Epicurean Philosophy in Cicero’s De Republica: Serious Threat or Convenient Foil?
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AbstractThis paper explores Cicero’s treatment of Epicurean philosophy in his De republica, and argues against those who think that Cicero’s criticisms of Epicureanism in the work are neither serious nor significant. Cicero engages the Epicureans at the beginning, middle, and end of the De republica. In the prologue to Book 1 he argues against the Epicurean view that one should not take part in politics unless required to, showing why it is a misguided and mistaken view; in Book 3 he represents the character Philus praising the Epicurean view that justice should be sought solely on the basis of self-interest as the least objectionable account of those who defend justice; and in Book 6 Scipio ends his account of his dream by almost humorously critiquing the Epicurean view of the soul and the afterlife by showing the souls of Epicureans surviving death and suffering punishment for their errors. The paper ends by suggesting that Cicero presents Epicurean political thought as a serious problem in the De republica for three different reasons: literary, philosophical, and personal.
Walter Englert, "Epicurean Philosophy in Cicero’s De Republica: Serious Threat or Convenient Foil?", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, XVI (2014) 2, pp. 253-266