Vatican Saying 41

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Template:Vatican Saying 41


With this Saying Epicurus disavows any allegiance to ascetic, monastic ideals. A philosophically enlightened person is not at all like the stereotype of the dour hermit, less yet the reclusive misanthrope. Such a person feels free to laugh out loud, and practices philosophy daily, naturally. Such a person lives a normal life, minding his/her business, managing his/her household, handling all the daily, familiar affairs of domestic life.

At the same time, the Epicurean-in-action never ceases to propagate the pronouncements of Epicureanism, thus becoming both a source of Epicureanism for others, and a living model, all at the same time. Unlike, however, the coldly forbidding Stoic Sage --and with this insinuation Epicurus may possibly have meant to launch an oblique attack on his philosophical rivals of the Arcade-- who is aloof and unapproachable, the Epicurean is someone the majority can easily relate to, and an attractive role-model for many. It is not hard to like a person who laughs generously, lives a normal life, and has some good advice to offer on occasion.

This Saying stands in striking contrast to the general attitude of Epicureanism, focused on withdrawal as it is. Despite Epicurus' lukewarm "permission" that one live a normal life, one full of the toils and troubles of quotidian occupation, this text seems to applaud a seemingly most un-Epicurean type of person, one occupied with household, possessions, (family?) and a plethora of other matters that constitute the ancient and modern concept of "normality".

It seems that Roman Epicureans felt closer to, or applied themselves more eagerly to this particular facet of Epicureanism than the original, Greek denizens of the Garden. Obviously such cloistered students of philosophy could not have been managing their households according to the social norms of ancient Athens, but were rather involved in a more "intensive course" of study, leaving much (or most, likely) of the rest of their lives behind them in order to live close to their Sage.

In a rather striking paradox, with this Saying Epicurus seems to praise quite a different type of student than those who worshipfully surrounded him in the Garden. Or, perhaps, he was speaking presciently of the future of Epicureanism, the global, post-Garden "society" of those whose life is illuminated by his teaching.

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