Who is Panaitios?

Who is Panaitios?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

B.C. He was a Greek philosopher who lived between 180 and 109 BC.

Born in the city of Lindos in Rhodes, Panaitios is the founder of the middle period Stoic philosophy. He became a student of Diogenes of Seleukeia and Antipatros of Tarsus in Athens.

He studied the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. He stayed in Rome for many years and together with Scipio BC. In 140 he went on a trip to the East. After Antipatros he became head of the school and spent the last twenty years of his life in Athens. While adhering to the basic principles of Stoic teaching, it softened the hard aspects of ancient Stoicism and gave it a humanistic content.

Panaitios, the founder of the Middle Stoa, lived in Rome for a long time and joined the close circle of Scipio, the great commander of the time. Scipio, the conqueror of Carthage, is at the forefront of trying to harmonize the Roman worldview with the Greek worldview. Under the influence of Scipio, Panaitios had a great admiration for Rome.

Panaitios’ thoughts on philosophy are essentially based on the Stoic view, but this view is often confused and “combined” with the views of Plato and Aristotle. Apart from this unification attempt, Panaitios opposes the Old Stoa on three important points. First of all, we know that the Old Stoa favored a strict moral discipline. According to the old Stoa, people are either superior or stupid. There is no other difference between people. The ancient Stoics first wanted to explain the “ideal of superiority”. Superiority is to free oneself from one’s passions and make reason superior to one’s life. Panaitios first opposes this understanding of the Old Stoa and asks, “Is there any point in accepting an ideal that is ‘the same’ for all people?” he asks. To prove that this is not possible, he compares two types in Homer’s heroes. On the one hand, the righteous Archilleus, on the other hand, the clever Odysseus. Would it be right to show a “same” life ideal to these two types, one of which is very different from the other in terms of characters? It would not be true, because, according to Panaitios, the ideal of each person is found in his “own personality”. Archilleus as Archilleus; Odysseus, too, must remain Odysseus. In other words, every person should develop the secret structure within himself. For this reason, there is no point in showing a single ideal that is valid for all people. Because what is right and appropriate for one person may be wrong and contradictory for another.

Another criticism of Panaitios to the Old Stoa: The Old Stoa accepted one man on the one hand and the all-encompassing universe on the other. For this reason, there was no need for national and state separations among people. However, according to Panaitios, individual nations and states are just and valid institutions. In addition, each of them has certain duties within the limits of history. Just as the individual realizes the ideal he/she carries in his/her personality, so every nation fulfills its unique task within the boundaries of history.

Panaitios combines this with his admiration for Rome. According to him: The historical idea of ​​Rome is to dominate the whole world. Although his homeland, Greece, lost its independence because of Rome, this thought of Panaitios is remarkable. It is at this point that Panaitios differs from the Old Stoics. When the ancient Stoics spoke of the world state, they believed it to be an ideal that would be realized in the very distant future. However, Middle Stoa argues that this ideal was realized with the Roman state.

None of the five treatises given to Panaitius, who is thought to have written less than other prominent Stoics, has survived. His work, Peri tou Kathekontos (On Homework), in which he deals with ethical issues, is the inspiration for Cicero’s De Officiis (On Homework). Other works include Peri Apatheias (On Apathy) and Peri Ekpyroseos tou Kosmou (On the End of the World by Fire).

The most important student of Panaitios is Poseidonios of Apameia.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook