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Musonius Rufus

Musonius Rufus, a Roman philosopher of the 1st century AD, was born in Etruria about AD 20-30.

He fell under the ban of Nero owing to his ethical teachings, and was exiled to the island of Gyarus[?] on a trumped-up charge of participation in Piso's conspiracy. He returned under Galba, and was the friend of Vitellius and Vespasian. It was he who dared to bring an accusation against P. Egnatius Celer[?] (the Stoic philosopher whose evidence had condemned his patron and disciple Soranus) and who endeavoured to preach a doctrine of peace and goodwill among the soldiers of Vespasian when they were advancing upon Rome. So highly was he esteemed in Rome that Vespasian made an exception in his case when all other philosophers were expelled from the city.

As to his death, we know only that he was not living in the reign of Trajan. His philosophy, which is in most respects identical with that of his pupil, Epictetus, is marked by its strong practical tendency. Though he did not altogether neglect logic and physics, he maintained that virtue is the only real aim of men. This virtue is not a thing of precept and theory but a practical, living reality. It is identical with philosophy in the true sense of the word, and the truly good man is also the true philosopher.

Suidas attributes numerous works to him, amongst others a number of letters to Apollonius of Tyana. The letters are certainly unauthentic; about the others there is no evidence. His views were collected by Claudius (or Valerius) Pollio[?], who wrote a work from which Stobaeus obtained his information. See Ritter and Preller ~ 477, 488, 489; Tacitus, Annals, xv. 71 and Histories, iii. 81.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

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