Thousands of years ago, in Athens, a bunch of people followed this haggard, dark-skinned philosopher called Zeno of Citium. He delivered lectures from the porch of a famous Athenian site, Stoa Poikile (Painted Porch).
Zeno, although a rich guy, chose to live the life of an ascetic. His journey into the world of philosophy is an interesting story in itself. After surviving a shipwreck, he went to a bookshop in Athens. He loved the portrayal of Socrates in Xenophon’s book called Memorabilia.
Zeno’s search for a teacher like Socrates led him to a famous Cynic of his time, Crates of Thebes. Zeno became of pupil of Crates and then went on to learn under other famous philosophers of his time. Eventually, based on his years of study, he started a school of philosophy of his own.
Initially called Zenonians, his followers were later known as Stoics (derived from Stoa). This philosophy is today known as Stoicism.
Most of his lectures and teachings have been lost to the sands of time, but some of his students managed to make notes and few of them survived.
Zeno divided his philosophy into three parts:
Stoicism evolved and refined over the next few centuries. What we study as Stoicism today, though still based on Zeno’s teachings, has changed quite a bit. I hope to explore more on this topic in my eventual posts.
A lot has changed in the world since Zeno started teaching Stoicism, but surprisingly the teachings still hold.
Stoicism boasts of some famous students and followers over its long history (more on this later).
Much has been written and discussed about Stoicism. A simple online search will lead you to thousands of articles, books, social media posts etc. on this topic.
I stumbled upon Stoicism when I was looking for a framework for my life. Stoicism immediately resonated with me. I still am a novice and have a lot of learning to do, but I believe that Stoic thinking is an indispensable tool for me.
I suggest you take a look at Stoicism and decide if it can be a practical approach to living for you.