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Epicurianism and politics

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It is said that the Epicurians discouraged involvement in politics. Can anyone give me a quote from Lucretius, Epicurus, or any other original source that supports this statemet.

 

It is interesting that Thomas Jefferson considered himself an Epicurian, and he certainly was involved in politics.

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It is said that the Epicurians discouraged involvement in politics. Can anyone give me a quote from Lucretius, Epicurus, or any other original source that supports this statemet.

 

It is interesting that Thomas Jefferson considered himself an Epicurian, and he certainly was involved in politics.

 

I did a quick search and found numerous online references to this but not one of them referenced, however in The Lives of the Philosophers, by Diogenes Laertius there is a reference in the section about Epicurius that:

 

His piety towards the gods, and his affection for his country was quite unspeakable; though, from an excess of modesty, he avoided affairs of the state

 

Diogenes also lists a treatise on Choice and Avoidance as being written by Epicureas.

 

I have a copy of Marcello Gigante's 'Philodemus in Italy' which I can best describe as a very dense technical treatise which as far as I've read seems more concerned with referencing other authors comments than citing specific original sources although it does provide some quotes and there is one very relevant passage on page 32 which mentions a few possible sources or at least cross references when it describes the involvement in politics of Philiodemus a pupil of Epicurius. In part it reads:

 

Philodemus did not ignore the political and social reality in which he lived. Some passages demonstrate to what degree he combined participation in political tensions and struggles with an adherance to the preceptes of the Master. Epicurius himself had written a treatise On Rhetoric, in which he affirmed that clarity of style was a fundamental requirement of writing well, and he had personally cultivated a very individualistic, extremely clear style. But he had also proclaimed that one should not participate in political life or have contacts with a ruler to educate him in philkosophy or to procure a living. Like Lucretius, Philodemus shows the necessity of keeping political ambitions and civil strife at a distance and of contemplating from a great height the tempests of political life....

 

The passage goes on to mention tensions betwen Cicero and the Epicureans such as Philodemus whose On Rhetoric seems to have 'alarmed' Cicero when he was writing De Oratore, Brutus, and Orator going on to transmit

the orations Against Ctesiphon by Aeschines and On the Crown by Demostenes as textual models of political eloquence.

 

This book also has a very long bibliographical list at the back citing all of the various books and fragments from Herculaneum most of which deal with the various Philosophic writings found there. From the above I suspect that Epicurius 'On Nature' or 'On Rhetoric' if both are available may be the most likely original sources for the quote although it may have been copied in other works I just cannot track it down from my references to hand. :(

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Professor Roger Crisp from St. Anne's College, Oxford has suggested that Sent. Vat. (Vatican Sayings) 58, along with Diogenes Laertius 10.119 might provide the source for this Epicurean quote.

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