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Historical evidence suggests that there were several women among Epicurus' followers who frequented his Garden: they apparently included relatively poorer and "middle class" women, single women, perhaps one or more married women joined by their husbands, and prostitutes.

The admission of women in a school of philosophy stood in striking, and indeed shocking contrast to Athenian mores of the time. The admission of prostitutes in particular, coupled with the (perhaps deliberate) misunderstanding of Epicurus' teachings on pleasure by others, led to the propagation of scandalous rumors by both competing schools of philosophy and the founders of the early Church.

Yet the inclusion of women in the Garden stands in perfect harmony with the tone of Epicurean teaching, which is significantly less male-specific than that of all other Hellenistic schools of philosophy. The fact, for example, that Epicurus advised his followers to shun politics -- an arena from which women were barred -- made his philosophy more adaptable to address matters relevant to both genders, e.g. anxiety, fear of death, superstition, etc. It would have been, on the contrary, impossible to adapt in such a manner Aristotelian teachings, which aimed to edify citizens of the body politic, and thus (for his era) men only.

In his De Rerum Natura, Lucretius expounded eloquently on his conviction that the pleasure of intercourse must be experienced by both sexes -- again, a radical thought in the context of Greco-Roman mores. Lucretius' debunking of amorous folly is not misogynistic (as is sometimes suggested), but scoffs at the self-delusion of specifically male lovers.

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