Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were two of the ancient world’s most influential schools of thought. Epicureanism, founded by Epicurus, taught that the goal of life was to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Stoicism, founded by Zeno of Citium, taught that the purpose of life was to live in harmony with nature and to develop self-control and fortitude.
Epicurean Philosophers & Their Contributions
Learn more about Epicurean philosophers and their contributions to the world.
Epicurus was born in Samos, Greece, in 341 BCE. He studied under the Platonist philosopher Pamphilus before moving to Athens, where he founded his school of philosophy. Epicurus believed that the gods were not interested in human affairs and that natural laws governed the universe. He thought that the goal of life was to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
Epicurus also believed pleasure was the highest good and pain was the greatest evil. His philosophy was based on the belief that humans are mortal and that death is the end of our existence.
The Roman poet Lucretius was a follower of the Greek philosopher Epicurus, and his didactic poem De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things) is a key work of Epicurean philosophy.
In this work, Lucretius sets out to explain the nature of the universe, using the theories of atomism and materialism. He argues that the universe is made up of atoms and that the soul is also made of atoms. He argues that death is not to be feared, as it is simply the dissolution of the soul.
Lucretius’ poem significantly influenced later thinkers, such as the philosopher Thomas Hobbes.
Cicero was a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, and orator. He was a major figure in the development of Roman political thought and significantly transformed Roman society from a republic to an empire.
Cicero wrote extensively on Epicurean ethics and politics, and his work was highly influential in the development of Epicureanism in the Roman world. He argued that the Epicurean philosophy was the best way to achieve a life of tranquility and happiness. Cicero’s work was instrumental in spreading Epicureanism in the Roman world, and his influence is still felt today.
Stoic Philosophers & Their Contributions
Learn more about Stoic philosophers and their contributions to the world.
1. Zeno of Citium
The Stoic philosopher Zeno of Citium was born in Citium, Cyprus in 334 BCE. He studied under the Cynic philosopher Crates of Thebes before moving to Athens, where he founded the Stoic school of philosophy.
Zeno taught that the goal of life was to live in harmony with nature and to develop self-control and fortitude. He believed that rational laws governed the universe and that humans were capable of reason and virtue. Zeno’s philosophy had a significant impact on Roman society.
Seneca was a major proponent of Stoicism and wrote extensively on the subject. In his works, Seneca frequently emphasized the importance of using reason to control emotions and desires. He believed that this was the key to living a virtuous life. Seneca also believed that humans should take responsibility for their own actions and not blame others for their misfortune.
3. Marcus Aurelius
There are few greater examples of a life lived in accordance with Stoic principles than that of Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 CE. His personal journal, now known as the Meditations, is one of the most important Stoic texts still in existence.
Aurelius faced many challenges during his reign, including civil war, plague, and invasions. Yet, he continued to uphold Stoic values, always putting the needs of his people first.
Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were two of the ancient world’s most influential schools of thought. The ideas of these philosophers about life and death, pleasure and pain, and the nature of the universe profoundly impacted how people lived their lives.
Learn about how you can use the philosophies of Epicureanism and Stoicism in modern life by exploring Living By Example today.
Brian formed Living By Examplealongside Cynthia after working for two decades alongside international institutions for humanitarian aids and other efforts worldwide, may it be catastrophes made by men or nature. Brian built Living By Examplewith the hopes of bringing more cultural diversity across the internet.
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