Old Stoa from 336 b. C. E. to 208 b. C. E.
- Aratos of Soloi 310 to 245 b. C. E.--wrote "Phainomena"
(Celestial Appearances) about the stars--his text was used as a
textbook during the Middle Ages. He was no systematic philosopher but
tended toward the Stoa.
- Ariston of Chios was a student of Zenon of Kition--In Ethics, he
taught the moral
system of the active life, of trade, and of practical action.
Ariston teaches "a-diaphoria" (indifference): not being
dragged one way or the other by extra-moral influences. [Compare
Aristotle's attempt to pull toward the "center" values.
Aristotle focuses on how to get there; Ariston focuses on how to stay
- Chrysippos of Soli 276 to 204 b. C. E.
- Epistemology (theory of what one can know): The mind is a tabula rasa into which sense impressions imprint
the objects of the world into the mind. Chrysippos
distinguishes clearly between object, concept, and word.
- Ethics: Freedom from love, hate, joy, fear. Living in
harmony with the natural law. [Try to think
"Spock" here or even "Data." This should
trigger memories when you hear people say, "It's NOT natural." or,
"It's only natural."]
- Eschatology (theory of the "last things" of this world): The world will periodically burn away, but will be
renewed by the deity. [Compare the biblical stories of
destruction and renewal by way of the flood.]
- Logic: Contributions in logic anticipate the propositional
calculus much more so than does Aristotle. Develops the
square of opposition and the rudiments of categorical
propositions. You might get smatterings of this in your intro to
computational sciences: Boolean logic, truth tables, set theory,
Middle Stoa 180 b.C.E. to 151 C.E.
- Panaitos of Rhodos 180 to 100 b.C.E.--He is the founder of the
Middle Stoa by bringing Stoic thought to be accepted among Roman
- He recommends engaging in good behavior instead of making you
avoid doing wrong acts: "Thou shalt do X" and not, "Thou shalt not
- Self-realization is the highest goal; try to perfect your
talents. In other words, be all you can be. [Aristotle taught that
also.--Hmm. Do you suppose the army recruitment effort read Panaitos
- Differing from the Old Stoa, he thought that the world is
eternal and that the soul is mortal. Note that the periodic
burning and purification of the world drops off here.
- Poseidonius of Apameia 175 to 51 b.C.E.--Student of Panaitos of
Rhodos. Cicero and Pompeius attended his lectures.
- He attempts to bridge and connect Aristotle and the Old Stoa.
- He wrote a major historical work of 52 volumes, which are now
all lost. I would speculate that they fell prey to the burning
of the Library of Alexandria by the Christians, the Christian belief
being that the wisdom of the world is foolishness in the eyes of
- His history is pessimistic: he sees cultural history as evidence
of the human downfall from "logos," which originally had
permeated the cosmos and humanity. Thus, he anticipates the
burning of the world. Meanwhile people must remain in tune
with the logos as far as they can still discern its central
purpose. Note the difference here: Many of us believe that the
world's development is always toward the better; he believed the
opposite. How does one set the truth here?
- Since the body hinders the human attempt to get in touch with
the logos, we must imagine the soul to be eternal and distinct
from the body. [Fallacy of being ruled by the desirability of
- He believed that the ocean is a world-sea that surrounds all
- Krates of Mallos--around 150 b.C.E.--Focuses on grammar, Homer, and
builds the first model of the globe. And that is also evidence that
knowledge can go backwards. Lest you doubt the sophistication of the
ancients, read about the Antikythera device or mechanism. Those guys had
- Porcia died 42 C.E.--She was the wife of Brutus, who killed
Caesar. In fact, she is credited with being the intellect behind
Brutus. Note that the social idea is central for the Stoics;
thus, the idea of an empirical ruler is abhorrent. Brutus makes a lot
more sense with that view in mind.
- Arria the Elder . . . died 42 C.E. Arria was married to
Caecina Paetus, who was condemned to death for an insurrection.
When Paetus hesitates to kill himself, she takes a dagger, plunges it
into her chest, hands the bloody dagger to Paetus with the words
"Paete, non dolet!" [Paetus, it doesn't hurt.] The
imperviousness to pain has become a Stoic virtue for most people's view
- Arria the Younger . . . 30 to 96 C.E. . . . was married to P.
Clodius. She was the mother of Fannia. Arria's husband also was
condemned to death. Arria the Younger wants to follow her
mother's example. Her husband persuades her to remain living to
raise Fannia, their daughter.
Late Stoa 4 b.C.E. to 180 C.E.
- Lucius Annaeus Seneca 4 b.C.E. to 65 C.E.--He was an eclectic Stoic
in that he was influenced also by Pythagoras, Epicurus, and the
Cynics. He was mainly a tragedian and playwright.
- He emphasizes the theological content of the Stoics. He
believes in a world as "reason" and
"providence." When you see anywhere a reference to
"natural law," remember the Stoics.
- Ethics encompasses
- the willingness to die,
- the demand for kindness,
- the requirement for social sensitivity, and
- a belief in human perfectability. Take a look at the
puzzlers. This idea of perfectability is clearly at the heart of
the quote from the gospel according to John.
- He praises poverty and repression of desire. That's why you
will find many people advocate the idea that sexual desire
requires the sanctity of marriage: Stoic roots.
- Wrath is the worst form of disturbance as a lust to avenge
- Thus, humans must perfect themselves and resist all
emotions. [Try to think "Spock" here again.
The entire belief of opposition between emotions and reason
comes from this source.]
- Fannia--First century C.E.--daughter of Arria the Younger, follower
of the philosopher Demetrius--banished for her independence of
thought. That culture obviously believed that thinking women are
- Dion of Prusa was also called "Chrysostomos" (Golden
Mouth) 40 to 120 C.E. Dion preaches a return to nature and
the simple life. Perhaps one can think of him as the hippy of
the Stoics. When people today speak of the "simple life," they usually
do not mean living of subsistence farming, as did Dion. Modern "simple
lives" tend to vary widely in substance, but this view is the common
- Epictetus 50 to 130 C.E. He was banished from Rome in 89
- His philosophy consists entirely of the ethics: He believed in
strong faith in a divinely organized world as basis for all moral
- Humans have the task to subordinate themselves to the rhythm of
- Happiness is the freedom from all desires. [Does that
remind us of the Buddha, who taught about 600 years earlier.]
- Epictetus rejects the state and marriage; he advocates the
absolute equality of all humans.
- The Enchiridion [transcribed by Arrianus--one of his students]
was widely followed. Keeping the Enchiridion close, Admiral Stockdale
also mentions that
Fredrick the Great of Prussia kept a copy handy--that's the king
who proclaimed "Ich bin der erste Diener meines Staates"
[I am the first servant of my state.] Compare Louis XIV's
"L'etat c'est moi" [I am the state.]
- Flavius Arrianus 95 to 175 C.E.--Roman officer. Student
of Epictetus. He wrote the Indian story about Alexander the
Great's Persian campaign.
- Diogenes of Babylon was in Rome around 155 to negotiate a reduction
of war reparations that Athens would have had to pay to the city of
Oropos, which Athens had sacked. Under rule of the Roman Empire,
such battles of subjects were not permissible.
- Marcus Aurelius 121 to 180 C.E. He was Spanish by birth and
was adopted by Roman parents.
- Ethics: he was a student of Epictetus and advocated unselfish
love of one's fellow humans. [As you can see, the Stoa and
Christianity were not all that far apart and probably influenced
- He teaches the perfectability of humans by way of achieving
self-realization [Think "Aristotle" here again and think of John 14.]
- Happiness comes from complete confidence in a divinely organized
world. [Many of us still believe that today, but many of us also
would be hard pressed to try to justify the belief with solid
evidence. It tends to be more of an "opinion" that someone feels
entitle to without facts.]
- Since the human spirit is of divine origin, humans are "god
stuff" and so must be absolutely equal to one another. [This
special status of humanity is a bit tough to make sense of also.]
- General Reflection: Don't forget that the times were
different when these people were living. Let's not forget that
for many Greeks and Romans, drunkenness had a deity and was OK.
Making love to little boys was also OK. One thing that the Stoa
never endorsed, however, was a belief that competitive principles
could ever serve to develop a just society with proper distributive
justice and rectificatory justice. In many respects, capitalism is
fundamentally incompatible with Stoics and with Christianity. As our
culture endorses traditions of the Stoa, of Epicureans, and of
Christianity, we should really experience some level of cognitive
dissonance here. We must always remember that the moral
super-heroes of our culture also were defined by their time.
Remember that Thomas Jefferson or one of his family may have had offspring from a minor:
Sara Hamblin, a black slave on his estate, and that George Washington
owned slaves. As we are reflecting about moral values, we are also
transforming them for our time. Further, the ideal of the Stoa
is "a-pathy"--the absence of all emotions in favor of
complete rationality. When's the last time you've been told that
apathy was a good virtue? As you compare these ideals of the Stoa
with Christian values, you may be surprised how many cross-connections
exist between the two philosophical developments. In fact,
Christianity has probably evolved into a world religion as a
consequence of its close connection with Stoic thought. And
Christianity has metamorphosed again and again as it ran up against
other belief systems. Many of us now believe that Jesus advocated
capitalism, don't we?