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Welcome to Episode One Hundred Twenty Three of Lucretius Today.
This is a podcast dedicated to the poet Lucretius, who wrote "On The Nature of Things," the only complete presentation of Epicurean philosophy left to us from the ancient world.
I am your host Cassius, and together with our panelists from the EpicureanFriends.com forum, we'll walk you through the ancient Epicurean texts, and we'll discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. We encourage you to study Epicurus for yourself, and we suggest the best place to start is the book "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Canadian professor Norman DeWitt.
If you find the Epicurean worldview attractive, we invite you to join us in the study of Epicurus at EpicureanFriends.com, where you will find a discussion thread for each of our podcast episodes and many other topics.
Today we continue in Epicurus' letter to Herodotus, and address some difficult material about the properties and qualities of atoms and bodies and what it means to exist. We probably raise more issues than we answer in this episode, so please review the show notes and we will come back to these issues in the next show.
Now let's join Joshua reading today's text:
All these properties have their own peculiar means of being perceived and distinguished, provided always that the aggregate body goes along with them and is never wrested from them, but in virtue of its comprehension as an aggregate of qualities acquires the predicate of body.
 Furthermore, there often happen to bodies and yet do not permanently accompany them accidents, of which we must suppose neither that they do not exist at all nor that they have the nature of a whole body, nor that they can be classed among unseen things nor as incorporeal. So that when according to the most general usage we employ this name, we make it clear that accidents have neither the nature of the whole, which we comprehend in its aggregate and call body, nor that of the qualities which permanently accompany it, without which a given body cannot be conceived.
 But as the result of certain acts of apprehension, provided the aggregate body goes along with them, they might each be given this name, but only on occasions when each one of them is seen to occur, since accidents are not permanent accompaniments. And we must not banish this clear vision from the realm of existence, because it does not possess the nature of the whole to which it is joined nor that of the permanent accompaniments, nor must we suppose that such contingencies exist independently (for this is inconceivable both with regard to them and to the permanent properties), but, just as it appears in sensation, we must think of them all as accidents occurring to bodies, and that not as permanent accompaniments, or again as having in themselves a place in the ranks of material existence; rather they are seen to be just what our actual sensation shows their proper character to be.
 Moreover, you must firmly grasp this point as well; we must not look for time, as we do for all other things which we look for in an object, by referring them to the general conceptions which we perceive in our own minds, but we must take the direct intuition, in accordance with which we speak of “a long time” or “a short time,” and examine it, applying our intuition to time as we do to other things. Neither must we search for expressions as likely to be better, but employ just those which are in common use about it.
Nor again must we predicate of time anything else as having the same essential nature as this special perception, as some people do, but we must turn our thoughts particularly to that only with which we associate this peculiar perception and by which we measure it.
 For indeed this requires no demonstration, but only reflection, to show that it is with days and nights and their divisions that we associate it and likewise also with internal feelings or absence of feeling, and with movements and states of rest; in connection with these last again we think of this very perception as a peculiar kind of accident, and in virtue of this we call it time.
They all have their own characteristic modes of being perceived and distinguished, but always along with the whole body in which they inhere and never in separation from it; and it is in virtue of this complete conception of the body as a whole that it is so designated.
 Again, qualities often attach to bodies without being permanent concomitants. They are not to be classed among invisible entities nor are they incorporeal. Hence, using the term 'accidents'04 in the commonest sense, we say plainly that 'accidents' have not the nature of the whole thing to which they belong, and to which, conceiving it as a whole, we give the name of body, nor that of the permanent properties without which body cannot be thought of.
And in virtue of certain peculiar modes of apprehension into which the complete body always enters, each of them can be called an accident. But only as often as they are seen actually to belong to it, since such accidents are not perpetual concomitants. There is no need to banish from reality this clear evidence that the accident has not the nature of that whole – by us called body – to which it belongs, nor of the permanent properties which accompany the whole. Nor, on the other hand, must we suppose the accident to have independent existence (for this is just as inconceivable in the case of accidents as in that of the permanent properties); but, as is manifest, they should all be regarded as accidents, not as permanent concomitants, of bodies, nor yet as having the rank of independent existence. Rather they are seen to be exactly as and what sensation itself makes them individually claim to be.
There is another thing which we must consider carefully. We must not investigate time as we do the other accidents which we investigate in a subject, namely, by referring them to the preconceptions envisaged in our minds; but we must take into account the plain fact itself, in virtue of which we speak of time as long or short, linking to it in intimate connexion this attribute of duration. We need not adopt any fresh terms as preferable, but should employ the usual expressions about it.
Nor need we predicate anything else of time, as if this something else contained the same essence as is contained in the proper meaning of the word 'time' (for this also is done by some). We must chiefly reflect upon that to which we attach this peculiar character of time, and by which we measure it.
 No further proof is required: we have only to reflect that we attach the attribute of time to days and nights and their parts, and likewise to feelings of pleasure and pain and to neutral states, to states of movement and states of rest, conceiving a peculiar accident of these to be this very characteristic which we express by the word 'time.' [He says this both in the second book "On Nature" and in the Larger Epitome.]
I originally drew this out with whatever markers I had on my desk and picked pink at first just because I like it, but then the more I thought it through, pink is the perfect color for this, because it is defined by being some mix of red and white. If you take it all the way to either extreme, it's literally not pink anymore. This isn't to say anything about "higher" or "lower" pleasures, but rather that although the instinct is probably to say that darker pink=more pink, that can be debunked easily by pointing out that red is not "more pink" than pink.
A really useful aspect of displaying this issue by image (colors, the vessel analogy, etc) is that you play to the issue of the senses vs intellectual reasoning. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? You're interplaying the senses against the reasoning and having to confront that it's your labeling of the object that gives it it's "moral significance" rather than what you're seeing with your eyes. Are you optimistic and half full, or pessimistic and half-empty? Either way your eyes are reporting exactly the same thing and your mind has to take responsibility for the feeling it generates.
I get the same reaction from the use of colors or shapes. Our eyes tend to act in automatic ways, but we can use a diagram and explanation to force ourselves to confront that our mind is what is doing the labeling. Once we see that we can make progress toward realizing that we ourselves are playing a large part in creating our pleasurable or painful emotions.
All sorts of "optical illusions" probably also have the same value as teaching tools.
The addition of pleasure *IS* the removal of pain ONLY because the two can't co-exist. Where there is pleasure, there is not pain.
Yes and I think that's pretty close to the intersection of the feeling / intellectual issue. We can feel that pleasure and pain can't co-exist, because we by experience feel only one of the other at a time.
However unless we "think about" and "reason through" the issue, and identify by definition that there are only two feelings (all good feelings are "pleasure" and all bad feelings as "pain") and then we go forward and realize intellectually that this means that "pleasure and pain" can't co-exist, then we're not in a position to extend these findings to their logical conclusions.
We (most of us) won't be able to identify that it is reasonable to say that "pleasure" can be "full" in the bottom left and bottom right circles that ReneLiza has identified as also fully pink/pleasure. We will think instead that in order to have a full life we have to go for the top right circle, or even to keep darkening that circle or changing its shades on and on and on, never stopping, when we should realize all along that as long as the white/pain is gone, the circle is fully "pink."
In this a word game? Yes. Does it fully satisfy us when we get old and we want to keep living forever? Probably not. But does it help us realize that no matter how long we stay on the treadmill of time we can't improve the experience of running full speed on that treadmill? I think so, yes.
DeWitt's mountaintop analogy is probably more attractive than comparing life to a "treadmill." Even with a mountaintop, which we all generally see as "good," no matter how long we stay at the summit of the mountain the experience really doesn't get any better after we've looked around for a relatively short while.
Agree with Don - spot on, and a useful chart and description as well.
I would add as further explanation that your description ("In the picture, the bright pink represents more intense or active pleasures and the pale pink represents passive pleasures, with white representing "neutral." Which circle is the most pink? Except for the first one, they are all at the limit of pinkness. Darker pink is not more or less pink than lighter pink. They're both pleasure, the difference is just the shade.") is necessary for understanding the point of the chart.
I don't think that a person looking at the chart without explanation would conclude that "except for the first one, all are at the limit of pinkness." Without "explanation" (which comes through philosophy) I think most people would say that the top right circle is the "most pink" because they would be automatically be looking at the darkness (intensity) and fullness (purity) of the color in the circle as making it "most pink."
However, with the explanation, which I agree makes sense by explaining that "pink" includes all shades of pink, the chart conveys exactly the point which is intended: that the "limit of pleasure" does not mean "the most intense pleasure possible" but in fact means a state in which pleasure cannot be increased BY DEFINITION.
I would say that the essential point here is that you are showing the LOGIC of statements such as:
PD03. The limit of quantity in pleasures is the removal of all that is painful. Wherever pleasure is present, as long as it is there, there is neither pain of body, nor of mind, nor of both at once.
But even more importantly and helpfully, this helps with the explanation of 18, 19, and 20, because it is the logical /philosophical 'reasoned understanding" and the "measuring, by reason, the limits of pleasure," and "the mind, having attained a reasoned understanding" which enable us to understand the point. There's the other citation to the point that not everyone is capable of figuring out the problem, and this is the reason we need Epicurean philosophy, because we can't "feel" our way to a reasoned understanding that full life does not require an infinite time:
PD18. The pleasure in the flesh is not increased when once the pain due to want is removed, but is only varied: and the limit as regards pleasure in the mind is begotten by the reasoned understanding of these very pleasures, and of the emotions akin to them, which used to cause the greatest fear to the mind.
PD19. Infinite time contains no greater pleasure than limited time, if one measures, by reason, the limits of pleasure.
PD20. The flesh perceives the limits of pleasure as unlimited, and unlimited time is required to supply it. But the mind, having attained a reasoned understanding of the ultimate good of the flesh and its limits, and having dissipated the fears concerning the time to come, supplies us with the complete life, and we have no further need of infinite time; but neither does the mind shun pleasure, nor, when circumstances begin to bring about the departure from life, does it approach its end as though it fell short, in any way, of the best life.
So that takes us back to the point I will argue relentlessly, that PD3 and referring to the "limit of quantity of pleasure" the references in Menoeceus to pleasure being equal to absence of pain are not a call to asceticism.
Instead, they are a call to a reasoned understanding of how in fact it does make sense to see "Pleasure" as the goal of life, in contrast to "virtue" or "piety" or "meaningfulness" or whatever else anyone wants to suggest. Unless those bring pleasure, they are worthless.
Be sure to check out Nate's latest Graphic. We can discuss it there too but I want to be sure this hits the standard "discussion" threads where it can be found in searches:
The quote he includes as documentation is excellent:
"The Epicurean revival was not the first such challenge to the hegemony of the Christian religion over European culture. Aristotle, Plato, and the Stoics were pagans too, and in their work they sounded many of the themes that would make the Epicurean philosophy so dangerous, as did a number of the more radical theologians of the late medieval period. One could further complicate the narrative by pointing out that for some of the people some of the time, the Epicurean revolution passed for a renovation of the established religion from within. In Epicurus, however, there was nothing of that compromising, dialectical spirit that pervaded Aristotle and the others and allowed them to be wrestled to the ground and marked with the sign of the cross. 'Among all the ancient obdurate atheists, and inveterate enemies of religion, no one seems more sincere and more implacable than Epicurus' observed [the poet Richard] Blackmore." (Stewart, Nature's GOD: The Heretical Origins of the AMERICAN REPUBLIC 85)
Pre Christian Philosophers and Pathfinders of the Way, based on the frescos at the Monastery of Vatopaidi on Mount Athos, as well as the Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ in Meteora
So to repeat several observations that seem to be very important:
(1) Only atoms have "eternal and unchanging properties." [Thus there are no eternal Platonic forms or Aristotelian "essences" that give existence to things.] Void itself is also eternal and unchanging, but only has the one property of giving space for atoms to exist and move in. Atoms and void exist because we can infer their existence through sensation about things (bodies) that we do sense.
(2) Bodies are composed of atoms and void from which arises "emergent qualities." These qualities are determined by "events" - the combinations of the properties of the atoms and the circumstances around them and under which they combine. These events and the emergent qualities they produce are not eternal and unchanging, but they do exist, and continue to exist so long as the circumstances that produced them remain the same. And key comment from Lucretius 418 as to how essential it is to acknowledge this, and how nothing else can make sense unless we accept what is right in front of us: "That there is body common sense will show; this as a fundamental truth must be allowed, or there is nothing we can fix as certain in our pursuit of hidden things, by which to find the Truth, or prove it when 'tis found."
(3) We live and experience sensation in the world of "events" which produce "emergent qualities" which do exist so long as the circumstances that produced them remain the same. Our world is real to us and is all that we have, despite the fact that at root everything emerges from atoms and void.
(4) None of this which is being discussed is "unfortunate" or a "mishap" or "accidental" in the modern English sense. All of this is the basis for the nature of things, for which the proper attitude is: “Thanks be to blessed Nature because she has made what is necessary easy to supply, and what is not easy unnecessary.” U469 Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, XVII.23
Here is the key section in Lucretius Book One that gives us a little more detail. First is a key line - 449 - translated by Brown as "All other things you'll find essential conjuncts, or else the events or accidents of these."
Then Whitaker's Words for "eventa" and "conjuncta" and the etymology of the English "accident."
Then the translations: first is the Brown translation, numbered according to Loeb. I start with Brown because he alone uses "event" and "essential conjunct" rather than keeping always to "accident." Then follows Bailey, Munro, and the Latin.
Look especially at line 449, for which the Latin is:
449 Nam quae cumque cluent, aut his coniuncta duabus rebus ea invenies aut horum eventa videbis.
Whitaker's Words for Eventa:
event.a VPAR 3 4 NOM S F PERF PASSIVE PPL event.a VPAR 3 4 VOC S F PERF PASSIVE PPL event.a VPAR 3 4 ABL S F PERF PASSIVE PPL event.a VPAR 3 4 NOM P N PERF PASSIVE PPL event.a VPAR 3 4 VOC P N PERF PASSIVE PPL event.a VPAR 3 4 ACC P N PERF PASSIVE PPL evenio, evenire, eveni, eventus V (4th) [XXXAX] come out/about/forth; happen; turn out; evenit, evenire, evenit, eventus est V (4th) IMPERS [XXXDX] lesser it happens, it turns out; come out, come forth; event.a N 2 2 NOM P N event.a N 2 2 VOC P N event.a N 2 2 ACC P N eventum, eventi N (2nd) N [XXXDX] lesser occurrence, event; issue, outcome;
Whitacker for conjuncta:
conjunct.a N 2 2 NOM P N conjunct.a N 2 2 VOC P N conjunct.a N 2 2 ACC P N conjunctum, conjuncti N (2nd) N [XGXDO] lesser connected word/proposition; compound proposition; connection (L+S); conjunct.a ADJ 1 1 NOM S F POS conjunct.a ADJ 1 1 VOC S F POS conjunct.a ADJ 1 1 ABL S F POS conjunct.a ADJ 1 1 NOM P N POS conjunct.a ADJ 1 1 VOC P N POS conjunct.a ADJ 1 1 ACC P N POS conjunctus, conjuncta, conjunctum ADJ [XXXBO] adjoining/contiguous/linked; connected/contemporary (time), continuous; complex closely connected/related/attached/associated (friendship/kinship/wed); conjunct.a VPAR 3 1 NOM S F PERF PASSIVE PPL conjunct.a VPAR 3 1 VOC S F PERF PASSIVE PPL conjunct.a VPAR 3 1 ABL S F PERF PASSIVE PPL conjunct.a VPAR 3 1 NOM P N PERF PASSIVE PPL conjunct.a VPAR 3 1 VOC P N PERF PASSIVE PPL conjunct.a VPAR 3 1 ACC P N PERF PASSIVE PPL conjungo, conjungere, conjunxi, conjunctus V (3rd) TRANS [XXXAO] connect, join/yoke together; marry; connect/compound (words) (w/conjunctions); unite (sexually); place/bring side-by-side; juxtapose; share; add; associate;
As to the choice of the word "accident" - here from the etymology online dictionary:
late 14c., "an occurrence, incident, event; what comes by chance," from Old French accident (12c.), from Latin accidentem (nominative accidens) "an occurrence; chance; misfortune," noun use of present participle of accidere "happen, fall out, fall upon," from ad "to" (see ad-) + combining form of cadere "to fall," from PIE root *kad- "to fall."
The sense has had a tendency since Latin to extend from "something that happens, an event" to "a mishap, an undesirable event." Latin si quid cui accidat, "if anything should happen to one," was a euphemism for "if one should die." In Middle English the word is met usually in theology (in reference to the material qualities in the sacramental bread and wine), medicine ("something out of the ordinary, disease, injury"), or philosophy ("non-essential characteristic of a thing").
From late 15c. as "the operations of chance." Meaning "an unplanned child" is attested by 1932. Accident-prone is from 1926.
This is why I think Brown is more accurate to the original sense. The fact that Joshua's atoms have combined to form Joshua and that they cannot be ultimately dispersed without destroying Joshua is an "event" of these atoms, and implies that their current arrangement is an "essential conjunct" to being Joshua. Joshua is an "emergent quality" of the arrangement of his atoms. These facts - Joshua's atoms making up Joshua - are in no way "mishaps" or "undesirable events" as implied when we refer to something in English today as "accidental.' Sticking with the word "event" does not in English have a connotation of being undesirable.
Now the texts:
 All nature therefore, in itself considered, is one of these, is body or is space, in which all things are placed, and from which the various motions of all beings spring. That there is body common sense will show; this as a fundamental truth must be allowed, or there is nothing we can fix as certain in our pursuit of hidden things, by which to find the Truth, or prove it when 'tis found. Then if there were no place or space, we call it void, bodies would have no where to be, nor could they move at all, as we have fully proved to you before.
 Besides, there is nothing you can strictly say, “It is neither body nor void,” which you may call a third degree of things distinct from these. For every being must in quantity be more or less; and if it can be touched, though never so small or light, it must be body, and so esteemed; but if it can't be touched, and has not in itself a power to stop the course of other bodies as they pass, this is the void we call an empty space. Again, whatever is must either act itself, or be by other agents acted on; or must be something in which other bodies must have a place and move; but nothing without body can act, or be acted on; and where can this be done, but in a vacuum or empty space? Therefore, beside what body is or space, no third degree in nature can be found, nothing that ever can affect our sense, or by the power of thought can be conceived.
 All other things you'll find essential conjuncts, or else the events or accidents of these. I call essential conjunct what's so joined to a thing that it cannot, without fatal violence, be forced or parted from it; is weight to stones, to fire heat, moisture to the Sea, touch to all bodies, and not to be touched essential is to void. But, on the contrary, Bondage, Liberty, Riches, Poverty, War, Concord, or the like, which not affect the nature of the thing, but when they come or go, the thing remains entire; these, as it is fit we should, we call Events. Time, likewise, of itself is nothing; our sense collects from things themselves what has been done long since, the thing that present is, and what's to come. For no one, we must own, ever thought of Time distinct from things in motion or at rest.
 For when the poets sing of Helen's rape, or of the Trojan State subdued by war, we must not say that these things do exist now in themselves, since Time, irrevocably past, has long since swept away that race of men that were the cause of those events; for every act is either properly the event of things, or of the places where those things are done. Further, if things were not of matter formed, were there no place or space where things might act, the fire that burned in Paris' heart, blown up by love of Helen's beauty, had never raised the famous contests of a cruel war; nor had the wooden horse set Troy on fire, discharging from his belly in the night the armed Greeks: from whence you plainly see that actions do not of themselves subsist, as bodies do, nor are in nature such as is a void, but rather are more justly called the events of body, and of space, where things are carried on.
Bailey, who the latest free public domain, uses "accidents" all the way through instead of "essential conjuncts" and "events" -
 But now, to weave again at the web, which is the task of my discourse, all nature then, as it is of itself, is built of these two things: for there are bodies and the void, in which they are placed and where they move hither and thither. For that body exists is declared by the feeling which all share alike; and unless faith in this feeling be firmly grounded at once and prevail, there will be naught to which we can make appeal about things hidden, so as to prove aught by the reasoning of the mind. And next, were there not room and empty space, which we call void, nowhere could bodies be placed, nor could they wander at all hither and thither in any direction; and this I have above shown to you but a little while before.
 Besides these there is nothing which you could say is parted from all body and sundered from void, which could be discovered, as it were a third nature in the list. For whatever shall exist, must needs be something in itself; and if it suffer touch, however small and light, it will increase the count of body by a bulk great or maybe small, if it exists at all, and be added to its sum. But if it is not to be touched, inasmuch as it cannot on any side check anything from wandering through it and passing on its way, in truth it will be that which we call empty void. Or again, whatsoever exists by itself, will either do something or suffer itself while other things act upon it, or it will be such that things may exist and go on in it. But nothing can do or suffer without body, nor afford room again, unless it be void and empty space. And so besides void and bodies no third nature by itself can be left in the list of things, which might either at any time fall within the purview of our senses, or be grasped by any one through reasoning of the mind.
 For all things that have a name, you will find either properties linked to these two things or you will see them to be their accidents. That is a property which in no case can be sundered or separated without the fatal disunion of the thing, as is weight to rocks, heat to fire, moisture to water, touch to all bodies, intangibility to the void. On the other hand, slavery, poverty, riches, liberty, war, concord, and other things by whose coming and going the nature of things abides untouched, these we are used, as is natural, to call accidents. Even so time exists not by itself, but from actual things comes a feeling, what was brought to a close in time past, then what is present now, and further what is going to be hereafter. And it must be avowed that no man feels time by itself apart from the motion or quiet rest of things.
 Then again, when men say that ‘the rape of Tyndarus’s daughter’, or ‘the vanquishing of the Trojan tribes in war’ are things, beware that they do not perchance constrain us to avow that these things exist in themselves, just because the past ages have carried off beyond recall those races of men, of whom, in truth, these were the accidents. For firstly, we might well say that whatsoever has happened is an accident in one case of the countries, in another even of the regions of space. Or again, if there had been no substance of things nor place and space, in which all things are carried on, never would the flame of love have been fired by the beauty of Tyndaris, nor swelling deep in the Phrygian heart of Alexander have kindled the burning battles of savage war, nor unknown of the Trojans would the timber horse have set Pergama aflame at dead of night, when the sons of the Greeks issued from its womb. So that you may see clearly that all events from first to last do not exist, and are not by themselves like body, nor can they be spoken of in the same way as the being of the void, but rather so that you might justly call them the accidents of body and place, in which they are carried on, one and all.
Munro, usually the most literal, also uses "accidents" -
 But now to resume the thread of the design which I am weaving in verse. All nature then, as it exists by itself, is founded on two things: there are bodies and there is void in which these bodies are placed and through which they move about. For that body exists by itself the general feeling of man kind declares; and unless at the very first belief in this be firmly grounded, there will be nothing to which we can appeal on hidden things in order to prove anything by reasoning of mind. Then again, if room and space which we call void did not exist, bodies could not be placed anywhere nor move about at all to any side; as we have demonstrated to you a little before.
 Moreover there is nothing which you can affirm to be at once separate from all body and quite distinct from void, which would so to say count as the discovery of a third nature. For whatever shall exist, this of itself must be something or other. Now if it shall admit of touch in however slight and small a measure, it will, be it with a large or be it with a little addition, provided it do exist, increase the amount of body and join the sum. But if it shall be intangible and unable to hinder any thing from passing through it on any side, this you are to know will be that which we call empty void. Again whatever shall exist by itself, will either do something or will itself suffer by the action of other things, or will be of such a nature as things are able to exist and go on in. But no thing can do and suffer without body, nor aught furnish room except void and vacancy. Therefore beside void and bodies no third nature taken by itself can be left in the number of things, either such as to fall at any time under the ken of our senses or such as any one can grasp by the reason of his mind.
 For whatever things are named, you will either find to be properties linked to these two things or you will see to be accidents of these things. That is a property which can in no case be disjoined and separated without utter destruction accompanying the severance, such as the weight of a stone, the heat of fire, the fluidity of water. Slavery on the other hand, poverty and riches, liberty war concord and all other things which may come and go while the nature of the thing remains unharmed, these we are wont, as it is right we should, to call accidents. Time also exists not by itself, but simply from the things which happen the sense apprehends what has been done in time past, as well as what is present and what is to follow after. And we must admit that no one feels time by itself abstracted from the motion and calm rest of things.
 So when they say that the daughter of Tyndarus was ravished and the Trojan nations were subdued in war, we must mind that they do not force us to admit that these things are by themselves, since those generations of men, of whom these things were accidents, time now gone by has irrevocably swept away. For whatever shall have been done may be termed an accident in one case of the Teucran people, in another of the countries simply. Yes for if there had been no matter of things and no room and space in which things severally go on, never had the fire, kindled by love of the beauty of Tyndarus’ daughter, blazed beneath the Phrygian breast of Alexander and lighted up the famous struggles of cruel war, nor had the timber horse unknown to the Trojans wrapt Pergama in flames by its night-issuing brood of sons of the Greeks; so that you may clearly perceive that all actions from first to last exist not by themselves and are not by themselves in the way that body is, nor are terms of the same kind as void is, but are rather of such a kind that you may fairly call them accidents of body and of the room in which they severally go on.
The Latin from Latin Library:
418 Sed nunc ut repetam coeptum pertexere dictis,
omnis ut est igitur per se natura duabus
constitit in rebus; nam corpora sunt et inane, 420
haec in quo sita sunt et qua diversa moventur.
corpus enim per se communis dedicat esse
sensus; cui nisi prima fides fundata valebit,
haut erit occultis de rebus quo referentes
confirmare animi quicquam ratione queamus. 425
tum porro locus ac spatium, quod inane vocamus,
si nullum foret, haut usquam sita corpora possent
esse neque omnino quoquam diversa meare;
id quod iam supera tibi paulo ostendimus ante.
430 praeterea nihil est quod possis dicere ab omni 430
corpore seiunctum secretumque esse ab inani,
quod quasi tertia sit numero natura reperta.
nam quod cumque erit, esse aliquid debebit id ipsum
augmine vel grandi vel parvo denique, dum sit;
cui si tactus erit quamvis levis exiguusque, 435
corporis augebit numerum summamque sequetur;
sin intactile erit, nulla de parte quod ullam
rem prohibere queat per se transire meantem,
scilicet hoc id erit, vacuum quod inane vocamus.
Praeterea per se quod cumque erit, aut faciet quid 440
aut aliis fungi debebit agentibus ipsum
aut erit ut possint in eo res esse gerique.
at facere et fungi sine corpore nulla potest res
nec praebere locum porro nisi inane vacansque.
ergo praeter inane et corpora tertia per se 445
nulla potest rerum in numero natura relinqui,
nec quae sub sensus cadat ullo tempore nostros
nec ratione animi quam quisquam possit apisci.
449 Nam quae cumque cluent, aut his coniuncta duabus
rebus ea invenies aut horum eventa videbis. 450
coniunctum est id quod nusquam sine permitiali
discidio potis est seiungi seque gregari,
pondus uti saxis, calor ignis, liquor aquai,
tactus corporibus cunctis, intactus inani.
servitium contra paupertas divitiaeque, 455
libertas bellum concordia cetera quorum
adventu manet incolumis natura abituque,
haec soliti sumus, ut par est, eventa vocare.
tempus item per se non est, sed rebus ab ipsis
consequitur sensus, transactum quid sit in aevo, 460
tum quae res instet, quid porro deinde sequatur;
nec per se quemquam tempus sentire fatendumst
semotum ab rerum motu placidaque quiete.
464 denique Tyndaridem raptam belloque subactas
Troiiugenas gentis cum dicunt esse, videndumst 465
ne forte haec per se cogant nos esse fateri,
quando ea saecla hominum, quorum haec eventa fuerunt,
inrevocabilis abstulerit iam praeterita aetas;
namque aliud terris, aliud regionibus ipsis
eventum dici poterit quod cumque erit actum. 470
denique materies si rerum nulla fuisset
nec locus ac spatium, res in quo quaeque geruntur,
numquam Tyndaridis forma conflatus amore
ignis Alexandri Phrygio sub pectore gliscens
clara accendisset saevi certamina belli 475
nec clam durateus Troiianis Pergama partu
inflammasset equos nocturno Graiiugenarum;
perspicere ut possis res gestas funditus omnis
non ita uti corpus per se constare neque esse
nec ratione cluere eadem qua constet inane, 480
sed magis ut merito possis eventa vocare
corporis atque loci, res in quo quaeque gerantur.
Episode 122 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available. Today we continue in Epicurus' letter to Herodotus, and address some difficult material about the properties and qualities of atoms and bodies and what it means to existlease let us know any comments or questions you have in the thread below, and please be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your telephone or other podcast aggregator.
We spent a lot of time in the first twenty minutes talking about "independent existence" but I think the whole issue probably resolves into the question of "What is real?" that we began to address around twenty minutes into the episode.
Then we proceed to talk about whether "independent existence" implies "eternal existence." If so how, if not, why not?
Don I know I read that one in the past so maybe that is what I remembered.
I checked your link and the section about that is a pretty clear indictment of Platonic forms!
Lucian is a tremendous source of information.
Working on editing this now. I am tempted to say it is a mess, but at least the part I have edited so far is an intelligent discussion of the issue. I will try to edit out anything that's a clear misstatement or unnecessarily confusing.
Listening causes me to ask:
Does Joshua "exist?" Let's presume the answer is yes.
Is Joshua's existence a "property" of Joshua's atoms?
I think the answer is that it depends on what we mean by property, but if we drill down into what Epicurus was talking about and try to find a bright line between "properties" and "qualities / accidents / events," I think that probably the best wording is that Joshua is a "quality" of his atoms coming together into a body of particular configuration.
I don't read this as saying that individual atoms have qualities --- only after they come together into bodies do "qualities" exist.
Is it correct to say that a "body" has "properties"? It would seem so, because I think in Lucretius there are examples of using the term property to describe attributes that can't be removed from a thing without destroying its essential nature.
I think what I am getting at here is that it would probably help to try to agree on a terminology so as to explain all this:
1 - Something to the effect that only atoms have eternal "unchanging properties;"
2 - But that when atoms come together to form bodies they have "qualities"
3 - That bodies can also have "properties" that are not changeable without destroying the nature of the body.
4- And that bodies also have "qualities" that do change according to context, but with the qualities limited in number of possibilities by the properties of the bodies, which themselves are tied to the properties of the atoms that gave rise to them.
No doubt this is convoluted and needs substantial revision, but I think these issues are what the episode and this section of the text are really about.
These considerations seem to be the determinants of whether we should regard something as "existing" or "possibly existing" versus the bright line that separates them from that which is "impossible to exist."
The overall picture still seems to me to be a discussion of how we use the theory of atoms and void to make sense of the world around us and to separate "what does or can exist." from "that which is impossible to exist." Which may sound simple but would have significant implications on everything else from theory of knowledge to religion to life after death etc.
Yes Don's cite is what I was remembering so probably I was embellishing to say favorite food, unless we come up with a cite somewhere else. Not so much a favorite food reference as something associated with Epicurus.
That one would be from the vatican sayings, not quite shout but close!
VS47. I have anticipated thee, Fortune, and I have closed off every one of your devious entrances. And we will not give ourselves up as captives, to thee or to any other circumstance; but when it is time for us to go, spitting contempt on life and on those who cling to it maundering, we will leave from life singing aloud a glorious triumph-song on how nicely we lived.
So do we think that the heads were affixed to full bodies either seated or standing?
Having the heads mounted on a column-like structure in th middle of a room is one thing but two full figures either sitting or standing would seem possibly a different matter
What about the hole in the sides?
I don't think I will add this to the chart yet, but I've always thought that the famous "monkey skull" mosaic had obvious Epicurean allusions. At this moment I can't find prior threads on it so I will post a new thread here:
I put this graphic together a LONG time ago and while it probably still has some usefulness I would like to go back and totally revise the commentary. Til then here is the original version. I know we've discussed this before so there may be an earlier thread, but what I am remembering may have taken place on Facebook rather than here. If anyone finds a prior discussion on the website please paste the link here and I'll update things.