PracticalWisdom
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Selected Fragments of Epicurus

Editor’s Note: The numbering follows Hermann Usener’s 1887 Epicurea 2. Lack of mental disturbance and lack of bodily pain are static pleasures, whereas revelry and rejoicing are active pleasures involving movement. 18. Would a wise person do something that the laws forbid, if he knew he would escape? A simple proof is not easy to find. 27. Prophecy is impossible, but even if it were possible we would consider what transpires as meaningless to us. 67. I do not think I could conceive of the good without the joys of taste, of sex, of hearing, and without the pleasing motions caused by the sight of bodies and forms. 68. To those who are able to reason it out, the highest and surest joy is found in the stable health of the body and a firm confidence in keeping it. 70. Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring joy; but if not then bid them farewell! 116. I summon you to sustained enjoyment and not to empty and trifling virtues, which destroy your confidence in the fruits of what you have. 117. Congratulations: you have entered into the search for wisdom free from all culture. 135. If you want to make Pythocles wealthy, don't increase his riches but reduce his desires. 135a. We value self-reliance not so that we will live simply and cheaply in all things, but so that we will not be consumed by them. 138. I write to you on this blessed day, which at the same time is the last day of my life. My pains accompanying dysentery and urinary blockages cannot be surpassed in their severity; yet countering all that is the joy in my soul at the memory of our past conversations. As is worthy of one who since childhood has been devoted to me and to philosophy, please take care of the children of Metrodorus. 163. Embark on your own course: steer clear of all culture. 181. Living on bread and water, I rejoice in the pleasure of my body and spit upon the pleasures of extravagance, not for what they are but because of the difficulties that follow from them. 182. Send me a little vessel of cheese, so that I can feast whenever I please. 187. I never wanted to please the many. What pleased them, I did not learn; and what I learned, was beyond their ken. 200. Don't think it unnatural that when the body cries out, the soul cries also. The body says don't be hungry, don't be thirsty, don't be cold. It is difficult for the soul to prevent these cries, and dangerous for it to ignore the commands of nature because of attachment to its usual independence. 202. He who follows nature and not groundless opinions is completely self-reliant. With regard to what is enough by nature, everything he owns is a source of wealth; whereas with regard to unlimited desires, even the greatest wealth is poverty. 203. Insofar as you forget nature, you will find yourself in trouble and create for yourself endless fears and desires. 207. Better to lie serene upon a bed of straw than to be full of troubles on a golden chair at an overflowing table. 213. Sweet is the memory of a dead friend. 214. Don't avoid doing small favors, lest you seem to be the same with regard to greater things. 221. A philosopher's words are empty if they do not heal the suffering of mankind. For just as medicine is useless if it does not remove sickness from the body, so philosophy is useless if it does not remove suffering from the soul. 266. From the perspective of the infinite time that has passed, nothing novel occurs in the universe. 388. If god heeded the wishes of men, all men would quickly have died, because they are always wishing evils upon each other. 409. The beginning and root of all good is the pleasure of the stomach; even wisdom and refinements have reference to this. 422. We need pleasure when in pain because of its absence; but when we are not experiencing such pain, and are perceiving stably, then there is no need for pleasure. For it is not the needs of nature which, from outside us, create harm, but desire driven by groundless opinions. 423. What brings unsurpassed joy is the removal of a great evil; and this is the nature of the good, if you apply your mind rightly and then stand firm and do not stroll about chattering emptily. 442. Although it is better to endure a given pain in order to experience a greater pleasure, it can also be better to abstain from a given pleasure in order to avoid an even greater pain. 445. We must not blame the body for the greatest evils nor attribute our troubles to mere circumstance. Instead we seek their cause within the soul: for by giving up every trifling and fleeting desire we give birth to a confidence perfect in itself. 457. Passion for true philosophy destroys every disturbing and troublesome desire. 469. Praise be to blessed Nature: she has made what is necessary easy to get, and what is not easy to get unnecessary. 471. It is rare to find a man who is poor with regard to the aims of nature and rich in groundless desires. For a fool is never satisfied with what he has, but instead is distressed about what he doesn't have. Just as those who are feverish through the evil of their sickness are always thirsty and desiring the opposite of what they should, so those whose souls are in a bad condition are always poor in everything and through their greed fall into ever-changing desires. 476. Self-reliance is the greatest wealth of all. 478. Fearing an austere way of life, most people end up doing things that are exceedingly likely to result in fear. 479. Many of those who happen into wealth are not liberated from their troubles but merely swap them for greater ills. 480. If you work like a dog you'll have piles of stuff but a miserable life. 485. Unhappiness is caused by fears, or by endless and empty desires; but he who is able to rein these in creates for himself a blissful understanding. 486. Pain does not consist in being deprived of things, but rather in bearing the avoidable distress caused by groundless opinion. 488. The ignoble soul is inflated by good fortune and deflated by misfortune. 489. Nature teaches us to think nothing of what fortune brings, to understand that when prospering we are unfortunate and when not prospering we are fortunate, to receive undisturbed the good things that fortune brings and to stand ready for its seeming evils. For what is good or evil to most people is fleeting, and wisdom has nothing in common with fortune. 490. He who needs tomorrow least, most gladly greets the coming day. 512. I spit upon beauty and those who admire it, if it brings no joy. 519. The greatest fruit of justice is serenity. 530. Laws are made for the wise: not to keep them from doing wrong, but to keep them from being wronged. 533. He who has achieved the goal of his kind is equally good even if no one else is present. 537. He who causes fear cannot be without fear. 548. Happiness and bliss are produced not by great riches nor vast possessions nor exalted occupations nor positions of power, but rather by peace of mind, freedom from pain, and a disposition of the soul that sets its limits in accordance with nature. 551. Live unknown.
PracticalWisdom
© 2018 This site uses cookies for navigation and analytics only, no personal information is collected.

Selected Fragments of

Epicurus

Editor’s Note: The numbering follows Hermann Usener’s 1887 Epicurea 2. Lack of mental disturbance and lack of bodily pain are static pleasures, whereas revelry and rejoicing are active pleasures involving movement. 18. Would a wise person do something that the laws forbid, if he knew he would escape? A simple proof is not easy to find. 27. Prophecy is impossible, but even if it were possible we would consider what transpires as meaningless to us. 67. I do not think I could conceive of the good without the joys of taste, of sex, of hearing, and without the pleasing motions caused by the sight of bodies and forms. 68. To those who are able to reason it out, the highest and surest joy is found in the stable health of the body and a firm confidence in keeping it. 70. Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring joy; but if not then bid them farewell! 116. I summon you to sustained enjoyment and not to empty and trifling virtues, which destroy your confidence in the fruits of what you have. 117. Congratulations: you have entered into the search for wisdom free from all culture. 135. If you want to make Pythocles wealthy, don't increase his riches but reduce his desires. 135a. We value self-reliance not so that we will live simply and cheaply in all things, but so that we will not be consumed by them. 138. I write to you on this blessed day, which at the same time is the last day of my life. My pains accompanying dysentery and urinary blockages cannot be surpassed in their severity; yet countering all that is the joy in my soul at the memory of our past conversations. As is worthy of one who since childhood has been devoted to me and to philosophy, please take care of the children of Metrodorus. 163. Embark on your own course: steer clear of all culture. 181. Living on bread and water, I rejoice in the pleasure of my body and spit upon the pleasures of extravagance, not for what they are but because of the difficulties that follow from them. 182. Send me a little vessel of cheese, so that I can feast whenever I please. 187. I never wanted to please the many. What pleased them, I did not learn; and what I learned, was beyond their ken. 200. Don't think it unnatural that when the body cries out, the soul cries also. The body says don't be hungry, don't be thirsty, don't be cold. It is difficult for the soul to prevent these cries, and dangerous for it to ignore the commands of nature because of attachment to its usual independence. 202. He who follows nature and not groundless opinions is completely self-reliant. With regard to what is enough by nature, everything he owns is a source of wealth; whereas with regard to unlimited desires, even the greatest wealth is poverty. 203. Insofar as you forget nature, you will find yourself in trouble and create for yourself endless fears and desires. 207. Better to lie serene upon a bed of straw than to be full of troubles on a golden chair at an overflowing table. 213. Sweet is the memory of a dead friend. 214. Don't avoid doing small favors, lest you seem to be the same with regard to greater things. 221. A philosopher's words are empty if they do not heal the suffering of mankind. For just as medicine is useless if it does not remove sickness from the body, so philosophy is useless if it does not remove suffering from the soul. 266. From the perspective of the infinite time that has passed, nothing novel occurs in the universe. 388. If god heeded the wishes of men, all men would quickly have died, because they are always wishing evils upon each other. 409. The beginning and root of all good is the pleasure of the stomach; even wisdom and refinements have reference to this. 422. We need pleasure when in pain because of its absence; but when we are not experiencing such pain, and are perceiving stably, then there is no need for pleasure. For it is not the needs of nature which, from outside us, create harm, but desire driven by groundless opinions. 423. What brings unsurpassed joy is the removal of a great evil; and this is the nature of the good, if you apply your mind rightly and then stand firm and do not stroll about chattering emptily. 442. Although it is better to endure a given pain in order to experience a greater pleasure, it can also be better to abstain from a given pleasure in order to avoid an even greater pain. 445. We must not blame the body for the greatest evils nor attribute our troubles to mere circumstance. Instead we seek their cause within the soul: for by giving up every trifling and fleeting desire we give birth to a confidence perfect in itself. 457. Passion for true philosophy destroys every disturbing and troublesome desire. 469. Praise be to blessed Nature: she has made what is necessary easy to get, and what is not easy to get unnecessary. 471. It is rare to find a man who is poor with regard to the aims of nature and rich in groundless desires. For a fool is never satisfied with what he has, but instead is distressed about what he doesn't have. Just as those who are feverish through the evil of their sickness are always thirsty and desiring the opposite of what they should, so those whose souls are in a bad condition are always poor in everything and through their greed fall into ever-changing desires. 476. Self-reliance is the greatest wealth of all. 478. Fearing an austere way of life, most people end up doing things that are exceedingly likely to result in fear. 479. Many of those who happen into wealth are not liberated from their troubles but merely swap them for greater ills. 480. If you work like a dog you'll have piles of stuff but a miserable life. 485. Unhappiness is caused by fears, or by endless and empty desires; but he who is able to rein these in creates for himself a blissful understanding. 486. Pain does not consist in being deprived of things, but rather in bearing the avoidable distress caused by groundless opinion. 488. The ignoble soul is inflated by good fortune and deflated by misfortune. 489. Nature teaches us to think nothing of what fortune brings, to understand that when prospering we are unfortunate and when not prospering we are fortunate, to receive undisturbed the good things that fortune brings and to stand ready for its seeming evils. For what is good or evil to most people is fleeting, and wisdom has nothing in common with fortune. 490. He who needs tomorrow least, most gladly greets the coming day. 512. I spit upon beauty and those who admire it, if it brings no joy. 519. The greatest fruit of justice is serenity. 530. Laws are made for the wise: not to keep them from doing wrong, but to keep them from being wronged. 533. He who has achieved the goal of his kind is equally good even if no one else is present. 537. He who causes fear cannot be without fear. 548. Happiness and bliss are produced not by great riches nor vast possessions nor exalted occupations nor positions of power, but rather by peace of mind, freedom from pain, and a disposition of the soul that sets its limits in accordance with nature. 551. Live unknown.