Posts by JJElbert

    I've secured the necessary domain and gmail address, so I can tentatively announce EpicureaPoetica as the name of the 'show'. The Latin is slightly clunky, but I suppose "Of the Poetry of the Epicurean Tradition" would be a loose translation. Mainly I derive it from Epicurea, which was a collection of fragments compiled by Usener, and Poetica, which of course is the Latin for poetry as well as the title of a work by Horace (Ars Poetica).

    In our recent meeting I mentioned an idea I've been kicking around lately. This is a thread to flesh out the project, and to invite comment and feedback.

    Recent major projects have been the group reading of DeWitt, and the ongoing and very dedicated podcast on the close reading of Lucretius. We have additionally been enriched by the rebirth of a classical tradition; the 'feast' (or celebration) and meeting of the Twentieth. These have been excellent and informative, as well as richly inspiring!

    But there is as well a large and mostly formless mass of secondary literature pertaining to our school, and I feel that there is an opportunity here to shed new light on some of it.

    Working on the model of LatinPerDiem, I envision brief, simple and crisp presentations exploring the shorter poetic works of Epicureans and their detractors: Horace and Virgil; Philodemus, Anacreon, and Catullus; Frederick the Great, Edmund Spenser, and Alfred Tennyson. Lucretius was particularly influential, and the borrowings innumerable, so there will be a lot to work with.

    The planned first 'Episode' will explore themes of madness, death and suicide in Tennyson's masterful Victorian poem "Lucretius". I am still looking for a proper and corrected sample of the text, but in the mean time I have been studying the poem Here.

    One key to my analysis will be a short section of another of Tennyson's poems, which you can find Here. Careful readers will notice the certain allusion to Lucretius that doubtfully concludes the passage. (I'll post this passage later when I find it.)

    If you happen to read the poem and there are points you would like to see touched upon, I encourage you to post them here! I look forward to putting this together.


    Happy Twentieth!


    If you miss udders and draughts of Chian wine, you will see at least sincere friends and you will hear things far sweeter than the land of the Phaeacians. -Philodemus of Gadara, to Piso

    This book doesn't bear directly on our subject in any way that I am aware of, but since we have some right to claim Thomas Jefferson as an Epicurean it may be useful to us. A family member—an evangelical and a conspiracy theorist—has been sending links to youtube videos featuring David Barton. Mr. Barton's extensive work in dissimulation is not unknown to me, but this text is the most serious and dedicated rebuttal that I've encountered. And thanks to the author, it is free for download on PDF!

    Christine "Chris" Rodda, Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History (2006)

    For reference, here is a list, compiled by Jefferson himself in his letter to William Short, of the various Christian doctrines which he (Jefferson) denied.

    "the immaculate conception of Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him, his miraculous powers, his resurrection & visible ascension, his corporeal presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity, original sin, atonement, regeneration, election orders of Hierarchy etc."

    It might be worth considering here the very words that were reportedly chosen to hang over the entrance to the Garden itself. Not to select them, necessarily; not if they don't suit your and our purpose. But to examine their implications, and imagine the string of choices that led to their selection. As recorded by Seneca the Younger:



    Or in English;


    Stranger, here you will do well to tarry; here our highest good is pleasure.

    The detail carving has proven to be quite the reality check! :D

    I do want to keep trying, but the wall-art thread has me thinking that maybe my focus should be on rendering a really solid profile, and then shopping it around to custom ring makers.

    Here are a few links to show what's available on that route;…Cwi8sVEuG7PcaAsD7EALw_wcB

    I should have replied to your other thread Don, but I'll put it here!

    Regarding mens sana in corpore sano, there is a history there that DeWitt doesn't tease out for us. Your instincts are correct; Juvenal's famous line is Stoical;

    The Epicurean response was offered by Horace, which I'll paraphrase as I cannot find the source just now;

    Let me ask Jupiter only for what is in his power to give—it would be absurd to ask for a contented mind, as I can provide that for myself.

    You don't need to ask for a stout heart that has no fear of death; Epicurus suggested that that is what philosophy is for!

    I find the sample rather charming myself, although I haven't compared it with another.


    Just saw your comment about approaching the library, Joshua. This is where I dearly wish we had some friends in England. I do know of one possibility; I will email him.

    If it comes to drafting a formal letter, multiple signatories with credentials might strengthen our request. I won't say it on the public forum without permission, but a certain someone has connections with the Library system in Ohio. We are, after all, a dedicated international group of sensible professionals.

    from Wikipedia:


    The library operates a strict policy on copying of material. Until fairly recently, personal photocopying of library material was not permitted, as there was concern that copying and excessive handling would result in damage. However individuals may now copy most material produced after 1900, and a staff-mediated service is provided for certain types of material dated between 1801 and 1900. Handheld scanners and digital cameras are also permitted for use on most post-1900 publications and digital cameras may also be used, with permission, with older material.[48] The Library will supply digital scans of most pre-1801 material.

    We might find it necessary to draft a careful and serious Letter of Request to the curators, to see if they'll digitize it for us. You do, after all, operate several of the very best Epicurean resources to be found anywhere on the internet! They might be amenable if we volunteer to typeset the scan ourselves for the public record.


    Joshua I checked my files and don't seem to have much on this Rawlinson edition, nor can I find a PDF of the manuscript. Have you found an online version?

    I've never found a copy of it either. The Bodleian Library holds the largest collection at Oxford, and the second largest in Britain. There are over 12 million documents to be digitized, and it's very possible that this edition hasn't ever been scanned or typeset. Every citation that I have found cites the manuscript itself.

    Oh, have no fear on that point, Cassius. I am certain you've spent more time with Munro than I have! No, it was the very interesting word cavalier that distracted me, and that is where my reading may bear me out: we studied the cavalier poets when I was at the University; they were Royalists devoted wholeheartedly to the cause (and person) of Charles I, and to the eventual restoration of his heir Charles II after the Interregnum.

    The great problem of the manuscript in the Bodleian library is that we know almost nothing whatever about it. Here is what little we do know about the text, known to scholars as Ms Rawlinson D. 314.

    The concrete facts are coded in the title just mentioned; it is a hand-drafted fair copy manuscript (Ms), bequeathed to Oxford as part of the extensive collection—over 5,000 articles of every description—of Richard Rawlinson, being the 314th item under the heading D. for Miscellaneous.

    And, what we do not know:

    1.) The identity of the translator.

    2.) The date of its composition.

    3.) The early provenance of the text—which is to say, how it came to be in Rawlinson's collection to begin with.

    Everything else that can be surmised is to be derived through textual criticism. It is believed to be a direct translation of a 1659 French revision of an earlier French edition of the Latin text, presented by Denis Lambin in 1563 (this being the same Lambinus mentioned above by Munro.)

    And so from this, an earliest date of 1659 is suggested for the text.

    On a slightly unrelated note, it was a copy of Lambin's edition that was found with Montaigne's extensive marginalia.


    [...] he had the fortune too to be entirely translated by one of the most accomplished cavalier gentlemen [...]

    What a curious snippet...

    This is undoubtedly a reference to the anonymous manuscript in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. I wonder if gentlemen is meant, or gentleman. Munro seems to have a hypothesis regarding it's authorship. The list I've seen offers up 25(!) names of proposed translators. (Source: Lucretius and the Early Modern, Norbrook et al.)

    I was just reading an article called "Newton and Lucretius" by William B. Jensen of the University of Cincinnatti, and heard there a strange tale.

    It seems that among ancient sources there are references to a proto-philosopher (of a still more ancient vintage) called Mochus the Phoenician. This Mochus, it has been proposed, was the genuine father of atomism. And there is a bizarre temptation in this, at least for those renaissance humanists who followed Gassendi in attempting to give atomism a Christian face. Mochus, claimed one Ralph Cudworth, was nothing more than an etymological branch of the name of the biblical Moses. Yes, you've got that right—Moses, they suggest, as the father of atomism.

    "How much effort it takes to affirm the incredible!" —Christopher Hitchens