Quotes by Epicurus
Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Epicurus. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Wikipedia Summary for Epicurus
Epicurus (341–270 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher and sage who founded Epicureanism, a highly influential school of philosophy. He was born on the Greek island of Samos to Athenian parents. Influenced by Democritus, Aristippus, Pyrrho, and possibly the Cynics, he turned against the Platonism of his day and established his own school, known as "the Garden", in Athens. Epicurus and his followers were known for eating simple meals and discussing a wide range of philosophical subjects. He openly allowed women and slaves to join the school as a matter of policy. Epicurus is said to have originally written over 300 works on various subjects, but the vast majority of these writings have been lost. Only three letters written by him—the letters to Menoeceus, Pythocles, and Herodotus—and two collections of quotes—the Principal Doctrines and the Vatican Sayings—have survived intact, along with a few fragments of his other writings. Most knowledge of his teachings comes from later authors, particularly the biographer Diogenes Laërtius, the Epicurean Roman poet Lucretius and the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus, and with hostile but largely accurate accounts by the Pyrrhonist philosopher Sextus Empiricus, and the Academic Skeptic and statesman Cicero.
For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to help people attain a happy (eudaimonic), tranquil life characterized by ataraxia (peace and freedom from fear) and aponia (the absence of pain). He advocated that people were best able to pursue philosophy by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that the root of all human neurosis is death denial and the tendency for human beings to assume that death will be horrific and painful, which he claimed causes unnecessary anxiety, selfish self-protective behaviors, and hypocrisy. According to Epicurus, death is the end of both the body and the soul and therefore should not be feared. Epicurus taught that although the gods exist, they have no involvement in human affairs. He taught that people should behave ethically not because the gods punish or reward people for their actions, but because amoral behavior will burden them with guilt and prevent them from attaining ataraxia.
Like Aristotle, Epicurus was an empiricist, meaning he believed that the senses are the only reliable source of knowledge about the world. He derived much of his physics and cosmology from the earlier philosopher Democritus (c. 460–c. 370 BC). Like Democritus, Epicurus taught that the universe is infinite and eternal and that all matter is made up of extremely tiny, invisible particles known as atoms. All occurrences in the natural world are ultimately the result of atoms moving and interacting in empty space. Epicurus deviated from Democritus by proposing the idea of atomic "swerve", which holds that atoms may deviate from their expected course, thus permitting humans to possess free will in an otherwise deterministic universe.
Though popular, Epicurean teachings were controversial from the beginning. Epicureanism reached the height of its popularity during the late years of the Roman Republic. It died out in late antiquity, subject to hostility from early Christianity. Throughout the Middle Ages Epicurus was popularly, though inaccurately, remembered as a patron of drunkards, whoremongers, and gluttons. His teachings gradually became more widely known in the fifteenth century with the rediscovery of important texts, but his ideas did not become acceptable until the seventeenth century, when the French Catholic priest Pierre Gassendi revived a modified version of them, which was promoted by other writers, including Walter Charleton and Robert Boyle. His influence grew considerably during and after the Enlightenment, profoundly impacting the ideas of major thinkers, including John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Jeremy Bentham, and Karl Marx.
The time when most of you should withdraw into yourself is when you are forced to be in a crowd.
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
Justice... is a kind of compact not to harm or be harmed.
Not what we have But what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.
There are definite worlds both like and unlike this world of ours...We must believe that in all worlds, there are living creatures and plants and other things we see in this world.
Plain fare gives as much pleasure as a costly diet, while bread and water confer the highest possible pleasure when they are brought to hungry lips.
We recognize pleasure as the first good innate in us, and from pleasure we begin every act of choice and avoidance, and to pleasure we return again, using the feeling as the standard by which we judge every good.
The greater difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.
Of all the means to insure happiness throughout the whole life, by far the most important is the acquisition of friends.
Pleasure is the first good. It is the beginning of every choice and every aversion. It is the absence of pain in the body and of troubles in the soul.
There are infinite worlds both like and unlike this world of ours. For the atoms being infinite in number... are borne on far out into space.
If the gods have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not all-powerful. If they are neither able nor willing, they are neither all-powerful or benevolent. If they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, why does it exist?
Thus that which is the most awful of evils, death, is nothing to us, since when we exist there is no death, and when there is death we do not exist.
If the gods listened to the prayers of men, all men would quickly have perished: for they are forever praying for evil against one another.
Why should I fear death?
If I am, then death is not.
If Death is, then I am not.
Why should I fear that which can only exist when I do not?
Long time men lay oppressed with slavish fear.
Religious tyranny did domineer.
At length the mighty one of Greece
Began to assent the liberty of man.
When someone admits one and rejects another which is equally in accordance with the appearances, it is clear that he has quitted all physical explanation and descended into myth.
He who understands the limits of life knows that it is easy to obtain that which removes the pain of want and makes the whole of life complete and perfect. Thus he has no longer any need of things which involve struggle.
We must consider both the ultimate end and all clear sensory evidence, to which we refer our opinions; for otherwise everything will be full of uncertainty and confusion.
Vain is the word of a philosopher which does not heal any suffering of man. For just as there is no profit in medicine if it does not expel the diseases of the body, so there is no profit in philosophy either, if it does not expel the suffering of the mind.
Thanks be to blessed Nature that she has made what is necessary easy to obtain, and what is not easy unnecessary.
Injustice is not evil in itself, but only in the fear and apprehension that one will not escape those who have been set up to punish the offense.
It is impossible for someone to dispel his fears about the most important matters if he doesn't know the nature of the universe but still gives some credence to myths. So without the study of nature there is no enjoyment of pure pleasure.
Why are you afraid of death? Where you are, death is not. Where death is, you are not. What is it that you fear.
We ought to be thankful to nature for having made those things which are necessary easy to be discovered; while other things that are difficult to be known are not necessary.
Earthquakes may be brought about because wind is caught up in the earth, so the earth is dislocated in small masses and is continually shaken, and that causes it to sway.
Justice is never anything in itself, but in the dealings of men with one another in any place whatever and at any time. It is a kind of compact not to harm or be harmed.
The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to infinity.
Men inflict injuries from hatred, jealousy or contempt, but the wise man masters all these passions by means of reason.
If you wish to make Pythocles rich, do not add to his store of money, but subtract from his desires.
Pleasure is the beginning and the end of living happily.
Pleasure is the beginning and the end of living happily. Epicurus taught: Pleasure, defined as freedom from pain, is the highest good.
If death causes you no pain when you're dead, it is foolish to allow the fear of it to cause you pain now.
Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can and does not want to.
If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent.
If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked.
If, as they say, God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?
The mind that is much elevated and insolent with prosperity, and cast down with adversity, is generally abject and base.
Pleasure is our first and kindred good. It is the starting point of every choice and of every aversion, and to it we always come back, inasmuch as we make feeling the rule by which to judge of every good thing.
I spit upon luxurious pleasures, not for their own sake, but because of the inconveniences that follow them.
A blessed and indestructible being has no trouble himself and brings no trouble upon any other being; so he is free from anger and partiality, for all such things imply weakness.
Luxurious food and drinks, in no way protect you from harm. Wealth beyond what is natural, is no more use than an overflowing container. Real value is not generated by theaters, and baths, perfumes or ointments, but by philosophy.
The magnitude of pleasure reaches its limit in the removal of all pain. When such pleasure is present, so long as it is uninterrupted, there is no pain either of body or of mind or of both together.
For a wrongdoer to be undetected is difficult; and for him to have confidence that his concealment will continue is impossible.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.
We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf.
The greater the Difficulty the more Glory in surmounting it, and the loss of false Joys secures to us a much better Possession of real ones.
A strict belief in fate is the worst of slavery, imposing upon our necks an everlasting lord and tyrant, whom we are to stand in awe of night and day.
You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.
If God listened to the prayers of men, all men would quickly have perished: for they are forever praying for evil against one another.
There is no such thing as justice in the abstract; it is merely a compact between men.
There is no such thing as justice in the abstract; it is merely a compact between men in their various relations with each other, in whatever circumstances they may be, that they will neither injure nor be injured.
Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search of it when he has grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul.
Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.
I never desired to please the rabble. What pleased them, I did not learn; and what I knew was far removed from their understanding.
We must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed toward attaining it.
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