Epicurus - Epicureanism | Epic Swerve
Epicurus

Epicurus

A collection of content on Epic Swerve related to the philosopher Epicurus, the founder of Epicureanism. A short biography, quotations and more.


Quotations


"If on each occasion..."

“If on each occasion, instead of referring your actions to the end of nature, you turn to some other nearer standard when you are making a choice or an avoidance, your actions will not be consistent with your principles.” — Epicurus

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"Think for yourself..."

“I would wish you to think nothing good, or bad either, upon my decision. The first and the last thing I would say to man is, think for yourself.” — Epicurus, in A Few Days In Athens

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"Chance has little effect upon the wise..."

“Chance has little effect upon the wise man, for his greatest and highest interests are directed by reason throughout the course of life.” — Epicurus

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"Of all the things which wisdom acquires..."

“Of all the things which wisdom acquires to produce the blessedness of the complete life, by far the greatest is the possession of friendship” — Epicurus

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"We must laugh and philosophize..."

“We must laugh and philosophize and manage our households and look after our other affairs all at the same time.” — Epicurus

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"Sober reasoning is required..."

“Sober reasoning is what is needed, which decides every choice and avoidance and liberates us from the false beliefs which are the greatest source of anxiety.” — Epicurus

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"Banish our evil habits as if they were evil men..."

“Let us completely banish our evil habits as if they were evil men who have done us long and grievous harm.” — Epicurus

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"We may also choose to accept pain..."

“We may also choose to accept pain if, by doing so, it results in greater pleasure.” — Epicurus

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"jubilation unsurpassed is the nature of good"

“That which produces a jubilation unsurpassed is the nature of good, if you apply your mind rightly and then stand firm and do not stroll about, prating meaninglessly about the good.” — Epicurus

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"there can be no second birth"

“We have been born once and there can be no second birth. For all eternity we shall no longer be. But you, although you are not master of tomorrow, are postponing your happiness.” – Epicurus

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"Be not slack..."

“Be not slack to seek wisdom when thou art young, nor weary in the search thereof when thou art grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul.” — Epicurus

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"someone to eat and drink with... "

“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.” — Epicurus

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" the beginning and end of the happy life..."

“Pleasure, we declare, is the beginning and end of the happy life.” — Epicurus

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"We do not mean the pleasure of debauchery..."

“When we say that pleasure is the goal, we do not mean the pleasure of debauchery or sensuality, despite whatever the ignorant, disagreeable, or malignant people believe. By pleasure, we mean this: freedom from pain in the body and freedom from turmoil in the soul.” — Epicurus

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"though he be master of the whole world"

“Whoever does not regard what he has as most ample wealth, is unhappy, though he be master of the whole world.” — Epicurus

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"Empty is the argument..."

Empty is the argument of the philosopher which does not relieve any human suffering. – Epicurus

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"Frugality too has a limit..."

“Frugality too has a limit, and the man who disregards it is in like case with him who errs through excess.” — Epicurus

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atom and void

“The whole of being consists of atom and void.” – Epicurus

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Further Reading


The fundamental nature of the universe

Epicurus outlined his proof regarding the fundamental nature of the universe quoted from the Letter to Herodotus, by Epicurus himself, preserved in Lives of the Eminent Philosophers by Laertius Diogenes.

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"Philosophy for the Millions"

A 1947 article by Norman DeWitt, author of Epicurus: His Philosophy (read a preview here, which is a short summary of the main topics in the preview.

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Letter to Menoceus

This is a letter from Epicurus himself, preserved in Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius. In it Epicurus lays out a summary of ancient epicurean beliefs. This translation by R. D. Hicks is in the public domain.

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A Synoptic View of Epicureanism

Norman Dewitt’s work “Epicurus and His Philosophy” is a great starting point for all serious study of Epicureanism. Chapter One “A Synoptic View” is available as a free preview. It is a 33-page summary of the whole, and is a great primer and worth reading on its own merits.

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Sources


Principle Doctrines

The Principle Doctrines (Κyriai Doxai in Greek) are found in Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius.

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The Vatican Sayings

In 1888 a scholar entered the Vatican Apostolic Library — one of the world’s oldest libraries — and opened an ancient 14th century manuscript. I imagine this like the beginning of some Hollywood mystery movie.

Therein he found copies of old philosophical texts including the Echiridion of Epictetus, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius — and a previously unknown text entitled “The Sayings of Epicurus.”

The list of sayings was collected or copied by an unknown author but is generally attributed to Epicurus of Samos, the founder of ancient Epicureanism.

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"Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers" by Diogenes Laertius

Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius (circa 300AD) is a biography of major Greek philosophers, including Book 10 on Epicurus. Contained within are:

  • A letter from Epicurus to Herodotus entitled “A Summary of Physical Nature”
  • A letter from Epicurus to Pythocles entitled “A Summary of Phenomena of the Sky”
  • A letter from Epicurus to Menoeceus entitled How to Live a Happy Life
  • The last will of Epicurus, outlining his final thoughts and disposition of his assets (and care of the children)
  • The Principle Doctrines
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Store


"Epicurus and His Philosophy"

We believe Norman Dewitt’s work “Epicurus and His Philosophy” is the best starting point for all serious study of Epicureanism.

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Articles


Epicurus the Philosopher

Epicurus was a philosopher who lived in ancient Greece over 2000 years ago (circa 300BCE). His ideas about how to live a good life were based on his understanding of the universe, and the whole system came to be known as Epicureanism (and those who followed it Epicureans).

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