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Emotion and Peace of MindFrom Stoic Agitation to Christian Temptation$
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Richard Sorabji

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199256600

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199256600.001.0001

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How the Ancient Exercises Work

How the Ancient Exercises Work

Chapter:
(p.211) 15 How the Ancient Exercises Work
Source:
Emotion and Peace of Mind
Author(s):

Richard Sorabji (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199256600.003.0016

The ancients offered a huge range of therapeutic exercises. Some ward off future emotion, some deal with emotion that has already arisen from a past occurrence. Chrysippus' emphasis on re-evaluating situations is a therapy for emotions, whereas Posidonius' reversion to Plato would have helped with moods as well. Pythagoreans, Democritus, Epicureans, Cynics, Aristo of Ceos (Aristotelian), Plutarch, and Galen all make contributions. The poet Ovid parodies the philosophers' therapies. All this is echoed in Christianity, but the Stoics are outstanding, Epictetus the ex-slave sterner, Seneca the aristocrat more adapted to ordinary discomforts. In recent times, Epictetus enabled Admiral Stockdale to withstand torture and solitary confinement, and his account shows how even the sterner therapies could work in practice.

Keywords:   exercise, mood, emotion, future, past, Epictetus, Seneca, Stockdale, Pythagoreans, Democritus

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