Lives of the Stoics
Stoicism was a Greek school of philosophy founded around 300 B.C. in Athens by Zeno of Citium. In little time it would develop into the dominant philosophy of the Roman Empire. The word
The most famous Stoic was also a Roman emperor. Marcus Aurelius was a prominent Stoic whose collection of journal entries entitled Meditations is a quintessential distillation of Stoic thought and practice.
Zeno of Citium
Zeno was born around 336 or 335 B.C. and died about 264 or 263 B.C. in Athens. He likely followed his father in commercial activity. It appears that his first philosophical influences were at the age of twenty. He read the
Cleanthes of Assos took over Zeno's leadership of the school and Cleanthes in turn was succeeded by Chrysippus of Soloi in Cilicia, who was known as the second founder of the school because of his systematization of the Stoic doctrines. All told, he wrote some 705 treatises, which were better known for their dialectical method than their style of composition.
A later Stoic, Epictetus (A.D. c. 50-c. 138) was born a Greek slave in Asia Minor. He was crippled in slavery, which no doubt influenced his spirited motto: “Bear and forbear.” He was freed sometime after the death of Nero in 68. He was known as a kind man, who was humble and charitable, especially to children. He embraced Stoicism and taught that people should submit to fate as God's sacred gift and design. Epictetus did not write down his philosophy, but Flavius Arrianus, a student at his school at Nicopolis, composed eight books based on Epictetus's lectures. Of these eight books only four remain. He also published a small catechism, or handbook, of his doctrines, the