Chapter

Epicurus’s <i>Mistresses</i>: Pleasure, Authority, and Gender in the Reception of the <i>Kuriai Doxai</i> in the Second Sophistic

Richard Fletcher

in Dynamic Reading

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199794959
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949694 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794959.003.0003

Series: Classical Presences

Epicurus’s Mistresses: Pleasure, Authority, and Gender in the Reception of the Kuriai Doxai in the Second Sophistic

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In “Epicurus’s Mistresses: Pleasure, Authority, and Gender in the Reception of the Kuriai Doxai in the Second Sophistic,” Richard Fletcher faces head-on the “willful misrepresentation” of Epicureanism by some of its earliest critics who were active in the lively intellectual milieu of the second-century CE Greco-Roman world. Fletcher advocates a “contextual” reading of Epicureanism, one that embeds it in the sexual and philosophical politics of self-fashioning in this period. By way of illustration, he zeroes in on one of Alciphron’s fictional Letters of Courtesans, purportedly written by the Epicurean courtesan Leontion. Fletcher shows how the common accusations against Epicurus at this time (and for centuries)—too little spirituality, too much sensuality—become creative and complex challenges to philosophical authority in Alciphron’s playful text. Leontion complains not only about her sexual enslavement to Epicurus, but also, jealously, about her lover’s devotion to the master’s “windy doctrines.” She thus draws an analogy between her subordination to her master’s pleasures and her lover’s blind attachment to the pleasure promised by his philosophical master.

Keywords: gender; Epicurus; self-mastery; second sophistic; Kuriai Doxai; courtesans

Chapter.  14161 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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