Quintus Sextius

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Quintus Sextius the Elder (/ˈsɛxtiəs/; Latin: Quinti Sextii Patris; fl. c. 50 BC) was a Roman philosopher, whose philosophy combined pythagoreanism with stoicism. His praises were frequently celebrated by Seneca.[1]

Life[edit]

Sextius founded a school of philosophy combining some features of the Pythagoreans with others of the Stoics; and which was consequently classed sometimes with one, and sometimes with the other of those sects. Seneca describes Sextius as a Stoic but mentions that Sextius himself denied it.[2] From the Epistles of Seneca we learn that Sextius, though born of an illustrious family, had declined the office of Senator when offered him by Julius Caesar.[3] He also subjected himself to a scrupulous self-examination at the close of each day;[4] and he abstained from animal food, though for different reasons than those ascribed to Pythagoras:

Sextius believed that man had enough sustenance without resorting to blood, and that a habit of cruelty is formed whenever butchery is practised for pleasure.[5]

Sextius' son succeeded him as head of his school. He may be identical with the writer on pharmacology, Sextius Niger.[6] A Xystus Pythagoricus philosophus is recorded in Jerome's version of the Chronicon of Eusebius. He is also mentioned by Plutarch,[7] and by the elder Pliny.[8] Seneca writes (c. 65 AD) that the school was extinct.[9]

Works[edit]

Seneca delighted much in a work of Sextius, the title of which he does not give, but which he praises, as written with great power:

Ye Gods, what strength and spirit one finds in him! This is not the case with all philosophers; there are some men of illustrious name whose writings are sapless. They lay down rules, they argue, and they quibble; they do not infuse spirit simply because they have no spirit. But when you come to read Sextius you will say: "He is alive; he is strong; he is free; he is more than a man; he fills me with a mighty confidence before I close his book." I shall acknowledge to you the state of mind I am in when I read his works: I want to challenge every hazard; I want to cry: "Why keep me waiting, Fortune? Enter the lists! Behold, I am ready for you!"[10]

It has sometimes been suggested that the extant Sentences of Sextus were (in their original form) written by Sextius.[11]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Seneca, Epistles, Wikisource-logo.svg lix. 7-8., Wikisource-logo.svg lxiv, 2-5., Wikisource-logo.svg lxxiii. 12-15., Wikisource-logo.svg xcviii. 13., Wikisource-logo.svg cviii. 17-18.; De Ira, ii. 36, iii. 36.
  2. ^ Seneca, Epistles, lxiv, 2.
  3. ^ Seneca, Epistles, xcviii. 13.
  4. ^ Seneca, De Ira, iii. 36.
  5. ^ Seneca, Epistles, cviii. 18.
  6. ^ Lana (1953), 8-9.
  7. ^ Plutarch, De Profect. Virtut. Sentent. Opp. vol. vi.
  8. ^ Pliny, Naturalis Historia, xviii. 68, alibi.
  9. ^ Seneca, Naturales Quaestiones, vii. 32
  10. ^ Seneca, Epistles, lxiv, 3.
  11. ^ Richard M. Gummere, Seneca, Epistles 1-65, page 412. Loeb Classical Library.

Bibliography[edit]