Publication Date

Fall 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Jonathan Roth


Christianity, St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Jerome, Stoicism

Subject Areas

Ancient history; Medieval history


The Common Lot of Nature is a comparative analysis which questions the completeness of St. Ambrose’s Christian faith. The comparison focuses specifically on notions of death, and how one should deal with its presence in one’s life. This emphasis was chosen because Ambrose was a Christian bishop who was heavily influenced by Stoicism, and these two worldviews held contrasting beliefs on how death fits into the lives of human beings. The paper begins with an outline of other research regarding Stoicism or its potential connections with Christianity. The following two sections discuss how Stoics and 4th century Christians conceptualized death by looking at how they talked about the subject to themselves or with their followers/students. After the clear distinctions between Stoic and Christian notions of mortality have been constructed, the paper moves directly to Ambrose’s life and writings on the subject of death, showing how he sounds much more like a Stoic than a Christian. It concludes that when taking into consideration the context of Ambrose’s rise to episcopal office, and his nearly complete departure from the common Christian conceptualization of mortality, he may not have been a Christian at all.