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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And he considers it better to be rationally unfortunate than irrationally fortunate, since it is better for a beautiful choice to have the wrong results than for an ugly choice to have the right results just by chance. Third, keep in mind that some desires are natural whereas others are groundless [ note ]; that among the natural desires some are natural and necessary whereas others are merely natural; and that among the necessary desires some are necessary for happiness, some for physical health [ note ], and some for life itself.

Most people shrink from death as the greatest of evils, or else extol it as a release from the evils of life. 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.

And that man is not impious who discards the gods believed in by the many, but he who applies to the gods the opinions entertained of them by the many. For it is not continued drinkings and revelsor the enjoyment of female societyor feasts of fish and other such thingsas a costly table suppliesthat make life pleasantbut sober contemplationwhich examines into the reasons for all choice and avoidanceand which puts to flight the vain opinions from which the greater part of the confusion arises which troubles the soul.

The Gods We have a basic grasp of the nature of the gods They are indestructible and blessed animals Nothing more may be attributed to the gods than indestructibility and blessedness The grasp of the gods’ blessedness is what makes their conception beneficial to the good The false conception of the gods as like themselves leads the bad to fear them.


Selected Writings and TestimoniaHackett Publishing: Giulio Einaudi Editore, and of A. 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.

Justice There is no injustice where there are no agreements made, but justice 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 menoeeceus generally the same for all, but different things may be just in different circumstances Justice exists only as long as the pact is useful. Arrighetti as published in Epicuro Menoeecus Torino: Only a fool says that he fears death because it causes pain ahead of time, not because it will cause pain when it comes.

Columbia College Search Enter a keyword Search. The Greek text menoceeus in the public domain. I lean toward the former interpretation.

Letter to Menoikos

But it is right to estimate all these things by the measurement and view of what is suitable and unsuitable ; for at times we may feel the good as an eviland at timeslrtter the contrarywe may feel the evil as good.

But they are not of the character which people in general yo to them; for they do not pay a respect to them which accords with the ideas that they entertain of them.

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 fear for the future. Now, what I have constantly recommended to you, these things I would have you do and practice menoeceks, considering them to be the elements of living well.

Absence of Pain The highest pleasure is the lack of pain in the body and of disturbance in the soul Drinking, partying, sex, etc. Menoeceu not ascribe to god anything that is inconsistent with immortality and blissfulness; instead, believe about god petter that can support immortality and blissfulness.

Epicurus’s “Letter to Menoeceus,” and “The Principal Doctrines” UC Davis Philosophy 1, G. J. Mattey

Epicurus’s Contributions Adopted and modified the earlier atomism of Leucippus and Democritus Epicurus’s atomism was influential on early modern scientists Explained all human behavior in terms of pleasure and pain Propounded an ethics according to which the goal of life is freedom from pain Secularized philosophy, claiming that the gods have no influence on cosmic or human affairs.


Nor is the not-living a thing fearedsince living is not connected with it: But if he is joking, it is a worthless remark to those who don’t accept it. For it is never too early or too late for the health of the soul. So practice these and similar things day and night, by yourself and with a like-minded friend, and you will never be disturbed whether waking or sleeping, and you will live as a god among men: And we consider many pains to be better than pleasures, if we experience a greater pleasure for a long time from having endured those pains.

Other translators understand it as applying to “most people” from the previous sentence, with the sense that most people assume that immortal beings so different from themselves must want to interfere in human affairs.

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 letted anyone the right to use this translation without conditions for any purpose.

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.

And he was still more wrong who said:. Remember that what will be is not completely within our control nor completely outside our control, so that we will not completely expect it to happen nor be completely disappointed if it does not happen. The good, says Epicurus, is pleasure—a thesis that was explicitly rejected by Socrates and Plato before him—and pain is evil.

For a pleasant life is produced not by drinking and endless parties and enjoying boys and women and consuming fish and other delicacies of an extravagant table, but by sober reasoning, searching out the cause of everything we accept or reject, and driving out opinions letterr cause the greatest trouble in the soul.