Ancient Roman philosophy  

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When atoms move straight down through the void by their own weight, they deflect a bit in space at a quite uncertain time and in uncertain places, just enough that you could say that their motion has changed. But if they were not in the habit of swerving, they would all fall straight down through the depths of the void, like drops of rain, and no collision would occur, nor would any blow be produced among the atoms. In that case, nature would never have produced anything. --De rerum natura describing clinamen, tr. from Brad Inwood, L. P. Gerson, (1994)

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Two major philosophical schools of thought that derived from Greek religion and philosophy that became prominent in Rome in the 1st and 2nd century AD was Cynicism and Stoicism. Cynicism taught that civilization was corrupt and people needed to break away from it and its trappings and Stoicism taught that one must give up all earthly goods by remaining detached from civilization and help others. Because of their negative views on civilization and of their way of life, in where many of them just wore a dirty cloak, carried a staff, and a coin purse, and slept outdoors, they were the targets of the Roman aristocracy and of the emperor and many were persecuted by the Roman government for being "subversive". The philosopher Lucian attacked the Cynics in his book "The Philosophies for Sale" in which he mocked the Cynics by stating "First...stripping you of your luxury...I will put a cloak on you...Next I will compel you to undergo pains and hardships, sleeping on the ground, drinking nothing but water...Leading this life you will say that your are happier than the Great King...Frequent the most crowded market place...and in [it] desire to be solitary and uncommunicative..."

Much of the Roman practices of their religion and philosophy began to dwindle after 312, when the Roman Emperor Galerius legalized Christianity, hitherto brutally suppressed. Soon after his death, Emperor Constantine switched allegiance from Apollo to Christus as his patron, and won Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 313. Under Constantine's direction, the Council of Nicaea (325) was held to decide the elements of orthodox Christianity, although Constantine himself was only baptized shortly before his death. Through all this, a few pagans clung to the old Roman religion – even enjoying something of a brief Renaissance under Julian the Apostate (361–63) – and continued to be tolerated until the reign of Theodosius I, who finally outlawed paganism in 390.

Christianity had originally arisen in the Roman province of Judea, growing out of Judaism, and picking up influences from Greek philosophy as it spread throughout the Roman Empire.

Roman philosophy was heavily influenced by that of Greece. There were several formidable Roman philosophers, such as Cicero (106–43 BC), Lucretius (94–55 BC), Seneca (4 BC – 65 AD), Musonius Rufus (30 AD – 100 AD), Plutarch (45–120 AD), Epictetus (55–135 AD), Marcus Aurelius (121–180 AD), Clement of Alexandria (150–215 AD), Alcinous (2nd century AD), Sextus Empiricus (3rd century AD), Alexander of Aphrodisias (3rd century AD), Ammonius Saccas (3rd century AD), Plotinus (205–270 AD), Porphyry (232–304 AD), Iamblichus (242–327 AD), Themistius (317–388 AD), Augustine of Hippo (354–430 AD), Proclus (411–485 AD), Philoponus of Alexandria (490–570 AD), Damascius (462–540 AD), Boethius (472–524 AD), and Simplicius of Cilicia (490–560 AD).


Philosophers during Roman times

Early Roman philosophy and christianity

See also: Judaism, Torah, Jewish philosophy, Religion in ancient Rome, Roman mythology, Jesus, Bible, Christian philosophy

Philosophers during Roman times

See also

Roman literature, Culture of ancient Rome, Roman religion, Outline of classical studies, Ancient philosophy

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