Hellenistic Philosophy

What do we learn at the end of empire?

Lesson Objectives

Appreciate the importance of Alexander's conquest to the spread of Hellenism

Understand what Epicurus says we need instead of buying a bunch of stuff

Appreciate the Epicurean way to happiness

Understand why the Logos is outside of our control

Understand why Zeno says we should love our fate

Understand why the Skeptics say we cannot really know anything

Key Terms




Epicurus' 3 Needs


Zeno of Citium




Amor Fati


The Hellenistic Worldview

Alexander the Great

• Tutored by Aristotle, Alexander conquers the known world

• Alexander brings Aristotelian thought (ie. the Lyceum) into the world

• By his death at 32, Alexander has united all the lands b/t Greece & India

• Leaving no heir, his generals split his conquered lands between them

The Spilt of Alexandrian Lands

Greece & Macedonia (Gen. Antigonus): center of the Greek world

Egypt (Gen. Ptolemy): home to the Imperial library at Alexandria

Persia (Gen. Seleucus): brought Greek culture into the Middle East

The Rise of Hellenism

• Greek Culture — or Hellenism — spreads throughout these kingdoms

• From the Mediterranean to India: a common language, coinage, culture

• The New Testament will be written in Greek because of Hellenism

The Gifts & Curses of Life in the Empire

• Foreign people, objects, and ideas enter the Greek world from far and wide

• Cheap goods in Greece reshape it into a fat, materialistic, hedonistic society

• This soft, not-as-good-as-old-school-Greek culture is known historically as "Hellenistic" Culture. It's not "Hellenic" (Greek). It's just sorta Greek...