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Headword: Mousônios
Adler number: mu,1305
Translated headword: Musonius (Rufus)
Vetting Status: high
(Son) of Capito;[1] a Tyrrhenian [Etruscan],[2] of the city of Volsinii,[3]; a dialectical philosopher and a Stoic, alive in the time of Nero, an acquaintance of Apollonius of Tyana and many others; there are even letters purporting to be from Apollonius to him and from him to Apollonius.[4] Of course for his outspokenness and his criticism and his excess of freedom he was killed by Nero.[5] There are a variety of speeches about philosophy bearing his name, and letters too.[6]
The Apostate[7] speaks about this Musonius in a letter "You well endured the drunken behavior which the leader of Greece has done to you, in the belief that nothing of the sort pertains to you personally. Enthusiastically wanting to help that city, about which you wrote those diatribes, is the sure sign of a philosopher's soul, something worthy in the first instance of Socrates, in the second, of Musonius. For he said that divine law does not allow a good man to be harmed by an inferior or wicked man. He took care of the bareis, when Nero ordered him into exile."[8] That is to say of the fortifications, for the bareis are fortifications.
Greek Original:
Mousônios, Kapitônos, Turrênos, poleôs Boulsiniou, dialektikos philosophos kai Stôïkos, gegonôs epi Nerônos, gnôrimos d' Apollôniou tou Tuaneôs kai allôn pollôn: pros hon kai epistolai pherontai Apollôniou kakeinou pros Apollônion. dia goun tên parrêsian kai to elenktikon kai to huperballon tês eleutherias hupo Nerônos anaireitai. pherontai autou logoi diaphoroi philosophias echomenoi, kai epistolai. peri toutou tou Mousôniou legei ho Parabatês en epistolêi: tên paroinian, hên eis humas ho tês Hellados hêgemôn peparôinêken, houtô batheôs ênenkas, ouden hêgoumenos toutôn eis se gegonenai: to ge mên têi polei boêthein ekeinêi boulesthai kai prothumeisthai, peri hên epoiêsô tas diatribas, philosophou psuchês esti tekmêrion, hôste moi dokei to men proteron Sôkratei prosêkein, to deuteron de, oimai, Mousôniôi: ekeinos men gar ephê, hoti mê themiton andra spoudaion pros tou tôn cheironôn kai phaulôn blabênai: ho de epemeleto barôn, hopênika pheugein auton epetatte Nerôn. toutesti teichôn: bareis gar ta teichê.
Gaius Musonius Rufus, a Stoic philosopher active in the reigns of Nero until the reign of Trajan, is chiefly known today as the mentor of Epictetus (epsilon 2424). For more information see Miriam Griffin in OCD4 s.v. Musonius, and Lutz in the bibliography.
[1] This is the only authority for Capito.
[2] cf. Tacitus, Annales 14.59.
[3] Barrington Atlas map 42 grid B3; present-day Bolsena. Volsinii as Musonius' home town is only mentioned here, but a dedication to a descendant of Musonius was found on the site of Volsinii, CIL VI 537.
[4] Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 4.46, included in Hense's editions (see bibliography) pp. 142ff.
[5] The tradition that Musonius was killed by Nero is also alluded to in kappa 2098 (Cornutus) and in Justin Martyr 2 Apology 8. In fact Musonius was only exiled by Nero, He survived until the Flavians, and is believed by scholars today to have lived, in toto, from ca. 30 to 90 or perhaps 100 CE.
[6] Scholars debate about whether Musonius really wrote anything for publication. The "letters" mentioned here could be the apparently spurious ones found in Philostratus. The "speeches" could refer to the notes of a certain Lucius, which were apparently the source for our surviving epitomes of Musonius' diatribes. These epitomes of speeches are well worth reading and include such interesting titles as That women too should study philosophy, Should daughters receive the same education as sons?, On Sexual Excess, and many more. See Lutz (in bibliography) 5ff.
[7] The emperor Julian: iota 437. What follows is from one of his Letters (no.30).
[8] The reading ba/reis in the Suda is clearly based on a bad manuscript tradition of Julian's Letter to Theodorus 16. Most mss of Julian read "He cared for Bara," but one ms was found in which the (doubtlessly correct) reading was Gyara, the island of Musonius' exile (cf. beta 114). It is unlikely that the gloss of "fortifications" in the Suda is due to its similarity to Middle Persian "vara," a stronghold.
For an edition (without apparatus) and translation of Musonius Rufus, with a substantial introduction to his life and work, see Cora Lutz, "Musonius Rufus: 'The Roman Socrates'" Yale Classical Studies 10 (1947) 3-147.
The critical edition of his work remains O. Hense, Musonii Rufi Reliquiae (Leipzig 1905), although this needs to be supplemented by papyrus finds (which are included in Lutz).
More recent work on Musionius:
Laurenti, R. "Musonio, maestro di Epitteto" ANRW 2.36.3 (1989) 2105-2146
Francis, J.A. Subversive virtue : asceticism and authority in the second-century pagan world. (University Park, Pa., Pennsylvania State University Press. 1995), at 11-16
Keywords: biography; chronology; ethics; geography; history; philosophy; religion
Translated by: Kenneth Mayer on 6 July 1999@17:52:29.
Vetted by:
Patrick T. Rourke on 7 July 1999@18:54:00.
Catharine Roth (modified translation, restorative cosmetics, set status) on 13 November 2003@11:43:27.
Catharine Roth (added cross-reference) on 13 November 2003@11:45:54.
Catharine Roth (added note and cross-reference) on 13 November 2003@21:12:27.
David Whitehead (augmented primary note; augmented keywords; cosmetics) on 15 November 2003@08:13:04.
Catharine Roth (added betacode) on 3 April 2008@11:05:33.
David Whitehead (augmented n.3; tweaks elsewhere) on 2 August 2009@07:31:16.
David Whitehead on 27 May 2013@09:16:30.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 9 August 2014@09:07:04.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 20 September 2020@00:48:02.


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