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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Plato and the Roman Stoics

The stoics in Ancient Rome looked at Plato as a divine philosopher. In De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods), Cicero introduces a character called Quintus Lucilius Balbus who is comparable to the best Greek philosopher and is a staunch stoic. Balbus accepts the authority of “Plato, that divine philosopher…” But Cicero was not looking at the Plato of the Republic and the Phaedo—for him, Plato was a philosopher of ethics and cosmology. The Timaeus, an early dialogue in which Plato presents an account of the formation of the universe and explanation of its order and beauty, was a great inspiration for the stoic thinkers of Ancient Rome. The Epicurean character in De Natura Deorum, Gaius Velleius, tauntingly points out to the Stoics that Plato is their master.

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