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Epicurus: Fragments


    ( 2 :   fragments from uncertain sources, U.219 - 395 )

Selections from the classic compilation of Hermann Usener (1834-1905)

Originally compiled and published in 1887. This arrangement produced by Erik Anderson, 2005, 2006, in consultation with translations from a wide variety of sources.


← Fragments from known works

Fragments from Uncertain Sources

 

     
 I  Prologues to Philosophy 
    On Wisdom and the Sage U219 - U226
    On the Arts U227 - U230
    On Philosophers U231 - U241
       
II Canonics U242 - U244
    On the Standards of Judgment U245
    1. On Sensation U246 - U254
    2. On Representations and Words U255 - U259
3. On the Passions U260 - U261
On Signs U262 - U263
On Disputation U264 - U265
     
III Physics U266
    On the Atoms U267 - U270
    On the Void U271 - U274
    On Bodies and their Attributes U275
On Motion U276 - U280
On the Atomic Swerve U281
On Aggregation and Dissolution U282 - U287
  On Qualities U288 - U289
  On Mixture U290
  On Change U291 - U292
On Magnetism U293 - U294
On the Universe and its World-Systems U295 - U308
On Planets U309
On Man U310
On the Soul U311 - U315
On Temperaments U316
  On Sensation U317
  On Vision U318 - U319
  On Mirrors U320
  On Hearing U321 - U323
  On Taste U324
  On Sleep and Dreams U325 - U328
  On Reproduction U329 - U333
  On the Origin of Human Beings  
  On Linguistics U334 - U335
  On Death U336 - U341
On Celestial Phenomena U342 - U351
  On the Gods U352 - U353
  On the Nature and Form of the Gods U354 - U359
  On the Blessed Life of the Gods U360 - U366
  On the Care and Governance of the World U367 - U383
  On Religion U384 - U394
  On Divination U395
       
 IV Ethics U396 - U397
  On the Chief Good and Evil U398 - U407
  On Kinetic Pleasure U408 - U415
  On Katastematic Pleasure U416 - U428
    On Peace of Mind U428 - U439
    On Proper Measurement of Pleasure and Pain U440 - U449
  Against the School of Aristippus U450 - U453
  On the Limits of Desires U454 - U484
  On Rational Living U485 - U503
  On the Virtues U504 - U522
  On Human Society U523 - U535
  On Security Among Men U536 - U547
  On Honor and Glory U548 - U560
       
 ~ On the Sage  
  On the Studies of the Sage U561 - U571
  On Duties U572 - U578
  The Attitude of the Sage U579 - U607
     




I. Prologues to Philosophy

On Wisdom and the Sage

[ U219 ]

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Ethicists, (Against the Dogmatists, V) 169: For they {the Dogmatists} promise to present us with an "art of life," and because of this Epicurus declared that "philosophy is an activity secures the happy life by arguments and discussions."

[ U220 ]

Sacred and Profane Parallels, A 14, 156 [p. 761 Gaisf.]: From Epicurus: "It is not the pretended but the real pursuit of philosophy that is needed; for we do not need the appearance of good health but to enjoy it in truth." {= Vatican Sayings 54}

[ U221 ]

Porphyry, Letter to Marcella, 31, [p. 209, 23 Nauck]: 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.

[ U222 ]

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 19, p. 1117F: It is one of Epicurus’ tenets that none but the Sage is unalterably convinced of anything.

[ U222a ]

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, X.117: Moreover {Epicurus says}, he who has become wise never resumes the opposite habit, nor even pretends to, if he can help it.

[ U223 ]

Cicero, Academica, II.14.45 (Lucullus): What we have termed "perspicuity" {clarity of reasoning} is cogent enough to identify things as they are.  But nevertheless, so that we may abide by things that are perspicuous more firmly and consistently, we require some further exercise of method or of attention to save ourselves from being thrown off – by trickery and ill-conceived arguments – from positions that are clear in themselves.  For Epicurus who desired to come to the relief of the errors that appear to upset our power of knowing the truth, and who said that the separation of opinion from perspicuous truth was the function of the wise man, carried matters no further, for he entirely failed to do away with the error connected with mere opinion.

[ U224 ]

Monastic Florilegium, 195: Epicurus also deemed opinion the "hallowed epidemic."

[ U225 ]

Aetius, Doxography, IV.9.19 [p. 398.11 Diels] (Parallel A.27.39 p.767 [Gaisf.]): Epicurus says that a Sage can only be recognized by another Sage.

[ U226 ]

Clement of Alexandria, Miscellenies, I.15 [p. 130.37 Sylb]: Epicurus, however, supposes that only the Greeks are qualified to practice philosophy.

On the Arts

[ U227 ]

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors, I.1: The case against the Mathematici – professors of Arts and Sciences – has been set forth in a general way, it would seem, both by Epicurus and by the School of Pyrrho …  Epicurus took the ground that the subjects taught are of no help in perfecting wisdom; and he did this, as some speculate, because he saw in it a way of covering up his own lack of culture (for in many matters Epicurus stands convicted of ignorance, and even in ordinary conversation, his speech was not correct).  Another reason may have been his hostility towards Plato and Aristotle and their like who were men of wide learning.

Cicero, On End-Goals, Good and Bad, II.4.12: Your school {Epicureanism} argues decisively that there is no need for the aspirant to philosophy to study literature at all.

Cf., Ibid., I.21, 71-72 (Torquatus to Cicero): You are disposed to think him uneducated.  The reason is that he refused to consider any education worth the name that did not help to school us in happiness.  Was he to spend his time, as you encourage Triarius and me to do, in perusing poets, who give us nothing solid and useful, but merely childish amusement?  Was he to occupy himself like Plato with music and geometry, arithmetic and astrology, which starting from false premises cannot be true, and which moreover if they were true would contribute nothing to make our lives pleasanter and therefore better?  Was he, I say, to study arts like these, and neglect the master art, so difficult and correspond so fruitful, the art of living?  No! Epicurus was not uneducated: the real philistines are those who ask us to go on studying till old age the subjects that we are supposed to be ashamed of not learning in childhood.

[ U227a ]

Lactantius, Divine Institutes, III.25.4: For what else is it to deny wisdom to men than to take away from their minds the true and divine light?  But if the nature of man is capable of wisdom, it is necessary that workmen and rustics and women and all who have human form be taught, that they might be wise, and that a people of sages be raised up from every tongue and condition and sex and age.  25.7: So the Stoics realized this, for they said that slaves and women ought to engage in philosophy; Epicurus, also, who summoned even the illiterate to philosophy.  …  25.8: Indeed, they tried to do what truth exacted, but it was not possible to get beyond the words, first, because there is need of many arts to be able to arrive at philosophy. … 25.12: For this reason, Tullius {i.e., Cicero} says that philosophy "shrinks from the crowd."  {Tusculan Disputations, II.2.4}   Still, Epicurus will accept the untutored.  How, therefore, will they understand those things which are said about the beginnings of things, perplexing and involved things which even educated men scarcely grasp?  In matters involved with obscurity, then, and spread over by the variety of abilities and colored with the exquisite oratory of eloquent men, what place is there for the inexperienced and unlearned?  Finally, they never taught any women to be philosophers except one, from all memory: Themista.

[ U227b ]

Scholiast on Dionysius Thrax {"Dionysius the Thracian"}, p 649, 26: This is how the Epicureans define craft: a craft is a method which effects what is advantageous for human life.  "Effects" is used in the sense of "produces."

[ U228 ]

Plutarch, That Epicurus actually makes a pleasant life impossible, 2, p. 1086F-: Heraclides then, a student of literature, is repaying his debt to Epicurus for such favors of theirs "as rabble of poets" and "Homer’s idiocies" and the verity of abuse that Metrodorus has in so many writings heaped upon the poet.

Clement of Alexandria, Miscellenies, V.14, p. 257.52: Homer, while representing the gods as subject to human passions, appears to know the Divine Being, whom Epicurus does not so revere.

[ U229 ]

Heraclitus Ponticus, Allegories of Homer, 4:

Ibid. 75:

Proclus Lycaeus, Commentary on Plato’s "Republic," [p. 382 Bas.]:

[ U229a ]

Plutarch, That Epicurus actually makes a pleasant life impossible, 11, p. 1093C: They even banish the pleasures that come from mathematics!

Saint Augustine, On the Utility of Faith, c. 6, 13, t. VIII [p. 53F Venice edition, 1719]:

Cicero Academica II.33.106 (Lucullus): Polyaenus is said to have been a great mathematician; after he had accepted the view of Epicurus and come to believe that all geometry is false, {surely he did not forget even the knowledge that he possessed?}

Proclus Lycaeus, Commentary on Euclid, [p. 55 Bas.; 199.9 Friedl.]: There are those, however, who are only predisposed to knock down the principles of geometry, like the Epicureans.

[ U229b ]

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Musicians (Against the Professors, VI) 27: Moreover, if Plato welcomed music, we should not therefore assert that music contributes to happiness, since others who are not inferior to him in trustworthiness – such as Epicurus – have denied this contention, and declared on the contrary that music is unbeneficial – "Wine-loving, idle, having no regard for wealth." {Euripides, fr. 184 Nauck}.

[ U230 ]

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, On the Composition of Words, 24, p. 188: The dictum that "writing presents no difficulties to those who do not aim at a constantly changing standard," which Epicurus himself propounded, was intended as a talisman to ward off the charge of extreme sloth and stupidity.  {c.f. above}

On Philosophers

[ U231 ]

Cicero, Brutus, 85.292 (Atticus speaking): I grant that that irony, which they say was found in Socrates … is a fine and clever way of speaking… Thus Socrates in the pages of Plato praises to the skies Protagoras, Hippias, Prodicus, Gorgias, and the rest, while representing himself as without knowledge of anything and a mere ignoramus.  This somehow fits his character, and I cannot agree with Epicurus who censures it.

[ U232 ]

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, X.13: Both Epicurus and Hermarchus deny the very existence of Leucippus the philosopher, though some say, including Apollodorus the Epicurean, that he was the teacher of Democritus.

[ U233 ]

Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, I.26.72 (Cotta speaking): The fact is that you people merely repeat by rote the idle fancies that Epicurus uttered when half asleep; for, as we read in his writings, he boasted that he had never had a master.  ... He could have studied under Xenocrates …   and there are some who think he did.  But he himself denied it, and he should know!  He does say that he heard the lectures of a certain Pamphilus, a student of Plato, when he was living in Sámos.  He lived there as a young man with his father and brothers, his father Neocles having settled there as an immigrant farmer.  But when he could not make a decent living from his small-holding, I believe he kept a school.  Epicurus however had a supreme contempt for Pamphilus as a follower of Plato, and in this he showed his usual anxiety never to learn anything from anyone.  Look how he behaved towards Nausiphanes, a disciple of Democritus.  He does not deny that he heard him lecture, but heaps all manner of abuse upon him.  What, after all, is there in his own philosophy which does not come form Democritus?  Even if he introduced some variations – such as the swerve in the motion of the atoms which I mentioned just now – still for the most part his theory is identical – atoms, void, images, the infinity of space, the numberless universes, their birth and death, and so on through practically the whole field of natural philosophy.

Plutarch, That Epicurus actually makes a pleasant life impossible, 18, p. 1100A: Was not Epicurus himself in such a fury of tense and palpitating passion for renown that he ... disowned his teachers?

[ U234 ]

Cicero, On End-Goals, Good and Bad, I.6.17:  Here {regarding physics}, in the first place, he is entirely second-hand. His doctrines are those of Democritus, with a very few modifications. And as for the latter, where he attempts to improve upon his original, in my opinion he only succeeds in making things worse. ... 21:  Thus where Epicurus alters the doctrines of Democritus, he alters them for the worse; while for those ideas which he adopts, the credit belongs entirely to Democritus. ... For my own part I reject these doctrines altogether; but still I could wish that Democritus, whom every one else applauds, had not been vilified by Epicurus who took him as his sole guide.

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 3, p. 1108E: He begins with Democritus, who thus receives for his teaching a handsome and appropriate fee.  And this although Epicurus long proclaimed himself a Democritean, as is attested among others by Leonteus, one of Epicurus’ most devoted pupils, who writes to Lycophron that Democritus was honored by Epicurus for having reached the correct approach to knowledge before him, and that indeed his whole system was called Democritean because Democritus had first his upon the first principles of natural philosophy.

[ U235 ]

Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, I.33.93 (Cotta speaking): Was it on the basis of dreams that Epicurus and Metrodorus and Hermarchus attacked Pythagoras, Plato, and Empedocles, and that little harlot Leontium dared to write criticisms of Theophrastus?  … You Epicureans are touchy yourselves. …  But Epicurus himself made the most libelous attacks on Aristotle and violently abused Phaedo, the disciple of Socrates.  He heaped whole volumes of invective on Timocrates, the brother of his own colleague Metrodorus, because of some petty disagreement on a philosophical point.  He even showed no gratitude to Democritus, his own forerunner, and had no use for his own teacher Nausiphanes, from whom he had learnt nothing in any case.

[ U236 ]

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, X.8: Epicurus used to call Nausiphanes a pleumonon {="jellyfish," imputing obtuseness and insensibility}, an illiterate, a fraud, and a whore.

[ U237 ]

Plutarch, That Epicurus actually makes a pleasant life impossible, 2, p. 1086E: Zeuxippus said: "Heraclides has gone off charging us with undue vehemence in our attack on the unoffending Epicurus and Metrodorus."  Here, Theon declared: "And you didn’t reply that by their standard Colotes looks like a paragon of measured speech?  For they made a collection of the most disgraceful terms to be found anywhere: ‘charlatanism’ {bomolochiás}, ‘buffoonery’ {lekythismoús}, ‘bragging’ {alazoneías} ‘prostitution’ {hetaireséis} ‘assassin’ {androphonías}, ‘loudmouth’ {barystonoús} , ‘hero of many of a misadventure’ {polyphthórous}, ‘nincompoop’ {baryegkephálous} – and showered it on Aristotle {U71}, Socrates {U231}, Pythagoras, Protagoras {U172 - U173}, Theophrastus, Heraclides {U16}, Hipparchia – indeed, what eminent name have they spared?

Cf. Plutarch, Against Colotes, 29, p. 1124C: The sophists and braggarts then, are those those who in their disputes with eminent men write with such shameless arrogance.

[ U238 ]

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, X.8: Platos school he called the "flatterers of Dionysius."  Plato himself he called "golden." ... Heraclitus a "muddler," Democritus he called "Lerocritus" {the gossip-monger}, Antidorus "Sannidorus" {a fawning gift-bearer}, the Cynics "enemies of Greece," the Dialecticians "despoilers," and he called Pyrrho "ignorant" and a "bore."

[ U239 ]

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 26, p. 1121E: The fame of Arcesilaus, the best loved among the philosophers of the time, would appear to have annoyed Epicurus mightily. Thus he {Colotes} says although this philosopher said nothing new, he gave the illiterate the impression and belief that he did. Our critic of course is widely read himself and writes with a beguiling charm.

[ U240 ]

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, X.12: Among the early philosophers, says Diocles, his favorite was Anaxagoras, although he occasionally disagreed with him, and Archelaus, the teacher of Socrates.

[ U241 ]

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, X.23: The goodness of Metrodorus was proved in all ways, as Epicurus testifies in his prefaces {of some of his books}.


II. Canonics

[ U242 ]

Seneca, Letters to Lucilius, 89.11: The Epicureans held that there are two pats of philosophy: physics and ethics – they got rid of logic.  Then, since they were forced by the very facts to distinguish what was ambiguous and to refute falsities lying hidden under the appearance of truth, they themselves also introduced that topic which they call "on judgment and the criterion" {i.e., canonics}; it is logic by another name, but they think that it is an accessory part of physics.

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, X.30: The usual arrangement, however, is to join canonics with physics; the former they call the science which deals with the standard and first principles, or the elementary part of philosophy...

Saint Augustine, Against Cresconius, I.13.16 t. IX [p. 397E Venice edition, 1719]:

[ U243 ]

Cicero, On End-Goals, Good and Bad, I.19.63 (Torquatus to Cicero): Logic, on which your {Platonic} school lays such stress, he held to be of no effect either as a guide to conduct or as an aid to thought. Natural Philosophy he deemed all-important. This science explains to us the meaning of terms, the nature of predication, and the law of consistency and contradiction; secondly, a thorough knowledge of the facts of nature relieves us of the burden of superstition, frees us from fear of death, and shields us against the disturbing effects of ignorance, which is often in itself a cause of terrifying apprehensions; lastly, to learn what nature’s real requirements are improves the moral character also. Besides, it is only by firmly grasping a well-established scientific system, observing the Rule or Canon that has fallen as it were from heaven so that all men may know it—only by making that Canon the test of all our judgments, that we can hope always to stand fast in our belief unshaken by the eloquence of any man. On the other hand, without a full understanding of the world of nature it is impossible to maintain the truth of our sense-perceptions. Further, every mental presentations has its origin in sensation: so that no certain knowledge will be possible, unless all sensations are true, as the theory of Epicurus teaches that they are. Those who deny the validity of sensation and say that nothing can be perceived, having excluded the evidence of the senses, are unable even to expound their own argument. Besides, by abolishing knowledge and science they abolish all possibility of rational life and action. Thus Natural Philosophy supplies courage to face the fear of death; resolution to resist the terrors of religion; peace of mind, for it removes all ignorance of the mysteries of nature; self-control, for it explains the nature of the desires and distinguishes their different kinds; and, as I showed just now, the Canon or Criterion of Knowledge, which Epicurus also established, gives a method of discerning truth from falsehood.

Cicero, On End-Goals, Good and Bad, I.7.22:  Turn next to the second division of philosophy, the department of Method and of Dialectic, which its termed Logikē. Of the whole armor of Logic your founder, as it seems to me, is absolutely destitute. He does away with Definition; he has no doctrine of Division or Partition; he gives no rules for Deduction or Syllogistic Inference, and imparts no method for resolving Dilemmas or for detecting Fallacies of Equivocation. The Criteria of reality he places in sensation; once let the senses accept as true something that is false, and every possible criterion of truth and falsehood seems to him to be immediately destroyed. {lacuna} He lays the very greatest stress upon that which, as he declares, Nature herself decrees and sanctions, that is: the feelings of pleasure and pain. These he maintains lie at the root of every act of choice and of avoidance.

[ U244 ]

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians II (Against the Dogmatists, II).9: Epicurus said that all sensibles were true and real.  For there is no difference between saying that something is true and that it is real.  And that is why, in giving a formalization of the true and the false, he says, "that which is such as it is said to be, is true" and "that which is not such as it is said to be, is false."

On the Standards of Judgment

[ U245 ]

Cicero Academica II.46.142 (Lucullus): Epicurus places the standard of judgment entirely in the senses and in notions of objects and in pleasure.

1. On Sensation

[ U246 ]

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, IX.106 (Pyrrho): An apparent fact serves as the Skeptics criterion, as indeed Aenesidemus says, and so does Epicurus.

[ U247 ]

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians, I (Against the Dogmatists, I) 203: Epicurus says that there are two things which are linked to each other, presentation and opinion, and that of these presentation (which he also calls ‘clear fact’) is always true.  For just as the primary feelings, i.e., pleasure and pain, come to be from certain productive factors and in accordance with productive factors themselves (for example, pleasure comes to be from pleasant things and pain from painful things, and what causes pleasure can never fail to be pleasant, nor can what produces pain not be painful; but rather, it is necessary that what gives pleasure should be pleasant and that what gives pain should, in its nature, be painful), likewise, in the case of presentations, which are feelings within us, what causes each of them is presented in every respect and unqualifiedly, and since it is presented it cannot help but exist in truth just as it is presented […lacuna…]  that it is productive of presentation.  And one must reason similarly for the individual senses.  For what is visible not only is presented as visible but also is such as it is presented; and what is audible is not only presented as audible, but also is like that in truth; and similarly for the rest.  Therefore, it turns out that all presentations are true.  And reasonably so.  For if, the Epicureans say, a presentation is true if it comes from an existing object and in accordance with the existing object, and if every presentation arises from the object presented and in accordance with the presented object itself, then necessarily every presentation is true.

Some people are deceived by the difference among impressions seeming to reach us from the same sense-object, for example a visible object, such that the object appears to be of a different color or shape, or altered in some other way.  For they have supposed that, when impressions differ and conflict in this way, one of them must be true and the opposing one false.  This is simple-minded, and characteristic of those who are blind to the real nature of things.  Let us make our case for visible things.  For it is not the whole solid body that is seen – to take the example of visible things – but the color of the solid body.  And of color, some is right on the solid body, as in the case of things seen from close up or from a moderate distance, but some is outside the solid body and is objectively located in the space adjacent to it, as in the case of things seen from a great distance.  This color is altered in the intervening space, and takes on a peculiar shape.  But the impression which it imparts corresponds to what is its own true objective state.  Thus just as what we actually hear is not the sound inside the beaten gong, or inside the mouth of the man shouting, but the sound which is reaching our senses, and just as no one says that the man who hears a faint sound from a distance hears is falsely just because on approaching he registers it as louder, so too I would not say that the vision is deceived just because from a great distance it sees the tower as small and round but from near-to as larger and square.  Rather I would say that it is telling the truth.  Because when the sense-object appears to it small and of that shape it really is small and of that shape, the edges of the images getting eroded as a result of their travel through the air.  And when it appears big and of another shape instead, it likewise is big and of another shape instead.  But the two are already different from each other: for it is left for distorted opinion to suppose that the object of impression seen from near and the one seen from far off are one and the same.  The peculiar function for sensation is to apprehend only that which is present to it and moves it, such as color, not to make the distinction that the object here is a different one from the object there.  Hence for this reason all impressions are true.  Opinions, on the other hand, are not all true but admit of some difference.  Some of them are true, some false, since they are judgments which we make on the basis of our impressions, and we judge some things correctly, but some incorrectly, either by adding and appending something to our impressions or by subtracting something from them, and in general falsifying irrational sensation.

According to Epicurus, some opinions are true, some false. True opinions are those which are attested by and not contested by clear facts, while false opinions are those which are contested and not attested by clear facts. Attestation is perception through a self-evident impression, that the object of opinion is such as it once was thought to be—for example, if Plato is approaching from far off, I form the conjectural opinion, owing to the distance, that it is Plato. But then he has come close, there is further testimony that he is Plato, now that the distance is reduced, and it is attested by the self-evidence itself. Non-contestation is the conformity between a non-evident thing which is the object of speculation, and the opinion about what is apparent—for example, Epicurus, in saying that void exists, which is non-evident, confirms this through the self-evident fact of motion. For if void does not exist, there ought not be motion either, since the moving body would lack a place to pass into as a consequence of everything being full and solid. Therefore, the non-evident thing believed is not contradicted by that which is evident, since there is motion. Contestation, on the other hand, is opposed to non-contestation, for it is the elimination of that which is apparent by the positing of the non-evident thing—for example, the Stoic says that void does not exist, something non-evident; but once this denial is put forward, then that which is evident, namely motion, ought to be co-eliminated with it. For if void does not exist, then motion does not occur either, according to the method already demonstrated. Non-attestation, likewise, is opposed to attestation, for it is confirmation through self-evidence of the fact that the object of opinion is not such as it was believed to be—for example, if someone is approaching from far off, we conjecture, owing to the distance, that he is Plato. But when the distance is reduced, we recognize through self-evidence that it is not Plato. This sort of thing turns out to be non-attestation.

So attestation and non-contestation are the criterion of something’s being true, while non-attestation and contestation are the criterion of its being false. And self-evidence is the foundation and basis of all [four] of these.

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians II (Against the Dogmatists, II) 9:  Epicurus said that all sensibles were true and real.  For there is no difference between saying that something is true and that it is real.  And that is why, in giving a formalization of the true and the false, he says, "that which is such as it is said to be, is true" and "that which is not such as it is said to be, is false." {= U244} ...  And he says that sensation, being perceptive of the objects presented to it and neither subtracting nor adding nor transposing (being devoid of reason), constantly reports truly and grasps the existent object as it really is by nature.  And whereas all the sensibles are true, the opinables differ: some of them are true, others false – as we showed before.

Cf. Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians, I (Against the Dogmatists, I).369: Some of the natural philosophers, like Democritus, have abolished all phenomena, and others, like Epicurus and Protagoras, have established all, {while still others, like the Stoics and Peripatetics, have abolished some and established others.}

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians, II (Against the Dogmatists, II).185: Epicurus declared that all sensibles really exist such as they appear and present themselves in sensation, as sense never lies, {though we think that it lies}.

Ibid., 355: Epicurus declared that every sensible thing has stable existence.

Alexander of Aphrodisia, Commentary on Aristotle’s "Metaphysics," [p. 428.20 Bon.]: Some tend to call sense perceptions essences, and maintain that nothing else exists but sense-perceptions themselves, as for example … and even the Epicureans.

Olympiodorus the Younger, Commentary on Plato’s "Phaedo," [p. 80.1 Finckh.]: Those who maintain that the sensations precisely relate the truth ... Protagoras, Epicurus.

Cicero Academica II.26.82 (Lucullus): Enough of this simpleton, who thinks that the senses never lie.

Tertullian, On the Soul, 17: The Epicureans, again, show still greater consistency by maintaining that all the senses are equally true in their testimony, and always so – only in a different way.  It is not our organs of sensation that are at fault, but our opinion. The senses only experience sensation, they do not exercise opinion; it is the soul that opines. They separated opinion from the senses, and sensation from the soul. Well, but whence comes opinion, if not from the senses? Indeed, unless the eye had descried a round shape in that tower, it could have had no idea that it possessed roundness. Again, from where does sensation arise if not from the soul?

Saint Augustine, City of God, VIII.7:  {Regarding the Platonists teachings on Logic} ... far be it from me to think of comparing with them those who have placed the criterion of truth in the bodily senses and decreed that all learning should be measured by such unreliable and deceptive standards.  I mean the Epicureans and others like them...

Saint Augustine, Letter to Dioscorus, 118.29 t. II [p. 336E Venice Edition 1719]: Therefore, when the Epicureans said that the bodily senses were never deceived, while the Stoics granted that they were sometimes deceived, although, both placed the test of acquiring truth in the senses, would anyone listen to the Platonists over the opposition of these two?

Ioannes Siculus, Commentary on Hermogenes’ "Rhetoric," VI [p. 88.24 Walz.]: The teachings of many that consider sensation an  infallible criterion of knowledge or of some knowledge, impose the same errors: for example, even Epicurus...

[ U248 ]

Aetius, Doxography, IV.9.5 [p. 396 Diels] (Parallel A.27.27): Epicurus says that every sense-perception and every presentation is true, but of opinions, some are true and some are false.

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Aetius, Doxography, IV.8.2 [p. 394 Diels] (Plutarch IV.8, Parallel A.27.9) (Epicurus): Perception is to some degree integrating, being a faculty, while to perceive is an act.  So that, on your part, perception is spoken of in two senses: perception as a faculty on the one hand, and to perceive as an act on the other hand.

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Plutarch, Against Colotes, 4-, p. 1109A: But whatever we think of that {how Colotes interprets Democritus}, whoever held that nothing is any more of one description than of another {no more this than that} is following an Epicurean doctrine, that all the impressions reaching us through the senses are true.  For if one of two persons says that the wine is dry and the other that it is sweet, and neither errs in his sensation, how is the wine any more dry than sweet?  Again, you may observe that in one and the same bath some consider the water as too hot, others as too cold, the first asking for the addition of cold water, the others of hot.  There is a story that a Spartan lady came to visit Beronice, wife of Deiotarus.  No sooner did they come near each other than each turned away, the one (we are told) sickened by the perfume, the other by the butter.  So if one sense-perception is no more true than another, we must suppose that the water is no more cold than hot, and that perfume or butter is no more sweet-smelling than ill-smelling; for he who asserts that the object itself is what appears one thing to one person and another to another has unwittingly said that it is both things at once. 

As for the old story of the "right size" and "perfect fit" of the passages in the sense organs, and on the other hand the multiple mixture of the "seeds" that they say are found dispersed in all tastes, odors, and colors, so as to give rise in different persons to different perceptions of quality, do not these theories actually compel objects in their view to be "no more this than that?"  For when people take sensation to be deceptive because they see that the same objects have opposite effects on those resorting to it, these thinkers offer the reassuring explanation that since just about everything is mixed and compounded with everything else, and since different substances are naturally adapted to fit different passages, the consequence is that everyone does not come into contact with and apprehend the same quality, and again the object perceived does not affect everyone in the same way with every part.  What happens instead is that different sets of persons encounter only those components to which their sense organs are perfectly adjusted, and they are therefore wrong when they fall to disputing whether the object is good or bad or white or not white, imagining that they are confirming their own perceptions by denying one another’s.  The truth of the matter is that no sense-perception should be challenged, as all involve a contact with something real, each of them taking from the multiple mixture as from a fountain what agrees with and suits itself; and we should make no assertions about the whole when our contact is with parts, nor fancy that all persons should be affected in the same way, when different persons are affected by different qualities and properties in the object.

It is time to consider the question: who are more chargeable with imposing on objects the doctrine that "nothing is more this than that," than those who assert that every perceivable object is a blend of qualities of every description, "mixed like the must entangled in the filter" {fragment of a lost tragedy}, and who confess that their standards would go glimmering and the criterion of truth quite disappear if they permitted any sense-object whatsoever to be purely one thing and did not leave every one of them a plurality?

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Cicero Academica II.25.79 (Lucullus): His own senses, he says {in contrast with the Stoics}, are truthful!  If so, you always have an authority, and one to risk his all in defense of the cause!  For Epicurus brings the issue to this point, that if one sense has told a lie once in a man’s life, no sense must ever be believed.

Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, I.25.70 (Cotta speaking): Epicurus was afraid that if any of our sense-perceptions were false, then none of them could be true: and so he asserted that all our senses were always "the messengers of truth."

Cicero Academica II.32.101 (Lucullus): A single first principle of Epicurus combined with another belonging to your school results in the abolition of perception and comprehension, without our uttering a word.  What is the principle of Epicurus?  "If any sense-presentation is false, nothing can be perceived."  What is yours? "There are false sense-presentations."  What follows?  Without any word of mine, logical inference itself declares that "nothing can be perceived."

Cicero Academica II.26.83 (Lucullus): There are four points of argument intended to prove that there is nothing that can be known, perceived or comprehended.  …  The first of these arguments is that there is such a thing as a false presentation; … the first is not granted by Epicurus.

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 428, p. 1124B: If it is possible to withhold judgment about these sensations, it is not impossible to withhold it about others as well, as least on the principles of your school, who set one act or image of sensation on exactly the same footing as another.

Ibid., 1123D: By putting all in the the same boat, their theory does more to estrange us from established beliefs than to convince us that the grotesques {fanciful or fantastic human and animal forms} are real.

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Cicero Academica II.7.19 (Lucullus): Nor is it necessary to delay at this point while I answer about the case of the bent oar {c.f. Lucretius, IV.436-}or the pigeon’s neck {c.f. Lucretius, II.801-}, for I am not one to assert that every object seen is really such as it appears to be.  Let Epicurus see to that, and a number of other matters.

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 25, p. 1121A: So it is with Colotes: the reasoning that he accepts with satisfaction when he finds it in the writings of Epicurus he neither understands nor recognizes when it is used by others.  For the school that asserts that when a round image impinges on us, or in another case a bent one, the important is truly received by the sense, but refuses to allow us to go further and affirm that the tower is round or that the oar is bent, maintains the truth of its experiences and sense impressions, but will not admit that external objects correspond; and as surely as that other school must speak of "being horsed" and "walled," but not of a horse or wall, so this school of theirs is under the necessity of saying that the eye is rounded or be-angled, and not that the oar is bent or the tower round, for it is the image producing the effect in the eye that is bent, whereas the oar is not bent from which the image proceeded.  Thus, since the effect produced on the senses differs from the external object, belief must stick to the effect or be exposed as false if it proceeds to add "it is" to "it appears."  That vociferous and indignant protest of theirs in defense of sensation, that it does not assert the external object to be warm, the truth being merely that the effect produced in sensation has been of this kind – is it not the same as the statement about taste?  Why does it not assert, if the external object is sweet, that there has merely occurred in the taste an effect and movement of this kind?  A man says "I receive an impression of humanity, but I do not perceive whether a man is there."  Who put him in the way of such a notion?  Was it not the school who asserts that they receive an impression of curvature, but that their sight does not go beyond to pronounce that the thing is curved or yet that it is round’ there has merely occurred in it an appearance and impression of rotundity?

"Exactly," someone will say, "but for my part I shall go up to the tower and I shall feel the oar, and thereupon I shall pronounce the oar straight and the tower angular; but this other fellow even at close quarters will only grant he has this ‘view’ and that there is this ‘appearance,’ but will grant nothing more."  Exactly, my good friend, since he is a better hand than you at noticing and holding to the consequences of his doctrine – that every sensation is equally trustworthy when it testifies on its own behalf, but none when it testifies on behalf of anything else, but all are on the same footing.  And here is an end to your tenet that all sensations are true and none untrustworthy or false – if you think it proper for one set of them to proceed to make assertions about external objects, whereas you refused to truth the others in anything beyond the experience itself.  For if they are on the same footing of trustworthiness whether they come close or are at a distance, it is only fair to confer on all the power of adding the judgment "it is" or else to deny it to the former as well.  Whereas if there is a difference in the effect produced on the observer when he stands at a distance and when he is close at hand, it is false to say that no impression and no sensation has in its stamp of reality a better warrant of truth than another.  So too the "testimony in confirmation" and "testimony in rebuttal" of which they speak has no bearing on the sensation but only on our opinion of it; so if they tell us to be guided by this testimony when we make statements about external objects, they appoint opinion to pass the verdict "it is" and sense to undergo the experience "it seems," and thus transfer the decision from what is unfailingly true to what is often wrong.

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Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians, II (Against the Dogmatists, II) 63-: Epicurus said that all sensibles are true, and that every impression is the product of something existing and like the thing which moves the sense.  He also said that those who contend that some impressions are true but others false are wrong, because they cannot distinguish opinion from self-evidence.  At least in the case of Orestes, when he seemed to see the Furies, his sensation, being moved by the images, was true, in that the images objectively existed; but his mind, in thinking that the Furies were solid bodies, held a false opinion. "And besides," he says, "the persons mentioned above when introducing a difference in the presentations, are not capable of confirming the view that some of them are true, others false.    For neither by means of an apparent thing will they prove such a statement, since it is apparent things that are in question, nor yet by something non-evident, since something non-evident must be proven by means of something apparent." 

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Plutarch, Against Colotes, 28, p. 1123B: These {images from the furies} and many of another artificial variety, resembling the Empedoclean monsters that they deride, "with lurching ox-feet, random arms" and "Ox-creatures, fronted like a man" – what phantom or prodigy do they omit?  All of these they assemble from dreams and delirium and say that none is an optical illusion or false or unsubstantial, but all are true impressions, bodies and shapes that reach us from the surrounding air.  That being the case, is there anything in the world about which it is impossible to suspend judgment, when such things as these can be accepted as real?  Things that no artful joiner, puppet-maker, or painter ever ventured to combine of our entertainment into a likeness to deceive the eye, these they seriously suppose to exist, or rather they assert that, if these did not exist, there would be an end of all assurance and certainty and judgment about truth.

2. On Representations and Words

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Clement of Alexandria, Miscellenies, II.4 [p. 157.44 Sylb.; p. 121 Stählin]: Indeed, Epicurus, who more than anyone prefers pleasure to truth, supposes that a preconception {prolepsis} is the basis of the intellect’s conviction; he defines a preconception as an application of the intellect to something clear and to the clear conception of the thing, and holds that no one can either investigate or puzzle over, nor even hold an opinion or even refute someone, without a preconception.

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, X.33: By preconception they mean a sort of "apprehension" or a "right opinion" or "notion," or universal idea stored in the mind – that is, a recollection of an external object often presented.  For example: "this thing is human" – and no sooner than the word "human" is uttered that we imagine a human shape by an act of preconception, in which the senses take the lead.  Thus the object primarily denoted by the very term is then plain and clear.  And we should never have started an investigation, unless we had known what it was that we were in search of. For example: "The object standing way over there is a horse or a cow."  Before making this judgment we must at some time or another have known by preconception the shape of a horse or a cow.  We should not have given anything a name, if we had not first learnt its form by way of preconception.

Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, I.16.43 (Velleius speaking): What race of men or nation is there which does not have some untaught apprehension of the gods?  Such an innate idea Epicurus calls prolepsis, that is to say, a certain form of knowledge which is inborn in the mind and without which there can be no other knowledge, not rational thought or argument.  The force and value of this doctrine we can see from his own inspired work on The Canon. {= Cicero @ U34}

Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, I.17.44 (Velleius speaking): We must admit it as also being an accepted truth that we possess a "preconception," as I called it, or "prior notion," of the gods. For we are bound to employ novel terms to denote novel ideas, just as Epicurus himself employed the word prolepsis in a sense which no one had ever used before.

Plutarch, by way of Olympiodorus the Younger, Commentary on Plato’s "Phaedo," [p. 125.10 Finckh.]: The Epicureans, then, accuse us of seeking and rediscovering the prolepses.  If these, as they say, correspond to real objects, then to seek them is useless; if, on the other hand, they don’t correspond, how can we seek an explanation regarding preconceptions that we haven’t we been able to think of already?

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors, I.57: According to the wise Epicurus, it is not possible to investigate or even to be puzzled without preconceptions.

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Cicero, On End-Goals, Good and Bad, I.9.30 (Torquatus to Cicero): Hence Epicurus refuses to admit any necessity for argument or discussion to prove that pleasure is desirable and pain to be avoided. These facts, he thinks, are perceived by the senses, as that fire is hot, snow white, honey sweet, none of which things need be proved by elaborate argument: it is enough merely to draw attention to them. (For there is a difference, he holds, between formal syllogistic proof of a thing and a mere notice or reminder: the former is the method for discovering abstruse and recondite truths, the latter for indicating facts that are obvious and evident.) Strip mankind of sensation, and nothing remains; it follows that Nature herself is the judge of that which is in accordance with or contrary to nature.

[ U257 ]

Cicero, On End-Goals, Good and Bad, II.2.6: {Epicurus} is always harping on the necessity of carefully sifting out the meaning underlying the terms we employ...

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, X.31: They reject dialectic as superfluous; holding that in their inquiries, physicists should be content to employ ordinary terms for things.

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Erotianus, Glossary of Hippocrates, Preface, [p. 34, 10 Klein]: For if we are going to explain the words known to everybody, we would have to expound either all or some. But to expound all is impossible, whereas to expound some is pointless. For we will explain them either through familiar locutions or through unfamiliar. But unfamiliar words seem unsuited to the task, the accepted principle being to explain less known things by means of better known things; and familiar words, by being on a par with them, will be unfamiliar for illuminating language, as Epicurus says. For the informativeness of language is characteristically ruined when it is bewitched by an account, as if by a homeopathic drug.

[ U259 ]

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians, II (Against the Dogmatists, II).258: We see that there are some who have denied the real existence of "expressions," and these not only men of other schools, such as the Epicureans, {but even Stoics like Basilides…}

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 22, p. 1119F: What school is more at fault in its views about language than yours {Epicureanism}, which makes a clean sweep of the whole category of meanings, which impart to discourse its substantial reality, and leave us with nothing but vocables and facts, when you say that the intermediate objects of discourse, the things signified, which are the means of learning, teaching, preconceptions, conceptions, desires, and assent, do not exist all?

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians, II (Against the Dogmatists, II).13: The disciples of Epicurus and Strato the physicist, who admit only two things – the thing signifying and the thing existing – appear … to ascribe truth or falsity to the mere word.

3. On the Passions

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Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, X.34: They assert that there are two kinds of feelings, pleasure and pain, which arise in every living thing.  The one is appealing and the other vexing to one’s nature; in consideration of these, choices and avoidances are made.

Aristocles, by way of Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, XIV 21 p. 768D: Some say that as the principle and criterion of choosing and avoiding we have pleasure and pain: at least the Epicureans now still say something of this kind ... For my part then I am so far from saying that feeling is the principle and canon of things good and evil, that I think a criterion is needed for feeling itself.

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Aetius, Doxography, IV.9.11, [p. 397 Diels] (Parallel A.27.52): For Epicurus, pleasure and pain are a part of sensations.

On Signs

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Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians, II (Against the Dogmatists, II).177: Epicurus and the leaders of his school have stated that the sign is sensible, while the Stoics state that it is intelligible.

[ U263 ]

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 29, p. 1124B: ...these people are deluded who regard what is seen as evidence of things unseen although they observe that appearances are so untrustworthy and ambiguous.

On Disputation

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Cicero, On End-Goals, Good and Bad, II.1.3: In philosophical investigation, a methodical and systematic discourse must always begin by formulating a preamble ... so that the parties to the debate may be agreed as to what the subject is about which they are debating.  This rule is laid down by Plato in Phaedrus, and it was approved by Epicurus, who realized that it ought to be followed in every discussion.

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Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, X.34:  They assert that there are two kinds of inquiry: one concerned with things, the other with nothing but words.

  III. Physics

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Pseudo-Plutarch, Miscellanies, Fragment 8 from Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel, I.8.24B, Greek Doxography, [p. 581, 19 Diels.]: Epicurus asserts that nothing new happens in the universe when compared to the infinite time already passed.

On the Atoms

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Aetius, Doxography, I.3.18, pp. 285-86D (Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, 10, 14; Plutarch I.3.25): Epicurus, the son of Neocles and an Athenian, philosophized in the manner of Democritus and said that the principles {i.e., elementary constituents} of existing things are bodies inferable by reason, which do not participate in the void and are uncreated and indestructible – since they can neither be broken nor be compounded out of parts, nor be altered in their qualities.  They can be inferred by reason ...  {lacuna here} … They move in the void and through the void.  And the void itself is infinite, and so are the bodies.  Bodies have these three properties: shape, size, weight.  Democritus said that there were two – size and shape – but Epicurus added weight to these as a third.  For, he says, it is necessary that the bodies move by the blow of [an object with] weight, otherwise they will not move.  The shapes of the atoms are innumerable, but not infinite.  For there are none which are hooked or trident-shaped or ring-shaped; for these shapes are easily broken and the atoms are impervious. They have their own shapes which can be contemplated by reason.  The atom {a-tomos} is so-called not because it is smallest, but because it cannot be divided, since it is impervious and does not participate in void.

Achilles, Introduction, 3, [p.125A Pet.]: Epicurus of Athens maintained that the principles {i.e., elementary constituents} of all things are comprised in extremely tiny bodies, knowable by the intellect, and he named them "atoms" or other words, minimums, because of their smallness, or because they are indestructible and cannot be divided.

Hippolytus, "Philosophical Questions," (Refutation of all Heresies, I) 22, [p. 572.3 Diels.]: Epicurus says that the atoms are the most minute bodies; it is not possible to ascribe them a center nor a point nor any subdivision: and because of this he called them atoms.

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Simplicius of Cilicia Commentary on Aristotle’s "Physics, Zeta-1," preface, fr. 216r [925.12 Konstan]: Others, who had given up on [the idea of] cutting to infinity on the grounds that we cannot [in fact] cut to infinity and thereby confirm the endlessness of cutting, used to say that bodies consist of indivisibles and are divided into indivisibles.  Leucippus and Democritus, however, believed not only in imperviousness as the reason why primary bodies are not divided, but also in smallness and partlessness, while Epicurus later did not hold that they were partless, but said that they were atomic {i.e., uncuttable} by virtue of imperviousness alone.  Aristotle refuted the view of Leucippus and Democritus in many places, and it is because of these refutations in objection to partlessness, no doubt, that Epicurus, coming afterwards but sympathetic to the view of Leucippus and Democritus concerning primary bodies, kept them impervious but took away their partlessness, since it was on this account that they were challenged by Aristotle.

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Plutarch, Against Colotes, 13, p. 1114A: For Epicurus, the number of bodies is infinite and every single object is the world of sense is generated from them. Observe right here the sort of first principles you people {Epicureans} adopt to account for generation: infinity and the void – the void incapable of action, incapable of acted upon, bodiless; the infinite disordered, irrational, incapable of formulations, disrupting and confounding itself because of a multiplicity that defies control or limitation.

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Pseudo-Plutarch, On the Opinions of the Philosophers, I.3, 27, [p. 286A 4 Diels] [preceding fragment 275]: The forms of the atoms are certainly incalculable, but not infinite.  Indeed, none are hook-shaped, trident-shaped, or ring-shaped: these shapes break easily, but the atoms are in fact impenetrable and have, instead, their own shapes, intuitable by reason.

On the Void

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Aetius, Doxography, I.20.2, p. 318, 1D (Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, physics, 18, 2): Epicurus says that void, place, and space differ only in name.

Addendum

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Physicisists, II (Against the Dogmatists, IV).2: Therefore we must understand that, according to Epicurus, one part of that nature which is termed intangible is called the void, one part place, and another part space – the names varying according to the different ways of looking at it since the same substance when empty of all body is called void, when occupied by a body is named place, and when bodies roam through it becomes space.  But generically it is called "intangible substance" in Epicurus’ school, since it lacks resistance.

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Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians, II (Against the Dogmatists, II).329: Epicurus, for instance, opines that he has put forward a very strong argument for the existence of void, namely this: "If motion exists, void exists; but in fact motion exists; therefore void exists."  But if the premises of this proof had been agreed to by all, it would necessarily have had a conclusion also following from them and admitted by all.  Instead, some have objected to it (i.e., the deduction of the conclusions from the premises) not because it does not follow form them, but because they are false and not admitted.

Ibid., 314: Hence also they {the Dogmatists} describe it thus: "A proof is an argument which by means of agreed premises reveals by way of deduction a non-evident conclusion."  For example: "If motion exists, void exists; but in fact motion exists; therefore void exists."  For the existence of void is non-evident, and also it appears to be revealed by way of deduction by means of the true premises: "If motion exists, void exists" and "but motion exists."

[ U273 ]

Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary on Aristotle’s "Physics, Delta-5 (to the end)," (p. 213A 10) [fr. 140u Ald.; p. 379B Brand.]:

Cf. [fr. 144u]:

Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary on Aristotle’s "Physics, Delta-4," (p. 211B 7) [fr. 133r]:

Themistius, Paraphrases of Aristotle’s "Physics, Delta-4," (p. 211B 14), [fr. 38u Ald.; p. 268.23 Speng.]: It remains for us to demonstrate also that place is not extension.  An extension is what is conceived of as between the limits of the container, e.g., what is within the hollow surface of the pot.  Now this belief is traditional, and associated with those who posit the void, yet later both Chrysippus’ crowd and Epicurus were nonetheless adherents.  Some imposed the doctrine on Plato too.  It relies on a plausible explanation, yet one that is quite false: namely, since we reach a conception of place in general from the mutual replacement of bodies (i.e., from different bodies continually coming to be in the same place at different times), they took place to be the intervening extension, which they believed remained the same when it received the bodies that were replacing one another, while being separated from each of these incoming bodies.  Vessels above all egged them on to this inference.  For since water and air enter the vessel at different times while the hollow surface within the clay remains the same (i.e. circumscribed by unique limits), they inferred the existence of the extension within the hollow surface, which resembled the surface of the vessel in remaining the same (i.e., separated from the bodies) as it received the bodies in succession.  But this is invalid.  If the vessel could at any time be devoid of body, then perhaps this so-called "extension" would be detected per se.  But, as it is, fluid flows out and air simultaneously enters to replace it, and that leads them astray.  For since every body is accompanied by an extension, they transfer the extension belonging to bodies to place, without reasoning that an extension is always in place just because a body always  is too, as completely covered bronze vessels reveal: for [in their case] there would be no efflux of fluid unless the air acquired a space for its influx.  What dupes them is that the vessels’ hollow surface also always remains rigid; but if there were an implosion when the fluid was extracted, as there is in the case of wine-skins, they would not be similarly deluded.

[ U274 ]

Themistius, Paraphrases of Aristotle’s "Physics, Delta-6," (p. 213A 32), [fr. 40u Ald.; p. 284.2 Speng.]: The void can be posited in two ways: either as disseminated in bodies, as Democritus and Leucippus claim, and many others, including Epicurus later (they all make the ‘interlacing’ of the void the cause of bodily division, since according to them what is truly continuous is undivided); or else as separate (i.e., gross), per se, surrounding the cosmos, as some early thinkers were the first to believe, and later Zeno of Citium and his followers.  We, then, must examine what those involved with the void claim.

Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary on Aristotle’s "Physics, Delta-6," (p. 213A 32), [fr. 151u-]:

On Bodies and their Attributes

[ U275 ]

Aetius, Doxography, I.12.5, p. 311D (Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, physics, 14, 1; Plutarch I.12.3): Epicurus maintains that the primary and simple bodies are imperceptible, and also that compounds formed by them all have weight.

Pseudo-Plutarch, On the Opinions of the Philosophers, I.3.26, p. 285, 11D: Bodies have these three attributes: shape, size, and weight.  Democritus guessed two of them, size and shape.  Epicurus, for his part, added weight to these; it is necessary, he argues, that bodies be moved by the blow of their weights, for otherwise they would not move

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Physicists, II (Against the Dogmatists, IV) 240: When Epicurus asserts that we conceive body by means of a combination of size and shape and resistance and weight, he is forcing us to form a conception of existent body out of non-existents.

Ibid., 257: … this too Epicurus acknowledged, when he said that "body is conceived by means of a combination of form and magnitude and resistance and weight."

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Ethicists (Against the Dogmatists, V) 226: For whether body is, as Epicurus asserts, a combination of size and form and solidity…

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 8, p. 1110F: I can affirm that this view {that denying the reality of emergent properties contradict the senses} is as inseparable from Epicurus as shape and weight are by their own assertion inseparable from the atom.

On Motion

[ U276 ]

Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary of Aristotle’s "De Caelo" (On the Heavens), Gamma-1 (p. 299A 25); [254B 27 Karst.; 510A 30 Brand.]: The followers of Democritus, and, later, Epicurus, say that all atoms of the same nature have weight.  However, because some are heavier, they sink down and in doing so they push the lighter ones up.  Hence, they say, some are light and others are heavy.

Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary of Aristotle’s "De Caelo" (On the Heavens), Alpha-8 (p. 277B 1); [121A 18E 31 Karst.; 486A 4 Brand.]:  Elementary bodies move either as a result of their own nature, or are moved by something else, or are squeezed out by one another.  And he [Aristotle] shows that they do not move under the force of mutual extrusion either as follows.  This opinion was held after him by both Strato of Lampsacus, and Epicurus, who thought that every object possessed weight and moved towards the middle, and that lighter ones settled out above the heavier ones by being forcibly squeezed out upwards by them, so that if the earth were removed, water would move to the center, and if the water [were removed] the air, and if the air [were removed] the fire.

Cf. [p. 111B 25 Karst.; 486A 12 Brand.]:  Those who treat as an indication that everything moves naturally towards the middle the fact that when earth is removed water moves downwards, and when water [is removed] the air [does so too], do not know that the reciprocal motion is the cause of this.  For when the denser things are transferred into the place of the rare, the rarer take the place of the denser, propelled downwards because there can be no void, and because body cannot pass through body.  But one must realize that it was not just Strato and Epicurus who held that all bodies were heavy and moved naturally downwards, unnaturally upwards, but Plato too knows that this opinion is held, and disputes it, thinking that ‘downwards’ and ‘upwards’ are not properly applied to the world, and refusing to accept that things are called heavy in virtue of their downward motion.

[ U277 ]

Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary on Aristotle’s "Physics, Zeta-2," (p. 232A 23-), fr. 219r,v [938.18 Konstan]: Unless every magnitude were divisible, it would not always be possible for a slower object to move a lesser distance in equal time than a quicker one.  For slower and quicker objects cover the atomic and indivisible distance in the same time, since if one took more time, it would cover in the equal time a distance less than the indivisible distance.  And that is why the Epicureans too think all bodies move at equal speed through indivisible distances, so that they can avoid having their atomic quantities be divided – and thus no longer atomic.

[ U278 ]

Themistius, Paraphrases of Aristotle’s "Physics, Zeta-1," (p. 232A 1-17), [fr. 52u Ald.; p. 370.4 Speng.]:

Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary on Aristotle’s "Physics, Zeta-1," fr. 218,u 3 [934.18 Konstan]: He {Aristotle} adds yet another absurdity that follows upon this hypothesis, [namely] that something has moved that was not previously moving, for example, that something has walked that did not previously walk.  For it is posited that O moves [with] the motion DEF over the magnitude ABC, but it moves neither over A (for it has moved over it), nor over B, nor likewise, over C.  It will consequently, have moved [with] the whole motion without previously moving [with] it.

That this obstacle which he {Aristotle} has formulated is itself not entirely beyond belief is shown by the fact that despite his having formulated it and produced his solution, the Epicureans, who came along later, said that this is precisely how motion does occur. For they say that motion, magnitude and time have part-less constituents, and that over the whole magnitude composed of part-less constituents the moving object moves, but at each of the part-less magnitudes contained in it, it does not move but has moved; for if it were laid down that the object moving over the whole magnitude moves over these too, they would turn out to be divisible.

[ U279 ]

Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary on Aristotle’s "Physics, Delta-8," (p. 216A 17) fr. 159u:

[ U280 ]

Aetius, Doxography, I.12.5, [p. 311A 10 Diels] (Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, physics, 14, 1; Plutarch I.12.3): Atoms sometimes move straight down, sometimes swerve, and those which move upwards do so by collision and rebound.

Aetius, Doxography, I.23.4, [p. 319 Diels] (Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, physics, 19, 1; Plutarch I.23.1): Epicurus said there are two types of the motion: the straight and the swerve.

On the Atomic Swerve

[ U281 ]

Cicero, On End-Goals, Good and Bad, I.6.18:  Epicurus for his part, where he follows Democritus, does not generally blunder. ... I now come to the lapses peculiar to Epicurus. He believes that these same indivisible solid bodies are borne by their own weight perpendicularly downward, which he holds is the natural motion of all bodies; but thereupon this clever fellow, being met with the difficulty that if they all traveled downwards in a straight line, and, as I said, perpendicularly, no one atom would ever be able to overtake any other atom, accordingly introduced an idea of his own invention: he said that the atom makes a very tiny swerve—the smallest divergence possible; and thus produces entanglements and combinations and cohesion of atoms with atoms, which result in the creation of the world, and all its parts, and of all that in them is. Now not only is this whole affair a piece of childish fancy, but it does not even achieve the result that its author desires. The swerving is itself an arbitrary fiction; for Epicurus says the atoms swerve without cause—yet this is the capital offense in a natural philosopher, to speak of something taking place uncaused. Then also he gratuitously deprives the atoms of what he himself declared to be the natural motion of all heavy bodies, namely, movement in a straight line downwards, and yet he does not attain the object for the sake of which this fiction was devised. For, if all the atoms swerve, none will ever come to cohere together; or if some swerve while others travel in a straight line, but their own natural tendency, in the first place this will be tantamount to assigning to the atoms their different spheres of action, some to travel straight and some sideways; while secondly (and this is a weak point with Democritus also) this riotous hurly-burly of atoms could not possibly result in the ordered beauty of the world we know.

Cicero, On Fate, 10.22: Epicurus, however, thinks that the necessity of fate is avoided by the swerve of the atom; and so a certain third movement arises, part from weight and collision, when the atom swerves by a very small distance – this he calls a "minimum." That this swerve comes about without a cause he is compelled to admit, if not by his words, by the facts themselves. For it is not the case that an atom swerves when struck by another; for how can one be struck by another if individual bodies are carried downwards by their weight in straight lines, as Epicurus supposes? For if one is never struck from its course by another, it follows that none even touches another; and from this it results that, even if there is an atom and it swerves, it does so without cause.  Epicurus introduce this theory because he was afraid that, if the atom was always carried along by its weight in a natural and way, we would have no freedom, since our mind would be moved in the way in which it was constrained by the movement of the atoms. Democritus, the inventor of the atoms, preferred to accept this, that all things come about through fate, rather than to remove the natural movements of individual bodies from them.

Ibid. 20.46: This is how the case ought to be argued; one ought not to seek help from atoms that swerve and deviate from their path. "The atom swerves," he says. First why? For the atoms will have one force to move them from Democritus, the force of an impulse which he calls a blow, and from you, Epicurus, the force of weight and heaviness. So what new cause is there in nature to make the atom serve? Or do they draw lots among themselves which will swerve and which not? Or why do they swerve by a minimum interval and not by a larger one, or why do they swerve by one minimum and not by two or three? This is wishful thinking, not argument.  For you do not say that the atom is moved from its position and swerves through an impulse from outside, nor that in that void through which the atom travels there was any cause for its not traveling in a straight line; nor has there been any change in the atom itself as a result of which it might no preserve the motion natural to its weight. So, although [Epicurus] has not brought forward any cause which might cause that serve of his, nevertheless he thinks he has a point to make when he says the sort of thing which the minds of all reject and repudiate.

Ibid. 9.18: There is no reason for Epicurus to tremble before fate, seek help from the atoms and turn them aside from their path, and for him to commit himself at one and the same time to two things that cannot be proved: first that something should happen without a cause, from which it will follow that something comes from nothing, which neither he himself nor any natural philosopher accepts; and second that, when two indivisible bodies travel through the void, one moves in a straight line and the other swerves aside.

Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, I.25.69 (Cotta speaking): Epicurus saw that if those atoms of his were always falling downwards by their own weight, their motion would be fixed and predetermined, and there would be no room for free will in the world.  So casting about for a way to avoid this determinism, which Democritus had apparently overlooked, he said that the atoms, as they fell, just swerved a little!

Plutarch, On The Birth? of the Soul in Plato’s "Timaeus," 6, p. 1015C: The fact is that they [the Stoics] do not concede to Epicurus that the atom can swerve the tiniest bit, on the grounds that he introduces a causeless motion coming from nonexistence...

Saint Augustine, Against the Academicians, III.10.23 t. I [p. 284E Venice Edition, 1719]: How shall we decide the controversy between Democritus and earlier physicists about whether there is one world or innumerable worlds, when Democritus and his heir Epicurus were unable to remain in agreement?  Once that voluptuary Epicurus allows atoms, as though they were his little handmaids – that is, the little bodies he gladly embraces in the dark – not to stay on their courses but to swerve freely here and there into the paths of others, he has also dissipated his entire patrimony through such quarrels.

On Aggregation and Dissolution

Varro, On Latin Language, VI.39, p. 219: Democritus, Epicurus, and still others who have deemed the original elements to be unlimited in number, though they do not tell us where the elements came from but only of what sort they are, still perform a great service: they show us the things of the world which consist of these elements.

[ U282 ]

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 16, p. 1116C: But I should like to ask the very man {Colotes} who brings this indictment {against Plato} if his school does not see this distinction in their own system, whereby some objects are enduring and unchanging in their being, just as atoms too in their doctrine are forever the same because they are too hard to be affected, while all aggregates of atoms are subject to flux and change and come into being and pass of of it, as innumerable images leave them in a constant stream, and innumerable others, it is inferred, flow in from the surroundings and replenish the mass, which is varied by this interaction and altered in its composition, since in fact even the atoms in the interior of the aggregate can never cease moving or vibrating against one another, as the Epicureans say themselves.

[ U283 ]

Ibid., 10, p. 1112A: {The Epicureans} assume that there is neither generation of the non-existent nor destruction of the existent, but that generation is a name given to the conjunction of certain existents with one another and death a name given to their separation.

[ U284 ]

Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary of Aristotle’s "De Caelo, Alpha-7" (On the Heavens) [p. 275B 29 Karst.; 484A 23 Brand.]: Aristotle then demonstrated that the number of types of elementary bodies were not infinite, as Leucippus and Democritus and their followers (who lived before him) supposed and Epicurus (who lived after him).  These men indeed maintained that the principles {i.e., elements} were unlimited in number, and they also thought that they were atomic and indivisible and impervious, because they were dense and did not enclose any empty space; for they said that division takes place where there is some void within bodies, and also that these atoms, being separated from each other in the unlimited void and differing in shape and size and position and ordering, move in the void and that they catch up with each other and collide and that some rebound to any chance place while others get entangled with each other, in accordance with the symmetry of their shapes and sizes and positions and orderings; and in this way it comes about that the origin of compounds is produced.

[ U285 ]

Galen, On the Preparation of Simple Medicines, I.14 t. XI [p. 405 K.]: … always remembering how space is said to be empty by those who maintain that its essence is unique.  But space is not empty in the sense in which it seems to Epicurus and to Asclepiades, but rather it is full of air, sparsely populated with bodies everywhere.

Galen, Comment on the 6th book of "Epidemics" by Hippocrates, IV 10 t. XVII 2 [p 162 K.]: The statement that there might empty spaces, in water or in the air, corresponds to the opinion of Epicurus and of Asclepiades in regards to the elements.

[ U286 ]

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 10, p. 1112B: {The Epicureans}, who herd together unyielding and unresponsive atoms, produce nothing out of them – only an uninterrupted series of collisions among the atoms themselves. For the entanglement that prevents dissolution produces rather an intensification of the collisions, so that generation is by their account neither mixture nor cohesion, but confusion and conflict. On the other hand, if the atoms after an instant of collision rebound for while from the impact, and for a while draw near when the blow is spent, the time that they are separated from one another, without contact or proximity, is more than twice as long, so that nothing, not even an inanimate body, is produced out of them; while perception, mind, intelligence and thought cannot so much as be conceived, even with the best of will, as arising among void and atoms, things which taken separately have no quality and which on meeting are not thereby affected or changed.

Ibid., 9, p. 1111E: Whereas an atom, taken alone, is destitute and bare of any generative power, and when it collides with another it is so hard and resistant that a shock ensues, but it neither suffers nor causes any further effect.  Rather the atoms receive and inflict blows for all time, and so far are they from being that they cannot even produce out of themselves a collective plurality or the unity of a heap in their constant shaking and scattering.

[ U287 ]

Lactantius, Divine Institutes, III.17.22: {Regarding atoms:} Why then, do we not feel nor perceive them?  Because, he says, they have neither color, nor heat, nor odor.  They are free of taste also, and moisture, and they are so minute that they cannot be cut and divided.  Thus, the necessity of consequent things led him to wild ravings because he had undertaken falsehood in the beginning.  For where or whence are those little bodies?   Why did nobody save that one Leucippus dream them up, by whom Democritus was instructed, he who left the inheritance of foolishness to Epicurus?  If these little bodies are indeed solid, as they say, certainly they can come under the eyes.  If the nature of all of them is the same, how do they effect various things?  They come together, he tells us, in varied order and position just as letters do: although they are few, yet variously arranged, they bring about innumerable words.  But letters have various forms.  So do these have commencements themselves, he says, for there are rough ones, there are hooked ones, there are smooth ones.  Therefore, they can be cut and divided if there is in them something which projects.  But if they are smooth and in need of hooks or projections, they cannot cohere.  They must be hooked bodies, then, for a concatenation of them to take place.  But since they are said to be so minute, that they are able to be severed by no sharp blade, how do they have hooks or corners?  It is necessary for them, since they exist, to be torn apart.  Then, by what pact, by what agreement do they come together among themselves, that something may be formed of them?  If they lack sense, they are not able to come together with such order, for it is not possible for anything but reason to bring about anything rational.  With how many proofs is this vanity able to be refuted!

On Qualities

[ U288 ]

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 10, p. 1111A: Democritus is not to be censured not for admitting the consequences that flow from his principles, but for setting up principles that lead to these consequences.  For he should not have posited immutable first elements; having posited them, he should have looked further and see that the generation of any quality becomes impossible.  But to see the absurdity and deny it is the purest effrontery.   Epicurus {as reported by Colotes} acts with the purest effrontery when he claims to lay down the same first principles, but nevertheless does not say that "color is by convention" and thus the qualities sweet, bitter, etc.  If "does not say" means "does not admit" it is so, he is following his familiar practice… 1111C: There was no necessity to assume, or rather filch from Democritus, the premise that the primary elements of all things are atoms.  But once you have laid down the doctrine and made a fine showing with its initial plausibility, you must drain the disagreeable conclusions along with it, or else show how bodies without quality have given rise to qualities of every kind by the mere fact of coming together.  Take for the example the quality called hot.  How do you account for it?  From where has it come and how has it been imposed on the atoms, which neither brought heat with them nor became hot by their conjunction?  For the former implies the possession of quality, the latter the natural capacity to be affected, neither of which, say you, can rightly belong to atoms by reason of their indestructibility.

Galen, On the Art of Medicine, [7, t. I p. 246 K.]: {Galen, Selected Works, P.N. Singer ca. page 325}

Cf. Galen, On the Elements According to Hippocrates, [I.2, t. I p. 416 K.; 2.6 De Lacy]: It could be said that all things are one in form and power, as Epicurus and Democritus and their followers say about atoms.

Ibid., [p. 418 K.; 2.16 De Lacy]: All the atoms, then, being small bodies, are without qualities, and the void is a kind of place in which these bodies, being carried downward, all of them for all time, somehow become entwined with each other or strike each other and rebound; and in such assemblages they cause separations and recombinations with each other; and from this (interaction) they produce, besides all other compounds, our bodies, their affections, and their sensations.  But (these philosophers) postulate that the first bodies are unaffected, some of them, like Epicurus, holding that they are unbreakable because of hardness, some, like Diodorus and Leucippus, that they are indivisible because of their small size; and [they hold that] these bodies cannot undergo any of those alterations in whose existence all men, taught by their senses confidently believe; for example, they say that none of the primary bodies grows warm or cold, and similarly none becomes dry or wet, and much less would they become black or white or admit to any other change whatsoever in any quality.

Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary of Aristotle’s "Categories" 8, p. 8B 25, quat. Kappa, [fr. 8u Venice Edition; fr. 56u 10 Bas.; 216.31 Fleet]:  In objection to Democritus and Epicurus, the question can be put: why on earth do they grant certain differentiae to atoms such as shape, weight, solidity, corporeality, edges, size, and motion, while asserting that they possess neither color nor sweetness nor life, and that the logoi of other such things do not pre-exist?   For it is absurd, since there is a common account {logos} of the havables, not to classy like with like; it is even more absurd to make the most primary powers secondary, such as life, intellect, nature, reason {logos} and the like.  It is equally impossible for these to be produced out of the conjunction [of atoms]; for according to Democritus, color and suchlike are by convention, and only atoms and void exist in truth.  But once a person has done away with realities, he will have nothing to put in their place, and he who admits the causeless will have no ground to stand on.  For why should the person starting from no definite cause prefer these to the contraries?  So it is better to have recourse to the hypothesis which produces the havables from being had, in the way that the Academics defined ‘havable’ by representing it as ‘that which can be had’ {hektón}, not accepting the definition on the basis of its etymology.

Ibid. 14, p. 15A 30, quat. Phi, [fr. 8u Venice Edition; fr. 56u 10 Bas.]: The followers of Democritus, and subsequently those of Epicurus, in hypothesizing atoms to be unaffected and unqualified by other qualities apart from the shapes [of the atoms] and the way they are composed {tên poian autôn sunthesin}, say that other qualities – whether simple, such as temperatures {thermotêtes} and textures {leioêtes}, or those in respect of colors and tastes – supervene.  And if these latter things [consist] in the way atoms are composed, alteration too will consist in change in respect of them {i.e., the atoms}.  But the way they {i.e., the atoms} are composed, and their transposition and order, derive from nowhere else than from their motion and spatial movement, so that alteration is the same thing as their motion, or at least is a concomitant of this and is something belonging to this.

[ U289 ]

Alexander of Aphrodisia, Questions, I.13 [p. 52 Spengl.]: {R.W. Sharples}

On Mixture

[ U290 ]

Alexander of Aphrodisia, On Mixture, fr. 140u (214.28-215.8): Epicurus wanted to avoid what Democritus supposed happened for those who say that blending occurs by means of a juxtaposition of the components of the blend.  He himself said that blending occurs by means of the juxtaposition of certain bodies – not of bodies which were themselves preserved as compounds, but rather of bodies that were broken down into elementary atoms which formed particular compounds, e.g., wine, water, honey, etc.  He then says that the mixture is created by a certain kind of reciprocal compounding by component elements.  It is these which produce the new mixture – not water and the wine, but the atoms which made up the water, as one might designate them, are combined together with those which made up the wine by a destruction and generation of the compound bodies.  For the breakdown of each into its elements is a form of destruction, and the compounding produced from the elements themselves is <a sort of genesis>.

On Change

[ U291 ]

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Physicists, II (Against the Dogmatists, IV) 42: Some of the natural philosophers, amongst them Epicurus, have declared that the motion of change is a particular form of transitional motion; for the composite object which changes in quality changes owing to the local and transitional motion of the rationally perceived bodies which compose it.  Thus, in order that a thing may become bitter from sweet, or black from white, the particles which must be arranged in a new order and take up different positions; that this could not be brought about in any other way than by the transitional motion of the molecules.  And again, in order that a thing may become soft from hard or hard from soft, the parts whereof it is composed must move in place; for it is made soft by their expansion, but made hard by their coalescence and condensation.  And owing to this the motion of change is, generically, nothing else than transitional motion.

[ U292 ]

Galen, On the Elements According to Hippocrates, [I.9, t. I p. 483 K.]: … the {qualitative} change of bodies, as it happens, isn’t aggregation and dispersal, as the disciples of Epicurus and Democritus think.

On Magnetism

[ U293 ]

Galen, On Natural Faculties, I.14, t. II [p. 45 K.]:  Now Epicurus, despite the fact that he employs in his Physics elements similar to those of Ascelpiades, still allows that iron is attracted by the lodestone, and chaff by amber.  He even tries to give the cause of the phenomenon.  His view is that the atoms which flow from the stone are related in shape to those flowing from the iron, and so they become easily interlocked with one another; thus it is that, after colliding with each of the two compact masses (the stone and the iron) they then rebound into the middle and so become entangled with each other, and draw the iron after them.  So far, then, as his hypotheses regarding causation go, he is perfectly unconvincing; nevertheless, he does grant that there is an attraction.  Further, he says that it is on similar principles that there occur in the bodies of animals the dispersal of nutrient and the discharge of waste matter, as also the actions of cathartic drugs.

Asclepiades, however, who viewed with suspicion the incredible character of the cause mentioned, and who saw no other credible cause on the basis of his supposed elements, shamelessly found his way out by stating that nothing is in any way attracted by anything else.  Now, if he was dissatisfied with what Epicurus said, and had nothing better to say himself, he ought to have refrained from making hypotheses, and should have said that Nature is a constructive artist and that the substance of things is always tending towards unity and also towards alteration because its own parts act upon and are acted upon by one another.  For, if he had assumed this, it would not have been difficult to allow that this constructive nature has powers which attract appropriate and expel alien matter.  For in no other way could she be constructive, preservative of the animal, and eliminative of its diseases, unless it be allowed that she conserves what his appropriate and discharges what is foreign.

But in this matter, too, Ascelpiades realized the logical sequence of the principles he had assumed; he showed no scruples, however, in opposing plain fact; he joins issue in this matter also, not merely with all physicians, by with everyone else, and maintains that there is no such thing as a crisis, or a critical day, and that nature does absolutely nothing for the preservation of the animal.  For his constant aim is to follow out logical consequences and to upset obvious fact, in this respect being opposed to Epicurus; for the latter always affirmed the observed fact, although he gives an ineffective explanation of it, saying that these small corpuscles belonging to the lodestone rebound, and become entangled with other similar particles of the iron, and that then, by means of this entanglement (which cannot be seen anywhere) such a heavy substance as iron is attracted.  I fail to understand how anybody could believe this.  Even if we admit this, the same principle will not explain the fact that, when the iron has another piece brought in contact with it, this becomes attached to it.

For what are we to say?  That, indeed, some of the particles that flow from the lodestone collide with the iron and then rebound back, and that it is by these that the iron becomes suspended?  That others penetrate into it, and rapidly pass through it by way of its empty channels?  That these then collide with the second piece of iron and are not able to penetrate it although they penetrated the first piece?  And that they then course back to the first piece and produce entanglements like the former ones?

The hypothesis here becomes clearly refuted by its absurdity.  As a matter of fact, I have seen five writing-stylets of iron attached to one another in a line, only the first one being in contact with the lodestone, and the power being transmitted through it to the others.  Moreover, it cannot be said that if you bring a second stylet into contact with the lower end of the first, it becomes held, attached, and suspended, whereas, if you apply it to any other part of the side it does not become attached.  For the power of the lodestone is distributed in all directions; it merely needs to be in contact with the first stylet at any point; from this stylet again the power flows, as quick as thought, all through the second, and from that again to the third.  Now, if you imagine a small lodestone hanging in a house, and in contact with it all round a large number of pieces of iron, form them again others, from these others, and so on, all these pieces of iron must surely become filled with the corpuscles which emanate from the stone; therefore, this first little stone is likely to become dissipated by disintegrating into these emanations.  Further, even if there be no iron in contact with it, it still disperses into the air, particularly if this be also warm.

"Yes," says Epicurus, "but these corpuscles must be looked on as exceedingly small, so that some of them are a ten-thousandth part of the size of the very small particles carried in the air."  Then do you venture to say that so great a weight of iron can be suspended by such small bodies?  If each of them is a ten-thousandth part as large as the dust particles which are borne in the atmosphere, how big must we suppose the hook-like extremities by which they interlock with each other to be?  For of course this is quite the smallest portion of the whole particle.

Then, again, when a small body becomes entangled with another small body, or when a body in motion becomes entangled with another also in motion, they do not rebound at once.  For, further, there will of course be others which break in upon them from above, from below, from front and rear, from right to left, and which shake and agitate them and never let them rest.  Moreover, we would be forced to suppose that each of these small bodies has a large number of these hook-like extremities.  For by one it attaches itself to its neighbors, by another – the topmost one – to the lodestone, and by the bottom one to the iron.  For if it were attached to the stone above and not interlocked with the iron below, this would be of no use.  Thus, the upper part of the superior extremity must hang from the lodestone and the iron must be attached to the lower end of the inferior extremity; and, since they interlock with each other by their sides as well, they must, of course, have hooks there too.  Keep in mind also, above everything, what small bodies these are which possess all these different kids of outgrowths.  Moreover, remember how, in order that the second piece of iron may become attached to the first, the third to the second, and to that the fourth, these absurd little particle must both penetrate the passages in the first piece of iron and at the same time rebound from the piece coming next in the series, although this second peeve is naturally in every way similar to the first.

Such a hypothesis, once again, is certainly not lacking in audacity; in fact, to tell the truth, it is far more shameless than the previous ones; according to it, when five similar pieces of iron are arranged in a line, the particles of the lodestone which easily traverse the first piece of iron rebound from the second, and do not pass readily through it in the same way.  Indeed, it is nonsense, whichever alternative is adopted.  For, if they do rebound, how then do they pass through into the third piece?  And if they do not rebound, how does the second piece become suspended to the first?  For Epicurus himself regarded the rebound as the active agent in the attraction.

But, as I have said, one is driven to talk nonsense whenever one gests into discussion with such men.  Having, therefore, given a concise and summary statement of the matter, I wish to be done with it.  For if one diligently familiarizes oneself with the writings of Ascelpiades, one will see clearly their logical dependence on his first principles, but also their disagreement with observed facts.  Thus, Epicurus, in his desire to adhere to the facts, cuts an awkward figure by aspiring to show that these agree with his principles.

  15.59: How, then, do they {kidneys} exert this attraction {pulling waste from the blood}.  If, as Epicurus thinks, all attraction takes place by virtue of the rebounds and entanglements of the atoms, it would be certainly better to maintain that the kidneys have no attractive action at all; for his theory, when examined, would be found as it stands to be much more ridiculous even than the theory of the lodestone, mentioned a little while ago.

[ U294 ]

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Physicists, II (Against the Dogmatists, IV).219: According to the account of Demetrius of Laconia, Epicurus says that time is a concurrence of concurrences, one which accompanies days, nights, hours, the presence and absence of feelings, motions and rests.  For all of these are incidental properties of certain things, and since time accompanies them all it would be reasonable to call it a concurrence of concurrences.

[Ibid., 238-247, =  Outlines of Pyrrhonism , III.137, Cf. U79]

Aetius, Doxography, I.22.5, p. 318, 19 [Diels] (Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, physics, 8, 45): In regards to the essence of time, Epicurus defines it a concurrence <of concurrences>, that being what accompanies motion.

On the Universe and its World-Systems

[ U295 ]

Aetius, Doxography, I.18.3, p. 316 4 [Diels] (Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, physics, 18, 1; Plutarch I.18.1): Lucretius, Democritus, Demetrius, Metrodorus, Epicurus – they consider the atoms to be infinite in number, while the void is infinite in size.

[ U296 ]

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 13, p. 1114A: Epicurus, who says that "the universe" is infinite, uncreated and imperishable, and subject neither to increase nor diminution, speaks of the universe as if it were a unity.

[ U297 ]

Cicero, On Divination, II.50.103: You see how Epicurus proceeds from admitted premises to the proposition to be established.  But this you Stoic logicians do not do; for you not only do not assume premises which everybody concedes, but you even assume premises which, if granted, do not tend in the least to establish what you wish to prove.  For you start with this assumption: "If there are gods, they are kindly disposed towards men."  Now, who will grant you that?  Not Epicurus! He says that the gods are concerned at all – for themselves or for anybody else.

Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary on Aristotle’s "Physics, Gamma-4," (p. 203B 20), fr. 197u: There is fourth point which is hard to deal with: the fact that everything which is limited seems to be limited by something.  For if everything which is limited is limited by something which is external to itself, then that external thing by which it is limited is itself either unlimited or limited.  And if it is unlimited, then we immediately have the result that the unlimited exists.  And if it is limited, like the earth for example, then this too is limited by something else, and so on without limit.  And if it goes on without limit, the unlimited exists.  For one will never get one’s hands on the final limit, if indeed this too is limited by something else.   The Epicureans, according to Alexander, relied on this argument above all else when they said that the universe was infinite, because everything which is limited by something has outside it something which is limited {and so on and so on}.  Aristotle mentions that this argument is quite old.

Cf. Alexander of Aphrodisia, Questions, III.12, [p. 200.20 Spengl.; 10.104,20-23 Sharples]: If the being limited of what is limited consisted in being considered [as] up against something else, then our opponents would have a point when they claim that outside every limited thing there has to be something up against which it is seen to be limited – if it is in this that being {einai}, for what is limited, consists.

[ U298 ]

Themistius, Paraphrases of Aristotle’s "Physics, Gamma-8," (p. 208A 11), [fr. 36r Ald.], [p. 251.1 Speng.]:

[ U299 ]

Plutarch, On the Obsolescence of Oracles, 28, p. 425D:  For, if we take the expressions below and above as referring, not to the world, but outside of it, we shall become involved in the same difficulties as Epicurus, who would have all his atoms move to places under our feet, as if either the void had feet, or infinity granted us to conceive of below and above within itself.

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 8, p. 1111B: {Epicurus} says that while he posits an infinite universe, he does not eliminate "up" and "down."

Plutarch, Stoic Self-Contradictions, 44, p. 1054B: It is frequently asserted by Chrysippus that outside the world there is infinite void and that what is infinite has no beginning, middle, or end; and this the Stoics use especially to annihilate the downward motion which Epicurus says the atom has of itself, their contention being that in an infinite void, there is no difference by which to distinguish one part as being up and the other as down.

[ U300 ]

Scholion on Epicurus, Letter to Pythocles, by way of Laertius, Lives, X.88: "A world-system is a circumscribed portion of the universe, which contains stars and earth and all other visible things, cut off from the infinite, and terminating..." and terminating in a boundary which may be either thick or thin, the  dissolution of which will bring about the ruin of everything within...

[ U301 ]

Galen, On the Diagnosis and Cure of Soul’s Errors, 7, t. V [p. 102 K., Singer]: The Stoic says that there is no void in the world, but that there is empty space outside it.  The Epicurean grants both these types of void, but differs from the [Stoics] in another respect.  He does not admit that there is only one world, as does the Stoic, who in this respect agrees perfectly with the Peripatetics.  But just as he maintains that the void is infinite in size, so also does he way that there are in it an infinite number of world-systems.

Aetius, Doxography, II.1.3, [p. 327 Diels] (Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, physics, 22, 3; Plutarch II.1.1): Democritus and Epicurus maintain that there are infinite worlds in the infinite <universe>, in every direction.

Achilles, Introduction, 8, [p.131 E Pet.]: Some assert that there exists something externally, as indeed Epicurus, who supposes that there are infinite world-systems in the infinite void.  5 p. 130B: Epicurus and his master [sic] Metrodorus believe in the existence of many world-systems.

Servius, Commentary on Virgil’s "Aenids," I.330 at "Under which skies:" ... according to the Epicureans, who would have it that there exist more skies, as Cicero does in his Hortensius.

Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, I.24.67 (Cotta to Velleius): Where is this "truth" of yours to be found?  Among the innumerable world-systems, born and dying through every instant of time?

Cicero, On End-Goals, Good and Bad, I.6.21:  The very conception of infinite space, apeiria as they term it, is entirely derived from Democritus; and again the countless numbers of world-systems that come into existence and pass out of existence every day.

Dionysius the Episcopalian, by way of Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, XIV 23, 2 p. 773A: The atoms comprise an infinity of world-systems.  [Cf. 26.14 p. 781A]

Hermias, Derision of the Pagan Philosophers, 18, [p. 656, 7 Diels]: Epicurus jumps up and tells me "You actually have counted only one world-system, my friend.  But there are many world-systems in fact, they are infinite." [Cf. Commentary on Lucan, Civil War, VI.696]

Alexander of Aphrodisia, Questions, III.12, [p. 199, 20 Spengl.; 10.104,4-8 Sharples]: That there is a plurality of unlimited things according to those who say that the principles {i.e., elements} are unlimited is clear also from what follows.  They say that the world-systems, too, are unlimited [in number].  If each of these too is composed out of unlimited principles, it is necessary for the unlimited things to be unlimited an unlimited number of times over.

[ U301a ]

Aetius, Doxography, II.1.8, [p. 329B 3 Diels] (Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, physics, 22, 3): Epicurus asserts that he spaces between world-systems are unequal.

[ U302 ]

Aetius, Doxography, II.2.3, [p. 329A 5 Diels] (Plutarch II.2): Epicurus affirms that, on the one hand, it is possible that world-systems might be spherically shaped, and on the other hand, that it is also possible they may be characterized by other configurations.

[ U303 ]

Aetius, Doxography, II.7.3, [p. 336 Diels] (Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, physics, 22, 2; Plutarch II.7.2): Epicurus maintains that the edges of some world-systems may be thin, others thick, and that of these, some move and others remain stationary.

[ U304 ]

Philo, On the Indestructibility of the Cosmos, 3, [p. 2222, 2 Bern.]: Democritus, Epicurus, and a numerous company of Stoic philosophers believe in a birth and destruction of the world, though not in the same way.  The ones who believe in the existence of an infinity of world-systems attribute their births in terms of reciprocal impacts and entanglement of atoms, and their deaths to crashing atoms and to collisions from that which it was formed out of.

Commentary on Lucan, Pharsalia (The Civil War), VII.1, p. 220.5: They don’t agree with the Stoics and Epicureans, who assert that the world was born and will perish.

Lactantius, Divine Institutes, VII.1.10: Epicurus then, on the authority of Democritus, was truly versed on this point.  He said that [the world] had begun at one time and would come to extinction at some time.  However, he was not able to render any account either for what causes or at what time this such great work would be dissolved.

Ibid., II.10.24: But if the world can perish entirely, since it perishes in parts, it is clear that at some time it began.  Fragility thus exposes the end of the world just as it shows its beginning.  And if these things are true, Aristotle will not be able to defend the point he held, namely, that the world itself had no beginning. If Plato and Aristotle, who thought that the world will always be, although they are eloquent, the same Epicurus will force the same point from them, however unwilling, since it follows that it also has an end.

[ U305 ]

Aetius, Doxography, II.4.10, [p. 331.24 Diels] (Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, physics, 20, 1; Plutarch II.4.2): Epicurus says that the world {continuously} destroys itself in very many ways: for it can be destroyed in the manner of an animal, in the manner of plant, and in lots of other ways.

[ U306 ]

Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary on Aristotle’s "Physics, Theta-1," (p. 250b 18), fr. 257u:

[ U307 ]

St. Jerome, Commentary on "Ecclesiastes," c. 1, t. III [p. 391D Vall.]: We do not believe that signs and portents and many unusual facts, which happen in the world by divine will, have already happened in past generations, such as Epicurus would have it, asserting that through innumerable temporal cycles, the same things happen, in the same places, by means of the same agents.

[ U308 ]

Aetius (Plutarch), On the Opinions of the Philosophers, I.4, [p. 289 Diels]: So the world was compounded and endowed with its bent {i.e., rounded} shape in the following manner:  Because atomic bodies, which move without guidance and in a haphazard manner, were constantly moving at the greatest of speeds, many bodies happened to be assembled together in the same place, and thereby had variety of shapes and seizes <and weights>.  As they assembled in the same place, the larger and heavier bodies tended to move toward the bottom and settled; but the small, round, smooth, and slippery ones were pushed out in the concourse of atoms and so moved into the celestial regions.  So when the force of the blows [of atomic collisions] stopped raising them up, and the blows no longer carried them into the celestial regions, they were still prevented from falling down because they were squeezed into places that could accommodate them.  Now these were situated all around, and most of the bodies were bent around to these places.  By becoming entangled with each other during the bending, they generated the sky.  Retaining the same nature and being varied, as was said, the atoms which were pushed out to the celestial regions produced the nature of the heavenly bodies. The majority of the bodies which were evaporated upwards struck the air and compressed it.  And the air, being made wind-like during its movement and gathering together the heavenly bodies, drove them around with itself and by this twisting produced their present circular movement in the celestial regions.  And then the earth was produced from the bodies which settled at the bottom, while those which were raised upwards produced the sky, fire, and air.  Since a great deal of matter was still contained in the earth and this was packed densely by the blows of the atomic bodies and by those from the rays of the heavenly bodies, the earth’s entire configuration, which was made up of small particles, was squeezed together and so produced the nature of fluids.  And since this nature was disposed to flow, it moved down into the hollow places and those able to receive it and contain it; either that, or the water all by itself hollowed out the existing places by settling there.  So the most important parts of the world were produced in this way.

On Planets

[ U309 ]

Aetius (Plutarch), Doxography, V.26, [p. 438 Diels]: The Stoics and the Epicureans do not consider the planets to be living beings (some are actually characterized as being irascible and lustful others as rational), but instead the planets move, in a certain sense, automatically, without mental guidance.

On Man

[ U310 ]

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians, I (Against the Dogmatists, I).267: Epicurus and his followers supposed that the conception of Man could be conveyed by indication, saying that "Man is this sort of a shape combined with vitality."  But they did not notice that if the thing indicated is Man, the thing not so indicated is not Man.

Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, II.25: Epicurus says that Man is "This sort of shape combined with vitality."  According to him, then, since a man is revealed by direct perception, he that is not perceived as such is not a man.

On the Soul

[ U311 ]

Scholion on Epicurus, Letter to Herodotus, by way of Laertius, Lives, X.66: He says elsewhere that the soul is composed of the smoothest and roundest of atoms – far more so than those of fire; part of it is irrational and scattered throughout the body, while the rational part resides in the chest, where we feel it in our fears and our joy.

[ U312 ]

Aetius, Doxography, IV.4.6, [p. 390 Diels] (Plutarch IV.4.3) (Democritus): Democritus and Epicurus say that the soul has two parts, one which is rational and situated in the chest, and the other which is non-rational and spread throughout the entire body.

Ibid., IV 5.5, p. 391 [Diels] (Plutarch IV.5.2): Parmenides and Epicurus maintain that the seat of consciousness – the rational part of the soul – occupies the entire chest.

Tertulllian, On the Soul, 15: You must not suppose that the sovereign faculty ... is found enclosed in the breast, as Epicurus thinks.

[ U313 ]

Uncertain Epicurean Author, Vol. Herc. 2, VII.17 col. XXII- :

[ U314 ]

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 20, p. 1118D: Colotes, however finds the question absurd {Socrates’ inquiries into "what is a man?"}.  Why then does he not deride has master too, who did this very thing as often as he wrote or spoke about the constitution of the soul and the "initiation of the aggregate."  For if (as they themselves hold) the combination of the two parts, a body of a certain description and a soul, is man, then one who seeks to discover the nature of the soul is seeking to discover the nature of man, starting from the more important source.  And that the soul is hard to apprehend by reason and cannot be discerned by sense let us not learn from Socrates, "the sophist and charlatan," but from these sages, who get as far as those powers of the soul that affect the flesh, by which it imparts warmth and softness and firmness to the body, when they manufacture its substance by the combining their own varieties of heat, gas and air, but quite before they reach the seat of power.  For its ability to judge, remember, love, and hate – in short, its thinking and reasoning faculty – is added to these, they say from a quality "that has no name."  This talk of the thing "that has no name" is, we know, a confession of an embarrassed ignorance – what they cannot make out they assert that they cannot name.  But let this too "be excused," as they say.

[ U315 ]

Aetius, Doxography, IV.3.11, p. 388 [Diels] (Johannes Stobaeus, Anthology, physics, 41 p. 798; Plutarch IV.3.4): Epicurus said that the soul is a blend of four things: one of which is fire-like, one air-like, one wind-like, while the fourth is something which lacks a name.  (This last he made the one which accounts for sensation.)  The wind, he said, produces movement in us, the air produces rest, the hot one produces the evident heat of the body, and the unnamed one produces sensation in us.  For sensation is found in none of the named elements

Macrobius, Commentary on the "Dream of Sciopio," I.14.20: Epicurus called the soul a being commixed with fire, air, and breath.

Alexander of Aphrodisia, On the Soul, I.8 f. 127u: ... and the Epicureans: indeed, according to them, the soul is a compound of more varied bodies.   [Cf. Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, III.231]

On Temperaments

[ U316 ]

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, III.294- :

There is mostly heat in creatures of violent heart
whose mind is easily inflamed to anger:
In that kind that is first of all the lion
who breaks his chest with roaring, or who anyhow
cannot contain the waves of anger within him.

There is more chilly breath in the mind of a deer
and that quickly fans cold air through its inner parts
which causes a trembling in every limb.
The ox’s nature is one with the peaceful air;
The torch of anger is never so lit in him
that he is covered by billowing clouds of smoke;
Not ever is he shot through with icy fear:
He is somewhere between the stag and the savage lion.

So it is with men: however education
may give them similar polish, yet each
retains traces of his first nature in his mind.
It is not to be thought that faults can be so eradicated
that one does not run too quickly into anger,
another not take fright readily, while a third
may take all things more easily than he should.
In many other things there are great differences
between men in their nature and behavior:
I cannot now explain the reasons for this,
nor find names for the shapes of all the elements
from which these many differences arise.
What, however, I think can be asserted
is that the traces of original nature
which reason cannot efface, are very few,
so that nothing can stop us living as the gods do.

On Sensation

[ U317 ]

Aetius, Doxography, IV.8.10, [p. 395 Diels] (Parallel A27, 18; Plutarch IV.8.5): Leucippus, Democritus, and Epicurus say that sense-perception and thought occur when images approach from the outside.  For we apply neither [sense-perception nor thought] to anything in the absence of an image striking form the outside.

Cicero, On End-Goals, Good and Bad, I.6.21: Those ideas which he {Epicurus} adopts, the credit belongs entirely to Democritus – {e.g.,} the atoms, the void, the images, or as they call them, eidola, whose impact is the cause not only of vision but also of thought.

Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, I.38.108 (Cotta to Velleius): You are trying to foist these images of yours not only on our eyes but on our minds as well.

Ibid., I.38.107: Suppose that there are such images constantly impinging on our minds...

Saint Augustine, Letter to Dioscorus, 118.27 t. II [p. 340D Venice Edition 1719] (cf., ibid., 31 p. 342A): Let them say, then, in which class they would include the images which, as they think, stream from solid substances, without themselves being at all solid, and by their impact on the eyes cause us to see; on the mind, to think.  They could not possibly be perceived if they are themselves substances.

Aetius (Plutarch), Doxography, IV.23.2, [p. 414 Diels]: Epicurus maintained that both emotions and sensation take place in the parts of the body susceptible to being affected, while the sovereign faculty is unaffected.

On Vision

[ U318 ]

Aetius, Doxography, IV.13.1, [p. 403 Diels] (Parallel O14, 1; Plutarch IV.13): Leucippus, Democritus, and Epicurus maintain that visual perception takes place by the entrance of images [into the eyes].

Meletius, in Cramer, Oxoniensian Anecdote, III p. 71, 7: There is much disagreement among philosophers regarding [the act of seeing]: the Epicureans profess that images from apparent objects come to impact the eyes and produce vision.

[ U319 ]

Alexander of Aphrodisia, Commentary on Aristotle’s "On the Sensations," 2 p. 438A 5- [p. 51,3 Thur.]: Democritus himself, and before him Leucippus, and after him the Epicureans, think that certain images, which are of the same shape as the objects from which they flow, flow from them and strike the eyes of those who are seeing and that this is how seeing occurs.  As a proof of this he offers the fact that there is always in the pupil of those who are seeing a reflection and image of what is seen, and this is exactly what the act of seeing is.  [Cf. Alexander of Aphrodisia, On the Soul, II.13]

Galen, On the Doctrines of Hippocrates and Plato, VII 7 t. V [p. 643 K.; p. 643,3 Müll.; VII.7.21 De Lacy]: Therefore Epicurus’ view – although both views are mistaken – is much better than that of the Stoics.  For the latter do not bring anything of the visual object up to the visual power, but Epicurus declared that he did so.  Aristotle is much superior to <Epicurus>; he does not posit a corporeal image but a quality from the visual object to the eyes through an alteration of the surround air. [ibid. p. 643 K.; p. 643,3 Müll.]

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights, V.16.3: Epicurus believes that there is a constant flow from all bodies of images from those bodies themselves, and that these impinge upon the eyes, and hence the sensation of seeing arises.

Macrobius, Saturnalia, VII 14.3: The nature of vision has been brilliantly investigated by Epicurus, and his views on the subject should not, in my opinion, be rejected, especially since the theories of Democritus agree with them—for in this as in everything else those two philosophers are of the same mind.  Epicurus, then, holds that from all bodies images flow in a continuous stream and that the sloughed-off particles, cohering to form an empty shape, are forever carried abroad, without the slightest intermission, to find lodgment in our eyes, thus reaching the seat which nature has appointed form them as the seat of the appropriate sense.  Such is the explanation given by that famous man.

On Mirrors

[ U320 ]

Aetius, Doxography, IV.14.2, [p. 405 Diels] (Parallel O14, 14; Plutarch): Leucippus, Democritus, and Epicurus assert that what we see in mirrors is formed by opposition of images moving away from us and upon the mirror will be reflected backwards.

Appuleius, Apology or On Magic, 15: What is the reason why, not even for these motives, that the philosopher, and only him, should not look into the mirror?  Indeed sometimes it is proper … to consider also the criterion of the resemblance itself, it, as Epicurus affirms, certain images moving away from us, like husks that emanate from bodies in a continuous flux, once they have bumped against something smooth and solid, are reflected backwards upon impact, and reproduced in reverse, corresponding in the opposite way.

On Hearing

[ U321 ]

Aetius, Doxography, IV.19.2, [p. 408 Diels]: Epicurus maintains that the voice is a flow sent out from those who make utterances or produce sounds or noises.  This flow is broken up into particles of the same shape.  ("Of the same shape" means that the round are like the round and the angular and the triangular are like those of those types.)  And when these strike the organs of hearing, the perception of voice is produced.

[ U322 ]

Scholiast on Dionysius Thrax {"Dionysius the Thracian"}, British Museum codex, in Cramer, Oxoniensian Anecdote, IV p. 317, 8: Epicurus, Democritus, and the Stoics say that voice is a body.  For everything which can act or be acted upon is a body.  For example, iron: it is acted upon by fire and it acts on men or wood.  So if voice can act and be acted upon, it is a body.  But it acts, since we enjoy hearing a voice or a lyre; and it is acted upon, as when we are speaking and the wind blows, which makes it harder to hear our voice.

Grammaticus the Byzantine, Paris codex, 2555 BAG p. 1168: Democritus, Epicurus, and the Stoics said that the voice must be a body, since everything that has activity and reactivity – that is: anything able to act and be acted upon – is a body.

[ U323 ]

Plutarch, Table Talk, VIII 3.1 p. 720E: The fact which needed explanation, continued Ammonius, was rather that voices are more sonorous at night and preserve not only their volume but the precise articulation. ...  2. p. 720F: Boëthus then said that when he was still young and occupied with academic pursuits, he had been accustomed to using postulates and adopting unproved assumptions, after the manner of geometry, but that he would now employ some of the demonstrated doctrines of Epicurus.  "Existing things move about in the non-existent.  There is a great deal of void interspersed and mingled with the atoms of air.  Now when air is dispersed and has scope and motility because of its loose structure, the empty spaces left between the particles are small and narrow and the atoms, being scattered, fill a good deal of space, but when it is compressed and the atoms are crowded into a small space, and are forced close together, they leave plenty of space outside and make the intervals large.  This is what happens at night, under the influence of cold.  For warmth loosens and separates and dissolves concentrations, which is why bodies when boiling or softening or melting take up more room, while on the other hand the particles in freezing and cooling bodies join together more compactly and leave vacuums – spaces from which they have withdrawn – in the vessels which hold them.  A sound which approaches and strikes a large number of particles collected in a mass is either silenced completely or undergoes serious convulsions and many collisions and delays.  But in an empty stretch, devoid of atoms, it travels a smooth, continuous, and unimpeded path to the organ of hearing, preserving, by its velocity, not only the sense of the message but its fine detail.  Surely you have noticed that empty vessels when struck are more responsive and send the sound a long way, and often the sound goes round and round and there is much communication of it; but a vessel filled either with solid matter or with some liquid becomes completely mute and soundless, since the sound has no way or passage by which to go through.  Of physical bodies themselves, gold and stone, because of their compactness, are weak-voiced and dull-sounding, and quickly extinguish sounds within them, but bronze is melodious and vocal, because it has much empty space within its structure and is light and fine in its spatial mass, not constricted by crowding particles, but containing an abundance of flimsy, yielding substance.  This gives easy passage to other motions and especially to sound, receiving it hospitably and speeding it on its journey, until someone, like a highway-robber, seizes and detains and blindfolds it.  There it comes to a halt, ceasing to move on because of the obstruction.  This is in my opinion what makes the night sonorous and the day less so.  Daytime, by its warmth, and the expansion of the air, makes the intervals between the atoms small, so long as no one objects to my basic assumptions.

[Cf. Ibid., c. 3 p. 721F]: There was no need to trouble the night with contraction and increased tension of its air, so as to leave passages and vacuums elsewhere, as through the air were a hindrance to sound or destroyed its substance.  Air is itself the substance and body and power of sound.  Apart from these points, turbulent nights, for example cloudy or stormy ones, ought to be in your theory more sonorous than nights that are clear and uniform in composition, because then the atoms are forced together in one place, and leave the place they are driven from empty of matter.  It is also very obvious that a cold day would be more sonorous than a hot summer night.  But neither are true.

On Taste

[ U324 ]

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 25, p. 1121B: {That ... protest of theirs in defense of sensation, that it does not assert the external object to be warm, the truth being merely that the effect produce in sensation has been of this kind – } is it not the same as the statement about taste?  It does not assert that the external object is sweet – there has merely occurred in the taste an effect and movement of this kind.

On Sleep and Dreams

[ U325 ]

Tertullian, On the Soul, 43: The Epicureans maintain that sound is a diminution of vital spirit.

[ U326 ]

Plutarch, Table Talk, VIII 10.1 p. 734D: [regarding] the common notion about dreams – that they are especially likely to be unreliable or false in the autumn months …  I don’t know … how it came to be …  §2 p. 734F: Favorinus … on this occasion advanced an old argument of Democritus.   Taking it down all blackened with smoke, as it were, he set about cleaning and polishing it.  He used for a foundation the familiar argument found in Democritus that ghostly films penetrate the body through the pores and that when they emerge they make us see things in our sleep.  These films that come to us emanate from everything – from utensils, clothing, plants, and especially from animals, because of their restlessness and their warmth.  The films have not only the impressed physical likeness in contour of an animal – so far Epicurus agrees with Democritus, though he drops the subject at this stage – but they gather and convey by attraction ghostly copies of each man’s mental impulses, designs, moral qualities, and emotions.

[ U327 ]

Commentary on Lucan, Pharsalia (The Civil War), II.380, p. 75.13: Epicurus asserts that flowing atoms penetrate our minds from the images of objects, and that during the sleep there appears either actions that we have done or those we are about to do.

[ U328 ]

Tertullian, On the Soul, 46: Epicurus, who used to liberate the divinity from every occupation, and eliminate the order of things, and dispersed them into passivity ... [more]

Cicero, On Divination, I.30.62: Shall we listen to Epicurus rather than Plato {regarding dreams}?

Ibid., I.44, 99: Sisenna ... later, influenced to doubt by some petty Epicurean, goes on inconsistently to maintain that dreams are not worthy of belief.

Petronius, Satyricon, 104 [Eumolpus speaking]: Exactly.  And this {coincidence of similar dreams by two different people} shows you why we consider Epicurus almost superhuman.  As you many remember, he very wittily disposes of such coincidences as mere silly superstitions.  

[Cassius, by way of Plutarch, Life of Cassius, 37: {Referring to other doctrines as if they might be Epicurean...} And they explain the transpiration of dreams during periods of sleep – transpirations that are due to the imaginative faculty, which from minor beginnings, gives rise to varied emotions and images.  This faculty, on the other hand, is always set in motion by nature and its motion is a representation or a concept.]

On Reproduction

[ U329 ]

Aetius, Doxography, V.3.5, [p. 417 Diels]: Epicurus asserts that seminal fluid is a small detachment from the body and soul.

[ U330 ]

Aetius (Plutarch), Doxography, V.5.1, [p. 418 Diels]: Pythagoras, Epicurus, and Democritus all say that the female also secretes seminal fluid.  It comes from testicles, flipped around in the opposite sense; it must thereby also have an impetus for union.

[ U331 ]

Censorinus, On the Natal Day, 5.4: Even on this question there is uncertainty among the various scholars: if the child is born only by the semen of the father…, or also by that of the mother as well, which … is the opinion of Epicurus.

[ U332 ]

Ibid., 6.2: The Stoics assert that the fetus forms itself in its entirety in a single moment.  … There are also those who think that it arrives by the work of Nature itself, like Aristotle and Epicurus.

Aetius (Plutarch), Doxography, V.16.1, [p. 426 Diels]: Democritus and Epicurus say that the embryo in the womb partially nourishes itself through the mouth, ...etc...

[ U333 ]

On the Origin of Human Beings

Censorinus, On the Natal Day, IV.9: Democritus of Abdera first held that men were created from water and mud.  And Epicurus’ view is not much different, for he believed that when the mud became warm, first there grew wombs of some kind or another which clung to the earth by roots, and these begat infants and provided a natural supply of milky fluid for them, under the guidance of nature.  When these [infants] had been brought up in this manner and reached maturity, they then propagated the human race.

On Linguistics

[ U334 ]

Origen, Against Celsus, I.24, [p. 18 Hoesch.]: As to this, one should also say that a deep and arcane debate about the nature of names emerged.  Are names conventional, as Aristotle thinks? ...  Or are names natural, as Epicurus teaches – in a manner different from that of the Stoics – such that the first men burst forth with particular sounds which were then applied to things?

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Proclus Lycaeus, Commentary on Plato’s "Cratylus," 16 [p. 6 Boiss.]: Pythagoras and Epicurus shared the view of Cratylus…  17 [p. 8]: Epicurus thought that names were natural in [one] sense, as being a primary function of nature, such as voice and vision and seeing and hearing, in the same way naming is natural.  So that names too are natural in the sense of functions of nature.  But Cratylus says that names are natural in [another] sense; that is why he says that each thing has its own proper name, since it was given specifically by the first name-givers in a craftsman-like fashion based on an understanding of the thing.  Epicurus, however, said that these men did not give names based on an understanding of things, but because they were moved in a natural fashion, like those who cough and sneeze and below and bark and lament.

On Death

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Aetius (Plutarch), Doxography, IV.7.4, [p. 393 Diels]: Democritus and Epicurus said that the soul is mortal and perishes with the body.

Lactantius, Divine Institutes, III.17.33: What of the fact that that argument is completely false, since souls do no perish?  "Reflect again on the truth,"  [Epicurus] says, "for it is necessary that that which is born with the body, perish with the body." Cf. Ibid., VII.12.1: Now let us refute the arguments of those who set forth contrary opinions.  Lucretius worked them into his third book.  "Since the soul is born with the body," he said, "It must perish with the body."  {Cf. Lucretius, III.417, III.634, & III.746}  Ibid., VII.13.7: Thus, the opinion of Democritus and Epicurus and Dicaearchus about the dissolution of the soul is false then.  [Ibid., VII.8.8: {…those who opposed [Plato, Pythagoras, & Pherecydes] held no less influence: Dicaearchus, at first; then Democritus; finally, Epicurus}]

St. Augustine (attributed), Exegesis of the Psalm, 73.25, t. IV [p. 781 Venice Edition]:

St. Augustine, Sermon, 348, t. V p. 1344 A: And, once this life is spent, they do not believe that there might be another one in the hereafter.

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Sextus Empiricus, Against the Physicists, I (Against the Dogmatists, III).72: [Souls] persist as they are in themselves, and are not, as Epicurus said, "dispersed like smoke when released from their bodies."

Cf. Iamblichus, by way of Stobaeus, Anthology, Physics, 41.43, [p. 924 H.]:

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Cicero, On End-Goals, Good and Bad, II.31.100: He {Epicurus} repeatedly argued at length, and also stated briefly and plainly  in the work I have just mentioned {The Principal Doctrines}, that death does not affect us at all...

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Gnomolgion from the Parisinus codex, 1168, f. 115r- (Maxims of Epicurus): It is possible to provide security against other afflictions, but as far as death is concerned, we men all live in a city without walls. {= Vatican Saying 31}

[Cf. Maximus the Abbot, Gnomologion, 36, [p.194 Turic.; t. II p. 827 Combef.]

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Hippolytus, "Philosophical Questions," (Refutation of all Heresies, I) 22.5 [p. 572.14 Diels.]: He {Epicurus} concluded that the souls of men are dissolved along with their bodies, just as also they were produced along with them; these, in fact, are blood, and when this has gone forth or been altered, the entire man perishes.  In keeping with this tenet, it follows that there are neither trials in Hades, nor tribunals of justice; so that whatsoever any one may commit in this life, that, provided he may escape detection, he is altogether beyond any liability of trial.

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Seneca, Letters to Lucilius, 24.18: I am not so foolish as to go through at this juncture the arguments which Epicurus harps upon, and say that the errors of the world below are idle – that Ixion does not whirl round on his wheel, that Sisyphus does not shoulder his stone uphill, that a man’s entrails cannot be restored and devoured everyday; no one is so childish as to fear Cerberus, or the shadows, or the ghostly garb of those who are held together by nothing but their bare bones.

Lactantius, Divine Institutes, III.17.42: Epicurus says … the punishments of hell do not have to be feared, because souls die after death; nor is there any hell at all.

Ibid., VII.7.13: Zeno, the Stoic, taught that there was a hell, and that the abodes of the virtuous were separated from the wicked, and that the former inhabited quiet and delightful regions, while the latter paid their penalty in dark places and horrible caverns of mud.  The prophets made the same thing clear to us.  Therefore, Epicurus was in error who thought that this was a figment of the poet’s imagination, and took those punishments of hell to be those which are borne in this life.

On Celestial Phenomena

[Tertulllian, On the Pagan Nations, II.4: Epicurus, however, who had said, "What is above us is nothing to us," wished notwithstanding to have a peep at the sky, and found the sun to be a foot in diameter.]

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Aetius (Plutarch), Doxography, V.20.2, [p. 432 Diels]: Democritus and Epicurus do not believe that celestial bodies are living beings.

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 27, p. 1123A: Who is it that upsets accepted beliefs and comes in conflict with the plainest facts?  It is those who reject... {divination, providence, and} that the sun and moon are living beings, to whom sacrifice and prayer and reverence is offered up by all mankind.

Galen, On the Use of Parts, XII 6, t. IV [p. 21 K.]: Even our Creator, though knowing perfectly the ingratitude of such men as these, has yet created them.  The sun makes the seasons of the year and perfects the fruits without paying any heed, I suppose, to Diagoras, Anaxagoras, Epicurus, or the others blaspheming against it.  No beneficent being bears malice over anything, but naturally aides and adorns all.

St. Augustine, City of God, XVIII 41: At Athens did there not flourish both the Epicureans, who asserted that human affairs are of no concern to the gods, and the Stoics, who, coming to the opposite conclusion, argued that these are guided and supported by the gods, who are our helpers and protectors?  I wonder therefore why Anaxagoras was tried for saying that the sun is a blazing stone and denying that it is a god at all, while in the same city Epicurus lived in glory and in safety, though he not only believed neither in the divinity of the sun nor in that of any other luminary, but also maintained that neither Jupiter nor any other god dwells in the universe at all for men's prayers and supplications to reach him.

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Aetius (Plutarch), Doxography, II.20, 14, [p. 350 Diels] (Stobaeus, Anthology, Physics, 25.3; Plutarch, II.20,5): Epicurus maintains that the sun is a compact amassment of earth, similar in aspect to pumice-stone, spongy because of its pores, and ignited by fire.

Cf. Achilles, Introduction, 19, [p.138D Pet.]: Epicurus asserts that it [the sun] is similar in a way to pumice-stone, and that from fire and through certain pores, it emanates its light.

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Aetius, Doxography, II.22.6, [p. 352 Diels] (Plutarch II.22): Anaximenes believes that the sun might be large and flat as a petal, Heraclitus that it might be similar to a bowl-shaped container, and very bent; the Stoics that it might be spherical, like the world and celestial bodies; Epicurus, that it might be able to assume any given shape.

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Aetius, Doxography, II.21.5, [p. 352,1 Diels] (Plutarch II.21.2; Stobaeus, Anthology, Physics, 25.3): Epicurus maintains that the sun is more or less as large as it appears.

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Servius, Commentary on Virgil’s "Georgics," I.247: At the expression "intempesta silet" … The Epicureans maintain that the sun does not proceed around the other hemisphere, but according to them sparkles always gather together in the east, and the disc of the sun is formed.

Servius, Commentary on Virgil’s "Aenids," IV.584: "With new light" … according to the Epicureans, who foolishly believe that the sun is composed of atoms, and that it is born together with the day, and together with the day perishes.

[ U347 ]

Junius Philargirius, Commentary on Virgil’s "Georgics," II.478 [p.248 Orsini] ("Various eclipses"): Epicurus maintains that, regarding the phenomenon in which the sun seems to diminish, one should not attribute a single cause, but rather various hypotheses: it may be proposed, in fact, that it extinguishes itself, or that it ventures further out, or that some other body hides it.

Themistius, Paraphrases of Aristotle’s "Posterior Analytics, Alpha-33," (p. 89 A 38), [fr. 9u Ald.]: Therefore it is not possible that, for the same belief, it can be opinion and knowledge for the same person simultaneously, for he would then assume that the same thing can and cannot also be something else at the same time.  But it happens that a man can have a certain belief as his opinion, while for another man, it is knowledge.  For Epicurus, in particular, it was indeed an opinion that the sun is eclipsed when the moon, in its course, passes under it; but in fact he believed it possible for things to be otherwise; for Hipparchus, by contrast, it was knowledge.

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Scholion on Epicurus, Letter to Herodotus, by way of Laertius, Lives, X.74 p. 26.9: Elsewhere he says that the earth is supported on air.

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Aetius, Doxography, III.4.5, [p. 371 Diels] (Parallel N 6.5 p. 691 Gf.; Plutarch, III.4.2): Epicurus says that all these things {i.e., clouds, rain, etc.} can be explained with the atomic theory.  Hail and rain, in particular, are rounded off because they are so-shaped from their long fall.

[ U350 ]

Aetius, Doxography, III.15.11 (Plutarch, III 15.9): As for earthquakes, Epicurus says that it is possible that the earth is moved by being violently thrust upwards when struck by the air from below, which is humid and dense; it’s also possible that it happens because the earth is cavernous underground, and thus jolted by the wind, which bursts into its cavities, which are like caverns, and diffused into their interiors.

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Seneca, Natural Questions, VI.20.1: Now we come to those writers who have stated as a cause of earthquakes either all the elements I mentioned or several of them.  Democritus thinks several.  For he says that an earthquake is produced sometimes by moving air, sometimes by water, sometimes by both.  (5)  Epicurus says that all these things can be causes and he tries several other causes.  Also he criticizes those who insist that some single on e of them is the cause, since it is difficult to promise anything certain about theories which are based on conjecture.  Therefore, as he says, water can cause an earthquake if it washes away and erodes some parts of the earth.  When these parts are weakened they cease to be able to sustain what they supported when they were intact.  The pressure of moving air can cause earthquakes; for perhaps the air inside the earth is agitated by other air entering, perhaps the earth receives a shock when some part of it suddenly falls and from this the earth takes on movement.  Perhaps a warm quantity of moving air is changed to fire and like lightning is carried along with great destruction to things that stand in its way.  Perhaps some blast pushes the swampy and stagnant waters and consequently either the blow shakes the earth or the agitation of the air increases by its very motion and, stirring itself up, travels all the way from the depths to the surface of the earth.  At any rate, Epicurus is satisfied that air is the main cause of earthquakes.

On the Gods

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, V.52:

The man who gets the better of all this
by words and without weapons, will not such a one {Epicurus}
deserve to be reckoned among deities?

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Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, I.16.43 - 20.56 (Velleius’ monologue): {Translated elsewhere}

Ibid., 34.95 (Cotta speaking): You say that there are both male and female gods  –  well, you can see as well as I can what is going to follow from that!

Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, VII.3.5: A man who denies that god is a "spirit diffused through all the parts of the world" {a Stoic definition} would not be saying that it is mistaken to call the world divine, as Epicurus would, for he gave God human form and a place in the spaces between worlds.

Saint Augustine, Letter to Dioscorus, 118.27 t. II [p. 340B Venice Edition 1719]: How much better for me not even to have heard the name of Democritus than to reflect with sorrow that someone was considered great in his own times who thought that the gods were images which were emitted from solid substances, although they themselves were not solid, and that they, by circling around this way and that, of their own motion, and by sliding into the minds of men, make them think the image is a divine force, while the substance from which the image was given off was deemed excellent in proportion to its solidity!  Therefore, his theory wavered, as they say, and varied, so that sometimes, he said that a certain substance from which the images streamed was god, yet, that substance cannot be conceived except through the images which it emits and gives off, that is, those which come from that substance, which he somehow thinks is corporeal and eternal and therefore divine, while the images are carried long by a constant emanation like mist, and they come and enter into ours so that we can think they are a god or gods.  Those philosophers hold that there is no other cause for any thought of ours except these images which, when we think, come form those substances and enter into our minds.  …  28:  However, Democritus is said to differ from Epicurus in his natural philosophy, in that he thinks there is a certain living and breathing force present at the coming together of atoms, by which force, I believe, he says "the images are endowed with divinity" – not the images of all things, but those of gods – and "that the elements from which the mind is compounded" exist in the universe, and to these he attributes divinity, and that these are "animate images which are wont to exercise a beneficent or harmful influence over us."  But Epicurus postulated nothing as the beginning of the world but atoms, that is, certain particles of matter so minute that they cannot be divided or perceived by either sight or touch, and by the chance meeting of these particles he says that innumerable worlds, and living beings, and the principle of life itself were produced, as well as the gods whom endows with human form, and locates, not in any world, but beyond and between the worlds.  He refuses absolutely to consider anything but material substances, but, in order to be able to think even about these, he says that images are given off by the very things which he supposes to be formed by the atoms, that they enter the mind, and that they are finer than the other images which appear to the eyes – for he says that this is the cause of our sight – but that they are "vast images of such a size as to envelop and enfold the entire world."

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Sextus Empiricus, Against the Physicists, I (Against the Dogmatists, III).25: Epicurus thinks that men have derived the conception of god from presentations [received] while asleep. For he says, since large manlike images strike them while they sleep, they supposed that some such manlike gods also existed in reality

On the Nature and Form of the Gods

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Tertullian, Apologetics, 47: Some are sure that he [God] is incorporeal, others that he has a body – i.e., the Platonists and the Stoics respectively.  Others say he consists of atoms, others of numbers – as do the Epicurus and the Pythagoreans respectively.

[Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 10.28: Let us concede to them, however, that the things which are earthly are made from atoms.  Are the things which are heavenly also?  They say that the gods are incorrupt, eternal, happy, and to them alone they give immunity, such that they may not be seen to be formed by the assembly of atoms.  For if the gods also had come from these, they would also be able to be dissipated, any time the seeds break apart and return to their natural state.  Therefore, if there is something which atoms have not brought about, why do we not understand that this is the case with other things, too?  My question is, before those beginning-bodies had generated the world, why did not the gods build a dwelling for themselves?  Surely, unless the atoms had come together and made heaven, the gods would still be hanging in the empty void. ]

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Scholion on Epicurus, Principal Doctrines 1, by way of Laertius, Lives, X.139: Elsewhere he says that the gods are discernible as mental impressions, some being unique, while others look similar, owing to the continuous flow of  similar images to the same place, culminating in human form.

Aetius, Doxography, I.7.34, [p. 306 Diels] (Plutarch, I.7.15; Stobaeus, Anthology, Physics, 2.29): Epicurus thinks the gods resemble humans, and can be contemplated by reason as a result of the fineness of the nature of their images.

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Philodemus, On the Life of the Gods, Vol. Herc. 1, VI c. 13: It must also be said that the gods speak, and that they entertain themselves with one another.  Indeed, we would no longer believe that the gods are happy and incorruptible, if the did not speak and did not communicate with one another.  On the contrary, they would be similar to mute men.  In effect, just as we use our voice…

Cf. c. 14: … and since for virtuous men, conversation with their equals is a source of inexpressible pleasure.  And, by Zeus, it is necessary to uphold that they have a language like Greek, or not far from it, and we know that those who have become gods only used the Greek language.

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Sextus Empiricus, Against the Physicists, I (Against the Dogmatists, III).178: Thus, to define God as speechless is perfectly absurd and in conflict with our general conceptions.  But if he is gifted with speech, he employs speech and has organs of speech, such as lungs and windpipe, tongue and mouth.  But this is absurd and borders on the mythology of Epicurus.

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Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, I.10.23 (Velleius speaking): As for those who say that the world itself is a conscious intelligence, they have not grasped the nature of consciousness, or understood in what shape it can be manifest.  … I am astonished by the stupidity of those who say that the world itself is a conscious and immortal being, divinely blest, and then say that it is a sphere, because Plato thought this to be the most beautiful of all shapes – I for one find more beauty in the shape of a cylinder, a square, a cone, or a pyramid.  What mode of existence is assigned to their spherical deity? Why, he is in a state of rotation, spinning around with a velocity that surpasses all powers of conception. But what room can there be in such an existence for stability of mind and for happiness – I cannot see.  Also, why should a condition that is painful in the human body, if even the smallest part of it is affected, be supposed to be painless in the deity? Now clearly the earth, being a part of the world, is also a part of the god.  Yet we see that vast portions of the earth’s surface are uninhabitable deserts, being either scorched by the sun’s proximity, or frost-bound and covered with snow owing to its extreme remoteness.  But if the world is god, these, being parts of the world, must be regarded as limbs of the god, undergoing the extremes of heat and cold respectively.

Ibid., II.17.46 (Balbus speaking): Epicurus may make a joke of this if he likes, although humor was never his strong point – an Athenian without the "Attic salt!"  He may say that he can make no sense of a "spherical and revolving god."  But he will never move me from the one view which even he himself accepts: he agrees that gods exist, because there must be some supreme being which is superior to all else.

Cf. Uncertain Epicurean Author, Vol. Herc. 1, VI c. 21: … that which the other philosophers ascribe to [a god].  They must surely know that [a god] does not have a spherical bodily form, nor a tendency towards arguments, anger, or pettiness, but rather has a bodily form that approaches the sublime, and a disposition that disregards all that is impure, being entirely devoted to true blessedness and incorruptibility.

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Hippolytus, "Philosophical Questions," (Refutation of all Heresies, I) 22.3 [p. 572.5 Diels.]: Acknowledging the Deity to be eternal and incorruptible, he says that God has providential care for nothing, and that there is no such thing at all as providence or fate, but that all things arc made by chance. For that the Deity reposed in the intermundane spaces, (as they) are thus styled by him; for outside the world he determined that there is a certain habitation of God, denominated "the intermundane spaces," and that the Deity surrendered himself to pleasure, and took his ease in the midst of supreme happiness; and that neither has he any concerns of business, nor does he devote his attention to them.

On the Blessed Life of the Gods

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Lactantius, On the Anger of God, 17.1: "God," says Epicurus, "cares for nothing."  Therefore, He has no power – for it is necessary that he who has power exercise care – or if He has power and does not use it, what is the reason of negligence so great that, I will not say our race, but even the world itself, is vile and worthless to Him?  "On this account," he says, "He is incorrupt and blessed, because He is always quiet."  To whom, then, has the administration of such great affairs yielded, if these things which we see controlled by the highest plan are neglected by God?  Or how is he who lives and feels able in any way to be quiet?  For quiet is a quality of either sleep or death.

Lactantius, Divine Institutes, III.12.15: Epicurus calls a god happy and incorrupt because he is everlasting.  Beatitude ought to be perfect so that there be nothing which can vex or lessen or change it, nor can anything be considered blessed unless through its being incorrupt.  And nothing is incorrupt save what is immortal.

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Atticus, by way of Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, XV 5.9 p. 800A: In Epicurus’  view, providence disappears; the gods according to him pay most attention to the preservation of their own good.

Uncertain Epicurean Author, by way of Pseudo-Plutarch, On the Opinions of the Philosophers, I I.7.7 p. 300: "Both [Anaxagoras and Plato] share this error, because they portrayed a god as being concerned for human affairs and as making the cosmos for the sake of man.  For a blessed and indestructible being, overflowing with good things and free of any share of what is bad, is completely preoccupied with the continuance of his won happiness and indestructibility and so is not concerned with human affairs.  For he would be wretched, like a workman or builder, if he undertook burdens and felt concern for the creation of the cosmos."

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Atticus, by way of Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, XV 5.11 p. 800B: But therein Epicurus, in my judgment, seems to have acted more modestly {than Aristotle}: for as if he had not hope of the gods being able to abstain from the care of mankind if they came in contact with them, he transferred them, as it were, to a foreign country, and settled them somewhere outside the world, excusing them from the charge of inhumanity by the removal, and by their separation from all things.

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Plutarch, Life of Pyrrhus, 20.3: ... they [the Epicureans] removed the Deity as far as possible from feelings of kindness or anger or concern for us, into a life that knew no care and was filled with ease and comfort.

Lactantius, On the Anger of God, 2.7: Certain individuals say that [God] neither is pleased nor angered by anything, but that, free from care and in repose, He enjoys the good of His own immortality.

Cf. Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, II.1093:

I appeal to the holy hearts of the gods,
which in tranquil peace pass untroubled days and a life serene.

Ibid., V.82:

Those who have been correctly taught
that the gods lead a life without care...

Horace, Satire, I.5.101:

I’ve learned that the gods exist carefree,
And, if a miracle does happen in Nature,
That petulant gods have nothing to do
With dispatching it down from the heavenly rooftop

Dionysius the Episcopalian, by way of Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, XIV 27, 1 p. 781A: To work, to administer, to do good and to show forethought, and all such actions are burdensome perhaps to the idle and foolish, and to the feeble and wicked, among whom Epicurus enrolled himself by entertaining such thoughts of the gods.

Tertullian, Apologetics, 47: The Epicureans picture him [God] as idle and unemployed, a nobody (so to say) in regards to human affairs.

Salvianus, On the Governence of God, I.5, p.3, 17: Among the Epicureans... who, just as they connect pleasure with virtue, so too they connect God with disinterest and laziness.

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Seneca, On Benefits, IV.4.1: "True; therefore God does not bestow benefits, but, free from care and unmindful of us, He turns away from our world and either does something else, or else does nothing,  which Epicurus thought the greatest possible happiness, and He is not affected either by benefits or by injuries." The man who says this surely cannot hear the voices of those who pray… IV.4.19: You, Epicurus, ended by making God unarmed; you stripped him of all weapons, of all power, and, lest anyone should fear him, you banished him from the world. There is no reason why you should fear this being, cut off as he is, and separated from the sight and touch of mortals by a vast and impassable wall; he has no power either of rewarding or of injuring us; he dwells alone half-way between our heaven and that of another world, without the society either of animals, of men, or of matter, avoiding the crash of worlds as they fall in ruins above and around him, but neither hearing our prayers nor interested in us. Yet you wish to seem to worship this being just as a father, with a mind, I suppose, full of gratitude; or, if you do not wish to seem grateful, why should you worship him, since you have received no benefit from him, but have been put together entirely at random and by chance by those atoms and mites of yours?  "I worship him," you answer, "because of his glorious majesty and his unique nature."

Ibid., VII.31.3: Some blame [the gods] for neglecting us, some with their injustice towards us; others place them outside of their own world, in sloth and indifference, without light, and without any functions;

Dionysius the Episcopalian, On Nature, by way of Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, XIV 27, 8 p. 782C: As for the gods of whom their poets sing as "Givers of good things," {Homer, Od. viii. 325} these philosophers with mocking reverence say, The gods are neither givers nor partakers of any good things. In what way then do they show evidence of the existence of gods, if they neither see them present and doing something, as those who in admiration of the sun and moon and stars said that they were called gods (θεος) because of their running (θεειν), nor assign to them any work of creation or arrangement, that they might call them gods from setting (θεναι), that is making (for in this respect in truth the Creator and Artificer of the universe alone is God), nor exhibit any administration, or judgment, or favor of theirs towards mankind, that we should owe them fear or honor, and therefore worship them?  Or did Epicurus peep out from the world, and pass beyond the compass of the heavens, or go out through some secret gates known only to himself, and behold the gods dwelling in the void, and deem them and their abundant luxury blessed? And did he thence become a devotee of pleasure, and an admirer of their life in the void, and so exhort all who are to be made like unto those gods to participate in this blessing, [etc.]

Cicero, Against Lucius Calpurnius Piso, 25.59 (Attributing these words to Piso): "What, Caesar, is the strong attraction that these thanksgivings of such frequency and such long duration as have been decreed to you possess?  The world is under a deep delusion concerning them, the gods care naught for them; for they, as our godlike Epicurus has said, feel neither kindness nor wrath towards any."

[ U365 ]

Lactantius, On the Anger of God, 4.1: What follows is of the school of Epicurus.  He teaches that just as there is no anger in God, so there is not even kindness.  For since Epicurus thought that to do evil or do harm was foreign to God (an action which is generally spring from the emotion of anger), he also took from Him beneficence because he saw it to be a consequence that, if God possessed anger, He would have kindness also.  "From this," he says, "he is blessed and incorrupt, because he cares for nothing, and he neither has any concern himself, nor does he show it for another."

[ U366 ]

Lactantius, On the Anger of God, 4.11: Accordingly, then, if there is neither anger nor kindness in [God], surely there is neither fear nor joy nor grief nor compassion.  For there is one plan for all the affections, one connected movement, which cannot be in God.  But if there is no affection in God, because whatever is affected is a weakness, therefore, neither is there any care of anything nor any providence in Him.  The argument of [Epicurus] extends only this far.  He was silent about the other things which follow, namely, that there is no care in Him nor providence, and, therefore, that there is not any reflection nor any sense in Him, by which it comes about that He does not exist at all.  So when he had descended step by step, he stopped on the last step because he then saw the precipice.  But what advantage is it to have kept silent and to have concealed the danger?  Necessity forced him to fall even against his will.

Ibid, 15.5: Since, therefore, there are good and evil things in human affairs … it is of necessity that God is moved with reference to each.  He is moved to kindness when He sees just things done, and to wrath when He beholds the unjust.  But Epicurus is in opposition to us and he says: "If there is in God movement of joy unto kindness and of hatred unto wrath, then he must have both fear, and inclination, and desire, and the other affections which belong to human feebleness."  But it is not necessary that he who is angry should also fear, or that he who rejoices should grieve.  … The affection of fear is a matter in man – not in God.

Ibid, 16.6: So the arguments are found to be empty  … of those who think that there is no movement of the mind in God.  Because there are some affections which do not happen to be found in God, like desire, fear, avarice, grief, and envy, they have said that He is utterly free from all affection.  He is free of these because they are affections of vices; but, those which are of virtue (that is, anger toward the evil, love toward the good, compassion for the afflicted) since they are becoming to His divine power.

On the Care and Governance of the World

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Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, I.8.18 - 9.23 (Velleius’ monologue): {Translated elsewhere}

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Lucian, The Double Indictment, 2: Epicurus certainly spoke the truth when he said that we {gods} do not provide for things on earth.

Lucian, Icaromenippus, 2: The Epicureans are really quite insolent, and they attack us without restraint, affirming that we {gods} don’t concern ourselves with human affairs, nor do we control events whatsoever.

Alexander of Aphrodisia, On Fate, 31, [p.100 Or.]: The so-called "absence of {divine} providence," by those in Epicurus’ circle…

Arrian, Diatribes of Epictetus, I.12.1: Concerning gods, there are some who say that the divine does not even exist while others, that it does exist but is inactive and indifferent, and takes forethought for nothing; …

Ibid, II.20.23: "Consider the contrary assertion: The gods not exist, and even if they do, they pay no attention to men, nor have we any fellowship with them, and hence this piety and sanctity which the multitude talk about is a lie told by ‘impostors and sophists,’ or, I swear, by lawmakers to frighten and restrain evildoers."

Atticus, by way of Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, XV 5.9 p. 800A: [= U361]

Ibid, 13 p. 800A: He {Epicurus} deprived the gods of their activity towards us, from which alone a just confidence in their existence was likely to be derived.

Ibid, XV 5.3 p. 799A: He who puts aside this divine nature, and cuts off the souls hope of hereafter, and destroys reverence before superior Beings in the present life, what communion has he with Plato? Or how could he exhort men to what Plato desires, and confirm his sayings? For on the contrary he surely would appear as the helper and ally of those who wish to do injustice. For every one who is human and constrained by human desires, if he despise the gods and think they are nothing to him, inasmuch as in life he dwells far away from them, and after death exists no more, will come prepared to gratify his lusts.

Ibid, 5.6 p. 799A: … guaranteeing the impunity on the part of the gods.

Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks, 5, [p. 20.8 Sylb.]: Epicurus alone I will banish from memory, and willingly at that.  For he, preeminent in impiety, thinks that God has no care for the world.

Plotinus, Dissertations, (Aeneids, II.9), 15: Epicurus, who rejects providence...

Lactantius, Divine Institutes, I.2.1: I do not think it so necessary to maintain a principle from what question which seems to be primary by nature, whether it is providence which takes care of all things, or whether they have been made and are carried on fortuitously.  The author of this opinion is Democritus; its establisher, Epicurus.  Ibid., II.8.48: The world was made by Divine Providence. … this was held as an acknowledged and indubitable fact by those first seven wise men up to Socrates and Plato even, until the mad Epicurus arose many ages after, and dared to deny that which is most evident, with a zeal and desire of inventing new beliefs, so that he might set up a system under his own name.

Lactantius, On the Anger of God, 9.4: Later, however, Epicurus said that there was a god, indeed, because it was necessary that there be in the world something outstanding, and distinguished, and blessed, but still he held that there was no providence; and, as a result of this, the world itself he regarded as fashioned neither by any plan nor by design nor by art, but that the nature of things had conglobated by certain minute and inseparable seeds.

Plutarch, Against Colotes, 27, p. 1123A: Who is it that upsets accepted beliefs and comes in conflict with the plainest facts?  It is those who reject divination and deny that there exists divine providence.

Ibid., 30, p 1124E: When, therefore, will our life be that of a beast, savage and without fellowship?  When the laws are swept away, but the arguments that summon us to a life of pleasure are left standing; when the providence of heaven is not believed in ...

Ibid., 8, p 1111B: Thus he does away with providence, but says he has left us with piety.

Plutarch, Against the Stoics, 32, p. 1075E: The Stoics themselves make no end of fuss crying woe and shame upon Epicurus for violating the preconception of the gods because he does away with providence, for they say that god is preconceived and conceived to be not only immortal and blessed but also humane and protective and beneficent.

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Origen, Against Celsus, I.13, [p. 12 Hoesch.]:  … the Epicureans, who charge as superstitious those who advocate Providence and put God in lordship of everything. [Ibid., I.8 p. 8 (I.10 p. 10; III 75 p. 161; V.61 p. 279)]

Plutarch, That Epicurus actually makes a pleasant life impossible, 21, p. 1101C: {The Epicureans} malign Providence as if she were some foul witch to frighten children with or an unrelenting Fury of punishment hanging over our heads.

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Lactantius, Divine Instituions, III.17.8: Epicurus saw that adversities were always befalling the good: poverty, labors, exiles, and loss of dear ones; that the evil on the contrary were happy, were gaining in wealth, and were given honors.  He saw that innocence was not safe, that crimes were committed with impunity; he saw that death raged without concern for morals, without any order or regard for years, but that some reached old age, while others were snatched away in childhood; some still robust reach the end, but others are cut off by untimely deaths in the first flower of adolescence; and in wars the better ones are conquered and die.  It was especially disturbing, however, that religious men were among the first to be afflicted with the more serious evils, but upon those who either neglected the gods entirely or who did not piously revere them, either lesser disadvantages came or none at all.  Often, also, the very temples were struck with lighting.  {Cf. Lucretius, II.1101}  … 17.16: When, therefore, Epicurus thought on these matters, as if influenced by the iniquity of those things, for so it seemed to one not knowing the cause and reason, he believed that there was no providence.  When he had persuaded himself of this theory, he even undertook that it should be defended.  Thus he cast himself into inextricable errors.  For if there is no providence, how was the world made so orderly, by its arrangement?  "There is no arrangement," he says, "for many things have been done differently from the way they should have been." {Cf. Lucretius, II.180 & V.195}  And a godlike man discovered what he should reprehend.  If there were time to refute each single thing, I would show easily that this man was neither wise nor sane.  Likewise, if there is no providence, how are bodies of animals so ordered that each of the members disposed in a marvelous arrangement preserves its own functions?  He says: "The plan of providence has done nothing in the procreating of animals.  Neither were the eyes made for seeing, nor the ears for hearing, nor the tongue for speaking, nor the feet for walking, since these were in existence before there was seeing, hearing, speaking, and walking.   So these things were not produced for use, but the use came from them.  {Cf. Lucretius IV.822}  If there is no providence, why do the rains fall, grains rise, trees flower?  He says that "those are not for the sake of living things, since they are of no profit to providence, but all things must happen of their own accord."  Whence, therefore, are they born, or how do all things which happen come to be?  He says that it is not the work of providence.  "There are seeds flying about through the void, and when these have massed together at random among themselves, all things are born and grow."

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Lactantius, Divine Instituions, VII.5.3: Therefore, just as God did not make the world for Himself, because He does not need its advantages; but because of man who uses it, so He made man on account of Himself.  "What usefulness for god is there, that he should make man for himself?" asks Epicurus.  {Cf. Lucretius, V.165}  Surely, it was so that he might understand His works; that he might be able to admire with his senses and declare with his voice the providence of His arrangement, the plan of His accomplishment, and the virtue of His completion of the work.  The summation of all these acts is that he worships God.  5.7: "What then," he says, "does the worship on the part of man confer upon a god who is blessed and in need of nothing?  If he had so much regard for man that he made the world on account of him, that he equipped him with wisdom, that he made him master of living things, and that he loved him as a son, why did he make him mortal and frail?  Why did he put him whom he loved up against all evils, when man should have been both happy, as though joined and near to god, and everlasting, as he is himself, for the worshiping and contemplation of whom he was made?"

Cf. Ibid., VII.3.13: The Stoics say that the world was made for the sake of men.  I hear this argument.  But Epicurus does not know the men themselves, or why, or who made them.

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Lactantius, The Works of God, 2.10: Wherefore, I often marvel at the folly of those philosophers in the wake of Epicurus who condemn the works of nature that they may show that the world is formed and governed by no providence.  They assign the origin of things to inseparable and solid bodies from the chance combinations of which all things come to be and have arisen.  I pass by the things pertaining to the world itself with which they find fault; in this they are mad, even to the point of ridicule.  I take up now that which pertains to the subject which we have at hand.  3.1: They complain that man is born more weak and frail than other animals.  For as soon as the others come forth from the womb, they are able at once to stand erect and move about with delight, and they are at once able to endure the air because they have come forth into the light fortified by natural protections.  Man, on the other hand, they claim, is cast forth naked and unarmed as from a shipwreck and is hurled upon the miseries of this life.  he is able neither to move himself from the place where he has been put forth, nor to seek the nourishment of milk, nor to bear the brunt of weather.  So they say that nature is not the mother of the human race, but a stepmother.  She has been very liberal with the dumb beasts, but she has produced man in such a way – needy and weak – and in want of all aid he can do nothing else by indicate his condition by wailing and weeping, that is "as one for whom there remains in life only the passage of evils." {Lucretius, V.227} … 3.6: "But the training of man," they say, "consists of great struggle."  4.1: Then too, people complain that man is subjected to sickness and untimely death.  They are incensed, in fact, that they have not been born gods.  "Not at all," they will say, "but from this we demonstrate that man was not made with any providence, and it should have been otherwise." ... 4.3: They, mind you, would have no man die except when he has completed a hundred years of life. ... 4.12: Our opponents do not see the reason of the outcomes, because they erred once in the very keypoints of this discussion.  For when divine providence was excluded from human affairs, it necessarily followed that all things came into being of their own accord.  From this stage, they hit upon those impacts and chance comings together of minute seeds, because they saw no origin of things.  And when they had cast themselves into these straits, then, sheer necessity forced them to think that souls were born with their bodies and were also extinguished with them.  They had taken it for granted that nothing was done by a divine mind.  And this very point they could not prove in any other way than by showing that there were some things in which the determination of Providence seemed to limp.  They found fault, therefore, with those things in which Providence marvelously, even exceptionally, expressed in divinity, namely, those things I have referred to concerning sicknesses and untimely death, although they should have considered, when they were assuming these things, what would be a necessary consequence.

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Lactantius, The Works of God, 6.7: Epicurus, therefore, saw in the bodies of animals the skill of a divine plan, but, in order to accomplish what he had rashly taken upon himself before, he added another piece of nonsense in accordance with the former.  He said that eyes of the body were not created for seeing or the ears for hearing or the feet for walking, since these parts were formed before there was any use of seeing and hearing and walking, but that the functions of all of these came about from them after they were produced. {Cf. Lucretius IV.822} … What did you say, Epicurus?  That the eyes were not made to see?  Why, then, do they see? "Afterwards," he says, "their use appeared."  For the purpose of seeing, therefore, they were produced, inasmuch as they cannot do anything else by see.

Galen, On the Use of Parts, I.21, t. III [p. 74 K.]: At this point it is proper for us not to pass over the statements of certain men who embrace the doctrines of Epicurus, the philosopher, and Asclepiades, the physician, and who disagree with me on these matters. … These men do not believe that it is because the tendons are thick that they are powerful, or because they are slender that their actions are weak, but think that actions are what they are as the necessary result of their usefulness in life, and that the size of the tendons depends on how much they are moved; that is, tendons that are exercised in all likelihood thrive and grow thick, whereas those that lie idle get no nourishment and waste away.  Hence they say that Nature did not form the tendons as they are because it was better for the tendons of powerful actions to be strong and thick, and those of more feeble actions to be thin and weak – for if so, apes would not have fingers like ours – but as I said, before, they claim that parts which are exercised necessarily become thick because they are will nourished, and pats that lie idle are poorly nourished and become thin.

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Lactantius, On the Anger of God, 13.19: You see, then, that we need wisdom much more on account of evils.  Unless these had been set before us, we would not be rational animals.  And if this reasoning is true, then that argument of Epicurus is refuted. "God," he says, "either wants to eliminate bad things and cannot, or can but does not want to, or neither wishes to nor can, or both wants to and can.  If he wants to and cannot, then he is weak – and this does not apply to god.  If he can but does not want to, then he is spiteful – which is equally foreign to god’s nature.  If he neither wants to nor can, he is both weak and spiteful, and so not a god.  If he wants to and can, which is the only thing fitting for a god, where then do bad things come from?  Or why does he not eliminate them?"  I know that most of the philosophers who defend [divine] providence are commonly shaken by this argument and against their wills are almost driven to admit that god does not care, which is exactly what Epicurus is looking for.  But when the reasoning has been examined, we easily bring this formidable argument to dissolution.  …  unless we first recognize evil, we shall not be able to recognize the good.  But Epicurus did not see this, nor anyone else, that if evils are taken away, wisdom is equally removed; nor do any vestiges of virtue remain in man, the nature of which consists in sustaining and overcoming the bitterness of evils.

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Aetius, Doxography, I.29.5 [p. 326.3 Diels]: Epicurus says that all things happen by necessity, by choice, and/or by chance.

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Cicero Academica II.30.97 (Lucullus): They will not get Epicurus, who despises and laughs at the whole of dialectic, to admit the validity of a proposition of the form "Hermarchus will either be alive tomorrow or not alive," while dialecticians demand that every disjunctive proposition of the form "either x or not-x" is not only valid but even necessary,  See how on his guard the man is whom your friends think slow; for "If," he says, "I admit either of the two to be necessary, it will follow that Hermarchus must either be alive tomorrow or not alive; but as a matter of fact in the nature of things no such necessity exists."  Therefore let the dialecticians, that is, Antiochus and the Stoics, do battle with this philosopher, for he overthrows the whole of dialectic.

Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, I.25.70 (Cotta speaking): Epicurus did the same sort of thing in his argument with the logicians.  It is an axiom of the traditional logic that in every disjunctive proposition of the form "X either is … or is not  …" one of the alternatives must be true.  He was afraid that if he admitted anything of this sort, then in a proposition such as "Tomorrow Epicurus will either be alive or he will not be alive," one or the other of the statements would be a necessary truth: so to avoid this he denied that there was any logical necessity at all in a disjunction proposition, which is too stupid for words!

Cicero, On Fate, 10.21: Now here, first of all, if it were my desire to agree with Epicurus and deny that every proposition is either true or false, I would rather accept that blow than agree that all things come about through fate; for the former opinion gives some scope for discussion, but the latter is intolerable.  So Chrysippus strains every sinew in order to convince us that every proposition is either true or false.  Epicurus is afraid that, if he concedes this, he will have to concede that whatever comes about does so through fate; for if either the assertion or the denial is true from eternity, it will also be certain – and if certain, also necessary. [cf. Ibid., 9.19]

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Simplicius of Cilicia, Commentary on Aristotle’s "Physics, Beta-8," p. 198b 29: In cases where everything happened as though it were for the sake of some goal, these creatures were preserved because, although they were formed by chance, they were formed as suitable compounds; but in other cases [the creature] perished and still do perish, as Empedocles refers to "ox-like creatures with human faces." ; [fr. 84u Ald.; p. 372.9 Diels]: The ancient natural philosophers who said that material necessity determines the cause of things which come to be, seem to hold this opinion, and among later thinkers so do the Epicureans.  Their error, as Alexander says, comes from thinking that everything which comes to be for the sake of a goal comes to be by intention and calculation, and observing that things which come about by nature do not come to be in this way.

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Plutarch, On the Contradictions of the Stoics, 32, p 1050C: And Epicurus, for his part, twists about and exercises his ingenuity in conniving to free and liberate voluntary action from the necessity of eternal motion, in order not to leave vice immune to blame.

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Cicero, On Fate, 10.22: Epicurus, however, thinks that the necessity of fate is avoided by the swerve of the atom;

Ibid., 23: Epicurus introduced this theory because he was afraid that, if the atom was always carried along by its weight in a natural and necessary way, we would have no freedom, since our mind would be moved in the way in which it was constrained by the movement of the atoms. ... More acutely, Carneades taught that the Epicureans could have maintained their position without this fictitious swerve.  For, seeing that [Epicurus] taught that there could be some voluntary movement of the mind, it would have been better to defend that than to introduce the swerve, especially as they cannot find a cause for it. ... For in having admitted that there was no movement without a cause, they would not be admitting that all things that came about die so through antecedent causes.  For (they could have said), there are no external and antecedent causes of our will.

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Aetius, Doxography, I.29.6 [p. 326 Diels] (Plutarch, I.29.2; Stobaeus Anthology, Physics 7.9): Epicurus says that chance is a cause which is uncertain with respect to persons, times, and places.

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Galen, On the Use of Parts, VI.14 [p. 571- K.]: I would not wish to tell how Nature corrected this fault {the relative isolation of some muscles from the nervous system} by inventing a clever device unless I first permitted the disciples of Asclepiades and Epicurus to search out the way in which they would have conferred nerves on these muscles if they were placed in the role of the Creator of animals; for I am in the habit of doing this sometimes and of granting them as many days or even months as they wish for deliberation.  One cannot do so, however, when writing a book and cannot compare the wisdom of these gentlemen with Nature’s lack of skill or show how the Nature the rebuke as being unskillful is so much more ingenious than they are with all their cleverness that they are unable to conceive of the skill with which she works.  Hence, I find it necessary to tell now about the devices Nature has employed in order to give the muscles in question their share of nerves and motion.

Galen, On the Construction of the Embryo, 6 t. IV [p. 688 K., Singer]: It will certainly not be admitted that the substance of this ‘Nature’ {of the cause and formation of the embryo} – whether that is something incorporeal or corporeal – reaches this peak of intelligence by people who declare that they cannot believe it in any way possible that this entity functions in such skilful manner in the construction of the embryo.  But we, on hearing this assertion from Epicurus and from those who maintain that everything happens without design, do not stand convinced of it.

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Aetius, Doxography, II.3- [p. 329 Diels] (Plutarch, II.3; Stobaeus Anthology, Physics 21.3): All the other philosophers considered that the world is alive and governed by providence.  Leucippus, Democritus, and Epicurus, by contrast, say that neither is so; rather, it is made up of atoms, by nature and without reason.

Galen, On the Use of Parts, XI.8 t. III, [p. 873 K.]: Moreover, would not one also marvel that the teeth are bound to the phatnia with strong ligaments {the periosteum}, especially at the roots where the nerves are inserted, and marvel the more if this is the work of chance, not skill?  But the thing a person would marvel at most of all is the ordered disposition of the teeth – something that, even granting all the aforesaid good fortune of the Epicurean atoms and the particles of Asclepiades, he would not allow, balking and saying that it was the work of a just Governor and not of fortunate motion.

Ibid., p. 874: Nevertheless, let us grant even this to the most fortunate atoms, which those men say move without reason, but which are in more danger of doing everything according to reason than are Epicurus and Asclepiades.

Lactantius, Divine Institutes, VII.3.23: Let them make the case, if they can, either why [the world] was made in the beginning or should afterwards be destroyed.  Since Epicurus, or Democritus, was not able to show this, he said that it was begun of its own accord, seeds coming together here and there.  And when these were again loosened, separation and dissolution would follow.  Therefore, he corrupted what he had rightly seen, and completely overturned the whole plan by his ignorance of the plan; and he reduced the world and all things which go on in it to the likeness of a certain very empty dream since no plan subsists in human affairs.

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Flavius Claudius Julianus (Julian the Emperor), Orations, V, "Hymn to the Mother of the Gods," [p. 162A Pet.; 210.6 Hertlein]: We assert that matter exists and also form, embodied in matter.  But if no cause be assigned prior to these two, we should be introducing, unconsciously, the Epicurean doctrine.  For if there be nothing of higher order than these two principles, then spontaneous motion and chance brought them together.

Dionysius the Episcopalian, by way of Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, XIV 24, 1 p. 773D: How are we to bear with them {the atomists} when they assert that the wise and therefore beautiful works of creation are accidental coincidences?

Proclus Lycaeus, Commentary on Plato’s "Timeas," p. 80 midway: This axiom {of Aristotle, that each ‘particular’ is generated by a certain cause}, is entirely derided by the Epicureans, who make the whole world, and the most divine of visible natures, to be the work of chance.

Ibid., p. 81 below: Some doubt, however, how Plato assumes as a thing acknowledged that there is a Demiurge {i.e., a creator} of the world who pursues a plan: for they say there is not a Demiurge of it who directs his attention to that which is invariably the same.  Any many of the ancients indeed are the patrons of this assertion; particularly the Epicureans, who entirely deny that there is Demiurge and, even generally, a cause of all things.

Ibid., p. 82.5: Every body, as [Aristotle] says, has limited power.  Whence therefore does the universe derive this infinite power, since it is not from chance, as Epicurus says it is? 

Cf., p. 108.33: It is intelligence, in fact, which is creator and god – not chance, as certain others maintain.

Ibid., p. 19.14: The atoms of Epicurus, when encountering each other, succeed in forming a tidy universe more easily than a bunch of names and words, all mixed together, would happen to form coherent speech! {Cf., Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods II.37.93; Plutarch, The Oracles at Delphi, 11 p. 399E}

On Religion

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Plutarch, That Epicurus actually makes a pleasant life impossible, 8, p. 1092B: Since, however, the aim of their theology is to have no fear of God, but instead to be rid of our anxieties, I should think that this condition is more securely in the possession of creatures that have no faintest notion of God than of those who have been taught to think of him as injuring no one.

Ibid., 1091F: It does not follow that if pain, fear of the supernatural and terror about the hereafter are evil, escape from them is godlike and bliss beyond compare.

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Atticus, by way of Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, XV 5 p. 800A: {And as to our deriving any benefit from them while they remain in heaven,} ... in this way, even according to Epicurus, men get help from the gods, "They say, for instance, that the better emanations from them become the causes of great blessings to those who partake of them..."

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Philodemus, On Piety, Vol. Herc. 2, II.76.1 [p. 106 Gomperz] {Obbink I.27.754}: … he says that as being both the greatest thing, and that which as it were excels in sovereignty, it possesses everything: for every wise man holds pure and holy beliefs about the divine and has understood that this nature is great and august.  And it is particularly at festivals that he, progressing to an understand of it, through having its name the whole time on his lips, embraces with conviction more seriously ……

Philodemus, On Music, Vol. Herc. 1, I c.4,6: Now, these very important things may still be said at the present: that the divine does not need any honor; for us, nevertheless, it’s natural to honor it, above all, with pious convictions, even through the rites of national tradition, each according to his proper part.

Philodemus, On the Life of the Gods, Vol. Herc. 1, VI col. 1: ... to the gods, and he admires their nature and their condition and tries to approach them and, so to speak, yearns to touch them and to be together with them; and he calls Sages "friends of the gods" and the gods "friends of Sages."

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Philodemus, On Piety, Vol. Herc. 2, II.108.9 [p. 126 Gomperz] {Obbink I.31.880}: Again, he says, "let us sacrifice to the gods piously and well, as is appropriate, and let us do everything well according to the laws.  But let us do so not disturbing them at all with our opinions on the topic of those who are best and most majestic; again, we say that it is even right to do this on the basis of the opinion which I was discussing. For in this way, by Zeus, it is possible for a mortal nature to live like Zeus, as it appears."

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Gnomolgion from the Parisinus codex, 1168, f. 115r- (Maxims of Epicurus): [=Maximus the Abbot, Gnomologion, 14, p.180 Turic; t. II p. 579 Combef.]: From Epicurus: "If the gods listened to the prayers of men, all men would quickly have perished: for they are always praying for evil against one another."

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Dionysius the Episcopalian, On Nature, by way of Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, XIV 26, 2 p. 779A: And moreover he {Epicurus} inserts in his own books countless oaths and adjurations addressed to those who are nothing to us, swearing continually "No, by Zeus," and "Yes, by Zeus," and adjuring his readers and opponents in argument "in the name of the gods," having, I suppose, no fear himself of perjury nor trying to frighten them, but uttering this as an empty, and false, and idle, and unmeaning appendage to his speeches, just as he might hawk and spit, and turn his face, and wave his hand. Such an unintelligible and empty piece of acting on his part was his mentioning the name of the gods.

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Origen, Against Celsus, VII.66, [p. 386 Hoesch.]: And the charge of folly applies not only to those who offer prayers to images, but also to such as pretend to do so in compliance with the example of the multitude: and to this class belong the Peripatetic philosophers and the followers of Epicurus and Democritus. For there is no falsehood or pretense in the soul which is possessed with true piety towards God.

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Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, II.97 (Aristippus): Theodorus was a man who utterly rejected the current belief in the gods.  And I have come across a book of his entitled Of the Gods which is not contemptible.  From that book, it is said, Epicurus borrowed most of what he wrote on the subject.

Origen, Against Celsus, VIII.45, [p. 419 Hoesch.]: For why may not our accounts be true, and those of Celsus fables and fictions?  At least, these latter were not believed by the Greek philosophical schools, such as the followers of Democritus, Epicurus, and Aristotle...

Cf. Ibid., I.43, p. 33: We shall therefore say, in the first place, that if he who disbelieves the appearance of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove had been described as an Epicurean, or a follower of Democritus, or a Peripatetic, the statement would have been in keeping with the character of such an objector.

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Plutarch, Against Colotes, 22, p. 1119D: What is grave, Colotes, is not to refuse to call a man good or some horsemen innumerable – it is to refuse to call or believe a god a god.  This is what you and your company do, who will not admit that Zeus is "Author of the Race," Demeter "Giver of Laws," or Poseidon "Guardian of Growth."  It is this disjoining of one word from another that works harm and fills your lives with godless negligence and recklessness, when you tear away from the gods the appellations attached to them and by that single act annihilate all sacrifices, mysteries, processions and festivals.

Arrian, Diatribes of Epictetus, II.20.32: Grateful men indeed and  reverential.  Why, if nothing else, at least they eat bread every day, and yet have the audacity to say, "We do not know if there is a Demeter, or a Kore, or a Pluto;" not mention that, although they enjoy night and day, the changes of the year and the stars and the sea and the earth and the cooperation of men, they are not moved in the least by any one of these things, but look merely for a chance to belch out their trivial "problem," and after thus exercising their stomach to go off to the bath.

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Aetius (Plutarch), Doxography, I.8 [p. 307 Diels]: In regards to demons and to heroes… Epicurus doesn’t admit anything about any of this.

Atticus, by way of Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, XV 5.10 p. 800A: We seek a providence that has an interest for us, and in such that man has no share who has admitted that neither demons, nor heroes, nor any souls at all can live on hereafter.

[ U394 ]

Plutarch, On the Obsolescence of Oracles, 19 p. 420B: As for the scoffing and sneers of the Epicureans which they dare to employ against Providence also, calling it nothing but a myth {cf. U369}, we need have no fear.  We, on the other hand, say that their "Infinity" is a myth, which among so many worlds has not one that is directed by divine reason, but will have them all produced by spontaneous generation and concretion.  If there is need for laughter in philosophy, we should laugh at those spirits, dumb, blind, and soulless, which they shepherd for boundless cycles of years, and which make their returning appearance everywhere, some floating away from the bodies of persons still living, others from bodies long ago burned or decayed, whereby these philosophers drag witlessness and obscurity into the study of natural phenomena; but if anyone asserts that such demigods exists, not only for physical reasons, but also for logical reasons, and that they have the power of self-preservation and continued life for a long time, then these philosophers feel much aggrieved.

On Divination

[ U395 ]

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers, X.135: Elsewhere he rejects divination entirely, such as in the Small Summary.

Aetius (Plutarch), Doxography, V.1.2 [p. 415 Diels]: Xenophanes and Epicurus dismissed the art of divination.

Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, II.65.162: Prediction of future events is a favorite target for the wit of Epicurus.

Cicero, On Divination, I.3.5: All the rest, except for Epicurus, who spoke nonsense about the nature of the gods, endorsed divination.

Ibid., II.17.40: Hence, while [Epicurus] takes a roundabout way to destroy the gods, he does not hesitate to take a short road to destroy divination.  [cf. Ibid., I.39.87; 49.109; II.17.39; 23.51]

Scholion on Aeschylus, Prometheus, 624: Epicureanism is the doctrine that abolishes divination; indeed, they say "Given that destiny rules all, you <predicting a disgrace> have procured pain ahead of time; predicting instead something positive, you have wiped out the pleasure of its realization.  On the other hand, they also say "That which must happen, will still happen."

Origen, Against Celsus, VII.3, [p. 343 Hoesch.]: In regard to the oracles here enumerated, we reply that it would be possible for us to gather from the writings of Aristotle and the Peripatetic school not a few things to overthrow the authority of the Pythian and the other oracles.  From Epicurus also, and his followers, we could quote passages to show that even among the Greeks themselves there were some who utterly discredited the oracles which were recognized and admired throughout the whole of Greece.

Cf. Lucian, Alexander the Oracle Monger, 17: It was an occasion for a Democritus, nay, for an Epicurus or a Metrodorus, perhaps, a man whose intelligence was steeled against such assaults by skepticism and insight, one who, if he could not detect the precise imposture, would at any rate have been perfectly certain that, though this escaped him, the whole thing was a lie and an impossibility.

Ibid., 25: Well, it was war to the knife between [Alexander] and Epicurus, and no wonder. What fitter enemy for a charlatan who patronized miracles and hated truth, than the thinker who had grasped the nature of things and was in solitary possession of that truth? ... The unmitigated Epicurus, as he used to call him, could not but be hateful to him, treating all such pretensions as absurd and puerile.

Ibid., 61: My object, dear [Celsus], ... has been ... to strike a blow for Epicurus, that great man whose holiness and divinity of nature were not shams, who alone had and imparted true insight into the good, and who brought deliverance to all that consorted with him.

Fragments 396 - 607 →


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