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epicureanism

(ĕp'ĭkyo͝orē`ənĭz'əm), philosophy that follows the teachings of EpicurusEpicurus
, 341–270 B.C., Greek philosopher, b. Samos; son of an Athenian colonist. He claimed to be self-taught, although tradition states that he was schooled in the systems of Plato and Democritus by his father and various philosophers.
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, who held that pleasure is the end of all morality and that real pleasure is attained through a life of prudence, honor, and justice. The philosophy was popular throughout the ancient world; it was spread by the successors of Epicurus, who included Polystratus, Zeno of Sidon, and Philodemus of Gadara. Only in later times did epicureanism come to mean devotion to extravagant pleasure.

Epicureanism

 

the philosophical teaching derived from the ideas of Epicurus.

The philosophical school (called the Garden) that Epicurus founded in Athens was one of the most influential intellectual currents of the Hellenic age along with Stoicism, its constant opponent in philosophical debate. The most famous members of the early Garden (fourth and third centuries B.C.) were Metrodorus, Polyaenus, Hermarchus, and Colotes; those of the middle period (second and first centuries B.C.) were Zeno of Sidon, Phaedrus, and Philodemus of Gadara. Phaedrus (who taught Cicero) and Philodemus (who may have been Lucretius’ teacher) brought Epicureanism to Rome. The outstanding achievement of Roman Epicureanism is Lucretius’ narrative poem On the Nature of Things (first century B.C.). The Epicurean school remained in existence until the middle of the fourth century.

A revival of Epicureanism (especially its ethics and its atomistic teachings) occurred during the Renaissance; its ideas continued to spread during the 17th and 18th centuries and were most consistently developed by P. Gassendi. Epicureanism was also frequently understood in the vulgar sense—that is, as the cult of sensory pleasures (for example, in ancient Rome, among the philosophers of the Renaissance, and during the Enlightenment in France).

REFERENCES

See references under .

A. L. DOBROKHOTOV

Epicureanism

See also Feast.
Belshazzar
gave banquet unrivalled for sumptuousness. [O.T.: Daniel 5:1–4]
Finches of the Grove
eating club established for expensive dining. [Br. Lit.: Great Expectations]
Gatsby, Jay
modern Trimalchio, wines and dines the upper echelon. [Am. Lit.: The Great Gatsby]
Lucullus, Lucius Licinius
(110–57 B.C.) gave luxurious banquets. [Rom. Hist.: New Century, 650]
Marius
young pagan who follows the original philosophical tenets of Epicurus in his search for an answer to life. [Br. Lit.: Pater Marius the Epicurean in Magill II, 630]
Trimalchio
vulgar freedman gives lavish feast for noble guests. [Rom. Lit.: Satyricon]
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