People - Ancient Greece: Zeno of Citium
(334 BC - 262 BC) Ancient Greek philosopher who was
the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy.
Zeno in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)
The founder of the School of the Stoics, born at Citium, in the island of Cyprus. His father was a merchant, but, noticing in his son a strong bent towards learning, he early devoted him to the study of philosophy. In his mercantile capacity, the father had frequent occasions to visit Athens, where he purchased for the young Zeno several of the writings of the most eminent Socratic philosophers. These he read with great avidity; and, when about thirty years of age, he determined to take a voyage to a city which was so celebrated. Upon his first arrival in Athens, going accidentally into the shop of a bookseller, he took up a volume of the commentaries of Xenophon, and, after reading a few passages, was so much delighted with the work, and formed so high an idea of its author, that he asked the bookseller where he might meet with such men. Crates, the Cynic philosopher, happening at that instant to be passing by, the bookseller pointed to him, and said, “Follow that man.” Zeno soon found an opportunity of attending upon the instructions of Crates, and was so well pleased with his doctrine that he became one of his disciples. But, though he highly admired the general principles and spirit of the Cynic School, he could not easily reconcile himself to their peculiar manners. Besides, his inquisitive turn of mind would not allow him to adopt that indifference to every scientific inquiry which was one of the characteristic distinctions of the sect. He therefore attended upon other masters, who professed to instruct their disciples in the nature and causes of things. When Crates, displeased at his following other philosophers, attempted to drag him by force out of the school of Stilpo, the Megarian, Zeno said to him, “You may seize my body, but Stilpo has laid hold of my mind.” After continuing to attend the lectures of Stilpo for several years, he passed over to other schools, particularly those of Xenocrates and Diodorus Chronus. By the latter he was instructed in dialectics. At last, after attending almost every other teacher, he offered himself as a disciple of Polemo. This philosopher appears to have been aware that Zeno's intention in thus passing from one school to another was to collect materials from various quarters for a new system of his own; for, when he came into Polemo's school, the latter said to him, “I am no stranger to your Phśnician arts, Zeno; I perceive that your design is to creep slyly into my garden and steal away my fruit.” Polemo was not mistaken in his opinion. Having made himself master of the views of others, Zeno determined to become the founder of a new sect. The place which he made choice of for his school was called the Poecilé (Ποικίλη Στοά), or “Painted Porch,” a public portico, so called from the pictures of Polygnotus and other eminent masters with which it was adorned. This portico, being the most famous in Athens, was called, by way of distinction, Στοά, “the Porch.” It was from this circumstance that the followers of Zeno were called Stoics (Στωϊκοί), i. e. “men of the Porch.”
Zeno excelled in that kind of subtle reasoning which was then popular. At the same time, he taught a strict system of moral doctrine, and exhibited a model of moral discipline in his own life. The Stoic School, in fact, was a branch of the Cynic, and, so far as respected morals, differed from it more in words than in reality. Its founder, while he avoided the eccentricities of the Cynics, retained the spirit of their moral teaching; and at the same time, from a diligent comparison of the tenets of other masters, he framed a new system of speculative philosophy. It is not at all surprising, therefore, that he obtained a considerable vogue, and even enjoyed the favour of the great. Antigonus Gonatas, king of Macedon, while residing at Athens, attended his lectures, and, upon his return, earnestly invited him to his court. Zeno, in fact, possessed so large a share of esteem among the Athenians that, on account of his approved integrity, they deposited the keys of their citadel in his hands. They also honoured him with a golden crown and a statue of bronze. Among his countrymen, the inhabitants of Cyprus, and with the Sidonians from whom his family was derived, he was likewise highly esteemed.
In his person Zeno was tall and slender; his aspect was stern, and his brow contracted. His constitution was feeble, but he preserved his health by great abstemiousness. His food consisted only of figs, bread, and honey; yet his table was frequently honoured with the company of great men. He paid more attention to neatness in his personal appearance than did the Cynic philosophers. In his dress, indeed, he was plain, but this is not to be imputed to avarice, but to a contempt of external magnificence. He showed as much respect to the poor as to the rich, and conversed freely with persons of the meanest occupations. He had only one servant, or, according to Seneca, none. Although Zeno's sobriety and continence were even proverbial, he was not without enemies. Among his contemporaries, several philosophers of great ability and eloquence employed their talents against him. Arcesilaüs and Carneades, the founders of the Middle Academy, were his professed opponents. Towards the close of his life, also, he found another powerful antagonist in Epicurus (q.v.), whose temper and doctrines were alike inimical to the severe gravity and philosophical pride of the Stoic sect. Hence mutual invectives passed between the Stoics and other sects.
Zeno lived to the extreme age of ninety-eight, and at last, in consequence of an accident, put an end to his life. As he was walking out of his school he fell down, and in the fall broke one of his fingers. He was so affected by this with a consciousness of infirmity that, striking the earth, he exclaimed, Ἔρχομαι, τί μ̓ ἀΰεις; “I am coming, why do you call me?” and immediately went home and strangled himself. He died B.C. 264. The Athenians, at the request of Antigonus, erected a monument to his memory in the Ceramicus.
His writings, of which a list is given by Diogenes Laertius (vii. 4), have all been lost. They treated of the State, and of the Life according to Nature. For his doctrines, see Zeller, Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics (1870), and the articles Philosophia; Stoďci.
Zeno of Citium in Wikipedia
Zeno of Citium (Greek: Ζήνων ὁ Κιτιεύς, Zēnōn ho Kitieŭs; 334 BC - 262 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Citium (Greek: Κίτιον), Cyprus. Zeno was the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy, which he taught in Athens from about 300 BC. Based on the moral ideas of the Cynics, Stoicism laid great emphasis on goodness and peace of mind gained from living a life of virtue in accordance with nature. It proved very successful, and flourished as the dominant philosophy from the Hellenistic period through to the Roman era.
Zeno was born c. 334 BC,[a] in Citium in Cyprus. Most of the details we know about his life come from the anecdotes preserved by Diogenes Laërtius in his Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. Zeno was the son of a Phoenician merchant and was a merchant himself, when he came to Athens to learn philosophy, at the age of 22. The story goes that, after a shipwreck, Zeno wandered into a bookshop in Athens and was attracted to some writings about Socrates. He asked the librarian how to find such a man. In response, the librarian pointed to Crates of Thebes, the most famous Cynic living at that time in Greece.
Zeno is described as a haggard, tanned person, living a spare, ascetic life. This coincides with the influences of Cynic teaching, and was, at least in part, continued in his Stoic philosophy. In one incident during his tutelage with Crates, he was made to carry a pot of lentil soup around the city. After Zeno began carrying the pot, Crates smashed it with his staff, splattering the lentil soup all over his surprised student. When Zeno began to run off in embarrassment, Crates chided, "Why run away, my little Phoenician? Nothing terrible has befallen you!"
Apart from Crates, Zeno studied under the philosophers of the Megarian school, including Stilpo, and the dialecticians Diodorus Cronus, and Philo. He is also said to have studied Platonist philosophy under the direction of Xenocrates, and Polemo.
Zeno began teaching in the colonnade in the Agora of Athens known as the Stoa Poikile in 301 BC. His disciples were initially called Zenonians, but eventually they came to be known as Stoics, a name previously applied to poets who congregated in the Stoa Poikile.
Among the admirers of Zeno was king Antigonus II Gonatas of Macedonia, who, whenever he came to Athens, would visit Zeno. Zeno is said to have declined an invitation to visit Antigonus in Macedonia, although their supposed correspondence preserved by Laërtius is undoubtably the invention of a later rhetorician. Zeno instead sent his friend and disciple Persaeus, who had lived with Zeno in his house. Among Zeno's other pupils there were Aristo of Chios, Sphaerus, and Cleanthes who succeeded Zeno as the head (scholarch) of the Stoic school in Athens.
Zeno is said to have declined Athenian citizenship when it was offered to him, fearing that he would appear unfaithful to his native land Phoenicia, where he was highly esteemed. We are also told that Zeno was of an earnest, if not gloomy disposition; that he preferred the company of the few to the many; that he was fond of burying himself in investigations; and that he had a dislike to verbose and elaborate speeches. Diogenes Laërtius has preserved many clever and witty remarks by Zeno, the veracity of which cannot be ascertained.
Zeno died around 262 BC.[a] Laërtius reports about his death: "As he left the school, he tripped, fell and broke a toe. Hitting the ground with his hand, he cited words of Niobe: "I am coming, why do you call me thus?" Since the Stoic sage was expected to always do what was appropriate (kathekon) and Zeno was very old at the time, he felt it appropriate to die and consequently strangled himself.
During his lifetime, Zeno received appreciation for his philosophical and pedagogical teachings. Amongst other things, Zeno was honored with the golden crown, and a tomb was built in honor of his moral influence on the youth of his era.
The crater Zeno on the Moon is named in his honor.
Following the ideas of the Academics, Zeno divided philosophy into three parts: Logic (a very wide subject including rhetoric, grammar, and the theories of perception and thought); Physics (not just science, but the divine nature of the universe as well); and Ethics, the end goal of which was to achieve happiness through the right way of living according to Nature. Because Zeno's ideas were built upon by Chrysippus and other Stoics, it can be difficult to determine, in some areas, precisely what he thought, but his general views can be outlined:
In his treatment of Logic, Zeno was influenced by Stilpo and the other Megarians. Zeno urged the need to lay down a basis for Logic because the wise person must know how to avoid deception. Cicero accused Zeno of being inferior to his philosophical predecessors in his treatment of Logic, and it seems true that a more exact treatment of the subject was laid down by his successors, including Chrysippus. Zeno divided true conceptions into the comprehensible and the incomprehensible, permitting for free-will the power of assent (sunkatathesis) in distinguishing between sense impressions. Zeno said that there were four stages in the process leading to true knowledge, which he illustrated with the example of the flat, extended hand, and the gradual closing of the fist:
Zeno stretched out his fingers, and showed the palm of his hand, - "Perception," - he said, - "is a thing like this."- Then, when he had closed his fingers a little, - "Assent is like this." - Afterwards, when he had completely closed his hand, and showed his fist, that, he said, was Comprehension. From which simile he also gave that state a new name, calling it katalepsis. But when he brought his left hand against his right, and with it took a firm and tight hold of his fist: - "Knowledge" - he said, was of that character; and that was what none but a wise person possessed.
The Universe, in Zeno's view, is God: a divine reasoning entity, where all the parts belong to the whole. Into this pantheistic system he incorporated the physics of Heraclitus; the Universe contains a divine artisan-fire, which foresees everything, and extending throughout the Universe, must produce everything:
Zeno, then, defines nature by saying that it is artistically working fire, which advances by fixed methods to creation. For he maintains that it is the main function of art to create and produce, and that what the hand accomplishes in the productions of the arts we employ, is accomplished much more artistically by nature, that is, as I said, by artistically working fire, which is the master of the other arts.
This divine fire, or aether, is the basis for all activity in the Universe, operating on otherwise passive matter, which neither increases nor diminishes itself. The primary substance in the Universe comes from fire, passes through the stage of air, and then becomes water: the thicker portion becoming earth, and the thinner portion becoming air again, and then rarefying back into fire. Individual souls are part of the same fire as the world-soul of the Universe. Following Heraclitus, Zeno adopted the view that the Universe underwent regular cycles of formation and destruction.
The Nature of the Universe is such that it accomplishes what is right and prevents the opposite, and is identified with unconditional Fate, while allowing it the free-will attributed to it.
Like the Cynics, Zeno recognised a single, sole and simple good, which is the only goal to strive for. "Happiness is a good flow of life," said Zeno, and this can only be achieved through the use of right Reason coinciding with the Universal Reason, (Logos) which governs everything. A bad feeling (pathos) "is a disturbance of the mind repugnant to Reason, and against Nature." This consistency of soul, out of which morally good actions spring, is Virtue, true good can only consist in Virtue.
Zeno deviated from the Cynics in saying that things that are morally indifferent could nevertheless have value. Things have a relative value in proportion to how they aid the natural instinct for self-preservation. That which is to be preferred is a "fitting action" (kathękon), a designation Zeno first introduced. Self-preservation, and the things that contribute towards it, has only a conditional value; it does not aid happiness, which depends only on moral actions.
Just as Virtue can only exist within the dominion of Reason, so Vice can only exist with the rejection of Reason. Virtue is absolutely opposed to Vice, the two cannot exist in the same thing together, and cannot be increased or decreased; no one moral action is more virtuous than another. All actions are either good or bad, since impulses and desires rest upon free consent, and hence even passive mental states or emotions that are not guided by reason are immoral, and produce immoral actions. Zeno distinguished four negative emotions: desire, fear, pleasure and pain (epithumia, phobos, hędonę, lupę), and he was probably responsible for distinguishing the three corresponding positive emotions: will, caution, and joy (boulęsis, eulabeia, chara), with no corresponding rational equivalent for pain. All errors must be rooted out, not merely set aside, and replaced with right Reason.
None of Zeno's writings have survived except as fragmentary quotations preserved by later writers. The titles of many of Zeno's writings are known; they are known to have been these:
* Ethical writings:
o Πολιτεία - Republic
o ἠθικά - Ethics
o περὶ τοῦ κατὰ φύσιν βίον - On Life according to Nature
o περὶ ὁρμῆς ἧ περὶ ἁνθρώρου φύσεως - On Impulse, or on the Nature of Humans
o περὶ παθῶν - On Passions
o περὶ τοῦ καθήκοντος - On Duty
o περὶ νόμου - On Law
o περὶ Έλληνικῆς παιδείας - On Greek Education
o ἐρωτικὴ τέχνη - The Art of Love
* Physical writings:
o περὶ τοῦ ὅλου - On the Universe
o περὶ οὐσίας - On Being
o περὶ σημείων - On Signs
o περὶ ὄψεως - On Sight
o περὶ τοῦ λόγου - On the Logos
* Logical writings:
o διατριϐαί - Discourses
o περὶ λεξεως - On Verbal Style
o λύσεις, ἔλεγχοι - Solutions and Refutations
* Other works:
o περὶ ποιητικῆς ἀκροάσεως - On Poetical Readings
o προϐλημάτων Όμηρικῶη πέντε - Homeric Problems
o καθολικά - General Things
o Άπομνημονεύματα Κράτητος - Reminiscences of Crates
o Πυθαγορικά - Pythagorean Doctrines
The most famous of these works was Zeno's Republic, a work written in conscious imitation of (or opposition to) Plato. Although it has not survived, more is known about it than any of his other works. It outlined Zeno's vision of the ideal Stoic society built on egalitarian principles.
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