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Dynamic ReadingStudies in the Reception of Epicureanism$
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Brooke Holmes and W. H. Shearin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199794959

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794959.001.0001

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Haunting Nepos: Atticus and the Performance of Roman Epicurean Death

Haunting Nepos: Atticus and the Performance of Roman Epicurean Death

(p.30) 1 Haunting Nepos: Atticus and the Performance of Roman Epicurean Death
Dynamic Reading

W. H. Shearin

Oxford University Press

In “Haunting Nepos: Atticus and the Performance of Roman Epicurean Death,” W. H. Shearin examines the death of a famous Epicurean, T. Pomponius Atticus, during the later Roman Republic. This death, when read in the company of various Epicurean and Stoic deaths, exemplifies the central role that disease (particularly sudden disease) plays in the demise of famous Epicureans. By contrast with Stoics, for whom death is largely about the exercise of the will (and for whom suicide – in Latin mors voluntaria, “voluntary death” – is the ideal), the death of Atticus – although in some sense a suicide – is accomplished through the frustration of any direct intention. Atticus starves himself in the face of a disease that is apparently no longer there, an act that dramatizes the very “swerviness” of Epicurean nature.

Keywords:   Cornelius Nepos, Titus Pomponius Atticus, Teleology (Narrative), suicide, death, epicureanism, stoicism

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