Just outside the Capitoline hill in Rome, visitors and tourists from different corners of the world gather to take a picture of a man riding a horse probably to show their friends and relatives the fabulous medieval works of the Roman Empire and some not knowing how influential Marco Aurelio-as pronounced in Italian -has been to persons practicing Stoicism.
Stoicism is a philosophy in which a person believes that he/she has only total control over his mind. He considers that some events are out of his control and others are in his control (Those that are in his control are given freely by nature). Furthermore, a stoic believes that everything that happens to him was already been decided by nature and no harm will be experienced and for that, he is prepared for it. A stoic knows how short his life is and is never afraid of death, he actually looks forward to it as he believes that it is the transition from this life to the unknown world.
Stoic people have emotions only because they have learned how to control them. They know that emotions and perceptions are what make our lives good or bad based on how we look at them. The mind makes a good or bad perception and from it, we are filled with emotions. For example, your might see your neighbor grieving from the loss of his job, exiling of his child, the loss of his love, etc. At that moment, our minds deceive us to perceive the grieving as bad and we sympathize with him. Having sex is another example. Most people would love to feel the thrill and pleasure of it. A stoic sees sex as an act that leads to the exchange and secretion of fluids.
A stoic is never bothered with sickness as he knows that as he grows old, he will be weak, his teeth will be weak, and his body will be susceptible to diseases. He believes that he has no control over his body and thus diseases, he only has control over his mind. A stoic is never afraid to die. He believes that he didn’t determine his birth date and as such he can not determine his death date. What if it is tomorrow? He asks. He accepts it as he believes that he has lived his life and achieved what nature wanted him to do. He knows that nothing changes even if he stayed for another two or a hundred years. He has seen everything, everything that was seen by Socrates, Plato, and Seneca. The same will be seen by the coming generation and the cycle will repeat itself.
Stoicism was famous in the ancient Greek and Roman Empires. It traces its foundation from Zeno, amplified by Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius.
If you are interested in the philosophy of stoicism, I would suggest below books:
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius – The best. Very dense, and might be difficult to understand the first time.
- The Enchiridion by Epictetus- dense but good
- The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday- is easy to understand.
- Letters from a stoic by Seneca – dense but good.
- Stoicism and the Art of Happiness by Donald Robertson- easy to understand.
I will be posting maxims (short versions ) of my thoughts derived from the three books (Marcus, Epictetus, and Seneca) in the blog section of this website.
You can read here:
2. Maxims 2