NEW! The 2014 International Epicurean Prize

A new prize is to be awarded to the country that has the most Epicurean public policies and seems to have the most content and happy population.

This prize is initiated and funded by the well-known philanthropist, Marthe and Roberto Hanrotti, and will be presented to the President of the designated country at a lunch, cooked by chef celebrity Jamie Oliver (or a graduate from the Prue Leith School of Cookery, whoever has the most elaborate menu) at the romantic five star Hotel Bellevue Syrene which is atop a cliff in Sorrento, Italy, overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. The ceremony will last 4 hours and anyone leaving sober will be struck off the register of top Epicureans.

Readers are invited to nominate countries they feel to be possible candidates, and to explain why they are nominating them.

Alternatively, you can suggest a list of the countries that haven’t a hope of winning the Epicurean prize, and why.


  1. The Scandinavian countries all deserve to be on a list of nominations. They’re secular, progressive, have freed themselves from superstition and provide their citizens with a high quality of life. Denmark was declared the happiest country some time back so perhaps the prize should go to Denmark.

  2. Finland should win, because they take care of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in their society, instead of scapegoating them as the US and UK do- this reflects the principles established in the Garden. Finland also has a great education system, and employees are entitled to plenty of time to relax. Finland is a peaceful country that does not involve itself in unnecessary conflicts. It is extremely socially liberal and tolerant, and yet the Finnish are keen to preserve a sense of cultural homogeneity- which helps to build strong communities where people feel obliged to help those in need. Corruption, racism and fundamentalist religion are all rarely found in Finnish poliitcs. Support for the welfare state is almost unanimous- even amongst conservatives! Finally, Finland is frequently rated as one of the happiest countries in the world, as well as one of the least religious.

  3. I think France should win. The food alone would make it a strong candidate. The emphasis of the French is on enjoying life. They have a beautiful countryside and a wealth of music , art and philosophy. All these put France over the top. The Finns drink too much and the Danes, bless them, are boring!.

  4. Thank you for pointing out the alcohol consumption figures. While Epicureans drink only modestly and moderately for social reasons, most would not like to live in Pakistan. According to the figures they have zero recorded and unrecorded alcohol consumption. No wonder Pakistanis want to live in Europe!

  5. Shifting the question just a little bit. It’s interesting that for communication reasons we have to conceptualize and speak in terms of “countries” with “policies” that are Epicurean in spirit. A pervasive historical reality is that most human beings for most of human history did not live in “countries” with public policies. How did they create happy and meaningful lives as Epicurus conceived them?

    Humans lived in COMMUNITIES that do not fit our contemporary political categories. Today, people, whether living in prize-winning countries or dysfunctional ones, have to struggle to establish communities wherever they find themselves and it’s excruciatingly difficult to do so. Commercialization, politicization, and militarization of life are arrayed against such efforts–sometimes with hideous violence as we’ve seen across the globe whether in Gaza or Ferguson.

    Still, maybe after the winner of the most Epicurean country is decided (and to which place we could all migrate en masse) we look around, for Epicurean-spirited people trying desperately to fashion satisfying communities amid the ruins. After all, that’s what Epicurus essentially did in his own life.

  6. Good post, Carmen. Unfortunately, we have to live in nation states, many of whom are either corrupt or incompetent. But your basic point is well taken. The problem is that even if we succeed in forming our own small Epicurean groups, laws and governments impinge upon us. An example is the way the British government are harassing foreign visitors owing to the backlash against immigration. Perfectly innocent people, simply wanting to spend money, are being made unwelcome. The government has to show they are being ” tough on immigration”, even the visitors have no intention of immigrating. But we mustn’t be downhearted but must continue to go in the direction you suggest.

    In any case, I would like to nominate New Zealand. It is a large country, mainly occupied by sheep. It has spectacular mountains, beaches, ski-ing and countryside. The wine is excellent, the people are hospitable and pleased to see you, Maybe things have radically changed since I used to go there on business, but it seemed to me a good place for an Epicurean to thrive. The government might be something else, though. Damaging ideas spread through the world before Epicureanism has put on its boots.

  7. Both New Zealand and Finland offer massive swaves of wild country to create an Epicurean community, but I think Finland’s government and culture run closer to Epicurean principles than New Zealand’s.

  8. Hanrott: “Unfortunately, we have to live in nation states, many of whom are either corrupt or incompetent.”
    Yes, I agree that we live within nation states which are notoriously unfriendly to groups which dare to hold views about life which resist the dominant outlook. Epicurus didn’t challenge the military-domination of the Greek states, how could he have? He simply withdrew to the Garden to satisfy his social and intellectual needs with like-minded people. The first Christians went literally underground to form communities in the catacombs and to avoid the corrupt Roman state which they could not have challenged military.

    History shows that people will create their own communities because human society cannot exist without them. I think that such groups are even now forming in most countries, perhaps not easy to observe, even within those states who don’t have a chance at winning your tantalizing prize. History also clearly reveals something else: the forming of new communities takes place over centuries. And Epicurus’ example is an affirmation of that fact and an inspiration for us.

  9. P.S. Loved your persuasive argument on New Zealand’s behalf:
    “It is a large country, mainly occupied by sheep.” When sheep are a country’s main occupants, you know such a state is going to be hard to beat in the run for your prize.

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