The Greatest Generation.
I frequently hear my parents' generation described as stoic, having lived through the hardships of the 1930s and '40s. It makes me wonder, how old is the word stoic?
C. T. Macon, Georgia
The story of stoic begins about the year 300 B.C., when the Athenian philosopher Zeno started teaching a doctrine that spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. Zeno lectured at a public hall called the Stoa Poikile ("Painted Colonnade"), and his philosophical school became known as the Stoa. He taught that happiness and well-being do not depend on wealth or station but on reason, through which one can emulate the calm and order of the universe by learning to accept events with a stern and tranquil mind. Zeno's Greek followers elaborated on his teachings, which were later popularized by the Roman Stoics Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. By the 14th century, English speakers were using the word stoic for anyone who could face adversity calmly and without excess emotion, and by the 15th century as an adjective meaning "not affected by or showing passion or feeling."