Aristo of Chios (Third Century BCE)

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(third century BCE)

Aristo of Chios was a disciple of Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism. The scant biographical information that exists, from Diogenes Laertius (VII 16064), describes him as an unorthodox Stoic, who later abandoned the school to found one of his own. There is some question in Diogenes' sources as to whether works ascribed to him are genuine or belong to the peripatetic Aristo of Ceos. But there are difficulties about his views as well. Like Zeno, he accepted the Socratic and cynic principle that virtue was sufficient for happiness. But whereas Zeno identified this with "living consistently," Aristo understood it as an internal consistency, where one behaved indifferently toward anything that was not virtue or vice (adiaphoria ). At the core of his philosophy is the view that moral values are absolute: Only virtue is good and only vice bad; everything else intermediate between these is absolutely indifferent and equal. The third head of the school, Chrysippus, who polemicized against Aristo, was successful in establishing his own interpretation of Zeno's thought as the orthodox Stoic position, thus leading to Aristo's marginalization. But Aristo was held in high esteem by his contemporaries: Eratosthenes of Cyrene (c. 276c. 194 BCE) maintained that Aristo's philosophy, along with that of the skeptic Arcesilaus, was the most important of his time.

The confusion with Aristo of Ceos makes it difficult to attribute fragments that do not specify the author's origin. The most important is the summary given by Philodemus (PHerc. 1008, columns 1023 Jensen), which has been attributed by Wehrli (1952), to the peripatetic Aristo of Ceos, but a study of the language and philosophical terminology reveals similarities with the surviving fragments of the Stoic Aristo. (Although this is included by Wehrli in the fragments of the peripatetic Aristo, a study of the language and philosophical terminology reveals similarities with the surviving fragments of the Stoic Aristo.)

See also Chrysippus; Stoicism; Zeno of Citium.


Arnim, Hans Friedrich August von. Stoicorum Veterum Fragment: Collegit Ioannes ab Arnim. Vol. 1 (1905). Stuttgart: B. G. Teubneri, 1968.

Ioppolo, Anna Maria. Aristone di Chio e lo Stoicismo antico. Naples, Italy: Bibliopolis, 1980.

Ioppolo, Anna Maria. "Una polemica antiscettica in Filodemo?" In Epicureismo greco e romano. Vol. II, edited by Gabriele Giannantoni and Marcello Gigante, 715734. Naples, Italy: Bibliopolis, 1996.

Porter, James. "The Philosophy of Aristo of Chios." In The Cynics: The Cynic Movement in Antiquity and Its Legacy, edited by R. Bracht Branham and Marie-Odile Goulet-Cazé, 156189. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Wehrli, Fritz. Die Schule des Aristoteles, Texte und Kommentar, herausgegeben von Fritz Wehrli. Vol. VI. Basel: Benno Schwabe, 1952.

Anna Maria Ioppolo (2005)