THE STERN LOOKING FELLOW at left is Epicurus, a Greek philosopher of the early third century BCE. Considering that his name is linked to a way of life that puts a premium on sensual pleasure you might have expected him to look a bit more cheery, or at least a little fleshier.
Granted, his facial hair does have the look of something expertly squeezed from a pastry bag – but after that you’d be hard pressed to find something in that face that suggests a reckless devotion to high living.
There’s a good reason for it: it was an approach to life he neither pursued nor advocated.
The historical Epicurus was the founder of a serious and enduring philosophical school with a philanthropic aim: to free individuals from fear of the supernatural, death, and the afterlife. He advocated a view of the world that was wholly material and morally neutral and encouraged his followers to focus on the only two things that he believed make human beings happy: experiencing pleasure and avoiding pain.