Epicurus' Appearance - Research Into What He Looked Like

  • ADMIN EDIT: There is a lot of material on this topic buried within the "School of Athens" subforum, but the topic is broader than the fresco so we need another place to cover all the facets of the question of knowledge of the true face of Epicurus. We can start with the obvious statement that those who knew him knew what he looked like, and it appears that numerous representations of his face were produced in antiquity and were reproduced for at least several hundred years. We also know that a small version of his appearance inscribed "Epicurus" was found in the Herculaenum digs. We can also presume that not all of the ancient representations of Epicurus perished over the years, but that is much harder to trace and would be the purpose of this thread. We also have to deal with the fact that artists in England or France or right down the street in Rome might choose to portray Epicurus in a speculative way, even though a bust with his name on it might have existed in some other place but unknown to them. We probably should not also exclude the possibility that some representations of Epicurus were intentionally misrepresented. So this will be the master post in this thread. The article by Takis is HERE How Became Known To Is The Portrait of The Athenian Philosopher Epicurus - Takis Pangiotopoulos.

    It seems to me that the several most clear and important leads to pursue are:

    1. The inscribed bust from Herculaneum
    2. The inscribed herm from Rome (Maria Maggiore)
    3. The reference in Frischer of there being a gem or ring inscribe Epicurus

    Among the main resources by which to pursue these questions are:

    1. Takis P's article "How Became Known to Us...."
    2. Bernard Frischer's Article "On Reconstructing the Portrait of Epicurus"
    3. Bernard Frischer's Book "The Sculpted Word"
    4. Bernard Frischer's Article "Semiotics of Epicurus' Portrait"
    5. Pictures of Busts from Book by Richter
    6. British Museum page on bust of Epicurus, with extensive notes
    7. Do we have something on Roman Gems?
    Cassius Amicus

    March 7 at 5:45pm

    We recently discussed the location of Epicurus in the famous "School of Athens" artwork, and as part of that discussion it came to light that Takis Panagiotopoulos has produced a lengthy summary of the history of our modern knowledge of the true face of Epicurus. Takis has kindly allowed us to post the PDF in our files section, which I am about to do and will link below. However I want to be sure everyone sees not only the full article, which is excellent, but the attached modern portrait of Epicurus which is featured in the article, by Evi Sarantea. Thank you Takis for bringing all this to our attention!

    March 7 at 5:47pm

    Takis Panagiotopoulos: "How Became Known To Us The Portrait of The Athenian Philosopher Epicurus"


    Cassius Amicushttps://lookaside.fbsbx.com/.../EPICURUS_BUSTS_2017_en2...
    Like · Reply · March 7 at 5:48pm

  • I am sure we have already covered this, but I will have to look up where and perhaps move the post. So here is the portion of Takis' paper, which i gather is based on Frischer, which traces the identification of Epicurus to the discovery of the inscribed bust in 1742 at St Maria Maggiore. What do we know about this "discovery?" Presumably it was not buried by Vesuvius, so whereever it was "discovered" someone put it there at a particular time. What do we know about how this bust came to be where it was 'discovered' in 1742? Is there some circumstance that would foreclose it being on display publicly somewhere at the time of Raphael or any other particular time for centuries beforehand? Not to trivialize this, but how do we know that someone who didn't like Epicurus in 1600 or 1650 or 1700 or even 1740 didn't just hide this away only to have it recovered relatively shortly later? I presume Bernard Frischer addresses this so that would be the next link in the chain.

    This is from Frischer's 1979 article "On Reconstructing the Portrait of Epicurus"

    So when did it get put "under the porch"? Is there any reason to jump to the conclusion that it lay there since the early Christian era? Or maybe there's a cave or cellar under the porch used for storage and rotated regularly with their wine supply? :) Maybe there is additional detail available on that.

    Is this where the trail stops and we have nothing beforehand but speculation, or is there more?

  • Cassius

    Changed the title of the thread from “Identification of Epicurus' True Appearance” to “Epicurus' Appearance - Research Into What He Looked Like”.
  • Youtube video of reconstructed face of Epicurus:

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