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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Do not ascribe to god anything that is inconsistent with immortality and blissfulness; instead, believe about god everything that can support immortality and blissfulness.
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.
Remember meoneceus 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.
Some translators understand it as menoeceks to “the gods” from the previous sentence, with the sense that the gods would not interfere in human affairs because they don’t care about “consider as alien” mortal creatures who are so different from themselves. According to Epicurean cosmology, no Prime Mover nor a teleology governing menoeceys movement of matter: Self-Sufficiency Being self-sufficient is conducive to the blessed life Those who do not need lettsr goods are better able to find happiness It is easier to obtain What is obtained is enjoyed most Becoming accustomed to simple pleasures puts us in the best condition It makes us healthy It makes us fearless in the face of chance.
Historical Context for Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus | The Core Curriculum
In the meantime, read What is Ancient Philosophy? 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 oldmdnoeceus consequence of his absence of fear for the future.
Since this is the end of living happily ; for it is for the sake of this that we do everything, wishing to avoid grief and fear ; and when once this is the casewith respect to us, then the storm of the soul is, as I may sayput an end to; since the animal is unable to go as if to something deficientand to seek something different from that by which the good of the soul and body will be perfected. Nor is the not-living a thing fearedsince living is not connected with it: Here Epicurus uses the same word to note the close tie between praise and blame on the one hand and that which is within the power of an individual to achieve.
Historical Context for Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus
This is why we say that pleasure is the beginning and the end of a completely happy life. 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 timeson the contrarywe may feel the evil as good.
Let no one put off the love and practice of wisdom [ note ] when young, nor grow tired of it when old. 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. It is proper to make all these decisions through measuring things side by side and looking at both the advantages and disadvantages, for sometimes we treat a good thing as bad and a bad thing as good.
Pleasure and Pain Every choice and avoidance should be referred to necessary natural desires What they have in common is freedom from pain We only need pleasure when its absence causes pain When we are not in pain we need no pleasure. 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 when we, on certain occasionsfall in with more sumptuous fareit makes us in a better disposition towards lettdr, and renders us fearless with respect to fortune. Table of Contents Words: Yet the wise lether does not dishonor life since he is not set against it and he is not afraid to stop living since he does not consider that to be a bad thing.
Our every action is done so that we will not be in pain or fear.
Other translators understand it as applying to “most people” from the previous sentence, with the sense that most people assume that immortal lletter so different from themselves must want to interfere in human affairs.
Epicurus is emphatic that friendship figures into the happy life as one of the chief goods. So when we say that pleasure is the goal, we do not mean the pleasures of decadent people or the enjoyment of sleep, as is believed by those who are ignorant or who don’t understand us or who are tk to us, but to be free from bodily pain and mental disturbance. Pace Socrates and Plato, even the soul is not immortal: 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 lettrr 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.
The happy life for Epicurus is to place oneself in an ataraxic state in which one is free to pursue pleasures while minimizing pain. But people in generalat times flee from death as the greatest of evilsand at times wish for it as a rest from the evils in life. And he who asserts either that it is not yet time to philosophizeor that the hour is passedis like a man who should say that the time is not yet come to be happyor that it is lstter late.
But if he was jokingthen he was talking foolishly in a case where it ought too to be allowed ; and, we must recollectthat the future is not our own, nor, on the other leetteris it wholly no our own, I mean so that we can never altogether await it with a feeling of certainty that it will be, nor altogether despair of it as what will never be.
And because this is the primary and inborn good, we do not choose every pleasure. Training yourself to live simply and without luxury brings you complete health, gives you endless energy to menoecfus the necessities of life, better letteer you for the occasional luxury, and makes you fearless no matter your fortune in life.
For it was easily in his power to do so, if it really was his belief.
Letter to Menoeceus: text – IntraText CT
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.
Only a fool says that he fears death because it causes pain ahead of time, not because it will cause pain when it comes. For there are gods ; for our knowledge of them is distinct. The good, says Epicurus, is pleasure—a thesis that was explicitly rejected by Socrates and Plato before him—and pain is evil.
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.
There is nothing terrifying in life to someone who truly understands that there is nothing terrifying in the absence of life. Having been born, to pass through the gates of Hades as soon as possible.
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 we consider many pains to be better than pleasures, if we experience a greater pleasure for a long time yo having endured those pains.