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DignityA History$
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Remy Debes

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199385997

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199385997.001.0001

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Dignity in Roman and Stoic Thought

Dignity in Roman and Stoic Thought

Chapter:
(p.47) Chapter 2 Dignity in Roman and Stoic Thought
Source:
Dignity
Author(s):

Miriam Griffin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199385997.003.0003

The concept of dignitas at Rome signified a certain standing or rank in the community. Dignitas was inherently comparative, and one deserved treatment appropriate to one’s standing: that applied to forms of honor, of liberality, and of punishment. Thus the dignitas of the Roman Senate implied its superiority over other orders. But one was expected to live up to one’s standing, social or moral, or justifiably lose the marks of respect that went with it. Human dignity was an idea that belonged to philosophers: it marked the superiority of human beings to other creatures because of their possession of reason. They were expected to live up to this status, conferred by nature, and if they failed to do so, were no longer counted as human, but as animals. More emphasis was placed on their obligations to other humans than on their rights.

Keywords:   dignitas, Stoicism, Cicero, Seneca, Panaetius, human dignity, moral obligations and duties, rights

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