The Stoic philosophy can trace its origins back to a man named Zeno of Citium. It began in Athens, in modern day Greece. Its name is derived from the word stoa, a place where they were said to meet.

Key Figures

Key figures associated with the Stoic philosophy include Zeno of Citium (founder), Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, a powerful Roman emperor. The writings of many of these men (besides Zeno) have been preserved to this day. One of the most popular works of the Stoic philosophers is The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.


The following are a list of beliefs shared by most Stoic philosophers.

Knowledge: the Stoic philosophy teaches that man can understand the manner in which the universe and the individual function. Man cannot live righteously unless he possesses knowledge. If he does not, he is in the dark as to the correct way to live.

Ethics: man must strive to live in accord with his nature and with the nature of the universe.

Goals: their goal was to live virtuously, simply for the sake of being virtuous.

Purpose of Stoicism: the purpose of the Stoic philosophy is to enable man to live righteously.

Free will and determinism: many of those who believe in the Stoic philosophy think that the results of life are predetermined and it is best to embrace that and live in harmony with it.

Emotions: emotions can distract us from living in harmony with others and the world around us. According to the Stoic philosophy, it is best to try to quiet these emotions and to some degree detach onself from them.

Human relations: mankind is connected in the LOGOS or reason of the universe. No race, class, gender, economic class, tribe or nationality is superior to another in this sense. This is one of the reasons that many of the ancient Stoics rejected slavery. The Stoic philosophy also teaches man to reject dependence on others to the extent possible. They believe that each man is a complete whole.

Recurrence: some Stoic philosophers have believed that everything that has occurred will occur again and again. They believed that was beautiful and that it was merely the way the world naturally functions.