Extracts from Hermann Usener’s Epicurea [“Vatican Sayings“]
7. “It’s not hard to get away with an injustice; but it is impossible to be certain that you did.”
ἀδικοῦντα λαθεῖν μὲν δύσκολον, πίστιν δὲ λαβεῖν ὑπὲρ τοῦ λαθεῖν ἀδύνατον.
11. “Being at rest makes most people feel dead, but action makes them crazy.”
τῶν πλείστων ἀνθρώπων τὸ μὲν ἡσυχάζον ναρκᾷ, τὸ δὲ κινούμενον λυττᾷ.
16. “No one chooses evil when they recognize it, but they are deceived into believing it is good compared to a greater evil and get trapped.”
οὐδεὶς βλέπων τὸ κακὸν αἱρεῖται αὐτό, ἀλλὰ δελεασθεὶς ὡς ἀγαθῷ πρὸς τὸ μεῖζον αὐτοῦ κακὸν ἐθηρεύθη.
19. “Whoever disregards yesterday’s good has grown old today.”
τοῦ γεγονότος ἀμνήμων ἀγαθοῦ γέρων τήμερον γεγένηται.
23. “Each friendship is a virtue on its own, although it began from seeking advantage.”
πᾶσα φιλία διʼ ἑαυτὴν ἀρετή· ἀρχὴν δὲ εἴληφεν ἀπὸ τῆς ὠφελείας.
33. “Our body begs not to be hungry, not to be thirsty, not to be cold. Someone who receives these things and expects to keep them could challenge god in happiness.”
σαρκὸς φωνὴ τὸ μὴ πεινῆν, τὸ μὴ διψῆν, τὸ μὴ ῥιγοῦν· ταῦτα γὰρ ἔχων τις καὶ ἐλπίζων ἕξειν κἂν <διὶ> ὑπὲρ εὐδαιμονίας μαχέσαιτο.
34. “Our benefit from friends is not how useful they are but that we can rely on them to be useful.”
οὐκ οὕτως χρείαν ἔχομεν τῆς χρείας <τῆς> παρὰ τῶν φίλων ὡς τῆς πίστεως τῆς περὶ τῆς χρείας.
35. “We must not sully what we have with longing for what we don’t: remember that we prayed for these things too”
οὐ δεῖ λυμαίνεσθαι τὰ παρόντα τῶν ἀπόντων ἐπιθυμίᾳ, ἀλλʼ ἐπιλογίζεσθαι ὅτι καὶ ταῦτα τῶν εὐκταίων ἦν.
37. “Nature is weak when faced with evil not good: for we are preserved by pleasures and ruined by pains.”
ἀσθενὴς ἡ φύσις ἐστὶ πρὸς τὸ κακὸν οὐ πρὸς τὸ ἀγαθόν· ἡδοναῖς μὲν γὰρ σῴζεται, ἀλγηδόσι δὲ διαλύεται.
46. “Let’s get rid of bad customs just as we should wicked men who have been harming us for a long time.”
τὰς φαύλας συνηθείας ὥσπερ ἄνδρας πονηροὺς πολὺν χρόνον μέγα βλάψαντες τελείως ἐκδιώκομεν.
52. “Friendship dances all over the inhabited world, telling everyone that we need to wake up to happiness.”
ἡ φιλία περιχορεύει τὴν οἰκουμένην κηρύττουσα δὴ πᾶσιν ἡμῖν ἐγείρεσθαι ἐπὶ τὸν μακαρισμόν.
54. “Do not pretend to pursue wisdom, but do it for real! We don’t need to merely seem to be healthy, but we need to get healthy in truth.”
οὐ προσποιεῖσθαι δεῖ φιλοσοφεῖν, ἀλλʼ ὄντως φιλοσοφεῖν· οὐ γὰρ προσδεόμεθα τοῦ δοκεῖν ὑγιαίνειν, ἀλλὰ τοῦ κατʼ ἀλήθειαν ὑγιαίνειν.