Socratic Influence on the Stoic Epictetus
Morrison, Donald R.
Master of Arts
The primary aim of this project is to examine the nature of Socrates' influence on the Stoic Epictetus. While Plato's Socrates certainly influenced Epictetus, the Socrates portrayed in Xenophon's Memorabilia plays an even larger role in shaping the Socrates Epictetus seeks to imitate. This claim will be substantiated by drawing close parallels between passages in Epictetus' Discourses and Handbook and Xenophon's Memorabilia . The discussion here demonstrates that Epictetus' methodology is a reflection of Xenophon's approach, characterized by committed doctrines and proscriptive advice giving, rather than the searching dialectical approach ending with negative results found in Plato's Socratic dialogues. I begin by examining A.A. Long's claim that it is Plato's Socrates that Epictetus emulates, and providing a critical analysis of this argument. I then argue that the methodology of Epicetetus' Discourses , as well as the content and subject matter, are inspired by Xenophon's Socrates.
Philosophy; Religion; Theology