History and Culture of Early Epicureans: Ancient Greece and Rome

  • Thinking it might be good to start a new category under the forum list on early Epicureans in ancient Greece and Rome, focusing on history, culture, food, clothing, lifestyle, etc.

    Regarding honey in ancient times:


    In Athens, beekeeping was so organized that the great legislator Solon (640-558 BC) was forced to define by law the distances that should exist between apiaries so as not to create misunderstandings about the ownership of flocks.

    They did not have sugar, but they had honey, as part of their diet and medicine.

    Honey in the life of the ancient Greeks - Asterios Bio
    The art of beekeeping is not something new in Greece. On the contrary, it has been proven that honey played a leading role in the daily life of the ancient…

    Honey in history: Ancient Greece
    Greece has always been a land with beautiful and various flora. Honey bees have always been at home here. Today their excellent honey is sold all over the…

  • I found this book "The Invention and Gendering of Epicurus" (when Googling "Epicureans and effeminancy") which looks like it could shed some light on the culture of Epicureans. Though tracking down a library copy might be a bit difficult, unless anyone lives near a good university library.

    The Invention and Gendering of Epicurus
    The school of Greek philosopher Epicurus, which became known as the Garden, famously put great stock in happiness and pleasure. As a philosophical community,…

  • Ancient Greek clothing / Ancient Roman clothing, if anyone is interested.

    An idea -- that it could be fun at some point to dress up for the 20th celebration, as a way to make it more festive. And I could help anyone with getting their costume together.

    For ancient Greek clothing:https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clothing_in_ancient_Greece

    Basic Greek Clothing (male) – The Hoplite Association
    Bringing The Ancient Greek World To Life

    Basic Greek Clothing (female) – The Hoplite Association
    Bringing The Ancient Greek World To Life

    And for ancient Roman clothing:

    Ancient Roman Clothing | UNRV

  • beasain, I just looked up about propolis, and found an online article which says that

    Greek and Roman physicians used it as mouth disinfectant and as an antiseptic and healing product in wound treatment, prescribed for topical therapy of cutaneous and mucosal wounds.

  • Kalosyni, thanks a lot for this article. Apart from the mentioned information, it is also a review of the different therapeutic benefits of this bee product.

  • Here is some info on the history of Ancient Athens during the time that Epicurus was alive.

    Wikipedia says Epicurus lived 341-270BC. Diogenes Laertius says 341-271BC.

    The following short section is from Wikipedia:

    Hellenistic Athens

    Further information: Hellenistic Greece, Lamian War, Phocion, Demetrius of Phalerum, Chremonidean War, Second Macedonian War, First Mithridatic War, Lycurgus of Athens, Antigonid dynasty, and Seleucid Empire

    Shortly after the death of Alexander the Great, Antipater and Craterus became joint generals of Greece and Macedonia.[21] Athens joined Aetolia and Thessaly in facing their power, known as the Lamian War.[22] Craterus fell in a battle against Eumenes in 320 BC,[23] leaving Antipater alone to rule for a year, till his death in 319 BC.[24] Athens had a central role in the struggle for his succession, when Antipater's son, Cassander, secured the Piraeus leaving Athens without a source of supplies,[21] to contest Antipeter's successor, Polyperchon. To consolidate power against Cassander, Polyperchon restored Athens's democracy, as it was before the Lamian War. However, after losing the fleet one year prior, Polyperchon had to flee Macedon when in 316 BC Cassander secured control of Athens. Cassander appointed Demetrius of Phalerum as head of the administration of Athens. Demetrius remained in power until 307 BC when Cassander's enemy, Demetrius Poliorcetes captured Athens,[25] and Macedon, ending the short-lived Antipatrid dynasty and installing his own.

    Athens and the rise of the Roman empire

    After the Pyrrhic War (280–275 BC) Rome asserted its hegemony over Magna Grecia and became increasingly involved in Greece and the Balkans peninsula.

  • Thank you Kalosyni. This topic came up Wednesday night when we were discussing that there doesn't seem to be a lot of detailed information on our usual core pages about the political situation in Athens during the specific years that Epicurus was alive.

    Knowing what was going on specifically during his life, rather than loosely and generally as we tend to talk about it, would probably be helpful.

    At some point we need some enterprising person to pick up the challenge and write an article about what we know specifically about the years during which Epicurus was "flourishing" (to borrow the standard Aristotelian term). Kalosyni's links give us a start!

  • I thought this was an interesting read, about the differences between Greek and Roman clothing:


    “Now wait a minute,” you might say. “How is the enkyklon different from a toga?” After all, a flat bedsheet is the fabric of choice for many attending toga parties in movies. The primary difference between togas and enkykla lies in the shape. While enkykla were rectangular, togas were semicircular, which is what gave them the wonderful drape and folds you can see on the stone versions worn by ancient statues.

    The Truth About Togas
    To many people, togas are synonymous with ancient Greece. The only problem? Togas aren’t Greek.

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  • Kalosyni

    They were wiser about bees than we are. I recently read an article about Canadian blueberry farmers, who are seeing diminished yields because of the lack of bees for pollination (even with travelling beekeepers). Where we live now (in town), when we take a walk, we see plenty of white clover and areas where wildflowers have been planted – but hardly any bees (likely due to pesticides).

    When we lived at Terrapin Branch, I used to sit under a large, blooming Hawthorn tree – near our small blooming cherry orchard – and you could literally feel the hum of the thousands of bees. (We also seeded our yard space with clover.)

    The lowly honey bee would be an appropriate symbol for the Epicurean Garden.

  • This shows how vibrantly Greek statues were originally painted:


    Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture was once colorful, vibrantly painted and richly adorned with detailed ornamentation. Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color reveals the colorful backstory of polychromy—meaning “many colors,” in Greek—and presents new discoveries of surviving ancient color on artworks in The Met’s world-class collection. Exploring the practices and materials used in ancient polychromy, the exhibition highlights cutting-edge scientific methods used to identify ancient color and examines how color helped convey meaning in antiquity, and how ancient polychromy has been viewed and understood in later periods.


  • Mythology --The Three Graces --- daughters of Zeus and Eurynome:

    "It is traditional to offer them the first draught of wine at a gathering to invoke their blessing and aid.”

  • I have also brewed mead, which was drinkable if only just. From memory, the process was simple and my equipment rather non-technical. It consisted primarily of taking a clean glass vessel of a fair size, adding together water, citrus and honey, mixing in the yeast--did I proof the yeast? I don't remember--and fixing a common party balloon over the mouth of the vessel. Prick the balloon with a needle--in its contracted state, the hole will close to prohibit outside yeast and bacteria.

    But set all of this aside in a warmish spot, and soon the brew begins to bubble. The releasing gases will inflate the balloon enough to open the prick hole, releasing the gas. This also supplies positive pressure, so that the hole in the balloon only vents, and does not admit outside air. As the fermentation progresses, and the brew runs out of sugar, the balloon will go limp again. The mixture, now properly mead, is ready to be filtered and drunk. This process can take several weeks.

  • When I toured the Jack Daniel's distillery, I was surprised to see that they opened the fermentation vats and allowed people to peek their heads in. But when the brew comes out fermented, distilled, and charcoal filtered, it's 40 percent alcohol and they spray it on your hands as a sanitizer.

    Somebody did an analysis of all of the species of wood used in surviving furniture from Pompeii and Herculaneum; acacia, alder, ash, beech, boxwood, walnut, wild olive, willow, making up stools, crates, tables, bedframes, and shrines to the household gods. There's a particularly poignant cradle on rockers.