Volume 40, Issue Supplement, 2015
Selected Papers from the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy
An Unexpected God of the Stoic Cosmopolis
In this paper, I discuss the Stoic views on eros in general and “Eros as a god of the Stoic cosmopolis” in particular. In the first part I present the works on Eros written by the Early Stoics; I discuss the fragmentary evidence about their views focusing on Zeno, the founder of the Stoic School. I point out how puzzling most Stoic views appeared to the opposing schools whose members did not hesitate to ascribe many scandalous and shameful views to them, though the Stoic view on eros is not very different from the pedagogical one defended by Socrates as presented in the works of Plato, Xenophon, Aeschines of Sphettus and others. In the second part I focus on a single piece of information attested by Athenaeus, according to which Zeno in his Republic, a work written as an answer to Plato’s Republic, took “Eros who brings about friendship, freedom, and concord, to be the god of the city” (SVF I 263). This statement has been interpreted in various ways by eminent scholars, some of whose views I present in brief. In the third and last part, based on the testimony that the Stoics wanted to be called “Socratics,” I argue that Zeno proved himself a genuine Socratic, taking into account not only the Platonic Socrates’s view of eros, but also that of Xenophon, to whom Zeno’s philosophical education can be traced back. I also tend to believe that Zeno’s Republic is not a case of a conventional city, but that of the famous Stoic cosmopolis governed by the law of nature in a spirit of friendship, concord and freedom.