In the ancient world of Greek and Roman philosophy, Stoicism and Epicureanism were regarded as competing and contradictory philosophical systems, schools, outlooks, notions, and so forth.

I recently ran across a situation in which the two ideas can go together. The situation is an odd one.

John Richardson, who died at 95 in 2019, spent many of his years writing a multivolume biography of Picasso. The last volume, entitled A Life of Picasso IV: The Minotaur Years, 1933-43, was not completed but was finally published recently.

The book was reviewed in the Books Subsection of the Wall Street Journal’s Review Section for December 4-5, 2021. Maxwell Carter was the reviewer. He remarks that:

“The biographer’s [that is, Richardson’s] gift lay in fusing  the personal and impersonal, his experience as an art student and jobbing critic, the stoic’s sense with an epicurean sensibility.”

Carter is head of the impressionist and modern art department at Christie’s in New York. His semantic differentiation together with fusing the ideas is an insight that strikes me as profound.