Cassius Administrator
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Posts by Cassius

    Facebook post -

    Time to start our annual quest to answer the eternal question: "What's the correct date to celebrate Epicurus's upcoming birthday this time? I have seen two suggestions so far for 2023:

    (1) from sunset on Jan. 28 to sunset on Jan. 29, 2023 based on Gamelion 7 (which possibly comes from Gassendi).

    (2) January 14-15 per Epicurus pointing to Gamelion 10 in his will.

    We have started a thread to discuss this issue at the link below (linked to this thread), where the reasoning behind these two is explained. I know we have readers in this group from Greece who are all over this issue, so if anyone reading this has a suggestion to support one of these, or another calculation, please let us know!

    Hmmm -- OK Don has a timeline by major recognizable figures, even if they are not Epicurean. Nate's is a listing of known Epicureans to date.

    I scent a project that is needed -- a "pretty" (graphical form with colors) time line with several columns. One column I think would be major world people / events such as Don's listing. Maybe another would column be a listing of Epicureans only. Maybe another column for "events in Epicurean history" such as the best guess of publication dates of Epicurus' writings, Lucretius' Poem, Philodemus's works, Diogenes' Wall at Onoanda, and extending perhaps into major events such as "rediscovery" of Lucretius, Gassendi, etc? Would this be the best arrangement or would other columns make sense? We really don't need a "history of world philosophies" chart that incorporates the major other ones, unless maybe the column for world events lists things of relevance to the Epicureans that document the rise of Judeo/Christianity in the ancient world? Maybe that would be part of the "people/events" column, and a thord column might be "associated pictures."

    I suspect this will be a dream that won't soon happen but we have the raw material from the work Don and Nate have done already. Quite possibly a google spreadsheet like was used on the Stoicism chart would work and allow joint editing:

    The Stoic Spreadsheet:

    Epicurean Philosophy v. Stoicism - A Comparison Chart with Citations
    Epicurean vs. Stoic A Comparison Chart With Citations To Sources In The Ancient Texts (see also a Comparison Chart on The Goal of Life) Issue Epicurean…

    Consider this to be a Mock-up only

    TimeLine of Epicurean Philosophy
    Time Line of Epicurean Philosophy Notable People And World Events Events In The Epicurean School Associated Pictures? 1 Does “truth” exist? If so, how…

    I added this to the "To-Do" list: EpicureanFriends To-Do List

    Welcome to Episode One Hundred Fifty 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.

    Each week we'll walk you through the ancient Epicurean texts, and we'll discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. If you find the Epicurean worldview attractive, we invite you to join us in the study of Epicurus at, where you will find a discussion thread for each of our podcast episodes and many other topics.

    We're now in the process of a series of podcasts intended to provide a general overview of Epicurean philosophy based on the organizational structure employed by Norman DeWitt in his book "Epicurus and His Philosophy."

    This week we are going to speed through the early development of the school before we turn to detailed treatment of individual philosophical topics:

    Chapter IV - Mytilene And Lampsacus

    • The New Philosophy On Trial
    • The Sorites Syllogism
    • Homer A Hedonist
    • Rhetoric
    • Lampsacus
    • The Lampsacene Circle
    • The Regenerate Epicurus

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    Episode 149 of the Lucretius Today podcast has now been published:

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    This line of discussion - and the importance of knowing the details of the history of Greek philosophy in particular and philosophy in general- reminds me of my personal position on how much history is needed.

    As much as I want to know as many details as I can, there is no way I will ever be able to learn to read any Greek with any confidence, and I'm not much better at Latin. I'll never be able to backtrack and become an expert in the history of world philosophies, or to be able to even process, much less pass judgment on, the many complicated philosophical arguments. So if all I have to rely on is philosophy books I will never have any confidence in anything. But I can read enough from many different sources to see the outline of the argument that Epicurus was making, and it rings just as true to me today regardless of the passing of years, and without recourse to any arguments from "authority."

    I can use my own observations to validate that in every way that is significant to me, "nothing can be created from nothing at the will of the gods" and that is personally sufficient to me as a starting to point to take confidence in the rest of the core elements of the philosophy. I do not have the luxury of sitting back and contemplating possibilities for years on end - my life is short and I have to live it without all the information I would like to have, using the best judgment that I can come up with based on evidence. I see no reason to think the universe as a whole had a beginning, or that it has any supernatural ruler over it, or that there is an absolute set of "ideal forms" or "essences" or "right and wrong" commandments that I have to follow. That leaves me with what Epicurus pointed out - the faculty of pleasure and pain - as the only ultimate basis for what to do in life. That's where I have ended up after my years of study of Epicurus, and I don't see any reason to expect that any of those conclusions are likely to change.

    It's not quite the same as Thomas Jefferson's statement, but close, especially to the underlined part, and I am content with this reasoning be it 1820 or 300 BC:

    Jefferson to John Adams, August 15, 1820:    (Full version at

    …. But enough of criticism: let me turn to your puzzling letter of May 12. on matter, spirit, motion etc. It’s crowd of scepticisms kept me from sleep. I read it, and laid it down: read it, and laid it down, again and again: and to give rest to my mind, I was obliged to recur ultimately to my habitual anodyne, ‘I feel: therefore I exist.’ I feel bodies which are not myself: there are other existencies then. I call them matter. I feel them changing place. This gives me motion. Where there is an absence of matter, I call it void, or nothing, or immaterial space. On the basis of sensation, of matter and motion, we may erect the fabric of all the certainties we can have or need. I can conceive thought to be an action of a particular organisation of matter, formed for that purpose by it’s creator, as well as that attraction is an action of matter, or magnetism of loadstone. When he who denies to the Creator the power of endowing matter with the mode of action called thinking shall shew how he could endow the Sun with the mode of action called attraction, which reins the planets in the tract of their orbits, or how an absence of matter can have a will, and, by that will, put matter into motion, then the materialist may be lawfully required to explain the process by which matter exercises the faculty of thinking. When once we quit the basis of sensation, all is in the wind. To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart.


    So like Lucian's Alexander the Oracle Monger story I will happily entertain any claim to supernatural phenomena that anyone wants to show me really exists through evidence I can validate. And if and when I am able to validate that evidence I will certainly take it into account and change my worldview accordingly. But there is no reason whatsoever to entertain the possibility that any such evidence will ever be produced, and in turn there is massive reason to believe that any assertions of such evidence are purely fraudulent - just as with Alexander.

    And just as I will be happy to entertain any verifiable evidence, I am always happy to learn more about the arguments and the background that led Epicurus to the places where he ended up, and I am happy and appreciative to draw on the information that others in other careers have been able to learn.

    Your education as a historian of philosophy is very welcome here

    Yes it certainly is! Most of us here (excluding the lurkers about whom I know little) are most or entirely self-taught, and especially when trying to compare Epicurus to earlier philosophers to see what Epicurus might be replying to, the lack of extensive reading takes a considerable toll.

    Thank you Kalosyni! I posted that to my Twitter feed and Facebook and other accounts and would encourage others to do the same. And if others come up with graphics please post them here, or to the gallery (and please add a link to this thread so we can find them)

    I just posted this on Facebook as a reply to Elli's post:

    Thank you Elli for posting that! And thank you Michele Pinto and friends for producing such high quality work! And I want to echo Elli's comments at the end and relate it to the music:: yes we "can" be happy spending all our time on facebook clicking emoticons, just like we "can" be happy eating bread and water and cheese and living in a cave -- IF that is the most pleasant life open to us. For some of due to our personal circumstances yes that is the best, and a life such as that is well worth living. But for those who have better health, more resources, younger bodies, more vibrant minds, and who have the capacity to do more: Would we wish that Michelangelo had done nothing other than live in a cave? How about the many other artists and creators (including the ones who wrote and produced this song!)? Would we have wished that they had decided to be happy with nothing more than a cave and a nearby stream? Epicurus taught that we regularly choose pain when it leads to greater pleasure, and most of all, Epicurus taught that we should throw off the chains of religion and of false philosophies and realize that we have but one life to live. And that's the spirit that is displayed in this artwork from a prior Michele Pinto production. I hope we will see much more of the spirit of this graphic featuring Michele himself!

    Note: I am shamelessly pasting this from Facebook where Elli has posted it.
    "Epicurean Issues", by our friend Michele Pinto.
    Every summer, in Senigallia of Italy, some descendants of Lucretius hold festivals dedicated to the memory of Epicurus (hey, that philosopher that lived in Greece, whom even his mother does not know him now, here in Greece… as that idiom says), and among other things that are mentioned for his philosophy, they also create songs.
    You can listen this beautiful song, and here:
    The melody and lyrics are by the band "Arbitri Elegantiae" and is inspired by the philosophy of Epicurus. The song was presented for the first time at the Epicurean Festival in Senigallia last July. Today, the artists present it to us, as it has been recorded in the studio, and has these powerful lyrics, as follows:

    Se tra quei desideria
    Ιf among those desires
    che ti assalgono a tutte le ore
    that are attacking you all the hours

    c’è un inutile oggetto
    there is a useless thing

    perché un cookie ha profilato il tuo cuore,
    (that happens) because a cookie has become the shape of your heart,

    se in un supermercato
    if in a supermarket

    passi i giorni di festa a fare
    you pass the days like holidays

    un percorso guidato
    a tourist guide

    che ti dice cosa devi comprare,
    that tells you what to buy,

    pensa sempre che
    always think that

    ciò che ti serve
    what you need

    è molto poco e
    it’s very little and

    lo puoi avere
    you can have it

    senza fatica!

    Se ritieni importante
    If you think important
    comandare su tanta gente
    to rule over many people

    e per essere il primo
    and to be the first
    tratti tutti come fossero niente,
    you treat everyone like they’re nothing,
    se davanti a uno schermo
    if in front of a screen

    passi i tuoi pomeriggi in pena
    you spend your afternoons in pain
    a contar le faccine
    counting smileys (emoticons)
    messe da chi ti conosce appena,
    pressed by those who barely know you (*)
    pensa sempre che
    always think that

    ciò che ti serve
    what you need

    è molto poco e
    it is very little and

    lo puoi avere
    you can have it

    senza fatica!

    (*) my note: when you’ll die... do you think that those who barely know you at facebook would be the same ones who’ll cry for you? Yeah, right “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride”, since when you’ll die, this little face 🙁 (emoticon) they will press for you, and then they will continue their lives, as if no one has died. So, what are you doing? You dedicate your precious time to those who don't really care about you, and on how they join with you. How else, they keep them and you, in the isolation and solitude of home, with the intention to rule you, them, and all of us?

    I know we have a worldwide audience but many of us here are in the USA and this week is Thanksgiving, traditionally one of our two biggest holidays of the year. Readership in the forum may be up or down as peoples' schedules change, but so if you're traveling be safe and check in as often as you can.

    I placed a short note on the front page Announcements but when I went to add a graphic here (and at Facebook) as to "Happy Thanksging" featuring the "Give Thanks to Nature" quote I could not find one. If any of our meme artists could generate one or more and label them with "Thanks" and / or "Thanksgiving" that would be appreciated. (Of course as I write that i am probably overlooking some existing ones, so apologies if they are there already, and if anyone wants to link one here we can tag them anew if they aren't already tagged.)

    The Austin book is definitely quicker reading and is lighter without being too breezy and still has lots of good raw data.

    The DeWitt book is much deeper but definitely takes more work to read and is more challenging in many details of the philosophy.

    Which is better as a starting point probably all depends on personal preference and where you are in your background in Greek philosophy.

    Glad to have you Clark and that's a great place to start Depending on your background and interests I also always recommend the DeWitt book, but given the way Austin presents the material you'll have no issues moving from one to the other as you want the additional detail that DeWitt provides.

    Please be sure to let us know about any topics you find interesting to talk about.

    Welcome Clark !

    Note: In order to minimize spam registrations, all new registrants must respond in this thread to this welcome message within 72 hours of its posting, or their account is subject to deletion. All that is required is a "Hello!" but of course we hope you will introduce yourself and let us know if you have had previous studies or background in philosophy, what prompted your interest in Epicureanism, and if you have any questions. And feel free to join in on one or more of our conversation threads under various topics found throughout the forum.

    This forum is the place for students of Epicurus to coordinate their studies and work together to promote the philosophy of Epicurus. Please remember that all posting here is subject to our Community Standards / Rules of the Forum our Not Neo-Epicurean, But Epicurean and our Posting Policy statements and associated posts.

    Please understand that the leaders of this forum are well aware that many fans of Epicurus may have sincerely-held views of what Epicurus taught that are incompatible with the purposes and standards of this forum. This forum is dedicated exclusively to the study and support of people who are committed to classical Epicurean views. As a result, this forum is not for people who seek to mix and match some Epicurean views with positions that are inherently inconsistent with the core teachings of Epicurus.

    All of us who are here have arrived at our respect for Epicurus after long journeys through other philosophies, and we do not demand of others what we were not able to do ourselves. Epicurean philosophy is very different from other viewpoints, and it takes time to understand how deep those differences really are. That's why we have membership levels here at the forum which allow for new participants to discuss and develop their own learning, but it's also why we have standards that will lead in some cases to arguments being limited, and even participants being removed, when the purposes of the community require it. Epicurean philosophy is not inherently democratic, or committed to unlimited free speech, or devoted to any other form of organization other than the pursuit by our community of happy living through the principles of Epicurean philosophy.

    One way you can be most assured of your time here being productive is to tell us a little about yourself and personal your background in reading Epicurean texts. It would also be helpful if you could tell us how you found this forum, and any particular areas of interest that you have which would help us make sure that your questions and thoughts are addressed.

    In that regard we have found over the years that there are a number of key texts and references which most all serious students of Epicurus will want to read and evaluate for themselves. Those include the following.

    1. "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Norman DeWitt
    2. The Biography of Epicurus by Diogenes Laertius. This includes the surviving letters of Epicurus, including those to Herodotus, Pythocles, and Menoeceus.
    3. "On The Nature of Things" - by Lucretius (a poetic abridgement of Epicurus' "On Nature"
    4. "Epicurus on Pleasure" - By Boris Nikolsky
    5. The chapters on Epicurus in Gosling and Taylor's "The Greeks On Pleasure."
    6. Cicero's "On Ends" - Torquatus Section
    7. Cicero's "On The Nature of the Gods" - Velleius Section
    8. The Inscription of Diogenes of Oinoanda - Martin Ferguson Smith translation
    9. A Few Days In Athens" - Frances Wright
    10. Lucian Core Texts on Epicurus: (1) Alexander the Oracle-Monger, (2) Hermotimus
    11. Philodemus "On Methods of Inference" (De Lacy version, including his appendix on relationship of Epicurean canon to Aristotle and other Greeks)
    12. "The Greeks on Pleasure" -Gosling & Taylor Sections on Epicurus, especially the section on katastematic and kinetic pleasure which explains why ultimately this distinction was not of great significance to Epicurus.

    It is by no means essential or required that you have read these texts before participating in the forum, but your understanding of Epicurus will be much enhanced the more of these you have read.

    And time has also indicated to us that if you can find the time to read one book which will best explain classical Epicurean philosophy, as opposed to most modern "eclectic" interpretations of Epicurus, that book is Norman DeWitt's Epicurus And His Philosophy.

    Welcome to the forum!




    I would say the "list" has both objective and subjective aspects.

    I agree. The takeaway is probably that even though Epicurus' list can be looked at as having both objective and subjective qualities, the way the list is described and developed Aristotle's (and the others") list takes on a much more "objective" quality, while Epicurus' viewpoint is weighted toward pointing out the "subjective" qualities.

    This would be one of the many differences that flows from Aristotle/Plato/Stoics seeing the universe as divinely ordered with everything emanating from a prime mover or god or divine fire. In contrast, Epicurus sees the universe as arising from the properties and qualities of the individual atoms and void, without a superimposed central intelligence creating it and ruling over it.

    Do living beings need to look to a superior being higher than themselves for commandments on how to live life? Epicurus says "no" - there are no commandments, but it's also not "anything goes." There are "objective" facts of nature which we have to take into account in deciding how to live, such facts including:

    1. No supernatural beings exist.
    2. No consciousness / life / reward / punishment after death
    3. No guidance from Nature as to what to choose or avoid other than (very broadly stated) the feelings of pleasure and pain.
    4. No Platonic forms or Aristotelian essences or absolute virtue / right / wrong exist in the abstract that apply to everyone all the time and in all circumstances. ("Yellow" does not have an eternal unchanging existence apart from "things that are yellow.")

    Those are among the facts that can be thought of as De Rerum Natura (or Humphries' "The Way Things Are") that no one can change, while most other "facts" are "subjective" - they are individual to our circumstances and are subject to constant change and have to be reevaluated every step along the way.