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. EpicurllĀ«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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For something that causes no trouble when present causes only a groundless pain when merely expected. 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.

This is why we say that pleasure is the beginning and the end of a completely happy life. My intent is that this translation shall be free from all claims of copyright and therefore dedicated directly into the public domain.

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.

So death, the most terrifying of evils, is nothing to us, because as long as we exist death is not present, whereas when death is present we do not exist. The text provided here generally follows that of Hermann Usener as published in his Epicureawith some attention paid to the texts of G. It is simpleminded to advise a young person to live well and an old person to die well, not only because life is so welcome but also because it is through the very same practices that one both lives well and dies well.

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 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.


Table of Contents Words: Therefore, the most formidable of evilsdeathis nothing to us, since, when we existdeath is not present to us; and when death is presentthen we have no existence. 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.

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.

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Although I cannot provide complete justification for that expansion in a brief note, I shall do so in a forthcoming book on Epicurus.

Selected Writings and TestimoniaHackett Publishing: For we recognize it as the primary and innate good, we honor it in everything we accept or reject, and we achieve it if we judge every good thing by the standard of how that thing affects us [ note ]. And who has no belief in necessitywhich is set meneceus by some mrnoeceus 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.

I have expanded the verb as “to love and lftter wisdom”.

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.

I lean toward the former interpretation.

For the assertions of the many about the gods are not anticipationsbut false opinions. And, they sayhe who enjoins a young man to live legter, and an old man to die well, is a simpletonnot only because of the constantly delightful nature of lifebut also because the care to live well is identical with the care to die well.

Letter to Menoikos

For there is nothing terrible in living to a man who rightly comprehends that there is nothing terrible in ceasing to live ; so that he was a silly man who said that he feared deathnot because it would grieve him when it was presentbut because it did grieve him while it was future. Although Epicurus was said to believe in the existence of the gods, he was known as an atheist, for he menorceus that it was a mistake to think that the gods were interested and involved themselves in human affairs.


Someone who says that the time to love and practice wisdom has not yet come or has passed is like someone who says that the time for happiness has not yet come or has passed. This rendering is consistent with the connection that Epicurus makes between such desires and opinions that are not based on an understanding of the inborn requirements of human nature. Most people shrink from death as the greatest of evils, or else extol it as a release from the evils of life.

The happy life for Epicurus is to place oneself in an ataraxic state in which one is free to pursue pleasures while minimizing pain. Practical wisdom is the menoecdus of all these things and is the greatest good. For gods there are: For a pleasant life is produced not by drinking and endless parties and enjoying boys and women and consuming fish and other letetr of an extravagant table, but by sober reasoning, searching out the cause of everything we accept or reject, and driving out opinions that cause the greatest trouble in the soul.

The Greek text is in the public domain. Pace Socrates and Plato, even the soul is not immortal: But if he is joking, it is a worthless remark to those who don’t accept it.

Although “the standard of experience” is one possible translation, that swings in the opposite direction of empiricism. Historical Context for Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus. Ot every action is done so that we will not be in pain or fear.

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

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. For there are gods ; for our knowledge of them is distinct.

Let no one put off the love and practice of wisdom [ note ] when young, nor grow tired of it when old.