We’re delighted to announce that our new graphic novel Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius is currently among Amazon’s top-rated books in the Ancient Roman History category, with an average rating of 4.8 stars from nearly 100 reviewers.
On its release, Verissimus was chosen as an Amazon Editor’s Pick for Best History Book.
See our publisher, MacMillan’s website for more information and links to other booksellers. Verissimus is available in both hardback and ebook format from all good bookstores.
I am delighted to announce that I will be running my elearning course How to Live Like Socrates, which lasts four weeks, starting on Sunday 4th September. Enroll now if you want to join us! I will be delivering the webinars live from Athens, the birthplace of Socrates!
This is the first time I’ve run the course in over two years. It used to run 2-3 times per year but I’ve been busy writings books. I am currently working on a new book about Socrates. So some of that original material will find itself into the course this time around!
What the Stoics actually said about kingship, applied to leadership
How better or how otherwise could a man be a good ruler or live a good life than by studying philosophy? For my part, I believe that the good king is straightway and of necessity a philosopher, and the philosopher a kingly person. — Musonius Rufus
The ancient Stoics believed that it was essential for anyone who wants to be a leader to study philosophy. Indeed, the most famous Stoic of all was Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor, who saw Stoicism as essential training for his role. The Stoic teachers who came before him wrote entire books on leadership, under titles such as On Kingship or The Statesman. Most of these are lost, unfortunately, but in the 1st century AD, the famous Stoic teacher Musonius Rufus, gave a lecture titled That kings also should study philosophy, which survives today. Kingship is one type of leadership, but as we’ll see, if we adapt the words of Musonius’ lecture, most of what he says is still relevant, and it provides us, in summary form, with a Stoic manual for modern-day leadership.
I recently spoke with author Ryan Holiday about our mutual fascination with the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, on the Daily Stoic podcast. You can also download the episode from Spotify or Apple Podcasts, among others. If you found our chat interesting, please share your comments or questions on Twitter, for me to read, and tag DonJRobertson.
Virtual conference on reasoning like a Greek philosopher
If you’re interested in how Greek philosophy and the Socratic Method can help us think more clearly and live better lives today, this is the online event for you!
When you register you’ll have the option to donate an amount of your choosing (or even nothing).* All proceeds go toward the Plato’s Academy Centre nonprofit. Not available or in a different time zone? Don’t worry as recordings will be provided afterwards if you book your tickets now.
What’s it all about?
We bring together a special program of world-class thinkers and renowned authors for an exclusive online event that you absolutely won’t want to miss.
Each speaker will share with you their knowledge and captivating insights into the Socratic Method, including effective and practical advice and strategies to think critically, reason more clearly, and protect yourself against misleading information and sophistry.
Opening Keynote: “Socrates and Alcibiades: How to Think About Statesmanship”, Massimo Pigliucci, author of How To Be Good: What Socrates Can Teach Us About the Art of Living Well (30 min)
“Socrates as Cognitive Therapist”, Donald Robertson, author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor and Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, president of Plato’s Academy Centre (20 min)
“Socrates and Civility”, Alexandra O. Hudson, author of Against Politeness (20 min)
“How to Question Like Socrates”, Christopher Phillips, PhD, author of Socrates Cafe and Soul of Goodness, founder of SocratesCafe.com (20 min)
“Cognitive Therapy and Socratic Self-Doubt”, R. Trent Codd, III, CBT Counseling Centers; Co-author of Socratic Questioning for Therapists and Counselors (20 min)
“Street Epistemology: How to Think about Thinking”, Anthony Magnabosco, Executive Director of Street Epistemology International (20 min)
“Self-Socratic Method for Personal Growth”, Scott Waltman, PsyD, ABPP psychologist and co-author of Socratic Questioning for Therapists and Counselors (20 min)
Closing Keynote: “The Socratic Method”, Ward Farnsworth, author of The Practicing Stoic and The Socratic Method (30 min)
Q&A with Panel (20 min)
NB: Details may be subject to change without prior notification.
Who will be hosting?
Our hosts will be Donald Robertson, the president of the Plato’s Academy Centre, and Anya Leonard, the founder and director of the Classical Wisdom website.
About Plato’s Academy Centre
The Plato’s Academy Centre is a new nonprofit, based in Greece, run by a multidisciplinary team of volunteers from around the world. Our mission is to make ancient Greek philosophy more accessible to a wider international audience and to celebrate the legacy of Plato’s Academy in Athens. Everyone is welcome to join us.
Will recordings be available? Yes, everyone who orders a ticket in advance will automatically have access after the event to recordings of all presentations. So don’t worry if you’re unavailable at these times or located in another time zone.
Will it be too academic for me? While many of our speakers are notable academics, the sessions are aimed at a nonacademic audience.
How much does it cost? We’re making it free to register, so it’s available to the widest possible audience, but you’ll have the opportunity to make a donation, amount of your choosing. As a rough guide, tickets for a physical conference like this might normally cost €150. Your generosity helps support our nonprofit’s work and allows us to reach more people through future events. *If you do not wish to donate anything whatsoever, you may contact us directly to apply for a free ticket or simply enter the promo code NODONATION when booking.
Where can I get updates? Follow our Facebook Event page and our Twitter account for updates on this event.
We’re grateful to our board of advisors, Orange Grove incubator, Classical Wisdom, and the Aurelius Foundation, for their support in bringing you this event. Special thanks to Phil Yanov, Gabriel Fleming, and Kasey Robertson for their help organizing the event.
What my research told me about the Stoic Roman Emperor
have spent a lot of time researching Marcus Aurelius. I first read his notes about applying Stoic philosophy to daily life, the Meditations, one of the most cherished philosophical and self-help classics of all time, over 25 years ago. Since then, I’ve written six books on Stoicism — three in a row have been about the life of Marcus Aurelius! The first was a self-help book, based on vignettes from his life, called How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, the most recent was a prose biography of him for Yale University Press, and between them came a graphic novel called Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, from which the illustrations in this article are borrowed. Here are some of the most interesting things I learned during my research…
1 Marcus led a dance troupe
As a young boy, Marcus was appointed to several important positions due to the influence of the Emperor Hadrian. One of them was the College of the Salii or leaping priests, a Roman religious order supposedly founded by the legendary King Numa, from whom Marcus’ family claimed descent. The Salii recited obscure chants and performed an athletic military dance, bearing archaic shields and spears, in honour of Mars, the god of war. These rituals were meant to train youths for the physical exertions of battle.
When Marcus refers to dancing in the Meditations, therefore, he’s drawing on a wealth of experience, which makes his comments much more personally meaningful. For example, being well-acquainted with both wrestling and dancing, he wrote:
The art of life is more like the wrestler’s art than the dancer’s, in respect of this, that it should stand ready and firm to meet onsets which are sudden and unexpected. — Meditations, 7.61
Marcus appears to have relished his training in dance, though, and eventually went on to become the leader of the Salii.