How did Epicureanism work day by day?

Epicureans did not pool their assets in any communal fashion, as other philosophical groups actually did; the argument was that such a practice would either indicate or, worse yet, foster mutual suspicion.

It is hard to define such terms as “job” in the context of the ancient world; “Old Money”, Athenian patricians –men only, of course– were landed gentry, and looked down on the dirty business of actually making money; many (most?) members of the large, mercantile class were “metoikoi”, i.e. resident-aliens, Greeks usually, but non-Athenians, who had significant monetary/economic power but no political, citizen rights; craftsment and artisans were yet a rung lower; farmers, lowest of all.

But we should not superimpose present-day concepts on a socioeconomic reality long, long gone.

It is also difficult, or rather impossible to impute our modern sense of “tuition” in Greek antiquity. Suffice it to say that teachers of all sorts (philosophers, sophists, etc.) did customarily receive some sort of payment or other “for services rendered”. There appears to be some evidence that Epicurus was somehow “paid”, albeit probably very modestly, and that he disposed of his modest possessions with generosity both prodigious and judicious. After all, he was totally committed to making do with less than most other people.

It is hard to imagine what “normal jobs” other Epicureans would/could have had: Athenian women were notoriously under their husbands’ thumbs. Paradoxically, the permissive Athenians were scandalized by the hyper-macho, militarist Spartans, whose society they (the Athenians) derided as “gynekokratia”, i.e. Women’s Rule: with men in the barracks from the cradle to the grave, Spartan women took care of just about everything in that city’s everyday life. But Athenian women were domesticated to a fault. The only notable exception would have been prostitutes, and we do know that Epicurus welcomed them into in his microcosm, much to the shock and disapproval of others. Prostitutes were human, after all.

Slaves were a special case. Some were modestly “educated”, although of course not in the fullness of the liberal arts, reserved for free-born citizens alone; they may have caught a glimpse of reading/writing skills, looking over their masters’ shoulders, and some adopted important roles. Epicurus’ reliance on rote memorization may have had a practical tie-in with the low level of literacy anywhere below the upper crust of Athenian society.

So, it is plausible that the Garden was more a meeting place than some sort of a “full-time residence”. Again, Athenians were (and still are!) notoriously outgoing: early in the 20th century, a literary tourist wrote that “these people are like cats in midsummer”, always strolling about, stopping to chat with whoever might have been in the Agora (still extant, albeit in ruins), spending the bare minimum of time in their own houses. “Home” for ancient Athenians may have meant little more than “a place to sleep”. Free-born Athenian men were the quintessential roaming tomcats; domesticity, and love thereof, is distinctly a Roman sentiment.

My comment: Epicureanism was/is a humanist set of beliefs. Epicutus welcomed women and slaves, as well as men of all ages, to the garden and treated them as equal human beings with equal rights and due respect. They were encouraged to question and debate, and, probably, to comment on current events, politics and the treatment of men, women and children who lived both within and outside the city. Meals were very simple, preachifying modest and talk and debate plentiful. The lack of “controlling instinct” was in due course regarded as a threat by the Catholics. It, Epicureanism, and the free thought it implied, was a threat to Catholicism.

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