Zeno

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ZENO OF CITIUM (335-263 B.C.)

Founder of Stoic philosophy, bom at Citium on Cyprus, probably of Phoenician ancestry. In 313 he went to Athens to attend the Platonic Academy, but converted to Cynicism, in which vein he wrote his earliest treatises. He taught in the Stoa Poikile (Painted Porch) at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens, where he drew many listeners. When Antigonus Gonatas, king of Macedonia, invited hirn to his court in Pelia, he dispatched a disciple instead of going in person, breaking Plato's and Aristotle's tradition of serving tyrants. Zeno's complete philosophical system borrowed physics from Heraclitus and Aristotelian logic from Antisthenes and Diodorus the Megaran, but it was his ethics, according to which virtue is the only good and vice or moral weakness the only real evil, that comforted many during the wars and tyrannies of the successors of Alexander the Great,the late Roman Republic, and the Empire. A protégé of the Scipios, Paenatius of Rhodes (ca. 150 B.C.), introduced Stoic phiiosophy to Rome and hannonized it with the mos maiomm to make it the favorite philosophy of Romans until the third century when Neo-Platonism replaced it. Antigonus of Carystus named Zeno as having been an exclusive boy-loverwith no interest inwomen. Ethically Zeno regarded the choice of sexual object, whether male or female, as a purely personal matter. No objective criteria, he opined, can be adduced for preferring either homosexuality or heterosexuality. What is important is the management of onefs life in accordance with enlightened self-interest. Zeno was also one of the first Greek philosophers to end his life by suicide when he believed that his usefulness was at an end, an example emulated by such followers as Cato the Younger and Seneca the Younger, the most famous Roman adherents except for the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, himself also an expounder of Stoicism.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. J. M. Rist, Stoic Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

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