Epicurus

Epicurus

Nationality: Greece
Born in..: Athens, 341 B.C.
Died in..: Athens, 270 B.C.

Epicurus

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Epicurus (in Greek Ἐπίκουρος / Epicouros) is a Greek philosopher. He is the founder of Epicureanism, one of the most important philosophical schools of antiquity.

His father, Neocles, taught grammar, and his mother, Chérestrate, was a magician.

Epicurus seems to have been raised on Samos (perhaps even born there, since his father was an Athenian settler), then came to Athens for military service at the age of 18, before leaving to join his father at Colophon, north of Samos, in 323 B.C.

He was there from 323 B.C. to 321 B.C. and probably received lessons from Nausiphane.

Then he went to Mytilene where he started teaching. His philosophy then aroused hostility (but there he met his disciple and future successor Hermarque), and quickly went to Lampsaque where he lived from 310 B.C. to 306 B.C.

There he met Colotes, Metrodore and Idomeneo, who would follow him to Athens.

In 306 BC, at the age of 35, he moved to Athens, which had just been handed over by Demetrios Poliocerte, and bought a garden there for 80 mines: the Garden School became the center of Epicurean studies.

He spent the rest of his life there. It was during this last period that he wrote a great number of his works and letters; he is one of the persons who wrote more in the Antiquity (300 works, apparently).

Despite this considerable work, we have only three letters from this philosopher (“Letter to Herodotus”, “Letter to Pitocles” and “Letter to Menecaea”), and some maxims. Fragments of “From Nature” were also discovered in Herculaneum in 1752.

His disciples were: Herodotus, Pitocles, Ermarca, Metropolitan, Polyenosz, Leonteos de Lampsaque, Themista, Leontion, Colotes, Apollonides.

The life he led in his garden was simple and frugal, he was a vegetarian (sometimes he ate cheese). According to Diocles, quoted by Diogenes Laërce, “a glass of wine was enough for him, and he preferred to drink water.

“The Garden was nevertheless considered a place of debauchery, but such accusations seem slanderous, given the custom of philosophers to make dubious accusations against their opponents.

Few philosophers in the whole history of philosophy have suffered, as Epicurus, so many slanders. Epicurus’ image has become that of an impious and libertine man.

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