What is Roman Philosophy and What Does It Mean?

What is Roman Philosophy and What Does It Mean?

July 2, 2021 Off By Felso

The intellectual life of the ancient Romans. Rome, which was first a colony of alba and later gained freedom and established the greatest empire of the first age by depriving the whole world of freedom, was a country where people with practical (practical) purposes lived. That’s why Rome doesn’t have a thought of its own. “Rome worshiped the gods of the whole world,” says a theologian. As Rome worshiped the gods of the whole world, it tried to make it useful by choosing the thoughts of the whole world that were suitable for its own interests.

That is why eclecticism is the only intellectual method that is a genuine Roman invention. By choosing and combining the ideas that best suit their personal tastes and interests, the Romans may be considered the founders of pragmatism centuries before the Americans. In terms of intellectual life, the most typical Roman is Cicero, the greatest Roman is Lucretius. Philosophy entered Rome in 155 when the Stoic Diogenes, Peripatosian Kritolaos and Academician Carneades came to Rome as Athenian ambassadors and gave conferences there. The Romans took an interest in him to take advantage of him, especially in politics and eloquence. Traces of acquaintance with the philosophy of Pythagoras can be found in Ennius. Then the stoic Panaitios comes to Rome and his Roman friends Scipio, Lucullus, Laelius etc. they are interested in philosophy under its influence. Seeing the Roman nobility dealing with philosophy draws the attention of Roman youth to this field. Finally, while the stoic Poseidonios was teaching in Rhodes, he encountered Cicero and Pompeius in his audience.

All Greek teachings are slowly flowing into Rome. But among them, only two doctrines can hold: Stoicism and Epicureanism. Stoicism owes its success to Civero, a real Roman, and Epicureanism owes its success to Lucretius, a real scientist. Cicero finds a response to the longing for spiritual attachment in Stoicism; Lucretius also longed for scientific knowledge in Epicureanism. Famous thinkers of Roman stoicism are Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), Annaeus Seneca (3-65), the slave Epictetus (50-130), and the emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180).


Cicero’s importance lies in the fact that he founded the Roman philosophical language rather than his stoicism. Like the ancient Stoics, he says, the truest law is righteousness. right us; It is an unchangeable and indestructible power that is compatible with nature, the same in all beings. The original Roman representatives of Stoicism, Seneco (Seneca N.), Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius developed stoicism in a ritual and religious direction. Despite being a Stoic, Cicero, in total opposition to the Stoic doctrine, argued that some people were born with a slavish nature and handicraftsmen were from the lowest stratum, following Aristotle, he tried to condemn the greed for profit (crematistic), but he was careful to exclude merchants and bankers from this condemnation. (See Roger Labrousse, Introduction a la philosophie Politique, Paris 1959, p.89). According to Cicero, “the law is the mind in nature. It commands what we should do and forbids what we should not do. The criterion of nature separates the good law from the bad law. The morally beautiful and the ugly are also distinguished by nature. The understanding is in nature and spreads from there to the whole universe.” ” (Des Lois, French translation, 1). Hense Leonard rightly states: “Eclecticism is the direction that best suits personal taste from the various systems, and it is purely Roman property. Cicero, the chief representative of this direction, clings to the fruitful doubt of the middle Academia in his doctrine of knowledge, vacillating between the Stoic and the Peripatos ethics in morality. He fights against Epicurus without recognizing the essence of philosophy” (Hense-Leonard, Hellenic-Latin Ancient Knowledge, translation by Suat Yakup Baydur, Istanbul 1948, vol. 1, p.103).

Annaeus Seneca (A.D. 3-65), despite his spiritualist departures such as believing in the immortality of the soul, brought new values ​​to Stoicism, especially in terms of natural science. The following letters express his Stoic thoughts: Lucilius, do you think, is it better to have moderate passions or no passions at all? Our Stoics don’t want any passions. Aristotelians, on the other hand, tolerate some, provided that it is moderate. I, for my part, do not understand how the body can benefit from a disease. Do not be afraid, I will not take anything away from you that you do not want to be taken away from you. I will only take what is bad and corrupt from your hand. I take lust and debauchery from you, but leave to you everything that can make your life sweet. Instead of they rule you, you rule them. I do not know that all passions come from natural sources. These are necessary in order to endure life. However, lust and debauchery are necessary only for themselves, not for enduring life. So let’s close our doors to them. Because it is easy to get them in, but difficult to get them out, Lucilius… (Letters to Lucilius C16). What does slave mean, Lucilius? Because of your lust and gluttony, aren’t you the real slave? We are all from the same root