Rings Featuring Epicurus or Epicureans

  • Large_Bligh's%20Signet%20ring_CROPHEAD%20res.jpg

    That is a point of interest, Godfrey. The 18th or early 19th century William Bligh ring is more squat and nearly circular than the rings above from antiquity, and it's also the worst semblance. In part because the beard has been cropped so close.

  • And here's something before I forget; in my search for extant rings I didn't turn up anything new on Epicurus, but there is supposed to be a ring featuring a portrait of Horace carved in Topaz in the collections of the British Museum. So it would be great if we could track down a photograph of that.

  • I'll try to find the reference, Cassius; it was in a GoogleBooks scan of an old doorstopper reference tome called--I don't know--"Collections of the British Museum: Volume 47" or whatever. The British Museum is like an iceberg. For every one piece on display for public viewing, 99 are gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.

  • I couldn't see if anyone had mentioned this before, so apologies if I'm repeating known info: I saw the Greek on several Epicurus rings and realized that was not Epicurus' name but ΝΕΑΡΚΟΥ (Nearkou, "Of Nearkos"). Who was Nearkos? Turns out he was probably the engraver:


    NEARKOS (Νέαρκος). - Alleged gem engraver. The name, which appears on three gems (ΝΕΑΡΚΟΥ on a carnelian with a manly head; ΝΕΑΡΚΟΣ on an amethyst with a manly bearded head; ΝΕΑΡΚΟΥ on a carnelian, of doubtful authenticity, with a manly head) cannot, according to Brunn, be attributed to 'engraver.

    Source (used Google Translate for English)

  • I remember reading that on one of the pages too somewhere - that NEAPKOY was the engraver, so that's what I am thinking too. Although I sometimes do have doubts whether the images that some say are Epicurus are really him. Some of the images can seem so generic that it's hard (for me) to be sure.

  • I found a series of prints used for gem engravings in the British Museum, it dates back to 1766 and features 180 different prints with reference to Greek & Roman Figures as well as some mythological/animal prints, Horace is among them.


    “If the joys found in nature are crimes, then man’s pleasure and happiness is to be criminal.”

  • Interestingly enough, I went through the rest of the collection and found a feature of Epicurus as well as one on Metrodorus, though Hermarchus & Leontion were nowhere to be found.

    I don't have any reason to believe that the print of Metrodorus is none other than Metrodorus the Younger. There have been other Metrodorus' throughout history but none have been as significant or recorded as much as the disciple and best friend of Epicurus, no doubt because of Laertius and Cicero.

    “If the joys found in nature are crimes, then man’s pleasure and happiness is to be criminal.”

  • i wonder if there was any basis for any of those other than artist imagination. The one of Horace looks like a boy - is it likely that any image of him survived the ancient world other than as am adult?

    The one of Epicurus is the clearly erroneus "bald" figure that hardly seems like it could be anything other than imagination.

    Is the Metrodorus any better?

    Apparently artists from this period seemed to think it a cool thing to do to make artwork based on nothing whatsoever and label them as if they were accurate?

    That image of Lucian on the Wikipedia page seems to be another example.

    Seems to me to be a weird thing to think that such use of imagination was a good idea.

    On the same theory Joshua could decide to sketch one of his girlfriends and label it "Leontion"

    Hardly seems like a good idea, but maybe I just lack imagination :)

  • I agree with Cassius that these portraits leave a lot to be desired, but that's a good find regardless. Thank you Charles!

    The portrait of Horace is especially interesting. He is depicted not only as a boy, but as a free-born minor wearing the age-appropriate Toga Praetexta. Horace was free-born, which is a point worthy of note since his father endured some years of slavery.

    He is also depicted with a bay leaf (or laurel, from bay laurel), which signifies poetry. In fact, Horace did not write poetry in his youth; he turned to it in later years after choosing the wrong side in the Roman Civil War and losing his father's estate in Venusia as part of Augustus' land seizures. Since Rome did boast a number of boy-poets--among them Lucan, died age 25, and Catullus, died age 30--it might seem an unusual choice for a portrait of Horace who lived to be nearly 60. Personally, my favorite portrait of Horace depicts him bald and squat, in middle age, with a glass of wine and a winning grin.


  • Yes I have seen and like that one too. Is that from the wikipedia page? I agree that one is really creative and well done, I wish we had information on its background.