Discussion of Draft of Online Epicurean Twentieth

  • DRAFT OF AGENDA FOR ONLINE EPICUREAN 20th


    Welcome to this month's Online Epicurean Twentieth. We know that the ancient Epicureans commemorated this date because the will of Epicurus contains this instruction:


    "The income of the property left by me to Amynomachus and Timocrates shall be divided by them as far as possible, with the advice of Hermarchus, for the offerings in honor of my father and mother and brothers, and for the customary celebration of my birthday every year on the tenth of Gamelion, and likewise for the assembly of my disciples which takes place on the twentieth of each month, having been established in recollection of myself and Metrodorus."


    (1) Everyone say hello in the order your name appears in the list to the left. Don't give too much personal information if you prefer not to, but say hello and say something brief about your interest and background in Epicurus.


    (2) Moderator read something about the life of Epicurus, either from Diogenes Laertius or maybe an excerpt from DeWitt's "Philosophy for the Millions" about the significance of Epicurus.


    (3) Another moderater read something from or about the life of Metrodorus. This is going to be harder to find but we at least have what Laertius said about him.


    (4) Another writer read some particularly appropriate passage from a text (Letter to Menoeceus)?


    (5) Call for questions or comments, with people wanting to make them typing in a request to speak, and we go in that order


    (6) Call meeting to close with a reading of one of the opening passages from one of the chapters of Lucretius, starting with Chapter One for this meeting.

    From Chapter 1:

    When human life, all too conspicuous,

    Lay foully groveling on earth, weighed down

    By grim Religion looming from the skies,

    Horribly threatening mortal men, a man,

    A Greek, first raised his mortal eyes

    Bravely against this menace. No report

    Of gods, no lightning-flash, no thunder-peal

    Made this man cower, but drove him all the more

    With passionate manliness of mind and will

    To be the first to spring the tight-barred gates

    Of Nature's hold asunder. So his force,

    His vital force of mind, a conqueror

    Beyond the flaming ramparts of the world

    Explored the vast immensities of space

    With wit and wisdom, and came back to us

    Triumphant, bringing news of what can be

    And what cannot, limits and boundaries,

    The borderline, the bench mark, set forever.

    Religion, so, is trampled underfoot,

    And by his victory we reach the stars.


    Conclude: Invite people to move to another voice/text channel after this is over if they have time and would like to talk further.

  • Here is an advanced draft:


    DRAFT OF AGENDA FOR ONLINE EPICUREAN 20th



    Welcome to this month's Online Epicurean Twentieth. We know that the ancient Epicureans commemorated this date because the will of Epicurus contains this instruction:


    "The income of the property left by me to Amynomachus and Timocrates shall be divided by them as far as possible, with the advice of Hermarchus, for the offerings in honor of my father and mother and brothers, and for the customary celebration of my birthday every year on the tenth of Gamelion, and likewise for the assembly of my disciples which takes place on the twentieth of each month, having been established in recollection of myself and Metrodorus."


    (1) Now we’d like to have everyone say hello and any few words to introduce yourself. Let’s go in the order your name appears in the list to the left. Don't give too much personal information, but say hello and say something brief about your interest and background in Epicurus. I will start as an example: My name is ___________, and I live in _______, and I have been studying Epicurus for ___ years now.


    (2) OK, thanks to everyone who has joined us this month. Now in memory of Epicurus, _______ will read this brief biography of the life of Epicurus which is taken from Book Ten of Diogenes Laertius:



    “Epicurus, son of Neocles and Chaerestrate, was an Athenian of the Gargettus ward and the Philaidae clan. He is said by Heraclides as well as by others, to have been brought up at Samos after the Athenians had sent colonists there and to have come to Athens at the age of eighteen, at the time when Xenocrates was head of the Academy and Aristotle was in Chalcis. After the death of Alexander of Macedon and the expulsion of the Athenian colonists from Samos by Perdiccas, Epicurus left Athens to join his father in Colophon; for some time he stayed there and gathered students around him, then returned to Athens again during the archonship of Anaxicrates in 307 B.C.


    For a while, it is said, he pursued his studies in common with other philosophers, but afterwards put forward independent views by founding the school named after him.


    He says himself that he first came to study philosophy at the age of fourteen. Apollodorus the Epicurean (in the first book of his Life of Epicurus) says that he turned to philosophy in contempt of the school-teachers who could not tell him the meaning of “chaos” in Hesiod.


    Epicurus used to call Nausiphanes "jellyfish, an illiterate, a fraud, and a trollop;" Plato's school he called “the toadies of Dionysius,” their master himself the “golden” Plato, and Aristotle a profligate, who after devouring his patrimony took to soldiering and selling drugs; Protagoras a porter and the secretary of Democritus and village school-teacher; Heraclitus a muddler; Democritus Lerocritus [“trifler”]; and Antidorus Sannidorus [“flattering gift-bearer”]; the Cynics "enemies of Greece;" the Dialecticians "consumed with envy;" and Pyrrho [the Skeptic] "an ignorant boor."


    But our philosopher has numerous witnesses to attest his unsurpassed goodwill to all men:

    • His native land honored him with statues in bronze;
    • His friends were so many in number that they could hardly be counted by whole cities;
    • The Garden itself, while nearly all the others have died out, continues for ever without interruption through numberless successions of one director after another;
    • His gratitude to his parents, his generosity to his brothers, his gentleness to his servants, as evidenced by the terms of his will and by the fact that they were members of the Garden, the most eminent of them being the aforesaid Mys;
    • And in general, his benevolence to all mankind.

    His piety towards the gods and his affection for his country no words can describe. He carried his modesty to such an excess that he did not even enter public life.


    He spent all his life in Greece, notwithstanding the calamities which had befallen her in that era; when he did once or twice take a trip to Ionia, it was to visit his friends there. Friends indeed came to him from all parts and lived with him in his garden.


    Diocles in the third book of his Epitome speaks of them as living a very simple and frugal life; at all events they were content with a cup of thin wine and were, for the rest, thoroughgoing water-drinkers.


    He further says that Epicurus did not think it right that their property should be held in common, as required by the maxim of Pythagoras about the goods of friends; such a practice in his opinion implied mistrust, and without confidence there is no friendship.


    In his correspondence he himself mentions that he was content with plain bread and water. And again: “Send me a little pot of cheese, that, when I like, I may fare sumptuously.”


    Such was the man who laid down that pleasure was the end of life."



    (3) The purpose of this assembly is to remember not only Epicurus, but also Metrodorus. Now _________ will read this brief excerpt on the life of Metrodorus, also from Diogenes Laertius:


    Among the disciples of Epicurus, of whom there were many, among the most eminent was Metrodorus, the son of Athenaeus (or of Timocrates) and of Sande, a citizen of Lampsacus, who from his first acquaintance with Epicurus never left him except once for six months spent on a visit to his native place, from which he returned to him again. His goodness was proved in all ways, as Epicurus testifies in the introductions to his works and in the third book of the Timocrates. Such he was: he gave his sister Batis to Idomeneus to wife, and himself took Leontion the Athenian courtesan as his concubine. He showed dauntless courage in meeting troubles and death, as Epicurus declares in the first book of his memoir.


    He died, we learn, seven years before Epicurus in his fifty-third year, and Epicurus himself in his will clearly speaks of him as departed, and enjoins upon his executors to make provision for Metrodorus's children. The above-mentioned Timocrates also, the brother of Metrodorus and a giddy fellow, was another of his pupils.


    Metrodorus wrote the following works:

    • Against the Physicians, in three books.
    • Of Sensations.
    • Against Timocrates.
    • Of Magnanimity.
    • Of Epicurus's Weak Health.
    • Against the Dialecticians.
    • Against the Sophists, in nine books.
    • The Way to Wisdom.
    • Of Change.
    • Of Wealth.
    • In Criticism of Democritus.
    • Of Noble Birth.


    (4) Because we’re here to remember not only the lives of Epicurus and Metrodorus, but their teachings, we now have a brief passage from Epicurus’s Letter to Menoeceus read by ________:


    Epicurus to Menoeceus: Greetings.


    “LET no one when young delay to study philosophy, nor when he is old grow weary of his study. For no one can come too early or too late to secure the health of his soul. And the man who says that the age for philosophy has either not yet come or has gone by is like the man who says that the age for happiness is not yet come to him, or has passed away. Wherefore both when young and old a man must study philosophy, that as he grows old he may be young in blessings through the grateful recollection of what has been, and that in youth he may be old as well, since he will know no fear of what is to come. We must then meditate on the things that make our happiness, seeing that when that is with us we have all, but when it is absent we do all to win it.



    (5) Now we’ll take a few comments or questions for discussion, depending on how much time we have left in the hour. Let’s organize this with anyone who wants to raise a point typing in a request to speak and the topic, and then (the moderator) will lead us through in that order.


    (Take questions and comments, selected from what people type into the text chat, for as long as appropriate to fill up an hour.)


    (6) Our time for this Twentieth is now coming to a close. Thanks to all for attending. We hope to see you again next month. In closing, _______ will read to us a brief passage about Epicurus from Book 1 of Lucretius (this is the Humphries translation):


    When human life, all too conspicuous,

    Lay foully groveling on earth, weighed down

    By grim Religion looming from the skies,

    Horribly threatening mortal men, a man,

    A HELLENE, first raised his mortal eyes

    Bravely against this menace. No report

    Of gods, no lightning-flash, no thunder-peal

    Made this man cower, but drove him all the more

    With passionate manliness of mind and will

    To be the first to spring the tight-barred gates

    Of Nature's hold asunder. So his force,

    His vital force of mind, a conqueror

    Beyond the flaming ramparts of the world

    Explored the vast immensities of space

    With wit and wisdom, and came back to us

    Triumphant, bringing news of what can be

    And what cannot, limits and boundaries,

    The borderline, the benchmark, set forever.

    Religion, so, is trampled underfoot,

    And by his victory we reach the stars.



    Thanks again to everyone who has joined us in this first online twentieth meeting. We’ll close this month’s meeting now. Anyone who would like to remain and chat by text or voice with others, please move to the general Garden of Epicurus channel.


    Then moderator close channel and move participants to the main channel.