The Old Stoics


in Origen and the Life of the Stars

Published in print January 1994 | ISBN: 9780198263616
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191682612 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

The Old Stoics

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This chapter discusses the Stoic school, founded by Zeno in 301, which was succeeded in turn by Cleanthes and Chrysippus. The Stoics differed from Plato and Aristotle in denying that spiritual activity could account for the maintenance of the world. The two principles which are responsible for all things are causal and material, but even so, the causal principle acts corporeally, since whatever acts or is acted upon must be a body. Thus God is equated with corporeal substance, but this material was not passive like Peropatetic or neo-Platonic matter. Since the Stoic God was not located only in heaven but was immanent in the world, the stars were not supreme deities, and they play only a small role in the piety of some of the greatest Stoic philosophers, such as Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Yet, the Stoics are important since they also emphasize the religious importance of the heavens.

Keywords: Old Stoics; Cleanthes; Chrysippus; Stoic God; causal principle

Chapter.  4853 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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