Gaius Musonius Rufus - Life

Life

The son of a Roman eques of the name of Capito, Musonius Rufus was born in Volsinii, Etruria about 20-30 AD. He was already famous in Rome by the time of Nero, where he taught Stoic philosophy. He followed Rubellius Plautus into exile when Plautus was banished by Nero (60 AD). He returned to Rome after Plautus' death (62 AD), but as a consequence of his practising and teaching Stoicism, he became an object of suspicion and dislike at Nero's court, and was accordingly banished to the island of Gyarus (65 AD) on a trumped-up charge of participation in the Pisonian conspiracy. He returned under Galba (68 AD). When Marcus Antonius Primus, the general of Vespasian, was marching upon Rome (69 AD), he joined the ambassadors that were sent by Vitellius to the victorious general, and going among the soldiers of the latter, preached about the blessings of peace and the dangers of war, but was soon made to stop. When the party of Vitellius gained the upper hand, Musonius was able to accuse, and obtain the conviction of, Publius Egnatius Celer, the Stoic philosopher who had condemned Barea Soranus. It was perhaps about this time that Musonius taught Epictetus, his most famous student. So highly was Musonius esteemed in Rome that Vespasian allowed him to remain in Rome when the other philosophers were banished from the city (71 AD), but eventually he was exiled anyway (perhaps around 75 AD), only returning after Vespasian's death (79 AD). As to his death, we know only that he was dead by 101 AD, when Pliny speaks of his son-in-law Artemidorus.

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