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What would Epicurus say about this pandemic?

Oslo park statue

I have to apologise to Epicurus for misinterpreting him all my life. I blame it on popular culture and philosophy teacher, who should have made me retake the exam.

Fortunately, with such a resurgence of interest in classical antiquity, the often misquoted and misunderstood philosophers of yore got another chance.

The Internet created a repository of writings accessible now to everyone, not just academics and bookworms.

Take the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy for instance, the equivalent of Github and its treasure trove of open source.

The article on Epicurus has a specific reference to friendship.  He thought so highly of it that he set up a community of the likely-minded. It was called The Garden.

The Epicurean view on friendship? A blessing, a source of pleasure, a fortress of tranquility, a fountain of trust. A great fortune can never give us what friends do.

Bickering and occasional bitterness, the hallmark of every family relationship, are notably absent among friends.

Then it's respect, not due to seniority, but simply because it is friendship's essential ingredient. It involves no desire to change a friend to suit one's egotistic take on life.

Friendship is in agony when emotional blackmail appears and it dies altogether in that last stage, emotional treason. 

When it is fully understood and practised, friendship become a survival mechanism, a protective force, the knight in shining armour. It must be served though and it does not fare well when time apart starts weakening the links.

Epicurus' Garden was an acknowledgement, by the empiricist that he was, that friendships need physical proximity.

The pandemic has taken away that in the most brutal way.  Online conversations, debates, arguments even, all miss directness.

Has anyone wished they lived  now in an Epicurean Garden rather than being part of what is dryly called 'a household'?


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