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Epicurean Economics

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Chapter Summary

This paper offers an analysis of Philodemus’ views on wealth in the context of Epicurean economic theory in general. The discussion is in three parts. The first part offers a survey of the relationship of Epicureans to the rest of society. It is argued that, instead of forming separate social and economic enclaves, the Epicureans were closely integrated in their daily lives with the rest of society. The second part examines the basic doctrines of Epicurean economics. Beginning with the concept of “natural wealth,” the discussion moves from the evidenaddresses the artistic status of rhetoric with a complicated conception of art (τνέεχη). In ce about Epicurus to Philodemus’ On Wealth and On Household Economics. The question is now raised: to what extent does Philodemus reshape the economic views of Epicurus and Metrodorus? The third part of the paper attempts to assess Philodemus’ own contribution in On Household Economics. Philodemus, it is argued, revises Epicurean economics to suit the circumstances of Roman aristocrats. Elaborating the view that it is preferable to have much rather than just a little, Philodemus offers a new evaluation of lives: best is the life of the philosopher that is shared with others; second best is that of the comfortably-off landowner, who shares his resources with his friends. While admiring the frugal life of Epicurus and his associates, Philodemus also envisions a more comfortable life, in which philosophers such as himself share their insights with Roman landowners.



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