The Notre Dame Fire

  • A question to Liantini's wife by the translator of his book "Gemma" : A surface reading of his book "Gemma" will lead some readers to conclude that the author was an anti-Semite. Was Liantinis an anti-Semite? If not, it is likely that he suspected that a lot of people would misread his writings – just as it happened with Nietzsche whom he so appreciated. Do you believe there could be a reason that Liantinis might have willingly allowed this interpretation as well?

    And the answer by his wife who had studied theology and philosophy at the University of Athens: The characterization «anti-Semite» is mistaken. Liantinis appreciated the circumstances and capabilities of the Jews. What he was primarily concerned about was stressing in every possible way the differences between the Semitic and the Hellenic spirits, because it is well established that the Greeks founded philosophy and the Jews religion. But that the Jewish spirit in its long historical trajectory had a negative role to play with regard to the Greek spirit, until this day, was something that was a source of great pain for him. He stresses that point in the chapter «The Hellenic Greek». I do not know whether he intended to allow this way of interpreting his writings, but of course, every reader has a subjective appreciation of the passages and their own individual way of critically assessing them.

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • I’m not sure how you can misinterpret the pejorative “Jew Greek” but I guess it’s whatever you want to see.

    He was assuredly an anti-Semite Obviously others pointed it out because there was a Q&A about whether or not he was an “anti-Semite.”

  • Elli, I’m all set with responses from sources other than your own brain. Either just have a dialogue with me in your own voice or we are finished with this discussion.

    I don’t want to hear any more about Liantinis or Cavafy in response to the Notre Dame fire. Please.

  • A question to Liantini's wife by the translator of his book "Gemma" : He is particularly scathing when it comes to religion. And yet he chose you, a theology professor, to be his life partner. And you accepted him as your husband when you knew he was openly against the church. Could you comment on this apparent paradox?

    And the answer by his wife : It may seem paradoxical but it isn’t. The first obvious answer is that when two people fall in love they do not check what their degrees were in. Indeed, my PhD was in Theology but I have been studying philosophy since I was 24. Most of my academic publications, lectures and distinctions, have been in the subjects of Introductory Philosophy and History of Philosophy, as a Professor at the University of Athens. It is true that Liantinis attacks the clergy and all religious regimes in his work. The constant refrain to all our discussions was the phrase «Religions will destroy the world». The fanaticism that these relegions inspire and which we continuously experience on an international level was what he feared would bring about this downfall. But the existence of this concept of divinity or god was of interest to him philosophically and this is apparent in all his writings, including Gemma. And as a conclusion to this apparent contradiction that you mentioned, may I say that my theological studies were never a problem in our living together because he himself, even though he was not a theology major, had extensively studied the Old and the New Testament in their entirety, adding his own footnotes, and his personal library contains a number of theological writings that he had obviously studied.

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • The following is an excerpt from the book entitled : “Stoa and Rome” by Dimitris Liantinis, as translated by me:

    The destruction of Hellenic and Roman civilization and culture in general, ladies and gentlemen, has been done by the ZERO!

    Yes! Do not be amazed – by the ZERO ! By an abysmal hating ZERO which had for its target : the HUMAN and the BEING!

    The destruction of the Hellenic and Roman civilization began from an old, paralyzed, and impoverished STOICISM, which through the dark catacombs ripped its clothes to fight that which is the most beautiful humanity ever created, as it crackled its teeth from hatred for the Joy of Knowledge and the Beauty of Life!!

    And for all those things that humans created with their culture, and it was yet so hard to study! In medieval times, this ZERO tortured by the Inquisition the study of Nature and manliness of Science.

    This is indeed the “ODIUM GENERIS HUMANI” (Hatred of the Human Race) as Tacitus said.

    “Knowledge,” you say? “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” we shall say!

    “Beauty, health and strength,” you say? “Lame, crippled, paralyzed, and blind,” we will say!

    “Love,” you say? “The tortures of hell and more are waiting for you at the moment of your death, we say!

    For honor and glory answered by inconspicuous and humility. The last would be first, they said! The pride and the honor propounded by the humiliation and abashment! Blessed you will be when they mock you, persecute you and backbiting you, they said!

    The taste of the mouth and the delicious food responded with fasting and the locusts in the desert! The beauty of feelings and pleasures of life responded to the remorse of the flesh and the denigration of bodily expression! Slandered the flower of youth, and became a virginity and a chastity for the symptoms of Neurosis ! Freud saw too much and suffered to revive some of his patients and illness people!!

    In joy and sparkle in the world and the intoxication of spring responded to the gloom and the black of widow! Blessed are the mourners, they told!

    Finally, hunger, thirst and injustice, the longing of a christening justice are vanished with a surfeit of hungry and with a foggy dream!

    Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, they said. – “- Husband, I’m dizzy from the hunger// – Shut up, you will eat in the sky//, as the greek poet Kostas Varnalis said ironically, in one of his verses..].

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • The dwarfs can not judge the shoe of a GIANT!

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • I have chosen to put both my feet in one boat and not in two, since this is dangerous. I do not fly on that winged ram that had golden fleece to fall again in Elliespontos, as a greek Myth says. So, now I'm sailing on the Hellenic archipelagos for staring at Homer and Odysseus who was the cleverest man of all. These are my Myths and their evolution are Democritus and then Epicurus who never had a need of any church. The only he had was a Garden and friends, many friends. Not like Christ with traitors like Judas Iscariot and those “friends” in Gethsemane, who abandoned their teacher ALL of them. These are the examples : traitors, abandonment, sacrifice and a lot of PAIN. Why ? Because Christ's teachings are for little boys that are afraid the darkness of death…

    Philosophically speaking Christ did not die on a Friday on the hill of Golgotha, but on a Wednesday, at the Mount of Olives. In solitude, abandoned by ALL, somewhere far removed. It was at the time when his sweat was like drops of blood, and when, with tears in his eyes, he whispered “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death”. It was then and there that the dice were cast, and that was his fear of death. And the fear of death of a jewish god continues with illusions and resurrections.

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell! - Epicurus

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • Jews cultivated the land of faith. Greeks cultivated the land of knowledge. Jews were absolute, Greeks were critical. Jews were relentless, Greeks were deferential. This is why the Jewish world prevailed over the Hellenic. The weapon of choice was Christianity, an illegitimate and heinous outgrowth of the main body, rejected by Jews themselves, but which obliterated classical Greece nonetheless. What could not be accomplished courageously, was achieved via fouler means. This is reflected in the traditional Greek folk tale of Digenis Akritas, the famous hero of Acritic Songs. The tale tells of how Death spotted the young hero and from a distance, struck at his heart and took his soul. ( Dimitris Liantinis “Gemma”)

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • OK I am supposed to be moderating here so let me get a word in.

    I understand where Mattheaus is coming from, and I understand where Elli is coming from, and I agree that there is really no breaching the divide. I value Mattheaus' friendship and appreciate his participation here, but I know sometimes there is just no reaching a consensus on some issues. Mattheaus knows that he is advocating a theist-based viewpoint which is not consistent with Epicurean philosophy. As long as the discussion continues tactfully and productively I think it continues to be helpful, and something from which others can learn. But as for my own point of view, and the point of view that is consistent with the founding and purpose of this forum, it is Epicurean, which means anti-theist.

    As for Liantinis, I only read Gemma a few years ago, and about all else I know about him I have learned from Elli's posts. My reading is that he writes very densely and his meaning is not always clear, which is very much similar to how I find Nietszshe. There is no doubt, however, that Nietzsche was anti-Theist, and that Liantinis was anti-Theist -- or at the very least, anti-monotheist.

    As for "anti-Semitism," my reading of both (especially Nietzshe) is that they directed their opposition to the ideology regardless of who carries it, with the fact that it is carried aggressively by Jews (especially in the ancient world) is simply an observation of fact. As I see it, their opposition was not "race-based" but "ideology-based." If one wants to talk about the details of the Jews as a class, there is no better example of a sweeping statement than Diogenes of Oinoanda's characterization of Jews as "the vilest of people." In response to that, there is plenty of reciprocal denunciation of Epicurus by Judaism in return. So I personally see this conflict as a fact of life that cannot be run from or repudiated. The reasons that both sides took the positions they did were well founded, and essential for understanding both positions.

    So I understand where Mattheaus is coming from, and I don't see much resolution on theism.

    As to Oscar's comment on Liantinis, however, I am not aware of a basis for saying that "Liantinis professed hatred and disdain for humanity..."

    Oscar, do you have a cite for that?

    Pending that further discussion, as I see it in and of itself saying that someone has a hatred for the human race is not particularly novel. Tacitus said it about the Christians (which I understand might have been meant to include Jews as well since I gather the Romans considered them largely the same).

  • In response to the thank you from Matthaeus, I would also say that if we were to blur the lines between theism and anti-theism too much, we might be legitimately chargeable of being as tone-deaf to the facts of the ancient controversies as are the Modern Stoics. And that would be a fate worse than death!

  • Clearly the copy and pasting needs to cease if there is going to be any real dialogue. Also, the picture quotes too. Otherwise it’s just anti-intellectual bullying.

    Some ground rules need to laid out and there need to be rules about using peripheral sources that are not Epicurean that are irrelevant like Liantinis.

    There can be no further dialogue if these simple expectations are not met.

  • Diogenis of Oinoanda where are you to hear that ?? Your huge inscription in the middle of Agora was an anti-intellectual bullying !! FRANKNESS OF SPEECH is a great achievement of the free and brave men and is used by the Epicureans too for speaking FREELY for any idea, and for any persons that saying any idea. Frankness of speech is not an anti-intellectual bullying!

    And now I wonder... from which country does Matthaeus come from ? From North Korea ? US First Amendment states that: “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech or of the press.”

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • .... Additionally, as Matt, rightly, pointed out that Liantinis killed himself in order to protest and emphasize his disdain through a symbolic and final personal act of murdering himself...I interpret that as hatred and disdain against his individual humanity and our collective humanity. Epicurus would certainly not have approved of Liantinis and would've rightly labeled Liantinis a fool.

    Matt the ethnic nationalism and anti-semitism in here is stomach sickening...

    Cassius, I wish you luck with Epicurean Friends, I'm an Epicurean but ethnic-nationalists and anti-semites are not friends of mine - and witnessing here the thoughtless copy/paste approach by a moderator and dramatic use of fonts and regurgitation of seemingly prepared counter-responses drown out dialogue. Such immature and mindless behaviour has unfortunately, greatly, undermined your project of Epicurean Friends.

    I wrote a piece for the Humanist on euthanasia, and the research I did for this proved that only one Epicurean in antiquity ever committed suicide and this was a frowned upon practice among the Epicureans except in cases of terminal disease or when a person is already lying on the battlefield near death. Committing suicide to prove a point politically is about as far from ataraxia / a life of pleasure as one gets.

    Also, the problem of nationalism and anti-Semitism is something we have seen before in some Epicurean groups and circles, it's a source of embarrassment and keeps us from being able to effectively carry our message. Here in Chicago I met a guy who I guess considered himself Epicurean (he came to my Epicurean meetup twice) who was a Serbian white supremacy enthusiast (and very homophobic), had strong fascist tendencies, and spent the first 15 minutes of our very first conversation ever spewing arguments in defense of the Bosnian genocide.

    I wrote the atheism 2.1 essay hoping to address political militancy among atheists and where it goes wrong, but it could also be applied to the Epicureans.

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

  • Hello to all the friends. The limits on pain and pleasure are personal. Liantinis was a Spartan, and as a Spartan he matured with the idea for keeping Thermopylae. This idea/prolepsis/preconception/anticipation was stuck to his mind in all of his life. He thought that his action to end his life was an action to protest against those issues that we live today in Greece and are producing to our society a lot of pain. Maybe Liantinis decided that to escape from something that produced to him a lot of pain. Maybe Liantinis thought that his action was a heroic and brave action. It is the same with Georgakis who was born in my home-island and had set himself on fire in the middle of a square to Genova, in Italy to protest against the dictatorship that was then, in Greece.

    For Georgakis now, my compatriots made a big statue placing it to a square in my home-island. This is the prolepsis/anticipation/preconception that had been stuck in Georgaki's that was measured by him on the basis of his experiences and the circumstances. And as Liantinis did , he saw, he measured, and he decided. And by the way Metrodorus says :

    47. I have anticipated thee, Fortune, and entrenched myself against all thy secret attacks. And we will not give ourselves up as captive to thee or to any other circumstance; but when it is time for us to go, spitting contempt on life and on those who vainly cling to it, I will leave life crying aloud a glorious triumph-song that we have lived well.

    Liantinis decided that was the time for him to go and of what his 15,000 students at the university confirm, they say that he lived well as he also remarked many times to them that life is a GREAT GIFT. Of course I do not say that this idea is good or bad. I do not moralize and this issue. I do not say that the christians were disgraceful when for a name of a god threw themselves to the lions, as they say. Anyone is free to offer and taking whatever he likes in his life. And everyone is free to make his hedonic calculation. But for me, frankly as an Epicurean the issue of survival is a great issue, and of course the pleasurable survival is the greatest issue. So I consider hostile whatever is against to my pleasurable survival, and of course, this goes in extension to my family, friends and my society. Maybe Liantinis started his values from the end : the society, the friends, the family and the last was himself. These are the greeks they count upside down. But if someone would place me a question to give my life to save my children or my close friends this is another issue to talk about seriously for putting aside myself. Because I keep in mind those two sayings.

    56. The wise man feels no more pain when being tortured himself than when his friend tortured.

    57. On occasion a man will die for his friend, for if he betrays his friend, his whole life will be confounded by distrust and completely upset.


    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!