Below is a list of frequently used words on this blog, many of which are Stoic terms.  The main source of this lexicon comes from the College of Stoic Philosophers Stoic Glossary.  I've also used John Sellars' Glossary of Terms for some entries.  For other words, I take the liberty of expanding or clarifying the term based on my studies.

There is also this list from Wikipedia: Glossary of Stoicism terms, which is quite useful.

aegritudo (Latin word) [eye-gree-TU-doh]

Distress or contraction. One of the four general passions. Unlike the other passions, Distress has no opposite.

See pathos.

agathon (ἀγαθόν)

The Good. The only Good is our own virtuous choices, both beneficial and wise. The opposite of the Good is the Bad (kakon). Things which are not Bad or Good are Indifferent.

aretε (ἀρετή) [ar-eh-TAY)

Virtue. Virtues are character traits of those who are more prone to make virtuous choices. Virtuous choices are those appropriate choices in accordance with Nature. In other words, virtue consists of making appropriate selections among Indifferents, selecting the preferred and avoiding the dispreferred.

The most articulated value in Greek culture is areté. Translated as "virtue," the word actually means something closer to "being the best you can be," or "reaching your highest human potential." The term from Homeric times onwards is not gender specific. Homer applies the term of both the Greek and Trojan heroes as well as major female figures, such as Penelope, the wife of the Greek hero, Odysseus. In the Homeric poems, areté is frequently associated with bravery, but more often, with effectiveness. The man or woman of areté is a person of the highest effectiveness; they use all their faculties: strength, bravery, wit, and deceptiveness, to achieve real results. In the Homeric world, then, areté involves all of the abilities and potentialities available to humans. We can, through the frequent use of this term in Homer's poems, make some tentative conclusions about the early Greek world view. The concept implies a human-centered universe in which human actions are of paramount importance; the world is a place of conflict and difficulty, and human value and meaning is measured against individual effectiveness in the world.

Aristotle's areté is explicitly linked with human knowledge. Plato repeatedly returns to the question of areté , and the evidence of his earliest writings suggest that Socrates, Plato's teacher, was equally obsessed with the question. Various Platonic dialogues deal with questions such as: Can areté be taught or learned (Meno)? What is areté (The Republic)? The famous Socratic paradox, "Virtue is knowledge," is in Greek, "Areté is knowledge." This would be the foundation of both Socratic and Platonic philosophy: the highest human potential is knowledge and all other human abilities are derived from this central capacity. Aristotle also locates the highest human potential in knowledge: theoretical knowledge. If areté is knowledge and study, the highest human knowledge is knowledge about knowledge itself; in this light, the theoretical study of human knowledge, which Aristotle called "contemplation," is the highest human ability and happiness. (source)

askesis (ἄσκησις)

Exercise; "the second stage in learning an art, coming after the study of the relevant theoretical principles" (Sellars, 164).


see sunkatathesis 


See kakon.

boulesis (βούλησις)

Wish or "rational reaching out ...  Volition is the knowledge that some future thing is a good of such a sort that we should reach out for it" (Brennan, 97-98). This is one of the three hai eupatheiai, or 'good feelings'. Wish is the opposite of Appetite (epithumia, libido).  See also hai eupatheiai.

cardinal virtues

There are four cardinal virtues: Wisdom, Justice, Courage, and Decorum. All virtues are attributes of the first cardinal virtue of Wisdom. These virtues are the only good and their achievement is the good or excellence of the wise man, the philosopher. Moral excellence is the perfection of virtue (arete), which the wise man cultivates as an art, the art of living. Because the perfection of virtue is the work of the wise, only the wise truly know virtue. And, because virtue is the only good, it alone is sufficient for happiness (eudaimonia). All virtues are manifestations of knowledge, and the lack of knowledge, or ignorance is the cause of the lack of virtue, which is vice, or evil. See also the individual entries for each.

chara (χαρά)

Joy or "rational elation ... the knowledge that some present thing is a good of such a sort that we should be elated at it" (Brennan, 97-98). This is one of the three hai eupatheiai, or 'good feelings'. Joy is the opposite of Pleasure (hedone, laetitia).  See also hai eupatheiai.

Chrysippus [cry-sip-us] (this is the pronunciation generally used in English academic circles)

Stoic philosopher

common notions

Collections of like presentations, grouped in our minds by similarities.


The third Cardinal Virtue. The knowledge of what things are to be confronted. Two attributes are bravery (the management of fear) and boldness (vision and ambition). Its perfection is in facing and mastering what we fear.

crasis (κρᾶσις) [KRA-sees]

The total blending that occurs between wine and water, and between the active and passive principles in matter.

criterion of truth

The means by which the command center (hegemonikon) discerns which presentations (phantasia) are real or imaginary, and which are true or false. It does this by comparing immediate presentations with common notions.

daemon or daimon (δαίμων)

Literally, the god or part of god within each human being. It may have denoted the rational self. Socrates had a daemon that he referred to many times. In classical times, the term was used to refer to a lesser deity.


The fourth Cardinal Virtue. Although the fourth virtue is often referred to as 'temperance' the original word was Sophrosyne, which has no perfect translation, and is a much more inclusive word than temperance. Sophrosyne is the knowledge of self-control and how to be steadfast, including the regulation of appetites, emotions, and desires. It is also a dignified propriety or noble bearing in appearance, speech, and manners.


The actual thing to which a word refers.


The quality of an Indifferent such that it is inconsistent with Nature. See also, Indifferent.

divine fire

See Logos.

Doctrine of Preconception

See "prolepsis"

ekpyrosis (ἐκπύρωσις)

"periodic moment of destruction of the cosmos in which it is transformed into pure creative fire" (Sellars, 164)

Epictetus [Eh-peek-TEE-tus] (this is the pronunciation generally used in English academic circles)

Stoic philosopher

epithumia (ἐπιθυμία)

Appetite or lust/swelling. One of the four general passions. Long and Sedley quote Andronicus, "(3) Appetice is an irrational stretching [desire], or pursuit of an expected good" (411).  See pathos.

eph' hêmin (ἐφ' ἡμῖν)

"up to us" or "on us" - "Epictetus' term for those things that are within one's control, principally one's assents to impressions that form the basis for one's opinions, desires and actions" (Sellars, 165)


The creative force. Represented by the God of Love, Eros is that force which unifies opposites in order to create and recreate. We rationally perceive this force as love.

eudaimonia (εὐδαιμονία)

Happiness. This refers to what we would translate today as happiness independent of circumstance.  "the ultimate goal in life, being that for the sake of which everything is done but which is not itself for the sake of anything else" (Sellars, 164)

eulabeia (εὐλάβεια)

Caution or "rational avoiding ...  the knowledge that some future thing is a bad thing of such a sort that we should avoid it (Brennan, 97-98). This is one of the three hai eupatheiai, or 'good feelings'. Caution is the opposite of Fear (phobos).  See also hai eupatheiai.

Evil (vice)

See kakon.


See Indifferent.


See agathon.

good feelings, good passions

See hai eupatheiai.

hai eupatheiai (αἱ εὐπαθείαι)

The 'good passions' or 'good feelings'. The opposite of Passion (pathos), these are the serene and reasonable actions of the soul in the good states. These are feelings that arise from true judgments about the Good (agathon) and the Bad (kakon). They include: Joy (chara), Wish (boulesis), and Caution (eulabeia).

hedone (ἡδονή)

Pleasure or elation/delight. One of the four general passions. Long and Sedley quote Andronicus, " (4) Pleasure is an irrational swelling, or a fresh opinion chac something good is present, at which people think it right to be be swollen [i.e. elated]" (411).  See pathos.

hegemonikon (ἡγεμονικόν)

The command center of a human soul. That part which is capable of making choices. It has four essential abilities: presentation, impulse, assent, and reason (Logos).  Sellars calls it "commanding faculty - the ruling part of the soul; what would now be called the mind" (164).

hexis (ἕξις) [HEX-ees]

Cohesive state. Bodies are held together by a two-way motion. Pneuma motion begins at the center of the object, simultaneously moving to the surface and back again producing an internal tension, tonos, that creates the cohesive state.

hypomnemata (ὑπομνήματα) [hyp-om-NAY-mah-tah]

Personal notes as found in the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Today we would call this 'journaling'.


The instinctive movement of the soul toward that which appears to be beneficial, and away from that which appears to be harmful. All living animals are spurred to action by impulse.


Those things which are not bodies. While corporeal bodies exist, incorporeal bodies subsist. Only a body, that which exists, can act and be acted upon. The incorporeal includes: lekta (the meaning of words), void (that infinite realm outside the cosmos and within which the cosmos exists), place (location), and time (only the present exists and is rationally divided into past and future to understand movement of the corporeal).


Things which are not within our control - externals, in the sense of being external to our will. Since the only Good (agathon) is our virtuous choice, and the only Bad (kakon) is our vicious choice, all other things are therefore in the category of things which are Indifferent.  This refers, not to our attitude of indifference, but rather an objective quality of a thing as being indifferent to the Good or the Bad. Stoics do not attach themselves, their feelings, sense of value, or contentment to Indifferents.  Among Indifferents, there are Preferred Indifferents (consistent with Nature), Dispreferred Indifferents (inconsistent with Nature), and True Indifferents.


The second Cardinal Virtue. Justice is the knowledge of how things are to be distributed, taking into account the fairness of each individual’s interest when measured against every other interest in the prevention of harm and in the distribution of benefit.

kakon (κακόν)

The Bad. The only Bad is our own vicious (unvirtuous) choices, both harmful and unwise. The opposite of the Bad, is the Good (agathon). Things which are not Bad or Good are Indifferent.

katalepsis (κατάληψις)

The process whereby the hegemonikon (command center) grasps or apprehends the presentation (phantasia), becoming cognizant of it. This is less than knowledge but comes after assent.  Sellars calls it "cognition" and goes on to define it as, "an assent to an adequate impressions; a building block for knowledge (164).


True understanding, possessed by none but the wise.

laetitia (Latin word) [lie-tee-tee-a]

Pleasure or elation/delight. One of the four general passions. See pathos.

lekta (λεκτά) [lek-TAH]

The incorporeal quality described as the meaning of words.


Appetite or lust/swelling. One of the four general passions. See pathos.


An artistic fire, the active principle, creates as it expands pervading inert matter, the passive principle, and defining existence as an evolving, dynamic process.  Logos is the Seminal Reason of creation, the past, present, and future of the cosmos existing in potential at the beginning.  Just as the apple seed contains the intelligence to grow into a tree, so does the universe evolve from the seed of its intelligence at birth.  This same quality in humans is what gives them the power of reason that animals lack.

lupe (λύπη)

Distress or contraction. One of the four general passions. Unlike the other passions, Distress has no opposite.  Long and Sedley quote Andronicus "(1) Distress is an irrational contraction, or a fresh opinion that something bad is present, at which people think it right to be contracted [i.e. depressed]" (411).  See pathos.

Marcus Aurelius (MARK-us A-REEL-ee-us) (this is the pronunciation generally used in English academic circles)

Roman emperor, Stoic philosopher

mneme (μνήμη) [MNAY-may]

memory work.


Thought. Rational presentation capable of human beings. Thoughts are corporeal physical states of the pneuma-soul which have the structure of language. Thought is related to three parts: (1) the Sign, (2) the Significate, and (3) the Denotation.

oikeiosis (οἰκείωσις)

The Doctrine of Appropriation. This is the migration of our natural affinity for self to an affinity for others, extending outward to larger and larger circles: self, family, community, nation, world, etc.

appropriation, orientation, familiarization, affinity, affiliation, endearment

signifies the perception of something as one’s own, as belonging to oneself

the basis for all animal impulses as well as human ethical action; the beginning of justice.

Sellars defines it as "an animal's primary sense of concern for itself" (163).

pathos (πάθος)

Emotion or passion. The inappropriate feelings or enrapturing emotions. A form of mental illness or psychic disturbance, these emotions are a case of false judgments about the Good (agathon) and the Bad (kakon). The four general passions are distress (or contraction, lupe, aegritudo), fear (or shrinking, phobos), appetite (or lust/swelling, epithumia, libido), and pleasure (or elation/delight, hedone, laetitia). Their opposite are the Good Feelings or hai eupatheiai.  Sellars defines it as "a mental disturbance based on a rational judgement" (164).


Presentations. The initial sensory impressions we experience.

phantastikon (φανταστικόν) [fan-tas-tee-KON]

An imaginary presentation; dreams, fantasies, hallucinations. These are produced from the internal manipulation of the mental content of previously stored presentations (phantasia).

phobos (φόβος)

Fear or shrinking. One of the four general passions. Long and Sedley quote Andronicus, "(2) Fear is an irrational shrinking [aversion], or avoidance of an expected danger" (411).  See pathos.

phusis (φύσις) [FU-sees]

That quality that, when mixed with a body that is cohesive (hexis), makes the body organic. Bodies with only hexis and phusis grow and reproduce, but have no cognitive ability.

pneuma (πνεῦμα)

Air, the Divine Breath that enters, defines, and rules inert matter produces an internal tension (tonos) by moving from the center of an object to its surface, then returning to its center again. Pneuma is the world Soul that pervades and directs the cosmos just as it pervades and directs a material body with a human soul (pneuma psychikon) extending a spark of divine reason, the Logos, to human kind.

Sellars translates it as "breath" and defines it as, "the active principle in Nature, sometimes identified with God, sometimes with the soul of God" (163).

pneuma psychikon (πνεῦμα ψυχικόν) [PNEW-mah psu-khee-KON]

The human soul.


The quality of an Indifferent such that it is consistent with Nature. See also, Indifferent.

prohairesis (προαίρεσις

Choice or moral choice, volition, will, intention "the conscious decision-making part of the commanding faculty (hegemonikon); what might now be called the 'will' or 'I'" (Sellars, 164)

prokoptôn (προκόπτων) [pro-KOP-tone]

Making progress. Even though one has not obtained the wisdom of a sage when appropriate actions are increasingly chosen fewer and fewer mistakes will be made and one will be prokoptôn, making progress.

prolepsis (πρόληψις) [PRO-layp-sees]

The Doctrine of Preconception. The human infant, although a 'blank slate' at birth, has a number of preconceptions or innate dispositions toward forming certain kinds of concepts. The greatest of these are impulses encouraging the formation of a concept of God and the Good.

prosoche (προσοχή) [pro-soh-KHAY)

The attentiveness or mindfulness that Stoics should apply to every impression and situation they face as they determine the proper judgement they need to make in order to maintain their eudaimonia.

psuche (ψυχή) [psy-KHAY)

Soul. Animals with impulse and perception have psuche, while things that merely reproduce and grow without cognitive ability do not.


The Pneuma totally blended with the substratum creating a body.


The spoken word, whether to one's self or out loud.

sophrosyne (σωφροσύνη) [so-froh-SU-nay]

See decorum.


Each body made cohesive and defined by its unique mixture of the Pneuma: Cohesive state – hexis, Organic nature – hexis & phusis, Non-rational animals – hexis, phusis, & psuche (soul), and Rational animals (human) – hexis, phusis, psuche, & Logos (reason).


Shapeless matter before it is permeated by the Pneuma.

sunkatathesis or synkatathesis  (συγκατάθεσις)

assent, approval to impressions, enabling action to take place.  A modification of the pneuma-soul which the hegemonikon identifies on the basis of common notions, or the criterion of truth - the collections of like experiences accumulated by memory.  "accepting an impression that has been presented to the soul" (Sellars, 163).


Valid forms of deductive reasoning. Chrysippus developed five forms of syllogism. Syllogisms reemerged in the mid 20th Century once more formally understood and became the leading school in the development of formal logic.

tonos (τόνος) [TOH-nos]

An internal tension in a body, simultaneously moving to the surface and back again, that creates the cohesive state – hexis.

to paschon (τὸ πἀσχον) [toh PASS-khon]

The Passive Principle which is entered into and blended with the active principle as wine is blended into water. 

to poioun (τὸ ποιοῦν) [toh poi-NOON]

The Active Principle which enters and blends with the passive principle as wine is blended into water.


The quality of an Indifferent such that it is consistent with Nature. See also, Indifferent.


See arete.


The first Cardinal Virtue. Wisdom is the knowledge of what is good or bad or neither.  Knowing what is prudent, what is in accord with Nature, what is true and what is false.


Works cited

Brennan, Tad. The Stoic Life : Emotions, Duties, and Fate. Oxford Oxford University Press -06-23, 2005.

Long, A. A., and D. N. Sedley. The Hellenistic Philosophers. Volume 1. Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Sellars, John. Stoicism. Routledge, 2014.

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