Anger, Mercy, Revenge by Seneca (Translated by Robert A. Kaster and Martha C. Nussbaum) 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BCE–65 CE) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, dramatist, statesman, and adviser to the emperor Nero, all during the Silver Age of Latin literature. The Complete Works of Lucius Annaeus Seneca is a fresh and compelling series of new English-language translations of his works in eight accessible volumes. Edited by world-renowned classicists Elizabeth Asmis, Shadi Bartsch, and Martha C. Nussbaum, this engaging collection restores Seneca—whose works have been highly praised by modern authors from Desiderius Erasmus to Ralph Waldo Emerson—to his rightful place among the classical writers most widely studied in the humanities.

Anger, Mercy, Revenge comprises three key writings: the moral essays On Anger and On Clemency—which were penned as advice for the then young emperor, Nero—and the Apocolocyntosis, a brilliant satire lampooning the end of the reign of Claudius. Friend and tutor, as well as philosopher, Seneca welcomed the age of Nero in tones alternately serious, poetic, and comic—making Anger, Mercy, Revenge a work just as complicated, astute, and ambitious as its author.

Hardship and Happiness by Seneca (Translated by Elaine Fantham, Harry H. Hine and Gareth D. Williams) 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Hardship and Happiness collects a range of essays intended to instruct, from consolations—works that offer comfort to someone who has suffered a personal loss—to pieces on how to achieve happiness or tranquility in the face of a difficult world. Expertly translated, the essays will be read and used by undergraduate philosophy students and experienced scholars alike.

Letters on Ethics to Lucilius by Seneca (Translated by A. A. Long and Margaret Graver) 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Written as much for a general audience as for Lucilius, these engaging letters offer advice on how to deal with everything from nosy neighbors to sickness, pain, and death. Seneca uses the informal format of the letter to present the central ideas of Stoicism, for centuries the most influential philosophical system in the Mediterranean world. His lively and at times humorous expositions have made the Letters his most popular work and an enduring classic. Including an introduction and explanatory notes by Margaret Graver and A. A. Long, this authoritative edition will captivate a new generation of readers.

On Benefits by Seneca (Translated by Miriam Griffin and Brad Inwood)

BOOK DESCRIPTION: On Benefits, written between 56 and 64 CE, is a treatise addressed to Seneca’s close friend Aebutius Liberalis. The longest of Seneca’s works dealing with a single subject—how to give and receive benefits and how to express gratitude appropriately—On Benefits is the only complete work on what we now call “gift exchange” to survive from antiquity. Benefits were of great personal significance to Seneca, who remarked in one of his later letters that philosophy teaches, above all else, to owe and repay benefits well.

Natural Questions by Seneca (Translated by Harry M. Hine) 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Written near the end of Seneca’s life, Natural Questions is a work in which Seneca expounds and comments on the natural sciences of his day—rivers and earthquakes, wind and snow, meteors and comets—offering us a valuable look at the ancient scientific mind at work. The modern reader will find fascinating insights into ancient philosophical and scientific approaches to the physical world and also vivid evocations of the grandeur, beauty, and terror of nature.

The Complete Tragedies, Volume 1: Medea, The Phoenician Women, Phaedra, The Trojan Women, Octavia by Seneca (Translated by Susanna Braund, Shadi Bartsch, Alex Dressler and Elaine Fantham) 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: This first volume contains MedeaThe Phoenician WomenPhaedraThe Trojan Women, and Octavia, the last of which was written in emulation of Senecan tragedies and serves as a unique example of political tragedy. The second volume includes OedipusHercules MadHercules on OetaThyestes, and Agamemnon. High standards of accuracy, clarity, and style are maintained throughout the translations, which render Seneca into verse with as close a correspondence, line for line, to the original as possible, and with special attention paid to meter and overall flow. In addition, each tragedy is prefaced by an original translator’s introduction offering reflections on the work’s context and meaning. Notes are provided for the reader unfamiliar with the culture and history of classical antiquity. Accordingly, The Complete Tragedies will be of use to a general audience and professionals alike, from the Latinless student to scholars and instructors of comparative literature, classics, philosophy, drama, and more.

The Fragments of Zeno and Cleanthes: With Introd, and Explanatory Notes Essay by A. C. Pearson

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Forgotten Books' Classic Reprint Series utilizes the latest technology to regenerate facsimiles of historically important writings. Careful attention has been made to accurately preserve the original format of each page whilst digitally enhancing the difficult to read text. 

Lectures and Sayings by Musonius Rufus (Translated by Cynthia King) 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: 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 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.

Philosophy of Chrysippus by Josiah B. Gould 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: The Philosophy of Chrysippus is a reconstruction of the philosophy of an eminent Stoic philosopher, based upon the fragmentary remains of his voluminous writings. Chrysippus of Cilicia, who lived in a period that covers roughly the last three-quarters of the third century B.C., studied philosophy in Athens and upon Cleanthes’ death became the third head of the Stoa, one of the four great schools of philosophy of the Hellenistic period. Chrysippus wrote a number of treatises in each of the major departments of philosophy, logic, physics, and ethics. Much of his fame derived from his acuteness as a logician, but his importance for Stoic philosophy generally was acknowledged in antiquity in the saying, “Had there been no Chrysippus, there would be no Stoa.”

Stoic Virtues: Chrysippus and the Religious Character of Stoic Ethics by Christoph Jedan 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Like its ancient rivals, Stoic ethics was a form of virtue ethics, yet while the concept of virtue was clearly central to Stoic ethics, the concept of Stoic virtue has not yet been fully explored. Instead, the existing literature tends to impose on the Stoic material philosophically quite alien non-Aristotelian interpretations of virtue. According to Christoph Jedan, however, a thorough examination of the Stoic concept of virtue leads to a reassessment of our understanding of Stoic ethics.
This book emphasises in particular the theological underpinning of Stoic ethics, which Jedan contends has been underestimated in current accounts of Stoic ethics. Jedan argues that the theological motifs in Stoic ethics are in fact pivotal to a complete understanding of Stoic ethics. The book focuses on Chrysippus, the most important of the early Stoic thinkers, suggesting that his contribution, and in particular its religious aspect, remained a key point of reference for later Stoics. This fascinating book makes a crucial contribution to the field of ancient ethics.

The Cambridge Companion to the Stoics by Brad Inwood

BOOK DESCRIPTION: This unique volume offers an odyssey through the ideas of the Stoics in three particular ways: first, through the historical trajectory of the school itself and its influence; second, through the recovery of the history of Stoic thought; third, through the ongoing confrontation with Stoicism, showing how it refines philosophical traditions, challenges the imagination, and ultimately defines the kind of life one chooses to lead. A distinguished roster of specialists have written an authoritative guide to the entire philosophical tradition. The first two chapters chart the history of the school in the ancient world, and are followed by chapters on the core themes of the Stoic system: epistemology, logic, natural philosophy, theology, determinism, and metaphysics. There are two chapters on what might be thought of as the heart and soul of the Stoics system: ethics.

Chrysippus' on Affections: Reconstruction and Interpretation by Teun Tieleman 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: The 'On Affections' by the Stoic philosopher Chrysippus (c. 280-205 BCE) contains the classic exposition of the Stoic theory of the emotions. This book provides a fresh discussion of the extant evidence, i.e. the fragments and testimonies preserved by later sources. It aims to establish the exact amount of available evidence and to arrange the fragmentary material so as to see how far the original treatise can be reconstructed. The fragments are interpreted both in their literary context and in the light of Stoic doctrines known from other sources. Given its contextual approach, this study includes extensive discussion of the methods of sources such as Galen, Posidonius and Cicero. In addition, the medical backdrop to Chrysippus' theory receives considerable attention.

Cato the Younger 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Marcus Porcius Cato ("the Younger") is most famous for being Julius Caesar's nemesis. His sustained antagonism was in large part responsible for pushing the Romans towards civil war. Yet Cato never wanted war even though he used the threat of violence against Caesar. This strategic gamble misfired as Caesar, instead of yielding, marched on Rome, hurling the Republic into a bloody civil war. Refusing to inhabit a world ruled by Caesar, Cato took his own life. Although the Roman historian Sallust identified Cato and Caesar as the two most outstanding men of their age, modern scholars have tended to dismiss Cato as a cantankerous conservative who, while colorful, was not a critical player in the events that overtook the Republic.

This book, in providing a much-needed reliable biography of Cato, contradicts that assessment. In addition to being Caesar's adversary, Cato is an important and fascinating historical figure in his own right, and his career-in particular, his idiosyncrasies-shed light on the changing political culture of the late Republic. Cato famously reached into Rome's hallowed past and found mannerisms and habits to adopt that transformed him into the foremost champion of ancestral custom. Thus Cato did things that seemed strange and even bizarre such as wearing an old-fashioned tint of purple on his senatorial toga, refusing to ride a horse when on public business, and going about barefoot and without the usual tunic as an undergarment. His extreme conservatism-which became celebrated in later ages, especially in Enlightenment Europe and revolutionary America--was actually designed to give him a unique advantage in Roman politics. This is not to claim that he was insincere in his combative promotion of the mos maiorum (the way of the ancestors), but his political manipulation of the Romans' reverence for their traditions was masterful. By providing a new, detailed portrait of Cato, the book also presents a unique narrative of the age he helped shape and inadvertently destroy.

Rome's Last Citizen by Rob Goodman 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: ​

Marcus Porcius Cato: aristocrat who walked barefoot and slept on the ground with his troops, political heavyweight who cultivated the image of a Stoic philosopher, a hardnosed defender of tradition who presented himself as a man out of the sacred Roman past―and the last man standing when Rome's Republic fell to tyranny. His blood feud with Caesar began in the chamber of the Senate, played out on the battlefields of a world war, and ended when he took his own life rather than live under a dictator.

Centuries of thinkers, writers, and artists have drawn inspiration from Cato's Stoic courage. Saint Augustine and the early Christians were moved and challenged by his example. Dante, in his Divine Comedy, chose Cato to preside over the souls who arrive in Purgatory. George Washington so revered him that he staged a play on Cato's life to revive the spirit of his troops at Valley Forge. Now, in Rome's Last Citizen, Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni deliver the first modern biography of this stirring figure.

Cato's life is a gripping tale that resonates deeply with our own turbulent times. He grappled with terrorists, a debt crisis, endemic political corruption, and a huge gulf between the elites and those they governed. In many ways, Cato was the ultimate man of principle―he even chose suicide rather than be used by Caesar as a political pawn. But Cato was also a political failure: his stubbornness sealed his and Rome's defeat, and his lonely end casts a shadow on the recurring hope that a singular leader can transcend the dirty business of politics.

Rome's Last Citizen is a timeless story of an uncompromising man in a time of crisis and his lifelong battle to save the Republic.