DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-A112-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

22. Later fortunes

Stoicism’s success ran high in the first century ad. It was perceived by writers like Seneca and Lucan as embodying the traditional Roman virtues whose decline was so widely lamented. Roman Stoics formed the main resistance to the emperor’s rule, and, following the earlier model of the Stoic Cato, made the principled act of suicide into a virtual art form.

In a way Stoicism’s crowning achievement was in ad 161, when its adherent Marcus Aurelius became Roman emperor. Here at last was a genuine philosopher-ruler. When Marcus established chairs of philosophy at Athens, these included one of Stoic philosophy. Nevertheless, Stoicism was already on the decline in the late second century, eclipsed by the revived philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. By then, however, it had entered the intellectual bloodstream of the ancient world, where its concepts remained pervasive in such diverse disciplines as grammar, rhetoric and law, as well as strongly influencing the thought of Platonist philosophers like Porphyry, and Church Fathers such as Clement of Alexandria.

Through the writings of Cicero (whose philosophical works, although not Stoic, embody much Stoicism) and Seneca, Stoic moral and political thought exercised a pivotal influence throughout the Renaissance (see Renaissance philosophy). Early modern philosophers who incorporated substantial Stoic ethical ideas include Spinoza and Kant. The recovery of Stoic physics, epistemology and logic, however, has been largely an achievement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Citing this article:
Sedley, David. Later fortunes. Stoicism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-A112-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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