April 24, 2003
"The World of Rome"
Philosophy, Chapter 7
While most of the citizens of the Greek and Roman worlds relied heavily on some form of emotional religion, there were a few that sought their personal guidance through philosophy. The high degree of self-control as well as self-cultivation that was needed to live the philosophical life was, by foremost, the reasoning behind why there were so few. Even though philosophy began with such Greeks as Plato and Aristotle, and given that Romans were not a very philosophical people, there were some that obtained a higher sense of self guidance than had any Greek. There were Romans such as Lucretius who vehemently denied any higher power, but believed in Epicureanism. Also Cicero had found inspiration and comfort in Stoic philosophy. Marcus Aurelius, who was not in the true sense a philosopher himself, found guidance in his Meditations that were not for public record, but for his own quest in self truth.
While Michael Grant wrote of other Roman philosophers, this report will focus on these three.
Lucretius firmly believed in the doctrines of Epicurus of Athens (c. 342-270 B.C.). These doctrines, in part, held an opposition to pagan religious beliefs, regarded sense-perception as the only basis of knowledge, while at the same time regarded everything, except the void, as consisting of atoms, even humans. They also held that when these atoms within the human mind swerved, this was the power of free will and that fate was diverted. Believing wholeheartedly in these doctrines, Lucretius could not understand why anyone would fear death. To him, death was nothing and that to worry about death took away from the true human goal which was happiness. True human happiness meant a body...