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Cicero and Stoicism

Satisfactory Essays
Cicero, was truly a man of the state. His writings also show us he was equally a man of

philosophical temperament and affluence. Yet at times these two forces within Cicero clash and contradict with the early stoic teachings. Cicero gradually adopted the stoic lifestyle but not altogether entirely, and this is somewhat due to the fact of what it was like to be a roman of the time. The morals of everyday Rome conflicted with some of the stoic ideals that were set by early stoicism. Thus, Cicero changed the face of stoicism by romanizing it; redefining stoicism into the middle phase.

Of Cicero it can be said he possessed a bias towards roman life and doctrine. For Cicero

every answer lay within Rome itself, from the ideal governing body to the place of

divination. Cicero does not offer any alternate answers to roman society, which robs him

of being truly a unique and bold political philosopher. This is not to say however some

of his doctrines are untrue, just that he is somewhat blinded by his roman beliefs and

assumptions.

The assumptions of Cicero can be noticed when one inspects his view of the ideal

governing body, which he expresses through Scipio (in the commonwealth). Although Cicero

presents very convincing arguments for a Composite government, clearly his view is

possibly only due towards his belief in the roman structure of government.1

Cicero was limited to roman borders of experience, and this point was best illustrated

by his disagreement with Aristotle's writings on the decay of states. Cicero was

unable to think on the level of Aristotle's logic. He quite simply used roman history

as a mapping of the paths of the decay of states.

In contrast, Aristotle understood the underlying forces and influences that transpired when a state degraded. Cicero quite frankly could not understand the forces which Aristotle so eloquently denoted. For Cicero, history offered the only possible paths of outcomes; the forces and behaviors played little part on the resulting state.2

A further point of philosophical belief which Cicero contradicted the stoic lifestyle,

is religion. Roman tradition conflicted greatly with stoic doctrine, and the two

philosophies could never truly harmonize with one another. This point brought the

distinction between the Greek learned world of intellect, and the traditional religious

roman patronage. This observation literally draws a line between the two worlds, that

of knowledge and reason opposing that of tradition and sentiment.
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