Brief Essay

Or you can dismiss until our next donations drive (typically at the beginning of October).Before you dismiss, please consider making a donation. Since this man deserves far more publicity than he has ever gotten in the modern age, I have written this short essay.

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He exemplifies the sort of man who should have been venerated and made the founder of a world religion, but was not, yet he was the moral superior in my opinion to Jesus--not perfect, but admirable within the context of his own day. and his fame in antiquity was far greater than modern ignorance of him suggests.

Gaius Musonius Rufus was a Roman knight of Italian (Etruscan) birth, but dedicated his life to Stoicism and to preaching moral lectures in Greek and teaching all over the Empire, as well as involving himself in moral causes even at peril of his life. He is now most famous for being the tutor of the slave-philosopher Epictetus, who in turn was much admired by Marcus Aurelius.

Musonius, finally, had far more to say for the benefit of women than Jesus ever did. [3] Origen, Contra Celsum 3.66; others, Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, 4.46; "Letter to the high-priest Theodorus" (16) and "Letter to Themistius" (20-22), written by the emperor Julian; Pliny, Letters 3.11; Dio of Prusa, Orations 31.122.

If a mortal can be better-spoken and advocate better ideals than Jesus, then Jesus can be neither a God nor the greatest moral teacher. [4] There used to be only one English translation of all his works in existence (Cora Lutz, Musonius Rufus: The Roman Socrates, Yale, 1942), which is out of print (but might be purchasable through University Microfilms International at 300 Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106 USA; Tel. But recently a new translation has become available: Cynthia King, Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings. [9] John -17; also, Matthew ff., Mark -7, Luke 19.45ff.

To the objection that the poor must do this because they cannot afford to feed the child, Musonius says: Whence do the little birds, which are much poorer than you, feed their young, the swallows and nightingales and larks and blackbirds? Apart from the obvious egalitarian nature of Musonius' belief that all human beings are citizens of the city of God (Discourse 9), another major doctrine repeated many times by Musonius was that "one should endure hardships, and suffer the pains of labor with his own body, rather than depend upon another for sustenance" (Discourse 11), which entails that we should not live from the labor of slaves.

Homer speaks of them in these words, "Even as a bird carries to her unfledged young whatever morsels she happens to come upon, though she fares badly herself" [Iliad 9.323]. And though it was legal for a man to force sex with his slavegirl, Musonius regards this as shameful, comparing the slavegirl to a free woman (Discourse 12), a rather amazing thing to think about slaves.

Indeed, in contrast with Jesus who called even those who think of adultery to cut out their eyes (Matthew -30, Mark -9), Musonius said "freedom of speech means not suppressing whatever one chances to think" (Discourse 9).

Like Jesus, Musonius preached charity (Discourse 19), declaring that "to help many people" is "much more commendable than living a life of luxury." But unlike Jesus, he also emphasized the importance of civic duty as well (Discourse 14).


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