n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus. Text, Translation, and Commentary, Johan C. Thom : book review

Volume 50, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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The hymn addressed to Zeus composed by the Second Stoic scholar Cleanthes is a short text of thirty-nine lines quoted by John Stobaeus in the first book of his , and preserved in a single important Neapolitan manuscript. Despite its brevity, the hymn is rightly regarded as a text of immense significance. Very few complete texts from the early Stoa have survived (as any examination of Von Arnim's soon makes quite apparent, we rely heavily on later authors for our reconstruction of the doctrines of this philosophical school), and so it is understandable that students of post-Aristotelian philosophy should attribute such value to the of an early senior Stoic philosopher who had actually known and conversed with the school's founder, Zeno. The text is also fascinating as a proclamation of Stoic doctrine on the interconnectedness of physics and theology, and the impression it gives of sincere pious devotion, particularly since the discourse has been delivered in a traditional format (a hymn) using largely non-technical terms, phrases, and poetic cadences familiar from the established hymnic tradition. There is less of Parmenides here, and more that is Homeric, Hesiodic, or Aeschylean.

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