• “Cicero and his Clamorous Silences: Was He fair enough with the Epicureans and their Ethical and Political Views?”

    Javier Aoiz, Marcelo Boeri (see profile)
    Item Type:
    Epicureanism, Epicurus
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    The opponents of Epicureanism in antiquity successfully established a cliché that has remained to this day: the theoretical and practical disinterest of Epicurus and the Epicureans in political communities. The best proof of their success is the transformation of the expressions «live unnoticed» (λάθε βιώσας) and «do not participate in politics» (μὴ πολιτεύσεσθαι) into famous Epicurean slogans. In section 1 we show that Cicero bases the Epicurean disinterest in political communities on the egoistic hedonism that he derives from the rules of conduct of the Epicurean wise (such rules stemming from the famous slogans «live unnoticed» and «do not participate in politics»). Interestingly, Cicero omits all reference to Epicurean political philosophy, insofar as neither the sophisticated reflection of Epicureanism on the ontological status of the just nor the preconception of the just find any mention in Cicero’s work (Epicureanism’s rich reflections on security – ἀσφάλεια – are also omitted by Cicero is his writings). Next, we highlight the ways in which Cicero was not a meticulous witness of Epicurus’ and Epicureans’ social interaction, and we argue that he ascribes to them performative contradictions on the basis of a deficient interpretation of their philosophy. Indeed, Cicero’s treatment of Epicureanism was not historiographical (and, in a sense, it was not meant to be), but such an approach certainly evinces a certain historical levity. Finally, in section 3 we highlight the defining aspects of the Epicurean sage that Cicero omits when analyzing the position of the Epicureans vis-à-vis the story of the ring of Gyges. Such aspects are crucial to understand the relationship between the Epicurean sage, the just, and the laws.
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    6 months ago
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