Epicureanism was seen by its opponents, both ‘pagan’ and Christian, as the philosophy of pleasure and atheism. From the theological viewpoint, the accusation of atheism was incorrect, since Epicurus admitted of the existence of deities, while denying their interest in human affairs, i.e. providence. This denial aimed at guaranteeing their imperturbability. From the ethical viewpoint, the ideal of pleasure (hēdonē), on which I shall concentrate, was grossly misunderstood or distorted by the opponents of Epicureanism, who generally did not take into consideration the moderation, equilibrium, and serenity that the superior katastematic pleasure’ (Epicurus’s ideal of pleasure) involved. I shall analyze the attitude of late-antique sources, especially Christian, toward Epicureanism and its ethics. A great many of Usener’s and Arrighetti’s fragments of Epicurus indeed come from Christian Late Antique authors, such as Clement, Origen, Eusebius, Lactantius, and Augustine, but other Fathers should be added, such as Basil and Gregory Nyssen.
An accurate understanding of sexual relations described in Lot’s parable in Genesis 19 constitute an interesting key to the analysis of this episode and to its exegetic interpretation throughout the Middle Ages. In this essay we’ll focus on two distinct moments of the account: first, the attempted rape of Lot’s divine guests by the populace of Sodom, then destroyed by God’s anger; second, the incestuous intercourses between Lot and his daughters in a remote cave, far from the burning cities of the Dead Sea’s plain. Through the comparison with some parallel episodes of Old Testament, we’ll try to explain those topoi in their own historical and geographical context, by stressing the ethnic and genealogical background of this episode; then, we’ll show different readings by exegetists of all the revealed religions during the Middle Ages. Supported by textual and iconographical analysis, we’ll study the social and cultural implications of such readings in the response to these violent behaviors and to the role played by facts and characters.
En De Cain et Abel, compuesto en 377, Ambrosio de Milán personifica el placer y la virtud con la imagen de dos mujeres hostiles y enemigas que llenan la casa – alegoría del alma – de disputas y celos. Esta alegoría se enmarca en la preocupación por el orden natural, abordada anteriormente por el autor, cuyo sentido aparece en las figuras bíblicas de Caín y Abel. El examen del texto revela que el hombre es un ser dotado de una ley natural infundida en su alma por Dios, que le otorga su condición moral, y que, gracias a ella, el intelecto rechaza el placer y se une a la virtud, que pertenece a la esfera de lo sagrado.