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Chapter 5 - Caesar the Epicurean? A Matter of Life and Death

from Part I - Epicurus and Roman Identities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 January 2022

Sergio Yona
Affiliation:
University of Missouri, Columbia
Gregson Davis
Affiliation:
Duke University, North Carolina
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Summary

This chapter reexamines the question of Caesar’s putative Epicureanism. While there is no reason to believe that Caesar was a committed Epicurean, there exist tantalizing pieces of evidence that he may have adopted for himself a version of the tenet that “death is nothing to us.” These include his observation, in his speech about the convicted Catilinarians (as reported by Sallust), that death is not a punishment but the endpoint of all experience, and his late-in-life statement (versions of which are found in Cicero’s Pro Marcello and in Suetonius) that he had “lived enough.” The chapter concludes by considering the criteria scholars typically employ for gauging philosophical affiliation in antiquity, arguing for a broadening of definitions and for considering even a some-time Epicurean as Caesar as part of the history of Epicureanism.

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Epicurus in Rome
Philosophical Perspectives in the Ciceronian Age
, pp. 72 - 86
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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