Alcaeus and Philiscus

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Alcaeus and Philiscus (or Alcius and Philiscus; 2nd-century BC) were two Epicurean philosophers who were expelled from Rome in either 173 BC or 154 BC.

Athenaeus states that the expulsion occurred during the consulship of Lucius Postumius.[1] This can either refer to the Lucius Postumius who was consul in 173 BC or the Lucius Postumius who was consul in 154 BC.[2] Aelian states that they were expelled "because they had introduced the younger generation to many unnatural pleasures."[3] This may just be a hostile remark which originated from an anti-Epicurean source, but it is also possible that this was the charge laid against them.[2] Roman law in this period permitted the expulsion (relegatio) of any undesired person from Rome by magisterial decree, and it was often used to remove undesirable foreigners from the city.[4] In 161 BC some teachers of rhetoric and philosophy had been expelled from the city.[5] In 155 BC, a celebrated embassy of philosophers, consisting of Carneades (Academic), Diogenes (Stoic) and Critolaus (Peripatetic), had been sent from Athens to Rome where their teachings caused a sensation, and they were forced to leave.[2] If Alcaeus and Philiscus were expelled from the city in 154 BC, then it would have been just one year after this event.[2]


  1. ^ Athenaeus, xii. 547a
  2. ^ a b c d Erich S. Gruen, (1996), Studies in Greek culture and Roman policy, page 177. BRILL
  3. ^ Aelian, Varia Historia, ix. 12
  4. ^ Gordon P. Kelly, (2006), A history of exile in the Roman republic, page 65. Cambridge University Press.
  5. ^ Michael von Albrecht, Gareth L. Schmeling, (1997), A history of Roman literature: from Livius Andronicus to Boethius, page 499. BRILL