So, the next Stoic book for analysis is Everything Has Two Handles: The Stoic's Guide to the Art of Living by Ronald Pies. This looks like another popularizing take on the ancient philosophy, with plenty of primary source references (apparently drawing particularly on Marcus Aurelius) to keep it honest. In the introduction I found an excellent statement of definition:
"The Stoic aims to understand 'the way things really are' and to live accordingly."
That's a pretty good, clean, clear definition. "When we understand and accept the way things are, we find ourselves at peace, and are free to pursue our higher pleasures. When we refuse to accept the way things are, we make ourselves (and often others) unhappy."
I was also pleased to find in the introduction the notion that activism for a better world is not inconsistent with accepting the nature of things - "we have every right - and even a responsibility - to try to change things for the better. But when we have exerted every effort in doing so, and failed, we are not under any additional obligation to make ourselves miserable!" "Stoicism is not passive acceptance of the status quo, but a reasoned understanding of the way things are, and a rational determination to better what can be bettered - including ourselves."
I'm looking forward to the reading and the analysis!