The founder of stoicism, like so many other important figures in history, is shrouded in mystery. But there are a few things we can be sure about. The most obvious fact is that the person who built the philosophy is unknown; what we do know for certain, however, is that it was created by one man — named Zeno of Citium— who lived from 334 BC to 264 BC.
Stoicism, of course, did not spring up full-blown. It developed slowly over several centuries from the teachings of Socrates and his disciples — Plato and Aristotle — as well as Sophists who taught in Athens. Stoicism was a fairly sophisticated form of philosophy that was concerned with trying to understand the universe; it also said much about how people could be happy if they understood their place in the grand scheme of things.
Zeno of Citium the founder of stoicism
Zeno is an important figure in history for several reasons. One is because he founded the philosophy of Stoicism, which offered a rival to both Plato and Aristotle’s philosophies at the time. Stoicism also competed with the ideas of the Sophists — who taught that happiness depended on material possessions and wealth. The other major reason why Zeno is important is that he was one of the first people to import many philosophical ideas into Rome — at a time when Greece was still very powerful.
It is even thought that, because of Zeno’s teachings, Roman and Greek ideas began to mix; the term Stoic was applied to people who lived by the philosophy. The ideas of Zeno and of his followers became very influential in Rome.
Zeno was able to share his philosophy in Rome because he became a merchant. All his life, Zeno had a fascination with the Greek philosopher Heraclitus; he also loved Homer the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. But as an adult, Zeno went to live in Cyprus where he married and became a trader in spices. It was while trading that Zeno met Persaeus who was one of Socrates’ disciples; it seems that Persaeus was impressed by Zeno and began to visit him in Cyprus.
He had a great influence on the Greek island, and Zeno’s friends began to refer to themselves as Stoics. But it was probably when Zeno visited Athens for the first time that he became committed to teaching his views. When he returned to Cyprus, he had a small school where people could learn about Stoicism.
Sometime later, Zeno decided to visit Athens again and — seeing how popular his teachings were — decided to make this his permanent home. Stoicism became a religion and Zeno went on to teach his philosophy.
Zeno also spent much of his time trying to defend himself against charges that he had corrupted the thinking of Socrates and founded a new school; he even went so far as to write a long tract called Against My Rivals. This was two or three years before the death of Plato, and while Plato’s influence on Zeno’s thinking cannot be overlooked, Stoicism is quite different from Platonic ideas.
What do stoics believe?
Zeno seems to have been a quiet and gentleman; in fact, it is thought that almost nothing is known about him because he kept his life private and did not like to be the centre of attention. But the ideas he believed in are still very much alive today.
Zeno believed that everyone has a purpose in life. If you can discover what that purpose might be, Zeno said, you can live a happier life. And Zeno didn’t believe that there was only one correct answer to this question — the Stoics were open to any idea at all so long as they tried to live by them.
The main beliefs of stoics can be described as following:
1. The world is governed by a divine reason.
This means that people are neither random nor chaotic; there is an underlying order to the world. This order can be discovered by anyone who wants to understand it — as long as they try hard enough.
2. Virtue is the only true good.
In Stoicism, the idea of ‘virtue’ was defined in a number of ways. But what they all had in common was the idea that virtue was something you had to earn — and it came from within yourself rather than from outside forces or other people.
3. The wise are peaceful and contented.
The wise were those who accepted that these three things were true, and they made up their lives around the idea of living in a truly virtuous way. They also refused to do anything that might lead to conflict with other people; the Stoics said that if you can live in peace with everyone else, you will be much happier — both because you won’t be afraid of conflict and because your relationships with others will improve.
4. The wise are free from anger.
The wise were not to be confused with people who never got angry. Wise people allow themselves to be influenced by their emotions; they understand the difference between right and wrong — and they are prepared to face this truth in action.
5. Practice self-discipline as its own reward.
The Stoics thought that you should do your ‘duty’ — and that you should do it without any hope of reward. The best reward is in the action itself; if you lead your life wisely, everything else will follow from this action.
6. We have complete freedom over what we think, say or do.
But we are not free to choose our own thoughts, words and deeds. If you have a choice over them — if someone makes you do something you don’t want to do — then the job is not done. You must still choose to say or do those things — and you might not have much control over this choice. But, for the most part, your freedom lies in your ability to control yourself rather than outside forces.
How to adopt stoicism into your life today using 5 simple rules
1. Identify your purpose
By using the power of reason, you can identify your purpose in life and start to live according to it. Stoicism teaches that you should do your duty and then let go. Having a focus for your life will help you to start living in a more focused and logical way.
2. Get rid of negative people
You are capable of making your own decisions about which people you keep around you within your life. Do not let negative people drag you down or hold you back. Instead, cut the negative ties and surround yourself with those who love and support you.
3. Focus on the present moment instead of worrying about the past or future.
Being in the present is the first step to being happy. Focus on the world around you and live from moment to moment, rather than trying to be a victim of how things might have been or what you want them to be in the future.
4. Be open to new possibilities in life.
Thoughts don’t just come out of nowhere; they happen because there is something within you that wants to think these things and make these decisions. Don’t let your thoughts be controlled by someone else, and don’t get stuck in the past or future. Be open to new possibilities and let life take you where it wants you to go.
5. Practice Self-Discipline
Practice self-discipline and do things in a positive way that will lead to your purpose in life. You should have goals that are challenging enough but achievable so that you can achieve them. Let go of the past, and focus on the present moment. Be open to new possibilities, and always be learning from things around you. In this way, you can start living a better happier life.
Conclusion – The founder of stoicism
The principles of stoicism can make you more focused in your actions and decisions. They will help you to see the truth about the world around you, and help you to accept that this is the way it is — there is no room for complaining.
By using these principles, you will be able to take control of your life instead of being controlled by other people or circumstances. You may also be able to step out of your comfort zone, begin training without fear, and finally achieve your goals in life.
Following the steps outlined in the above article will help you to start living a happier, more fulfilling and successful life. You will find that everything around you starts to fall into place naturally, and your inner happiness starts to blossom.
Good luck on your journey, and thanks for reading.