This article shows how the public inscriptions of Hellenistic poleis, especially decrees in honor of leading citizens, illuminate Greek ethical thinking, including wider debates about questions of central importance for Greek ethical philosophers. It does so by comparing decrees' rhetoric with the ethical language and doctrines of different ancient philosophical schools. Whereas some scholars identify ethical views comparable to Stoic ideas in Hellenistic decrees, this article argues that there are more significant overlaps, especially in decrees from Asia Minor dating to after 150 BC, with fourth-century BC ethical philosophy, especially Aristotle's, and its Hellenistic continuators. The overlaps between decrees and philosophers' approaches had complex, diverse causes (section 4), probably sometimes including philosophical education and influence. Comparison of philosophy and epigraphy shows that, in the same way as the polis continued to flourish after Chaironeia, critical reflection about the ethical foundations of civic life also remained vibrant, among both philosophers and citizens.
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Research Article| October 01 2018
A Civic Alternative to Stoicism: The Ethics of Hellenistic Honorary Decrees
Classical Antiquity (2018) 37 (2): 187–235.
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Benjamin Gray; A Civic Alternative to Stoicism: The Ethics of Hellenistic Honorary Decrees. Classical Antiquity 1 October 2018; 37 (2): 187–235. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2018.37.2.187
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