The Epicurus Sculpture Digital Re-creation

In case you haven’t already see it, there is an excellent page at which displays an effort to reconstruct the image of Epicurus that would have been most familiar to ancient Epicureans:  the seated pose with arm outstretched in a gesture of teaching.

The digitalsculpture page highlights the work of Bernard Frischer, whose 1982 work The Sculpted Word focused on the use of stone sculptures of Epicurus as a recruiting tool of the Epicurean school.

Many busts of Epicurus remain from the ancient world, any many seem to be remnants of larger works, but no intact sculpture has survived from antiquity to allow us to reconstruct with certainty how the entire sculpture, and especially the right arm, was posed.  The digital sculpture recreation follows Frischer’s hypothesis (which seems compelling to me) that the arm was posed in an outstretched “teaching” gesture.  I do question, however, the choice of the digital sculpturists to portray the hand in a “grasping” motion.  Perhaps there are fragments somewhere which support this, but I suspect an equally good argument would support the hand with palm up and “open,” which would probably be more “friendly” than the pose that is portrayed here.

Hopefully the day will soon come when the entire sculpture is reproduced in stone, painting, and other art forms, and not just digitally.  The world very much needs this — and any other aids which can be devised — for visualizing not just the words, but the reality, of the world’s greatest philosopher of individual happiness and freedom.

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