31 Dec 2017

Goldschmidt ( Le système stoïcien et l'idée de temps, “Aiôn et présent”, summary


by Corry Shores


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[The following is summary. Bracketed commentary is my own, as is any boldface. Proofreading is incomplete, which means typos are present, especially in the quotations. So consult the original text. Also, I welcome corrections to my interpretations, because I am not good enough with French or Greek to make accurate translations of the texts.]




Summary of


Victor Goldschmidt


Le système stoïcien et l'idée de temps


Première partie:

La théorie du temps et sa portée


A. La théorie du temps


III. La théorie du temps

Aiôn et présent




Brief summary:

For the Stoics, there are two modes of temporality. {1} There is the time of the actual present, and this present exists and has some limited extensive duration. And {2} there is the unlimited time reaching infinitely into the past and future, with the division between the two being the present as an infinitely divided, mathematical instant. While Chrysippus did not make a terminological distinction despite speaking of time in each of these senses, Marcus Aurelius does in fact distinguish them terminologically by calling the eternal, infinite sort of time “αἰών”. He uses this notion to make the point that in the context of eternal time, our life is but an insignificant finite interval, and so we should not be troubled too much in life, given its ultimate insignificance. Now, aiôn-time (including both the limitless past and future and the infinitely divided mathematical instant that is the “present” and the limit between the two) is incorporeal and thus irreal, while the lived, specious present that we know by our senses is the real corporeal present.





[Aiôn and the Present]

[The Irreality of Past and Future and the Reality of the Present]

[Eternal/Infinite Past and Future “Aiôn” time and the Limited Interval of Our Lifetime]

[The Incorporeality of the Aiônic Past and Future and Its Mathematical Present]





Aiôn et présent

[The Irreality of Past and Future and the Reality of the Present]


(p.39: “ On ne saurait donc dire, à la suite de Proclus …”)


[In sum: There are two senses of time. There is time as infinitely extending into the past and future. It is irreal, in that rather than existing like corporeals do, it subsists as an incorporeal. And there is another time, that of the actual present. This time is real and exists. The present is a limit to the infinite time, just as place is a limit to the unlimited void.]


We thus cannot draw Proclus’ conclusion that all this argumentation tends to deny the reality of time, namely, that since time is never actual, it therefore does not exist. This is only true however for the past and the future [which are said to “subsist” rather than exist, and thus have a sort of irreality to them, even though they have a “somethinghood”]. But the present does exist and is actual. This makes their theory of time analogous to their theory of space, as is seen in the following diagram:


void (infinite on all sides)

place (limited)



time (infinite at each of its extremities: past and future)


time (limited: present)




[I have not read the part on place and void yet, so I cannot decipher the diagram right now. But in a previous section on this topic, Goldschmidt examines the following Stobaeus quotation:

Stobaeus I:161,8-26. SVF 2.503, part:

The void is said to be infinite. For what is outside the world is like this, but place is finite since no body is infinite. Just as anything corporeal is finite, so the incorporeal is infinite, for time and void are infinite. For as nothing is no limit, so there is no limit of nothing, as is the case with the void. In respect of its own subsistence it is infinite; it is made finite by being filled, but once that which fills it has been removed, a limit to it cannot be thought of.

(Long and Sedley I, p.294)

In the French:

« On dit que le vide est in fini ; car tel est le vide en dehors du monde ; le lieu, en revanche, est limité, étant donné qu’aucun corps n’est infini. Or, de même que le corporel est limité, de même l’incorporel est infini ; en effet, le temps est infini, ainsi que le vide. Car, de même que le rien n’est aucune limite, de même il n’y a aucune limite au rien ; or tel est le vide. Selon sa propre nature, en effet, il est infini; il se limite cependant, quand il est rempli ; mais quand est supprimé ce qui le remplit, impossible de lui concevoir une limite »3.

3. Arius Did., 25 (Dox. gr., 160, 24sqq. = S.V.F., II, 503)

(Goldschmidt p.26).

Perhaps Goldschmidt is describing the following structure with his diagram, but this is a preliminary guess. The void has no limit. It is incorporeal, and it has no element of place in it. But when it is filled by something, that something is corporeal, is limited, and has place. We have a similar structure with time. There is time understood as unlimited at both its extremities of the past and the future. It is incorporeal and has no real moments in it, thus it has no real temporal “places” filling it. But a real present can come to be said to have a location associable with the unlimited time. Such a present is limited, corporeal, and has temporal “place”.] [Let me note something about place in infinite time. We can say that if it is linear, it has determinate places along the line, as some come before others. Thus we might want to say that infinite time has temporal “place” to it. And so we might designate one part as coming before another. But at best these temporal places could only be relative to one another and not have an assigned place on the continuum. This is because there is no first or last moment that would orient all the rest. Perhaps we might designate some point as the present and use that as the point of origin to give determinate place to all the rest. I am not certain. It could also be that infinite time has no such present, because the present is real and time is irreal. In other words, this kind of time seems to have order without place. Imagine designating a point in this line of time, and speaking of that point’s “place”. But under consideration that there is infinitely much coming before it, we might imagine that place shifting forward in relation to it, as if getting pushed further into the future in the context of a past that fills up further into the past. In the context of the infinite future, we might think of its place shifting backward into the past under that relation. It is somewhat dizzying to think of a moment’s place in an infinite stretch. Let me put it another way. Suppose we designate a moment in infinite time. We might think that any such moment stands in the exact middle of the line, because going forward and back from it are infinities. But this holds for any point on the line. Thus every point is right in the middle of time and so none would have any ultimate place. A moment can have place in relation to another moment (being so much before or after it), but a moment cannot have place in relation to time itself. And even the relative place is not secure, because neither of the two related points in time have an ultimate place on the line, so their interval has no place in the same way either point has no place.]

On ne saurait donc dire, à la suite de Proclus, que « toute cette argumentation tend ... à nier la réalité du temps : il n’est jamais actuel et par conséquent n’existe pas »3. Cela n’est vrai que du passé et de l’avenir. Mais le présent, lui, existe et est actuel, en sorte que la théorie du temps est exactement analogue à celle de l’espace4 :


le vide (infini de toutes parts)


le lieu (limité)


le temps (infini à chacune de ses extrémités : passé et futur)


le temps (limité : présent)




3. Incorporels, p.59.

4. E. Bréhier a parfaitement indiqué cette analogie (« Ce temps est au milieu du temps infini comme le lieu du monde dans le vide », Incorp. p. 55), malheureusement, sans en faire bénéficier son interprétation d’ensemble de la théorie du temps.


[Eternal/Infinite Past and Future “Aiôn” time and the Limited Interval of Our Lifetime]


(p.39: “ Sans doute, la théorie eût-elle été plus scolairement intelligible …”)


[In sum: The Stoic notion of time as extending infinitely to the past and future is seen implicitly in Chrysippus’ definition of time in its two senses, but it is given terminological distinction by Marcus Aurelius, who calls it αἰών. He speaks of how our life is a limited interval (similar to a broadened present) set within an infinite gulf of the limitless past and future of the αἰών. In comparison to eternity, our life is of infinitesimal significance, and so we should not over-dramatize the difficulties in our life.]


This Stoic theory of time [with its two senses, namely, {1} an irreal, unlimited time extending infinity into the past and future and {2} a real limited time of the actual present] would have been as intelligible as their theory of void and place had Chrysippus used two terms for time to designate the two types of temporality. But perhaps Chrysippus thought this distinction was already obvious, given that it is more or less a distinction between the present on the one hand and the past and future on the other hand. Also, he does suggest this distinction when saying that “time is spoken of in two senses” (Inwood and Gerson 2008: 88. In the French: “Le temps se prend dans deux acceptions”). But even if we insist that Chrysippus was imprecise, we nonetheless find the conceptual distinction given a proper terminological distinction in Marcus Aurelius. He speaks of an infinite time, corresponding to the void, and he calls it αἰών, normally translated by “eternity” (“éternité”). To see the origin and development of the term αἰών, we can look to Onians’ The Origins of European Thought: About the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time and Fate. (See this entry: Selections on Aion and Chronos [Αἰών; Χρόνος] in Onians’ Origins of European Thought). There we learn that “αἰών” referred to the “vital liquid” and came to mean “life-time”, “period of time”, and then “eternity” [see page 251: This conception of Χρόνος, the usual meaning of which is ‘Time’, may be related to that of αἰών, which was not only the procreative life-fluid with which the ψυχή was identified, the spinal marrow believed to take serpent form, but also came to mean ‘lifetime’, ‘period of time’ and so ‘eternity’.”] But, as Goldschmidt notes, this means that [although it means eternity] it also means the limitation that the Stoics reserved for present time. [I am not certain, but perhaps Goldschmidt is saying that αἰών originally referred to the limited, durational, specious present and then later evolved to mean eternity.] Goldschmidt cites the following places where Marcus Aurelius uses αἰών.


Meditations IV, 3:


ἀλλὰ τὸ δοξάριόν σε περισπάσει; ἀπιδὼν εἰς τὸ τάχος τῆς πάντων λήθης καὶ τὸ χάος τοῦ ἐφ᾽ ἑκάτερα ἀπείρου αἰῶνος καὶ τὸ κενὸν τῆς ἀπηχήσεως καὶ τὸ εὐμετάβολον καὶ ἄκριτον τῶν εὐφημεῖν δοκούντων καὶ τὸ στενὸν τοῦ τόπου, ἐν ᾧ περιγράφεται: ὅλη τε γὰρ ἡ γῆ στιγμὴ καὶ ταύτης πόστον γωνίδιον ἡ κατοίκησις αὕτη; καὶ ἐνταῦθα πόσοι καὶ οἷοί τινες οἱ ἐπαινεσόμενοι;

(Marcus Aurelius 1916: 68-70. Text copied from Perseus [so capitals excluded for example])


Est-ce la gloriole qui te divertira? Considère la rapidité de l’oubli de toutes choses, l’abîme de l’éternité, sans borne derrière comme devant nous, la vanité d’un nom qui retentit, la mobilité et l’irréflexion des gens qui paraissent vous louer, et l’étroitesse du lieu qui limite la renommée. Qu’est-ce que toute la terre? Un point. Et de ce point quelle minuscule partie nous habitons ! Et là même combien d’hommes, et quels hommes! te loueront?

(Marcus Aurelius 1924: 31-32)


Or shall the little affair of character and glory disturb you, when you reflect how all things shall be involved in oblivion; and the vast immensity of eternal duration on both sides; how empty the noisy echo of applauses; how fickle and injudicious the applauders; how narrow the bounds within which our praise is confined: the earth itself but as a point in the universe: and how small a corner of it the part inhabited: and, even there, how few are they, and of how little worth, who <92> are to praise us!

(Marcus Aurelius 2008: 48)


But will that paltry thing, Fame, pluck thee aside? Look at the swift approach of complete forgetfulness, | and the void of infinite time on this side of us and on that, and the empty echo of acclamation, and the fickleness and uncritical judgment of those who claim to speak well of us, and the narrowness of the arena to which all this is confined. For the whole earth is but a point, and how tiny a corner of it is this the place of our sojourning! and how many therein and of what sort are the men who shall praise thee!

(Marcus Aurelius 1916: 69-71)


But perhaps the desire of the thing called fame will torment thee. – See how soon everything is forgotten, and look at the chaos of infinite time on each side of [the present], and the emptiness of applause, and the changeableness and want of judgement in those who pretend to give praise, and the narrowness of the space within which it is circumscribed [and be quiet at last]. For the whole earth is a point, and how small a nook in it is this thy dwelling, and how few are there in it, and what kind of people are they who will praise thee.

(Marcus Aurelius 1882: 123)


Here we see that αἰών [αἰῶνος] is used to mean the infinite time extending both into the past and into the future. Goldschmidt then cross references the Stobaeus/Arius text we have been often referring to [see especially section].


See lines 20-21 below, especially “τὸν χρόνον πάντα ἄπειρον εἶναι ἔφ᾽ ἑκάτερα”:

Stobaeus Eclogae I p.106, 5 W. (Arii Did. fr. 26 Diels) in SVF 2.509:


(SVF 1964b: 164)


And lines 11-13 below:

Stobaeus, Eclogae I, p.106:


(Stobaeus 1884a: 106)


Just as the void in its totality is infinite in every respect, so time in its totality is infinite on either side.

(Long and Sedley 1987: I, 304; II, 301-302)


And just as void as a whole is infinite in every direction, so too time as a whole is infinite in both directions.

(Inwood and Gerson 2008: 88)


While the term αἰών is not used here, we see the same structure of time being infinite both into the past and future. Goldschmidt then cites Meditations 12, 7.


Meditations XII, 7:


Ὁποῖον δεῖ καταληφθῆναι ὑπὸ τοῦ θανάτου καὶ σώματι καὶ ψυχῇ: τὴν βραχύτητα τοῦ βίου: τὴν ἀχάνειαν τοῦ ὀπίσω καὶ πρόσω αἰῶνος: τὴν ἀσθένειαν πάσης ὕλης.

(Marcus Aurelius 1916: 326. Text copied from Perseus)


Dans quel état, quand la mort nous surprend, doivent être notre corps et notre âme ? — La brièveté de la vie, l’immensité des temps passés et futurs, la faiblesse de la matière.

(Marcus Aurelius 1924: 168)


Reflect on the condition of body and soul befitting a man when overtaken by death, on the shortness of life, the yawning gulf of the past and of the time to come, on the impotence of all matter.

(Marcus Aurelius 1916: 327)


Consider, in what state shall death find you, both as to body and soul? <284> Observe the shortness of life; the vast immensity of the preceding, and ensuing duration; and the infirmity of all these materials.

(Marcus Aurelius 2008: 146)


Consider in what condition both in body and soul a man should be when he is overtaken by death; and consider the shortness of life, the boundless abyss of time past and future, the feebleness of all matter.

(Marcus Aurelius 1882: 297)


As we see, here αἰών [αἰῶνος] refers to a time that spans infinitely into the past and future. Goldschmidt also notes that in this quote, that aiôn-time and inert matter are understood in the sense of the “whole”. [I am not exactly what he means here. Maybe he is saying that the aiôn-time is incorporeal, but has a whole, just as inert matter and its present time, is a whole; or otherwise that the aiôn-time makes a whole in its combination with inert matter (and its present temporality).] We look next at Meditations 12, 32:


Meditations XII, 32:


Πόστον μέρος τοῦ ἀπείρου καὶ ἀχανοῦς αἰῶνος ἀπομεμέρισται ἑκάστῳ: τάχιστα γὰρ ἐναφανίζεται τῷ ἀιδίῳ: πόστον δὲ τῆς ὅλης οὐσίας: πόστον δὲ τῆς ὅλης ψυχῆς: ἐν πόστῳ δὲ βωλαρίῳ τῆς ὅλης γῆς ἕρπεις. πάντα ταῦτα ἐνθυμούμενος μηδὲν μέγα φαντάζου ἢ τό, ὡς μὲν ἡ σὴ φύσις ἄγει ποιεῖν, πάσχειν δὲ ὡς ἡ κοινὴ φύσις φέρει.

(Marcus Aurelius 1916: 340. Text copied from Perseus)


Bien petite est la part de l’immense et profonde éternité qui est dévolue à chacun, et elle s’évanouit si vite dans l’infini des temps 1 Bien petite est, pour chacun, sa part de l’universelle substance comme de l’âme universelle. Et qu’est-ce, en la vaste terre, que cette motte où tu rampes? Réfléchis sur toutes ces choses, et tu concevras que la vraie grandeur consiste | à régler tes actions sur ta nature propre, et à souffrir comme le veut la commune nature.

(Marcus Aurelius 1924: 175-176)


How small a part is appointed to each one of the infinite immense duration? For, presently, it must vanish into eternity: How small a part of the universal matter? And, how small, of the universal spirit? On how narrow a clod of this earth do you creep? When all these things are considered, nothing will appear great, except acting as your nature leads; and bearing contentedly whatever the common nature brings along with it.

(Marcus Aurelius 2008: 151)


How tiny a fragment of the boundless abyss of Time has been appointed to each man! For in a moment it is lost in eternity. And how tiny a part of the Universal Substance! How tiny of the Universal Soul! And on how tiny a clod of the whole Earth dost thou crawl! Keeping all these things in mind, think nothing of moment save to do what thy nature leads thee to do, and to bear what the Universal Nature brings thee.

(Marcus Aurelius 1916: 341)


How small a part of the boundless and unfathomable time is assigned to every man? for it is very soon swallowed up in the eternal. And how small a part of the whole substance? and how small a part of the universal soul? and on what a small clod of the whole earth thou creepest? Reflecting on all this consider nothing to be great, except to act as thy nature leads thee, and to endure that which the common nature brings.

(Marcus Aurelius 1882: 302)


Here we see the present-eternal in its part-whole relation, for we are appointed a small part of matter in the infinitely immense duration of αἰών [αἰῶνος]. The next reference is Meditations 5, 24:


Meditations V, 24:


Μέμνησο τῆς συμπάσης οὐσίας, ἧς ὀλίγιστον μετέχεις, καὶ τοῦ σύμπαντος αἰῶνος, οὗ βραχὺ καὶ ἀκαριαῖόν σοι διάστημα ἀφώρισται, καὶ τῆς εἱμαρμένης, ἧς πόστον εἶ μέρος;

(Marcus Aurelius 1916: 120. Text copied from Perseus)


Souviens-toi de l’universelle substance où tu participes pour si peu, et de la durée éternelle dont une tranche si brève, si mince, t’a été réservée, et de la destinée dont tu es une partie, mais combien petite !

(Marcus Aurelius 1924: 59)


Remember how small a part you are of the universal nature; how small a moment of the whole duration is appointed for you; and how small a part you are of the object of universal fate, or providence.

(Marcus Aurelius 2008: 66)


Keep in memory the universal Substance, of which thou art a tiny part; and universal Time, of which a brief, nay an almost momentary span has been allotted thee; and Destiny, in which how fractional thy share?

(Marcus Aurelius 1916: 121)


Think of the universal substance, of which thou hast a very small portion; and of universal time, of which a short and indivisible interval has been assigned to thee; and of that which is fixed by destiny, and how small a part of it thou art.

(Marcus Aurelius 1882: 156)


In these we note the idea of the finite interval (διάστημα / “intervalle”) of our life within the infinite span of aion-time. On this topic of the finite interval (διάστημα) of our life falling between the infinite gulf of past and future, he cross-references Meditations 4, 50:


Meditations IV, 50:


Ἰδιωτικὸν μέν, ὅμως δὲ ἀνυστικὸν βοήθημα πρὸς θανάτου καταφρόνησιν ἡ ἀναπόλησις τῶν γλίσχρως ἐνδιατριψάντων τῷ ζῆν. τί οὖν αὐτοῖς πλέον ἢ τοῖς ἀώροις; πάντως πού ποτε κεῖνται, Καδικιανός, Φάβιος, Ἰουλιανός, Λέπιδος ἢ εἴ τις τοιοῦτος, οἳ πολλοὺς ἐξήνεγκαν, εἶτα ἐξηνέχθησαν: ὅλον, μικρόν ἐστι τὸ διάστημα καὶ τοῦτο δἰ ὅσων καὶ μεθ̓ οἵων ἐξαντλούμενον καὶ ἐν οἵῳ σωματίῳ; μὴ οὖν ὡς πρᾶγμα. βλέπε γὰρ ὀπίσω τὸ ἀχανὲς τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ τὸ πρόσω ἄλλο ἄπειρον. ἐν δὴ τούτῳ τί διαφέρει ὁ τριήμερος τοῦ τριγερηνίου;

(Marcus Aurelius 1916: 96. Text copied from Perseus)


C’est un secours ridicule, mais pourtant utile à qui veut mépriser la mort, que de faire la revue des hommes dont l’attachement à la vie fut tenace. Eh bien ! qu’ont-ils fait de plus que ceux qui ont expiré avant l’heure ? Où gisent enfin Kadikianos, Fabius, Julianus, Lépidus, et tous leurs pareils, qui portèrent tant de gens en terre et y furent eux-mêmes portés ensuite? En somme, bien petit est l’intervalle, et parmi combien de souffrances, avec quels hommes, dans quel faible corps on le passe ! Ce n’est donc pas une affaire. Contemple en effet derrière toi l’immensité des temps, et cet autre infini devant toi. Voyons ! Dans ce gouffre, quelle différence y a-t-il entre une vie de trois jours et une vie triple de celle du Gérénien ?

(Marcus Aurelius 1924: 46)


‘Tis a vulgar meditation, and yet a very effectual one, for enabling us to despise death; to consider the fate of those who have been most earnestly tenacious of life, and enjoyed it longest. What have they obtained more than those who died early? They are all lying dead some where or other. Caedicianus, Fabius, Julian, Lepidus, and such like, who carried out the corpses of multitudes, have been carried out <111> themselves. In sum, how small is the difference of time! and that spent amidst how many troubles! among what worthless men! and in what a mean carcase! Don’t think it of consequence. Look backward on the immense antecedent eternity, and forward into another immensity. How small is the difference between a life of three days, and of three ages like Nestor’s?

(Marcus Aurelius 2008: 57)


An unphilosophical, but none the less an effective, help to the contemning of death is to tell over the names of those who have clung long and tenaciously to life. How are they better off than those who were cut off before their time? After all, they lie buried somewhere at last, Cadicianus, Fabius, Julianus, Lepidus, and any others like them, who after carrying many to their graves were at last carried to their own Small, in any point of view, is the difference in length, and that too lived out to the dregs amid what great cares and with what sort of companions and in what kind of a body! Count it then of no consequence. For look at the yawning gulf of Time behind thee, and before thee at another Infinity to come. In this Eternity the life of a baby of three days and the life of a Nestor of three centuries are as one.

(Marcus Aurelius 1916: 97)


It is a vulgar, but still a useful help towards contempt of death, to pass in review those who have tenaciously stuck to life. What more then have they gained than those who have died early? Certainly they lie in their tombs somewhere at last, Cadicianus, Fabius, Julianus, Lepidus, or any one else like them, who have carried out many to be buried and then were carried out themselves. Altogether the interval is small [between birth and death]; and consider with how much trouble, and in company with what sort of people and in what a feeble body this interval is laboriously passed. Do not then consider life a thing of any value. For look to the immensity of time behind thee, and to the time which is before thee, another boundless space. In this infinity then what is the difference between him who lives three days and him who lives three generations?

(Marcus Aurelius 1882: 140)


[Here now is the Goldschmidt quotation:]


Sans doute, la théorie eût-elle été plus scolairement intelligible si, comme dans le cas du vide et du lieu, Chrysippe avait employé, pour distinguer ces deux temps, deux termes différents. Mais la distinction entre présent, d’une part, et passé et futur, d’autre part, a dû lui paraître suffisante, sans compter la précision : « Le temps se prend dans deux acceptions. » – En tout cas, s’il y a, de la part de Chrysippe, une négligence sur la terminologie, on peut dire qu’elle est réparée chez Marc-Aurèle, chez qui le temps infini, correspondant au vide, prend un nom précis, celui qu’on a coutume de traduire5 par : éternité (αἰών)6.


5. Sur l’origine et le développement de ce mot, voir maintenant les analyses de R.B. Onians, The origins of European thought about the body, the mind, the soul, the world, time and fate, Cambridge, 1951. – Il est notable que ce mot désignant primitivement le « liquide vital » en vient à signifier « life-time », période, puis : éternité (Onians, p. 251), c’est-à-dire qu’il implique cette limitation que les Stoïciens réservent au temps présent.

6. Marc-Aurèle, IV, 3, 7: τὸ χάος τοῦ ἐφ᾽ ἑκάτερα ἀπείρου αἰῶνος (cf. notre texte | d’Arius: Τὸν χρόνον πάντα ἄπειρον εἶναι ἔφ᾽ ἑκάτερα). Ces extrémités sont le passé et le futur: XII, 7: Τὴν ἀχάνειαν τοῦ ὀπίσω καὶ πρόσω αἰῶνος; la suite immédiate de ce texte τὴν ἀσθένειαν πάσης ὕλης, mentionne la matière, c’est-à-dire que le temps-aiôn et la matière inerte sont pris ici dans le sens du « tout » (p. 36. n. 1). La distinction : tout-partie est appliquée aux deux termes dans XII, 32 : Πόστον μέρος τοῦ ἀπείρου καὶ ἀχανοῦς αἰῶνος ἀπομεμέρισται ἑκάστῳ … πόστον δὲ τῆς ὅλης οὐσίας et, avec emploi technique du mot « intervalle » dans V, 24 : Μέμνησο τῆς συμπάσης οὐσίας, ἧς ὀλίγιστον μετέχεις, καὶ τοῦ σύμπαντος αἰῶνος, οὗ βραχὺ καὶ ἀκαριαῖόν σοι διάστημα ἀφώρισται, καὶ τῆς εἱμαρμένης, ἧς πόστον εἶ μέρος ; cf. IV, 50, 3 (διάστημα), 5 (βλέπε γὰρ ὀπίσω τὸ ἀχανὲς τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ τὸ πρόσω ἄλλο ἄπειρον. – Voir plus loin, §§ 99-101.


[The Incorporeality of the Aiônic Past and Future and Its Mathematical Present]


(p.40: “Ainsi n’est incorporel que ce temps-aiôn …”)


[In sum: The only incorporeal temporality is the infinite past and present of aiôn-time along with the mathematical instant obtained by infinitely dividing the past and future.]


So the only incorporeal temporalities are {1} the aiôn-time as the infinite time of past and future along with {2} the mathematical instant obtained by infinitely dividing the aiônic past and future. But we now wonder, if the present that is extended and known by sensation exists, what is its mode of existence and how is it limited in extent?

Ainsi n’est incorporel que ce temps-aiôn, temps infini en passé en avenir, et cette instant mathématique qui, lui-même, se divise à l’infini en passé et futur1. Mais si le présent, étendu et saisi par la sensation, existe, en quoi consistera son mode d’existence, et comment en est limitée l’étendue ?








Goldschmidt, Victor. (1953). Le système stoïcien et l'idée de temps. Paris: Vrin.



Also cited:


Inwood, Brad, and Gerson, Loyd P. 2008. The Stoics Reader. Selected Writings and Testimonia, edited and translated by Brad Inwood and Loyd P. Gerson. Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett.


Long, Anthony A. and David N. Sedley. 1987. The Hellenistic Philosophers, vol.1: Translations of the Principle Sources, with Philosophical Commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Long, Anthony A. and David N. Sedley. 1987. The Hellenistic Philosophers, vol.2: Greek and Latin Texts with Notes and Bibliography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Marcus Aurelius. 1882. Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Emperor of the Romans. English trans. by George Long. Chicago: Shaver.

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Online Text available at:



Marcus Aurelius. 1916. The Communings with Himself of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Emperor of Rome, Together with His Speeches and Sayings. English translation by C. R. Haines. London: Heinemann / New York: Putnam.

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Marcus Aurelius. 1924. Les pensées de Marc-Aurèle. French translation by A.-P. Lemercier. Paris: Alcan.

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Marcus Aurelius. 2008. The Meditations of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. English translation by Francis Hutcheson and James Moor. Edited by James Moore and Michael Silverthorne. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.

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Stobaeus. 1884a. Ioannis Stobaei: Anthologium, vol.1. [Ioannis Stobaei, Anthologium Volumen Primum, Anthologii Librum Primum Volumen I: Libri duo Priores qui inscribi solent Eclogae Physicae et Ethicae] Edited by Kurt Wachsmuth. Berlin: Weidmann.

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SVF. 1964b. Stoicorum veterum fragmenta, vol.2: Chrysippi Fragmenta Logica et Physica. Ed.  Hans von Arnim. Stuttgart: Teubner.

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