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  • Ephesus › Ancient History
  • Epictetus › Who Was
  • Reforms of Augustus › Antique Origins

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Ephesus › Ancient History

Definition and Origins

by Joshua J. Mark
published on 02 September 2009
Library of Celsus (greenp)
According legend, Ephesus (also Ephesos ) was founded by the tribe of the Amazons, great female warriors. The name of the city is thought to have been derived from "Apasas", the name of a city in the "Kingdom of Arzawa" meaning the "city of the Mother Goddess" and some scholars maintain that the sign of the labrys, the double-axe of the mother goddess which adorned the palace at Knossos, Crete, originated in Ephesus. Ephesus was inhabited from the end of the Bronze Age onwards, but the location was changed owing to floods and the whims of various rulers. While Carians and Lelegians were among the city's first inhabitants, Ionian migrations began around 1200 BCE and Ephesus is chiefly known as a Ionian Greekcity.


The city was founded for the second time by the Ionian Androclus, son of Codrus, and the cities that were established after the Ionian migrations joined in a confederacy under the leadership of the city of Ephesus. The region was devastated during the Cimmerian invasion at the beginning of the 7th century BCE but, under the rule of the Lydian kings, Ephesus became one of the wealthiest cities in the Mediterranean world. Ephesus was a center of learning and the birthplace and home of the great Pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus. Women enjoyed rights and privileges equal to men and there are records of female artists, sculptors, painters and teachers. At night the streets of the city were brightly lit with oil lamps, a luxury not many cities could afford. Under the rule of King Croesus of Lydia, construction of the great Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was begun, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (destroyed, the first time, by fire in 356 BCE, the same night Alexander the Great was born). The defeat of Croesus by Cyrus, the King of Persia, brought the whole of Anatolia under Persian rule but Ephesus continued to prosper as an important port of trade. When the Ionian city-states rebelled against Persian rule in the 5th century BCE, Ephesus remained neutral and thus escaped the destruction suffered by so many other cities at the hands of the Persians.
Model of the Temple of Artemis

Model of the Temple of Artemis



Ephesus remained under Persian rule until liberated by Alexander the Great in 334 BCE. Upon entering Ephesus, and seeing the reconstruction of the Temple of Artemis not yet complete, Alexander offered to rebuild it. The Ephesians, however, refused his offer, claiming it was not seemly for one god to build a temple to another. Lysimachus, one of the generals of Alexander who became ruler of the region after Alexander's death, began renewal and development of the city, which he called Arsineia after his wife Arsinoe. He constructed a new harbor, built defensive walls on the slopes of the Panayýr and Bülbül mountains and moved the city approximately two miles south-west. The Ephesians, however, refused to leave their homes and the traditional site of their city so Lysimachus had the city's sewage system blocked up during a great storm, thus rendering the houses uninhabitable and forcing the citizens to move. In 281 BCE the city was re-founded under the old name of Ephesus and, again, was known as one of the most important commercial ports in the Mediterranean.


In 129 BCE the Roman Empire acquired Ephesus according to the will left by Attalos, King of Pergamon, by which they were bequeathed his kingdom. During this time, the heavy taxes imposed by the Roman government led to the rebellion of Mithridates and, in 88 BCE, a massacre of all the Latin speaking inhabitants of the city was carried out during the storming and sack of Ephesus by the Roman army under Sulla. The city suffered severe damage in an earthquake in 17 CE. After that Ephesus became once more a very important center of trade and commerce. The historian Aristio, and others, describe Ephesus as being recognized by all the inhabitants of the region as the most important trading center in Asia. It also remained a leading political and intellectual center, boasting the impressive Celsus Library and the second school of philosophy in the Aegean.
Celsus Library, Ephesos

Celsus Library, Ephesos

From the 1st century CE onwards, Ephesus was visited repeatedly by early Christians (most notably Saint Paul, who preached and was 'booed' in the theater there), and Mary, the mother of Jesus, is said to have retired there along with Saint John (John's tomb and Mary's house may still be visited today). The Biblical Book of Ephesians is an epistle written by Paul to the Christian community at Ephesus. The city that became famous in later times, for the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, who were reputed to be seven Christian saints who were walled up in a cave above Ephesus for their faith in 'pagan times', slept for two hundred years, and emerged after Christianity had come to power, thus proving the 'truth' of the faith in the resurrection of the body.


After Christianity became the dominant religion of the region, Ephesus declined in culture and intellectual pursuits. The Emperor Theodosius had all of the Temples and schools closed and women were reduced to second-class citizen status, no longer allowed to teach men or work independently in the arts. Worship of the ancient mother goddess Artemis was forbidden and the Temple of Artemis was destroyed by a Christian mob, the ruins used as a quarry for building materials for other local projects such as churches. The streets, once adorned with statuary, highly maintained and lighted by the oil lamps at night, fell into decay and darkness as the attention of the now-Christian citizens of Ephesus was directed toward the Second Coming of The Light of the World, the new god Jesus Christ.

Epictetus › Who Was

Definition and Origins

by Joshua J. Mark
published on 28 April 2011
Epictetus (MB)
Epictetus (c. 50 CE- c. 130 CE) was a Stoic philosopher best known for his works The Enchiridion (the handbook) and his Discourses, both foundational works in Stoic philosophy and both thought to have been written down from his teachings by his student Arrian. Stoicism is the belief that the individual is wholly responsible for his or her interpretations of circumstance and that all of life is natural and normal in spite of one's impressions. To the Stoics, `philosophy' was synonymous with life.One did not `dabble' in philosophy, one became fully immersed in understanding and appreciating how best to live one's life.The foundations of Stoicism, especially its recognition of the logos, an underlying force behind all things, was first laid by the Pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus (c. 500 BCE). Antisthenes, a student of Socrates, then developed the philosophy c. 390 BCE and expounded upon it through his Cynic School (though, no doubt, mixed with Socratic concepts). These ideas were then further developed by the later philosopher Zeno of Citium in c. 300 BCE. The Greek Stoics (the so-called `Old Stoa') Cleanthes and Chryissippus, who followed Zeno of Citium, wrote many volumes on the Stoic way of life but, unfortunately, of the 165 works attributed to Chrysippus, we have only fragments and the same holds true for Cleanthes. Their influence must have been far-reaching, however, because Stoic principles were known and practiced as far away as Rome.


Epictetus was born in the Phrygian city of Hierapolis in Asia Minor to a slave woman and so was, himself, a slave. He was granted his freedom sometime after the death of Emperor Nero in the year 68 CE by his master Epaphroditus who had also been a slave and was freed by Nero for revealing a coup against the Emperor. Tacitus calls Epaproditus “Nero's Freedman” and reports he was with Nero when the Emperor committed suicide, and offered to help him do so. It should not seem strange that Epaphroditus, having been a slave, should own slaves once he, himself, had been freed. According to Nardo, “Slavery was the largest and most entrenched social institution in ancient Rome (especially at its height, between 200 BCE and 200 CE) and affected every aspect of life and society”(41). Epaphroditus, as secretary to emperor Nero, would have been expected to own slaves as standard custom.


Epaphroditus, recognizing his slave's intellectual abilities, recommended the young Epictetus to study with the great Stoic teacher C. Musonius Rufus and, clearly, Rufus influenced the younger man greatly as Epictetus' thought seems almost identical to some of the fragments we have of Musonius Rufus. Rufus was very impressed by Epictetus' keen mind and trained him well in the discipline of Stoic philosophy. Once freed, Epictetus set up his own school and taught the philosophy to others until he, along with all the other philosophers in Rome, was banished by the emperor Domitian in the year 89 CE. Even so, the impact of Epictetus' thought became an integral part of Roman understanding. Professor Forrest E. Baird writes,
Despite Emperor Domitian's condemnation, Stoicism had a special appeal to the Roman mind. The Romans were not much interested in the speculative and theoretical content of Zeno's early Stoa. Instead, in the austere moral emphasis of Epictetus, with his concomitant stress on self-control and superiority to pain, the Romans found an ideal for the wise man, whereas the Stoic description of natural law provided a basis for Roman law.One might say that the pillars of republican Rome tended to be Stoical, even if some Romans had never heard of Stoicism. (519)
Epictetus' influence was not confined to Rome, however, as his banishment led to his formation of the school which would preserve his teachings.


Epictetus traveled to Nicopolis, Greece where he opened a Stoic school and taught philosophy through lectures, and by his own example in living, up until his death in the year 130 CE. Among his students was the young historian Flavius Arrianus (popularly known as Arrian) whose classnotes (written in Koine Greek although Epictetus taught in Attic Greek) have preserved Epictetus' thought as the philosopher himself apparently wrote nothing down.
Arrian collected and edited the lectures and discussions he attended in eight books, of which four remain extant, and distilled his master's thoughts in the Enchiridion. That philosophy was a way of living, not merely an academic discipline, is apparent throughout the Enchiridion and is expanded upon in Epictetus' other work, the Discourses, which Arrian purports to be verbatim transcripts of discussions he had and classes he and others participated in with Epictetus (though this is doubtful).Scholars are confident that the works ascribed to Epictetus are his own, not the creation of Arrian, based upon Arrian's other extant writings.


Epictetus' focus was on the responsibility of the individual to live the best life possible. He insisted that human beings do have freedom of choice in all matters even though that choice may be limited by the operation of the logos. This logos (Greek for `word' or `speech' but containing a much greater range of meaning including `to convey thought') was an eternal force which moved through all things and all people, which created and guided the operation of the universe and which had always existed. In many English translations of Epictetus' works logos is often given as God. As Hays writes,
Logos operates both in individuals and in the universe as a whole. In individuals it is the faculty of reason. On a cosmic level it is the rational principle that governs the organization of the universe. In this sense it is synonymous with 'nature', 'Providence' or 'God' (when the author of John's Gospel tells us that `the Word' – logos –was with God and is to be identified with God, he is borrowing Stoic terminology). (xix)
This use of logos as a force characterized by rationality, and perceived through reason, though it has roots in the teachings of Heraclitus, was more clearly explained by Epictetus as Heraclitus' writings were thought to be difficult to understand. According to Epictetus, the logos is the underlying form of the perceived world which sets the parameters of the human experience and maintains the order of the universe by immutable laws.
Because of the natural operation of this logos, then, the individual was limited in choice but still had the power over how to interpret external circumstance and how to respond to it. As the Enchiridion puts it, “Men are disturbed not by the things which happen, but by the opinions about the things: for example, death is nothing terrible, for if it were it would have seemed so to Socrates; for the opinion about death, that it is terrible, is the terrible thing.” How one chooses to interpret external circumstances, not the circumstances themselves, leads one to enjoy a good life or suffer from a bad one. The immense power, and responsibility, of personal choice and free will was at the heart of the Stoicism of Epictetus while he simultaneously acknowledged that there was much in life which was simply beyond one's control. As Hays has it,
The Stoics [defined] free will as a voluntary accommodation to what is in any case inevitable. According to this theory, man is like a dog tied to a moving wagon. If the dog refuses to run along with the wagon he will be dragged by it, yet the choice remains his: to run or be dragged. In the same way, humans are responsible for their choices and actions, even though these have been anticipated by the logos and form part of its plan. (xix-xx)
Human choice may be bound by the laws of the logos but that does not mean people's choices are directed by any outside force. It is always one's individual choice to engage in life willingly or to be dragged through existence reluctantly.
Epictetus insisted that, though life may be subject to constant change, human beings are ultimately responsible for how they interpret and respond to those changes. By accepting responsibility for the way one views the world, and how that view affects one's behavior, one frees the self from slavery to external circumstances to become master of one's own life. It was this emphasis on the superiority of the individual over circumstance which made Stoicism so appealing to the Roman character.Epictetus' work was so influential that it became the central doctrine of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 CE), known as `the last of the good emperors of Rome', who acknowledges Epictetus in his book, The Meditations. Aurelius was by no means the last person to draw strength and inspiration from the teachings of Epictetus as he is acknowledged by many as a formidable influence up to the present day.

Reforms of Augustus › Antique Origins

Ancient Civilizations

by Donald L. Wasson
published on 25 May 2016
Emperor Augustus (27 BCE – 14 CE) accomplished much during his time on the Roman throne, far more than many of his successors. According to historian Mary Beard in her book SPQR, he transformed the structures of Roman Empire, including its politics and army as well as the appearance of the city itself. Unlike many of his successors who would succumb to an early death (by his own hands or someone else's), Augustus was able to survive into old age, long enough to write a personal history of his reign Res Gestae divi Augusti or Acts of the Divine Augustus. Near the end of his long life, the emperor penned two simple sentences summarizing his time on the throne, “I found a city built of sun-dried brick. I leave her clothed in marble.” There are those, however, who believe that his success was partially due to not only his long life but also his ability to make essential changes.


The lengthy civil wars had finally ended. Mark Antony and Cleopatra had been soundly defeated. Lepidus was in exile.Octavian, the step-son and heir of Julius Caesar, marched into the city of Rome a hero. Although entering a champion, he was faced with a difficult task of rebuilding a fallen city, but the Roman Senate had their savior and rewarded him handsomely, giving him the name and title of Augustus. Over the next four decades, his reforms would transform a city and an empire.


Upon his return to Rome from his fight in the civil wars, Augustus stood before the Senate - January 13, 27 BCE - and abdicated the powers that Antony, Lepidus and he had been granted in the Second Triumvirate. The three had been given authority which allowed them to enact laws without the approval of the Roman Senate. Now, in honor of his leadership and loyalty to Rome, the Senate granted him almost unlimited power - maius imperium, power superior to that held by any magistrate or proconsul - and he became Imperator Caesar divi filius Augustus, although he preferred the simple title of princeps, “the first one.” The Senate also awarded him tribunician powers (the powers of the tribune ) for life - the ability to convene the Senate, propose legislation in the popular assemblies and veto any legislation enacted by the same assemblies.According to the Roman historian Suetonius in his The Twelve Caesars, Augustus exclaimed,
May I be privileged to build firm and lasting foundations for the Government of Rome. May I also achieve the reward to which I aspire: that of being known as the author of the best possible Constitution, and of carrying with me, when I die, the hope that these foundations will abide secure. (66)
Augustus learned from the experiences of his stepfather, rejecting the title of dictator; he did not want his life to end in the same manner. To some, mostly his detractors, he would endeavor to maintain the illusion that his authority, his power, was derived from and dependent upon the will of the people. To maintain this idea, he would hold a number of successive consulships, ending in 23 BCE after a brief illness. To the citizens of Rome, he became pater patriae or father of the country. In actuality, although he would give credence to the Senate, power was gradually taken away from the people, the popular assemblies became meaningless, and while the Senate was given sufficient honors and respect, they became only an extension of the emperor's administration in service to Augustus. Rule was concentrated into one man, the emperor, supremacy at home and abroad.


Shortly after his appearance before the Senate in 27 BCE, the new emperor left Rome for Gaul and Spain not returning until 23 BCE. During his absence, he forced the submission of a number of rebellious tribes across the Alps, and many provinces throughout the empire soon learned to live in peace with Rome, the Pax Romana. While his primary goal was to maintain loyalty, Augustus' trips through the empire showed the provinces that Rome “ruled the world.” Unfortunately, during his reign, Augustus failed to expand the empire any further than it had existed during the Republic. Upon his return to the city, the emperor embarked on the reforms that would change both the city and empire, establishing a precedent for those who followed.


One of the new emperor's major concerns was to rebuild the moral decay of Rome. Many in Rome, especially people like the poet-statesman Cicero, believed that the part of the reason for the Republic's decline was the erosion of the public's morals, and the decades following Julius Caesar without proper leadership had done little to help ease the situation. In his biography of the emperor Augustus, historian Anthony Everitt wrote that many Roman citizens felt that “…their traditional virtues of austere duty and healthy poverty were being eroded ….” This decay was the reason for both the violence and “selfishness of political life in Rome" (18). Augustus realized that to rebuild the city of Rome he had to restore the faith and values of old Rome - the need to revive the customs and traditions of the past - a return to “old-fashioned conservatism.” A large part of his focus was on the private and public lives of the upper classes - the elite - and with the powers granted him by the Senate, he had the authority to do just that. Afterwards, however, Augustus realized that some of these new laws could not be easily enforced. Suetonius wrote,
His marriage law being more rigorously framed than the others, he found himself unable to make it effective because of an open revolt against several of its clauses. He was therefore obliged to withdraw or amend certain penalties… (70)
Two new Julian laws, later to be revised, were enacted in 18 BCE, targeting both women's fidelity and the birthrate; lex Julia de adulteriis coercendis made women's adultery a criminal act and lex Julia de maritandis ordinibus (later revised in 9 CE as lex Papia Poppaea ) penalized unmarried men and childless couples in an attempt to increase the birthrate. Oddly, the revision of this latter law was brought about by two unmarried consuls, Marcus Papius Mutlius and Gaius Poppaeus Sabinus. Also, almost in violation of his own law, although Augustus had a daughter by his second wife, he and his third wife Livia (she had two sons from a previous marriage) were childless.


Along with his emphasis on the moral deterioration of Rome, Augustus addressed the need to reawaken the importance of religion among the citizenry. During the lengthy civil wars, many temples throughout the empire had fallen into decay, and people had apparently lost faith in the old gods. To Augustus, a restoration of the “old religion” and a renewed trust in the traditional gods would help restore the confidence of the people. He saw to a return of many of the old, popular festivals and increased the number of public games, reinstituting the Secular Games or Ludi Saeculares in 17 BCE. In his first year alone, he rebuilt or repaired 82 temples, including, in Rome, the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill, the Temple of Apollo on the Palatine Hill, next to his personal residence, and the Temple of Mars Ultor located in the new Forum of Augustus. Lastly, to symbolize his successes in Spain, the Senate commissioned, in July of 13 BCE, the erection on the Campus Martius of the Ara Pacis Augustae the Altar of Augustan Peace.
Ara Pacis Augustae

Ara Pacis Augustae

In 12 BCE Augustus had made himself, upon the death of Lepidus, the Pontifex Maximus or chief priest, and later, after his own death an imperial cult would be established, the idea of the deification of the emperor. Although he resisted the Senate's attempts to name him a god during his reign, upon his death, the Senate rewarded him with deification, an honor that would be given to many of his successors. His wife Livia would even reward a man who swore he saw the emperor ascend skyward.


Augustus imposed a regular census - the duty of the censor - to provide a fair assessment of the provincial tax burden, resulting in a fairer collection of tax revenue. Another major change concerned the Roman treasury, the Aerarium, located at the Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum on the Capitoline Hill. It was managed by two praetors. Augustus provided for a complete reform of the financial structure. The central treasury was linked to the treasuries of all provinces. Together with the expansion and improvement of Roman coinage, two new taxes were created - a poll tax and a land tax - which completely funded the imperial system. This new system provided a stimulus to trade throughout the empire, leading to stability, security, and prosperity. Of course, Augustus made sure his image was on all the coins.



Together with his good friend and fellow commander Marcus Agrippa, who also happened to be the second husband of the emperor's daughter, Augustus created order throughout the empire. Until his early death, Agrippa often managed city affairs when the emperor was away from Rome. Many of their reforms brought about a more efficient bureaucracy and an end to much of the corruption that had existed since the days before the civil wars. Although Augustus left the local municipal governments alone, he divided the Italian peninsula into eleven departments; this change was made for more proficient census and tax collection as well as regulation of public lands. Rome itself was divided into 14 administrative agencies. The city's districts or wards were placed under the jurisdiction of a supervisor who organized watchmen not only to provide warnings of fire hazards but also precautions against possible flooding. Likewise, they aided in cleaning the rubbish out of the Tiber River.
Augustus had over 600 slaves serving as firefighters and even established a police force. Of course, for his own protection, he established the Praetorian Guard. Concerning many of the internal changes to the city, Suetonius wrote,
To give more men some experience of governmental duties he created new offices dealing with the upkeep of public buildings, roads and aqueducts; the clearing of the Tiber channel, and the distribution of grain to the people … (71)
To maintain the support and respect of the senators he awarded them with numerous honors even establishing a retirement age.


Augustus made a number of other essential changes; to speed up communication throughout the provinces; he built relay stations for couriers and state officials complete with chariots and horses. He built a number of new roads and aqueducts, including Aqua Julia and Aqua Virgo. For the people of Rome and in honor of his nephew, he re-vamped the Circus Maximus. To supervise many of these changes, the emperor established two senatorial commissions, curatores viarum which oversaw the maintenance of roads and curatores locorum publicorum which maintained public buildings and temples. Since there was no civil service, slaves and freedmen were used to provide routine tasks of administration.
Theatre of Marcellus, Rome

Theatre of Marcellus, Rome

Augustus also believed that Rome should be a showplace, a symbol for all cities throughout the empire to emulate. He saw to the building of a new Senate house, the Theatre of Marcellus, a public hall or basilica, new porticos and walkways, always using the best marble from northern Italy.


The Roman historian Tacitus wrote a less than favorable evaluation of Augustus in his The Annals of Imperial Rome when he said,
He seduced the army with bonuses, and his cheap food policy was successful bait for civilians. Indeed, he attracted everybody's goodwill by the enjoyable gift of peace. Then he gradually pushed ahead and absorbed the functions of the senate, the officials, and even the law. Opposition did not exist. War or judicial murder had disposed of all men of spirit. [The legal system] was wholly incapacitated by violence, favoritism, and – most of all – bribery. (32)
Despite this rather dismal review of his four decades, Augustus must still be remembered for having brought the empire out of the aftermath of years of civil war when the city was in disrepair. He was the first emperor of Rome, and all others would be compared to him.


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