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Stoicism


Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC. The Stoics taught that emotions resulted in errors of judgment which were destructive, due to the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature. Because of this, the Stoics presented their philosophy as a way of life (lex devina), and they thought that the best indication of an individual's philosophy was not what a person said but how that person behaved. To live a good life, one had to understand the rules of the natural order since they taught that everything was rooted in nature.

Later Stoics—such as Seneca and Epictetus—emphasized that, because "virtue is sufficient for happiness", a sage was immune to misfortune. This belief is similar to the meaning of the phrase "stoic calm", though the phrase does not include the "radical ethical" Stoic views that only a sage can be considered truly free, and that all moral corruptions are equally vicious.

From its founding, Stoic doctrine was popular with a following in Roman Greece and throughout the Roman Empire—including the Emperor Marcus Aurelius—until the closing of all pagan philosophy schools in AD 529 by order of the Emperor Justinian I, who perceived them as being at odds with Christian faith.

In the Renaissance there was Neostoicism, that is a syncretic philosophical movement, joining Stoicism and Christianity, influenced by Justus Lipsius. The early 21st century witnesses another reincarnation of Stoicism, namely the modern Stoicism movement.



substance (ὑποκείμενον)
The primary matter, formless substance, (ousia) that things are made of
quality (ποιόν)
The way matter is organized to form an individual object; in Stoic physics, a physical ingredient (pneuma: air or breath), which informs the matter
somehow disposed (πως ἔχον)
Particular characteristics, not present within the object, such as size, shape, action, and posture
Somehow disposed in relation to something (πρός τί πως ἔχον)
Characteristics related to other phenomena, such as the position of an object within time and space relative to other objects
  • A. A. Long and D. N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
  • Inwood, Brad & Gerson LLoyd P. (eds.) The Stoics Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia Indianapolis: Hackett 2008.
  • Long, George Enchiridion by Epictetus, Prometheus Books, Reprint Edition, January 1955.
  • Gill C. Epictetus, The Discourses, Everyman 1995.
  • Irvine, William, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • Hadas, Moses (ed.), Essential Works of Stoicism, Bantam Books 1961.
  • Harvard University Press Epictetus Discourses Books 1 and 2, Loeb Classical Library Nr. 131, June 1925.
  • Harvard University Press Epictetus Discourses Books 3 and 4, Loeb Classical Library Nr. 218, June 1928.
  • Long, George, Discourses of Epictetus, Kessinger Publishing, January 2004.
  • Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger (transl. Robin Campbell), Letters from a Stoic: Epistulae Morales Ad Lucilium (1969, reprint 2004)
  • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, translated by Maxwell Staniforth; , or translated by Gregory Hays; .
  • Oates, Whitney Jennings, The Stoic and Epicurean Philosophers, The Complete Extant Writings of Epicurus, Epictetus, Lucretius and Marcus Aurelius, Random House, 9th printing 1940.
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