Saturday, 18 July 2015

Stoics on Papyrus

Some notes based on material in my Introduction to The Routledge Handbook of the Stoic Tradition. 

The body of surviving ancient Stoic literature has been far from static over the last century or so. Von Arnim’s Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta (1903-5) included a number of Stoic texts and testimonia that had only recently been discovered in papyri. These included fragments of treatises by Chrsyippus that had been recovered from the scrolls found at Herculaneum, notably parts of his work Logical Questions (the papyri finds printed in von Arnim (1903-5) include Chrysippus’s Logikôn Zêtêmatôn (PHerc 307, SVF 2.298a; cf. Crönert 1901), the Papyrus Letronnii (SVF 2.180), a Herculaneum text previously edited by von Arnim (PHerc 1020, SVF 2.131; cf. Arnim 1890), and a handful of other fragments taken from papyri published in the Herculanensia Volumina (SVF 2.639; 2.640; 2.1060)). Von Arnim had edited one of these finds himself a few years before the publication of his collection (Arnim 1890). An equally important find used by von Arnim was Philodemus’s history of the Stoa, the Index Stoicorum Herculanensis (PHerc 1018, first edited by D. Comparetti in 1875, and recently re-edited under the title Stoicorum Historia in Dorandi 1994).

Beyond his work on the evidence for the early Stoa, von Arnim also edited another significant Stoic find on papyrus: the Elements of Ethics of Hierocles (Arnim 1906), a theoretical ethical treatise the rediscovery of which has done much to change the way in which we think about Stoicism in the Roman period (re-edited in Bastianini and Long 1992 and now with a facing English translation and commentary in Ramelli 2009). A less significant but still noteworthy discovery was a papyrus fragment from the diatribes of Musonius Rufus, edited and published by Enoch Powell in 1936.

Since then further new Stoic texts have been recovered from the Herculaneum scrolls (see Marrone 1987, 1988; Dorandi 2005). These include further fragments from Chrysippus (Marrone 1997) and a second work by Philodemus devoted to Stoicism (Dorandi 1982). Whether there will be more finds it is hard to say. Marcello Gigante, director of the Centro Internazionale per lo Studio dei Papiri Ercolanesi in Naples for many years, commented that he thought it highly likely that there would be further Stoic discoveries (Gigante 1995: 3), but we shall have to wait and see.


Arnim, H. von (1890) “Über einen stoischen Papyrus aus der herculanensischen Bibliothek,” Hermes 25: 473-95.
Arnim, H. von (1903-5) Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta, 3 vols (vol. 4, indices by M. Adler, published 1924), Leipzig: Teubner.
Arnim, H. von (1906) Hierocles, Ethische Elementarlehre (Papyrus 9780) nebst den bei Stobäus erhaltenen ethischen Exzerpten aus Hierokles, Berlin: Weidmann.
Bastianini, G., and Long, A. A. (1992) “Hierocles, Elementa moralia,” in Corpus dei Papiri Filosofici Greci e Latini I 1**, Florence: Olschki, pp. 268-451.
Crönert, W. (1901) “Die logika zêtêmata des Chrysippos und die uebrigen Papyri logischen Inhalts aus der herculanensischen Bibliothek,” Hermes 36: 548-79.
Dorandi, T. (1982) “Filodemo, Gli Stoici (PHerc 155 e 339),” Cronache Ercolanesi 12: 91-133.
Dorandi, T. (1994) Filodemo, Storia dei filosofi: La stoà da Zenone a Panezio (PHerc. 1018), Leiden: Brill.
Dorandi, T. (2005) “La tradition pspyrologyque des Stoïciens,” in G. Romeyer Dherbey and J.-B. Gourinat (eds) Les Stoïciens, Paris: Vrin, pp. 29-52.
Enoch Powell, J. (1936) The Rendel Harris Papyri of Woodbrooke College, Birmingham, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gigante, M. (1995) Philodemus in Italy: The Books from Herculaneum, trans. D. Obbink, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
Marrone, L. (1987) “Testi Stoici Ercolanesi,” Cronache Ercolanesi 17: 181-84.
Marrone, L. (1988) “Testi Stoici Ercolanesi II,” Cronache Ercolanesi 18: 223-25.
Marrone, L. (1997) “Le Questioni Logiche di Crisippo (PHerc. 307),” Cronache Ercolanesi 27: 83-100.
Ramelli, I. (2009) Hierocles the Stoic: Elements of Ethics, Fragments, and Excerpts, trans. D. Konstan, Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.