Creative Assistance Needed! "The Twelve Days of Class With Epicurus"

  • OK Friends, this is both a promise and a threat. :-) Unless I get some creative assistance with this, you are eventually going to hear me sing this, and I promise that would be painful. I am sure some of you can do much better, and have better suggestions for rewording / rephrasing, before we get to that point.


    However, this is a starting point, based on Norman DeWitt's reconstruction of Epicurus Twelve Fundamentals of Nature. Of course the final product must be something that can be sung to "the twelve days of Christmas" keeping as close to the fundamental points made by Epicurus as possible. Obviously also in this project a singer would really have to be flexible in singing the words at a pace that would fit the music.


    Here is my first effort. If I can get some help we will spread credit (or blame) around appropriately! ---->


    The Twelve Days of Class With Epicurus


    On the first day of class Epicurus taught to me:

    Nothing can be made from no-thing.


    On the second day of class Epicurus taught to me:

    No thing can be split to nothing, and

    Nothing can be made from no-thing.


    On the third day of class Epicurus taught to me:

    Every thing is made of atoms and void,

    No thing can be split to nothing, and

    Nothing can be made from no-thing.


    On the fourth day of class Epicurus taught to me:

    Atoms in a body can be more than one type,

    Every thing is made of atoms and void,

    No thing can be split to nothing, and

    Nothing can be made from no-thing.


    On the fifth day of class Epicurus taught to me:

    There's no limit to the number of atoms,

    Atoms in a body can be more than one type,

    Every thing is made of atoms and void,

    No thing can be split to nothing, and

    Nothing can be made from no-thing.


    On the sixth day of class Epicurus taught to me:

    There's no limit to the size of the void,

    There's no limit to the number of atoms,

    Atoms in a body can be more than one type,

    Every thing is made of atoms and void,

    No thing can be split to nothing, and

    Nothing can be made from no-thing.


    On the seventh day of class Epicurus taught to me:

    The atoms are always in motion,

    There's no limit to the size of the void,

    There's no limit to the number of atoms,

    Atoms in a body can be more than one type,

    Every thing is made of atoms and void,

    No thing can be split to nothing, and

    Nothing can be made from no-thing.


    On the eighth day of class Epicurus taught to me:

    The speed of all the atoms is the same,

    The atoms are always in motion,

    There's no limit to the size of the void,

    There's no limit to the number of atoms,

    Atoms in a body can be more than one type,

    Every thing is made of atoms and void,

    No thing can be split to nothing, and

    Nothing can be made from no-thing.


    On the ninth day of class Epicurus taught to me:

    The atoms move in lines and also bounce,

    The speed of all the atoms is the same,

    The atoms are always in motion,

    There's no limit to the size of the void,

    There's no limit to the number of atoms,

    Atoms in a body can be more than one type,

    Every thing is made of atoms and void,

    No thing can be split to nothing, and

    Nothing can be made from no-thing.


    On the tenth day of class Epicurus taught to me:

    Atoms can swerve at any point or time,

    The atoms move in lines and also bounce,

    The speed of all the atoms is the same,

    The atoms are always in motion,

    There's no limit to the size of the void,

    There's no limit to the number of atoms,

    Atoms in a body can be more than one type,

    Every thing is made of atoms and void,

    No thing can be split to nothing, and

    Nothing can be made from no-thing.


    On the eleventh day of class Epicurus taught to me:

    Atoms have a weight a shape and size,

    Atoms can swerve at any point or time,

    The atoms move in lines and also bounce,

    The speed of all the atoms is the same,

    The atoms are always in motion,

    There's no limit to the size of the void,

    There's no limit to the number of atoms,

    Atoms in a body can be more than one type,

    Every thing is made of atoms and void,

    No thing can be split to nothing, and

    Nothing can be made from no-thing.


    On the twelfth day of class Epicurus taught to me:

    The atom shapes are not numbered nor in-fi-nite,

    Atoms have a weight a shape and size,

    Atoms can swerve at any point or time,

    The atoms move in lines and also bounce,

    The speed of all the atoms is the same,

    The atoms are always in motion,

    There's no limit to the size of the void,

    There's no limit to the number of atoms,

    Atoms in a body can be more than one type,

    Every thing is made of atoms and void,

    No thing can be split to nothing, and

    Nothing can be made from no-thing.



    Can anyone offer assistance or suggestions?


    (No, "forget the project" isn't acceptable, and won't save you in the end, because I intend to incorporate some form of this into eventual podcasting to go through these hugely important aspects of Epicurean philosophy.)

  • Thanks Oscar!


    on this one -


    "Atoms in a body can be more than one type" to "atom's types are plenty"

    I was afraid I was already getting to far away from what appears to be the point:


    PN 04 "Solid bodies are either compounds or simple."


    I need to look back at the intent of that one, which seems to be separate and distinct from


    PN 12 - "The number of the different shapes is not infinite, merely innumerable."


    In other words, it may be that 4 is making such a different point than 12 that it might not be appropriate simply to say "there are lots of different types of atoms. Without going back to DeWitt as I type this, I seem to remember that he was thinking that it was important to Lucretius / Epicurus to note the existence of heaps of atoms of the same type, such as "pure gold" or anything else composed of a single element. Now offhand I can't think of what the significance of that would be, but I'll go back to dewitt and see what I can find, and also compare the letter to Herodotus and try to find the section in Lucretius that would involve this issue.


    I definitely remember reading the part about why the atoms can't be infinite in shape - because we know that the shapes don't get large enough for us to observe a single atom -- eveything that rises to what we see (is this the meaning of the "shores of light phrase"?) can be split, so i think that's the observation that proves the rule that a single atom itself never rises to the size of being visible.


    But following on our recent conversation about how Epicurus was intent on his anti-Platonism, there may be a reason why it would be important to note that a visible body may be composed of atoms of only a single type.


    Anyone have any ideas?


    Note: It's possible that DeWitt has this wrong, since his is a reconstruction, but again I need to check the text.....

  • Ok I did not remember this exactly as I find it now:




    Footnote 8 is to Diogenes Laertius 10.40-41 which may not be of much help.

  • This reminds me that I am aware that Diskin Clay, to mention one commentator, came up with a different version of the twelve than did DeWiit. I will paste here the clips that i have on that and also upload the full article. Clay's version does not make the point stated by DeWitt in his number 4.


    I have personally been disposed to reject Mr. Clay's version because he counts ten principles of physics, and then to round out the twelve ( a number I understand was referenced as a book title in Diogenes Laertius) he considers the first two of the PD's (about gods and death) to be the last two of the twelve. That does not sound convincing to me. I could see a stretched argument that PD1 might have some physics implication, but not PD2. This material will help in analysing the DeWitt material however.


    Also, I remember some commentator somewhere saying that Clay's version was "more careful" than that of DeWitt. However as I read back over these I think Dewitt was probably correct in thinking that the twelve principles were very specifically related to the nature of the atoms, from which the more sweeping principles arise, but are not specifically stated as among the fundamentals themselves. It seems to me that Clay is mixing axioms (nothing comes into being or goes out of being) with conclusions (the universe is as it always was and will be). I think DeWitt is probably correct that all 12 would have been more like axioms than conclusions.





    (On a personal note I should say I have a high regard for Diskin Clay because shortly after I starting studying Epicurus I wrote him a letter - maybe about 2011; obviously before he died - and he was gracious enough to write me a nice note in response, so I will always be appreciative of that.)


    Here is the full article from which these two pages come:

  • Cassius

    Changed the title of the thread from “Creative Assistance Needed!!!! "The Twelve Days of Class With Epicurus"” to “Creative Assistance Needed! "The Twelve Days of Class With Epicurus"”.
  • Oscar I am am very interested in anything you would suggest!


    Before I made the first set of suggestions I should have gone back and studied the format of the music, because now I am remembering that it seems many of the gifts were very short "five golden rings" (?) and I wasn't remembering accurately how the lines fit together to go with the flow.


    If you are so inclined any ideas that you have would be welcome. I do think that using this a a memory device would be very useful.

  • You are very correct Oscar - I just reviewed the original and each line is going to need to be much more compact than I have written it.


  • I looked at some more of the youtube versions of this song. Even if each line needs to truncated severely, it should be easy to fill in the gaps with a slide show / graphic illustrating each principle in much more full form. Then the song line can become the memory device for the full doctrine illustrated in in the picture, kind of like with the Tetrapharmakon

  • This actually relates to a small project I've had cooking.


    I'm adapting the lyrics of "Northwest Passage" by Stan Rogers to an Epicurean theme. I don't know why, but the song felt perfect for it. It has an energy, a spirit of adventure, and a sense of history suitable to practical philosophy.



    Progress so far;

    ________

    Ah, for just one time, I would take passage to Hellas,

    To feel the wind from Samos sigh from the Aegean Sea,

    Tracing that lost line in the steps of Epicurus,

    And bring his garden back across the sea.


    Westward from Vesuvius 'tis there 'twas said to lie

    A villa of philosophy in which so many died

    Seeking peace and pleasure,

    Leaving scattered, broken souls

    And a long-forgotten library of scrolls.

    _______


    I'm having fun with it!

  • Oscar I personally am MUCH more comfortable with graphics, in which I have the ability to make effort, even if not much talent, vs the musical part, at which I have no talent or aptitute whatever. So anything you can piece together on the music side I am happy to work on graphics for.