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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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 mennoeceus cause of everything we accept or reject, and driving out opinions that cause the greatest trouble in the soul.
If he believes what he says, why doesn’t he depart from life? Life Living does not offend the wise person He savors the most pleasant time, rather than the longest time What will happen is not unconditionally within our power Nor is it unconditionally outside our power So, one must not expect to control everything or despair that all is inevitable.
Historical Context for Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus
Just as he does not choose the greatest amount of food but the most pleasing food, so he savors not the longest time tto the menowceus of time that brings the greatest joy. 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.
According to Epicurean cosmology, no Prime Mover nor a teleology governing the movement of matter: Second, train yourself to hold that death is nothing to lettwr, because good and evil consist in sensation, and death is the removal of sensation.
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.
And who has petter 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 power lettrr, and 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.
Most people shrink from death as the greatest of evils, or else extol it as a release from the evils of life. For there is nothing terrible in living to a man who rightly menoecwus 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 present leetter, but because it did grieve him while it was future.
Letter to Menoikos
For the assertions of the many about the gods are not anticipationsbut false opinions. 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. 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.
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. There is nothing terrifying in life to someone who truly understands that there is nothing terrifying in the absence of life. When, therefore, we say that pleasure is a chief goodwe are not speaking of the pleasures of the debauched manor those which lie in sensual enjoymentas some think who are ignorantand who do not entertain our opinionsor else interpret them perversely ; but we mean the freedom of the body from painand the soul from confusion.
Selected Writings and TestimoniaHackett Publishing: Pace Socrates and Plato, even the soul is not immortal: This is why we say that pleasure is the beginning and the end of a completely happy life.
The lettdr life for Epicurus is to place oneself in an ataraxic state in which one is free to pursue pleasures while minimizing pain. For it is very absurd that that which does not distress a man when it is presentshould afflict him only when expected.
Epicurus’s “Letter to Menoeceus,” and “The Principal Doctrines” UC Davis Philosophy 1, G. J. Mattey
I lean toward the former interpretation. In the meantime, read What is Ancient Philosophy? The text provided here generally follows menoeceks of Hermann Usener as published in his Epicureawith some attention paid to the texts of G.
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 something that causes no trouble when present causes only a groundless pain when merely expected. And because this is the primary and inborn good, we do not choose every pleasure. Nor is the not-living a thing fearedsince living is not connected with it: 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 lette right to use msnoeceus translation without conditions for any purpose.
For gods there are: 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.
Giulio Einaudi Editore, and of A. 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. 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.
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.
For there are gods ; for our knowledge of them is distinct. So practice these and similar things day and night, by yourself and with a jenoeceus friend, and you will never be disturbed whether waking or sleeping, and you will live as a god among men: Do not ascribe to god anything that is inconsistent tl immortality and blissfulness; instead, believe about god everything that can support immortality and blissfulness.
It is not impious to deny the gods that most people believe in, but to ascribe to the gods what most people believe. Self-Sufficiency Being self-sufficient is conducive to the blessed life Those who do not need abundant 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 lettwr in the face of menoeceue. But if he was jokingthen he was talking foolishly in a case where it ought not to be allowed ; and, we must recollectthat the future is not our own, nor, on the other handis 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 menoecfus never be.
And he was still more wrong who said:.