Sextus of Chaeronea


Sextus of Chaeronea

Sextus of Chaeronea, (lived c. 160 AD), was a Stoic philosopher, a nephew or grandson [Latin "nepos" indicated "grandson" in the Augustan age, but by the 3rd century meant "nephew".] of Plutarch, [Historia Augusta, "Marcus Aurelius" 3] and one of the teachers of the emperor Marcus Aurelius.

According to the Suda, [Suda, "Markos"; cf. Philostratus, "Lives of the Sophists", 2.9.] it was in the latter part of the reign of Marcus, when Sextus was teaching at Rome, that the emperor received instruction from him. Marcus speaks of him in glowing terms:

From Sextus, [I learned] a benevolent disposition, and the example of a family governed in a fatherly manner, and the idea of living conformably to nature; and gravity without affectation, and to look carefully after the interests of friends, and to tolerate ignorant persons, and those who form opinions without consideration: he had the power of readily accommodating himself to all, so that intercourse with him was more agreeable than any flattery; and at the same time he was most highly venerated by those who associated with him: and he had the faculty both of discovering and ordering, in an intelligent and methodical way, the principles necessary for life; and he never showed anger or any other passion, but was entirely free from passion, and also most affectionate; and he could express approbation without noisy display, and he possessed much knowledge without ostentation. [Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations", i. 9]

He is perhaps the "Sextus the Philosopher," listed by Syncellus as flourishing in the 3rd year of Hadrian's reign (119 AD). The Suda [Suda, "Sextos Chairôneus"] confuses Sextus of Chaeroneia with Sextus Empiricus, and this confusion makes it difficult to determine to which of the two the information in the article is referring to. Sextus, it would seem, was the disciple of Herodotus of Philadelphia, and was so high in the favour of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, that he was invited to share with him the judgment-seat. The Suda also describes how an impostor, who resembled Sextus in features, attempted to impersonate him, and thus to obtain possession of his honours and property. The impostor is said to have been discovered, through his ignorance of Greek learning, by the emperor Pertinax. Two works are ascribed to Sextus: "Ethics" ( _el. Ἠθικά), and "Inquiries" ( _el. Ἐπισκεπτικά).

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