What is stoicism origin principles representatives Examples

Throughout history, various philosophical doctrines have been developed throughout the world. Many of them serve the population to find the meaning of life, the path to follow or the trajectory towards happiness. In this sense, Stoicism is a good example: a philosophy present in society for more than 2,000 years and applied in recent times for its practical approach.

Stoicism is not only a philosophy of life, but also tries to provide answers to the different problems that humanity encounters. Therefore, it is necessary to know its origin and the great historical figures that represent it. To discover everything about stoicism, its meaning, principles and examples from everyday life, in oneHOWTO we recommend that you continue reading this article.

What is stoicism and its origin

Stoicism is a philosophy that tries to give a path, trajectory or direction to the life of the human being . It is a doctrine that provides concrete tools to overcome adversity and enhance happiness .

In its definition, stoicism is also considered as a type of mental operating system that, based on a current situation, helps determine how you should act to achieve your goals and maintain calm in times of chaos.


Stoicism was founded in 300 BC by Zeno of Citium . He was a Cypriot-born merchant whose ship was wrecked off the Greek coast on one of his voyages. Due to this shipwreck he lost a valuable merchandise and was about to lose his life, but he was finally able to reach Athens, a city where he became interested in philosophy.

Zenón studied with a wide variety of teachers and absorbed knowledge from different philosophical currents, taking the best aspects of each and adding his own ideas. In this way, he began to spread his reflections in a covered gallery belonging to the Athens market. As these constructions were called Stoa , the philosophy he espoused became known as Stoicism .

Stoicism ‘s practical approach appealed to followers from all walks of life. In fact, different rulers found his ideas very useful and spoke about them in public, thus turning Stoicism into a popular philosophy.

Part of the appeal of this philosophical doctrine lies in its practicality: it tries to help you face daily problems, decision-making, illness, criticism, temptation, adversity or anger. He does not spend too much time on intellectual debates, but instead focuses on the daily problems of the human being.


The main ideas of Stoic philosophy are the following:

  • Eudaimonia: the final goal of life was to achieve eudaimonia, that is, happiness. This translation is not a faithful representation of the philosophical meaning attributed by the Stoics; some give it a meaning more linked to personal flourishing or self-realization.
  • Virtue: This is the main concern of the Stoics. For them, acting with virtue was an essential condition to achieve eudaimonia or happiness.
  • Ataraxia: the Stoics gave more importance to virtue than to tranquility, but they also emphasized maintaining ataraxia or mental serenity. Between both elements, they saw a clear relationship.

Other prominent tenets of Stoicism are:

  • Attention or prosoche.
  • Separate perception from reality.
  • Amor Fati, that is, love destiny.
  • Control dichotomy: focus only on what depends on oneself.
  • Focus on the essentials.
  • Control one’s own impulses (stoic freedom).

representatives of stoicism

The most relevant figures of Stoicism throughout history, whose ideas have reached the present day thanks to references from others and small fragments of their thoughts, are the following:

  • Zeno of Citium , the founder of Stoic philosophy.
  • Cleanthes , a boxer started late in this philosophy (with 50 years). By showing so much virtue, Zeno appointed him as his successor.
  • Chrysippus of Solos , a long-distance runner and an apprentice to Cleanthes. He was the third great leader of Stoicism.
  • Panetius of Rhodes , considered one of the most responsible for the expansion of Stoicism from Greece to Rome.
  • Posidonius , one of the leading polymaths of his day and a disciple of Panetius. He excelled in a multitude of fields, philosophy being one of them. He modified some principles of the most classic stoicism.
  • Seneca , probably the most famous Stoic and one of the most powerful and wealthy.
  • Musonius Rufus , who was one of the most respected Stoics of the time. He was considered by some Stoics to be the Roman Socrates.
  • Epitheus , a slave who studied under Musonius Rufus. Due to his great tenacity, he became the leader of his own philosophical school.
  • Marcus Aurelius , considered by many to be the greatest emperor in history.

Examples of Stoicism

Although it is a philosophy with thousands of years of history, stoicism is still present today . Here are some examples from everyday life:

  • “These were difficult times, but the population stoically endured the difficulties.” In this case, it is expressed that in the face of the difficulties the citizens did not lament and continued forward with integrity.
  • “The prisoner stoically endured the torture without betraying his companions.” The prisoner did not express any sign of pain as he was tortured.

Other current examples of stoicism:

  • “He practically did not react to the dire news, always maintaining a stoic countenance.”
  • “The rain surprised him halfway, but he endured the downpour stoically.”
  • “The stoicism with which he has accepted defeat is surprising, it is worthy of admiration.”

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