My main ambition for 2015-16 was to complete and submit my book manuscript on Hellenistic philosophy (see previous update). I’m pleased to report that I more or less finished a complete draft in July. I have now read through this and identified a list of final revisions. I hope to complete these in September and submit the draft to the publisher.
For the coming year 2016-17 I have another book project I hope to complete, on which more in due course.
I have recently checked proofs for two book chapters due out shortly.
The first likely to appear is a chapter in German on Stoic spiritual exercises to be published in Philosophie als Lebenskunst: Antike Vorbilder, moderne Perspektiven by Suhrkamp probably in December 2016. The volume is based on a very enjoyable conference that took place in Erlangen two years ago.
The second is a short piece on Stoic attitudes towards evils, to be published in The History of Evil in Antiquity by Routledge. This was scheduled for publication in 2016 but I think will now appear in early 2017.
The annotated bibliography I prepared for Oxford Bibliographies Online is now available here (requires subscription).
This week two new publications came out, both short, but at opposite extremes in terms of content and prospective readership.
The first is my short note on the Bodleian Epictetus MS, now published in the latest issue of Classical Quarterly. A few years ago I arranged a book exhibition at the Bodleian and one of the items we put on display was the Bodleian’s 11th century manuscript of the Discourses of Epictetus. This is the archetype for all other copies, something we know because it contains an ink smudge obscuring the text where other copies have missing text. With the help of a small grant from the Ancient World Research Cluster at Wolfson College I had some large digital reproductions made of the page with the ink smudge and very kindly Nigel Wilson agreed to look at them to see if he might be able to decipher any of the obscured text. The short note reports his findings, which confirm and deny some of the conjectures of previous editors.
The second is a contribution – in fact four contributions – to Stoicism Today: Selected Writings II, edited by Patrick Ussher. Two of these pieces were written at the invitation of Patrick for the Stoicism Today blog, one is the text of a talk I gave at a Stoicism Today event in London, and the last is simply some notes from a workshop I led at a subsequent Stoicism Today event. None were written with print publication in mind but it is nice to have them recorded here.
I have been working in fits and bursts on a book on Hellenistic philosophy over the past couple of years, repeatedly interrupted by work tasks or other research commitments (see previous post here). I am now focusing all my attention on it until it is finished. I have just passed the 50,000 words mark and am aiming for something in the region of 80,000-90,000 words, plus introduction, bibliography, and so on. I am hoping to get the remaining 30,000 words or so written over the next couple of months and to have the book (or at least a complete first draft) finished by the summer. Writing 1,000 words a day, giving 5,000 words a week, would do it in 6 weeks, barring other distractions, and that's a fairly modest schedule.
I have found myself reading a lot of Cicero. Not only is he sometimes the most important source on a particular topic, but where there are other sources he is usually the earliest and the most enjoyable to read. Compared to, say, the doxographical summaries of Diogenes Laertius or Stobaeus, Cicero’s works are well-crafted dialogues written by someone who was philosophically literate and in personal contact with key members of all the philosophical schools of his day. This is especially the case for Stoicism and the sceptical Academy. He is also an important figure in his own right. For Epicureanism we have Lucretius of course, as well as Epicurus’s letters. Together, Cicero and Lucretius have become my regular points of reference.
The table of contents looks like this:
1. What, When, Where, Who
4. The Self
5. The Highest Good
6. Free Will
7. Fate and Death
I have also written and may include a short epilogue entitled ‘Looking East’ in which I comment briefly on connections with Indian philosophy of the period.
The Routledge Handbook of the Stoic Tradition now exists. It is published this week as both a hardback and an ebook. I am hoping that a paperback edition will follow in due course. I first conceived and proposed the book in April 2012, although the general idea of a volume on this topic had been in my mind long before then. Most of the chapters were in by April 2015, and the volume went off to press in July 2015. Since then there has been copy editing and proofs. In short, I'm very pleased to see the final product after almost 4 years of working on it (albeit intermittently).
I have been invited to prepare an annotated bibliography on Epictetus for Oxford Bibliographies Online, similar to a previous one I did on Marcus Aurelius (and before that on the Ancient Commentators on Aristotle). I already have a pretty good idea of what to include but in order to make sure I do not overlook anything important I decided that, by way of homework, I ought to gather together all the references to work on Epictetus I could find. The result is a bibliography of work on Epictetus since 1927. This is very much a working first draft and I would welcome corrections and additions.
There's a short interview with me about the Handbook of the Stoic Tradition at the Routledge philosophy website.