Panaetius of Rhodes Analysis


(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

The son of Nicagoras, Panaetius (pah-NEE-shuhs) of Rhodes attended lectures in cosmopolitan Athens. There he became the student of Diogenes of Babylon, head of an important philosophical school, the Stoa. Eventually Panaetius journeyed to Rome and gained the friendship of Scipio Aemilianus, famed victor over Carthage in the Third Punic War (149-146 b.c.e.). Panaetius even accompanied Aemilianus on a celebrated embassy to the eastern Mediterranean, visiting Egypt, Rhodes, Pergamum, and Syria. Returning to the Stoa in 129 b.c.e., Panaetius spent the rest of his life serving as its head.

Panaetius of Rhodes Influence

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

As teacher and philosopher, Panaetius was more concerned with practical morality than the ideal of the Stoic sage. Therefore, he helped to inaugurate the Middle Stoa, the second of three periods in the history of the school. He was influential beyond the school as well. Through friendship with Aemilianus, Panaetius inspired a contemporary generation of Roman nobles. Through his students, he affected numerous fields of study, and through his writings, which survive only in fragments, he swayed even the last generation of the Roman Republic, including the orator and statesman Cicero, who reveals his debt in De officiis (44 b.c.e.; On Duties, 1534).

Panaetius of Rhodes Additional Resources

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Dyck, Andrew A. A Commentary on Cicero, “De Officiis. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

Long, A. A. Hellenistic Philosophy, Stoics, Epicureans, Sceptics. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.