Stoicism is sharply lacking in easily identifiable iconography. In some ways, this makes sense, since Epictetus’s injunction:
“Never call yourself a philosopher, nor talk a great deal among the unlearned about theorems, but act conformably to them.”
However, keeping in mind that his audience was mostly aristocratic boys, boys whom he was trying to turn into men, the injunction is actually one against vanity and puffed-up-edness, not identifying with the School. Philosophers of the day were known by their School, and it’s fine and appropriate that we could be, too. The warning against vanity is still relevant, however.
We recognize the Star of David, the Crucifix, the Christian fish, the Islamic Star and Crescent. Some will know the Nine Pointed Star of the Bahá’í Faith, the Hindu Wheel of Life, the Buddhist Heart, the Khanda of the Sikhs, etc. Stoicism has no classic iconography, and it’s something which I think it is sort of lacking. Some friends and I bandied about a few different designs, the one I started with was a simple Greek Lambda, for the Logos on a black circle. It had a certain Spartan feel (intentional), but eventually I came up with a different one which I quite liked a bit better.
This is a representation of Epictetus’s Lamp. It reminds us of the story of the stolen silver lamp, the price of being vicious (to be faithless and base), and to not be overly concerned by external things. It is emblematical of the creative fire which is pneuma and the logos, the illumination of philosophy in the darkness, and the obligation to light the way for others so far as we are able, Fate permitting. The lamp is circumscribed by a circle which has no beginning and no end; and which reminds us to keep our passions within due bounds, that the only good and evil are our own moral good and evil, and to delimit the present. The colors of the logo are black and white, which signify the harsh division between virtue and vice, between making progress and vulgar living, between the dark and the light. Overall, I’m very pleased with the design. I will use this as a personal icon for my Stoic practice, what it means to me, and the context in which my actions take place. If other folks have made their own symbols, I would be interested in learning about them. A few others currently exist, for those who are interested: – The four-pointed flame – New Stoa and The College of Stoic Philosophers have several symbols as well.