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1. THE FOUNDERS: ZENO, CLEANTHES AND CHRYSIPPUS
On a commercial voyage from Phoenicia to sell purple dye Zeno was shipwrecked near the Piraeus. He went into Athens (he was thirty years old at the time) and sat down by a certain bookseller. The bookseller was reading the second book of Xenophon’s Memorabilia aloud. He enjoyed it and asked where men like Socrates spent their time. Fortuitously, Crates came by and the bookseller pointed to him and said, “follow this man.” From then on he studied with Crates, being in other respects fit for and intent on philosophy, but too modest for Cynic freedom from shame…
Diogenes Laertius VII 2–3.
The Stoic philosophy was founded by 1 Zeno of Citium (ca. 334–262). Citium, a Greek colony inCyprus, had, by the time of Zeno, become predominantly Phoenician in language, and perhaps even in population. Although some taunted Zeno for being a Phoenician,2 his family seems to have been of Greek culture, and his father, who bore a Greek name, at least, reportedly brought home many “Socratic books” from his trips to Athens.3 Zeno came to Athens in 312, at the age of 22, some ten years after Aristotle’s death.4 The apocryphal story of his shipwreck in the motto to this section is a little too pat, and it seems more likely that eventually gave over his merchant’s vocation for philosophy. Zeno made a hero of Socrates and admired Crates, the philosopher he thought most resembled his hero.5 Later, no doubt in search of a more intellectually satisfying foundation for his views than Crates would have provided, he studied with Stilpo and Diodorus Cronus of the Megarian school, from whom he learned the propositional logic that would later, in the hands of the Stoics, supplant the logic of Aristotle in the Ancient world. From Diodorus, no doubt, he learned to deny the existence of universals. Later he also worked under Polemon in the Academy, from whom he perhaps learned that virtue lies in agreement with nature, and that the pursuit of external goods such as health and security had some value, at least as a part of the natural life for a human being. Around 300 he founded his own school, lecturing at the Painted Portico, the Stoa Poikile, adorned with murals by Polygnotus and other great 5th century artists, at the northwest corner of the agora. His school eventually took the name of this favorite spot, and came to be called the Stoa. The Stoic school seems to have absorbed and supplanted the Megarian
school, just as the Epicureans eclipsed the Cyrenaics. Zeno was a highly principled, severe and ascetic man after the Cynic pattern. He declined an offer of Athenian citizenship to remain a Citian, and turned down an invitation from Antigonus Gonatus to visit his court, sending two of his pupils instead. He is said to have taken his own life at seventy–two, no doubt in response to a debilitating illness…http://homepages.uwp.edu
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