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The Enchiridion, or Hero's Handbook, ancient Stoic tome of wisdom. Now in a new, illustrated English translation.
The Enchiridion, or Hero's Handbook, ancient Stoic tome of wisdom. Now in a new, illustrated English translation.
115 backers pledged $3,686 to help bring this project to life.

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The Enchiridion, also called the Hero's Handbook, is a 2nd century tome of Stoic wisdom by the Greek philosopher Epictetus. It contains 52 lessons giving timeless advice on all manner of things, from practical questions like how to deal with the death of a loved one (lesson 14) to moral dilemmas like whether or not to catcall women on the street (lesson 40). Spoiler: don't.

Final cover may be different, based on feedback from backers like you
Final cover may be different, based on feedback from backers like you


The wisdom in the Enchiridion has been of great use to people who would be heroes throughout history, from the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius to Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale, who credited it with giving him the strength to endure being tortured as a POW, to Albert Ellis, who was influenced by it in his creation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, to fictional characters like Finn the Human, who learned from it how to be the greatest Knight in the Land of Ooo.

 This is an all new, illustrated translation of the Enchiridion. If we raise the funds for this project, the text of this new translation will, when complete, be made freely available to the public. All backers will receive a PDF of the final, beautifully formatted and illustrated version, as well as a hardcover physical book, depending on the level you back at.

 The last freely available English translation of the Enchiridion was made over a hundred years ago, in 1916, and all previous translations (including more recent, non-freely available ones) are in archaic language that can come across as stilted and confusing to the modern reader.

This new translation will be written in modern, conversational English. This will not only be easier to understand, it will also be more accurate to the original Koine Greek. Previous translations have made significant changes to the meaning of the lessons, making them less accurate, less meaningful, and less helpful to the modern reader than they really should be.

For instance, consider this line from lesson 40: αἱ γυναῖκες εὐθὺς ἀπὸ τεσσαρεσκαίδεκα ἐτῶν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνδρῶν κυρίαι καλοῦνται.

Previously, this has been translated this as "Women from fourteen years old are flattered by men with the title of mistress." But this is a very inaccurate and misleading translation! "καλοῦνται" does not mean "flatter", it means "call", as in "calling your sheep back to their pen". Flattering a person has a clearly different connotation than calling an animal. It almost comes across as a positive thing, which is very much not what Epictetus is trying to convey!

Thus a more accurate translation is "Women as young as fourteen are catcalled by men." This makes much more sense to a modern reader, and is actually applicable to your life - catcalling is still an issue, even eighteen centuries later.

With other lines, the meaning isn't significantly changed, but there are better ways to phrase things that make them much more easily understood: "πᾶν πρᾶγμα δύο ἔχει λαβάς, τὴν μὲν φορητήν, τὴν δὲ ἀφόρητον" was previously translated as "Everything has two handles, the one by which it may be carried, the other by which it cannot" but in this edition I translate as "For anything you try to carry, there is an effective way to bear it, and a way that is unsustainable."

After the campaign, I will continue the translation, posting new lessons as updates once they're complete. Nicholas will draw the art for the illustrations we raised the funds for. Once all 52 lessons have been translated and the art is complete, backers at the Philosopher level and above will receive a code to print and ship their copy at cost through DriveThruRPG, as was done with Murder Most Foul. The cost to ship is around $12 in the USA, and comparatively more elsewhere.

Risks and challenges

This is the second book we've published here at Sixpence Games, though admittedly it's our first non-game. Nicholas Small did a great job of illustrating our previous book, Murder Most Foul, and DriveThruRPG did such a good job printing it that we want to work with them again. There are really very few unknowns here, this should go very smoothly.

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  1. Select this reward

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    Student

    A PDF of the Enchiridion as it appears in print, with illustrations by Nicholas Small.

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    Philosopher

    One hardcover copy of the Enchiridion, shipped anywhere in the world! After the campaign, you will receive a code for a hardcover copy of the Enchiridion as printed at cost through DrivethruRPG's print on demand scheme. You will also receive a PDF of the book. If we reach the stretch goal, you will also receive the audiobook.

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    Patron of the Arts

    Fund new art! You will get everything in the Philosopher edition, plus Nicholas will illustrate a lesson of your choice.

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    Philosopher-King

    In addition to funding new art, your name will live forever in the dedication page of the book. You will also receive everything at the Patron of the Arts level.

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    Hero

    A hero needs no reward. True heroes are selfless. You will receive no thanks, and no one will know your name, but you will know that you helped create art and spread wisdom. You will receive everything at the Patron of the Arts level, and you will be thanked anonymously on the dedication page.

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Funding period

- (30 days)