Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors 1.284-285: Epicurus’ Claim that “Death is Nothing…”

“’ Death is nothing to us’ was likely said by Sophron, but Epicurus proved it; and it is not the claiming of a thing but the proving that is a wonder. And, for that matter, Epicurus did not say that ‘death is nothing to us’ because there is no difference in living or not living—-life is preferable by far because what is good belongs to the world of perception. But where there is no perception, there is neither good nor evil. The fact that corpses do not feel is something the poet knows along with the rest of creation.”

τό τε τὸν θάνατον [μὲν] μηδὲν εἶναι πρὸς ἡμᾶς εἴρηται μὲν ἴσως τῷ Σώφρονι, ἀποδέδεικται δὲ ᾿Επικούρῳ, καὶ ἔστιν οὐ τὸ εἰπεῖν ἀλλὰ τὸ ἀποδεῖξαι θαυμαστόν. εἶτα οὐδὲ κατὰ τοῦτο ἔφησεν ὁ ᾿Επίκουρος τὸν θάνατον μηδὲν εἶναι πρὸς ἡμᾶς, καθὸ ἀδιάφορόν ἐστιν ἢ ζῆν ἢ μή• πολλῷ γὰρ αἱρετώτερον τὸ ζῆν διὰ τὸ αἰσθανομένων εἶναι τὸ ἀγαθόν• ἀλλ’ ἐν ἀναισθησίᾳ οὔτε κακόν τι εἶναι οὔτε ἀγαθόν. τὸ μὲν γὰρ ἀναισθητεῖν τὰ νεκρὰ τῶν σωμάτων οὐχ ὁ ποιητὴς μόνος οἶδεν ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁ σύμπας βίος.

Sophron? Probably less of a household name than Sextus Empiricus.

Philosophers Steal from Poets; And Poets have Crazy Ideas: Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors, 1.272-273

[Of those philosophers who dispute the utility of learning grammar], Pyrrho is recorded to have been constantly reading Homeric poetry, a thing he would not have done if he did not recognize that it was useful and that, for that reason, studying grammar is compulsory. And Epicurus has been caught red-handed snatching the best of his beliefs from the poets.

ὧν ὁ μὲν Πύρρων ἱστορεῖται τὴν ῾Ομηρικὴν διὰ παντὸς ποίησιν ἀναγινώσκων, μὴ ἄν ποτε τοῦτο ποιήσας εἴπερ μὴ ἐγίνωσκεν αὐτὴν χρησίμην καὶ διὰ τοῦτο τὴν γραμματικὴν ἀναγκαίαν, ὁ δὲ ᾿Επίκουρος φωρᾶται τὰ κράτιστα τῶν δογμάτων παρὰ ποιητῶν ἀνηρπακώς• τόν τε γὰρ ὅρον τοῦ μεγέθους τῶν


“But anyone who investigates it will find that the ideas of poets are much worse than common sense of regular men.”

ἂν δὲ καὶ ἐξετάσῃ τις, πολλῷ χείρονα τῆς τῶν ἰδιωτῶν ὑπολήψεως εὑρήσει τὰ
τῶν ποιητῶν.

Sextus who?

Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors 1.1-2: Academics Against Academia!

“The schools of Epicurus and Pyrrho seem to have set forth the indictment against the professors of learning (toùs apò tôn mathemátôn) in a cursory way, although not from the same perspective. The Epicureans argue that none of those things that are taught may contribute to wisdom—this is an argument Epicurus made, as some contend, in order to cover up his own lack of education (for Epicurus was criticized by many for his ignorance: he couldn’t even speak correctly in everyday conversation!). In addition, he also antagonistic in this towards Plato and Aristotle, and other similar men, who were versed in many different fields.”

Τὴν πρὸς τοὺς ἀπὸ τῶν μαθημάτων ἀντίρρησιν κοινότερον μὲν διατεθεῖσθαι δοκοῦσιν οἵ τε περὶ τὸν ᾿Επίκουρον καὶ οἱ ἀπὸ τοῦ Πύρρωνος, οὐκ ἀπὸ τῆς αὐτῆς δὲ διαθέσεως, ἀλλ’ οἱ μὲν περὶ τὸν ᾿Επίκουρον ὡς τῶν μαθημάτων μηδὲν συνεργούντων πρὸς σοφίας τελείωσιν, ἤ, ὥς τινες εἰκάζουσι, τοῦτο προκάλυμμα τῆς ἑαυτῶν ἀπαιδευσίας εἶναι νομίζοντες (ἐν πολλοῖς γὰρ ἀμαθὴς ᾿Επίκουρος ἐλέγχεται, οὐδὲ ἐν ταῖς κοιναῖς ὁμιλίαις καθαρεύων), τάχα δὲ καὶ διὰ τὴν πρὸς τοὺς περὶ Πλάτωνα καὶ ᾿Αριστοτέλη καὶ τοὺς ὁμοίους δυσμένειαν πολυμαθεῖς γεγονότας•