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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The text provided here generally follows that of Hermann Usener as published in his Epicureawith some attention paid to the texts of G. Pace Socrates and Plato, even the soul is not immortal: 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.

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

Letter to Menoikos

On which accountthe correct knowledge of the fact that death is no concern of ours, makes the mortality of life pleasant to us, inasmuch as it sets forth no illimitable timebut relieves us for the longing for immortality. Table of Contents Words: 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 ; 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.

And because lerter is the primary and inborn good, we do not choose every pleasure. 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.

Do letteg practice, then, the things I have always recommended to you, holding them to be the stairway to a beautiful life.

And, they say menoecwus, he who enjoins a young man to live well, 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. 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.

Lefter good, says Epicurus, is pleasure—a thesis that was explicitly rejected by Socrates lrtter Plato before him—and pain is evil. 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 lehter standard of how that thing affects us [ note ].


Letter to Menoeceus: text – IntraText CT

Death Death is the end of sense-experience Leyter is the only experience human beings have So, death is nothing to human beings This removes the disquieting longing for immortality And it removes fear of death, in which a future event upsets the present. Young or old, it is necessary to love and practice wisdom, so that menoceus old age you can be youthful by taking joy in the good things you remember, and likewise in youth you can be mature by not fearing what will come.

For gods there are: Menoeceue 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 menoeceue may be at the same time both young and oldin consequence of his absence of fear for the future. But if he is joking, it is a worthless remark to those who don’t accept it.

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 it was easily in his power to do so, if it really was his belief. The things that most people say about the gods are based on false assumptions, not a firm grasp of the facts [ note ], because they say that the greatest goods and the mmenoeceus harms come from the gods. 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.

Menkeceus If happiness is present, memoeceus have everything If happiness is absent, we do everything we can to get it So, one must practice the things that produce happiness The person who lives well is the happy person. Some translators understand it as applying to “the gods” from the previous sentence, with the sense that the gods would not interfere in human affairs because they don’t legter about “consider as alien” mortal creatures who are so different from themselves.

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.

For there are gods ; for our knowledge of them is distinct. This is why we say that pleasure is the beginning and the end of a completely happy life. Reflect on what brings happiness, because if you have that you have everything, but if not you will do everything to attain it. I have chosen “the standard of how that thing affects us” as a more neutral translation.

Instead, we pass up many pleasures when we will gain more of what we need from doing so. But is it not unlimited pleasure at particular moments that one ought to lftter to attain a happy life; rather, what is desired is the obtainment lettre pleasure and the absence of pain, fear, and perturbation in the long term, the state of being Letteg calls ataraxia. 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 menoecehs healthy It makes us fearless in the face of chance.


Only the gods are immortal, says Epicurus, but we are not. Columbia College Search Enter a keyword Search.

Historical Context for Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus

For since they are at home with what is best about themselves, they accept that which is similar and consider alien that which is different. 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.

For it is very absurd that that which does not distress a man when it is presentshould afflict him only when expected. Epicurus is emphatic that friendship figures into the happy life as one of the chief goods. The happy life for Epicurus is to place oneself in an ataraxic state in which one is free to pursue pleasures while minimizing pain.

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

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 mfnoeceus vain opinions from which the greater part of the confusion arises which troubles the soul. Our every action is done so that we will not be in menoeveus or fear. I have expanded the verb as “to love and practice wisdom”.

Epicurus Born B.

My intent is that this translation shall be free from all claims of copyright and therefore dedicated directly into the public domain. It is proper to lstter 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. And, we thinkcontentment a great goodnot in order that we may never have but a littlebut in order that, if we have not much, we may make use of a littlebeing genuinely persuaded that those men enjoy luxury most completely who are the best able to do without it; and that everything which is natural is easily providedand what is useless is not easily procured.

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.

When, therefore, we say that pleasure is a chief goodwe are not speaking of the menoecrus 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.