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  • Poster:

    I think that all this confusion about “the highest pleasure being the absence of pain” is based on errors of translation and interpretation.

    If we apply the same epistemological method used in modern law and science to ethics - learning how to convert from moral justification (via positiva) to falsification (via negativa) – the conclusion is obvious. It is easy for all of us to agree on what is no good=pain. But as far as what good or pleasure is, or the highest good or pleasure, this is a question of personal preference: anything and everything which is no pain is a good candidate.

    I am surprised at how modern Epicurean arguments sound.


    Poster, you have some interesting thoughts there that I would be interested to see developed. Can you elaborate on this part? "If we apply the same epistemological method used in modern law and science to ethics - learning how to convert from moral justification (via positiva) to falsification...."


    In order to

  • I think we're making great progress here at the Forum with new people joining regularly and discussions really taking off. Please keep in mind that the topics for discussions here are virtually unlimited. It's easy to start threads in the "General Discussion" forum, or any of our many existing subforums devoted to special topics. If you don't see a subforum dedicated to your interest, and you're concerned that your topic wouldn't be appropriate for the "General" forum, just let us know and we'll open a new subforum. The first step in building out the community further is discussing our common interest in Epicurus, but we do want to get to know each other as real people, and anything the forum can do to promote deepening friendships we want to do it. Aside from the direct Epicurean Philosophy topics that are obvious, here's a list of sidelight topics that might also be productive.

    1. Cooking (Foods known to be of relevance to Epicurus is an obvious choice),
    2. Travel (Locations of
  • Hi,

    Dear Cassius,

    Your website has been greatly and quickly improving my life and preventing me from going down the painful confusing path of false philosophy.

    Although I think I don't understand it as much as I expect to after more study, and I have learned to be prone to a lot of reasoning not based in true senses.

    But this is AMAZING, is all I will say


  • Hi everyone,

    Over the weekend I was preparing an article for the 20th which also falls on the Spring Equinox. The day is my favourite 20th of all because it marks the turning of the season to spring. Unfortunately, my university is experiencing an epidemic of student suicides. I've lost a TA and also another student in my department who plunged to his death in an open indoor space. The university's administration has largely ignored the matter and so I turned my attention to write an article addressing this issue.

    I know Epicurus was strongly against suicide. Below you'll find a rough draft of my article that will be published in the student newspaper later this week or early next week. I wish everyone happiness to start spring, but let's also be mindful of each other, that's what true friends are for. Edit: Article Link: Suicide Does Not Discriminate mine's the second article.

  • The collection at is here.

    I will work on expanding the list at the EpicureanFriends Wiki here.

    To carry forward the point of the significance of Nietzsche just a little, here i think is the root of N's problem with Epicurus, in Antichrist Section 30:


    "The instinctive hatred of reality: the consequence of an extreme susceptibility to pain and irritation—so great that merely to be "touched" becomes unendurable, for every sensation is too profound.

    The instinctive exclusion of all aversion, all hostility, all bounds and distances in feeling: the consequence of an extreme susceptibility to pain and irritation—so great that it senses all resistance, all compulsion to resistance, as unbearable anguish (—that is to say, as harmful, as prohibited by the instinct of self-preservation), and regards blessedness (joy) as possible only when it is no longer necessary to offer resistance to anybody or anything, however evil or

  • Info On Martha Nussbaum's Therapy of Desire here. More info and links will be added to this thread but in the meantime please search Nussbaum. Please be sure to see THIS thread where many of the same comments are made: https://www.epicureanfriends.c…_nwZ_BYTuB71HbJQAeGapTLTQ

    Also, see the presentation by Elena Nicoli Reassessing Nussbaum's Interpretation of Epicurean Therapy.

    I've been meaning to go through Nussbaum's "Therapy of Desire" to pull out some quotes relevant to that, and I will post a couple here.

    Each of these points can be argued, without doubt. My main purpose in pointing these out is that if someone wants an appreciation for Epicurus without devoting a life to debating philosophy, Nussbaum is not a good place to start, and DeWitt is far preferable.

    Let's start first with a statement by her with which I agree, that Epicurus was not proposing a "return to the simple life of nature" from page 109 --

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    From page 139, Nussbaum compares Epicurus unfavorably to

  • I have set up this thread as a place to discuss holding a live seminar somewhere in the United States in 2019 if possible. Presumably we need a place that is easy to get to (centrally located) relatively inexpensive, and yet also a scenic attraction that is sufficient to motivate people who might want to combine the seminar trip with some other kind of site-seeing. We have people currently interested in Epicurus spread out over most of the country, on both the West and East coasts and numerous locations in between.

    I'll be posting more ideas in this thread but for the time being this is just to set it up.

  • I've never heard of this work of art before today , but it sure brings to mind the invocation in Book 1 of Lucretius!

    Since Thou alone dost govern Nature’s laws, and nothing without Thee can rise to light, without Thee nothing can look gay or lovely; I beg Thee a companion to my lays, which now I sing of Nature, ..... Mean time, the bloody tumults of the war by sea and land compose, and lay asleep. For Thou alone mankind with quiet peace canst bless; because ‘tis Mars Armipotent that rules the bloody tumults of the war, and He by everlasting pains of love bound fast, tastes in Thy lap most sweet repose, turns back his smooth long neck, and views thy charms, and greedily sucks love at both his eyes. Supinely as he rests his very soul hangs on thy lips; this God dissolv’d in ease, in the soft moments when thy heavenly limbs cling round him, melting with eloquence caress, great Goddess, and implore a peace for Rome.

    Jacques-Louis David - Mars desarme par Venus.JPG

  • pasted-from-clipboard.pngIt gives me great pleasure to inform you that the Garden of Athens in collaboration with the Greek branch of UNESCO and under the auspices of the Mayor of Athens and of the Mayor of Pallini will organize the 1st Panhellenic Meeting of Happiness "Happiness is a Human Right" in order to discuss philosophically and scientifically about happiness and present the Declaration of the right of happiness in the European Union. On the 20th of March (International Day of Happiness) we will announce the details of the 1st Panhellenic Meeting of Happiness which will take place on April 14.

  • **Visualizing Principal Doctrine 8** "No pleasure is a bad thing in itself: but the means which produce some pleasures bring with them disturbances many times greater than the pleasures."

    This doctrine has many implications, of which two are not to be missed. The first implication is the most familiar: some pleasurable experiences bring with them more pain than they are worth. That point may seem obvious, but it is clear that many of us need constant reminders! The second point comes first in position, but is frequently overlooked or downplayed because people who look to religion or "virtue" find it unattractive: No pleasure is a bad thing in itself. The reason for this statement is that as Epicurus points out, Nature gives living things only one test - the feeling of pleasure or pain - for whether a thing is ultimately "bad" or "good." If a thing is pleasurable, then we know that by Nature, and the feeling of pleasure is itself the ultimate judge of what is

  • Arete...eudaemonia... ataraxia... aponia and so on...well, IF you do not connect them with something pretty clear and a faculty given to you by Nature that are the feelings, just for the purpose to live a pleasant life... then bid all these words farewell as empty of meaning.

    Since, Fg. 221. A philosopher's words are empty if they do not heal the suffering of the man. For just as medicine is useless if it does not remove sickness from the body, so philosophy is useless if it does not remove suffering from the soul. Epicurus.

    Ok the greek word arete (Virtue)... let's say the virtue of justice as an anticipation that created through your experiences and their consequences, and still are created in your life. What was your criterion of truth to judge RIGHTLY who was fair and who was unfair in your life? Who is lying and who is not ? And which of his actions are beneficial or not beneficial for you ? How you'll judge all the issues around you in accordance with Nature and you nature ?

  • In 2030 will be 2300 years since Epicurus established his Garden in Athens. Are we planing something special for this? A Wordwide meeing of all the Epicureans for exemple?
    I think it will be great!

  • Nature of the Universe

    1. Atoms and Void, eternally existent.

    2. Nothing comes from Nothing

    3. Atomic Swerve accounts for universes and planets and life getting started.

    4. Many Worlds and Many galaxies exist.

    Nature of Knowledge

    1. Senses

    2. Perception of Pleasure and Pain


    1. No "Ideals"

    2. So called "good traits" or "virtue" are means to pleasure. Not ideals to strive for.

    3. Free will

    4. Because of Free will engage in hedonic calculus.

    Well, here it is. Elementary at best.

  • People regularly question to what extent Bertrand Russell should be considered to be Epicurean. No doubt he has some positions (such as disdain for the influence of common religion) that are similar to Epicurus, but there are many profound differences, and I am not aware that Russell labeled himself an Epicurean in any respect. On that topic, here are some quotes about Epicurus from Russell's "History of Western Philosophy" which do not indicate that Russell held Epicurus in high regard:

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    Russell asserts, ridiculously slanting the evidence, that Epicurus and his friends lived mainly on bread and water:

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    More negative commentary:

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    No photo description available.

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    Here's another which is deeply off base - the only advantage of mental pleasure over bodily pleasure is that we have more control over it?


  • Greetings, everyone!

    I was wondering, what materials or ways do we have for presenting our teachings to others who have never seen them before? How effective are they? How much do they draw interest? How much understanding do they provide? How well do they motivate others to learn more?

    Would it be useful to compile a list of these materials? Are there any gaps we could fill or materials to be improved?

    Among our materials, I find intermediate and rich depth for those already interested in Epicureanism, but not much for someone with only a little curiosity or just trying to make philosophy seem a little less foreign.

  • **Visualizing Principal Doctrine 7** This doctrine follows closely on the issue of self-protection presented in principal doctrine six, expanding it in an obvious direction while affirming that the ultimate test is always the result obtained, not conformity to an ideal:

    "Some men wished to become famous and conspicuous, thinking that they would thus win for themselves safety from other men. Wherefore if the life of such men is safe, they have obtained the good which nature craves; but if it is not safe, they do not possess that for which they strove at first by the instinct of nature."

    Epicurus had previously said: "To secure protection from men anything is a natural good by which you may be able to attain that end." "Anything" is a broad term, and would include even politics and dictatorships being natural goods - if they are successful. But we can't know in advance what the result of any one course will be. It is possible that we may pursue dictatorship or

  • **Visualizing Principal Doctrine 6** This doctrine has some issues with translation, but in the end the meaning seems clear. The text which is generally reproduced today is that in the attached graphic: "To secure protection from men anything is a natural good by which you may be able to attain that end." I have retained that formulation in this graphic because I believe that this statement is accurate to the thrust of Epicurean philosophy.

    As stated at and other authorities, the text from which translators work references kingship, and can be translated into English as

    "In order to obtain security from other people, there was (always) the natural good of sovereignty and kingship, through which (someone) once could have accomplished this."

    Apparently many authorities, including Usener and Bignone, believe that the explanation here is that the reference to kingship was just such a reference, made by someone in commenting on the text over the ages, which at

  • I noted this alleged limitation on what Epicurus meant by "pleasure" just this morning, and don't have the time to expand the argument beyond what is below. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for the author of the Monadnock website, but I think this alleged interpretation of "pleasure" in this fragment is a serious misinterpretation of the meaning. This is Stoic-influenced projection, and there is no way that ancient Epicureans would have accepted this understanding of what Epicurus was teaching, from the man who was famous for his candor, and who explicitly endorsed pleasure as normally understood rather than word games, and who said:

    I know not how to conceive the good, apart from the pleasures of taste, of sex, of sound, and the pleasures of beautiful form.” - Diogenes Laertius

    He differs from the Cyrenaics with regard to pleasure. They do not include under the term the pleasure which is a state of rest, but only that which consists in motion. Epicurus admits

  • I am looking for a free usable PDF Greek-English dictionary for helping check basic words. I see this one on books google com and it appears to be the best I've come across so far, but I haven't checked

    I respect the scholarship of older writers at least as much as I do the modern ones, so I would think anything published from 1800 to about 1950 would be very usable.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?…lish%20dictionary&f=false

  • If you can't walk and chew gum at the same time you aren't going to be a very successful human, and if you can't navigate between the extremes of asceticism and extravagance then you certainly aren't going to be a successful Epicurean.

    So in that spirit if you can't consider the image of Venus with which Lucretius opened "On the Nature of Things," or of Aphrodite, the patron goddess of all those of ancient Greece who honored Pleasure, without tripping up on the perils of intoxicated hedonism, then you're not on your way toward understanding the ancient Epicurean elevation of Pleasure as the alpha and omega of the blessed life.

    So here are a couple of artistic evocations of that understanding.


    Charito has completed sixty years,

    but still black is her long wavy hair

    and still upheld those white, marble cones of her bosom stand firm without encircling by brassiere.

    And her skin without a wrinkle, still ambrosia,

    still fascination, still

  • A friend today pointed me to this link to find an old book:…5011481309;view=1up;seq=6

    Does anyone have "partner access" (perhaps through a university library) where they could download the full PDF and provide me access to a copy. The book is of course long out of copyright, but the site only allows one to read it, or download it page by page, and I would like to get a local copy for bookmarking important sections.

    Interestingly I see this title page refernces St. Evremont -- would that be friend of Ninon De L'Enclos?

  • March, 2019

    "Not just a philosophy, but a way of life!"

    ** Welcome to this month's edition of the best email newsletter for Epicureans around the world. If you know of other newsletters, or Epicurean news that we aren't covering, please send us an email!

    ** Our home base for discussion, where you can find links to major Epicurean news and websites across the internet is Our goal is to better understand and apply the wisdom of Epicurus, and in the words of Lucian, "strike a blow for Epicurus - that great man whose holiness and divinity of nature were not shams, who alone had and imparted true insight into the good, and who brought deliverance to all that consorted with him!" For more background, check here and also here. For those who use Facebook, we also cover news from the Epicurean Philosophy Facebook page. For interim updates between editions of this newsletter, check out for daily updates.

    ** We are frequently

  • As much as I love the picture of Pericles giving his oration (used in my nearby graphic of PD5), that one is probably already overused, and I really need a new source of public-domain pictures from the Greco-Roman period. (Other imagery that works as well is also good, but much of the public domain stuff is going to be "classical.)

    I use Wikimedia as one source, but I am sure that there are many books on google docs or other online sources which have good illustrations and are now in the public domain. For example, I've personally seen that many older texts on Latin and Greek grammar frequently have good illustrations. If anyone knows of examples of such sources we could use for future graphics I would appreciate your posting links here so we can meme away without fear of copyright issues down the road.

  • **Visualizing Principal Doctrine 5** This doctrine is commonly cited by those who wish to equate Epicurus with Stoicism, and to argue that both are essentially the same because they value "virtue." The text is: "It is not possible to live pleasantly without living wisely, honorably, and justly. Nor can one live wisely, honorably, and justly without living pleasantly. But those who for any reason do not live wisely, honorably, and justly cannot possibly live pleasantly."

    If we look at the full context, however, we see how living virtuously fits in with every other aspect of Epicurean ethical doctrine, as a tool for the achievement of pleasurable living. This is the wider explanation and full application of the doctrine as provided by Torquatus in Cicero's "On Ends":

    "Here is indeed a royal road to happiness — open, simple, and direct! For clearly man can have no greater good than complete freedom from pain and sorrow coupled with the enjoyment of the highest bodily and


    ** For several years ending in 2015, I published a weekly report on news from the world of Epicurean Philosophy. Since then, my home base has shifted to, but not til tonight have I issued an updated newsletter. This brief message is a start in that direction. Copies of this post, will be stored in this threadfor future reference.

    ** Tonight's newsletter is just a short post to get back in the newsletter swing and to test how to send them through the forum software. I hope this email finds you well, and that if you haven't visited lately, you will do so again soon.

    ** The last year has been a period of slow but measurable growth. We have over 100 subscribed members now at, and we're steadily building a base of people who don't see Facebook as the answer for the kind of dedicated community we really want to build. The real

    • This forum is vital for building a community of Epicureans and
    • Important for the proceedings and transactions that will further develop the Epicurean Philosophy.

    In order to realize this potential, it's therefore crucial that more people become aware of this resource.

    • There are greater than 1.71 x 105 likes on the FB of Epicurus.

    Facebook is no substitute. I will do my best and ask that readers also help get the message out and encourage the regular use of this forum.

    This is a dedicated and invaluable forum for Epicurus and Epicurean Philosophy. I think the least we can do is to invest our time on here and perhaps it'll grow, like our motto at U of T; Velut arbor aevo (as a tree through the ages).

  • At first the blue user interface was fine, then I discovered that you can, in fact, custom the style to whichever style and colour pleases your senses most. There's red, green, and others. You can find this feature at the bottom right corner when you scroll down to just about any page, slightly right of the FAQs.

  • I'm interested in organizing monthly meet ups, every twentieth, within the Greater Toronto Area, preferably downtown Toronto, to discuss Epicurean philosophical principles and applications as well as Epicurean philosophy however more generally or specifically.

    If interested, please let me know below.

  • Firstly, I wish to extend my gratitude for the creation and hosting of this platform to whoever is responsible. Nothing comes from nothing, so my heartfelt thank you for this.

    Now, I also wish to extend my greetings to all members. I'm Oscar and I look forward to meeting you, sharing and learning from you over the course of using and contributing to this wonderful discussion forum.

    To start, as an icebreaker, I was going over a few definitions of religion (from google) when I encountered a version that seems seldom used.

    Religion (noun):

    • the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
    • a particular system of faith and worship (e.g., the world's great religions; Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, etc)

    and then this

    • a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance

    Someone asked me if I'm religious. Normally, I can't say I'm a subscriber to a religion with the first two definitions. However, the third is tricky and I see no

  • This quote is new to me, but it appears well sourced. I say that because: (1) It is certainly a reasonable thing for an admirer of Lucretius, like Frederick the Great is known to have been, to say. I too am an admirer of Lucretius, and I think the same thing most every day! Further, (2) it comes quoted from what I understand to be a reputable text (Niall Ferguson's "Civilization, the West and the Rest"). If anyone has evidence that indicates that this quote is spurious, please post and I'll retract point (2).

    Further, if anyone knows the exact source, please post that too. Obviously this is a translation so it would be good to know the name of the translator too. Presumably from wherever this comes, there is more of interest.…epage&q=imbeciles&f=false

  • For today’s Twentieth, here is confirmation of the importance of the Twentieth to Ancient Epicureans, even through the words of the spiteful Cicero, who did his best to undermine Epicurean philosophy. Cicero’s arguments provide useful information, and the best way to honor Epicurus on the Twentieth is to study the opposing arguments so as to know how to refute them:

    "Yes, Torquatus, you people may turn and twist as you like, but you will not find a line in this famous letter of Epicurus that is not inconsistent and incompatible with his teachings. Hence he is his own refutation; his writings are disproved by the uprightness of his character.

    That provision for the care of the children, that loyalty to friendship and affection, that observance of these solemn duties with his latest breath, prove that there was innate in the man a disinterested uprightness, not evoked by pleasure nor elicited by prizes and rewards. Seeing so strong a sense of duty in a dying man, what

  • **Visualizing Principal Doctrine 4** Contrary to the common idea that Epicureans flee from pain as the ultimate goal of life, the reverse is clearly documented in the Epicurean texts: Epicurus taught that we should embrace pain when it brings more pleasure than pain. Yes, we also avoid pain when possible, and we also embrace pain when more pain is avoided by the embrace. But in no way is "fleeing from pain" the meaning of life either in the words of Epicurus or in the best-documented illustrations of Epicureans in action, those given by Torquatus in "On Ends."

    Consult the original text for the full description, but in short, Torquatus explains the actions of his ancestors in vividly Epicurean terms, holding that it is entirely Epicurean to fight one's enemies in physical combat ("charging an armed enemy;" wrestling the necklet from his foe") and even to treat one's own child "cruelly" ("sentenced his own son to death"), when necessary for the sake of the ultimate

  • Tonight i updated the"A Few Days In Athens" website to a simpler, more modern design, which should be more responsive and easier to read on any device.

    I continue to be impressed at how thoughtfully this work presents Epicurean philosophy. If you haven't read it yet, I urge you to find time.

    Should anyone have any problems or suggestions for the new format, please let me know.

    Note: I have also added the complete text of the book into the "Frances Wright" forum here, with one thread for each chapter, so people can discuss each chapter separately.


    That I may not obtain credit for more learning than I possess, I beg to acknowledge the assistance I have received in my version of the curious relict of antiquity now offered to the public from the beautiful Italian MS. of the erudite Professor of Greek in the university of ****. I hesitate to designate more clearly the illustrious Hellenist, whose labors have brought to light this curious fragment. Since the establishment of the saintly domination of the Vandals throughout the territories of the rebellious and heterodox Italy, and particularly in consequence of the ordinance of his most orthodox, most legitimate, and most Austrian Majesty, bearing that his dominions being in want of good subjects, his colleges are forbidden to send forth good scholars,{4} it has become necessary for the gownsmen of the classic peninsula to banish all profane learning from their lectures and their libraries, and to evince a holy abhorrence of the sciences and arts which they erst


    A MORE than usual crowd attended the instructions of the sage. The gay, and the curious, the learned, and the idle, of all ages, and of either sex, from the restless population of the city; many citizens of note, collected from various parts of Attica; and no inconsiderable portion of strangers from foreign states and countries.

    They were assembled on the lawn, surrounding the temple already frequently mentioned. The contracting waters of Ilyssus flowed nearly in their accustomed bed; and earth and air, refreshed by the storm of the preceding night, resisted the rays of the uncurtained sun, now climbing high in the heavens. A crowd of recollections rushed on the young mind of Theon, as he entered the beautiful enclosure, and gazed on the stream which formed one of its boundaries. His thoughts again played truant to philosophy, and his rapid glance sought another and a fairer form than any it found there, when the approach of Epicurus divided the throng, and hushed


    Theon remained transfixed to the same spot of earth on which the sage left him. A confused train of thoughts traveled through his brain, which his reason sought in vain to arrest, or to analyze. At one moment it seemed as if a ray of light had dawned upon his mind, opening to it a world of discovery as interesting as it was novel. Then suddenly he started as from the brink of a precipice, whose depths were concealed in darkness." "Cleanthes then had justly expounded the doctrines of the garden. — But did these doctrines involve the delinquency which he had hitherto supposed? Were they inconsistent with reason, and irreconcilable with virtue? If so, I shall be able to detect their fallacy," said the youth, pursuing his soliloquy aloud. "It were a poor compliment to the truths I have hitherto worshiped, did I shrink from their investigation. And yet, to question the power of the gods! To question their very existence! To refuse the knee of homage to that great


    Uneasy thoughts bred unquiet slumbers; and Theon rose from a restless couch, before the first blush of Aurora tinged the forehead of the sky. He trod the paths of the garden, and waited with impatience, for the first time not unmixed with apprehension, the appearance of the Master. The assertions of Cleanthes were corroborated by the testimony of the public; but that testimony he had learned to despise. They were made after perusal of Epicurus' writings; with these writings he was still unacquainted. Had they been misinterpreted? Cleanthes was no Timocrates. If prejudiced, he was incapable of wilful misrepresentation; and he was too familiar with the science of philosophy, so grossly to misunderstand a reasoner, as lucid as appeared to be Epicurus. These musings were soon interrupted. The morning star still glowed in the kindling east, when he heard approaching footsteps, and turning from the shades upon a small open lawn where a crystal fountain flowed from the


    Night's refreshing airs fanned the cheeks of Theon, and rustled the myrtle on his brow; but the subtle fever of love which swept through his veins, and throbbed in his heart and temples, was beyond their cooling influence. The noisy business of life had now given place in the streets to noisy merriment. The song and the dance sounded from the open portals; and the young votaries of Bacchus, in all the frenzy of the god, rushed from the evening banquet, to the haunts of midnight excess, while the trembling lover glided past to the stolen interview, shrinking even from the light of Day's pale sister. Theon turned abruptly from the crowd, and sought instinctively a public walk, at this hour always private, where he had often mused on the mysteries of philosophy, and taxed his immature judgment to hold the balance between the doctrines of her contending schools. No thoughts so deep and high now filled his youthful fancy. He wandered on, his senses steeped in delirium


    Theon, rising, recruited from the warm bath, and his limbs being well rubbed with ointments, joined the party at supper in health and spirits. It consisted of the master, Leontium, Metrodorus, and two other scholars, whose persons were new to him. There was something in the gentle manners of one, not unmixed with a little awkwardness, the grave repose of his features, the abstract thought that lined his forehead, and fixed his mild eye, that led him to guess it was Polyoenus. The other, whose gait had the dignity of manhood, and the polish of art; whose face, without being handsome, had that beauty which refined sentiment and a well stored mind always throw more or less into the features; whose whole appearance showed at once the fine scholar and the amiable man, fixed instantly Theon's attention and curiosity. All received the youth with congratulations, and Metrodorus, as he held him in his embrace, jokingly upbraided him as a greedy and barbarous invader, who was


    The sun had far declined from his meridian, yet no cool breeze tempered the fervors of the heat. The air was chained in oppressive stillness, when suddenly a bustling wind shook the trees, and a low growling reverberated round the horizon. The scholars retired before the threatening storm; but Theon, his ear still filled with the musical voice of the sage, and his heart imbued with his gentle precepts, lingered to feed alone upon the thoughts they had awakened in him. "How mad is the folly of man," he said, as he threw his back against a tree. "Professing to admire wisdom and love virtue, and yet ever persecuting and slandering both. How vain is it to look for credit by teaching truth, or to seek fame by the road of virtue!"

    "Thy regret is idle, my son," said a well known voice in his ear.

    "Oh! my guardian spirit!" cried the startled youth — "Is it you ?"

    "I linger," said the Gargettian, "to watch the approach of the storm, and I suppose you do the same."



    Epicurus stood in the midst of the expectant scholars. "My sons," he said, "why do you enter the gardens? Is it to seek happiness, or to seek virtue and knowledge? Attend, and I will show you that in finding one, you shall find the three. To be happy, we must be virtuous; and when we are virtuous, we are wise. Let us then begin: and first, let us for a while hush our passions into slumber, forget our prejudices, and cast away our vanity and our pride. Thus patient and modest, let us come to the feet of philosophy; let us say to her, 'Behold us scholars and children, gifted by nature with faculties, affections, and passions. Teach us their use and their guidance. Show us how to turn them to account — how best to make them conduce to our ease, and minister to our enjoyment.'

    "Sons of earth," says the Deity, "you have spoken wisely; you feel that you are gifted by nature with faculties, affections, and passions; and you perceive that on the right exertion and


    "Do not!" said Metrodorus to Theon, "take me as the best sample of the pupils of Epicurus. We are not all so hot-brained and hot-tongued."

    "Nay!" returned his companion, "I am too young in philosophy to blame your warmth. In your place, I should have been as hot myself."

    "I am glad to hear it. I like you the better for the sentiment. But the sun scorches dreadfully, let us seek shelter."

    They turned into a thicket, and proceeding some way, caught on the still air the notes of a flute. They advanced, and came to a beautiful bank of verdure, bordered by the river, and shadowed by a group of thick and wide-spreading oaks. "It is Leontium," said Metrodorus. "No other in Attica, can breathe the flute so sweetly." They turned one of the trunks, and found her lying on the turf; her shoulder leaning against a tree, and her figure raised on one elbow. Beside her was seated the black-eyed girl whom Theon had before seen; her taper fingers twining into a wreath the


    The sun was in its fervor, when Theon issued from one of the public baths. He was not disposed for rest, yet the heat of the streets was insufferable. "I will seek the gardens," he thought, "and loiter in their cool shades until the master join me." Reaching the house of the Gargettian, and the entrance to the gardens being shorter through it than by the public gate, he entered, and sought the passage he had before traversed. He however took a wrong one, and after wandering for some time, opened a door, and found himself in a library. Epicurus was sitting in deep study, with his tablets before him; his pen in one hand, his forehead supported on the other. Metrodorus, on the opposite side of the room was engaged in transcribing.

    Theon stopped, and, making a short apology, hastily retired. "Stay!" cried the master. Theon again entered, but did not advance much within the threshold.

    "When I bade you stay, I did not mean to fix you as doorkeeper. Come in, and shut


    The sage advanced towards Theon: he laid a hand on either of his shoulders, and kissed his glowing forehead. "Thanks to my generous defender. Your artless tale, my son, if it have not gained the ear of Zeno, hath fixed the heart of Epicurus. Oh, ever keep this candor and this innocence!" He turned his benign face round the circle: "Athenians! I am Epicurus."

    This name, so despised and execrated, did it not raise a tumult in the assembly? No; every tongue was chained, every breath suspended, every eye rivetted with wonder and admiration. Theon had said the truth: it was the aspect of a sage and a divinity. The face was a serene mirror of a serene mind: its expression spoke like music to the soul, Zeno's was not more calm and unruffled; but here was no severity, no authority, no reserve, no unapproachable majesty, no repelling superiority: all was benevolence, mildness, openness, and soothing encouragement. To see, was to love; and to hear, was to trust.


    Theon rushed forward: he knelt; he raised the head of his friend: breathless, agitated, terrified, he called his name with the piercing cry of agony and despair. All was commotion and confusion. The scholar's pressed forward tumultuously; but Zeno, raising his arm, and looking steadily round, cried "Silence!" The crowd fell back, and the stillness of night succeeded. Then motioning the circle towards the street, to give way and admit the air, he stooped and assisted Theon to support his reviving pupil. Cleanthes raised his head, turned his eyes wildly around, and then fixed them on his master.

    "Gently," said Zeno, as the youth struggled in their arms for recollection, "gently, my son." But he made the effort: he gained his feet, and throwing out his arm to a pillar neat him, turned his head aside, and for some moments combated with his weakness in silence. His limbs still trembled, and his face had yet the hues of death, when, pressing his hand with convulsive


    The fervors of the day had declined, when Theon issued to the street from the house of Epicurus: at that instant he met in the face his friend Cleanthes: he ran to his embrace; but the young stoic, receding with mingled astonishment and horror — "Ye gods! from the house of Epicurus?"

    "I do not marvel at your surprise," returned Theon, "nor, if I recall my own feelings of yesterday, at your indignation."

    "Answer me quickly," interrupted Cleanthes; "is Theon yet my friend?"

    "And does Cleanthes doubt it?"

    "What may I not doubt, when I see you come from such a mansion?"

    "Nay, my brother," said Theon, kindly throwing his arm round the neck of his friend, and drawing him onwards, "I have been in no mansion of vice, or of folly."

    "I do not understand you," returned the stoic, but half yielding to his kindness: "I do not know what to think or what to fear."

    "Fear nothing, and think only good," said the Corinthian. "True, I come from the gardens of pleasure, where I have


    "Prepare yourselves! prepare yourselves!" cried the panting scholar. "Oh, Pollux, such a couple! The contrast might convulse a Scythian."

    "What is it? What is the matter? cried a dozen voices. "I'll explain directly — give me breath — and yet I must be quick, for they are close on my heels. Gryphus, the cynic – some of you must have seen him. Well he's coming side by side with young Lycaon."

    "Coming here," said the master, smiling. "What can have procured me the honor of such a visit?"

    "O, your fame of course."

    "I suspect you are making a fool of the old Cynic," said Epicurus.

    "Nay, if he be a fool, he is one without my assistance: Lycaon and I were standing on the steps of the Prytaneum, disputing about something, I forget what, when by came Gryphus, and stopping short at bottom of the steps, 'Are you disciples of Epicurus, of Gargettium? 'We are,' answered I, for Lycaon only stood staring in amazement. 'You may show me the way to him then.' ' With all my


    The steeds of the sun had not mounted the horizon when Theon took the road to the gardens. He found the gate open. The path he entered on was broad and even, and shaded on either side by rows of cork, lime, oak, and other the finest trees of the forest: pursuing this for some way, he suddenly opened on a fair and varied lawn, through which the Illissus, now of the whitest silver in the pale twilight, stole with a gentle and noiseless course. Crossing the lawn, he struck into a close thicket: the orange, the laurel, and the myrtle, hung over his head, whose flowers, slowly opening to the breeze and light of morning, dropped dews and perfumes. A luxurious indolence crept over his soul; he breathed the airs, and felt the bliss of Elysium. With slow and measured steps he threaded the maze, till he entered suddenly on a small open plot of verdure, in face of a beautiful temple. The place was three parts encircled with a wood of flowering shrubs, the rest was girded by

  • In most "enlightened" circles today it is accepted and even required correctness to teach that the universe is not controlled by meddling gods, and that it is foolish to look for a life after death. Thus far Epicurus enters into polite company with flying colors, and he is praised as a genius beyond his time. But what of the Epicurus who said that he "knew not how to conceive the good apart from the pleasures of taste, of sex, of sound, and the pleasures of beautiful form?"

    This pleasure-centered viewpoint is most certainly **not** accepted by the enlightened orthodoxy, who hold simplicity and austerity as ends in themselves, and as the watchwords of enlightenment.

    And so we come to the third of the Principal Doctrines: "The limit of quantity in pleasures is the removal of all that is painful. Wherever pleasure is present, as long as it is there, there is neither pain of body nor of mind, nor of both at once." This is interpreted by the enlightened orthodoxy as a call

  • Hermotimus, Or, The Rival Philosophies

    Characters: Lycinus. Hermotimus

    Context: Lucian in the character of Lycinus educates a friend on true philosophy.

    Lycinus. Good morning, Hermotimus; I guess by your book and the pace you are going at that you are on your way to lecture, and a little late. You were conning over something as you walked, your lips working and muttering, your hand flung out this way and that as you got a speech into order in your mind; you were doubtless inventing one of your crooked questions, or pondering some tricky problem; never a vacant mind, even in the streets; always on the stretch and in earnest, bent on advancing in your studies.

    Hermotimus. I admit the impeachment; I was running over the details of what he said in yesterday's lecture. One must lose no chance, you know; the Coan doctor{2} spoke so truly: ars longa, vita brevis. And what be referred to was only physic—a simpler matter. As to philosophy, not only will you never attain it, however

  • Zeus Cross-Examined

    Characters: Cyniscus. Zeus

    Context: Zeus is cross-examined by Cyniscus about the supposed role of Fate in human affairs, and how Fate squares with the supposed powers of the gods.

    Cyniscus. Zeus: I am not going to trouble you with requests for a fortune or a throne; you get prayers enough of that sort from other people, and from your habit of convenient deafness I gather that you experience a difficulty in answering them. But there is one thing I should like, which would cost you no trouble to grant.

    Zeus. Well, Cyniscus? You shall not be disappointed, if your expectations are as reasonable as you say.

    Cyniscus. I want to ask you a plain question.

    Zeus. Such a modest petition is soon granted; ask what you will.

    Cyniscus. Well then: you know your Homer and Hesiod, of course? Is it all true that they sing of Destiny and the Fates--that whatever they spin for a man at his birth must inevitably come about?

    Zeus. Unquestionably. Nothing is

  • The Liar

    Characters: Tychiades. Philocles

    Context: A farcical story of ridiculous tales told by men in the name of religion.

    Tychiades. Philocles, what is it that makes most men so fond of a lie? Can you explain it? Their delight in romancing themselves is only equaled by the earnest attention with which they receive other people's efforts in the same direction.

    Philocles. Why, in some cases there is no lack of motives for lying,—motives of self-interest.

    Tychiades. Ah, but that is neither here nor there. I am not speaking of men who lie with an object. There is some excuse for that. Indeed, it is sometimes to their credit, when they deceive their country's enemies, for instance, or when mendacity is but the medicine to heal their sickness. Odysseus, seeking to preserve his life and bring his companions safe home, was a liar of that kind. The men I mean are innocent of any ulterior motive: they prefer a lie to truth, simply on its own merits; they like lying, it

  • The Parasite, A Demonstration That Sponging Is A Profession

    Characters: Tychiades. Simon

    Context: A farcical discussion of living as a parasite off one’s neighbors. Such a life is distinguished from Epicureanism, but a number of other philosophers are indicted for living lives as “spongers.”

    Tychiades. I am curious about you, Simon. Ordinary people, free and slaves alike, have some trade or profession that enables them to benefit themselves and others; you seem to be an exception.

    Simon. I do not quite see what you mean, Tychiades; put it a little clearer.

    Tychiades. I want to know whether you have a profession of any sort; for instance, are you a musician?

    Simon. Certainly not.

    Tychiades. A doctor?

    Simon. No.

    Tychiades. A mathematician?

    Simon. No.

    Tychiades. Do you teach rhetoric, then? I need not ask about philosophy; you have about as much to do with that as sin has.

    Simon. Less, if possible. Do not imagine that you are enlightening me upon my failings. I

  • The Double Indictment

    Characters: Zeus. Hermes. Justice. Pan. Several Athenians. The Academy. The Porch. Epicurus. Virtue. Luxury. Diogenes. Rhetoric. A Syrian. Dialogue

    Context: Zeus convenes a court to answer the criticism of those who say the gods do not deliver speedy justice.

    Zeus. A curse on all those philosophers who will have it that none but the Gods are happy! If they could but know what we have to put up with on men's account, they would not envy us our nectar and our ambrosia. They take Homer's word for it all,— the word of a blind quack. 'Tis he who pronounces us blessed, and expatiates on heavenly glories, he who could not see in front of his own nose.

    Look at the Sun, now. He yokes that chariot, and is riding through the heavens from morn till night, clothed in his garment of fire, and dispensing his rays abroad; not so much breathing-space as goes to the scratching of an ear. Once let his horses catch him napping, and they have the bit between their

  • Incaromenippus, An Aerial Expedition

    Characters: Menippus and a Friend

    Context: A discussion of a trip supposedly made to Olympus; the theme is the absurdity of the common religion.

    Menippus. Well, a very short survey of life had convinced me of the absurdity and meanness and insecurity that pervade all human objects, such as wealth, office, power. I was filled with contempt for them, realized that to care for them was to lose all chance of what deserved care, and determined to grovel no more, but fix my gaze upon the great All. Here I found my first problem in what wise men call the universal order. I could not tell how it came into being, who made it, what was its beginning, or what its end. But my next step, which was the examination of details, landed me in yet worse perplexity. I found the stars dotted quite casually about the sky, and I wanted to know what the sun was. Especially the phenomena of the moon struck me as extraordinary, and quite passed my

  • The True History

    Context: In this composition, Lucian weaves a clearly imaginary tale of a fantastic Odyssey-like voyage in which he and his shipmates are lifted up by a whirlwind to the moon where a number of adventures take place before they return to earth and into the belly of an enormous whale. The part of this journey of philosophical interest occures when Lucian arrives on a heavenly island reigned over by Rhadamanthus, where we pick up the narrative. As usual Epicurus receives praise and other philosophers receive far different treatment.

    Character: Lucian narrates his experience on the voyage.

    I should now like to name the famous persons I saw. To begin with, all the demi-gods, and the besiegers of Troy, with the exception of Ajax the Locrian; he, they said, was undergoing punishment in the place of the wicked. …. I heard that Rhadamanthus was dissatisfied with Socrates, and had several times threatened him with expulsion, if he insisted on talking nonsense,

  • A Slip of The Tongue In Salutation

    Context: This brief excerpt is part of a much longer composition devoted to a discussion of manners of speech used in greeting and parting. Epicurus’ manner of greeting is mentioned in passing:

    But I need hardly go so far back. Epicurus assuredly rejoiced in joy— pleasure was the chief Good in his eyes; yet in his most earnest letters (which are not very numerous), and in those to his most intimate friends, he starts with Hail. And in tragedy and the old comedy you will constantly find it used quite at the beginning. You remember,

    Hail to thee, joy be thine—

    which puts health before rejoicing clearly enough.

  • Sale of Creeds

    Characters: Zeus, Hermes, Several Dealers, Creeds.

    Context: Zeus conducts an auction of competing philosophies for sale. This excerpt makes a brief mention of the

    tastes of the Epicureans.

    Hermes. Take him, and much good may he do you. Now I want Epicureanism. Who offers for Epicureanism? He is a disciple of the laughing creed and the drunken creed, whom we were offering just now. But he has one extra accomplishment—impiety. For the rest, a dainty, lickerish creed.

    Sixth Dealer. What price?

    Hermes. Eight pounds.

    Sixth Dealer. Here you are. By the way, you might let me know what he likes to eat.

    Hermes. Anything sweet. Anything with honey in it. Dried figs are his favourite dish.

  • Zeus Tragoedus

    By Lucian of Samosata, translated by H. W. and F. G. Fowler (1905)

    Characters: Hermes. Hera. Colossus. Heracles. Athene. Poseidon. Momus. Hermagoras. Zeus. Aphrodite. Apollo, Timocles. Damis.

    Context: Zeus summons the gods to consider assisting a Stoic in presenting his side of a debate with by an Epicurean by the name of Damis, who is successfully arguing that the gods take no part in human affairs.

    Hermes. Wherefore art thou brooding, Zeus? Wherefore art thou apart, and palely pacing, as Earth's sages use? Let me thy counsel know, thy cares partake; and find thy comfort in a faithful fool.

    Athene. Cronides, lord of lords, and all our sire, I clasp thy knees; grant thou what I require; A boon the lightning-eyed Tritonia asks: Speak, rend the veil thy secret thought that masks; Reveal what care thy mind within thee gnaws, Blanches thy cheek, and this deep moaning draws.

    Zeus. Speech hath no utterance of surpassing fear, tragedy holds no misery or woe,

  • Alexander the Oracle-Monger

    By Lucian of Samosata, translated by H. W. and F. G. Fowler (1905)

    Characters: Lucian, writing a letter to a friend.

    Context: Lucian relates the story of a famous fraud.

    You, my dear Celsus, possibly suppose yourself to be laying upon me quite a trifling task: Write me down in a book and send me the life and adventures, the tricks and frauds, of the impostor Alexander of Abonutichus. In fact, however, it would take as long to do this in full detail as to reduce to writing the achievements of Alexander of Macedon; the one is among villains what the other is among heroes. Nevertheless, if you will promise to read with indulgence, and fill up the gaps in my tale from your imagination, I will essay the task. I may not cleanse that Augean stable completely, but I will do my best, and fetch you out a few loads as samples of the unspeakable filth that three thousand oxen could produce in many years.

    I confess to being a little ashamed both on your account

  • The astonished, the affrighted Theon, started from the arm of the sage, and, staggering backwards, was saved, probably from falling, by a statue that stood against the wall on one side of the door; he leaned against it, pale and almost fainting. He knew not what to do, scarcely what to feel, and was totally blind to all the objects around him. His conductor, who had possibly expected his confusion, did not turn to observe it, but advanced in such a manner as to cover him from the view of the company, and, still to give time for recollection, stood receiving and returning salutations.

    “Well met, my sons! and I suppose you say well met, also. Are you starving, or am I to be starved? Have you eat up the supper, or only sat longing for it, cursing my delay?”

    “The latter, only the latter,” cried a lively youth, hurrying to meet his master. Another and another advanced, and in a moment he was locked in a close circle.

    “Mercy! mercy!” cried the philosopher, “drive me a step

  • "Oh monstrous," cried the young Theon, as he came from the portico of Zeno. "Ye Gods! and will ye suffer your names to be thus blasphemed? How do ye not strike with thunder the actor and teacher of such enormities? What! will ye suffer our youth, and the youth of after ages, to be seduced by this shameless Gargettian? Shall the Stoic portico be forsaken for the garden of Epicurus? Minerva, shield thy city! Shut the ears of thy sons against the voice of this deceiver!"

    Thus did Theon give vent to the indignation which the words of Timocrates had worked up within him. Timocrates had been a disciple of the new school; but, quarreling with his master, had fled to the followers of Zeno; and to make the greater merit of his apostacy, and better to gain the hearts of his new friends, poured forth daily execrations on his former teacher, painting him and his disciples in the blackest colours of deformity; revealing, with a countenance distorted as with horror, and a voice hurried and

  • There has been an enormous amount of discussion in the past in regard to the theological aspects of Epicurean philosophy. There is, as of this moment, no consensus of opinion in regard to that subject and it continues to remain inconclusive.

    However, this post is not focused on that generalized subject, but rather on the gods of Ancient Greece and Rome and the use of them specifically as "role models" either aesthetically or in a practical manner for an Epicurean.

    The gods of Ancient Greece and Rome were derived from common Indo-European deities. These deities, such as Zeus, Aries, Athena, Poseidon etc., have their counterparts in the ancient Indian, Iranian, and Celtic/Germanic pantheons. Almost every deity has a foreign counterpart that fulfills the same role. So the only particular reason why an Epicurean might adopt the specific Greco-Roman versions of these polytheistic deities would be for culturally aesthetic purposes.

    Much of what what we know of the myths and legends of

  • G: What about that one mention to the young fellow by epicurus' about sex? I think it went something like not to break any customs or hurt others and if you can do this then do it if not they don't. Do you know what I am referring to?


    "“You tell me that the stimulus of the flesh makes you too prone to the pleasures of love. Provided that you do not break the laws or good customs and do not distress any of your neighbors or do harm to your body or squander your pittance, you may indulge your inclination as you please. Yet it is impossible not to come up against one or other of these barriers, for the pleasures of love never profited a man and he is lucky if they do him no harm.”"

    That one can be explained in large part, as Epicurus says, by presuming it was written to someone who was in intoxicated overdrive and taking risks that were not warranted by the potential gain. If you do approach sex prudently, then you can greatly reduce or eliminate those potential pains that

  • Epicurus Principal Doctrine Two: “Death is nothing to us; for that is dissolved is without sensation, and that which lacks sensation is nothing to us.”

    If there is any one doctrine that is absolutely clear and which distinguishes Epicurus from most other philosophers, it is that death is the end of “us” as we know it. Epicurus held that this single present lifetime is the only one that we will ever have, and the ethical implications of this are expanded in numerous sayings.

    Leaving aside the extended implications, even the fundamental point of what Epicurus meant by “death is nothing to us” is not without controversy. (1) Does this mean that “dying” is of no relevance to us? Or does it mean that “the state of being dead” after we depart from life is nothing to us? (2) Does this doctrine mean that it makes no difference how long we live? Or is it perfectly sound Epicurean doctrine to want to live as long as we can continue to live happily?

    My personal answers to these

  • I think I posed this question before in my Facebook days, but I was wondering what evidence (if any) is there of Epicurean philosophy being practiced in large areas during the Roman Period (outside of the greater Greco-Roman area?

    I know in the Confessions of St. Augustine, he speaks of having acquaintances that were Epicurean. In fact I believe he said that if it were not for his belief in the survival of the soul, he would've become one. But I believe this discourse was in Milan, not in his native North Africa.

    Any known Roman era North African Epicureans or Epicurean communities in North Africa, Iberia, Gaul or Britain?

  • The full text of this letter is here.

    Among the key passages:

    Now, though Claranus and I have spent very few days together, we have nevertheless had many conversations, which I will at once pour forth and pass on to you.

    5.The first day we investigated this problem: how can goods be equal if they are of three kinds? For certain of them, according to our philosophical tenets, are primary, such as joy, peace, and the welfare of one's country. Others are of the second order, moulded in an unhappy material, such as the endurance of suffering, and self-control during severe illness. We shall pray outright for the goods of the first class; for the second class we shall pray only if the need shall arise. There is still a third variety, as, for example, a modest gait, a calm and honest countenance, and a bearing that suits the man of wisdom.

    6. Now how can these things be equal when we compare them, if you grant that we ought to pray for the one and avoid the other? If we would make