Because Zeno of Citium taught in a school that had a stoa poikile, or a painted porch, his philosophy came to be known as Stoicism. Zeno believed that the world was ruled by a divine plan and that everything in nature, including humans, was there for a reason. The Stoics believed that to live in accordance with nature was the ultimate virtue. The most important derivative of this “divine plan” idea was the belief that whatever happens, happens for a reason; there are no accidents; and everything must simply be accepted as part of the plan. The good life involved accepting one’s fate with indifference, even if suffering was involved. Indeed, courage in the face of suffering or danger was considered most admi- rable. You must die, but you need not die groaning; you must be imprisoned, but you need not whine; you must suffer exile, but you can do so with cour- age and at peace. Your body can be chained, but not your will. In short, a Stoic is a person who may be sick, in pain, in peril, dying, in exile, or disgraced but is still content and composed: “Every man is an actor in a play, in which God has assigned the parts; it is our duty to perform our part worthily, what- ever it may be”.


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In the Roman Empire, Stoicism won out over Epicureanism, because Stoicism was compatible with the Roman emphasis on law and order. The widespread appeal of Stoicism can be seen in the fact that it was embraced by Seneca , a philosopher; Epictetus, a slave; and Marcus Aurelius , an emperor. As long as the Roman government provides the greatest amount of pleasure over the longest period of time. For Epicurus, the good life was free, simple, rational, and moderate.

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