Who was Musonius Rufus? Musonius lived in Rome during the 1st century AD. He was the teacher of a slave by the name of Epictetus, who in turn was the intellectual hero of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, who then influenced countless others ever since. To me, this is quite a lineage that Musonius started. Anyone who has read Epictetus's "Discourses" knows that Epictetus named only a few philosophers worth following: Socrates, Diogenes, Chrysippus, and Musonius. It's not unusual that one idolizes those who he never met and who lived in a previous age but it IS unusual for someone to respect people he knows. People we know tend to have flaws. I'm sure Musonius had some, but if he did, they passed the often stern and strict Epictetus's standards. Epictetus recalls the time when Musonius upbraided him for being lax with a philosophy lesson, which the young Epictetus took to heart -- enough to remember and share with his own students during his own advanced age.
It has been stated that Musonius is usually forgotten because there is little remaining material from him. Yet the remaining lessons have tremendous impact for its succinctness and specificity. Interestingly, this very idea was outlined in the material's first lesson. And few understand how greatly Musonius influenced Epictetus and how Epictetus's Stoic knowledge was basic yet important, forceful, and foundational -- and it largely originated from his teacher.
Ultimately, the main reason for my elevating Musonius to the forefront of Stoic philosophers is he was well-known for being a successful practitioner of Stoicism, which is a philosophy that values practice above all else! It is NOT a philosophy focused on rhetoric and pretty words, or talking about concepts for their own sake without venturing on to apply them. In fact, Musonius was famous in his day, not only because he rubbed elbows with emperors (while teaching slaves), but also because he actually lived a decent family man's life. Being an example -- being that red or purple thread in a garment -- was one of his many tools to teach others and to convince them that indeed Stoicism is beneficial to one's life.
In summary, Musonius is worth knowing. His lessons are for people who are family-oriented, which is much needed in today's world.
I like Musonius so much that I even paid a handsome price (like how someone paid a handsome price for Epictetus's lamp after his death) for the Musonius domain name (https://www.musonius.com/) to create a place where the PRACTICE of Stoicism is the focus. The first idea is simple: letters from Musonius to a young Epictetus. Nothing special, just a few friends talking about how to apply Stoicism, its challenges and rewards. I hope you can join us.