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  • Print publication year: 1999
  • Online publication date: March 2008

19 - The Socratic legacy

From the perspective of 100 BC the history of ethics in the Hellenistic period is dominated by Stoicism and Epicureanism. The concept of a Socratic tradition in ethics goes back to the Hellenistic historians of philosophy. Of all the routes by which Socrates' philosophy was transmitted to the Hellenistic world, that followed by the Cynics was the most startling and, in some respects, the most influential. The Stoics publicized the philosophical succession: Socrates, Antisthenes, Diogenes, Crates, Zeno. Crates' life should be regarded as a contribution to Hellenistic ethics, just like the lives of Socrates and Diogenes. A number of Cyrenaic philosophers were active in the years from about 330 to 270 BC. Aristippus the Younger, a grandson of the Socratic philosopher, had probably developed his own brand of hedonism some years before Epicurus began his professional career. There is an ethical dimension to Arcesilaus' scepticism, and in this one can clearly trace Socrates' legacy.
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The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy
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