Zenon of Kitium
336 B.C to 264 B.C.
Zenon was born in Kitium (now Larnaca ) in Cyprus in
He is said to have been inspired by Crates the Cynic, the story as we know it
Zenon was the son of a merchant, and when travelling to Phoenicia with a load of purple (probably dye or cloth) was shipwrecked, and ended up in in Piraeus.(The harbour of Athens in Greece).(The story we have actually says that he was shipwrecked outside of Pireus, however if you look at a map you will see that Phoenicia is "the other way")
Whilst looking in a bookstore in that city, he came across certain philosophical manuscripts, and was so interested in their content, that he asked where he could find ' men who wrote and thought in such a manner.' At that moment the Cynic Crates was passing by, and Zenon followed him. From then on he became Crates' student and stayed in Athens.
When he was 42 years of age ,Zenon started his own philosophical school in a colonnade called the Stoa Poikile (painted porch) which was adorned with pictures of the Trojan war, Marathon and the Amazons by Polygnotus. His students were first called Zenonians and then Stoics
( after the nature of the decorations).
Zenon had for a disciple Cleanthes, from Assos in the Troad (300-220) , whose hymn to Jupiter is the only fragment of any length that has come down to us from the early Stoics. It is a poem setting forth the unity of God, his omnipotence and his moral government.
Chrysippus, from Soli in Cilicia (280-207) followed Cleanthes, and in his voluminous writings both defended and modified the Stoical creed..
To Zeno belongs the establishment of the logical criterion, the adaptation of Heraclitean physics and the introduction of all the leading ethical tenets. He was a very humble man and took as his students poor and rich alike. He disliked mixing with Kings or the authorities.At one point,
when he was unable to pay the resident alien's tax, the Athenians sold him
into slavery - but he was bought by a friend and freed. Later the Athenians
honoured him with a golden crown and a large tomb built at public expense.
The Athenians held him in such high esteem that they awarded him the keys of
the city and a golden wreath. They also put up a copper statue to honour
him.(Who was it that said your condemnation is as meaningful as your
adulation- or something similar)
Zenon died as simply as he had lived, he just hanged himself when he thought his time had come. His ideas and the resultant stoic philosophy had a great impact on many of the important men of his day and the history of our civilisation.
The principles of the doctrine are: The striving after equanimity, the hardening of ones self against the blows of fortune,the limiting of wants and the practice of contentment. Also a qualified form of the subordinating of "self"to the general welfare. As you can see these are also an essential part of most modern theories of virtue.
See: Zellers Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics (Eng. translation 1870)A.C.Pearson.
The fragments of Zeno and Cleanthes (1891)
and works by Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca
Diogenes Laertius provides a very long summary of his ideas and those of the
We in Larnaca also wish honour Zenon and so have put his portrait on the emblem of the municipality and (1998) was dedicated to events of a philosophical nature.
On the 9th 10th and 11th of September we had the biggest and best ever in the whole wide world
with 18 great philosophers from all over the world as guests of honour, dedicated entirely to Zeno.
The opening was at The Larnaca Municipal Theatre on the 9th of September. It
was a lovely party, with the Larnaca municipal band playing in the
The next 2 days saw sessions from all the speakers at the Sun Hall Hotel
conference room, with questions at the end of each speaker's
dissertation. Then there was the formation and organisational meeting of the
International Stoic Society. The closing was at the Larnaca fort, with a
reception and performance by Diastasis, a Cypriot song and dance group,
who's performance was superb.
Thanks are due to Demetrios Pierides, President of the PIERIDES Museum for his sponsorship and excellent hospitality.
If you are interested in joining the
Stoic Society then click here.
If you wish to view or participate in the society's
Stoic Forum, click here.
I love this, I think I must be a closet stoic.
The universe is a living thing, endowed with soul and with reason"
I have filched some information below
from a site about Zenon (with permission of course) for your delight.
To see the whole thing go to
well worth the read, and also the words and history
of Marcus Aurelius .
My thanks to Paul Harrison who wrote it.
The Stoics are best known today for their ethical views on
the acceptance of fate. These views derived from their belief that the
universe was an animate and rational Being pervaded with soul. The Stoic
philosophy was the closest thing to an organised religion of strict
The central beliefs were that the cosmos was a divine being,
endowed with a soul that was made of a refined form of matter. Our role
on earth was to accept and live according to nature. The Stoics also
believed that we should accept our destinies unquestioningly, since they
embodied the will of the universe: for that reason their name became
synonymous with patience and long-suffering.
Many of their theories were striking forerunners of modern
science. The theory of a recurrent cosmic conflagration, for example,
could turn out to be true - if the density of matter is high enough to
cause a re collapse of the universe. The Stoics also believed that the
sun was a sphere of fire, larger than the earth, and that the moon shone
with reflected light.
Formal Speakers, was in Larnaca
|Professor Myrto Dragona-Monachou
||Stoic philosophy specialist in Greek
|Professor Ian Kidd
||University of St Andrews.Fife
World expert on early Stoicism,especially Posidonius
|Professor Richard Sorabji
||Kings College-History of Stoic philosophy
|Dr David Sedley
||Christ's College, Cambridge. Stoic texts and
ancient political philosophy. Co authored with Long source
book for texts.
|Professor Christopher Rowe
||University of Durham. Dept of Classics and
|Professor Jaap Mansfield
||Rijksuniversiteit. Published the Canon
of Stoic philosophical texts
|Dr T Teileman
||University of Utrecht. Assists Mansfield with
the Canon of Stoic philosophical texts
|Professor Jacques Brunschwig
||World specialist on Zeno and Stoicism
|Dr Malcom Schofield
||St.Johns college,Cambridge World specialist on
Zeno and Stoicism
|Professor Andre Laks
||Universite Charles de Gaulle.Authority on
ancient Greek political philosophy
|Dr Maximilian Forschner
||Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg. International
specialist on Zeno
|Professor Anthony Long
||University of California-Berkley. Has authored
with Sedley. Source book on Stoic texts.
|Professor David E.Hahm
||Ohio State University. Authority on early
Stoicism and Zeno
|Dr. Keimpe Algra
||Rijksuniversiteit.Utrecht. Specialist on Zeno
International Stoic Society
Symposium Conference Room
Friday September 11th 7-9 p.m.
|Dr. Zeno Breuninger
|A message from Dr Breuninger:
For the past thirty years one of my life's
goals has been to revive the spirit of nobility and
Stoicism as a source of strength for our world leaders
and citizens. I am interested in meeting others who
are interested in a Stoic Revival.
I feel that the importance of virtue is often
underplayed in our modern world by weak politicians
who are controlled by their desires for material
Ancient Stoicism provided a system for noble Greek & Roman Patriarchs to focus their energies on the
common good of all citizens. I would like to create
an International Stoic Society which would honour
noble leaders in politics and business who best
demonstrate Stoic virtues. I feel that it is
important that individuals who are truly worthy of the
respect of society stand up and be counted among the
virtuous. I am looking for others willing to create
such a society with me. I believe we could start out with a quarterly journal addressing the concepts of Stoicism and perhaps an annual formal banquet in Cyprus to honour those world leaders in
government and business who best live up to concepts
originally laid down by Zeno of Kitium.
If you are interested please
send an expression of it here
Or If you are interested in joining
the International Stoic Society then click here.
If you wish to view or participate in the society's