Charles Level 03
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Posts by Charles

    “Is it necessary for a Stoic to be constantly striving toward productive activity?


    Like a religion, Stoicism is paralyzing for its practitioners. This is akin to needing to perform daily prayers to hit the ideal performance level.

    I've described (contemporary) Stoicism, and more accurately its current standing in regards to its adherents as a "a cult of perpetual self-improvement". Many in that crowd see nothing wrong with that statement despite picking up my pejorative intent. In my eyes, self-improvement or whatever sort of sharpening of your abilities that also encompasses must serve some end, or at the very least be aimed at a general purpose rather than itself for the sake of it.

    So you'll see me now on the inside of the Garden and I plan to be very, very active going forward as I once was years ago.

    Though I joined a couple years after your departure meaning we haven't met, I will also be among the others in this community in saying: welcome back!

    I've spent the better part of this last week finally getting to work and thus finishing my translation of Sade's Lucretian/Epicurean poem "La Vérité" (The Truth). I've just finished today, including Sade's own footnotes included at the bottom of the work. As far as I can tell, the poem has never been translated into English and subsequently published anywhere, indeed even Fleischmann, the author of the article I've attached that discusses the poem in greater depth than I can at the moment, merely pulls French excerpts of the text while describing its effects and meaning in English.

    I'll post the poem & footnotes below as well as attaching them via PDF.

    Oh, and if anyone here knows French ie Martin or etc. Please rate my translation in any capacity.

    Original French Version

    One of the reasons I like the Tetrapharmakos is because it's short and easy to memorize in ancient Greek. I find myself reciting it regularly throughout the day.

    I take a very similar approach, though it being easily approachable and "snappy" in terms of memorizing and reciting it, is something of a double edged sword. For many, it is their first exposure to the core of Epicurean Philosophy, look no further than the many popular videos online that briefly teach about Epicurus.

    For someone well acquainted with the philosophy the point becomes moot. If indeed Philodemus or Zeno (of Sidon) were pro-tetrapharmakon, perhaps the saying only circulated among the inner circles of students within various gardens, as opposed to being a means of teaching others who were unfamiliar.

    There's a lot to digest with this thread. Though a part of me was rather disappointed that the Nietzsche discussion had ceased, an acquaintance of mine is a hardcore Nietzschean with a strong belief in property (or was it substance?) dualism. We often draw conclusions at an impasse that the will to power is remarkably similar to pleasure and desire, that power is even interchangeable with pleasure if acting to achieve it means will, and in most cases it does. Likewise his dualism is contrasted with the Epicurean concept of isonomia, he compares everything presented as two-fold ie. pain/pleasure, light/dark, life/death, educated/uneducated, etc. That there is an equal distribution of attributes to each concept, for each position has its counterpart. Though Nietzsche didn't have DeWitt to reference, the similarities between the two philosophies might shed some light on just how inspired Nietzsche was in his many quotes regarding Epicurus.

    But I digress.

    I need to re-read much of the thread with a clear mind. Gods definitely aren't my friend or my specialty.

    Picking up from some ruminations on this thread months ago.


    There's a single paragraph within On Ends where Torquatus is discussing Justice that I will quote below. I have underlined some important aspects in which I will raise some questions and discussions.


    Yet nevertheless some men indulge without limit their avarice, ambition and love of power, lust, gluttony and those other desires, which ill-gotten gains can never diminish but rather must inflame the more; inasmuch that they appear proper subjects for restraint rather than for reformation. Men of sound natures, therefore, are summoned by the voice of true reason to justice, equity, and honesty. For one without eloquence or resources dishonesty is not good policy, since it is difficult for such a man to succeed in his designs, or to make good his success when once achieved.


    Back in March I wrote a vaguely worded thread, ruminating on the concept of Consequentialism, specifically the variations of "Motive Consequentialism" and, to a lesser extent, "Negative Consequentialism".


    The former judges strictly based on the current state after an act has been made, compared with other possible decisions and their potential outcomes, justifying different acts and holding that certain acts, despite a negative outcome cannot be reprimanded or called out due to the circumstances which led to the course of action from the agent making the decision, for their motivations regardless were in a good, or justifiable place.

    The latter in that the best moral outcome is one that seeks to reduce as many negatives as possible, or the least damaging outcome. An easy comparison to explain this is to compare it to "Negative Utilitarianism" or "Negative Hedonism" in that the highest good is found through reducing the pain or suffering of the greatest number.


    Not to get onto the absence of pain debacle, but nonetheless, removing pain is an important concept and a key aspect of Epicurean Philosophy. However, context and individual interpretations and approaches to this are a necessity, since there is no sole universal pleasure which unequivocally works for each person, despite common instances such as food, and desires play the chief role in all this.


    For desires are something we act upon for the sake of pleasure. Sometimes those desires require self-reflection and the philosophizing about whether or not they are worth it, but even in these instances the end goal is for our pleasure, even if that means enduring a small amount of pain in the present, something established by many Epicurean sources.


    How this all comes back full circle, we must first establish a few points for clarity and context: (I promise to not use formal logic, this is just a very layered issue)


    1. Epicurean Philosophy has no universal or absolute moral principles, neither duty or virtue are held to such standards, as they are subject to the all-encompassing axis of pleasure & pain.


    2. The Canon, or the Epicurean Epistemology is directly tied to everything in which we interact with, and is responsible for much more, as for this point, our senses and feelings are the important part for confirming the first statement above.


    3. Third, and perhaps above all, pleasure *is* the good, and pain *is* evil. It is to this end that we actively and passively (moving/static) pursue pleasure, and avoid pain. This truth is self-evident, and to be as bold as to claim that this is a universal truth, well, by that I would say it is our natural inclination as evidenced by our sensations and reactions to both.


    Here's where things can get tricky, as actions done in the name of removing pain are viewed as a good thing.


    Quote from Principal Doctrines 6 & 7

    6. Whatever you can provide yourself with to secure protection from men is a natural good.


    7. Some men wished to become famous and conspicuous, thinking that they would thus win for themselves safety from other men. Wherefore if the life of such men is safe, they have obtained the good which nature craves; but if it is not safe, they do not possess that for which they strove at first by the instinct of nature.


    Likewise, must we assume that actions done in the name of pleasure are in themselves good? That certainly seems to be something we can get behind.


    The question remains then: what is to be done about those, Epicurean, hedonist, Cyrenaic, whose actions can be related to Torquatus and what Epicurus termed and referred to as [pleasures of] "the profligates".


    Quote from Principal Doctrine 10

    10. If the things that produce the pleasures of profligates could dispel the fears of the mind about the phenomena of the sky, and death, and its pains, and also teach the limits of desires (and of pains), we should never have cause to blame them: for they would be filling themselves full, with pleasures from every source, and never have pain of body or mind, which is the evil of life.


    These profligates, or, the ones who may require restraint as worded by Torquatus, or, to be put in another manner, those whose actions done in the name of pleasure, who cannot be reconciled, for their pleasure incidentally reflects (and effects) poorly and negatively among others. They are the target of both Epicurus and Torquatus.

    Now, before we discuss Justice, I would like to pull a quote from Epicurus' On Nature, Book 18, translated from French to English (by Hiram.) If only there were more available subject matter regarding these French books.


    Quote from On Nature, Book 18

    One must rely on sharpness of perception to separate the notions of nature from those that are designed with difficulty or obscurity … Pay full attention to the power of the empirical reasoning. – Epicurus


    While the above quote is used within the context of "empty words", I believe that it provides a good and consistent foundation from which we can reasonably proceed, in that judging the words and actions of others, is done primarily through our senses (ie the canon). Therefore, taking an empirical, or rather canonical approach to the aftereffects of an action is the only feasible method in which to judge something as justifiable.


    There are many, numerous quotations, fragments, sayings, and paragraphs detailing the extent of law and justice from an Epicurean perspective. I firmly disagree in that its sole foundation is the concept of mutual benefit. Instead, its notions and anticipations of contractarianism and Social Contract theory, refer instead to a mutual accountability on the basis of allowing individuals to pursue their pleasure and avoid pain caused by others. Let's take a look at some of these sources, namely the last 9 PD's.



    In regards to the application of Epicurean Justice, I will refrain from inviting discussion onto the implications of an Epicurean state, society, or civilization, I will instead broadly refer to culture and law as if these were commonly accepted. But first, I will refer to three paragraphs from Torquatus about Choice & Avoidance and how they pertain to consequence, which includes the law and thus fear of punishment.


    Quote from Torquatus On Ends

    If then we observe that ignorance and error reduce the whole of life to confusion, while Wisdom alone is able to protect us from the onslaughts of appetite and the menaces of fear, teaching us to bear even the affronts of fortune with moderation, and showing us all the paths that lead to calmness and to peace, why should we hesitate to avow that Wisdom is to be desired for the sake of the pleasures it brings and Folly to be avoided because of its injurious consequences?


    The same principle will lead us to pronounce that Temperance also is not desirable for its own sake, but because it bestows peace of mind, and soothes the heart with a tranquilizing sense of harmony. For it is temperance that warns us to be guided by reason in what we desire and avoid. Nor is it enough to judge what it is right to do or to leave undone; we also need to abide by our judgment. Most men however lack tenacity of purpose; their resolution weakens and succumbs as soon as the fair form of pleasure meets their gaze, and they surrender themselves prisoners to their passions, failing to foresee the inevitable result. Thus for the sake of a pleasure at once small in amount and unnecessary, and one which they might have procured by other means or even denied themselves altogether without pain, they incur serious disease, or loss of fortune, or disgrace, and not infrequently become liable to the penalties of the law and of the courts of justice.


    Those on the other hand who are resolved so to enjoy their pleasures as to avoid all painful consequences therefrom, and who retain their faculty of judgment and avoid being seduced by pleasure into courses that they perceive to be wrong, reap the very highest pleasure by forgoing pleasure. Similarly also they often voluntarily endure pain, to avoid incurring greater pain by not doing so. This clearly proves that Intemperance is not undesirable for its own sake, while Temperance is desirable not because it renounces pleasures, but because it procures greater pleasures.


    Now, if we are to suppose that these laws were commonly accepted or put into practice, we would see instances in which those who harm others intentionally or unintentionally, would be subject to some form of punishment, for they have committed an injust act via harming another person. Though depending on the severity, since this must all be on a case by case basis (see circumstance in PD 38), and per Torquatus, the hand of the law could either include restraint (punitive) or reformation (restorative) means. To say nothing of having the law dictate and subsequently act upon what is *considered* good and evil or unjust and establishing a precedence, but instead by acting upon empirical, observable effects of an individual or even a collectives efforts that are deemed as unjust for violating the mutual agreement.


    Side note: I've read in a few instances in Usener's Epicurea, a story or account in which Epicurus & Metrodorus (or perhaps Hermarchus) attempted to free a friend of their who had been imprisoned, which required visiting local authorities. Despite this I recall the account ending in their friend remaining imprisoned. Another instance similar to this via interacting within the constrains of the law, is when Zeno of Sidon eventually had Diotimus the Stoic sentenced to death for the latter's crude and excessive defamation against Epicurus. Additionally, Epicurus being forced to sail during the winter seasons during his exile from Lesbos (or Mytilene) because he had angered the local authorities on various charges also comes to mind.


    So what does this all mean?


    Well, given the various sources and taking into account the many nuances that go into formulating a specific position such as this in regards to Epicurean Philosophy. I propose here that it's safe and reasonable to assume that Epicurean moral theory is the following:


    A consequentialist, relative, and hedonist theory that does not outright declare any action or intent as inherently morally good or evil, rather that all morality stems from pleasure and pain, since pleasure is the good and pain being the evil in life. Where unseemly actions may be justified and perhaps even lauded (as good).


    Morality as a whole stems from this as well, so just as Epicurus put it in PD 10, we cannot blame and punish other hedonists but rather express condemnation at shortsighted behavior, likewise we cannot fault others who act only on their behalf for the purpose of securing a safe future for themselves, whether financially or physically. However, we can use our standing with the law and a willingness to preserve the integrity that is the mutual advantage and compact of Justice to be allowed the means to sanction or punish those who cause pain unto others, even if its done in the name of pleasure.


    -


    I know this was sort of a rambling mess, but a structured one at that, as I wrote this over a span of time in which I had to constantly revisit my desk after being taken out of focus due to errands and other obligations. Generally this topic has been of major interest to me, and its nice to actually have an idea of what to post on the forums.


    Let me know what you think!

    Some of his correspondence with the married French Duchess survive. I haven't yet found the texts online, but they might be worth perusing.

    https://www.unz.com/print/NorthAmericanRev-1926q3-00471/?View=PDF&apages=0099

    From the text: "William Short, Jerfferson's 'Only' Son"

    Much of his writing to her was burned sometime during the Reign of Terror, though few have survived. The small, formatted text denotes the contents of letters, followed and succeeded by chronology and context of each letter.

    I've read that atomism developed in both Greece and India, however in India they maintained the supernatural while in Greece they did not.

    I've read into this topic before, as well as having mentioned this a few times on the podcast. Kanada was the first proponent of Atomism within India, and even founded his own school that would become one of the six orthodoxes of Vedic Philosophy. Here's a very brief summary of its materialism and atomism.


    Quote

    Physics is central to Kaṇāda’s assertion that all that is knowable is based on motion. His ascribing centrality to physics in the understanding of the universe also follows from his invariance principles. For example, he says that the atom must be spherical since it should be the same in all dimensions. He asserts that all substances are composed of four types of atoms, two of which have mass and two are massless.

    ...


    Vaisheshika school is known for its insights in naturalism. It is a form of atomism in natural philosophy. It postulated that all objects in the physical universe are reducible to paramāṇu (atoms), and one's experiences are derived from the interplay of substance (a function of atoms, their number and their spatial arrangements), quality, activity, commonness, particularity and inherence. Everything was composed of atoms, qualities emerged from aggregates of atoms, but the aggregation and nature of these atoms was predetermined by cosmic forces. Ajivika metaphysics included a theory of atoms which was later adapted in Vaiśeṣika school.


    However, something that I've also kept in the back of my mind, is the Charvaka school of thought (6th - 5th Century BCE). The atheistic & hedonist school that opposed the Vedas and the spiritual culture within India, as well as Buddhism. In some of the articles I've read, they're often compared or grouped with Epicurus (barring a few differences obviously).

    https://philolu.com/2019/03/14…istic-ethics-of-charvaka/


    https://www.wisdomlib.org/hind…-samgraha/d/doc79745.html

    USENER 146

    (Same page from 116)

    Plutarch, Against Colotes, 17, p. 1117A: But what epithet do they deserve – with your "roars" of ecstasy and "cries of thanksgiving" and tumultuous "bursts of applause" and "reverential demonstrations," and the whole apparatus of adoration that you people resort to in supplicating and hymning the man who summons you to sustained and frequent pleasures?


    USENER 431


    Plutarch, That Epicurus actually makes a pleasant life impossible, 5, p. 1089D: Now first observe their conduct here, how they keep decanting this "pleasure" or "painlessness" or "stable condition" of theirs back and forth, from body to mind and then once more from mind to body, compelled, since pleasure is not retained in the mind but leaks and slips away, to attach it to its source, shoring up "the pleasure of the body with the delight of the soul," as Epicurus puts it, but in the end passing once more by anticipation from the delight to the pleasure


    USENER 439


    Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, V.34.95: The whole teaching of [Epicurus] about pleasure is that pleasure is, he thinks, always to be wished and sought for in and for itself because it is pleasure, and that on the same principle pain is always to be avoided for the simple reason that it is pain, and so the wise man will employ a system of counter-balancing which enables him both to avoid pleasure, should it be likely to ensure greater pain, and submit to pain where it ensures greater pleasure; and all pleasurable things, although judged of by the bodily senses, are notwithstanding transmitted on again to the soul; and for this reason while the body feels delight for the time that it has the sensation of present pleasure, it is the soul which has both the realization of present pleasure conjointly with the body and anticipates coming pleasure, and does not suffer past pleasure to slip away: thus the wise man will always have a perpetual continuation of pleasures, as the expectation of pleasures hoped for is combined with the recollection of pleasures already realized.

    USENER 446

    Cf. Zeno the Epicurean (Zeno of Sidon), by way of Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, III.17.38: "Blessed is he who has the enjoyment of present pleasure and the assurance that he would have enjoyment either throughout life or for a great part of life without the intervention of pain, or should pain come, that it would be short-lived if extreme, but if prolonged it would still allow more that was pleasant than evil."

    ---

    Something I've always maintained when discussing continuous and anticipated pleasure, is that an example of its practice it can be seen from Epicurus himself in his letter to Idomeneus, on his last day on Earth.

    "On this blissful day, which is also the last of my life, I write this to you. My continual sufferings from strangury and dysentery are so great that nothing could increase them; but I set above them all the gladness of mind at the memory of our past conversations. But I would have you, as becomes your lifelong attitude to me and to philosophy, watch over the children of Metrodorus."


    Which I sometimes contrast with Usener 21 from Plutarch (That Epicurus makes... 1094E)

    "Now it has not escaped Epicurus that bodily pleasures, like the Etesian winds, after reaching their full force, slacken and fail; thus he raises the Problem whether the Sage when old and impotent still delights in touching and fingering the fair. In this he is not of the same mind as Sophocles, who was as glad to have got beyond reach of this pleasure as of a savage and furious master."


    While in most circumstances, pleasure arises from a movement, motion, or will to satiate a given desire. It can later be recollected with fondness in a very static manner. But we know that not all pleasures stem from desire itself, as we can think of the replenishment theory, where the passing scent of bouquet of roses is pleasant to the sense which did not require any prior desire. Further, in that freedom from any stress or pain, something generally (and all to often) regarded as a pleasure reserved for the mind or soul which is elevated from the body.


    However, it would not be like an Epicurean to abandon the pleasures of the body or those involving motion to achieve, in favor of the calm and sober pleasures of the mind. As Cicero puts it well in his Tusculan Disputations (U439), we do well to employ a balance between our choices and selections of pleasure, to that end we select our pleasures to the fullest extent while avoiding pain or minimizing how often we endure it by means of the canon. It's only natural that we expect ourselves to both fully enjoy pleasure in the present, and ensure that our pleasures persist into the future, so that when it comes we may continue to enjoy the present as we always have.


    camotero I don't have a suggestion for your kids, however, a few lines from the opening chorus of Handel's Acis & Galatea come to mind as possible options for dinner prayers, or "grace".

    For us the zephyr blows,

    For us distills the dew,

    For us unfolds the rose,

    And flow'rs display their hue.

    Or/And


    For us the winters rain,

    For us the summers shine,

    Spring swells for us the grain,

    And autumn bleeds the wine.

    The context of this chorus is that the shepherds & nymphs live in harmony together, living a life of pleasure with lots of callbacks to Lucretius. To them, they take from each thing its most pleasant gift & are happy and grateful for it.

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    The "Throne" of Epicurus



    The situation is entirely different when we come to the portraits of the Epicureans. They never taught publicly but instead withdrew to Epicurus' garden outside the city the Kepos, to live together—more like a gathering of friends, a commune, or a sect than a school—seeking the path to happiness and pleasure without disturbance and fear, under the guidance of a teacher of surpassing insight. The goal was a life of "joy and pleasure" by reaching a state of "painlessness of the body" and "lack of excitement of the soul." In Athens the disciples of Epicurus were so closely identified with a life outside the community of the polis that they were often referred to simply as "those from the Garden" (Sext. Emp. Math. 9.64). It is therefore highly improbable that any public statues were put up in the third century in honor of these men who so ostentatiously withdrew from the civic and political life of the city. More likely, the portraits stood in the Kepos itself, at least in the early period, and served there to recall Epicurus and his friends Metrodorus, Hermarchus, and Polyaenus, who were also known as "guides" or "leaders" (kathegemones ) and enjoyed the particular devotion of pupils who were referred to as kataskeuazomenoi .[24] The existence of a well-known "mnema of the Epicureans" in the Kepos is explicitly attested (Heliod. Aeth. 1.16.5).


    We are fortunate to possess copies that give a good idea not only of the statue of Epicurus, but of those of his friend Metrodorus and his successor Hermarchus. Probably all three were put up soon after the subject's death, in 277 (Metrodorus), 270 (Epicurus), and 250 (Hermarchus).[25]


    If we take a look at these three Epicurean statues (figs. 62–64), on the one hand (they are all more or less fully preserved in copies or can be reconstructed), and the statue of Chrysippus (cf. fig. 54), on the other, it is immediately clear both how closely all the Epicureans adhere to the same manner of pose and appearance and how fundamentally different these are from the image of the Stoic. Instead of the Stoic expression of mental strain and the hunched-over body, all three Epicureans sit calmly and quietly in classically balanced poses, the mantle carefully draped about them.


    Even when seated they maintain a kind of contrapposto between the rear leg actively thrust back and the forward leg relaxed, as well as a comparable chiastic positioning of the arms. For them, evidently, thinking is not such hard work that it would be reflected in the body. The display of conventionalized standards of behavior, as in the citizen image of the fifth and fourth centuries, comes naturally and effortlessly. This is particularly noticeable in the statues of Epicurus and Hermarchus in the prescribed wrapping up of the left arm. This correct, though rather "public," posture hardly seems to suit the private image of a man quietly seated in contemplation and presents in any event a striking contrast to Chrysippus' intense concentration on intellectual pursuits or the psycho-motor tension and movement of statues related to that of Chrysippus.


    This unmistakable gesture of the Epicureans can be understood only as an explicit and self-conscious indication of a desire to hold to the old traditions, a token of virtue and modesty, at a time when these very values were being called into question by other members of Athenian society. Epicurus and his friends quite ostentatiously attach great importance to the proper behavior. Anyone who withdrew from the

    city, like "those from the Garden," was well advised to insure that in spite of this he appeared to be an irreproachable citizen. Indeed, Epicurus by no means rejected the rules of society but rather understood them as the prerequisite to a philosophical life of inner happiness. The maintenance of the proper citizen etiquette was taken for granted in the Kepos.[26]


    The elegant wavy hair of Epicureans, the locks carefully arranged on the forehead, and especially the strikingly "classical" stylization of their beards (figs. 66–68) all demonstrate how important they considered a cultivated appearance that was based on the ideals of the past. The wearing of a beard—even a carefully tended beard like those of respectable Athenian citizens of an earlier age—had by now become a token of otherness. And yet the handsome Epicurean beard conveys a very different set of values from the unkempt or crudely trimmed beard of the Stoics, not to mention that of the Cynics. For the Epicureans, the beard implies not only an acceptance of the traditions of the polis, but also an identification with the upper class.


    While at first glance the three statues of Epicureans look very similar, there are in fact important differences, which reflect the strict hierarchy that obtained in the Kepos. Epicurus sits on an impressive "throne," Metrodorus on a backed chair, and Hermarchus on a simple stone block.[27] Some have likened Epicurus' chair, with its ornamental lion-paw feet, to the thrones of the gods, and thereby linked it to the hero cult that was established for the founder of the Kepos after his death. This seems to me, however, unlikely, since Epicurus himself is not depicted as a hero, but in every respect as an Athenian citizen. For a contemporary viewer, a more obvious comparison would be with the prohedria (the front-row seats) in the Theatre of Dionysus, reserved for priests and outstanding citizens, as well as for benefactors of the city. The association would have suggested itself on account of the shape of the seat (fig. 65), especially since the elaborate seat of the priest of Dionysus, with its lion-paw feet, in the middle of the front row, stood in the same relation to the other seats of honor as Epicurus' throne to the backed chair of Metrodorus. The Kepos has thus usurped this symbol of signal public honor for officials and dignitaries, in order to mark Epicurus' achievements and his position within the school. In this way the great wise man, who showed the way to a happy life, was singled out by his pupils as the highest spiritual authority.[28]


    Another conceivable association would be that of an academic "chair." As early as the time of the Sophists, an especially impressive seat seems to be a sign of the instructor's special authority and dignity. Plato portrays the Sophist Hippias of Elis giving instruction from a thronos, while his pupils sat around him on stone benches (Prt. 315). But, as we shall see, Epicurus is in fact not shown as a teacher giving instruction, so that the connotation of the academic chair is unlikely.


    Against the background of the Classical image of the Athenian citizen, this kind of honor represents something new. The singling out of Epicurus from the other two kathegemones makes it clear that the Epicureans were not concerned with a search for truth through persuasive argumentation and passionate discussion, like the followers of Chrysippus, but rather with devotion to and perpetuation of a unique spiritual guide and teacher.


    The same hierarchy can also be clearly detected in the faces of the three portraits. Epicurus' is marked by a curious contrast between the restless and powerfully muscled philosopher's brow and the otherwise placid expression of the face (fig. 66). Yet the brow is still different from, say, Zeno's or Chrysippus', where the mental effort looks forced and strained. Epicurus' eyebrows are raised, but hardly in motion. The raised brows are a token of superiority, reflecting his absolute authority. The powerful muscles above the brows can therefore not be understood as an expression of a momentary mental struggle, especially when the body is so relaxed. Apparently the sculptor wanted to express the idea of tremendous intellectual capacity, a state of being rather than a sudden action.[29]


    Metrodorus' brow, on the other hand, does not betray even a trace of intellectual effort (fig. 67). Rather, its serenity, lack of expression, and perfect balance strike us more as an echo of Classical citizen portraits. This was, it would seem, precisely the intention. The Classical formula for characterizing a distinguished man in middle age is taken up and quoted, in order to make visible certain goals of Epicurus' teachings, such as inner tranquility and a life of enjoyment. In this way, the carefully tended hair and beard, as well as the elegant manner of dress and seated posture forge an association with the polis values of the past.[30]


    With Hermarchus, however, we do seem to sense a measure of mental strain, or perhaps, concern (fig. 68). In the better copies, the brows are gently drawn together, and the wide fringe of hair emphasizes the severity of this portrait of old age. Like Epicurus, Hermarchus was a native of Mytilene on Lesbos, and they had come together to Athens and there lived and philosophized together for more than forty years. Hermarchus was thus already an old man when, after Epicurus' death, he became head of the Kepos and devoted himself to preserving his friend's heritage as faithfully as possible.[31]


    Hermarchus' dress and pose (cf. fig. 64), as we have seen, deliberately imitate those of Epicurus, but with an important difference in the pose of the head and probably also of the right arm. Hermarchus' raised arm is a gesture of teaching, and his head is raised and turned to the side, as if toward an interlocutor. Epicurus, by contrast, bent his head and looked out in front of him, as Fittschen's reconstruction with casts has confirmed (fig. 62). The lower right arm, like Metrodorus' left, was gently drawn back toward the body and turned inward. The drooping shoulder also suggests a quietly relaxed positioning of the arm.[32] We may infer from this difference that Hermarchus was shown more as the teacher, Epicurus as the tranquil thinker marked by inner concentration. This in turn reflects the different roles that they played: Epicurus is the great pioneering thinker, remote and unattainable on his seat of honor; Hermarchus, the loyal disciple who preserves and propagates the inheritance of the master.

    To be frank, yes there isn't a lot of flattery. The entire manuscript the poems come from is very raunchy and satirical, this section on Epicurus is surprisingly vulgar for its time, and CB 211 (Alte Clamat Epicurus) is often contrasted with 211a (Palästinalied, or Palestine Song), which details a pilgrim stepping foot in the holy land, alluding to the crusades.

    But in a way, such a bawdy and low brow depiction portrayed in a positive manner, can be considered, at least by me, flattering.

    Still, such an old historical reference, especially when originally made into a song, is worthy of notice.