Musonius Rufus, Cleanthes, and the Stoic community at Rome

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Surprisingly little attention has been devoted to Musonius Rufus, a noted teacher and philosopher in first–century CE Rome, despite ample evidence for his impact in the period. This paper attempts to situate Musonius in relation to his philosophical predecessors in order to clarify both the contemporary status of the Stoic tradition and the value of engaging with the central figures of that school’s history. I make the case for seeing Cleanthes as a particularly prominent predecessor for Musonius and reaffirm the importance of framing his philosophical commitments in the context of the Stoic tradition. On this latter point, I attempt to connect Musonius’ perspective on askesis and moral development with that of Posidonius (and Seneca). In doing so, I push back against the sometimes overly schematic intellectualism attributed to Stoic ethics generally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-104
Issue number1
Early online date4 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2020


  • Musosnius Rufus
  • Stoicism
  • ancient philosophy
  • Roman Stoicism
  • Posidonius
  • Cleanthes
  • Zeno


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