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Historical Context for Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus. Epicurus’ teaching rejects Platonic Forms; it claims, for instance, that justice is nothing other than a. In this letter, Epicurus recommends to Menoeceus that he conduct his life according to certain prescripts, and in accordance with certain beliefs, in order that his. Letter to Menoeceus. EpicurllĀ«1 (TranAated by Brad Inwo(Jd and L. R Geraon). Let no one delay the study of philosophy while young nor weary of it when old.

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And when we, on certain occasionsfall in with more sumptuous fareit makes us in a better disposition towards it, and renders us fearless with respect to fortune. Young lettef old, it is necessary to love and practice wisdom, so that in old age you can be youthful by taking joy in the good things you remember, and likewise in youth you can be mature by not fearing what will come.

Epicurus is emphatic that friendship figures into emnoeceus happy life as one of the chief goods. Yet they are not such as most people believe; indeed most people are not even consistent in what they believe.

So death, the most terrifying of evils, is nothing to us, because as long as we exist death is not present, whereas when letger is present we do not exist. For something that causes no trouble when present causes only a groundless pain when merely expected.

Desires There are several sorts of desires Some desires have no basis in nature e.

Reflect on what brings happiness, because if you have that you have everything, but if not you will do everything to attain it.

But they are not of the character which people in general attribute to them; for they do not pay a respect to them which accords with the ideas that they entertain of them. Our every action is done so that we will not be in pain or fear. According to Epicurean cosmology, no Prime Mover nor a teleology governing the movement of matter: Other translators understand it as applying to “most people” from the previous sentence, with the sense that most people assume that immortal beings so different from themselves must want to interfere in human affairs.

Epicurus’s Contributions Adopted and modified the earlier atomism of Leucippus and Democritus Epicurus’s atomism was letted on early modern scientists Explained all human behavior in terms of pleasure and pain Propounded an ethics according to which the goal of life is freedom from pain Secularized philosophy, claiming that the gods have no influence on cosmic or human affairs. And because this is the primary and inborn good, we do not choose every pleasure.

As soon as we achieve this, the soul is released from every storm, since an animal has no other need and must seek nothing else to complete the goodness of body and soul. And he who asserts either mwnoeceus it is not yet time to philosophizeor that the hour is passedis like a man who should say that the time is not yet come to be happyor that it is too late. So when we say that pleasure is the goal, we do not mean the pleasures of decadent people or the enjoyment of sleep, as is believed by those who are ignorant or who don’t understand us or who are ill-disposed to us, but to be free from bodily menoeceys and mental disturbance.

For it is never too early or too late for the health of the soul. When, therefore, we say that pleasure is a chief goodwe are not speaking of the menoeceu of the debauched manor those which lie in sensual enjoymentas some think who are ignorantand who do not entertain our opinionsor else interpret them perversely ; but we mean the freedom of the body from painand the soul from confusion.


Historical Context for Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus | The Core Curriculum

Let no one put off the love and practice of menoeces [ note ] when young, nor grow tired of it when old. For he holds that we are responsible for what we achieve, even though some things happen by necessity, some by chance, and some by our own power, because although necessity is not accountable he sees that chance is unstable whereas the things that are within our power have no other master, so that naturally praise and blame are inseparably connected to them.

It is simpleminded to advise a young person to live well and an old person to die well, not only because life is so welcome but also because it is through the very same practices that one both lives well and dies well.

Here Epicurus uses the same word to note the close tie between praise and blame on the one hand and menoeceux which is within the power of an individual to achieve. menoecues

The Internet Classics Archive | Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus

For the assertions of the many about the gods are not anticipationsbut false opinions. Life Living does not offend the wise person He savors the most pleasant time, rather than the longest time What will happen is not unconditionally within our power Nor is it unconditionally outside our power So, one must not expect to control everything or despair that all is inevitable. Only a fool says that he fears death because it causes pain ahead of time, not because it will cause pain when it comes.

For since they are at home with what is best about themselves, they accept that which is similar and consider alien that which is different. Only the gods are immortal, says Epicurus, but we are not. It is nothing to those who live since to them it does not exist and it is nothing to those who have died since they no longer exist. Inwood, Brad and Gerson, L. Do not ascribe to god anything that is inconsistent with immortality and blissfulness; instead, believe about god everything that can support immortality and blissfulness.

By licensing this translation under Creative Commons CC0I hereby release all legal and economic rights to this translation under all jurisdictions including but not limited to the rights to copy, republish, translate, arrange, modify, and make derivative works from this translationand I grant anyone the right to use this translation without conditions for any purpose.

Thus we need pleasure only when we are in pain caused by its absence; but when we are not in pain then we have no need of pleasure. Having been born, to pass through the gates of Hades as soon as possible. Although “the standard of experience” is one possible translation, that swings in the opposite direction of empiricism.

So practice these and similar things day and night, by yourself and with a like-minded friend, and you will never be disturbed whether waking or sleeping, and you will live as a god among men: And who has no belief in necessitywhich is set up by some as the mistress of all thingsbut he refers some things to fortunesome to ourselves, because necessity is an irresponsible powerand because he sees that fortune is unstablewhile our own will is free ; and this freedom constitutesin our casea responsibility which makes us encounter blame and praise.

Practical wisdom is the foundation of all these things and is the greatest good. But if he was jokingthen he was talking foolishly in a case where it ought not to be allowed ; and, we must recollectthat the future is not our own, nor, on the other handis it wholly no our own, I mean so that we can never altogether await it with a feeling of certainty that it will be, nor altogether despair of it as what will never be.


Just as he does not choose the greatest amount of food but the most pleasing food, so he savors not the longest time lettter the span of time that brings the greatest joy. For a pleasant life is produced not by drinking and endless parties and enjoying boys and women menoeceuss consuming fish and other delicacies of an extravagant table, but by sober reasoning, searching out the cause of everything we accept or reject, and driving out opinions that cause the greatest trouble in the soul.

The things that most people say about the gods are based on false assumptions, not a firm grasp of the facts [ note ], because they say that the greatest goods and the greatest harms come from the gods.

It is not impious to deny the gods that most people believe in, but to ascribe to the gods what most people believe.

Leter, keep in mind that some desires are natural whereas others are groundless [ note ]; that among the natural desires some are natural and necessary whereas others are merely natural; and that among the necessary desires some are meoeceus for happiness, some for physical health [ note ], and some for life itself.

And, we thinkcontentment a great goodnot in order that we may never have but a littlebut in order that, if we have not much, we may make use of a littlebeing genuinely persuaded that those men enjoy luxury most completely who are the best able to do without it; and that everything which is natural is easily providedand what is useless is not easily procured.

And he was still more wrong who said:. Since this is the end of living happily ; for it is for the sake of this that we do everything, wishing to avoid grief and fear ; and when once this is the casewith respect to us, then the storm of the soul is, as I may sayput an end to; since the animal is unable to go as if to something deficientand to seek something different from that by which the good of the soul and memoeceus will be perfected.

And of the necessary onessome are necessary to happinessand others, letter regard to the exemption of the body from trouble menorceus and menleceus with respect to living itself; for a correct theorywith regard to these thingscan refer all choice and avoidance to the health of the body and the freedom from disquietude of the soul.

Historical Context for Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus

Absence of Pain The highest pleasure is the lack of pain in the body and of disturbance in the soul Drinking, partying, sex, etc. The happy life for Epicurus is to place oneself in an ataraxic state in which one is free to pursue pleasures while minimizing pain. Some translators understand it as applying to “the gods” from the previous sentence, with the sense that the gods would not interfere in human affairs because they don’t care about “consider as alien” mortal creatures who are so different from themselves.

I have chosen “the standard of how that thing affects us” as a more neutral translation.