Zeno of Citium

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Biography of Zeno of Citium

Feelosofi – Zeno of Citium, born around 334 BC in the city of Citium in Gratis, was a central figure in the development of Stoic philosophy. This ancient Greek thinker is known as the founder of the Stoic School and one of the main figures in the history of philosophy. Zeno began his intellectual journey by studying various schools of philosophy, including the Skenaic, Cyrenaic, and Megarian. However, he gained the greatest influence from the philosophy of Socrates, which became the basis for the Stoic worldview.

As Zeno grew into a philosopher, he developed key Stoic ideas that taught that happiness could be achieved through acceptance of fate and self-control. He stressed the importance of living in accordance with nature and adapting to inevitable changes. Zeno also formulated the concept of the Logos, which is the organizing principle of the universe and plays a key role in Stoic ethics.

The Stoic School he founded in Athens became a center of learning for many famous thinkers, such as Cleanthes and Chrysippus. Zeno himself is known as a figure who lived simply and was consistent with his Stoic teachings. He emphasized the need to live according to moral values, teaching that wisdom was the ultimate key to achieving long-lasting happiness.

Although most of his works are lost, Zeno’s influence on philosophy remains strong in the history of thought. His contribution to the development of Stoicism not only formed the basis of Stoic ethical and logical doctrine but also provided the foundation for later philosophical views. Zeno of Citium, with his striking personality and thoughts, remains a central figure who enriches the repertoire of ancient philosophy.

Thought of Zeno of Citium

Living According to Nature

Living According to Nature,” a central concept formulated by Zeno of Citium, describes a Stoic philosophical approach to life that prioritizes harmony with the order of the universe. For him, living in harmony with human nature and nature is the main key to achieving long-lasting happiness. Zeno emphasized that accepting fate and following the inevitable course of change is an expression of living according to nature. In this concept, individuals are expected to develop an awareness of human limitations and uniqueness, viewing every event as part of a larger cosmic plan. Through experiencing life in accordance with nature, Zeno saw that humans can achieve wisdom that guides moral actions, leads to a meaningful life, and fulfills the philosophical goals of life.

Acceptance of Destiny

Acceptance of Fate,” a central concept worked out by Zeno of Citium in Stoic philosophy, reflects the mental attitude that underlies inner happiness and tranquility. Zeno taught that a good life requires the ability to accept fate without resistance or excessive complaining. For him, “Amor Fati,” or love of fate, is the key to achieving inner peace. With the acceptance of fate, individuals free themselves from anxiety about things they cannot control, replacing it with a wise attitude that accepts every event as an inseparable part of the flow of life. The acceptance of fate in Zeno’s teachings creates the foundation of Stoic ethics, teaching that true happiness can be found in patience, calm, and a resigned attitude towards the direction of fate.


Self-Control,” as one of the main pillars of the Stoic teachings developed by Zeno of Citium, reflects a philosophical view of wisdom in managing emotions and desires. Zeno taught that true happiness can be achieved through self-control, where the individual must maintain control over his emotional reactions to external situations. The concept of ataraxia, namely inner calm, is the goal of this self-control. Zeno saw that by controlling excessive passions and emotional impulses, a person can achieve a calm and stable state of mind. In the Stoic perspective, self-control is not a justification for weakness or powerlessness but a manifestation of internal strength to navigate life wisely and morally. Therefore, this concept not only offers a philosophical view of inner balance but is also the basis for developing character and personal integrity in everyday life.

Simple Living Ethics

The concept of “simple life ethics” as a fundamental basis for achieving happiness and wisdom This ethic underscores the importance of living a simple life, freeing oneself from excessive desires and unlimited ambition. For Zeno, simplicity was not just a deficiency but a wise choice that led to spiritual freedom. In the Stoic view, simple living reflects self-control, appreciation for existing circumstances, and balance in all things. Zeno emphasized that true wealth lies in inner peace, not in material possessions. This simple life ethic triggers reflective questions regarding essential values in life and views happiness as the result of wisdom in living life.


Logos is the divine principle that is the basis of the structure of the universe and human life. For Zeno, Logos is an orderly mind and includes natural laws that regulate everything with clear rules. In an ethical context, Logos is a guide to a wise and meaningful life. Zeno taught that humans must live according to the Logos, namely by adhering to the principles of wisdom, justice, and virtue. Logos is not only a cosmic principle but also guides humans to recognize moral values and organize their actions rationally. By understanding and following the Logos, Zeno believed that one could achieve happiness and inner peace. Therefore, the concept of the Logos in Zeno’s thought from Citium provides a solid theological and ethical foundation for the practice of Stoic life, inviting humans to live in harmony with the provisions of the universe and practice virtue in every aspect of life.

The Universality of Goodness

The universality of goodness, as taught by Zeno of Citium in Stoic teachings, reflects the view that good moral values are universal and accessible to all humans regardless of differences. Zeno believed that virtue is an intrinsic goodness that can be applied equally in all situations and contexts of life. According to him, wisdom, justice, courage, and wisdom are values that are not tied to a particular culture or situation but are universal guides for correct human action. The universality of goodness in Zeno’s Stoic philosophy is not just a theoretical concept but rather a call for every individual to practice these values in their daily lives. This idea emphasizes that moral principles are not limited to certain circles but are inclusive, encouraging the understanding and practice of virtue as a universal ethical foundation for all humanity.

Life According to Nature

The concept of “life according to nature” reflects the idea that humans should live in accordance with the laws of nature and the established cosmic order. Zeno taught that true happiness can be achieved by following the flow of the universe and practicing wisdom in actions and thoughts. According to him, humans must understand that they are an integral part of nature so that a balanced and harmonious life can be achieved by following the principles imposed by nature. In the context of Stoic ethics, “Life According to Nature” encourages individuals to develop traits in accordance with nature’s wisdom, such as resilience to trials, acceptance of change, and emotional balance. By using nature as a guide, Zeno emphasized that humans have a responsibility to live ethically and responsibly towards themselves and society. This concept shows that life’s wisdom does not only come from internal reflection but also involves a deep connection with the reality of the universe.

Active Living

According to Zeno, active living is not just physical action but involves focused thoughts and inner attitudes. In a Stoic context, active living implies that humans have control over their actions and responses to situations, even when facing trials or difficulties. Zeno emphasized the importance of utilizing freedom of thought and action wisely so that individuals can respond to reality as it is. This concept invites people to take an active role in shaping their character, living life in accordance with the values they believe in, and taking advantage of every opportunity for personal growth. According to Zeno, active life is not just aimless movement but a form of moral responsibility towards oneself and society. By practicing active living, Zeno argued that humans could achieve true happiness, not as a result of external circumstances but through an active process of achieving wisdom and virtue in every aspect of life.


In Stoic teachings, Zeno of Citium emphasized the importance of “generosity” as an ethical principle underlying a meaningful life. For him, generosity is not just a sporadic act of giving but an inner attitude that reflects generosity and empathy towards others. Zeno believed that generosity was an expression of wisdom and benevolence, helping individuals to develop emotional connections with their surroundings. In the context of Stoic philosophy, generosity involves self-control, inner calm, and the understanding that happiness does not only come from material wealth. Zeno emphasized that by sharing with others, humans not only provide practical assistance but also create social bonds that enrich social life. Therefore, generosity for Zeno is not just a sporadic act but a continuous attitude of life, creating a harmonious atmosphere in the community. This concept invites individuals to engage in good actions, create an environment that supports collective growth, and imbue happiness through caring for the needs of others.

Works of Zeno from Citium

Zeno of Citium lived in the 4th to 3rd centuries BC, and from that time, many of his written works have not survived to the present day. Most information about Stoic thought and teachings comes from notes and quotations made by his successor Stoic philosophers.


Zeno of Citium created a deep foundation for Stoic teachings, inviting individuals to combine inner resilience with wisdom in facing life’s challenges. The Stoic concepts of ataraxia (inner calm) and apatheia (emotional balance) initiated by Zeno form the basis of philosophical practice in dealing with difficult situations. Although Zeno’s original works may no longer exist, his philosophy provided inspiration for many subsequent philosophers, including figures such as Epiktetos, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius. By emphasizing control over reactions to circumstances and the understanding that happiness comes from within, Citium’s Zeno bequeathed a legacy of thought that remains relevant and inspiring in the context of self-development and personal ethics.


What was Zeno of Citium’s main contribution to Stoic philosophy?

Zeno of Citium was the founder of the Stoic school which established the foundations of Stoic ethics. He introduced concepts such as ataraxia (inner calm), apatheia (emotional balance), and Logos (divine rationality) as the ethical basis for a meaningful and wise life.

What can be learned from Zeno’s “Living According to Nature” concept from Citium?

“Living According to Nature” in Zeno’s teachings shows that humans should live in accordance with the order of the universe. This concept emphasizes the importance of adapting to circumstances, following moral principles, and developing balance in living daily life.

How did Zeno of Citium view generosity in the context of Stoic philosophy?

Zeno taught that generosity is an integral part of Stoic wisdom. According to him, generosity is not only a physical act of giving, but also an inner attitude that reflects generosity and empathy towards others, creating harmonious relationships in society.


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  • Inwood, B. (Ed.). (2003). The Cambridge Companion to the Stoics.
  • Epictetus, & Lebell, S. (1995). The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness.

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Raymond Kelvin Nando
Writer, Researcher, & Philosophy Enthusiast