A sad Epicurean event

There really are two Epicurean gardens in Greece, one in Athens and the other in Thessalonica.   I quote: The “Garden of Thessaloniki” was launched in November 2007 as a voluntary, participatory, informal  company of friends and fans of the teachings of Epicurus. Since then there have been countless meetings and open events, participations in national meetings and Panhellenic Symposia of Epicurean philosophy.

“The objectives of the “Garden of Thessaloniki” include

“a) the dissemination and the cultivation of the teachings of Epicurus.

“b) the highlighting of the importance of Greek Culture as a timeless, global, civilizing an enlightening factor for all mankind

”c) the study of the presence of Epicurean philosophy and Greek Culture in the continuous course of Hellenism in different historical phases.

“The activities of the “Garden of Thessaloniki” include:

“a) organized discussions among friends on a regular basis, with a predetermined subject and always in respect to the Epicurean philosophy,

”b) public events among friends, in which invited speakers develop relevant issues,

“c) social gatherings among friends and invited people in order to develop mutual ties, and to preserve and revitalize  The language, customs, mythology, history, and culture, etc.) of the whole (ancient and later) Greek Culture.”

An inspiring undertaking.  Unfortunately, the Garden was joined by a vocal group of people who were not in the least interested in Epicurus or philosophy.  They appear to have deliberately set out to disrupt the conversations, espousing what one Epicurean who attended described as Marxist political ideology. They asserted that there *should* be political Epicureans, invoking Marx and twisting the words of Epicurus to match that of the Platonists & Stoics.  They talked over the others in a rude and intolerant manner, demanding that the group should be “trying to save the World” and, when it was pointed out the Epicureanism is a study of nature, human and natural, not party politics, they were accused of “being against little children”.

The upshot of this invasion is that the Epicurean group has been bullied into disbanding.

One could argue that there should have been clear rules and a chairperson able , politely, to get rid of the intruders and persuade them to start their own group, if they wished.  However, this seems to me to be a sign of the times everywhere, not just Greece.  Bullies, right-wing thugs , extreme nationalists, and race-baiters are emerging all over the place, their politics crude and their ideas just about as distant from Epicureanism as you can get.  This is a wake- up call for good, thoughtful people to be wary and ready to defend themselves and their ideas.  

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