How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life
How to live happily in the modern world, guided by the ancient ideas of Aristotle
‘Wonderful and timely … Hugely recommended’ STEPHEN FRY
What do you and an ancient philosopher have in common? It turns out much more than you might think…
Aristotle was an extraordinary thinker, perhaps the greatest in history. Yet he was preoccupied by an ordinary question: how to be happy. His deepest belief was that we can all be happy in a meaningful, sustained way – and he led by example.
In this handbook to his timeless teachings, Professor Edith Hall shows how ancient thinking is precisely what we need today, even if you don’t know your Odyssey from your Iliad. In ten practical lessons we come to understand more about our own characters and how to make good decisions. We learn how to do well in an interview, how to choose a partner and life-long friends, and how to face death or bereavement.
Life deals the same challenges – in Ancient Greece or the modern world. Aristotle’s way is not to apply rules – it’s about engaging with the texture of existence, and striding purposefully towards a life well lived.
This is advice that won’t go out of fashion.
“Wonderful and timely. Aristotle’s influence has been immense, but Edith Hall’s authoritative, warmly readable, clear and approachable book opens Aristotle up and establishes him as a man who addresses the issues of the human heart as much as the human mind. She gives us an Aristotle for our times as much as his own and all those that came between. Hugely recommended.”
“A wonderfully lively and personal guide to Aristotle's philosophy of well-being. Read it and flourish!”
Sarah Bakewell, author of HOW TO LIVE
“[Hall] has written a practical and enjoyable guide to Aristotle’s philosophy as a recipe for contentment in the modern world.”
Daisy Dunn, Literary Review
“Hall gamely breathes new life into [Aristotle's] doctrines (which she admits can be heavy-going) for 21st-century readers, flitting over the centuries and across cultural borders, taking in everyone from Philip of Macedon to Pharrell Williams of “Happy” with breezy aplomb. A beguiling cross between Mary Beard and Mary Poppins, Hall is enjoying herself outside the ivory towers”
Lisa Allardice, Observer
“Edith Hall has recast Aristotle's text into everyday language, and applied his lessons on everything from happiness to, for instance, resisting temptation, writing a job application or using the Greek's chart of Virtues and Vices to analyse one's character.”
“A wonderfully accessible picture of Aristotle ... I found it very compelling”
John Gray, BBC Radio 4, Start the Week
“Edith Hall has resurrected Aristotle as the most relevant ancient philosopher for our times. A must-read if you’ve ever wanted to know a bit more about this modest visionary.”
Tom Hodgkinson, editor of THE IDLER
“Hall drills down into the relevant Aristotelian wisdom to unearth piquant tips.”
Gwen Smith, Mail on Sunday
“Readers keen to live a Good Life – and prepare for a Good Death – should dive head first into this fount of ancient but still modern wisdom.”
Paul Cartledge, A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture Emeritus at the University of Cambridge
“In this wise and delightful guide to the Grecian's teachings, Professor Edith Hall makes a highly convincing case for the ongoing relevance of ancient thinking”
“[Hall] peppers her account with stories from her own life in a frank, discursive style”
Dan Brotzel, Irish News
“Hall navigates her way through the Aristotelian oeuvre with elegant ease”
Christopher Bray, Tablet
“A clear and frequently interesting survey of Aristotle’s thought”
Sam Leith, Guardian
“[The] conversational tone…suits her subject – recreating the congenial atmosphere of an Athenian symposium”
Sameer Rehim, Prospect