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Greek Philosopher: Zeno of Sidon

Updated on November 4, 2009

Zeno of Sidon was a Greek philosopher. Born in Sidon, Phoenicia (now Lebanon) in around 150 B.C.

He directed the Epicurean school at Athens after 100 B.C. and is known chiefly from the philosophical dialogues of Marcus Tullius Cicero, who attended his lectures there in 79-78 B.C.

In book 1 of De natura deorum, Cicero declares that Zeno's clear, cogent, and elegant style was misapplied to so trivial and stupid a set of tenets as those of Epicureanism. Zeno himself was noted for his scornful abuse of other philosophers; Cicero quotes him as calling Socrates an Attic buffoon, despite Socrates' position as the first Greek to apply critical and philosophical thought to moral problems.

Zeno held 1) that happiness lies in the enjoyment of present pleasure and the assurance that such enjoyment will last throughout life or most of life without the intervention of pain; 2) that if pain intervenes it will be brief, if extreme, or will have more pleasure than ill in it, if prolonged; and 3) that reflection on these principles will make men happy, particularly if they have been content with previously enjoyed good things and dread neither death nor gods (Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes, book 3). Of Zeno's voluminous writings, only a few fragments like these remain. Posidonius, the scientific historian, Zeno's younger contemporary, composed a treatise against him, which has since perished.

Zeno of Sidon probably died in Athens, Greece, around 73 B.C.


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    • Arthur Gulumian profile image

      Arthur Gulumian 8 years ago from Pasadena, CA

      Great information, thank you.

    • rebekahELLE profile image

      rebekahELLE 8 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Zeno sounds like he understood more than he was given credit for. It would be interesting to know more about him and how he lived. I like his 3 views of life, as I also believe that living in the present diminishes some of the pain that we bring into our lives. Childbirth pain is different from other pain, I believe, because we know we are bringing new life into the world. Soon it is joy!

    • darkside profile image

      Glen 8 years ago from Australia

      I completed the Capstone series over a year ago, and made more than the required 15. But there were a few I had intended on adding, not quite up to Capstone Hub Series standard, but each would be a quick interesting read. I wasn't actually aware of Zeno of Sidon until recently.

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      This a capstone piece? Whether or not, I learned about a new ancient Greek. Loved that he apparently denigrated the works and philosophies of others. I'm sure Socrates was above such behaviour.

      Being a hoppy individual, not sure I agree in full with his thoughts regarding pain and how an individual could or would cope with it.

      Far as I'm aware, pain is pain. I can be as happy as a lark but when I break something (like my left foot a while ago) I'm no longer happy. I'm in pain.

    • dusanotes profile image

      dusanotes 8 years ago from Windermere, FL

      Thanks, Darkside, for that fine Hub. Zenos, it appears, was a man of letters - someone many of us would admire, especially if we lived in that era. Pain is an interesting thing. We all experience it, some more than others. Some have high thresholds of pain, some low. I think Zenos probably had a high threshold because it was his goal to live a painless life. If you think about pain all the time you live a very bad life, it seems to me. People have pain, but we put it aside and go on. Women, in particular, who are carrying a child can have morning sickness and then during the delivery, there is a great amount of pain and discomfort. Yet women don't seem to think about it that much and just go on. The key is going on, pain or not. Living with pain is something we elderly people do all the time. Thanks for the great insight on this from Zeno and for introducing him to us. Don White