Bryan Level 03
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Posts by Bryan

    Great podcast! It is often suggested that we could think of the senses as "honest witnesses" of the outside world and our brain as the judge sitting inside the courtroom. Sceptics do not trust the witnesses, Epicureans do trust the witnesses. An Epicurean understands that the witnesses (i.e. the senses) honestly report to him what they experienced, but what they experienced may not totally correspond to what actually happened. The larger number of (honest) witnesses the Epicurean judge has, the more accurate his impression of reality will be.

    If you think the honest witnesses are liars you will have no ability to find out the truth, if you think the honest witnesses are completely accurate you will have a false impression of the truth -- if you understand the witnesses are honest, but flawed, you can increase your accuracy by generalizing the testimony of the witnesses.

    The Infula (1.87) is of course a religious headdress for sacrificing. It is a thick band of twisted red and white wool, wrapped around the forehead several times and then tied behind the head, with the free ends hanging forward over the shoulders onto the chest. It was worn on the forehead by priests and priestesses during official religious activities AND ALSO put on animal victims as their sacrificial headband. As soon as this influla was put on Īphiánassa's head (in contrast to the vitta, the matrimonial headband, that she expected) she knew that the gathering was not for a wedding but for a sacrifice. She was not a priestess trained to perform sacrifices... and therefore could conclude that she was the offering.

    Vestal Virgin | Take Back Halloween!

    Hello! I am happy to see you are doing well. Thank you for your questions.

    As we know, many Greek city-states issued their own currency, but often recognized the currency of other cities. Athenian coins had a good reputation and were recognized and used from the western Mediterranean to deep into the East. Yet, even in Athens, coins from other cities would be accepted as valid. Their metal quality and content was frequently tested, allowing for accuracy in conversions. This means there are many different coins that Epicurus may very well have seen throughout his life. Some, such as the famous Glaukes, are coins his grandparents would have been familiar with; others are new types that were issued, most often by the Diadochoi, during his lifetime.

    Only around half of these coins are types that were issued before 270 BC - but they are all Greek or Roman (except for the out-of-place Mjölnir), I have tried twice to purchase a denarius issued by Lucius Lucretius Trio, from two different sellers. Both times it has been "lost in the mail," I have not allowed this to make me superstitious. All the coins are reproductions, I use ebay, and try not to pay more than $4 for each one. Greece and Turkey produce exact reproductions, other countries often mark their coins to stay in line with counterfeiting laws.

    The bits of scrolls are also reproduction. I just print out PHercs (, cut them into the surviving pieces and put them in a frame. I think it is a good look.


    That's how you end up realizing that Nature gives us only pleasure and pain as stop and go signals, and that's why you end up with pleasure as the goal - not because you're soft and indulgent and just want to hide in your hole and escape pain, but because your rigorously and vigorously clear-eyed about the reality of life

    Very well said, thank you. Carpe Diem!

    Some Latin poets do not make use of alliteration, others try to avoid it, but is very frequent in Lucretius and sometimes quite heavy. It seems Ennius commonly used alliteration, but after him it came to be less popular (thought to be too obvious or simple for "golden age" Latin). It is therefore one of the Lucretian anachronisms. An early example from DRN is used at 1.86 "Ductôrēs dánaum (dēléctī prîma virôrum), The leaders of the Greeks, selected as first among men." Most editors point out the alliteration in this case is used to mock the idea Lucretius is expressing.

    We have a good example at 1.200 "nōn pótuit pédibus quī póntum per váda póssent... [so why has Nature] not been able [to make men so large] who on foot would be able to go across the sea through the shallows..."

    The reading is near technically perfect. The meter is clear and consistently treated, all elisions are passed over with ease. Perhaps too much focus is given to the perfect rendition of the poetry and taken away from a focus on the actual meaning of the words. Lucretius was passionate in this section about the soul's mortality, and from this perspective we all can tell that the reading is indefensibly robotic!

    I agree, that the issue of justice lies exactly here: "Have the two castaways agreed on any ground rules?"

    As we know, justice must be created, it does not just float around and therefore without us fabricating it by mutual agreement it will not be around at all.

    KΔ32 "Natural justice is a mutual agreement of mutual interest to not harm each other and to not be harmed. All of the living things that are not able to form treaties regarding not harming each other and not being harmed: for them nothing can be just or unjust - in this same situation also are all of those tribes who were not able or did not want to form treaties about not harming and not being harmed."

    I find it helpful to keep the Macedonians/Diadochoi in mind. From one perspective, they were a constant source of abhorrent behavior and destruction. Many people found living underneath them to be humiliating and intolerable. There is no evidence that Epikouros ever even complained, as Metrodoros says "ΟΥΔΕΝ ΔΕΙ ΣΩΙΖΕΙΝ ΤΟΥΣ ΕΛΛΗΝΑΣ it is not our responsibility to save the country (Plutarch, Non Posse 1098 C)" Kolotes even dedicated his work to the Ptolemy family.

    Without any sort of "Platonic" ideal form of "good" or "evil" the only way to judge good or bad is if it elicits pleasure or pain.

    And for this reason indeed there is a general equivalency in our school between the use of ἀγαθὸν as pleasure and κακὸν as pain, even though it seems we cannot press for a total equivalency because of instances such as "oὐδεμία Ἡδονὴ καθ᾽ἑαυτὸ κακόν (KΔ8) no Pleasure by itself is bad" Here we have to admit difficulty taking κακόν as an exact equivalent to pain, as it requires the conceptual framing of "bad/evil." Which takes us to:

    In order to explain the point, however, it is necessary to use the terminology of both schools, and refer to platonic good and evil.

    As we know, Epicurus stood in disagreement with Plato who argued for the existence of mixed pleasures (μικταί ἡδοναί), which Plato imagined as pleasures which contained an aspect of pain. In reality, as Epicurus understood, pain and pleasure are mutually exclusive at any particular point in the body. Epicurus also stood in disagreement against the Κυρηναϊκοί/Cyrenaics who viewed the removal of pain as a state of calm to which pleasure could then be added.

    "It is not possible for the Good to be placed anywhere, when neither What is painful nor What is distressing is any longer making way for it" Metrodorus (Non Posse 1091 B) ἔνθα γὰρ τεθήσεται Tἀγαθόν οὐκ Ἔστιν ὅταν μηθὲν ἔτι ὑπεξίῃ μήτε Ἀλγεινὸν μήτε Λυπηρόν.

    It is common for people to consider the removal of pain/discomfort/desire to be the beginning of pleasure. In fact, the removal of pain/discomfort/desire and resulting painless state that exists, is exactly what pleasure is. Full physical contentment is naturally and frequently achieved when we have the natural and necessary accommodations of food and shelter.

    "Τοῦτο αὐτὸ τὸ ἀγαθόν ἐστι: τὸ φυγεῖν τὸ κακόν- Τhis very thing is the good: Escaping from the bad" Metrodorus (Non Posse 1091 A)

    In failing to appreciate this fact, the common man, when he in a painless state, typically tries to add to his complete pleasure by engaging in further activities. Yet any attempt to add more pleasure to the complete pleasure of painlessness must always lead to failure, and never allows the mind to settle. The common man chases variation of bodily pleasures because he is not mentally content.

    Yet full mental contentment can be achieved just as naturally and frequently as full bodily contentment -- by the very realization of the simple ease of obtaining bodily contentment and then fostering gratitude and a full appreciation for your success in doing so.

    "For the end of all our actions is to be free from pain and fear, and, when once we have attained all this, the tempest of the soul is laid ; seeing that the living creature has no need to go in search of something that is lacking, nor to look for anything else by which the good of the soul and of the body will be fulfilled. When we are pained because of the absence of pleasure, then, and then only, do we feel the need of pleasure. Wherefore we call pleasure the alpha and omega of a blessed life (DL X 128)." An Epicurean's goal is bodily comfort and a calm mind.

    Thank you Elli, for your excellent response and wise words. Liantinis correctly perceived the situation, as sad as it is, and was brave enough to report what he saw.

    ἐναργὲς δὲ Cημεῖον τοῦ μηδὲν δύνασθαι τοὺς θεοὺς

    πρὸς τὸ ἀπερύκειν τἀδικήματα

    τὰ Ἰουδαίων καὶ Αἰγυπτίων ἔθη

    πάντων γὰρ ὄντες δεισιδαιμονέστατοι

    πάντων εἰσὶ μιαρώτατοι

    a clear Indication of the inability of the gods

    in regards to the prevention of wrongdoings

    is provided by the Jews and Egyptians

    because of all people they are the most superstitious and

    of all people they are the most stained with blood.

    Διογένης ὁ Οἰνοανδεύς (Diogenes Oinoanda) · NF 126 III

    I am happy that you also agree that ἡ επιβολή τῆς διανοίας is best understood as 'attention.' This certainly simplifies a point in our philosophy which has unnecessarily caused confusion historically.

    I would be very grateful for any information in regard to finding Giovanni Indelli and Voula Tsouna's treatment of Philodemus' On Choices and Avoidances, published by Bibliopolis in 1995. Dr. Tsouna let me know today that she is not aware of any place the book is available, and she only has two, one here with her in California and the other in Greece, so she was not able to provide me with a copy.

    Here is KD 10 from a somewhat different angle:

    εἰ τὰ Ποιητικὰ τῶν περὶ τοὺς ἀσώτους ἡδονῶν

    ἔλυε τοὺς φόβους τῆς διανοίας

    τούς τε περὶ μετεώρων καὶ θανάτου καὶ ἀλγηδόνων

    ἔτι τε τὸ πέρας τῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν ἐδίδασκεν καὶ τῶν ἀλγηδόνων :

    οὐκ ἄν ποτε Εἴχομεν ὅ τι μεμψάμεθα αὐτοῖς

    πανταχόθεν ἐκπληρουμένοις τῶν ἡδονῶν -

    οὔτε τὸ λυπούμενον Ἔχουσιν -

    Ὅπερ ἐστὶ τὸ κακόν·

    If the things that produce the pleasures of degenerates

    released the fears of the mind

    about the heavens and death and pains

    and if those things taught the the Limit of desires and of pains:

    then we would never have had anything to hold against them

    who would be filling themselves from all places with pleasures-

    and they would not have pain or sadness from any place-

    which is exactly what 'evil' is.

    TOYC ΑCΩΤΟΥC “profligates” οἱ ἄσωτοι–τῶν ἀσώτων: libertines, spendthrifts; a lost case; from ἄσωτος–ἀσώτη–ἄσωτον: having no hope of safety, in desperate case, abandoned, past any hope of recovery. ἄσωτος

    ΜΕΜΨΑΙΜΕΘΑ “(then we would not) blame” μέμφομαι–μέμφεσθαι: hold (acc.) against (dat.); here, “we would (not) have held (ὅ τι) against (αὐτοῖς).”

    ‘…but this form is not body, but quasi-body [quasi corpus], nor has it blood, but quasi-blood’ given such statements one might at first think of a statue as a good analogy. But as we know, every discrete object will eventually break up into the parts that composed it. “τὸ λέγειν ὡς οὐδ' ἐν τοῖς σώμασιν καταλείπει τοὺς θ[εούς] ‘τῶν σωμάτων’ λέγων ‘τὰ μὲν εἶναι συγκρίσεις, τὰ δ' ἐξ ὧν αἱ συγκρίσεις πεπόηνται.’ μήτε γὰρ ἀτόμους νομίζειν τοὺς θεοὺς μήτε συγκρίσεις, ἐπειδήπερ οὗτοι μὲν διαιώνιοι τελέως, αἱ δὲ πᾶσαι φθαρταί. μηδὲν δὲ σῶμ' ἔχειν τοὺς θεοὺς ἀφθάρτους ὄντας, [they say that] regarding the claim that (Epicurus) does not allow the gods to be bodies when he says ‘of bodies some are compounds, and others are those things out of which compounds are formed’ for he considers the gods to be neither simple entities nor compounds, since those are completely eternal, while these are destructible, so in no way can gods have bodies, since they are indestructible (Philodemus On Piety column 2, Obbink lines 34-50).”

    For the gods “there is in them no solidity, so to speak, or numerical identity, like those things which on account their compactness he calls ‘solids’ (ND I.37.105)” Not every object is discrete. Some objects are formed by a process: as in the common example of a waterfall, which although a flowing mass of constantly changing matter, we nevertheless “κατ᾽ ἀριθμὸν ὑφεστῶτας, conceive (them) as numerically distinct (ΔΛ Χ139)”

    Of course, no amount of assault against such a nondiscrete object will effect its continued existence (following our analogy, stabbing a waterfall with a sword is inconsequential to the existence of a waterfall). “εἴ γ' εὐ[σκοποῦσίν] φησιν φύσιν τούτων πραγμάτων καὶ πολλῶν αὐτὴν περιεστώτων δοξ[άζειν ἐξεῖναι] καὶ πολλοῖς [ἀι]δίοις [θεοῖς κἀθα]νάτοις [εἶναι], (Epicurus says) that he thinks that is is possible for their nature to exist even with many troubles surrounding it, and that it is possible thus for many eternal and immortal gods to exist (Philodemus On Piety column 3, Obbink lines 62-70).”

    The only threat to a nondiscrete ‘constant flow’ existence is insufficient supply of material. However, the material in the entire universe is infinite. In the infinity of space with infinite material, that there will be areas through which matter infinitely passes is a certainty. This process can take any shape, and when in the shape of man, here we find gods. They are certain to exit. They are certainly eternal. They are certainly indestructible. “...οὓς δὲ καθ᾽ ὁμοείδειαν, ἐκ τῆς συνεχοῦς ἐπιρρύσεως τῶν ὁμοίων εἰδώλων, ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ἀποτετελεσμένους ἀνθρωποειδεῖς, in a similar shape, from the continuous influx of similar films, to the same place where they are rendered as human-shaped (ΔΛ Χ139).”