Happy Twentieth of January 2019!
For this 20th I would like to remind friends of Epicurus of the Greek tradition of considering Epicurus and Epicureans as“Phaeacian.” This label may not have been attached as a compliment by those who first used it, but the label helps us triangulate on how the ancients understood Epicurean philosophy and Epicurus’ view of the goal of life. The following excerpt from a work by Pamela Gordon (her article “Phaeacian Dido“) gives us the passage from Homer which Epicurus apparently adopted for himself, and which was applied to him as a summary of the Epicurean goal.
I maintain there is no telos more pleasing than when good cheer fills all the people, and guests sitting side by side throughout the halls listen to the bard, and the tables are loaded with bread and meat, and a steward drawing win from the bowl brings it around to fill our cups. To my mind this (telos) is something most beautiful.
There are many types of pleasures in life, but when we get confused about what Epicurus meant by pleasure, this is a passage that almost certainly on good authority describes the Epicurean good life as one of pleasure which we can all understand.
As Seneca recorded: Sic fac omnia tamquam spectet Epicurus! So do all things as though watching were Epicurus!