Necessity, Birth and Arguments: Some Words of Epicurus

Epicurus some fragments, from Usener’s 1887 Epicurea

Fr. 14

“We are born once. It is not possible to be born twice. And life must no longer continue. You put off joy even though you have no control over tomorrow. Everyone’s life is undone by delay and because of that each of us dies without any time for ourselves at all.”

Γεγόναμεν ἅπαξ, δὶς οὐκ ἔστι γενέσθαι· δεῖ δὲ τὸν αἰῶνα μηκέτ’ εἶναι. σὺ δὲ τῆς αὔριον οὐκ ὢν κύριος ἀναβάλλῃ τὸν χαῖρόν· ὁ δὲ πάντων βίος μελλησμῷ παραπόλλυται καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἕκαστος ἡμῶν ἀσχολούμενος ἀποθνῄσκει.


Fr. 74

“In an academic argument, the loser gains more because they have learned something new”

ἐν φιλολόγῳ συζητήσει πλεῖον ἤνυσεν ὁ ἡττηθεὶς καθʼ ὃ προσέμαθεν.


Fr. 66

“We show sympathy with friends not by mourning with them but by paying attention”

συμπαθῶμεν τοῖς φίλοις οὐ θρηνοῦντες ἀλλὰ φροντίζοντες.


Fr. 40

“Someone who insists that everything happens by necessity cannot object when someone else says that not everything does. For they say that thing too thanks to necessity.”

ὁ λέγων πάντα κατʼ ἀνάγκην γίνεσθαι οὐδὲν ἐγκαλεῖν ἔχει τῷ λέγοντι μὴ πάντα κατʼ ἀνάγκην γίνεσθαι· ἀυτὸ γὰρ τοῦτό φησι κατʼ ἀνάγκην γίνεσθαι.


Fr. 26

“You need to understand that a long argument and a short one have the same outcome.”

δεῖ διαλαβεῖν ὅτι καὶ ὁ πολὺς λόγος καὶ ὁ βραχὺς εἰς τὸ αὐτὸ συντείνει.


Raphael’s Epicurus from “School of Athens”

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