“I think Homer is psychologically truthful and ethically helpful. The whole question about, ‘Is it literature’s job or poetry’s job to train a politician?’ — I’m not sure that’s quite the right way to see it. By inhabiting worldviews which aren’t our own, we can grow in some way, which doesn’t necessarily have to be, ‘I agree with x, y, z political gnomon that’s articulated in this line or that line of Homer.’…
I think we should stop selling classics as, ‘These are the societies that formed modern America, or that formed the Western canon’— which is a really bogus kind of argument — and instead start saying, ‘We should learn about ancient societies because they’re different from modern societies.’ That means that we can learn things by learning about alterity. We can learn about what would it be to be just as human as we are, and yet be living in a very, very different society…
…So I’m interested in whether all educators are somehow in that double bind of ‘Am I actually helping you find something out, or am I imposing my own vision on you?'”
—Emily Wilson in at interview with Tyler Cowen, “Emily Wilson on Translations and Language.” Conversations With Tyler. March 27, 2019
Emily Wilson is a treasure.
“Epicurus (341–270 B.C.) founded one of the major philosophies of ancient Greece, helping to lay the intellectual foundations for modern science and for secular individualism. Many aspects of his thought are still highly relevant some twenty-three centuries after they were first taught in his school in Athens, called “the Garden.”
Epicurus’s philosophy combines a physics based on an atomistic materialism with a rational hedonistic ethics that emphasizes moderation of desires and cultivation of friendships. His world-view is an optimistic one that stresses that philosophy can liberate one from fears of death and the supernatural, and can teach us how to find happiness in almost any situation. His practical insights into human psychology, as well as his science-friendly world-view, gives Epicureanism great contemporary signficance as well as a venerable role in the intellectual development of Western Civilization.”
“The gods are not to be feared, / Death is not to be dreaded; / What is good is easy to acquire / What is bad is easy to bear.”
—quoted in Pierre Cadet, “What is Ancient Philosophy?” Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.