Coronavirus - Epicurean World Report!

  • Let's use this thread to talk about Coronavirus in our Epicurean community - what we see and what we are thinking. It comes to mind to ask this of Michele Pinto first since he is in a hotbed of it, but there are others too. Everyone feel free to comment here:

    michelepinto how are you and things in Italy? We are hearing many bad reports. Are you OK personally? What can you tell us?

    shahabgh66 how are you and things in Iran?

  • I and my family and friends are ok.

    I'm a journalist so I have a lot of work. Everybody is closed in his home and I can't see my parents or friends.

    The problem is if we have enough place in hospital when the worst will come.

  • Good to hear you are OK Michele. Depending on what you read one might think that that Italy was filled with dead bodies on every street. I hope things stay OK with you and you'll keep us posted.

  • Quote

    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 plague of Athens : In that era, Αthens was besieged by the Spartans. Many of the citizens of Attica abandoned their farms and moved inside the Long Walls, which connected Athens to its port of Piraeus. At the end of the first year of the war, Pericles gave his famous Funeral Oration (Epitaph 431 BC).

    The Spartans also occupied Attica for periods of only three weeks at a time; in the tradition of earlier hoplites warfare, the soldiers were expected to go home to participate in the harvest. Moreover, Spartan slaves, known as helotes, needed to be kept under control, and could not be left unsupervised for long periods of time. The longest Spartan invasion, in 430 BC, lasted just forty days.

    The Athenian strategy was initially guided by the strategos/general, Pericles, who advised the Athenians to avoid open battle with the far more numerous and better trained Spartan hoplites, relying instead on the fleet. The Athenian fleet, the most dominant in Greece, went on the offensive, winning a victory at the city of Naupactus.

    However, in 430 BC an outbreak of plague hit Athens. The plague ravaged the densely packed city, and in the long run, was a significant cause of its final defeat. The plague wiped out over 30,000 citizens, sailors, and soldiers, including Pericles and his sons. Roughly one-third to two-thirds of the Athenian population died. Athenian manpower was correspondingly drastically reduced and even foreign mercenaries refused to hire themselves out to a city riddled with plague. The fear of plague was so widespread that the Spartan invasion of Attica was abandoned, their troops being unwilling to risk contact with the deceased.

    Conclusion: in Athens the great strategos ( = General) was a virus that can't be seen without a microscope.

    Here is a research on what was the virus that hit Athens.

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

  • Bouncing off Joshua's comments as to the status in the USA, do I get the feeling that the panic index has actually subsided a bit since yesterday? I heard that the college kids would not let anything get in the way between them and spring break, so we'll soon see how much that contributes to the spread.

  • External Content
    Content embedded from external sources will not be displayed without your consent.
    Through the activation of external content, you agree that personal data may be transferred to third party platforms. We have provided more information on this in our privacy policy.

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

  • I get the feeling that the panic index has actually subsided a bit since yesterday?

    Not here in Ohio. They just closed the public library system where I work through next week at least "due to an abundance of caution." Most/all of the universities here are ceasing face-to-face classes for the balance of the semester. State health authorities are predicting cases will peak in Ohio near the end of April.

    Surreal... but looking for the pleasure where I can. We're in Terra Incognito here.

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

    At the moment we are not so desperate. :)

    That scene was mentioned in recent essays. A few things have been written from an Epicurean perspective on how to deal with coronavirus.

    Facts Not fear. Clean Hands. Open Hearts. An Epicurean meditation on how to respond to the ongoing epidemic (by a Unitarian minister who frequently writes on Lucretius)

    Thomas Nail--author of Ontology of Motion--wrote a piece for titled Why a Roman philosopher's views on the fear of death matter as coronavirus spreads, referring here to Lucretius.

    (by the way Nail as a new book coming out next month on the "Ethics of Motion", another commentary on Lucretius, I saw the description and the list of chapters / index, looks interesting)

    by me - Living Pleasantly in Times of Coronavirus

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

  • In one of the above suggested articles "I like" those definitions by the author; and as he presents himself : Minister in Cambridge (UK) on the roll of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches with sympathies towards a contemporary Lucretian inspired religious naturalism, new materialism and Christian atheism.

    What the heck are all these terms with -isms ??!! What is that thing called as "Christian atheism" ?

    But indeed, and as Friedrich Nietzsche said it : It is a curious thing that (the christian) God learned Greek when he wished to turn author--and that he did not learn it better.^^

    It is a curious thing indeed the desire to write something for Epicurean Philosophy while you have in your mind strange mainstreams or movements of isms and the like. Because if you try to mix the tragos (goat) with the elaphos (deer) you have a ridiculous thing that is called Tragelaphus!

    𝐄𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐧 𝐩𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐨𝐩𝐡𝐲 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐬 𝐢𝐭𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐲 (of 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐧, 𝐏𝐡𝐲𝐬𝐢𝐜𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐄𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐬). 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟-𝐝𝐞𝐟𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐞. 𝐈𝐟 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐩𝐢𝐞𝐜𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐩𝐢𝐞𝐜𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐞𝐥𝐬𝐞𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞, 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐞𝐧𝐝 𝐮𝐩 𝐢𝐧 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐈𝐟 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠.

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

  • It is a curious thing indeed the desire to write something for Epicurean Philosophy while you have in your mind strange mainstreams or movements of isms and the like. Because if you try to mix the tragos (goat) with the elaphos (deer) you have a ridiculous thing that is called Tragelaphus.

    Thank you, Elli for the Tragelaphus! I had never heard of a Tragelaphus before! I had to look it up and sure enough there was a Wikipedia article! That's going to be my go-to mythical animal name now :)

    Oddly enough, I saw scientists have conscripted the name to refer to an actual species of antelope, too.

    I also agree with your remarks on the smorgasbord of -isms. One should really pick one (or, okay, I'll give them two) and stick with it. Otherwise, there's simply too much on the buffet and you can't taste anything. Okay, I may have stretched that analogy a little too far.

  • Thank you, Hiram , for the article links. I admit that I enjoyed reading them, but I do have to agree with Elli that those are some interesting credentials for Andrew James Brown. I'm a little confused, too, on what "Christian atheism" might entail. Belief in God is sort of the whole deal in Christianity, isn't it? Please don't misunderstand. I'm not holding you responsible for explaining "Christian atheism" :) I just found it an interesting potential oxymoron.

  • I am just now reading that article by Nail. If this opening sentence is any reflection of the rest, I will have a lot more negative to say:

    "A first-century B.C. Roman poet and philosopher, Lucretius was worried that our fear of death could lead to irrational beliefs and actions that could harm society."

    WHAT? Could lead to beliefs and actions that could harm SOCIETY???

    Edit: More commentary

    "Lucretius was a materialist who did not believe in gods or souls. He thought that all of nature was made of continually changing matter." FALSE: He did believe in "gods" (of Epicurean type) and he also believed in "souls" (in the form of spirit made of extremely light and fast-moving particles). Of course he did not believe in gods or souls as those terms are CONVENTIONALLY used, but why not be precise?

    "Not fearing death is easier said than done. That is why, for Lucretius, it is the most important ethical challenge of our life.

    Instead of worrying about what may happen after death, Lucretius advises people to focus on keeping their bodies healthy and helping others do the same." --- Good grief this is superficial. The most important ethical challenge in life is how to choose pleasure and avoid pain, and focusing on keeping healthy is one (but only one) component of pursuing pleasure. Much more could be said about this but I will defer more til later.

    And the article does not once reference Epicurus?

    I think I need to apologize to everyone that we are not moderating more closely. I have posted this as the latest announcement in the announcement thread tonight:


    As per recent announcements, today further automatic posting requirements were put into effect to implement the forum policy that "All are welcome to read and ask questions, but only firm friends of Epicurean Philosophy in accord with our Not Neo-Epicurean, But Epicurean statement and our Posting Policy statement are granted full posting privileges, so here you will find a truly supportive community of Epicurean Friends." If you run into any issues because of this please email me at

  • I think the article is fairly thoroughly dreadful. It pushes that weird tranquility view instead of actual pleasure, and it wants us to gloss over the real fear and grief involved in this pandemic in a way that seems Stoic.

    As far as I know, Epicurus wasn't opposed to reality-based fears-- just unnecessary anxiety over things that don't exist. We are not anesthesiologist philosophers. Some of what is happening and will happen with the virus will be quite sad. It's normal to be afraid and to grieve. Just be wise, learn the facts, and take action for your pleasure, including looking after the people you love.

    I have been busy seeing patients-- in Alabama, they weren't testing until a few days ago, and now "suddenly" we have 5 patients. Despite cases encroaching on our borders on 3 sides, officials kept saying "it's not here." Of course the virus does not read maps! So we are behind the 8 ball, a shame when we did have such a good advance notice to prepare.

    So now that there are cases in the state, though the Georgia cases are closer, my town has gone into a panic and bought all the food. The photo is my local grocery! And bottled water-- who knows why. All they need to really do is social distancing but instead they bought all the toilet paper. I've read people are buying bidets off Amazon.

    I am definitely concerned about my elderly friends and family. The case fatality rate is very high for them. I'm sticking to work and home right now, because I'm one of the few docs who decided to think ahead and wear a mask to work last week. The others are going to be out on quarantine soon, I bet, so I will be busy.

    At the exponential doubling rate, every 6 days, we will soon see worse problems than Europe unless people do take social distancing seriously, because we have a bad shortage of ventilators and hospital beds. Many rural hospitals in my state have gone bankrupt and closed in the past several years. Several counties have no hospitals. 1 in 4 grandparents here is raising grandchildren without parents, due to drug arrests, compared to 1:10 nationwide -- the age group harder hit. Who is going to take those kids, I wonder?

    If people do take this seriously, it might wind up looking much better.

    I am curious whether we are being told the truth about the leveling off of new cases in China. I wouldn't be surprised if they were lying, given their past record.

    I suggested to my elderly Chorus friends that if any of them run out of something which one of us can share, I will help by letting the sharer (if not me) put the item in my car trunk and I can drive to the receiver. They can get it from my trunk without coming in contact. We all have some supplies and will be able to help each other if necessary. So we are not alone in this. Of course I have some dried beans, like Epicurus did!

  • All they need to really do is social distancing but instead they bought all the toilet paper. I've read people are buying bidets off Amazon.

    Frankly, I did not know why this attached photo became viral on FB !

    And now I read many articles such as :

    - Australia. Australia's largest supermarket today chain sells with ration toilet paper as dozens of citizens rush to make commissions due to fears of a coronavirus outbreak.

    - Hong Kong. Panic-stricken Hong Kong citizens have been inundated with supermarkets buying huge quantities of toilet paper as the government warns that rumors circulating on the internet about city shortages are battling to fight the deadly new coronavirus.

    - London. Supermarket shelves of pasta and toilet paper were emptied.

    - Greece. From an article : Why you people, are you going to the supermarkets and at the same time you take such risks to get ill from coronavirus? And all these huge quantities of buying pasta and toilet paper? Do you do not know that with just a click on your computer, you are able to order from supermarket whatever you like and the delivery man comes to your door, for bringing all the stuff you need? Yes, indeed, foolishness now has a corona (crown) and it is invincible!

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

  • On Christian atheism-- it's actually a thing, not an oxymoron at all. It is people who take the supernatural elements of the bible metaphorically, even thinking that's how the words were intended. The same as we read Venus in Lucretius metaphorically. They think literalists missed the whole point of those writings. People like John Shelby Spong. It's a fairly popular position in the progressive churches.

    Eternal life for them does not mean individual life-- more what we talk about, that the matter doesn't die, but also that sense of timelessness people have in moments of strong love.

    I tried this practice out myself many years ago. I was attracted to the love aspect, because I'm a person with strong feelings, similar to many others who practice it. And I enjoy singing with others.

    It's different from humanism in that it isn't a generic love for undifferentiated humanity-- it isn't utilitarian. There's even a lot of pleasure in it. But because of the archetypal sacrifice myth it is centered around, it places self-sacrifice and sacrificial service way up there. It has the weird Christian discomfort with money. And it advises non-judgment of others as well, which doesn't always make sense. It prefers being a lily in the field, not activity-- being Mary, not Martha-- and as we've discussed, either rest or activity is fine depending on which is needed, timing-wise, for pleasure. Pleasure is not at the center of Christian atheism. Sometimes pleasure requires dying for another person, and certainly generosity with property and time is often a huge pleasure, but it is even better if we are able to live together with our friends enjoying life instead.

    When pleasure is not the goal, there is no way to keep a philosophy from going off the rails.

  • Fascinating, Elayne . I remember reading Spong a number of years ago. "Christian atheism" sounds like an evolution then of Jefferson's Bible editing by taking the supernatural out of the religion. Thank you so much for sharing.

    I'll admit that the phrase itself still strikes me as similar to "jumbo shrimp" or "unbiased opinion."

  • Hi everyone,

    I'm with my family. And hopefully we are all okay. Right now I live in my hometown, Zanjan. For now, the situation here is much better than the capital. There are rumors about locking down Tehran. Yesterday, at Facebook I described how irresponsible our government acted in dealing with the problem. There is also another problem: the public!

    There are still lots of people who don't take the self-quarantine advice seriously. They don't even think the disease is that much serious for their 'own' health. Many videos by doctors and hospital staff are shared through twitter and instagram, 'begging' people to help them by heeding their advice. Unlike Italy, hospitals in some cities are dealing with 'space' problem.