n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - The problem of evil in Cleanthes'

Volume 41, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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Cleanthes' 15-17 is often cited in discussions of Stoic views on evil. However, even though the central section of the is devoted purely to a description of the actions and attitudes of the 'bad people', scholars have not succeeded in giving an adequate explanation of the relationship between this section and the rest of the hymn, which is more generally concerned with the praise of Zeus and his works. The reference to evil is seen to function as a theodicy and thus indirectly as a continuation of Zeus' praise. I would suggest, however, that the problem of evil, and not the praise of Zeus, is the central focus of the hymn : the ultimate goal of the poem is to reintegrate the κακοί (which indeed include most people) into Zeus' order.

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