Stoicism and Food
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The ancient Stoics believed that virtue is the only true good and as such both necessary and sufficient for happiness. Accordingly, they classified food as among the things that are neither good nor bad but indifferent. These indifferents included health, illness, wealth, poverty, good and bad reputation, life, death, pleasure, and pain. How one deals with having or lacking these things reflects one’s virtue or vice and thus determines one’s happiness or misery. So, while the Stoics held that food in itself contributes nothing to a person’s happiness, how one obtains, prepares, and serves it, and both what and how one eats, all reveal a person’s character as good or bad. Thus, understanding the purpose of food, the necessity of frugality, and the virtue of temperance are all important in Stoicism.
Stoicism was the most important and influential school of Hellenistic philosophy. It became the...
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