Translation of the "Stoic Bible" According to Von Arnim

Traces of the Early Stoics: Zeno

A Work in Progress. Not for citation in works of rigorous scholarship.
Date of last modification: June 15, 2006

Translations compiled and partly created by Dr. Jan Garrett
Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta, compiled by Hans Von Arnim and first published in 1903-1905, is a collection in Greek and Latin of the Greek and Latin evidence regarding the views of the early Stoic philosophers, from the founder Zeno through Boethus Sidonus. The material below is a translation of some material from volume I, the section pertaining to Zeno of Citium, the founder of the Stoic school. "Loeb" refers to the translation in the Loeb Classical Library series published by Harvard University Press. Occasionally I have made minor modifications in the excerpts from Loeb translations. I have translated several of the other passages myself, and these will need to be polished or replaced by better translations as soon as I can locate them or revisit the translations I have already done.

I provide this material rather hastily in the expectation that it may be useful to the curious student. Scholars of course should consult official hard-copy sources, such as the Loeb Classical Library series, or if they know Greek and Latin, Von Arnim's SVF itself.

Except when I rely on the Loeb translation (LCL), material from Diogenes Laertius is taken from the trans. by C.D. Yonge at Ancient History Sourcebook.

From SVF volume I, part I

1. On the Life of Zeno, habits, writings, testimonies

1-6. DL 7.1 (4.5 pages)

7-8. DL 7.10

And I have thought it worth while also to set down the decree of the Athenians concerning him; and it is couched in the following language.

"In the archonship of Arrhenides, in the fifth presidency of the tribe Acamantis, on the twenty-first day of the month Maimacterion, on the twenty-third day of the aforesaid presidency, in a duly convened assembly, Hippo, the son of Cratistoteles, of the borough of Xypetion, being one of the presidents, and the rest of the presidents, his colleagues, put the following decree to the vote. And the decree was proposed by Thrason, of Anacaea, the son of Thrason.

"Since Zeno the son of Innaseas, the Cittitaean, has passed many years in the city, in the study of philosophy, being in all other respects a good man, and also exhorting all the young men who have sought his company to the practice of virtue, and encouraging them in the practice of temperance making his own life a model to all men of the greatest excellence, since it has in every respect corresponded to the doctrines which he has taught; it has been determined by the people (and may the determination be fortunate), to praise Zeno, the son of Innaseas, the Cittiaean, and to present him with a golden crown in accordance with the law, on account of his virtue and temperance, and to build him a tomb in the Ceramicus, at the public expense. And the people has appointed by its vote five men from among the citizens of Athens, who shall see to the making of the crown and the building of the tomb. And the scribe of the borough shall enrol the decree and engrave it on two pillars, and he shall be permitted to place one pillar in the Academy, and one in the Lyceum. And he who is appointed to superintend the work shall divide the expense that the pillars amount to, in such a way that every one may understand that the whole people of Athens honours good men both while they are living and after they are dead. And Thrason of Anacaea, Philocles of the Piaeus, Phaedrus of Anaphlystos, Medon of Acharnaes, Mecythus of Sypalyttas, and Dion of Paeania, are hereby appointed to superintend the building of the tomb."

13. Cic. Acad. Post 1.34 -

Finally, Polemo had diligent pupils in Zeno and Archesilas, but Zeno, who was Arcesilas's senior in age and an extremely subtle dialectician and very actue thinker, instituted a reform of the system.
Cic. de fin 4.3 -

14. Quintilian Inst. Or. 12 7, 9

15. Seneca ad Helviam 12, 4 -

It is well-known that Homer had one slave, Plato three, that Zeno, the founder of the strict and virile school of Stoic philosophy, had none.
16. Seneca de Ben. 4 39,1 -
"Why then," you say, "did your master Zeno when he had promised a loan of five hundred denarii to a man, and had himself discovered that he was an altogether unsuitable person, persist in making the loan because he promised it, although his friends advised him not to give it?"
17. Them

18. Sopater phlyacographus apud Athen. IV 160e

19. Aelianus Var. Hist. 9.33

20. DL 7.22

He was a man of a very investigating spirit, and one who inquired very minutely into everything; in reference to which, Timon, in his Silli, speaks thus:-
[I saw an aged woman of Phoenicia,
Hungry and covetous, in a proud obscurity,
Longing for everything. She had a basket
So full of holes that it retained nothing.
Likewise her mind was less than] a simdapsus [W sort of guitar or violin.]"
23. Athenaeus xiii 603d

26. Plu SR 4.1034a

27. ibid. 2.1033b

28 Dio Chrysost. or. xlvii section 2

--- Cf. Seneca de tranq. an. 1, 10 -

29. Arrian, Epict. discourses III 21, 19

32a. Athenaeus ix 370c

33. Galen de differentia pulsuum iii 1, vol viii p. 642 K.

34 Cic. de fin III 5

-- III 15.--

2. Fragments and Opinions of Zeno

45. DL 7.39

--- Cic de fin iv 4

46. DL 7.49 (cf. II n. 41-44)

The Stoics divide reason according to philosophy, into three parts; and say that one part relates to natural philosophy, one to ethics, and one to logic. And Zeno, the Cittiaean, was the first who made this division, in his treatise on Reason . . .

A. Logic (nn. 47-84)

On the basis of cognition


B. Physica (85-177)

VI. Theology

152 - Sext. Emp. adv math ix 133

153 - Hippolytus Philosoph. 21, 1 (DDG p. 571)

154 -Cic de nat deorum I 36.

Here Zeno says god is another name for the aither. Tertullian adv. Marcion I 13. They describe the gods as air or aether, as Zeno does. Minuc. Felix 19, 10. aer is the principle of all things. Cic Acad pr ii 126. For Zeno and the rest of the Stoics the highest god seems to be aether, endowed with mind, by which all things are ruled.
155 - Tertullian ad nat. ii 4

156 - Tertullian de praes. cup. 7

157 - Aetius I 7, 23

--- Aug. adv. academicos iii 17, 38

158 -- Themistius

159 - Tatian ad Graec. 3, p. 143 c

160 - Lactantius de vera sap. c. 9.

--- Tertull. Apol. 21

-- Minuc. Felix 19, 10

161 - Cic de nat deor I 36

. . . he holds the view that a 'reason' which pervades all nature is possessed of divine power. (LCL)
-- cf. Epiphan adv. Haeres. iii 36

162 - Cic de nat. deor. I 36.

Zeno believes that the law of nature is divine, and that its function is to command what is right and forbid the opposite.
Lact. inst. div. I 5. Zeno (regards god) as divine and natural law.

Minucius Felix Fe. Octav. 19, 10.

Zeno [holds that] natural or divine law is the cause of all things.
DL 7.88
. . . the common law of mankind is in the habit of forbidding, and that common law is identical with that right reason which pervades everything, being the same with Jupiter, who is the regulator and chief manager of all existing things. [This may not be testified for Zeno but only for the Stoics in general.-JG]
-- Schol. Lucan. II 9

163 - DL 7. 148 -

The substance of God is asserted by Zeno to be the universal world, and the heaven.
164 - Lact de ira dei ch. 11

165 - Cic de nat deor 1.36 (LCL) -

He likewise attributes the same [divine] powers to the stars, or . . . to the years, months and the seasons.
166 - ibid 2.63 -
Another theory also, and that a scientific one, has been the source of a number of deities, who clad in human form have furnished the poets with legends and have filled man's life with superstitions of all sorts. This subject was handled by Zeno and was later explained more fully by Cleanthes and Chrysippus.
167 - ibid 1.36 -
Again, in his interpretation of Hesiod's Theogony, he does away with the customary and received ideas of the gods altogether, for he does not reckon either Jupiter, Juno or Vesta as gods, or any being that bears a personal name, but teaches that these names have been assigned allegorically to dumb and lifeless things. [cocksure Epicurean speaker Velleius.]
168 - Philodemus peri eusebias cp. 8

169-Minucius Felix

170 - Philodemus peri euseb col 8

171 - Cic de nat deor 2.57

Now Zeno gives this definition of nature: "nature (he says) os a craftsmanlike fire, proceeding methodically to the work of generation." For he holds that the special function of an art or craft is to create or generate, and that what in the processes of our arts is done by the hand is done with far more skilful craftsmanship by nature, that is, as I said, by that "craftsmanlike" fire which is the teacher of the other arts.
--- DL 7.156 -
Another of their doctrines is that nature is an artificial fire tending by a regular road to production, which is a fiery kind of breath proceeding according to art.
172 - Cic de nat deor 2.58 (LCL).
And on this theory, while each department of nature is craftsmanlike, in the sense of having a method or path marked out for it to follow, the nature of the world itself, which encloses and contains all things in its embrace, is styled by Zeno no merely 'craftsmanlike' but actually 'a craftsman,' whose foresight plans out the work to serve its use and purpose in every detail. And as the other natural substances are generated, reared and sustained each by its own seeds, so the world-nature experiences all those motions of the will, those impulses of conation and desire, that the Greeks call hormae, and follows these up with the appropriate actions in the same way as we do ourselves, who experience emotions and sensations. Such being the nature of the world-mind, it can therefore correctly be designated as prudence or providence (for in Greek it is term pronoia) and this providence is chiefly directed and concentrated upon three objects, namely, to secure for the world, first, the structure best fitted for survival; next, absolute completeness; but chiefly, consummate beauty and embellishment of every kind.
173 - Cic de divinatione I 6

174 - DL 7.149

They also say that divination has a universal existence, since Providence has; and they define it as an act on account of certain results, as Zeno
175- DL 7.149
But Chrysippus, in his treatise on Fate, and Posidonius, in the second book of his work on Fate, and Zeno, and Boethus, in the eleventh book of his treatise on Fate, say, that all things are produced by fate. And fate, (eimarmenę), is a connected (eiromenę) cause of existing things, or the reason according to which the svorld is regulated.
176 - Aetius I 27, 5

177 - Epiphanius adv. haeres. iii 2, 9

C. Ethica

178 DL 7.84

I. On the end of goods

II. On goods and evils

III. On indifferents

IV. On the first conciliation (oikeiosis)

V. On virtue

VI. On the pathe

VII. On the sage and the fool

VIII. On intermediate duties

230 DL 7.107

Again, they say that that is duty, which is preferred, and which contains in itself reasonable arguments why we should prefer it; as for instance, its corresponding to the nature of life itself; and this argument extends to plants and animals, for even their nature is subject to the obligation of certain duties. And duty (to kathękon) had this name given to it by Zeno, in the first instance, its appellation being derived from its coming to, or according to some people, apo tou kata tinas hękein; and its effect is something kindred to the preparations made by nature.
-- cf. ibid. 25
They say too, that he was the first who ever employed the word duty (kathękon), and who wrote a treatise on the subject.
Stobaeus Ecl II 7.8 p. 85, 13 W -
The appropriate [action] is defined as "what is consistent in life, which, when carried out, has a reasonable defense." The inappropriate is defined oppositely. This extends even to the irrational among creatures, for they also act in a particular respect consistently with their nature. But with regard to rational creatures, it is interpreted thus: "what is consistent in life." (Arius Didymus, Pomeroy trans.)
Cic de fin 3.58

231 Cic Acad Post 1.37 -

And just as with these he had made an alteration of terminology rather than of substance (see Zeno on goods and preferreds), so between right action and a sin he placed appropriate action and action violating propriety as things intermediate, classing only actions rightly done as goods, and actions wrongly done, that is, sins, as evils, whereas the observance or neglect of appropriate acts he deemed intermediate.
232 Cic de Fin 4.56

IX. Precepts of the life to be pursued

Various precepts (233-246)

On the love of young people (247-249)


248 DL 7.129 -

Further, they say that the wise man will feel affection for the youths who by their countenance show a natural endowment for virtue. So Zeno [says] in his Republic … (LCL)
On Matters related to Cynicism (250-257)
252 Plutarch quaest. conviv III 6,1

257 DL 7.33 -

Further, he bids men and women wear the same dress and keep no part of the body entirely covered. (LCL)
On rational departure
258 Seneca Epist. 104, 21 -
if you enjoy living with Greeks also, spend your time with Socrates and with Zeno: the former will show you how to die if it be necessary; the latter how to die before it is necessary. (LCL)
References to Zeno's Politeia (259-271)
259 DL 7.32 -
Some there are, among them Cassius the sceptic and his disciples, who accuse Zeno at length. Their first count is that in the beginning of his Republic he pronounced the ordinary (enkuklian: general?) education useless.
260 Plu de Stoic. Rep. cp. 8 p. 1034f.-
Having propounded this argument, he continued to write against Plato's Republic.
261 Plu. vita Lycurg. 31 -
. . . all those who have written well on politics, as Plato, Diogenes, and Zeno, have taken Lycurgus for their model, leaving behind them, however, mere projects and words (for source of trans. see #263 below).
262 Plu. de Alex. virt. I 6 p.329a.
(1) The much-admired Republic of Zeno . . . is aimed at this one main point, that our household arrangements should not be based on cities or parishes, each one marked out by its own legal system, but we should regard all men as our fellow-citizens and local residents, and there should be one way of life and order, like that of a herd grazing together and nurtured by a common law. (2) Zeno wrote this, picturing as it were a dream or image of a philosopher's well-regulated society. (Long and Sedley, p. 429)
Plu. Stoic. Rep. cp. 2, 1 p. 1033b.
Well, it happens that Zeno . . . wrote . . . about the polity, and ruling and being ruled, and judging and pleading cases (cf. LCL 13, pt. 2, p. 415)
John Chrys. Homily on Matt. 4.
Not like Plato, who composed that ridiculous Republic,36 or Zeno, or if there be any one else that hath written a polity, or hath framed laws. (Trans. from "Early Church Fathers, Series I, Vol. X,"
263 Athenaeus XIII 561C.
Pontianus said that Zeno of Citium regarded Eros as god of friendship and freedom, and the provider in addition of concord, but of nothing else. Hence in the Republic Zeno said: 'Eros is a god which contributes to the city's security.' (Long and Sedley, p. 430)
Plu. vita. Lyc. 31
However, it was not the design of Lycurgus that his city should govern a great many others; he thought rather that the happiness of a state, as of a private man, consisted chiefly in the exercise of virtue, and in the concord of the inhabitants; his aim, therefore, in all his arrangements, was to make and keep them free-minded, self-dependent, and temperate. And therefore all those who have written well on politics, as Plato, Diogenes, and Zeno, have taken Lycurgus for their model… (Trans. from the "Dryden" Plutarch online at
264 Clemens Alex. Strom V 12, 76 p. 691 P Plu de Stoic. Rep. 6,1, p. 1034b -
Moreover, it is a doctrine of Zeno's not to build temples of the gods, because a temple not worth much is also not sacred and no work of builders or mechanics is worth much. (LCL)
Theodoretus Aff. Cur. III 74 p. 89.7 Ra.

Epiphanius adv. haeris. III 36 -

Zeno of Citium says that it is not appropriate to build temples for the gods.
265 Origen contra Celsum I 5 vol. I p. 59, 3 Ko (p. 324 Del.)
We also can add to these Zeno of Citium, who in his Polity, says: "And there will be no need to build temples, for nothing ought to be regarded as sacred, or of much value, or holy, which is the work of builders and of mean men." (Roberts-Donaldson English trans. from "Early Christian Writings," The text by Origen continues: "It is evident, then, with respect to this opinion (as well as others), that there has been en-graven upon the hearts of men by the finger of God a sense of the duty that is required.")
266 Stobaeus Floril. 43, 88 Mein.

267 Cassius scepticus acc to DL 7.33-

and at [line] 200 [he] prohibits the building of temples, lawcourts, and gymnasia in cities (LCL)
268 DL 7.33 -
as concerning currency he writes thus, "currency need not be introduced for exchange or for traveling abroad."
269 DL 7.131 -
It is also their doctrine that among the wise there should be a community of wives with free choice of partners, as Zeno says in his Republic. (LCL) 7.33. Again, he lays down community of wives [like Plato] in the Republic.
270 DL 7.121 -
And he [the sage] will marry, as Zeno says in the Republic, and will produce children.
271 Seneca de Otio cp. 3,2 -
Zeno says: [the wise man] will engage in public affairs unless something prevents him. (LCL, ME II, p. 185).
Seneca de Tranq. An. I 10 (Von Arnim has I 7) -
Ready and determined I follow Zeno, Cleanthes, and Chrysippus, of whom none the less not one entered upon public life, and not one failed to urge others to do so. (LCL)

Zeno's Apophthegms (277-322)

277 Plutarch ... ibid ...

DL 7.5 (LCL)

A different version of trhe story is that he was staying at Athens when he heard his ship was wrecked ad said, "It is well done of thee, Fortune, thus to drive me to philosophy."

Seneca de tranq. an. 14,2

278 DL 7.24 (LCL)

Apollonius of Tyre tells us how, when Crates laid hold on him by the cloak to drag him from Stilpo, Zeno said, "The right way to seize a philosopher, Crates, is by the ears: persuade me then and drag me off by them; but, if you use violence, my body will be with you, but my mind with Stilpo."
279 DL 7.25 (LCL)
A dialectician once showed him seven logical forms concerned with the sophism known as 'The Reaper,' and Zeno asked him how much he wanted for them. Being told a hundred drachmas, he promptly paid two hundred.
280 Plu de prof. in virt 6.78e

281 Gnomologion Monac. 196 . . . . Cf. Cleanthes n. 619

282 Chrys. apud Galen de H. et P. plac. III 5

283 DL 7.24 (LCL)

On being asked how he felt about abuse, he replied, "As an envoy feels who is dismissed without an answer."

284 DL 7.24 (LCL)

One day at a banquet he was reclining in silence and was asked the reason: whereupon he bade his critic carry word to the king that there was one present who knew how to hold his tongue. Now those who inquired of him were ambassadors from King Ptolemy, and they wanted to know what message they should take back from him to the king.

285 Athenaeus II 55 F ... Galen de anim. mor. 3 (vol. iv p. 777 K) etc.

286 DL 7.17 (LCL)

Being enamored of Chremonides, as he and Cleanthes were sitting beside the youth, he got up, and upon Cleanthes expressing surprise, "Good physicians tell us," said he, "that the best cure for inflammation is repose."
287 Musonius peri trophes ap Stob. Floril 17, 42

288 DL 7.28,29 (LCL)

The manner of his death was as follows. As he was leaving the school he tripped and fell, breaking a toe. Striking the ground with his fist, he quoted the line from the Niobe [of Timotheus]:
I come, I come, why does thou call for me?
and died on the spot through holding his breath.
- Stob. Floril 7.44 - Lucianus Macrob. 19

289 Aelianus Var. Hist.

290 Athenaeus viii 345c ... DL 7.19 tells the same story less elegantly.

291 Athenaeusv 186 d

292 DL 7.17 (LCL)

When of two reclining next to each other over the wine, the one who was neighbor to Zeno kicked the guest below him, Zeno himself nudged the man with his knee, and upon the man turning round, inquired, "How do you think your neighbour liked what you did to him?"
293 DL 7.16, 17 (LCL)
his remark about the fop showing himself off, "With good reason," said Zeno, "he looks askance at the mud for he can't see his face in it."