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

By Dirk Obbink | Go to book overview

4
The Epicurean Philosopher as
Hellenistic Poet

David Sider

Far from merely being a repository of lost Epicurean thought, Philodemus is also of interest for what may well be his own views on the nature of poetry. In the main, these demand our attention because their relation to Epicurus' own views on poetry is unclear if not at first glance outright antithetical. In particular, how can someone who more than once alluded to himself as an orthodox Epicurean write poetry when Epicurus seems to have abjured this very activity,1 for, whether or not Philodemus's treatises are orthodox in their adherence to Epicurus, they are significant documents in and of themselves.2 Furthermore, in addition to their philosophical interest, they cannot help but be of interest to students of literary criticism and of Latin literature, for Philodemus had the good luck or good sense to locate himself in Rome and then, it would seem, in the Bay of Naples, where he, along with Siro, came to be regarded as spokesmen for Epicurean dogma by upper-class Romans, in particular L. Calpurnius Piso, the father-in-law of Julius Caesar.3 And where there are wealthy Romans

____________________
1
Cf. Asmis, Chapter 2 above, who surveys the ancient evidence concerning Epicurus' attitudes towards writing, listening, and commenting on poetry. In brief, Epicurus argued that hearing poems recited (especially at Epicurean dinners) contributed to one's pleasure, but that criticizing what one has heard or composing poetry did not. Cf. Plutarch, That Epicurus Actually Makes a Pleasant Life Impossible c. 13 (1095c-96c), Diog. Laert. 10.120f. That Epicureans from Metrodorus to Philodemus did in fact write works on the nature of poetry may indicate that Epicurus forbade literary analysis only during dinner on the grounds that it would spoil an otherwise pleasurable evening.
2
In addition to the articles printed in this volume, cf. Dorandi 1990a, 2341ff., 2362f., for a brief survey of the Philodemean fragments on poetry; and in the same volume, Asmis 1990a, 2400-2406, for an overview of Philodemus' views with bibliographical references. See also M. Gigante, Filodemo in Italia ( Florence 1990), esp. chapter 3, "Gli epigrammi di Filodemo quali testimonianze autobiografiche", pp. 63-79. As I have already indicated in my review, and as will become clear in what follows, my view is that Philodemus has fashioned a persona for himself in the epigrams which should not be taken at face value for any biographical information: cf. what I have written in BMCR 2 ( 1991), 353-55.
3
Cicero' s speech against Piso provides our most complete account of Philodemus (cc. 68-72); cf. R. G. M. Nisbet , Cicero In L. Calpurnium Pisonem Oratio ( Oxford 1961) ad loc. and Appendices III and IV. Cicero sums up Philodemus and his poetry as follows: Est autem hic de quo loquor non philosophia solum sed etiam ceteris studiis quae fere ceteros Epicureos neglegere dicunt perpolitus; poema porro facit ita festivum, ita concinnum, ita elegans, nihil ut fieri possit argutius (70).

-42-

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.

    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.