Don Level 03
  • from Ohio
  • Member since Feb 25th 2020

Posts by Don

    I agree with that comment, but I also think that Norman DeWitt had read more Greek in his lifetime up to writing that book than any ten of us,

    Fully agree without question, but...


    I've voiced my misgivings about Dewitt seeing Epicurean shadows behind every Christian tree, and I do not think Dewitt makes a strong case for the majority of them. I see his reference to the New Testament in that clip for PD14 which instantly makes me suspect. It seems he often went in with an agenda of finding New Testament echoes which makes me suspect of this specific "dynastic" translation then, too.

    Wow!! That's a lot of work and much appreciated. Well done!!

    I do find several of DeWitt's translations highly idiosyncratic. For example:

    14.a “Although safety from the attacks of men has been secured to a certain degree by dynastic protection and abundance of means, that which comes of the retired life and withdrawal from the multitude is the most unalloyed” (De Witt, Epicurus and His Philosophy 189)


    14.b “Even though security from the injuries of men may have been established to a certain degree by dynastic protection, the most unalloyed feeling of security is to be found in the retired life and withdrawal from the multitude." (De Witt, St. Paul and Epicurus 188)

    I'm unclear on what he means by "dynastic protection." Is he referring to dynasties as in kings? Is he using a neologism to denote something like "dynamic protection" to give something similar to the spelling of the original Greek: δυνάμει (dynamei) "the power to repel."?

    All that being said, I wouldn't even be able to raise this question without Nate 's compilation here. Thanks!!

    You may have addressed this and I may have missed it, but I was intrigued by the similarity of "meteorology" and "meteor." Apparently Greek ta meteōra means "the celestial phenomena, things in heaven above," plural of meteōron, literally "thing high up."

    Oh, and we did not bring that up since I'm not sure we were aware of it! Thanks for this, Godfrey !

    This is from DL Book 1, Mensch translation:

    24 And some, including the poet Choerilus, say he was the first to declare that souls are immortal. He was the first to discover the course of the sun from solstice to solstice, and the first, according to some, to say that the size of the sun is one seven hundred and twentieth part of the solar circle, <and that the size of the moon is the same fraction of the lunar circle.> He was the first to call the last day of the month the thirtieth, and the first, as some say, to reason about nature.

    25 Aristotle and Hippias say that he attributed souls even to inanimate objects, arguing from the magnet and from amber.


    Unfortunately I can't find ψυχή in any Greek version online but it's likely due to my ignorance :rolleyes:  Don do you have a Greek to English comparison to verify that that's the word?

    [24] Ἔνιοι δὲ καὶ αὐτὸν πρῶτον εἰπεῖν φασιν ἀθανάτους τὰς ψυχάς: ὧν ἐστι Χοιρίλος ὁ ποιητής. πρῶτος δὲ καὶ τὴν ἀπὸ τροπῆς ἐπὶ τροπὴν πάροδον εὗρε, καὶ πρῶτος τὸ τοῦ ἡλίου μέγεθος <τοῦ ἡλιακοῦ κύκλου ὥσπερ καὶ τὸ τῆς σελήνης μέγεθος> τοῦ σεληναίου ἑπτακοσιοστὸν καὶ εἰκοστὸν μέρος ἀπεφήνατο κατά τινας. πρῶτος δὲ καὶ τὴν ὑστάτην ἡμέραν τοῦ μηνὸς τριακάδα εἶπε. πρῶτος δὲ καὶ περὶ φύσεως διελέχθη, ὥς τινες.

    Ἀριστοτέλης δὲ καὶ Ἱππίας φασὶν αὐτὸν καὶ τοῖς ἀψύχοις μεταδιδόναι ψυχῆς, τεκμαιρόμενον ἐκ τῆς λίθου τῆς μαγνήτιδος καὶ τοῦ ἠλέκτρου.


    Yep, I've underlined the ψυχή forms in the Greek. Interestingly, the word used for "lifeless, inanimate" in that last paragraph is αψυχοις apsykhois "not-psykhē/un-psykhē"


    Cassius may be interested to know that τῆς λίθου τῆς μαγνήτιδος is tēs lithos (rock .. As in Neolithic) tēs magnētidos (of Magnesia)

    "Soul" in this sense almost sounds like "life force." I wonder if the concept has evolved over time?

    I would assume they're talking about ψυχή psychē in Greek or anima/animus in Latin. Those are slippery terms, and it could be misleading in my opinion for them to just translate those "soul." There's a lot of baggage with that English word.

    But Epicurus is known to have favored plainer speech. Further, he chose Athens, the beating heart of Greek culture. Samos off the coast of Asia was at a far greater remove from the Greek world.

    Yes, I would concur, although Epicurus was an Athenian citizen by birth, too. I keep coming back to the fact that even Epicurus didn't "withdraw from the world." He's placed his Garden only a few stadia outside Athen's walls directly on the busy road that went past the Academy out to the rest of Attica. It makes more sense to me that he withdrew from there masses, the rat race, the hustle and bustle of City life. The Garden was a refuge of sorts but it wasn't isolated or inaccessible. The whole idea, as I understand, was to make it accessible to those who sought it out.

    I guess the best advice is:

    Proceed with caution.


    Please do let us all know what you think of the book!!

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    Reading the article, I was immediately reminded of Epicurus's fragment 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.

    We're talking about this, right?

    Quote from Epicurus

    ‘It is better to endorse the myths about the gods than to be enslaved to the ‘‘fate’’ of the natural philosophers.’

    Yeah, I take this to mean, "Give me the myths believed by the hoi polloi any day over the determinism of the academics!" Not that he endorsed those myths! But, given those two options...

    ...which I strongly believe was *not* Epicurus' viewpoint. I believe if forced to choose, Epicurus would take the "hoipolloi" over the "golden" academics most any day of the week, as would I!

    Doesn't he say as much in the Letter to Menoikeus about accepting myths?

    I don't get "retirement **from the world**" at all from ἐκχωρήσεως τῶν πολλῶν at all. It's literally "'withdrawal' from the hoi polloi." It doesn't say society, culture, world, etc. It's specifically referring to withdrawal from the masses, which is why I think "herd" is such a good choice. Those who want to assign ascetic or antisocial tendencies to Epicurus and his school are reading more into that hoi polloi than I think prudent.

    Thanks Don for all the info and links. I'll look at the options.

    You're welcome! As means of a disclaimer (since I appear to be talking to two lawyers :) ), I can't even see ancient Greek fluency from where I am, but I've learned enough and continue to learn to puzzle through the original texts. I find that quite pleasurable.

    There are a lot of options out there now thanks to the internet. That's one positive of that technology ;)

    statutory construction skills).

    Now, THAT'S a foreign language to me! ^^

    Χαιρε, AGB! Welcome!


    I can't help too much with Latin, but I'd recommend taking a look at:

    JACT Reading Greek collection. There are actually 3 books one needs: Reading Text, Exercises, Self-Learner Notes, so it can get a little pricey.

    Teach Yourself Ancient Greek. I like this because it uses snippets and longer paragraphs of actual text right from the start.

    There are some very good resources online as well, including:

    Luke Ranieri's YouTube Channels: Scorpio Martianus especially his Ancient Greek in Action! series.

    Textkit Greek and Latin Forum has recommendations and download for public domain books

    I also can't say enough good things about the Perseus Digital Library's Greek and Latin texts. There are both original texts and English translations and the classical texts are clickable so each word will open up a dictionary entry. Great for puzzling through texts.


    I hope that helps. Welcome aboard!

    Here's my highly idiosyncratic paraphrase of PD14, incorporating the notes above:

    "Up to a certain point, personal safety can be obtained by being powerful and wealthy, but the surest way to personal safety is from withdrawing from the hustle and bustle of the hoi polloi and from the peace gained from not meddling in the affairs of others."