The dark Epicureanism in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

  • I've mentioned in another thread that the Epicurean philosophy strikes me as deeply pessimistic. I think this pessimism is brought out beautifully in Edward Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: http://classics.mit.edu/Khayyam/rubaiyat.html


    Sure, Khayyam may not be an orthodox Epicurean, but his attack on the theistic or conventional judgments and his praise of simple pleasures are in complete conformity with Epicureanism. Yet unlike, say, Lucretius, his tone is distinctly somber. Rather than liberation from the false values of the herd, the subtext here seems to be disillusionment and skepticism.


    The following verses seem to be of particular relevance for Epicureanism:


    It would be interesting to compare orthodox Epicureanism with the worldview suggested by these lines.

  • I have not studied the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam so my comments can only be brief and tentative. I suspect Hiram has so maybe he will have more comment.


    But if his primary parallel to Epicurus is "his attack on the theistic or conventional judgments and his praise of simple pleasures" then we would want to explore his views on physics and epistemology as those are critical to any conclusions about ethics.

  • Ecclesiastes in the Bible is also deeply pessimistic and shows some Epicurean influence (the Epicureans were a major school in Antioch and in the vicinity of Judea when it was written), but it can't ultimately be reconciled with E for its claim that all wisdom begins with fear of God.

    "Please always remember my doctrines!" - Epicurus' last words