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Nikidion ("Little Victory") (floruit circa 300 BCE) was a hetaira (courtesan) who was a female student of Epicurus.[1] She served as a character in Martha Nussbaum's philosophical works.

In literature

Martha Nussbaum, in her book The Therapy of Desire, adopts Nikidion for her (notional) female protagonist exploring the schools of Hellenistic philosophy. Nussbaum described its original possessor as "perhaps historical and probably fictitious."[2] Nussbaum also uses the character of Nikidion in her article Skepticism about Practical Reason in Literature And the Law Commentary which criticizes the judicial skepticism of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Robert Bork.[3]

Nikidion provided Nussbaum with a feminist vehicle wherewith to explore the ancient Greek philosophies of life from the practical standpoint of a young enquirer. Nussbaum urged us to consider Nikidion "as she really might have been: smart but ill-educated, relatively weak in intellectual discipline, fonder of poetry than of Plato...attached to her wardrobe, her wines, and even her religion".[4] The protagonist is envisaged as starting anew (like a somewhat repetitive Candide) in various schools of thought, including those of Aristotle, Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Pyrrhonism;[5] and thus as moving onwards through time, and from Greece to Rome.[6] Nikidion is seen for example exploring her experience of grief with Chrysippus,[7] and the links between love and anger with Seneca the Younger.[8]

Bernard Williams criticized that Nikidion proves for Nussbaum "a slightly creaky device".[9]

See also


  1. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, Book X, Section 7
  2. Nussbaum 1994, p. 45.
  3. Nussbaum, Martha C. (1994b). "Skepticism about Practical Reason in Literature and the Law". Harvard Law Review 107 (3): 714–744. doi:10.2307/1341972. 
  4. Nussbaum 1994, pp. 118–122.
  5. Nussbaum 1994, p. 8.
  6. Lloyd, Genevieve (2000). "Feminism in history of philosophy: Appropriating the past". in Fricker, Miranda; Hornsby, Jennifer. The Cambridge Companion to Feminism in Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 245–262. ISBN 978-0-521-62469-5. 
  7. Roberts, Robert C. (2003). Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology. Cambridge University Press. pp. 99–101. ISBN 978-0-521-52584-8. 
  8. Nussbaum 1994, p. 438.
  9. B Williams Essays and Reviews (2014) p. 340


External links