Brill’s New Pauly

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[German version]

The concept of duty in the strict (Kantian) sense of absolute obligation is unknown in antiquity, when the way of thinking was thoroughly eudaemonistic: i.e. happiness was seen as the greatest good. It is, however, customary to equate the Stoic καθῆκον (kathêkon, lit. that which is ‘befitting’ or ‘appropriate’), translated by Cicero into Lat. as officium, with the English ‘duty’; but this is not to be recommended, owing to potentially erroneous associations. Kathêkon is a concept used in assessing and classifying human actions. For the Stoics these ar…

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Hossenfelder, Malte (Graz), “Duty”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 05 December 2020 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: 9789004122598, 20110510

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