The ethical doctrines of the stoics, which they regarded as based on a rigorously deductive system, centred on the suppression of passion and the following of reason and nature. Since, however, some early Christian writers like Clement of Alexandria, drawing on neoplatonist as well as on stoic ideas, held that the suppression of passion demanded the total hegemony in man of spirit over matter, the stoic sage was therefore endowed with the spiritual elevation, measured in terms of freedom from matter and rationality of behaviour, of God himself. The idea that the sage is the equal of God was to be defended by some sixteenth-century Christian stoics such as Justus Lipsius and attacked as impious by representatives of a more rigorously Augustinian tradition of Christian spirituality. Erasmus himself was to exploit certain stoic themes and ideas, particularly those which, unlike this one, derived from Epictetus, as that our true good is in our power.
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