Philodemus and Poetry: Poetic Theory and Practice in Lucretius, Philodemus, and Horace

By Dirk Obbink | Go to book overview

3
Epicurean Poetics:
Response and Dialogue

David Sider

The view that Epicurus was himself impervious to the charms of poetry, and that his charge to his disciples was to avoid it absolutely, both the listening and the composing, has become standard in handbooks and histories. Not everyone of course held to this extreme statement of his position, but it was easy enough to believe that anyone who wrote prose on so stylistically plain a level as Epicurus would, almost a fortiori, be insensitive to the charms of poetry. Moreover, that the most famous piece of Epicurean literature was itself a poem could be regarded as all the more interesting if Epicurus himself abjured the writing of poetry.

Nor did this view derive e nihilo. There seemed to be sufficient ancient testimony to support it. Cicero, for example, says of Philodemus: non philosophia solum sed etiam ceteris studiis quae fere ceteros Epicureos neglegere dicunt perpolitus, "he is expert not only in philosophy but also in other skills which almost all other Epicureans are said to neglect" ( Against Piso 70). As Cicero's very next sentence makes clear, these other skills include, or are coextensive with, the writing of poems, and indeed, Cicero admits, quite elegant ones at that. Thus, for Philodemus as well as his contemporary Lucretius, although one wrote in the slightest of genres, the epigram, while the other wrote in the weightiest of genres, the didactic epic, the very idea of Epicurean poetry would seem to remain something of a challenge, which would have to be confronted before verse composition could begin.

Whereas Cicero speaks of contemporary Epicureans, Diogenes Laertius, not only our most complete ancient source for the teachings of Epicurus but also one of the most sympathetic, seems to have been an unambiguous witness to the hostility of Epicurus himself to poetry. Elisabeth Asmis, however, in the previous study shows that his prohibition was probably not intended to be absolute. She suggests that the unconstruable infinitive ἐνεργει + ̑ν at Diogenes Laertius 10.121b should either be emended as it was by Usener to ἐνεργείᾳ, but with the sense "energetically"; or understood as a gloss with this same sense on the infinitive ποιει + ̑ν. Reading the dative is preferable, as it (or some synonymous expression) would have been written presumably by Epicurus himself and thus have formed an essential part of his original statement. The infinitive as gloss would have to have come from an interpreter

-35-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Philodemus and Poetry: Poetic Theory and Practice in Lucretius, Philodemus, and Horace
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 324

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.