What if Kyriai Doxai was NOT a list?

  • It was obviously a summary.

    Much like the letter to Herodotus or to Pythocles are summaries that cover a wide variety of topics but still hang together as identifiable by theme.

    Or another analogy is with the atoms themselves and how in Sedley's words we have to avoid radical atomic reductionist thinking that only the atoms are "real." (Just as Epicurus seems to have opposed that line of thinking in Democritus.)

    The individual sentences of the PD do deserve separate and detailed examination, but when they come together in summary they produce a "body" which has real characteristics of its own that are not identifiable when looking only with a magnifying glass -- like the forest that can't be seen if we do nothing but look at leaves.

  • NOTE:

    Here is a Latin translation of Diogenes Laertius with NO numbers in Kyriai Doxai:

    Diogenis Laertii De uita et moribus philosophorum, libri X. / Recéns ad fidem Graeci codicii diligenter recogniti. Cum indice locupletissimo.

    "Principle Doctrines" starts in the middle of the page with:

    Quod beatum atque immortale est, neque ipsum negotia habet neque alii praebet, ...

    Published Lugduni (London), : Apud Antonium Gryphium., 1592.

    Gryphius, Antonius 1527-1599, printer, Traversari, Ambrogio 1386-1439

    I have seen printed Latin translation from 1692 WITH numbered lists.

  • Finding some more manuscripts and printed books, Greek and Latin, on HathiTrust.

    This project is NEVER going to be done ^^

    I will say that I like the Latin translation of Principle Doctrines 2: Mors nihil ad nos.

    That has a nice ring to it. Although Ο ΘΆΝΑΤΟΣ ΟΥΔΕΝ ΠΡΟΣ ΗΜΑΣ (ancient Greek: ho thanatos ouden pros hēmas) isn't bad either.

  • Yes I hope you will point out Latin lines like that. For many of us the Latin words will always ring in a way that the Greek equivalents never will. Not saying that's good, just the way that it is.

    And with the Latin too we have the possibility or probability that these translations date back to a period when the people who made them were fluent in both languages *and* had access to people who really understood the philosophy due to training from real Epicurean experts.

    So there's lots of reasons in my mind to pay special attention to the Latin translations. I wish we had a good digital (text) version of DIogenes Laertius in Latin. (Do we?)

  • And with the Latin too we have the possibility or probability that these translations date back to a period when the people who made them were fluent in both languages *and* had access to people who really understood the philosophy due to training from real Epicurean experts.

    Not so sure about that. The earliest Latin translation I've found (so far as of my typing this line) is 1533.

    For reference, I'm pasting some links and notes here for later:

    Diogenes Laertius: the Manuscripts of "The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers"

    Diogenes Laertius: the Manuscripts of "The Lives of Eminent Philosphers"

    Notes on the history of manuscripts and printed editions of Diogenes Laertius's Lives of the Eminent Philosophers re-arranged in chronological order from the link above (as well as other sources):

    List of manuscripts online:

    Digitized Greek Manuscripts | Modern Language Translations of Byzantine Sources</br>Digitized Greek Manuscripts

  • Yeah, the transmission of Greek texts from the Arab world back into Europe where Latin was the lingua franca of the educated meant that there was a great desire to translate Greek into Latin.

    The great printer and book maker Aldus Manutius (c. 1450 to 1515) wrote that part of his goal was to "inundate the reading public with Greek" and not settle for Latin translation. He felt that too many people were relying on Latin translations.

  • Are the Latin translations varying dramatically such as modern translations of Lucretius into English do, or do they tend to be largely latin word for latin word consistent?

  • Quote

    Are the Latin translations varying dramatically such as modern translations of Lucretius into English do, or do they tend to be largely latin word for latin word consistent?

    That's a good question that I don't have an answer to. In one of Poggio's letters to Niccolo Niccoli, the writer apologizes for his style--he was stuck in England reading Ecclesiastical Latin and did not, at the time, have access to the high Classical Latin of Cicero, Varro, Lucretius, Virgil, etc. So a Poggio or a Niccoli at the height of their powers would have attempted as far as possible to consciously imitate the style of the Late Republic, while many of their contemporaries will have written in a less polished register. This difference would affect everything from grammar and sentence structure to diction and spelling.

    Montaigne, whose native language was Latin due to an unusual upbringing, complained that the Latin of the Renaissance had fallen so far below that of its antecedents.


    When I consider this, reiicit, pascit, inhians, molli, fovet, medullas, labefacta, pendet, percurrit, and this noble circumfusa, mother of gentle infusus, I am vexed at these small points and verball allusions, which since have sprung up. To those well-meaning [ancient] people there needed no sharpe encounter or witty equivocation: their speech is altogether full and massie, with a naturall and constant vigor: they are all epigram, not only taile, but head, stomacke, and feet. There is nothing forced, nothing wrested, nothing limping; all marcheth with like tenour.

    He was referring to this passage from Lucretius:

    -----belli fera munera Mavors

    Armipotens regit, in gremium qui saepe tuum se

    Reiicit, aeterno devinctus vulnere amoris:

    Pascit amore aridos inhians in te Dea visus,

    Eque tuo endet resupini spiritus ore:

    Hunc tu Diva tuo recubantem corpore sancto

    Circumfusa super, suaveis ex ore loquelas


    Mars, mighty arm'd, rules the fierce feats of armes,

    Yet often casts himselfe into thine armes,

    Oblig'd thereto by endlesse wounds of love,

    Gaping on thee feeds greedy sight with love,

    His breath hangs at thy mouth who upward lies,

    Goddesse thou circling him, while he so lies,

    With thy celestiall body, speeches sweet

    Montaigne continues:


    This is not a soft quaint eloquence, and only without offence; it is sinnowie, materiall, and solid; not so much delighting, as filling and ravishing, and ravisheth most the strongest wits, the wittiest conceits. When I behold these gallant formes of expressing, so lively, so nimble, so deepe, I say not this is to speake well, but to think well.

    Translated into English by John Florio, 1603.

  • That's a good question that I don't have an answer to.

    Yes after the first person translated Diogenes Laertius from Greek to Latin (for example) I would not necessarily expect a bunch of new writers to launch off into their own totally original versions, even though that is certainly possible if they did not have access to each others' work. It's not like they had the internet to circulate them.

    It's probably worth speculating that the oldest Latin copies of Diogenes Laertius would be potential sources for "correction" to some of the difficult Greek passages. I would expect that the further you go back into the distant past that the Greek to Latin translation was made, the more it might be possible that the translators had access to other texts , or other sources of tradition about Epicurus, which now do not exist. Certainly that's a lot of speculation but it would be interesting to do such a comparison on difficult passages.

  • I've edited post 26 to include links to as many manuscripts and printed texts as I could find online. The consolidated list link at the bottom is a good catch-all. The fact that B is not available (as far as I can tell) is so frustrating! But I can have gratitude for what IS available.

    (Edit: I've also posted the info to my profile; so, if anything new comes up, I'll be updating that one.)

  • FYI ..I was listening to an episode of the Data Over Dogma podcast today, and the host mentioned that verse numbers were added to the Bible in 1551. Before that, plain old paragraphs.

    Which is interesting because it seems to PDs were also first numbered in the 1500s/early 1600s.

  • Very interesting. That somewhat predates the King James version.

    Added in English? Or as we might suspect was this a German organization innovation?

    Good question. They didn't delve into that, although the topic was English translations. The Geneva Bible (an English translation) was the popular one, in addition to the Bishops Bible and Tyndale.

    Note: I *think* Estienne also did a Diogenes Laertius edition?? Did he put the numbers in?? Note also there were originally 44 "principle doctrines" not 40 in earliest numbered system.

  • Following up on a post of mine from Cassius' thread about PDs in narrative form on a list of 44 PDs in a 1739 Greek/Latin translation:

    I used a 1739 Greek with Latin translation to compare with the text at Perseus Digital Library:

    1739: https://hdl.handle.net/2027/nn…id=27021597768674761-1400

    Perseus Greek (DL, Book 10): http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/h…3Abook%3D10%3Achapter%3D1

    Perseus English (DL, Book 10): http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/h…3Abook%3D10%3Achapter%3D1

    I used the Greek text to compare with each other since 1739 had 44 Principal Doctrines and Perseus (i.e., Hicks, 1972) had the "normal" 40! I wanted to see what was different. And were there differences!! Starting at 44, I had to go all the way back to PD18 to get the lists to coincide! Note that right there, PD18 is split into two by the 1739 list. Some Hicks were divided by the 1739, a couple 1739's were combinations of Hicks, and so on. To follow the numbers, capital Roman numerals are the 1739 list, Arabic numerals are the Hicks (usual) translation PD numbers. So, XXIII/21 means that XXIII (i.e., 23) in the 1739 translation = PD21 in the usual list we're all accustomed to. I also want to go back and research some more, because I seem to remember that an earlier book (16th century CE?) also had 44 in their list. My primary reason for posting this here is that the list of 40 that we're used to is by no means sacrosanct or was it originally the way to divide them up. And, I would contend, precisely because Kyriai Doxai was NOT divided into a list of discrete sayings. Also, the only reason I'm using Hicks is because it's easy to copy/paste. I don't necessarily agree with his translations.

    For now, enjoy...

    I/1. through XVII/17.

    XVIII/18. Pleasure in the flesh admits no increase when once the pain of want has been removed ; after that it only admits of variation.

    XIX. The limit of pleasure in the mind, however, is reached when we reflect on the things themselves and their congeners which cause the mind the greatest alarms.

    XX/19. Unlimited time and limited time afford an equal amount of pleasure, if we measure the limits of that pleasure by reason.

    XXI/20. [If] the flesh receives as unlimited the limits of pleasure; and to provide it requires unlimited time.

    XXII. [If] the mind, grasping in thought what the end and limit of the flesh is, and banishing the terrors of futurity, procures a complete and perfect life, and has no longer any need of unlimited time. Nevertheless it does not shun pleasure, and even in the hour of death, when ushered out of existence by circumstances, the mind does not lack enjoyment of the best life.

    XXIII/21. through XXV/23. then...

    XXVI/24. If you reject absolutely any single sensation without stopping to discriminate with respect to that which awaits confirmation between matter of opinion and that which is already present, whether in sensation or in feelings or in any presentative perception of the mind, you will throw into confusion even the rest of your sensations by your groundless belief and so you will be rejecting the standard of truth altogether.

    XXVII. If in your ideas based upon opinion you hastily affirm as true all that awaits confirmation as well as that which does not, you will not escape error, as you will be maintaining complete ambiguity whenever it is a case of judging between right and wrong opinion.


    NOTE: PD26 appears as alternative text for XXXII below!

    (ALTERNATE TEXT for XXIX, combines text from PD27. and PD28. from Perseus: Ὧν ἡ σοφία παρασκευάζεται εἰς τὴν τοῦ ὅλου βίου μακαριότητα, πολὺ μέγισόν ἐσιν ἡ τῆς φιλίας κτῆσις. καὶ τὴν ἐν αὐτοῖς τοῖς ὡρισμένοις ἀσφάλειαν φιλίαις μάλισα κτησει δει νομιζειιν συντελουμένην. XXIX. Ex iis, quae ad totius vitae beatitudinem sapientia comparat, longe maxima est amicitiae possessio. Et in mediocribus opibus securitatem, amicitiae possessione maxime perfici putandum est. Google Translate: Of those which wisdom brings to the happiness of the whole life, the possession of friendship is by far the greatest. And in moderate wealth security is to be thought best accomplished by the possession of friendship.)

    (ALTERNATE TEXT for XXX: λ'. Ἡ αυτη γνωμη θαρρειν τε εποιησεν ὑπερ του μηθεν αιωνιον ειναι δεινον, μηδε πολυχρονιον. XXX. Eadem sententia confidentiam parit, quod nullum sit aeternum malum, neque diurturnum. Google Translate: The same sentence gives birth to confidence that there is no eternal evil, nor long-lasting.)

    XXXI/29. Of our desires some are natural and necessary ; others are natural, but not necessary ; others, again, are neither natural nor necessary, but are due to illusory opinion. [Epicurus regards as natural and necessary desires which bring relief from pain, as e.g. drink when we are thirsty ; while by natural and not necessary he means those which merely diversify the pleasure without removing the pain, as e.g. costly viands ; by the neither natural nor necessary he means desires for crowns and the erection of statues in one's honour.--Schol.]

    (ALTERNATIVE TEXT for XXXII from PD26: λβ'. Των επιθυμιων ὁσαι μη επ' αλγουν επαναγουσιν εαν μη συμπληρωθωσιν ουκ εισιν αναγκαιαι, αλλ' εθδιαχυτον την ὀρεξιν εχουσιν, ὁταν δυςτοριζοι, η βλαβης απργαζικαι, δοξωσιν ειναι. XXXII. Cupiditates illae; quae dolorem non inducunt, si consummatae non fuerint, non sunt necessariae: sed adpetitum habent, qui facile dissipetur, quoties paratu difficiles, aut detrimenti effectrices esse videantur. Google Latin translate: Those desires; which do not cause pain, if they have not been completed, they are not necessary: but they have an appetite, which is easily dissipated, whenever they appear to be difficult in preparation, or productive of harm.)

    XXXIII/30. Those natural desires which entail no pain when not gratified, though their objects are vehemently pursued, are also due to illusory opinion ; and when they are not got rid of, it is not because of their own nature, but because of the man's illusory opinion.

    XXXIV/31. through XXXIX/36.

    XL/37. Among the things accounted just by conventional law, whatever in the needs of mutual intercourse is attested to be expedient, is thereby stamped as just, whether or not it be the same for all.

    XLI. For in case any law is made and does not prove suitable to the expediencies of mutual intercourse, then this is no longer just. And should the expediency which is expressed by the law vary and only for a time correspond with the prior conception, nevertheless for the time being it was just, so long as we do not trouble ourselves about empty words, but look simply at the facts.

    XLII/38. through XLIV/40.

  • I just wanted to share an early draft of my attempt. Ignore the translations and groupings; I am still fine-tuning them. Mainly, I meant to to copy the visual styles of my preferred copy of the Bible (The NRSV). Here are the first two pages:

  • I just wanted to share an early draft of my attempt. Ignore the translations and groupings; I am still fine-tuning them. Mainly, I meant to to copy the visual styles of my preferred copy of the Bible (The NRSV). Here are the first two pages:

    That is a gorgeous format. What software did you use? That's exactly the kind of thing I had in mind.