The Tale Of Two Philosophies: Epicureanism And Stoicism

2139 words - 9 pages

In Hellenistic Greece, Epicureanism and Stoicism were two influential philosophies encouraging a life of happiness; these philosophies were similar in their belief of the afterlife, but differed in their beliefs of the gods and the approach to attain happiness in life.

Through research and analysis, it is shown that Epicureanism and Stoicism both portrayed the general idea of a content life, but had more differences than similarities in their various beliefs.

The Hellenistic period brought a new, refreshing start to Greece. Ancient Greece and its introverted culture transformed into Hellenistic Greece, which infused its culture into countries and empires outside of Greece’s boundaries. With this spreading influence, new forms of art, inventions, and religion emerged in the midst of the cultural growth. An innovated aspect within Hellenistic Greece was philosophy and its new schools. At the time, two of the most popular philosophies, Epicureanism and Stoicism, rivaled each other.
Epicureanism, founded by Epicurus, and Stoicism, founded by Zeno of Citium, gave the Greeks an attempt to have meaning in their lives. Although the two philosophies competed with each other, they had similarities along with their differences. As Hicks briefly describes, “Both schools sought by devious paths one and the same goal” (v). Epicureanism and Stoicism conceived the universe in different ways, which ultimately led to more differences than similarities between the two philosophies. However, the two schools coincided in their views of life’s purpose – achieving happiness throughout life.
Epicureanism and Stoicism had similarities and differences in how they perceived the world, which culminated in their ultimate goal of happiness. Of their many differences, one was the belief concerning the gods. Both philosophies believed in the existence of gods, yet their gods’ roles in relation to the universe were exact opposites. However, though there were many differences, one similarity of the two schools was their view of death and the afterlife for all mortals. Then again, the schools differed in another matter. This difference stemmed from their main similarity and became the dividing line between the two schools, causing their rivalry. This major difference was the approach to attain their goal of happiness in life.

Although the gods held an important status in Greek society, their roles in the universe were contrasting within Epicureanism and Stoicism. “In any event, Epicurus’ gods [were] ‘entirely inactive and free from all ties of occupation,’ in sharp contrast to the Stoic god, who seem[ed] to be ‘grievously overworked’” (Panichas 77). The gods of Epicureanism and Stoicism tremendously differed in their roles relative to the universe and the lives of humans, which caused for different attitudes toward the gods between both the two philosophies.
For Epicureanism, Epicurus recreated...

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