Zeno of Citium

Zeno of Citium (The Stoic) (c. 333- c. 262 BC) was a Hellenistic philosopher from Citium, Cyprus (maybe of Phoenician origin).

He had his head naturally bent on one side, as Timotheus, the Athenian, tells us, in his work on Lives. And Apollonius, the Tyrian, says that he was thin, very tall, of a dark complexion; in reference to which some one once called him an Egyptian Clematis, as Chrysippus relates in the first yolume of his Proverbs: he had fat, flabby, weak legs.Diogenes Laertius

Zeno was the son of Mnaseas, a merchant and a student of Crates of Thebes. Zeno was, himself, a merchant until the age of 42, when he started a school. According to a Legend on one trip Zeno was shipwrecked and he somehow ended up in Athens. He met philosophers there and he fell in love with philosophy. He soon began studying under the philosophers such as Crates, Stilpon, Xenocrates, and others. When he asked a man working at a bookstore where men like Socrates could be found the man pointed at somebody walking down the street and said, "follow him". It was Crates, Zeno's first instructor. What we know of him mainly comes from later philosophers. It is known, however, that Zeno did not begin teaching on his own until late in life. Named for his teaching platform, the Painted Porch ("stoa" is Greek for "porch"), his teachings were the beginning of Stoicism. None of Zeno's works (more than 20 books) have survived; he is believed to have taught that tranquility can best be reached via indifference to pleasure and pain. Stoicism was the first philosophy in history to morally condemn slavery. Emancipation of slave makes their freedom of thought public, maybe also because Zeno was a slave for some time. Stoicism was important as it was adopted by many important Romans (Cicero, Seneca, Josephus, Marc Aurel...).

And he died in the following manner. When he was going out of his school, he tripped, and broke one of his toes; and striking the ground with his hand, he repeated the line out of the Niobe: I come: why call me so? And immediately he strangled himself, and so he died.Diogenes Laertius

36 Poikile Stoa Greek for "Painted Porch". This is the porch were Zeno of Citium used to teach, toward the beginning of the 3rd century BC, the first principles of what would become known as a result as "Stoic" philosophy, from the Greek word "stoa", meaning "porch". It included paintings of Micon of the Battle of Marathon

Some of Zeno's opinions:

The cosmos is a divine being with a soul.

Human beings are to live according to nature.

Man must control his emotions to remain indifferent to suffering.

Slavery violates natural law. It exists only where civil law and international custom fail to conform to natural law.

By natural law human beings are rational and thus have a power of self-government. Hence no human being should be governed by an external master.

Man-made Civil law and customary law ought to be reformed to be put in conformity with natural law. That is our moral duty.

The sun is a sphere of fire and the moon shines from reflected light.

Steel your sensibilities, so that life shall hurt you as little as possible.

Philosophy is like an orchard, with Physics as the soil and the trees, Logic as the fence guarding the orchard, and Ethics as the fruit of the trees.

Zeno of Citium in Raphael's School of Athens

From a Lecture:

Important Stoic Philosophers

Zeno of Citium (333-262 BC) - former Cynic, founded a school on the Stoa

Cleanthes (c. 301-232 or 252 BC) - author of the Hymn to Zeus

Chrysippus (280-207 BC) - voluminous Stoic writer

Panaetius (c. 185-180 to 110-108 BC) - introduced Stoicism to Rome

Posidonius (135-51 BC) – Astronomer, Geographer, Philosopher and friend of influential Romans

Cicero (106-43 BC) - statesman; explicated Stoic teachings in Latin

Seneca (4 BC-65 AD) - statesman; voluminous Stoic writer and tutor to Nero

Epictetus (c. 55-135 AD) - former slave, focused largely upon ethics

Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) - emperor; author of the Meditations

Boethius. (c. 475- 524 AD) - statesman; wrote The Consolation of Philosophy



Zeno of Citium - founder of Stoicism

Stoicism and Zeno of Citium

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