With today’s release of the Letter to Pythocles, I have now completed these “ Elemental Editions” of each of Epicurus’ three letters from Diogenes Laertius, plus a. The Letter to Pythocles. CLEON brought me a letter from you in which you continue to express a kindly feeling towards me, which is a just return for my interest in. The Letter to Pythocles is a treatment of phenomena of the sky. It is possibly one of the few fully extant writings of Epicurus — the second of three.

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The variations in the length of nights and days may be due to the swiftness and again to the slowness of the sun’s motion in the sky, owing to the variations in the length of spaces traversed and to his accomplishing some distances more swiftly or more slowly, as happens sometimes within our own experience; and with these facts our explanation of celestial phenomena must pythoclew whereas those who adopt only one explanation are in conflict with the facts and are utterly mistaken as to the way in which man can attain knowledge.

And none of the celestial phenomena stand in the way, if only we always keep in mind the method of plural explanation and the several consistent assumptions and causes, instead of dwelling on what is inconsistent and giving it a false importance so as lettef to fall back in one way or another upon the single explanation. Eipcurus there are a great number which are all equally able to produce this effect. Nor will he marry a wife whom the laws forbid, as Diogenes says, in his epitome of the Ethical Maxims of Epicurus.

Or they may be due to the propagation of movement arising from the lether of many foundations and to its being again checked when it encounters the more solid resistance of earth.

Multiple Explanations in Epicurus’ Letter to Pythocles

Ice is formed either by the wearing away of round atoms contained in the water, and the reunion at scalene and acute angles of the atoms which exist in the water, or by an addition from without of these latter particles, which penetrating into the water, solidify it by driving away an equal amount of round atoms. Snow may be formed when a fine rain issues from the clouds because letted pores are symmetrical and because of the continuous and violent pressure of the winds upon clouds which are suitable; and then this rain has been frozen on its way because of some violent change to coldness in the regions below the clouds.

All things go on pytuocles, if all be explained by the method of plurality of causes in conformity with the facts, so soon as we duly understand what may be plausibly alleged respecting them. Epicurks that man is not impious who discards the gods believed in by the many, but he who applies to the gods the opinions entertained of them by the many. But when we pick and choose among them, rejecting one equally consistent with the phenomena, we clearly fall away from the study of nature altogether and tumble into myth.

The Lives of the Philosophers, by Diogenes Laertiusis the most comprehensive ancient account of the lives of the early Greek philosophers. For in the study of nature we must not conform to empty assumptions and arbitrary laws, but follow the promptings of the facts; for our life has no need now of unreason and false opinion; our one need is untroubled existence.

Epicurus – Letter to Pythocles

For when the clouds rub against each other and collide, epickrus collocation of atoms which is the cause of fire generates lightning; or it may be due to the flashing forth from the clouds, by reason of winds, of particles capable of producing this brightness; or else it is squeezed out of the clouds when they have been condensed either by their own action or by that of the winds; or again, the light diffused from the stars may be enclosed in the clouds, then driven about by their motion and by that of the winds, and finally make its escape from the clouds; or light of the finest texture may be filtered through the clouds whereby the clouds may pytocles set on fire ro thunder producedand the lettr of this light may make lightning; or it may arise from the combustion of wind brought about by the violence of its motion and the intensity of its compression; or, when the clouds are rent asunder by winds, and the atoms which generate fire are expelled, these likewise cause lightning to appear.


Besides, to assign one single cause to all these phenomena, when the experience of our senses suggests us several, is folly. The wise man will not be subject to grief, as Diogenes says, in the fifth book of his Select Opinions; [a] he will also not object to go to law. Why is the Bishops’ Letter on the U. The appearance of the face in the moon may leter well arise from interchange of parts, or from interposition of something, or in any other of the ways which might be seen to accord with the facts.

History of Western Philosophy. It is also possible, that the same necessity which has originally given them their circular movement, may have compelled some to follow their orbit regularly, and have subjected others to eoicurus irregular process; we may also suppose that the uniform character of the centre which certain stars traverse favours their regular march, and their return to lstter certain point; and that in the case of others, on the contrary, the differences of the centre produce the changes which we observe.

In this case the snow which escapes from the clouds would be the result of the contact, or approximation of the aqueous particles, which in a still more condensed state produce hail. Fowler – – The Classical Review 30 Winds arise from time to time when foreign matter continually and gradually finds its way into the air; also through the gathering of great store of water.

But above all give yourself up to the study of letyer principles and of infinity and of kindred subjects, and further of the standards and of the eoicurus and of the end for which we choose wpicurus them. Since this is the aim of living happily; for it is for the sake of this that we do everything, wishing to avoid grief and fear; and when once this is the case, with respect to us, then the storm of the soul is, as I may say, put an end to; since the animal is unable leetter go as if to something deficient, and to seek something different from that by which the good of the soul and body will be perfected.

In short, this phenomenon also may admit a great number of lteter. That pain which only just exceeds the pleasure in the flesh, does not last many days. He will punish his servants, but also pity them, and eppicurus indulgence to any that are virtuous. Accustom yourself also to think death a matter with which we are not at all concerned, since all good and all evil is in sensation, and since death is only the privation of sensation.

Denis Diderot – – New York: The opposite reasons explain their disappearance. For such folly as this would not possess the most ordinary being if ever so little enlightened, much less one who enjoys perfect felicity.


Comets arise either because fire is nourished in certain places at certain intervals in the heavens, if circumstances are favorable; or rpicurus at times the heaven has a particular motion above us so that such stars appear; or because the stars themselves are set in motion under certain conditions and come to our neighborhood and show themselves.

As one may suppose that an immense quantity of fire being accumulated in the clouds dilates, violently bursting the substance which envelops it, because the resistance of the centre hinders it from proceeding further. Added to PP index Total downloads 62of 2, Recent downloads 6 months 5 pythoclds, of 2, How can I increase my downloads?

And this happens at certain parts either because a current has forced its wry in from without or because the heat has gained possession of certain passages in order to effect this. The eclipses of the sun and moon may depend either on the fact that these celestial bodies extinguish themselves, a phenomenon which we often see produced under our eyes, or on the fact of other bodies, the earth, the heaven, or something else of the same kind interposing, between them and us.

He said that injuries existed among pythocle, either in consequence of hatred, or of envy, or of contempt, all which the wise man overcomes by Reason.

Diogenes Laertius : Principal Doctrines of Epicurus

In this disposition of mind, man is happy even when his troubles engage him to quit life; and to die thus, is for him only to interrupt a ltter of happiness. And he who asserts either that it is not yet time to philosophise, or that the hour is passed, is like a man who should say that the time is not yet too to be happy, or that it is too late.

For in all the celestial phenomena such a line of research is not to be abandoned; for, if you fight against clear evidence, you never can enjoy genuine peace of mind. Unless this be done, the whole study of celestial phenomena will be in vain, as indeed it has proved to be with some who did not lay hold of a possible method, but fell into the folly of supposing that these events happen in one single way only and of epicuru all the others which are lettet, suffering themselves to be carried into the realm of the unintelligible.

We do not seek to wrest by force what is impossible, nor to understand all matters equally well, nor make our treatment always as clear as when we discuss human life or explain the principles of physics in general—for instance, that the whole of being consists of bodies and intangible nature, or that the ultimate elements of things are indivisible, or any other proposition which admits only one explanation of the phenomena to be possible.

And in consequence of these, eoicurus greatest evils which befall wicked men, and the benefits which are conferred on the good, are all attributed to the gods; for they connect all their ideas of them with a comparison of human virtues, and everything which is different from human qualities, they regard as incompatible with the divine nature.

The prognostics which are derived from the stars may, like those which we borrow from animals, arise from a simple coincidence.