Comparative Textbook Review
Book Details: A. A. Long & D. N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers 1: Translations of the Principal Sources with Philosophical Commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), xv + 512 pp.
Book Details: Brad Inwood & L. P. Gerson, Hellenistic Philosophy: Introductory Readings (Indianapolis: Hackett,  1997), xxi + 441 pp.
Long & Sedley's volume is one of two, the second containing the Greek and Latin texts upon which the translations in the first volume are based. As they indicate in the Preface, the intention was to produce a single volume for philosophical readers and a supplementary volume for classical readers. Texts for the three Hellenistic schools are arranged thematically and each selection of texts is followed by a detailed commentary. The numerous indexes are especially useful.
Inwood & Gerson's anthology is more modest in scope. Again, all three schools are covered and material is arranged thematically. Apart from a few notes, there is no commentary. The volume also has a helpful glossary and indexes. In general there are more extended passages here compared to Long & Sedley, including a complete translation of Arius Didymus' 'Epitome of Stoic Ethics'. The letters of Epicurus are also printed in full, but there is practically no Lucretius (reflecting that this section of the volume simply reprints Hackett's The Epicurus Reader). The authors simply recommend that one reads Lucretius in full as well as this volume. The numbering system used for extracts is a little harder to navigate with than that used by Long & Sedley.
A number of reviews of Inwood & Gerson's anthology that I have read in the past have compared it quite unfavourably to Long & Sedley's impressive volume. However such a judgement would be unfair. The volumes differ considerably in size, aim, and (perhaps significantly) price. While Long & Sedley have produced two excellent volumes and an insightful commentary often justly praised by scholars in the field, Inwood & Gerson offer a modestly priced anthology perhaps more suitable to beginning students. Indeed, some first year students might find Long & Sedley's volume too advanced. If, for instance, one simply wanted to supplement an introductory 'Thales to Aristotle' course with some later texts in order to extend the story then Inwood & Gerson would be the best choice. If, however, one wanted to offer an advanced (say, graduate) course involving close readings of passages with occasional reference to the original texts, then Long & Sedley would be ideal. Thus, both volumes have their role and selection should depend upon the needs of a particular course.
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