This online version of a portion Cyril Bailey's 1926 work has been prepared by EpicureanFriends.com for use as Epicurus College reference material. It was prepared from a PDF of the original which can be found at Archive.org here. The original PDF contains the full Greek, footnotes, and commentary.
This online edition will be annotated over time.
Approximate line numbers matching the Bailey edition are placed in brackets such as . Placement of these numbers should not be considered to be exact, and should be used primarily as an aid in looking up the same section in other translations.
The Vatican Collection¶
1. The blessed and immortal nature knows no trouble itself nor causes trouble to any other, so that it is never constrained by anger or favour. For all such things exist only in the weak.
2. Death is nothing to us, for that which is dissolved is without sensation; and that which lacks sensation is nothing to us.
3. The limit of quantity in pleasures is the removal of all that is painful. Wherever pleasure is present, as long as it is there, there is neither pain of body nor of mind, nor of both at once.
4. All bodily suffering is negligible: for that which causes acute pain has short duration, and that which endures long in the flesh causes but mild pain.
5. It is not possible to live pleasantly without living prudently and honorably and justly, [nor again to live a life of prudence, honor, and Justice] without living pleasantly. And the man who does not possess the pleasant life, is not living prudently and honorably and justly, [and the man who does not possess the virtuous life], cannot possibly live pleasantly.
6. To secure protection from men anything is a natural good, by which you may be able to attain this end.
7 It is hard for an evil-doer to escape detection, but to obtain security for escaping is impossible.
8. No pleasure is a bad thing in itself: but the means which produce some pleasures bring with them disturbances many times greater than the pleasures.
9. Necessity is an evil, but there is no necessity to live under the control of necessity.
10. Remember that you are of mortal nature and have a limited time to live and have devoted yourself to discussions on nature for all time and eternity and have seen ‘things that are now and are to come and have been.’]
11. For most men rest is stagnation and activity madness.
12. A man cannot dispel his fear about the most important matters if he does not know what is the nature of the universe but suspects the truth of some mythical story. So that without natural science it is not possible to attain our pleasures unalloyed.
13. There is no profit in securing protection in relation to men, if things above and things beneath the earth and indeed all in the boundless universe remain matters of suspicion.
14. We are born once and cannot be born twice, but for all time must be no more. But you, who are not (master) of tomorrow, postpone your happiness: life is wasted in procrastination and each one of us dies without allowing himself leisure.
15. We value our characters as something peculiar to ourselves, whether they are good and we are esteemed by men, or not; so ought we to value the characters of others, if they are well-disposed to us.
16. No one when he sees evil deliberately chooses it, but is enticed by it as being good in comparison with a greater evil and so pursues it.
17. It is not the young man who should be thought happy, but an old man who has lived a good life. For the young man at the height of his powers is unstable and is carried this way and that by fortune, like a headlong stream. But the old man has come to anchor in old age as though in port, and the good things for which before he hardly hoped he has brought into safe harborage in his grateful recollections.
18 Remove sight, association and contact, and the passion of love is at an end.
19. Forgetting the good that has been he has become old this very day.
20. Among desires some are natural (and necessary, some natural) but not necessary, and others neither natural nor necessary, but due to idle imagination.
21. We must not violate nature, but obey her; and we shall obey her if we fulfill the necessary desires and also the physical, if they bring no harm to us, but sternly reject the harmful.
22. Infinite time contains no greater pleasure than limited time, if one measures by reason the limits of pleasure
23. All friendship is desirable in itself, though it starts from the need of help.
24. Dreams have no divine character nor any prophetic force, but they originate from the influx of images.
25. Poverty, when measured by the natural purpose of life, is great wealth, but unlimited wealth is great poverty.
26. You must understand that whether the discourse be long or short it tends to the same end.
27. In all other occupations the fruit comes painfully after completion, but in philosophy pleasure goes hand in hand with knowledge; for enjoyment does not follow.
28. We must not approve either those who are always ready for friendship, or those who hang back, but for friendship’s sake we must even run risks.
29. In investigating nature I would prefer to speak openly and like an oracle to give answers serviceable to all mankind, even though no one should understand me, rather than to conform to popular opinions and so win the praise freely scattered by the mob.
30. Some men throughout their lives gather together the means of life, for they do not see that the draught swallowed by all of us at birth is a draught of death.
31. Against all else it is possible to provide security, but as against death all of us mortals alike dwell in an unfortified city.
32. The veneration of the Wise man is a great blessing to those who venerate him.
33. The flesh cries out to be saved from hunger, thirst and cold. For if a man possess this safety and hope to possess it, he might rival even Zeus in happiness.
34. It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confidence of their help.
35. We should not spoil what we have by desiring what we have not, but remember that what we have too was the gift of fortune.
36. Epicurus’ life when compared to other men’s in respect of gentleness and self-sufficiency might be thought a mere legend.
37. Nature is weak towards evil, not towards good: because it is saved by pleasures, but destroyed by pains.
38. He is a little man in all respects who has many good reasons for quitting life.
39. He is no friend who is continually asking for help, nor he who never associates help with friendship. For the former barters kindly feeling for a practical return and the latter destroys the hope of good in the future.
40. The man who says that all things come to pass by necessity cannot criticize one who denies that all things come to pass by necessity: for he admits that this too happens of necessity.
41. We must laugh and philosophize at the same time and do our household duties and employ our other faculties, and never cease proclaiming the sayings of the true philosophy.
42. The greatest blessing is created and enjoyed at the same moment.
43. The love of money, if unjustly gained, is impious, and, if justly, shameful; for it is unseemly to be merely parsimonious even with justice on one's side.
44. The wise man when he has accommodated himself to straits knows better how to give than to receive: so great is the treasure of self-sufficiency which he has discovered.
45. The study of nature does not make men productive of boasting or bragging nor apt to display that culture which is the object of rivalry with the many, but high-spirited and self-sufficient, taking pride in the good things of their own minds and not of their circumstances.
46. Our bad habits, like evil men who have long done us great harm, let us utterly drive from us.
47. I have anticipated thee, Fortune, and entrenched myself against all thy secret attacks. And we will not give ourselves up as captives to thee or to any other circumstance; but when it is time for us to go,spitting contempt on life and on those who here vainly cling to it, we will leave life crying aloud in a glorious triumph-song that we have lived well.
48. We must try to make the end of the journey better than the beginning, as long as we are journeying, but when we come to the end, we must be happy and content.
49. A man cannot dispel his fear about the most important matters if he does not know what is the nature of the universe but suspects the truth of some mythical story. So that without natural science it is not possible to attain our pleasures unalloyed.
50. No pleasure is a bad thing in itself: but the means which produce some pleasures bring with them disturbances many times greater than the pleasures.
51 You tell me that the stimulus of the flesh makes you too prone to the pleasures of love. Provided that you do not break the laws or good customs and do not distress any of your neighbors or do harm to your body or squander your pittance, you may indulge your inclination as you please. Yet it is impossible not to come up against one or other of these barriers: for the pleasures of love never profited a man and he is lucky if they do him no harm.
52. Friendship goes dancing round the world proclaiming to us all to awake to the praises of a happy life.
53. We must envy no one: for the good do not deserve envy and the bad, the more they prosper, the more they injure themselves.
54. We must not pretend to study philosophy, but study it in reality: for it is not the appearance of health that we need, but real health.
55. We must heal our misfortunes by the grateful recollection of what has been and by the recognition that it is impossible to make undone what has been done.
56-57. The wise man is not more pained when being tortured (himself, than when seeing) his friend (tortured): (but if his friend does him wrong), his whole life will be confounded by distrust and completely upset.
58. We must release ourselves from the prison of affairs and politics.
59. It is not the stomach that is insatiable, as is generally said, but the false opinion that the stomach needs an unlimited amount to fill it.
60. Every man passes out of life as though he had just been born.
61. Most beautiful too is the sight of those near and dear to us, when our original kinship makes us of one mind; for such sight is a great incitement to this end.
62. Now it parents are justly angry with their children, it is certainly useless to fight against it and not to ask for pardon; but if their anger is unjust and irrational, it is quite ridiculous to add fuel to their irrational passion by nursing one’s own indignation, and not to attempt to turn aside their wrath in other ways by gentleness.
63. Frugality too has a limit, and the man who disregards it is in like case with him who errs through excess.
64. Praise from others must come unasked: we must concern ourselves with the healing of our own lives.
65. It is vain to ask of the gods what a man is capable of supplying for himself.
66. Let us show our feeling for our lost friends not by lamentation but by meditation.
67. A free life cannot acquire many possessions, because this is not easy to do without servility to mobs or monarchs, yet it possesses all things in unfailing abundance; and if by chance it obtains many possessions, it is easy to distribute them so as to win the gratitude of neighbors.
69. The ungrateful greed of the soul makes the creature everlastingly desire varieties of dainty food.
70. Let nothing be done in your life, which will cause you fear if it becomes known to your neighbor.
71. Every desire must be confronted with this question: what will happen to me, if the object of my desire is accomplished and what if it is not?
72. There is no profit in securing protection in relation to men, if things above and things beneath the earth and indeed all in the boundless universe remain matters of suspicion.
73. The occurrence of certain bodily pains assists us in guarding against others like them.
74. In a philosophical discussion he who is worsted gains more in proportion as he learns more.
75. Ungrateful towards the blessings of the past is the saying, ‘Wait till the end of a long life.’
76. You are in your old age just such as I urge you to be, and you have seen the difference between studying philosophy for oneself and proclaiming it to Greece at large: I rejoice with you.
77. The greatest fruit of self-sufficiency is freedom.
78. The noble soul occupies itself with wisdom and friendship : of these the one is a mortal good, the other immortal.
79. The man who is serene causes no disturbance to himself or to another.
80. The first measure of security is to watch over one’s youth and to guard against what makes havoc of all by means of pestering desires.
81. The disturbance of the soul cannot be ended nor true joy created either by the possession of the greatest wealth or by honor and respect in the eyes of the mob or by anything else that is associated with causes of unlimited desire.
Remains Assigned to Certain Books¶
I. Concerning Choice and Avoidance.
1. Freedom from trouble in the mind and from pain in the body are static pleasures, but joy and exultation are considered as active pleasures involving motion.
2. Will the wise man do things that the laws forbid, knowing that he will not be found out? A simple answer is not easy to find.
III. The Shorter Summary.
3. Prophecy does not exist, and even if it did exist, things that come to pass must be counted nothing to us.
IV. Against Theophrastus.
4. But even apart from this argument I do not know how one should say that things in the dark have color.
5. Polyaenus: Do you, Epicurus, deny the existence of the warmth produced by wine? (Some one interrupted:) It does not appear that wine is unconditionally productive of heat. (And a little later:) It seems that wine is not unconditionally productive of heat, but wine of a certain quantity might be said to produce heat in a certain body.
6. Therefore we must not speak of wine as unconditionally productive of heat, but rather say that a certain quantity of wine will produce heat in a certain body which is in a certain disposition, or that a different quantity will produce cold in a different body. For in the compound body of wine there are certain particles out of which cold might be produced, if, as need arises, united with different particles they could form a structure which would cause cold. So that those are deceived who say that wine is unconditionally heating or cooling.
7. Wine often enters the body without exerting any power either of heating or of cooling, but when the structure is disturbed and an atomic rearrangement takes place, the atoms which create heat at one time come together and by their number give heat and inflammation to the body, at another they retire and so cool it.
8. Sexual intercourse has never done a man good, and he is lucky if it has not harmed him.
9. It is strange indeed that you were not at all impeded by your youth, as you would say yourself, from attaining, young as you were, a distinction in the art of rhetoric far above all your contemporaries, even the experienced and famous. It is strange indeed, I say, that you were not at all impeded by your youth from winning distinction in the art of rhetoric, which seems to require much practice and habituation, whereas youth can be an impediment to the understanding of the true nature of the world, towards which knowledge might seem to contribute more than practice and habituation.
VI. On The End of Life.
10. I know not how I can conceive the good, if I withdraw the pleasures of taste, and withdraw the pleasures of love, and withdraw the pleasures of hearing, and withdraw the pleasurable emotions caused to sight by beautiful form.
11. The stable condition of well-being in the body and the sure hope of its continuance holds the fullest and surest joy for those who can rightly calculate it.
12. Beauty and virtue and the like are to be honored if they give pleasure; but if they do not give pleasure, we must bid them farewell.
VII. On Nature.
13. The nature of the universe consists of bodies and void.
14. The nature of all existing things is bodies and space.
15. For if it (the sun) had lost its size through the distance, much more would it have lost its color: for there is no other distance better adapted for such loss than that of the sun.
Remains From Uncertain Works¶
16. The atom is a hard body free from any admixture of void; the void is intangible existence.
17. Away with them all: for he (Nausiphanes), like many another slave, was in travail with that wordy braggart, sophistic.
Remains Of Letters¶
18. If they have this in mind, they are victorious over the evils of want and poverty.
19. Even if war comes, he would not count it terrible, if the gods are propitious. He has led and will lead a pure life in Matro’s company, by favor of the gods.
20. Tell me, Polyaenus, do you know what has been a great joy to us?
LETTERS TO SEVERAL PERSONS.
To the philosophers in Mytilene.
21. This drove him to such a state of fury that he abused me and ironically called me master.
22. I suppose that those grumblers will believe me to be a disciple of The Mollusc and to have listened to his teaching in company with a few bibulous youths. For indeed the fellow was a bad man and his habits such as could never lead to wisdom.
LETTERS TO INDIVIDUALS.
23. But I summon you to continuous pleasures and not to vain and empty virtues which have but disturbing hopes of results.
24. I congratulate you, Apelles, in that you have approached philosophy free from all contamination.
25. If you two don’t come to me, I am capable of arriving with a hop, skip, and jump, wherever you and Themista summon me.
26. Send us therefore offerings for the sustenance of our holy body on behalf of yourself and your children. This is how it occurs to me to put it.
27. O thou who hast from thy youth regarded all my promptings as sweet.
28. If you wish to make Pythocles rich, do not give him more money, but diminish his desire.
29. We think highly of frugality not that we may always keep to a cheap and simple diet, but that we may be free from desire regarding it.
30. On this truly happy day of my life, as I am at the point of death, I write this to you. The disease in my bladder and stomach are pursuing their course, lacking nothing of their natural severity: but against all this is the joy in my heart at the recollection of my conversations with you. Do you, as I might expect from your devotion from boyhood to me and to philosophy, take good care of the children of Metrodorus.
31. In your feeling of reverence for what I was then saying you were seized with an unaccountable desire to embrace me and clasp my knees and show me all the signs of homage paid by men in prayers and supplications to others; so you made me return all these proofs of veneration and respect to you.
Go on thy way as an immortal and think of us too as immortal.
32. Lord and Saviour, my dearest Leontion, what a hurrahing you drew from us, when we read aloud your dear letter.
33. Blest youth, set sail in your bark and flee from every form of culture.
34. I will sit down and wait for your lovely and godlike appearance.
LETTERS TO UNCERTAIN PERSONS.
To a boy or a girl.
35. We have arrived at Lampsacus safe and sound, Pythocles and Hermarchus and Ctesippus and I, and there we found Themista and our other friends all well.
I hope you too are well and your mamma, and that you are always obedient to pappa and Matro, as you used to be. Let me tell you that the reason that I and all the rest of us love you is that you are always obedient to them.
Letter written in his last days.
36. Seven days before writing this the stoppage became complete and I suffered pains such as bring men to their last day. If anything happens to me, do you look after the children of Metrodorus for four or five years, but do not spend any more on them than you now spend each year on me.
Letters To Unknown Recipients.
37. I am thrilled with pleasure in the body, when I live on bread and water, and I spit upon luxurious pleasures not for their own sake, but because of the inconveniences that follow them.
38. As I said to you when you were going away, take care also of his brother Apollodorus. He is not a bad boy, but causes me anxiety, when he does what he does not mean to do.
39. Send me some preserved cheese, that when I like I may have a feast.
4o. You have looked after me wonderfully generously in sending me food, and have given proofs heaven-high of your good will to me.
41. The only contribution I require is that which . . ordered the disciples to send me, even if they are among the Hyperboreans. I wish to receive from each of you two a hundred and twenty drachmae a year and no more. Ctesippus has brought me the annual contribution which you sent for your father and yourself.
42. He will have a valuable return in the instruction which I have given him.
43. I was never anxious to please the mob. For what pleased them, I did not know, and what I did know, was far removed from their comprehension.
44. Think it not unnatural that when the flesh cries aloud, the soul cries too. The flesh cries out to be saved from hunger, thirst, and cold. It is hard for the soul to repress these cries, and dangerous for it to disregard nature’s appeal to her because of her own wonted independence day by day.
45 The man who follows nature and not vain opinions is independent in all things. For in reference to what is enough for nature every possession is riches, but in reference to unlimited desires even the greatest wealth is (not riches but poverty).
46. In so far as you are in difficulties, it is because you forget nature; for you create for yourself unlimited fears and desires.
48. It is better for you to be free of fear lying upon a pallet, than to have a golden couch and a rich table and be full of trouble.
49. . . . remembering your letter and your discussion about the men who are not able to see the analogy between phenomena and the unseen nor the harmony which exists between sensations and the unseen and again the contradiction.
50. Sweet is the memory of a dead friend.
51. Do not avoid conferring small favors for then you will seem to be of like character towards great things.
52. If your enemy makes a request to you, do not turn from his petition, but be on your guard, for he is like a dog.
Remains From Uncertain Sources¶
54. 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.
55. Nothing new happens in the universe, if you consider the infinite time past.
56. We shall not be considering them any happier or less destructible, if we think of them as not speaking nor conversing with one another, but resembling dumb men.
57. Let us at least sacrifice piously and rightly where it is customary, and let us do all things rightly according to the laws not troubling ourselves with common beliefs in what concerns the noblest and holiest of beings. Further let us be free of any charge in regard to their opinion For thus can one live in conformity with nature....
58. If God listened to the prayers of men, all men would quickly have perished: for they are for ever praying for evil against one another.
59. The beginning and the root of all good is the pleasure of the stomach; even wisdom and culture must be referred to this.
60. We have need of pleasure when we are in pain from its absence: but when we are not feeling such pain, though we are in a condition of sensation, we have no need of pleasure. For the pleasure which arises from nature does not produce wickedness, but rather the longing connected with vain fancies.
61. That which creates joy insuperable is the complete removal of a great evil. And this is the nature of good, if one can once grasp it rightly, and then hold by it, and not walk about babbling idly about the good.
62. It is better to endure these particular pains so that we may enjoy greater joys. It is well to abstain from these particular pleasures in order that we may not suffer more severe pains.
63. Let us not blame the flesh as the cause of great evils, nor blame circumstances for our distresses.
64. Great pains quickly put an end to life; long-enduring pains are not severe.
65. Excessive pain will bring you to death.
66. Through love of true philosophy every disturbing and troublesome desire is ended.
67. Thanks be to blessed Nature because she has made what is necessary easy to supply, and what is not easy unnecessary.
68. It is common to find a man who is (poor) in respect of the natural end of life and rich in empty fancies. For of the fools none is satisfied with what he has, but is grieved for what he has not. Just as men with fever through the malignance of their (disease) are always thirsty and desire the most injurious things, so too those whose mind is in an evil state are always poor in everything and in their greed are plunged into ever-changing desires.
69. Nothing satisfies the man who is not satisfied with a little.
70. Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all riches.
71. Most men fear frugality and through their fear are led to actions most likely to produce fear.
72. Many men when they have acquired riches have not found the escape from their ills but only a change to greater ills.
73. By means of occupations worthy of a beast abundance of riches is heaped up, but a miserable life results.
74. Unhappiness comes either through fear or through vain and unbridled desire but if a man curbs these, he can win for himself the blessedness of understanding.
75. It is not deprivation of these things which is pain, but rather the bearing of the useless pain that arises from vain fancies.
76. The mean soul is puffed up by prosperity and cast down by misfortune.
77. (Nature) teaches us to pay little heed to what fortune brings, and when we are prosperous to understand that we are unfortunate, and when we are unfortunate not to regard prosperity highly, and to receive unmoved the good things which come from fortune and to range ourselves boldly against the seeming evils which it brings: for all that the many regard as good or evil is fleeting, and wisdom has nothing in common with fortune.
78. He who least needs tomorrow, will most gladly go to meet tomorrow.
79. I spit upon the beautiful and those who vainly admire it, when it does not produce any pleasure.
80. The greatest fruit of justice is serenity.
81. The laws exist for the sake of the wise, not that they may not do wrong, but that they may not suffer it.
82. Even if they are able to escape punishment, it is impossible to win security for escaping: and so the fear of the future which always presses upon them does not suffer them to be happy or to be free from anxiety in the present.
83. The man who has attained the natural end of the human race will be equally good, even though no one is present.
84. A man who causes fear cannot be free from fear.
85. The happy and blessed state belongs not to abundance of riches or dignity of position or any office of power, but to freedom from pain and moderation in feelings and an attitude of mind which imposes the limits ordained by nature.
86. Live unknown.
87. We must say how best a man will maintain the natural end of life, and how no one will willingly at first aim at public office.