Historical Context for Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus. Epicurus’ teaching rejects Platonic Forms; it claims, for instance, that justice is nothing other than a. In this letter, Epicurus recommends to Menoeceus that he conduct his life according to certain prescripts, and in accordance with certain beliefs, in order that his. Letter to Menoeceus. Epicurll«1 (TranAated by Brad Inwo(Jd and L. R Geraon). Let no one delay the study of philosophy while young nor weary of it when old.

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Now, what I have constantly recommended to you, these things I would have you do and practiceconsidering them to be the elements of living well. Do not ascribe to god anything that is inconsistent with immortality and blissfulness; instead, believe about god everything that can support immortality and blissfulness. Do and practice, then, the things I have always recommended to you, holding them to be the stairway to a beautiful life. For it was easily in his power to do so, if it really was his belief.

And in consequence of these, the greatest evils which befall wicked menand the benefits which are conferred on the goodare all attributed to the gods ; for they connect all their ideas of them with a comparison of human virtuesand everything which is different from human qualitiesthey regard as incompatible with the divine nature.

Historical Context for Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus | The Core Curriculum

And, we thinkcontentment a great goodnot in order that we may never have but a littlebut in order that, if we have not much, we may make use of a littlebeing genuinely persuaded that lftter men enjoy luxury most completely who are the best able to do without it; and that everything which is natural is easily providedand what is useless is not easily procured.

The good, says Epicurus, is pleasure—a thesis that was explicitly rejected by Socrates and Plato before him—and pain lehter evil.

So that both young and old should study philosophythe one in order that, when he is oldhe many be young in good things through the pleasing recollection of the pastand the other in order that he may be at the same time both young and oldin consequence of his absence of mdnoeceus for the future. Absence of Pain The highest pleasure is the lack of pain in the body and of disturbance in the soul Drinking, partying, sex, etc. For since they menoeceux at home with what is best about themselves, they accept that which is similar and consider alien that which is different.

Letter to Menoikos

The Greek text is in the public domain. So simple flavors bring just as much pleasure as a fancy diet if all pain from true need has been removed, and bread and water give the highest pleasure when someone in need partakes of them. Giulio Einaudi Editore, and of A.

For it is very absurd that that which does not distress a man when it is presentshould afflict him only when expected. Living Blessedly Pleasure is the starting-point for living blessedly It is the first innate good, present from birth Although every pleasure is a good thing, not all should be chosen Those pleasures which result in pain should be avoided, while pains that result in great pleasure should be embraced We need to calculate the balance of pleasure and pain, as we often are wrong about it at first.

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Training yourself to live simply and without luxury brings you complete health, gives you endless energy to face the necessities of life, better prepares you for the occasional luxury, and makes you fearless no matter your fortune in life. Second, train yourself to hold that death is nothing to us, because good and evil consist in sensation, and death is the removal of sensation.

Thus we need pleasure only when we are in pain caused by its absence; but when we are not in pain then we have no need of pleasure. And of the necessary onessome are necessary to happinessand others, with regard to the exemption of the body from trouble ; and others with respect to living itself; for a correct theorywith regard to these thingscan refer all choice and avoidance to the health of the body and the freedom from disquietude of the soul.

As soon as we achieve this, the soul is released from every storm, since an animal has no other need and must seek nothing else to complete the goodness of body and soul. And simple flavors give as much pleasure as costly farewhen everything that can give painand every feeling of wantis removed ; and bread and water give the most extreme pleasure when any one in need eats them. The happy life for Epicurus is to place oneself in an ataraxic state in which one is free to pursue pleasures while minimizing pain.

Since it would be better to follow the fables about the gods than to be a slave to the fate of the natural philosopher ; for the fables which are told give us a sketchas if we could avert the wrath of god by paying him honor ; but the other presents us with necessity who is inexorable.

There is nothing terrifying in life to someone who truly leter that there is nothing terrifying in the absence of life. But is it not unlimited pleasure at particular moments that one ought to seek to attain a happy life; rather, what is desired is the obtainment of pleasure and the absence of pain, fear, and perturbation in the long term, the state of being Epicurus calls ataraxia.

Pace Socrates and Plato, even menoeceux soul is not immortal: And when we, on certain occasionsfall in with more sumptuous fareit makes lerter in a better disposition towards it, and renders us fearless with respect to fortune.

For something that causes no trouble when present causes only a groundless pain when merely expected. And he who asserts either that it is not yet time to philosophize meoeceus, or that the hour is passedis like a man who should say that the time is not yet come to be happyor that it is too late. Young or old, it is necessary to love and practice wisdom, so that in old age you can be youthful by taking joy in the good things you remember, and likewise in youth you can be mature by not fearing what will come.


So death, the most terrifying of evils, is nothing to us, because as long menoeceuus we exist death is not present, whereas when death is present we do not exist. Columbia College Search Enter a keyword Search. First, believe that god is a blissful, immortal being, as is commonly held.

In the meantime, read What is Ancient Philosophy?

And who has no belief in necessitywhich is set up by some as the mistress of all thingsbut he refers some things to fortunesome to ourselves, because necessity is an irresponsible powerand because he sees that fortune is unstablewhile our own will is free ; and this freedom constitutesin our casea responsibility which makes us encounter blame and praise. My intent lstter that this translation shall be free from all claims of copyright oetter therefore dedicated directly into the public domain.

Historical Context for Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus. By licensing this translation under Creative Commons CC0I hereby release all legal and economic rights to this translation under all jurisdictions including but not limited to the rights to copy, republish, translate, arrange, modify, and make derivative works from this translationand I grant anyone the right to use this translation without conditions for any purpose.

The Internet Classics Archive | Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus

Justice There is no injustice where there are no agreements made, but lftter exists only when there is a pact that does not harm either party Injustice is not bad in itself, but only produces fear of punishment Due to this fear, one cannot avoid harm from injustice Justice is generally the same for all, but different things may be just in different circumstances Justice exists only as long as the pact is useful. This is why we say that pleasure is the beginning and the end of a completely happy life.

Epicurus is emphatic that friendship figures into the happy life as one of the chief goods. For he holds that we are responsible for what we achieve, even though some things happen by necessity, some by chance, and some by our own power, because although necessity is not accountable he sees that chance is unstable whereas the things that are within our power have no other master, so that naturally praise and blame are inseparably connected to them. For there are gods ; for our knowledge of them is distinct.

Table of Contents Words: The things that most people say about the gods are based lwtter false assumptions, not a firm grasp of the facts [ note ], because they say that the greatest goods and the greatest harms come from the gods.