Posts by JJElbert

    Welcome to Eugenios!

    I'm still moving and shaking here in the Florida Panhandle. I recently bought a Dremel rotary tool—I'd like to play around with lost wax carving if I get the time. I really want to cast an Epicurean ring! I also downloaded Blender the other day. I tried a bit of 3d modeling, but that's all a bit over my head. Doesn't hurt to have a "cottage hobby" in a pandemic.

    Unfortunately we'll probably never know; but here are a few lines of inquiry that remain open to us.

    1. We can work to gather evidence of every John Miers ring known to exist.

    2. We can attempt to trace the whole history of the ring from manufacture to museum.

    3. We can compile a record of cameo rings from that period thought to be of Epicurus.

    There is a "Sherlock Holmes" element in all of this that pleases me immensely—the game is afoot!

    A good point, Eugenios; and another just occured to me. Bligh was the governor of a major new British Colony. He must have entertained all kinds of people. Some, no doubt, would have given gifts. Perhaps to curry favor, perhaps as tokens of esteem.

    Or this; perhaps the ring has a more direct association with the the Rum Rebellion trial. A gift from an Epicurean friend gently encouraging him to get out of politics.

    I also looked into the Joseph Banks connection yesterday. Banks kept a journal, and in one entry he records that a dinner guest was given the name of Epicurus on account of his enormous appetite. So that's likely a dead end as well.

    But here's something interesting; Bligh died probably from complications of stomach cancer. Epicurus likewise died painfully of kidney stones and dysentery. And one of the historic associations of Bloodstone is to "strengthen the stomach". Is it possible that in his later years Bligh found a measure of solace in a philosopher who saw pain for an evil?

    I spent more time on this yesterday as well.

    Preliminary findings;

    -The ring was made by John Miers of London, "No. 111, Strand, opposite Exeter Change." Miers lived between 1758 and 1821.

    -The setting is Heliotrope, commonly known as Bloodstone. It's been used since ancient times, and has a variety of talismanic beliefs associated.

    -John Miers is a name well known to history; 10 specimens of his work reside at the National Portrait Gallery in London. There are probably hundreds of surviving works in private collections and museums around the world.

    -The Scottish Poet Robert Burns refers to Miers' shop by name in a letter to his wife. A jeweller for respectable people then; and best known for his work in miniatures.

    -Samj and I had similar thoughts...perhaps we shouldn't assume that William Bligh was an Epicurean any more than we should assume that George Suttor was. Perhaps the ring was gifted to him.

    Anyway, I'll have more later.

    I've been poking into it as well. Early thoughts;

    -He does have a daughter named Frances, but there can be no connection to Frances Wright.

    -I thought this interesting; "Bligh wrote a best-selling book, "The Mutiny On Board the HMS Bounty". In it he portrayed himself as the ideal Commander of a happy ship, only to be betrayed by "hedonists" who wanted to lead a carefree life in Tahiti." If he's using hedonism as a charge, it doesn't bode well for positioning him as an Epicurean.

    -Bligh was known as a strict disciplinarian, and not well loved by the men under his command. Nevertheless he did command occasional loyalty: the history of the ring itself (below) is evidence of that.

    -The ring is carved from Bloodstone, and set in gold by a London jeweller. The ring-box gives the jeweler's name, but does not identify the name of the figure.

    -After Bligh's death, the ring was given by his daughters to a George Sutton, who had traveled at great personal trouble and expense by sea to testify on Bligh's behalf. The ring was a belated token of thanks to an old friend.

    -Bligh's grave features an "eternal flame" sculpture, but not any prominent cross insignia that I can see.

    -Now for the figure itself; the man is bearded, with a subtly aquiline nose and a full head of hair. The style is evidently Greek; either the figure was Greek himself, or perhaps a Roman from the Imperial period with Greek pretensions. If the latter, perhaps Marcus Aurelius or Hadrian, both Hellenophiles who were portrayed with beards.

    If the former, probably Epicurus. Another possibility is that the ring is Epicurus, but the man who wore it had a different view. Maybe he fancied that the figure was Homer; a natural icon for any sailor. Perhaps he thought it was Xeno of Citium. There's a story on reddit about a young man with a large tattoo of Epicurus, which he got on accident thinking it was a Stoic. (Ha!)

    No classical figure has been more prominently associated with cameo rings than Epicurus. For that reason, and the similarity with known rings and statues, I suspect that the ring is Epicurus. The mysteries that remain; why this Englishman, so abused by public life, should have persisted in it against the advise of the man on his finger-ring.

    If we want to know the answer to these questions, we'll need further research into his life and times.


    In this context you really have to admire Diogenes of Oinoanda for inscribing it in stone. More of that needs to be planned for the future.

    My thinking exactly. Chiseled stone, heirloom manuscripts, carved wood, pressed into molded plastic, and so on. We could be less than 200 years away from the printing of the last mass-market paper book, and never know it. Or the shuttering of the last brick-and-mortar University. I do not say that I think it is so; I only say that we should be thinking of it.

    I was thinking on these things again today, after recalling to mind the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban in 2001.

    Monumentation has become an important word in my new line of work. Just yesterday, in the sprawling pine woods north of Choctawhatchee Bay, our survey party came upon a concrete post 4 feet high and 4 inches square, circled all round with greenery; an enduring emblem of proprietorship set down a century ago by the paper company that owned this forest.

    The shell-middens of the Muscogee Creek Indians are much older still—and still in evidence all along these waters. More recently than the Indians, the settlers have left their own evidence: Hurdy pots (used for collecting turpentine), tumbledown fences, logging roads from nowhere to nowhere; by these and other devices they have left their mark.

    There are some among the older surveyors who can detect a section line by the way the trees grow. By such scant evidence they can sniff out a section corner. And how much greater is the evidence for the goodness of pleasure! It must occur to all—it is self-evident. Let the priests of fable shout until they are hoarse; it will not stop all sensible folk from coming to their senses. There, then, is our chance and hope: that the school of Epicurus will never be forsaken, so long as there are men and women who are prepared to come to their senses.

    Happy 20th.

    Over the last days and weeks, I have been hearing the most remarkable oracles from my acquaintances and relations. If God wants you to die from a virus, he'll make it happen. And also; If you trust God and do not fear this, He will save you. I have been told earnestly that the projected official figure (65 million) is just an homage to Satan—by way of "rounding up" 65 to 66.

    I have heard them clamour for the churches to remain open, because Jesus is the only true medicine.

    What a joy it is put all that nonsense by: to cleave to what we know, and to confess just as readily to what we do not know.

    Peace and safety, friends.

    I don't have time to read that all just now, but one 'problem' often cited by Medievalists against Greenblatt (A Renaissance scholar) was his 'misunderstanding' of Medieval literacy and scholarship. I read one of these arguments saying, in effect, that books were "valued almost to the point of being magical" in the Middle Ages. The person was citing this as an example of literacy.

    I'm sorry, but that is not an example of literacy. It's an example of ILLITERACY!!!

    Books are useful, and interesting, and worth treasuring; but there's nothing talismanic about them. Only someone who couldn't read would think that there was.

    So I just don't have much time for disgruntled Medievalists.

    Your chart calls to mind a project that I'd like to see done, Eugenios. What I wanted to do was make a timeline of Epicurean influence similar to this chart from the Marvel Cinematic Universe;…1c15b7cabdfe9e0cf4523.jpg

    In my vision, the color lines would coordinate to different levels of agreement. There would be a golden line linking true 'canon' figures, and other colors radiating off of them to other prominent figures. We might start with purple, for example, to represent physics; red to represent the pleasure-principle; green to represent non-theism; black to represent antagonism; and so on.

    So we would start with a circle to the far left with a portrait (where possible) and name of, say, Democritus. A dotted purple line representing influence but not total agreement would surround Democritus and Leucippus and lead to Epicurus. Epicurus would be a larger circle with gold in the first ring and the other colors working toward the outside. This line would then connect all of the scholarchs; Philodemus; Diogenes of Oenoanda; Lucretius; Francis Wright; DeWitt.

    A separate line might then cut away, say from Lucretius' circle. A purple line running out toward Gassendi, indicating an agreement with physics. A dotted purple and red line toward Montaigne, indicating strong influence but not agreement. A purple, red, and green line running toward La Mettrie, indicating broad agreement to a greater or lesser degree with physics, pleasure, and non-theism. A line from Francis Wright to Thomas Jefferson indicating an agreement with physics and pleasure, but a dotted green line indicating his tendency toward Deism.

    And so forth! No doubt problems would emerge as it was drafted, and disagreements would arise over canon figures. But a chart like this would allow one at a glance to take in the whole sweep of Epicurean history.

    I'm certain I'll never get around to doing it, but if someone more gifted than myself with visual software had a mind I'd love to see the result!


    Have you ever read the end of the De Rerum Natura, the plague of Athens?

    At the moment we are not so desperate.


    Gallows humor aside, I am glad to hear things are alright. Florida had it's largest-yet spike in cases reported yesterday. My mother is a nurse, so the primary concern is that she stands a chance of being quarantined at the hospital if she gets any kind of fever.

    It certainly hasn't stopped the springbreakers from coming down to the beach!

    The Latin looks solid, Cassius, although I do wonder about that "thanks" in the original translation. That appears to be a liberty they've taken with the word ex. A more literal translation; "out of the Epicurean chorus alive with joy!" I seem to like out of better myself, though I couldn't clearly express why.

    And to Profkesarsarwara; please don't mistake my academic interest in the Latin for glibness! I did not have the pleasure of interacting with your father, as that was before my time here. But everything I have seen and read tells me to rejoice that the daughter of such a man should join our little community; welcome!

    For an excellent study of religion and the pig, I can recommend the chapter "Why Heaven Hates Ham" out of Christopher Hitchens' book, God is not Great.

    The association of Epicureanism with pigs is at least as old as the Late Republic period in Rome, as Cassius has noted, and has had a storied history since. St. Augustine famously remarked that it was "a philosophy fit only for swine."

    The leaping piglet to me represents the joie de vivre of our school, contrasted with the sullen Stoic, the snooty Platonist, the bewildered Pyrrhonist, the wretched Cynic, and the self-loathing monotheist.


    A pathless country of the Pierides I traverse, where no other foot has ever trod. I love to approach virgin springs, and there to drink; I love to pluck new flowers, and to seek an illustrious chaplet for my head from fields whence before this the Muses have crowned the brows of none.


    Scott is not (to my knowledge) an Epicurean, but this is still the best take on morality I've seen anywhere.

    Ties in Euthypro and David Hume for one powerful conclusion; regardless of your faith or philosophy, the inescapable reality is that there are only rational 'oughts'.

    Does an Epicurean have trouble making sense of ethics? Certainly: but only because everyone has trouble making sense of ethics. What did we expect from a mammalian brain operating in a universe made of unthinking matter—perfection? The really foolish thing would be to assume perfectibility in ethics. Europe was lighted from one end to another with the burning of heretics behind that insanity.