30. In the case of physical desires which require intense effort to attain and do not lead to a sense of pain if they are not fulfilled, such desires are due to idle imagination. It is not because of their own nature that they fail to be dispelled, but because of the empty imaginings of the man.
Alternate Translations: Bailey: Wherever in the case of desires which are physical, but do not lead to a sense of pain if they are not fulfilled, the effort is intense, such pleasures are due to idle imagination, and it is not owing to their nature that they fail to be dispelled, but owing to the empty imaginings of the man.
Letter to Menoeceus: But although happiness is the first and a natural good, for this same reason we do not choose every pleasure whatsoever, but at many times we pass over certain pleasures when difficulty is likely to ensue from choosing them. Likewise, we think that certain pains are better than some pleasures, when a greater pleasure will follow them, even if we first endure pain for time. Every Pleasure is therefore by its own Nature a good, but it does not follow that every pleasure is worthy of being chosen, just as every pain is an evil, and yet every pain must not be avoided. Nature requires that we resolve all these matters by measuring and reasoning whether the ultimate result is suitable or unsuitable to bringing about a happy life; for at times we may determine that what appears to be good is in fact an evil, and at other times we may determine that what appears to be evil is in fact a good.
Vatican Saying 21: We must not violate nature, but obey her; and we shall obey her if we fulfill those desires that are necessary, and also those that are natural but bring no harm to us, but we must sternly reject those that are harmful.
Cicero’s Defense of Epicurus: First, the natural ends of good and evil, that is, pleasure and pain, are not open to mistake. Where people go wrong is in not knowing what things are in fact productive of pleasure and pain.
NewEpicurean Commentary: The illusory desires that we pick up from other people include some desires that are natural, but would not create any pain if not fulfilled. Such desires can be overcome by acknowledging that they are difficult to gratify or likely to produce harm greater than achieving the desire is worth.