Episode 216 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available. Today we address an important but frequently questioned doctrine of Epicurus - Why did he seem to say that length of time does not contribute to pleasure?
Epicurus held that gods are totally natural. They are in no way supernatural, in no way omnipotent, in no way omnipresent. They are totally incapable of creating something from nothing. This is very different from modern use of the term.
The subject of whether these Epicurean gods really exist in physical form in a far-off location, or whether they are simply constructions of the human mind which we conceive based on prolepsis arising through nature, is a very complex subject so please see additional discussion here and throughout this website.
Nature Has No Gods Over Her
- Epicurus To Herodotus, line 77
- Bailey: Furthermore, the motions of the heavenly bodies and their turnings and eclipses and risings and settings, and kindred phenomena to these, must not be thought to be due to any being who controls and ordains or has ordained them and at the same time enjoys perfect bliss together with immortality (for trouble and care and anger and kindness are not consistent with a life of blessedness, but these things come to pass where there is weakness and fear and dependence on neighbors).
- Epicurus to Pythocles, line 97
- Bailey: Next the regularity of the periods of the heavenly bodies must be understood in the same way as such regularity is seen in some of the events that happen on earth. And do not let the divine nature be introduced at any point into these considerations, but let it be preserved free from burdensome duties and in entire blessedness.
- Lucretius Book 2 - 1090
- Bailey - "And if you learn this surely, and cling to it, nature is seen, free at once, and quit of her proud rulers, doing all things of her own accord alone, without control of gods."
- Humphries - Holding this knowledge, you can't help but see, That nature has no tyrants over her, But always acts of her own will; she has no part of any godhead whatsoever."
- Brown 1743 - "These things, if you rightly apprehend, Nature will appear free in her operations, wholly from under the power of domineering deities, and to act all things voluntarily, and of herself, without the assistance of gods."
- Munro - "If you well apprehend and keep in mind these things, nature free at once and rid of her haughty lords is seen to do all things spontaneously of herself without the meddling of the gods. "
- M.F. Smith - "Once you obtain a firm grasp of these facts, you see that nature is her own mistress and is exempt from the oppression of arrogant despots, accomplishing everything by herself spontaneously and independently and free from the jurisdiction of the gods. "
- Notes: Alternate ways to consider this would include: "There are no supernatural causes," or "The gods, however they are defined, have no impact on the cosmos," or "If gods exist, they don't control the universe nor do they bestow blessings or curses on humans." The point is that there are no supernatural, divine, or mystical forces that intervene in or create the universe.
- Discussion Forum