Manilius’ conflicted Stoicism

Thomas Habinek

in Forgotten Stars

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586462
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191724961 | DOI:
Manilius’ conflicted Stoicism

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Stoicism supplies much of the intellectual infrastructure for Manilius’ poem. The continuity physics of the Stoics, together with related teachings on theology, biology, and perception, informs Manilius’ language to an even greater extent than has been previously recognized. In two respects, however, Manilius deviates from the Stoicism of his predecessors and contemporaries: his acceptance of the causal force of geometric figures and his denial of the doctrine of ekpyrosis, or universal return to elemental fire. The former variation can be understood as typical of Stoicism’s adaptability over time to changing scientific developments; but the latter exposes the ideological instability of Manilius’ project. Ekpyrosis, with its promise of the persistence of substantive identity in the face of radical transformation, challenges the logic of contemporary political arrangements, and thus is rejected in the final, discordant passage of the poem.

Keywords: ancient philosophy; ancient science; ekpyrosis; Manilius; Stoicism; Stoic physics

Chapter.  5268 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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