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Zeno of Citium
(336 - 264 BC) Cyprus

Zeno of Citium

Philosopher, founder of Stoicism


Zeno The Stoic, sometimes called "the Phoenecian", was a Hellenistic philosopher from Citium. He was the son of a merchant and, himself, a merchant.

He went to Athens as a young man and lived there for the rest of his life - without ever becoming a citizen of Athens. He studied in the various philosophical schools of Athens and under different masters (including the Academy that Plato had founded earlier). He was a student of Crates of Thebes, and for a time he was most attracted to the Cynicism of his teacher Crates, until the age of 42, when Zeno started his own school.

Zeno of CitiumNamed for his teaching platform, the Painted Porch in the Athenian market, his teachings were the beginning of Stoicism ("stoa" is Greek for "porch"). None of Zeno's works have survived, but he is believed to have taught that tranquility can best be reached via indifference to pleasure and pain.

We know that his interest was primarily ethical - in the manner of Socrates, whom he supposedly honored greatly in his teaching. He, like Socrates, was quite confident of the powers of disciplined human reason to secure both deep insight into the cosmos and happiness in a person's own life, and happiness came through complete personal self-mastery, in particular of the mind over the body.

There is a crater on the Moon named in his honor.


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