July 5, 2023 - Wednesday Night Zoom Agenda - VS 10 & 11

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    Last week we had such a good discussion on Vatican Sayings 8 and 9 that we did not get to our special topic. So for tonight we are dividing time between:

    1 - The Vatican Sayings:

    VS10. Remember that you are mortal, and have a limited time to live, and have devoted yourself to discussions on Nature for all time and eternity, and have seen “things that are now and are to come and have been.”

    VS11. For most men rest is stagnation, and activity is madness.

    2 - Our Special Topic

    Tonight I suggest we think about and discuss a continuing question: Is there anything in Epicurean philosophy that tells a particular person what particular pleasure to choose (or pain to avoid) at any particular time. In other words, this is a variation of the old question: "Is one pleasure better than another?" And the goal should be to come up with some kind of coherent analysis of how we would recommend a particular person at a particular time to proceed. Is all we can say is "It's contextual and up to you!" Or is there more for which we can find justification in the Epicurean texts?

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  • VS10. Μέμνησο ὅτι θνητὸς ὧν τῇ φύσει καὶ λαβὼν χρόνον ὡρισμένον ἀνέβης τοῖς περὶ φύσεως διαλογισμοῖς ἐπὶ τὴν ἀπειρίαν καὶ τὸν αἰῶνα καὶ κατεῖδες τά τ᾽ ἐόντα τά τ᾽ ἐσσόμενα πρό τ᾽ ἐόντα.

    Bailey: "Remember that you are of mortal nature and have a limited time to live and have devoted yourself to discussions on nature for all time and eternity and have seen ‘things that are now and are to come and have been’."

    • Bailey attributes VS10 to Metrodorus
    • "things...have been." Quoted from the Iliad, Book I, line 70:
      • ἤτοι ὅ γ᾽ ὣς εἰπὼν κατ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἕζετο: τοῖσι δ᾽ ἀνέστη
        Κάλχας Θεστορίδης οἰωνοπόλων ὄχ᾽ ἄριστος, 70ὃς ᾔδη τά τ᾽ ἐόντα τά τ᾽ ἐσσόμενα πρό τ᾽ ἐόντα, καὶ νήεσσ᾽ ἡγήσατ᾽ Ἀχαιῶν Ἴλιον εἴσω ἣν διὰ μαντοσύνην, τήν οἱ πόρε Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων
      • "When he had thus spoken he sat down, and among them arose Calchas son of Thestor, far the best of bird-diviners, who knew the things that were, and that were to be, and that had been before, [70] and who had guided the ships of the Achaeans to Ilios by his own prophetic powers which Phoebus Apollo had bestowed upon him." Perseus Tufts
      • Regarding oracles, compare VS29

    VS11. τῶν πλείστων ἀνθρώπων τὸ μὲν ἡσυχάζον ναρκᾷ, τὸ δὲ κινούμενον λυττᾷ.

    Bailey: "For most men rest is stagnation and activity madness."

    For rest or leisure, see the Latin word Otium.

    Discussion Notes:

    Areopagus - Wikipedia

    Areopagetica by John Milton

    Paradise Lost By John Milton

    His Dark Materials, a fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman on similar themes

    Reverse Copyright and the Library of Alexandria

  • Bailey attributes VS10 to Metrodorus

    The note seems to say: "Dueningius did not correctly infer from this passage that the book "Pros Menestraton" was written by Metrodorus, the sentence was drawn from a letter." And it must be the letter cited from Clement of Alexandria where the fragment includes addressing "Μενεστρατε Menestraton (vocative)" as the second word. It appears that Menestraton was a ruler of Miletus (3rd - 2nd century BC):

    IONIA - MILETUS Bronze, (MB, Æ 20) v26_0080 Greek Coins

    Metrodorus, though an Epicurean, spoke thus, divinely inspired: “Remember, O Menestratus, that, being a mortal endowed with a circumscribed life, thou hast in thy soul ascended, till thou hast seen endless time, and the infinity of things; and what is to be, and what has been;”

    This reminds me of Lucretius's description of Epicurus traveling the universe in his mind.

    NOTE: I also copied this information to the thread on VS10 in that section of the forum.