Epicurean Communities of the Ancient World

School at LAMPSACUS (modern Northwestern Turkey) Founded by Epicurus

The GARDEN (O KHΠOΣ) of ATHENS (Central Greece) Founded by Epicurus

Community in CORINTH (Peloponnese peninsula, Greece)

Community in CHALCIS (Euboea island, Greece)

Community in THEBES (Boeotia, Central Greece)

Community in THESSALONIKI (Macedonia region, Greece)

Community in KOS (Southeastern island of Greece)

School at RHODES (Southeastern island of Greece)

School at AMASTRIS (Northern Turkey) Founded by Tiberius Claudius Lepidus

Community in TARSUS (Northwest Turkey)

Community in PERGAMON (Western Turkey)

Community in COLOPHON (Western Turkey)

Community in EPHESUS (Southwestern Turkey)

School at MILETUS (Southwestern Turkey) Founded by Demetrius Laco

Community in OINOANDA (Southwestern Turkey) Supported by Diogenes

Community in RHODIAPOLIS (Southwestern Turkey)

School at ANTIOCH (South-central Turkey) Founded by Philonides

School at APAMEIA (Western Syria) Lead by Aurelius Belius Philippus

Community at SIDON (Lebanon)

Community at TYRE (Lebanon)

Community in ALEXANDRIA (City of Alexander III of Macedon in Egypt)

Community in OXYRHYNCHUS (Southern Egypt)

School at NAPLES (Southwestern Italy) Founded by Siro

Community in HERCULANEUM (Southwestern Italy) Lead by Philodemus

Community in ROME (Western Italy) Inspired by Albucius

Community in AUGUSTODUNUM (Eastern France) Inspired by Albucius


[Epicurus'] philosophy rode this tide. It had reached Alexandria even before his arrival in Athens. By the second century it was flourishing in Antioch and Tarsus, had invaded Judaea, and was known in Babylon. Word of it had reached Rome while Epicurus was still living, and in the last century B.C. it swept over Italy.” (De Witt, Epicurus and His Philosophy 29)


Both Thessalonica and Corinth must have been strongholds of Epicureanism.” (Ibid. 338)


After the third century BCE there were Epicurean centres in Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt: adherents, identified from their cities, came from Tyre, Sidon, Tarsus, and Alexandria. Epicureanism also expanded west. […] The existence of communities in the Naples region is attested by both Horace and Vergil. […] Epicureanism can be attested in a board variety of locations: Herculanem, Sorrento, Rhodes, Cos, Pergamon, Oenoanda (the Lycus valley), Apameia (Syria), Rhodiapolis, and Amastris (Bithynia). Locations like Athens and Oxyrhynchus provide evidence for the preservation of Epicurean writing, as well as Herculaneum. […] Asia Minor (notably Ephesus, Alexandria, and Syria are all suggested as prime candidates for its location.” (King, Epicureanism and the Gospel of John: A Study of Their Compatibility 11-13)


It will be worth our while to observe how admirably Epicureanism was equipped for the penetration of Asia. As mentioned already, the branch school at Lampsacus was strategically situated for dissemination of the creed along the coast of the Black Sea. On the west coast of Asia there was another school at Mytilene […] Still further to the south was the original school at Colophon, close to Ephesus. […] The gateway to Asia, however, had been open to the cred of Epicurus for three centuries before Paul’s time and Tarsus was a center of Epicureanism. […] Epicureanism was the court philosophy of Antioch during the reigns of at least two kings of Syria, Antiochus Epiphanes and Demetrius Soter." (Ibid. 62)


In it he attests the widespread Epicurean communities of Athens, and Chalcis and Thebes in Boeotia.” (The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism 20)


"We meet Epicureans not just in Athens, where they were amongst Paul's audiences, but we also come across Epicurean communities in the West, in Herculaneum or Sorrento, in the East, on Rhodes and Cos, in Pergamon, Lycian Oinoanda, Syrian Apameia, in remote southern Lycian Rhodiapolis or in Amastris in Bithynia on the Black Sea. (Ibid. 48)


"It has recently been discovered that the extensive mosaic floor in the House of the Greek Authors in Autun (ancient Augustodunum) includes portraits of Epicurus and Metrodorus (Blanchard-Lemee and Blanchard 1993; Frischer 2006: paragraphs 10-20)." (Gordon, The Invention and Gendering of Epicurus 141)

Comments 7

  • Nate has set up this graphic as a discussion thread, and let's use that location in the future for most comment about the graphic, its research, and the questions it spurs: Epicurean Communities of the Ancient World

  • I take back what I said in the comment below -- it does NOT look like the system allows a photo to be replaced, so that creates just the kind of issue that Nate ran into here.

    Quite possibly what we have here is a lesson that while most graphics will spark only a short discussion - some (like this one) will probably generate lots of comments over time.


    This is such a useful graphic that it probably merits a thread of its own. I will ask Nate to start a thread with this graphic and into as the first item, and then I will create a link to it from the front page.

  • This was from Kalosyni:


    257-3ed7f425593e0bf093dcdf631c5f17d0fca0f4ce.webp Kalosyni Yesterday, 11:05 am


    Quote from Cassius:

    Quote
    Quote We know specifically that Epicurus warned against holding properly in common


    Yes, and it may be an aspect of early Epicureanism being more of a learning center.


    Yet that doesn't necessarily rule out later Epicureans living in communities, such that they all pooled money together to purchase acreage, but then subdivided it for individually owned homesteads. There might have been different ways to form communities back in time, compared to our modern times. Or it could have been similar to a "co-housing community" where each person owns their own house surrounding a common area. I can imagine back in time that one water well would supply water for a number of families. Where as now when you live out in the country, usually everyone has their own well.


    Quote from Don:

    Quote
    Quote I'm curious if we could use existing structures to expand Epicurean community. That's why I'm interested in the UU angle. "Infiltrate" UU congregations to establish a beachheads from which to organize local groups? Epicureans are not UUs, Humanists, etc. but do share secular and materialist leanings with these groups with a soupçon of "respect for the gods" (however one defines this) stirred into the mix. That's what makes me think the UUs might be a place to start to recruit. Just thinking out loud here.

    It may depend on the specific UU congregation. But I visited one in Georgia, and I have to say that I don't think Epicureanism will go over well, and after one visit gave up on the idea. Here is the reason: they are all very focused on social projects, social justice, earth justice, working hard to make the world a better place -- therefore no time for pleasure because I am certain that they believe the virtue of helping and saving the world is the best way to find meaning and make choices in life - in fact the minister was judging people who "give up" on making effort on social change. So possibly this was just this particular UU congregation, or possibly the UU congregations have all moved to become more humanitarian focused (where as in the past they may have been more focused on exploring the beauty of the rituals of all world religions).



    Like 1

    119-3c0b322e4cf575ea71c5989acd707f5942b1537f.webp Don Yesterday, 1:32 pm


    Excellent points, Kalosyni.

    I fully agree that it would depend on the UU congregation and pastor! They are a very social and environmental justice oriented organization. Not bad things in and of themselves, that's one of the things that eventually led me to stopping. It didn't seem like "church" for better or worse. It didn't satisfy any "spiritual" leanings I might have had at the time. I have different "spiritual" leanings now but I still have them. The UUs were just the most receptive organization I could think of off the top of my head :) so we don't have to start from scratch. I get the feeling that UU churches are VERY independent.



    Like 2

  • This was from Don, but I can't assign it to him:


    119-3c0b322e4cf575ea71c5989acd707f5942b1537f.webp

    Don Yesterday, 8:43 am


    Nate: Great map!! :thumbup: :thumbup:


    Cassius: Excellent points!


    Yeah, I really dislike "commune" applied to Epicurean "communities." We don't call a college or university a "commune" even though a group of people are living and eating and studying together.


    I would add that they didn't have the Internet in ancient times, but they did have networks. That's what writing letters did! Asynchronous communication over long distances. That's the pre-precursor of the Internet.


    I'm curious if we could use existing structures to expand Epicurean community. That's why I'm interested in the UU angle. "Infiltrate" UU congregations to establish a beachheads from which to organize local groups? Epicureans are not UUs, Humanists, etc. but do share secular and materialist leanings with these groups with a soupçon of "respect for the gods" (however one defines this) stirred into the mix. That's what makes me think the UUs might be a place to start to recruit. Just thinking out loud here.

  • Excellent research thank you!


    One point I might add is that i hope people don't fixate on the idea that in order to have an Epicurean "presence" there has to be something organized like we would consider today to be a "commune.". We know specifically that Epicurus warned against holding properly in common, so there wouldn't so far as I know be any inference that each of these areas on the map constituted locations with multiple people living in the same house / school as in Athens.


    I would say that could be true in some cases, but the final couple of PDs seem to me to reflect more "neighbors" and "friends" rather than "communal housemates."


    I say this mainly because I have seen so many times when people who discuss Epicurus think that they are forever barred from following an Epicurean lifestyle because there are no "common houses" of the type they infer to have been an Epicurean model.


    I doubt that to be true even in the ancient world. I think it more likely that these areas indicate areas where there were "significant numbers of Epicureans" and /or "notable Epicureans" which probably implies that there were significant numbers of people living in normal circumstances (whatever that was) but who were openly Epicurean in their stated viewpoints and help regular meetings with each other - perhaps with meeting houses but not necessarily at all what we think of a "communes."


    And I think it is within reach for us to largely if not totally duplicate today a very viable model - just as there are UU "churches" in local areas as being discussed in a current thread by Don et al.


    Not to mention organization through online internet contact, which was totally unavailable to them in the ancient world.

  • It was called to my attention that we had some lengthy and potentially useful comments on the earlier version that was deleted. so I will see if I can't paste those here. I'm not sure, but I "think" that the system allows an author to replace a graphic with an updated version rather than deleting the old one, so maybe we can look into that the next time we update something. I "think" the "files" section allows the same thing.

  • Bravo, @Nate! Thank you for this, this is wonderful!

    Like 1