On the 5 of September took place, in Athens, the 2019 Stoicon!
The word conference of Stoicism.
I have been so lucky that I was able to assist it for the second time after last year in London. This was actually the 5th Stoicon ever done. There were: London 2014 and 2015; New York 2016, Toronto 2017 and London 2018.
The next location for 2020, is still to be decided, although, I hope that after Athens, Rome will follow.
Athens is, of course, the perfect city for hosting a conference on an ancient Greek philosophy.
By walking its street and ruins you can have the sense that this was one of the most important birthplace of philosophy, democracy and in general the western civilisation. it has been a constant trill for me.
Besides, the city offers good food and its autumn weather was better of this year summer here in the UK!
This year conference was hosted in the Cotsen Hall of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
A vary nice building not far from the centre of the city.
Following this link you can see the list of speakers. All speech have been recorded and they will be transcript. Hopefully soon will link here the ones that I liked the most for now you can check the progress via this link Modern Stoics.
This year event was organised by Donald Robertson, one of the most known author of contemporary Stoicism. He is the author of the book that brought me to Stoicism: Stoicism and the Art of Happiness and the most recent How to Think Like a Roman Emperor. Highly recombined.
The first speaker of the conference has been Jonas Salzgeber, also an author, in this case, of a precious little book called unequivocally The Little Book of Stoicism.
He gave a nice presentation vary TED talk style!
The most unexpected and interesting talks were:
One given by Thomas Jarret a former Special Force LTC from the American Army.
He explained how the teaching of Stoicism had helped the soldiers during and after the Iraq war.
This is a point of view that rarely (hopefully always rarer) you will encounter in your daily life and that also proves how Stoicism can give a concrete help.
Equally interesting was the talk from Professor Matthew Sharpe on Lucian of Samosata (wiki) and the comedy connected with Stoicism.
And in general how humour and satire has to have a batter role in the Stoic landscape.
Outside the Conference
As I said, Athens has been a great experience for me and I will probably visit it again, and for sure I will visit other sites and island in this amazing land.
The following are for me the sites that a good Stoic prokopton (προκόπτον) has to visit:
The Stoa of the Stoics and Not
In this “pilgrimage”, a visit to the recently uncovered ancient Stoa Poikile, is it a must! This is exact place were Zeno founded the philosophy what was later called Stoicism!
It is just next to the ancient agora, although, how you can see from the picture, is nothing but an open working area. Much of it is still to be uncovered!
Much of the ancient stoa is still buried under two buildings. Two restaurants and a tourist shop.
A guide told us that by next year or so, at least one of those building will be tore down, allowing to bring to light this important heritage site.
In any case, if you really want to have an idea of how the ancient Stoa looked like, you can walk to the other of the rail road and enter the other side of ancient agora (side note, yes there’s a rail road in the middle of the agora!!!).
In here you can see, what is called the Stoa of Attalos, this is reconstruction of the same site of an other Stoa present in the agora.
Don’t miss the little museum inside of it.
Socrates prison cell
Not far, and unnoticed by the common tourists, there is one of the most important site for the western philosophy: The prison cell of Socrates.
This place is barely marked but this was the Athenian State prison, in which have been found numerous vials for the hemlock and in one particular cell a votive statue of Socrates. Probably left from an ancient Athenians as a sign of regret for the death of the philosopher.
Unmissable for the any tourist in Athens is a visit to the Acropolis and a close look at the Parthenon.
As I was getting inside the Acropolis, it started raining and the rain quickly turned into a hailstorm! Everything lasted less than 10 minutes, but not vary nice once.
As you can see from the above picture I’m soaked wet.
The view from above
Rain and ice aside, I still could see the fantastic view of the city!
In the picture below there part of the city and the Theatre of Dionysus
On this theatre the Athenians once gathered to watch the play of Aristophanes The Clouds and all laugh at Socrates.
A nice theatre, they even allow you to sit in it.
So long Stoicon, until next time Athens!