The Epicureans and the Stoics belonged to two Greek schools of philosophy very popular with the common people because they taught how to achieve pleasure and happiness despite one’s circumstances.  The Epicureans believed everything in the world was made up of atoms and that everything was governed by physical laws. The best way to achieve happiness and pleasure, therefore, was to submit to these laws of nature, live simply and virtuously without burdening one’s self with worldly cares, and do everything to avoid physical pain.  Though they figured the gods did exist, somewhere far away, religion was not important.  Theirs was a practical search for happiness. The Stoics, on the other hand, believed that God was everywhere, in nature, in the universe and in man, and, therefore, to live in harmony with the universe, one should strive toward godly perfection of character, and of submission to the divine will.  This was achieved through virtuous living and self control.  Man conquered the world by conquering himself.  Evil happened when man allowed passions to control him.  Whereas the Epicureans believed pleasure and happiness were the ultimate end, for the Stoics, virtue, wisdom, and goodness toward every living thing enabled the individual to reach perfect union with this pantheistic or universal presence that governed all.  One of the most famous Stoics was the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, a man who by his virtuous living easily put many a Christian to shame.  Interestingly, it is because both of these groups of philosophers were so intent on improving their lives that they seized upon Paul, a newcomer, when he visited Athens and led him to the Areopagus, the famous hill, so they could hear what he had to say.  The other philosophers showed no such interest.