You translated two books on Epicurus written by Professor Mitsis. What was it like to work with such an important expert?
Mitsis is an excellent scholar and a very nice person in terms of humanity. Translating his books was for me the chance to make Italian non-experts know about some Epicurean researches of a great historic-theoretic relevance. Moreover, translating Mitsis’ books – which often focus on how the Epicurean ethic is welcomed by the philosophers of the modern age (such as Pierre Gassendi) – I had the opportunity to deal with the success of Epicureanism, that is to be discovered.
You are one of the greatest experts of the atomic theologies in the world, however the Italian university appears not to provide you – as well as many other young scholars – with much opportunity at least ensuring the safety. Do you manage to be optimist for the future of the Italian university anyways?
Difficulties are present in every professional path. I can’t find a reason to overestimate those we face in humanistic researches. This field still offers many opportunities and stimulus.
Beyond philosophy, you work also in the theatre. These two worlds, are they compatible?
I think yes, not only because both research domains can be applied by simply having the desire to do it. In fact, it is possible to philosophically explore the art of theatre, or to study the “performative” dimension of the philosophical thought. It is not to forget that there are lots of philosophers/playwrights, including Sartre, and certain theatrical artists suggest a real philosophy (think of Artaud or Pirandello). We can find some inspiration back to the ancient reflection. I’m glad to mention, in this regard, a high scientific distribution project edited by me. I started to deal with this project in 2014 with the ‘Teatro e Critica’ magazine, with the title ‘Teatrosofia’ (www.teatroecritica.net/tag/teatrosofia): a reconstruction of how the philosophers of the part interpreted the art of acting and performing.
At the festival you will discuss the Epicurean invulnerability. Let us know: was Epicurus a philosopher or a superhero?
Generally, there are two reading keys for the concept of ‘invulnerability’. One is that of being immune, in its literal sense, and objective from any danger or threat (pain, sickness, death, etc.). But this condition belongs to gods only. Gods are considered by Epicurus as unbreakable and blessed since they are completely detached from ourselves and our world, in which getting injured is simple and almost ordinary. Another way of interpreting the invulnerability is, on the contrary, that of considering it as a moral and intellectual disposition which is always in our hands, despite external circumstances. We can’t be immune to pain or to the inevitability of death like gods are. But we can make us divine and undertake some life’s forms that consent to defeat sufferings, or to take the fear of death away. This continuous “fight” generates pleasure and so happiness. The Epicurean philosophy attempts to reach this second dimension. In the speech I will do at the festival, I will also try to connect this concept of invulnerability to the theme of happiness, better if I say, to the dispute made by Epicurus towards faith/necessity and misfortune, that is to say the problematic contingency.
Do you have any future plans?
With no doubt, I want to keep studying the reception of Epicureanism in the modern age, with a particular attention to the already mentioned Gassendi: a Christian philosopher who tries to restore the ethic and theology of Epicurus, making them compatible with Christianism. Another interesting field of research is the study of the relationship between Epicureanism and medicine, that can take two different directions: an exploration of the knowledge that Epicureans had about that discipline (Plutarch, informs us, for example, about the existence of a doctor called Zopyrus who studied the Symposium by Epicurus); and a reconstruction of the confrontation between ancient doctors and the Epicurean physics/epistemology. The study on the reception of Epicureanism by Galeno di Pergamo is extremely interesting. For further info on the festival “Free like Epicurus”, reservations and gadgets: https://vivere.biz/bpkQ