Tetrapharmakos: Alternate Translations and Content of PHerc. 1005 from Reviews

  • Spaced out and transliterated in upper/lower case for easier reading, the letters on the image on the scroll would be:
    Ἄφοβον ὁ θεός, (transliterated: Aphobon ho theos)
    ἀνύποπτον ὁ θάνατος (anupopton ho thanatos)
    καὶ τἀγαθὸν μὲν εὔκτητον, (kai tagathon [to + agathon] men eukteton)
    τὸ δὲ δεινὸν εὐεκκαρτέρητον (to de deinon euekkartereton)

    My own literal translation (with more alternatives shared below):
    God is no cause for fear.
    Death is free from risk.
    The Highest Good is easily procured,
    While the Terrible is easy to endure.

    Line by line:
    Ἄφοβον ὁ θεός,
    1a. Ἄφοβος causing no fear, free from fear (a + phobon)
    1b. ὁ θεός with the singular article, god/God BUT Liddell & Scott give an interesting alternative definition at 1.d. ὁ θ., of natural phenomena. So, an interesting *possibility* would be, paraphrasing, "We have nothing to fear from the gods or natural phenomenon."

    ἀνύποπτον ὁ θάνατος

    2a. ἀνύποπτος LSJ: without suspicion; i.e., free from risk
    2b. θάνατος death

    καὶ τἀγαθὸν μὲν εὔκτητον, (NOTE: καὶ = and; μὲν... δὲ... in lines 3 & 4 simply show those two phrases are connected. Clunky translations would be "One the one hand,...; on the other hand,...)

    3a. τἀγαθὸν can be thought of as “the highest good” "The Good" (to + agathon) So, is this actually refer to Pleasure, "The Highest Good" "Pleasure is easy to obtain"?
    3c. εὔκτητον “honestly acquired” per LSJ (Phld.Sto.339.4.), easily gotten. From: εὔ-κτητος, ον “good, well” + “that may be gotten”

    τὸ δὲ δεινὸν εὐεκκαρτέρητον
    4a. τὸ (δὲ) δεινὸν “fearful, terrible; danger, suffering, horror” (TRIVIA: This "deino" is the "dino" in "dinosaur = terrible lizard")
    4b. εὐεκκαρτέρητον “easy to endure”
    As above is "τὸ δεινὸν to deinon" The Terrible referring to Pain? Pleasure is easy to obtain, and Pain can be endured.?

    So another alternative:

    There is nothing to fear from gods or natural phenomenon,

    There is no afterlife of which to be suspicious,

    And Pleasure is easy to obtain,

    while Pain can be easily endured.

    Food for thought.

    Cassius has also expressed interest in finding out more about PHerc 1005 in which the tetrapharmakos is found. The following provide some context for the work and was found in two reviews of Anna Angeli's work in JSTOR:

    The following citation and excerpt were in Italian. I used Google Translate (see below)

    1st Work from JSTOR:
    Reviewed Work(s): L'ira. volume V, (ed. Bibliopolis) by null Filodemo, Giovanni Indelli and
    Marcello Gigante; Frammenti. volume VI, (ed. Bibliopolis) by null Ermarco, Francesca Longo Auricchio and Marcello Gigante; Agli Amici di Scuola (P. Herc. 1005). volume VII, (ed. Bibliopolis) by null Filodemo, Anna Angeli and Marcello Gigante; La poesia. volume IX, (ed. Bibliopolis) by Demetrio Lacone, Costantina Romeo and Marcello Gigante
    Review by: Elisabetta Martelli
    Source: Aegyptus, Anno 69, No. 1/2 (gennaio-dicembre 1989), pp. 288-293
    Published by: Vita e Pensiero – Pubblicazioni dell’Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
    Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41217138

    Excerpt from 291-2 using Google Translate for Italian > English

    In her Introduction, Angeli deals with the difficult task of reconstructing the subject, structure, doctrine, title and dating of Philodemus' Ad Contubernales treatise, preserved by P. Herc. 1005 with serious gaps especially in the initial part (p. 25 ff.). The work has a controversial content, as revealed not only by the contents, but also by the subscription, of which only "Philodemou Pros tous .." survives. A careful investigation on several fronts allows the scholar to exclude a controversy by Philodemus against philosophers from other schools, and leads her to glimpse a lively debate within the Epicurean school itself; confirming an intuition already of Gigante, Angeli admits as possible the integration "Pros tous [synethes]", or "Pros tous I [hetairous]", or similar; worthy of note is the accepted hypothesis that "Pros" can be interpreted with the meaning of ad, rather than with the value of adversus (pp. 71-75); the work is dated around the middle of the first century. B.C. Angeli dedicates large sections of her research to the study of the three topics around which it is possible to reconstruct the controversy of Philodemus against classmates. The first argument concerns the accusation, evidently addressed to the Epicureans of the school of Athens, of venerating the figure of the wise philosopher as the mass of men venerates the gods; Angeli presents it in a chapter entitled "Logoi eis apeiron ekpiptontes", with the aim of underlining the logical and gnoseological principle to which Philodemus refers to refute the accusation (fr. 77), according to a typically epicurean procedure; in conclusion, Philodemus shows the interlocutor critic that the reverence towards the wise is fully licit, and was born as an act of gratitude for the benefits received from his philosophical teachings, while the reprehensible cult of the gods, proper to the mass, arises from the false prejudice that from them descend the good to which man aspires and the unexpected evil; the debate is felt by the scholar as a sign of the need for a part of Epicureanism of the first century. B.C. to limit the religious characterization of the cult to the essay proper to the school (pp. 29-37). The second topic concerns the nature of the summaries, epitomes and maxims, which played a large part in the spread of Epicureanism on the initiative of the Master himself, but which in the course of time inevitably led to a certain trivialization and simplification of the doctrine; the debate on this theme is reconstructed with great detail by Angeli, according to which it testifies, already for the second half of the second century. BC, a strand of Greek Epicureanism that spread the doctrine among ever wider social strata, but with tools not approved by the Athens school. The famous maxim of tetrapharmakoe mentioned in col. V 1-6, is finally attributed to Philodemus himself, rather than Epicurus (pp. 37-61). The third argument enters into the merits of Epicurus' struggle against traditional "paideia", and of the subsequent problem of characterizing doctrine as a democratic or aristocratic philosophy, strongly felt by the Epicureans themselves; Philodemus clashes with the other Epicureans precisely on the system's diffusion program (pp. 61-70).

    2nd excerpt from JSTOR:
    Reviewed Work(s): Filodemo, Agli Amici di Scuola (Pherc. 1005) by Anna Angeli; Demetrio
    Lacone, Aporie Testuali ed Esegetiche in Epicuro (Pherc. 1012) by Enzo Puglia; Demetrio
    Lacone, La Poesia (Pherc. 188 e 1014) by Costantina Romeo; Carneisco, Il Secondo Libro del
    Filista (Pherc. 1027) by Mario Capasso
    Review by: Phillip de Lacy
    Source: The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 111, No. 4 (Winter, 1990), pp. 573-577
    Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
    Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/295250

    The latest of these texts is 1005 (vol. 7), a work of Philodemus. By the time of Philodemus, early first century B.C., the Epicureans were adapting their teachings to changing times and circumstances. Questions of orthodoxy arose, and Philodemus participated in the resultant controversies. In 1005 he accuses certain unnamed Epicureans of failing to follow the teaching of Epicurus, and in support of his position he quotes and explicates passages from Epicurus' writings. Angeli, who gives in her introduction a good account of the history of controversy within the school, presents a text that differs at many points from that of E Sbordone (Naples, 1947). She rejects outright some of Sbordone's restorations, including those that appear as fragments 262 and 263 in the second edition of Arrighetti's Epicuro. Others are greatly altered. An important passage in 1005 is Philodemus' quotation from a letter almost certainly by Epicurus that mentions Aristotle's Analytics and Physics, frag. 13 Sbordone, frag. 127 Arrighetti, and now frag. 111 Angeli. Aristotle is still there, but Crates has disappeared, Aristippus is now author of a work Su Socrate, and there is a new entry, Speusippus' Encomium of Plato. Angeli's comment on this passage is seven pages long, and indeed her restoration is attractive, except that one might question whether Aristippus' work had the title "Peri Sokratous"; see the lists of Aristippus' writings in Diog. Laer. ii. 84-85.
    The title that Angeli gives to the papyrus is also questionable. All that remains of the subscription is "Philodemou Pros tous". Taking "pros" as expressing opposition, Sbordone, and Vogliano before him, supplied "sophistas". Angeli, however, believing that Philodemus is addressing his associates, supplies "hetairous". But the Epicureans, so far as I can discover, did not address each other as hetairoi. In Epicurus, frag. 119 Arrighetti, hetairos does not refer to a member of the school, and the hetairos of Diogenes of Oenoanda (frag. 16 11 Chilton) is beginning the study of philosophy and is not committed to Epicureanism. The feminine hetaira, courtesan, was used in attacks on the school (see Plut. Mor 1129B, Diog. Laer. x.6), and Angeli introduces ieaita as a conjecture in 1005.
    The similar entry in Usener's Glossarium Epicureum is also a conjecture. But even if these conjectures should be correct, they give no support to the view that the Epicureans addressed each other as hetairoi. When Epicurus wrote to his followers he called them philoi.
    Another uncertainty bearing on Angeli's title is the question whether in this papyrus Philodemus is addressing one person or a group. Some of the second-person forms are singular, some plural. Angeli's solution is that he is addressing a group but sometimes limits his address to one member of the group. Possibly, but since JtQ6g is ambiguous, it is better to leave the question of the title unanswered.

  • Thank you for all this detailed information Eugenios!!!

    She rejects outright some of Sbordone's restorations, including those that appear as fragments 262 and 263 in the second edition of Arrighetti's Epicuro. Others are greatly altered.

    The details in the commentaries you quote are fascinating, and worth all sorts of discussion, but I cannot (nor do I think I should) shake the concern that SO MUCH is speculation, and for us to have any idea which position is correct we would have to have access to the original texts from which these scholars are generating their restorations. We don't have access to those, nor would most of us have much capability of reaching an independent determination if we had it.

    What I would like to have, however, would be at least pictures of the reconstructed pages from which they are working. When I see the material laid out in the various works that I have seen, it seems helpful to me to see "graphically" how much is lost, and how fragmentary the lines are, and that seems to me to be a good caution against reading too much into something.

    Both of the JSTOR excerpts you quoted have fascinating details, but do we really have any way of knowing which of those details, if any, are really well founded!?

    It reinforces my concern about the "tetrapharmakon" that it seems to appear in a book work which is significantly directed at disputes within the Epicurean community, especially including issues of oversimplification. It is not out of the question that this formulation was one which Philodemus was criticizing as oversimplistic (which is my concern with it), rather than praising it as useful.

    But I don't want to end on a negative note. This stuff is fascinating!! Thank you!

  • Another related question: What is the authority for referring to this as the "tetrapharmakos"?

    I see this at the wikipedia page: Is there a Latin reference to this in Cicero, or does the word itself appear in one of the Herculaneum texts?

  • Another related question: What is the authority for referring to this as the "tetrapharmakos"?

    The word itself appears in the image of PHerc. 1005 on the Wikipedia page. On the first line of the image of the manuscript after the first hole on the left are the letters:



    which is



    So the term is right there introducing the first line of the of the four verses.

  • I think this link is as close as we'll get to the manuscript itself. My understanding is that that is a transcription of the actual manuscript page itself with the Tetrapharmakos verses. As for the rest of the manuscript.

    This is the rest of PHerc. 1005.

    And this is the specific page with the title/subscription:



    Philodemou (Of Philodemus)

    Pros Toys (Against the...)

    You can see the last word has been torn from the bottom so ANY conjecture on what the final word of the title is just that: conjecture.

  • And I concur with your concerns, Cassius . From the sounds of it in these reviews, no one knows what the title was, and ΠΡΟC can mean both "to/towards" or "against (in a hostile sense)" but my understanding (rudimentary as it is) is that the latter meaning has the accusative case after it which is indeed ΤΟΥC (plural, accusative article: "the" [group of people]). And so Philodemus is writing a treatise "against" those people... Whether those people are fellow Epicureans or not, that's a scholarly question.

    So, you're right to ask: Is the Tetrapharmakos a verse showing how it SHOULD be done or an example of a "watered down" version he disapproves of? My very basic beginner ancient Greek is nowhere near good enough to guess at an answer to that!!

  • Eugenios I don't profess to have the answers to these questions myself, so that is why I so very much appreciate your interest in asking them too!

    My concern has been that it is very easy to quote a commentator's opinion as established fact, when the evidence is so slender that even the most rigorously honest of them are working with material that requires them to speculate based on what they think SHOULD be in the text, given their prior understanding of Epicurus. But that is a perfect brew for perpetuating and extending error if the suppositions are wrong, so we must do all we can to guard against it.

    I am sure the commentators would say that this is exactly what they have done, but I think the only way go get at the most likely truth is for us to drop back to the most fundamental of the Epicurean physics principles about the nature of the universe and constantly test our presumptions against them for consistency.

    And that is hard for us, seeing that our religious/ "idealist" cultures have so strongly embraced opinions that appear to be in strong conflict with the views of an atomist universe.

    But I think it is possible and there is much to be gained in doing so!

  • Have you seen this:


    I have no idea who this person is, but it appears they're quoting directly from PHerc 1005 using their own translation (as they state), presumably using those images of the manuscript online or using Angeli's transcription possibly. Here's the About page for the website (university students created the site?).

    The intriguing excerpt that jumped out at me about the content of PHerc 1005 was:

    Edited once, last by Don: Put quoted material in box ().

  • Excellent Find! I can say with close to 100% certainty that I have never seen that page or heard the names of those people behind it.

    Eugenios can you edit your comment to put all of that quoted material in a "quote" box? When I was reading it I was not sure if that was ALL quote, or whether you shifted to your commentary. I don't think "we" here in the website would entertain for very long the idea that Philodemus was trying to be exclusive and intentionally keeping out those without access to Greek! ;)

    This is TOTALLY inconceivable to me, so it is good to know that that comes from the article, and not from Eugenios!:

    was he afraid that the reputation of the Epicureans, including himself, as members of an intellectual elite was be at stake? ... I myself suspect that Philodemus was torn between the two

    I do not suspect that Philodemus was "torn between the two" in any way. I think he would likely have been in exactly the position that we are today -- wanting the get the message our clearly and accurately, and warning strongly against those who, either innocently or not, failed to understand the details and summarized it inaccurately.

    If these excerpts from Philodemus are accurate then my estimation of him is skyrocketing, because I do see the same issue of fidelity to the basics, and starting with the foundations as the tests of whether summaries and extensions are accurate, as urgently a problem today too! ;)

  • For anyone who wants to see another drawing of the actual papyrus on which the tetrapharmakos is written, check out this link to Internet Archive. This is the entire papyrus (drawn presumably from the original in Herculaneum before it crumbled no doubt). The subscript (title: PHILODEMOU PROS TOUS ...) is on p. 158 of the digitized book. The tetrapharmakos page is on 126. For some reason, the book seems to go backwards. STILL looking for an accessible translation of the whole scroll in English (or even any other language for that matter). I have citations but no one is providing any of them online. The hunt continues.

  • Eugenios we have had a few past discussions (I think) about the material in this book, but unfortunately it is in French and so I am not able to assess how reliable / helpful it might be. I gather that it is more commentary than effort to provide a translation.

    Are you aware of this: https://www.amazon.com/gp/prod…tle_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Les Epicuriens [Bibliotheque de la Pleiade] (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade) (French Edition)

    Book Description

    Édition publiée sous la direction de Daniel Delattre et de Jackie Pigeaud.

    From the Back Cover

    «Diseur d'obscénités» pour Épictète, «pourceau» pour d'autres, Épicure a suscité des débats acharnés. Appel à la libération individuelle vis-à-vis des craintes et des illusions, attaque en règle de la superstition, sa philosophie était peut-être trop novatrice. Elle passa à la postérité grâce au De rerum natura de Lucrèce, et à la Vie d'Épicure de Diogène Laërce qui retranscrit les Abrégés philosophiques du maître et ses Maximes capitales - avant que la découverte, à Herculanum, d'une bibliothèque philosophique ne fasse resurgir d'autres écrits épicuriens. Ce volume s'ouvre sur l'indispensable témoignage de Diogène Laërce, puis il offre, pour la première fois en français, une traduction des fragments retrouvés de La Nature d'Épicure. Suivent les recueils de témoignages et de fragments relatifs aux disciples de la première génération (Métrodore, Hermarque¿), dans une présentation identique à celle du volume que la Pléiade a consacré aux Présocratiques. Des disciples du Jardin qui fleurirent au tournant des IIE-IE¿ siècles avant notre ère, on donne les quelques textes, de Zénon de Sidon, de Philodème, qui nous sont parvenus, et bien entendu le poème de Lucrèce, ici publié dans une nouvelle traduction. En contrepoint s'impose le témoignage de Cicéron, un des principaux détracteurs de l'épicurisme. Enfin, on s'attache à l'épicurisme des IE¿-IIIE siècles, connu surtout à travers des témoignages (Plutarque, Sénèque, Galien). Le volume se clôt sur Diogène d'OEnoanda qui voulut donner à lire aux habitants de sa cité les préceptes épicuriens en les gravant sur un mur. Ainsi nous est restituée la philosophie épicurienne, avec laquelle s'est constituée toute une dimension de la modernité.