Panaetius of Rhodes

Panaetius Of Rhodes, a celebrated ancient philosopher, the principal propagator of stoicism (q.v.) at Rome, was a native of Rhodes, and was born about 180 B.C. He studied at Athens under Diogenes the Stoic, went to Rome about 140 B.C., and there gave lessons in philosophy. He became intimately associated with Scipio AEmilianus, the younger Laelius, and Polybius, and made all these converts to stoicism. He also modified stoicism somewhat, suffering himself to be influenced in his philosophical opinions by his Latin surroundings. Hence Panaetius is spoken of as the first harbinger of

eclecticism. "He toned down the harsher elements of Stoic doctrine," says Ueberweg, "and aimed at a less rugged and more brilliant rhetorical style, and, in addition to the authority of the earlier Stoics, appealed also to that of Plato, Aristotle, Xenocrates, Theophrastus, and Dicaearchus. Inclined more to doubt than to inflexible dogmatism, he denied the possibility of astrological prognostications, combated all forms of divination, abandoned the doctrine of the destruction of the world by fire, on which other Stoics had already had doubts, and with Socratic modesty confessed that he was still far from having attained to perfect wisdom" (History of Philosophy, 1:189; comp. Cicero, De Fin. 4:28). Panaetius died about B.C. 111 at Athens. His principal work is περὶ τοῦ καθήκοντος, which is A Treatise on the Theory of Moral Obligation, divided into three parts: the first treats of those cases in which men deliberate between what is honest and what is dishonest; the second, concerning what is useful and what is disadvantageous; and the third of those cases in which the useful is opposed to the honest. The third part, as far as supplied by his disciple Posidonius, is inferior to the two other parts. The work formed the basis of Cicero's De Oficiis (comp. Cicero, De Officiis, 3:2, and Epist. ad Att. 16:11). Panaetius wrote also a treatise On Divination, of which Cicero probably made use in his own work on the same subject. In bk. 2:42, Cicero quotes Pansetius as "one among the Stoics who rejected the predictions of the soothsayers; and his disciple, Scylax of Halicarnassus, an astrologer himself, and also a distinguished statesman in his native town, as one who despised all the Chaldaean arts of fortune-telling." Another work by Panaetius treats On Tranquility of Mind, which some suppose may have been made use of by Plutarch in his work bearing the same title. He wrote also a book On Providence, mentioned by Cicero (Ad Atticum, 13:8), another On Magistrates, and one On Heresies, or sects of philosophers. His book On Socrates, quoted by Diogenes Laertius, and by Plutarch in his Life of Aristides, probably made a part of the last-mentioned work. Laertius and Seneca quote several opinions of Panaetius concerning ethics and metaphysics, and also physics. He argued that the torrid zone was inhabited, contrary to the common opinion of his time. Seneca (Epist. 116) relates his prudent and dignified reply to a young man who had asked his advice on the passion of love. For further information concerning this distinguished philosopher of antiquity, see Disputatio Historico-Critica de Panaetio Rhodio, by F. G. van Lynden (Leyden, 1802); and Chardon de la Rochette, lelanges de Critique et de Philologie (Paris, 1812), vol. i; Ritter, Gesch. der Philosophie.

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