[1976. In Collier Encyclopedia, New York: P.F. Collier and Son.]
CLEANTHES (c. 300-c. 220 B.C.), Greek philosopher, was born at Assos in the Troad. He came to Athens and attended the lectures of Crates the Cynic and Zeno the Stoic. On the death of Zeno in 264 B.C., Cleanthes became the second presiding officer (264-232) of the Stoa. His chief interest, the religious aspect of Stoicism, was expressed in poetry. In his Hymn to Zeus Cleanthes extols the sovereignty of the author of nature, asserting that Zeus guides universal reason, which permeates the world, and that nothing happens apart from him except the reckless deeds of sinful men. This exception, apparently inconsistent with Stoic orthodoxy, is at least modified in another of his poems in which it is asserted that man must follow Destiny’s decree: it is best if man follows unafraid; but if he becomes evil and rebels, he must follow nonetheless. G.H.CL.