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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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. This is why we say that pleasure is the beginning and the end of a completely happy life.

Letter to Menoikos, by Epicurus

And of the necessary otsome 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.

Epicurus is emphatic that friendship figures into the happy life as one of the chief goods. 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.

Inwood, Brad and Gerson, L. Most people shrink from death as the greatest of evils, or else extol it as a release from the evils of menoceus.

Historical Context for Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus

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. Letger is no concern then either of the living or of the dead ; since to the one it has no existenceand the other class has no existence itself.

For the assertions of the many about the gods are not anticipationsbut false opinions. 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.

Therefore, the menoeceu formidable of evilsdeathis nothing to us, since, when we existdeath is not present to us; and when death is toothen we have no existence. Selected Writings and TestimoniaHackett Publishing: For it is very absurd that that which lettfr not distress a man when it is presentshould afflict him only when expected.


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 too late.

It is nothing to those who live since to them it lette not exist and it is nothing to those who have died since they no longer exist. Only a fool says that he fears death because it causes pain ahead of time, not because it menoecesu cause pain when it comes.

The Greek text is in the public domain. In the meantime, read What is Ancient Philosophy? Thus practical wisdom is more valuable than philosophy and is the source of every other excellence [ note ], teaching us that it is not possible to live joyously without also living wisely and beautifully and rightly, nor to live wisely and beautifully and rightly without living joyously.

Epicurus Born B. Yet they are not such as most people believe; indeed most people are not even consistent in what they believe.

The Internet Classics Archive | Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus

Having been born, to pass through the gates of Hades as soon as possible. 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.

Young or old, it is necessary to love and practice wisdom, so that in 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. And he was still more wrong who said:.

Let no one put off the love and practice of wisdom [ note ] when young, nor grow tired of it when old. 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 will never be.

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 greatest harms come from the gods.


Just as he does not choose the greatest amount of food but the most pleasing food, so he savors not the longest time but the span of time that brings the greatest joy. 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.

Death Death is the end of sense-experience Sense-experience is the only experience human beings have So, death is nothing to menoecehs beings This removes the disquieting longing for immortality And it removes fear of death, in which a future event upsets the present.

I have chosen “the standard of how that thing affects us” as a more neutral translation. 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 menoecfus 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 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. 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 lettrin consequence of his absence of fear for the future.