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Promoting the Study of the Philosophy of Epicurus

Quintus Horatius Flaccus

Peace and Safety For Your Twentieth of May – “…a small domain, the fine breath of Muses’ Grecian song, and the spiteful crowd to spurn.”

Peace and Safety to the Epicureans of today, no matter where you might be – Happy Twentieth!

Today is the Twentieth of May, the day of the month designated by Epicurus to remember Metrodorus and himself and the philosophy of happiness they developed and taught.   For today, let’s recall to mind a passage from the Roman Epicurean poet Horace – brought to us courtesy of Epicurus.net.   Here, Horace reminds us that all we really need to find happiness in life is a small domain, the pleasure of a song, and the comfort that comes from knowing that we can spurn the mistaken struggles of the crowd:

 

Ode II-XVI “Otium”
Quintus Horatius Flaccus

Peace the sailor prays, caught in a storm on the open Aegean, when dark-clad clouds have hid the moon and the stars shine no longer certain;

Peace prays Thrace furious in war; peace prays the Mede with quiver richly adorned; peace Grosphus, that cannot be bought with gems nor with purple nor with gold.

It isn’t treasure nor even the consul’s lictor that can banish the soul’s miserable tumults and the cares that fly unseen about the paneled ceilings.

He lives happily on a little, on whose frugal table shines the ancestral salt-dish, and whose soft slumbers are not carried away by fear or sordid greed.

Why do we strive so hard in our brief lives for great possessions? Why do we change our country for climes warmed by a different sun? What exile from his fatherland ever escaped himself as well?

Care mounts even the brass-bound galley nor fails to leave behind the troops of horse, swifter than stags, swifter than Eurus when he drives the storm before him.

Joyful let the soul be in the present, let it disdain to trouble about what is beyond and temper bitterness with a laugh. Nothing is blessed forever.

Achilles for all his glory was quickly snatched away by death; Tithonus, though living longer into old age, shrank away; and to me perhaps the passing hour will grant what it denies to you.

Around you moo a hundred herds of Sicilian cows; in your stables whinnies the racing-mare; in wool twice-dipped in African purple you are dressed. To me Fate – that does not belie her name – has given a small domain, the fine breath of Muses’ Grecian song, and the spiteful crowd to spurn.

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As Seneca recorded: Sic fac omnia tamquam spectet EpicurusSo do all things as though watching were Epicurus!

And as Philodemus wrote: “I will be faithful to Epicurus, according to whom it has been my choice to live.”

Additional discussion of this post and other Epicurean ideas can be found at EpicureanFriends.com