Stoicism in Ancient Rome Essay

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Stoicism made the transition from an intriguing foreign philosophy to a popular practice because it was taken up by several high profile figures. Scipio Africanus, the original esteemed Roman Stoic died in 129 BCE, but about 40 years later a new crop of celebrated Romans took up the Stoic practice. During the fall of the Roman Republic a group of famed orators, generals, and statesmen including Marcus Junius Brutus (85-42 BCE), Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE), Pompey the Great (106-48 BCE), and Cato the Younger (95-46 BCE) all professed themselves Stoics. This group of powerful statesmen and leaders practicing Stoicism disseminated it throughout Rome. Octavian (63 BC- 14 AD) who later became Caesar Augustus had a Stoic tutor and many…show more content…
He had been highly educated in both Greece and Rome. He was also a great intellectual and orator of his time which would have put him in contact with the people who already knew of Stoicism. He studied under the Stoic philosopher Diodotus (d. 59 BCE). They maintained such a close friendship that Diodotus lived in Cicero’s house until his death when he left everything he owned to Cicero. While Cicero considered himself not a complete disciple of Stoicism (he followed some teaching of Epicurus and Plato) he practiced Stoicism’s ideals, especially it’s ethics, throughout his life. Professor and historian Edward Clayton writes that “Cicero puts forth Stoic doctrines not dogmatically, as absolutely and always true, but as the best set of beliefs so far developed. We ought to adhere to them because our lives, both individually and collectively, will be better if we do. It is essentially Stoic ethical teachings that Cicero urges the Roman elite to adopt.” Cicero urges the elite to adopt these ethics through his orations and his philosophical writings. He, himself, studied the texts of the earlier stoic philosopher Panaetius, and this influenced his most famous work: De Officiis, or On Duty. On De Divinationes, another of Cicero’s Stoicism -influenced works, the historian A E Douglas writes that: “Cicero wrote at its beginning and again at its end… that he was deliberately seeking relief through philosophy from the political troubles of the time and an outlet
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