The stoics are best known for their discipline, wisdom and dedication to virtue. We rarely hear about their thoughts around the topic of love and affection. With that in mind, here are a collection of 10 notable quotes on love, friendship and affection by the greatest stoic philosophers of old.
Let no man think that he is loved by any who loveth none.
From my brother Severus I learned to love my kin, and to love truth, and to love justice.
Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)
Let us enjoy our friends avidly, for how long this blessing will fall to our lot is uncertain.
If you long for your son or your friend [or your partner], when it is not given you to have him, know that you are longing for a fig in winter time.
Epictetus (Discourses – Book III, 108)
I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.
Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)
If someone is incapable of distinguishing good things from bad and neutral things from either – well, how could such a person be capable of love? The power to love, then, belongs only to the wise man.
Epictetus (Discourses – Book II, 108)
For since our parents are gratified by the attention which we pay to those whom they love, but we are in a most eminent degree beloved by our parents, it is evident that we shall very much please them, by paying a proper attention to ourselves.
Hierocles (How we ought to conduct ourselves towards our parents – fragment)
Nature bore us related to one another … She instilled in us a mutual love and made us compatible … Let us hold everything in common; we stem from a common source. Our fellowship is very similar to an arch of stones, which would fall apart, if they did not reciprocally support each other.
With regard to whatever objects give you delight, are useful, or are deeply loved, remember to tell yourself of what general nature they are, beginning from the most insignificant things. If, for example, you are fond of a specific ceramic cup, remind yourself that it is only ceramic cups in general of which you are fond. Then, if it breaks, you will not be disturbed. If you kiss your child, or your wife, say that you only kiss things which are human, and thus you will not be disturbed if either of them dies.
On which account I have frequently wondered at those who conceive that the life with a woman is burdensome and grievous. For a wife is not by Jupiter either a burden or a molestation, as to them she appears to be; but, on the contrary, she is something light and easy to be borne, or rather, she possesses the power of exonerating her husband from things truly troublesome and weighty. For there is not any thing so troublesome which will not be easily borne by a husband and wife when they are concordant, and are willing to endure it in common.
Hierocles (On Wedlock)
Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish and lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized that he was made of immaculate and timeless consciousness when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel currently studies history, philosophy, egyptology and western esotericism at Uppsala Universitet. He’s also currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.