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Apart from Epicurus himself, whom his students and followers worshipped in truly Messianic devotion (Cf. Lucretius' preamble in De Rerum Natura), Epicureans in general thought the status of Sage (or "Wise Man") was relative, not absolute, that it was gradually, and rather practically attainable. Epicureanism advises that one pursue wisdom, and gain great benefit in the process of doing so; and that reaching at least some degree of wisdom is not beyond the capabilities of most people.

Thus Epicurean philosophy does not set the ideal of the Sage as some distant goal, whose only value materializes upon completion of long and arduous tasks; one enjoys instead the pleasures and benefits of Epicurean philosophizing while still in the process of attaining wisdom.

On the contrary, the same term of distinction (Gr. sophos) denotes something nearly, or virtually unattainable for the Stoics, none of whom dared call himself a Sage -- although Chrysippus, and certainly Seneca were surrounded by several who gladly considered them sages.

The specifically gradual attainment of wisdom echoes throughout the ages, with the Renaissance's rush to intellectual self-enrichment, the English Enlightenment's notion of "man bettering himself", and the present-day, voluminous efforts under the collective banner of self-improvement (much of which often sounds remarkably Epicurean, with a fair dosage, of course, of modern, popular psychology added in the mix of advice offered).

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