Epicurus (341 B.C. – 270 B.C.), better known as Epicurus of Samos, was an exceptional Greek philosopher and thinker, a pioneer of the school that bore his name, Epicureanism.
His theories developed the postulates of atomism and rational hedonism. Always in search of pleasure, he associated this feeling with discretion, austerity and prudence.
Although most of his writings were not preserved, his ideas reached us through the Latin poet Lucretius and some letters from Diogenes Laercio.
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Famous phrases from Epicurus of Samos
In this article we will approach the life and work of this phenomenal Greek thinker through the best phrases of Epicurus of Samos . They are famous quotes that he pronounced in some of his works, or that others gave him afterwards.
1. Goods are for those who know how to enjoy them.
There is no point in possessing wealth if you are not capable of being happier.
2. The greatest fruit of self-sufficiency is freedom.
Not depending on anything or anyone guarantees that we can be masters of our own existence.
3. All friendship is desirable in itself.
A great lover of interpersonal relationships, Epicurus described the joy of having a good friend in this way.
4. Do you want to be rich? Then do not strive to increase your wealth, but to decrease your greed.
An ode to austerity and discretion.
5. Is God willing to prevent evil but cannot? Then He is not omnipotent. He is not willing to prevent evil, though He could? Then he is wicked. He is willing to prevent it and yet he can do it? If so, why is there evil in the world? Is it not that He is not willing to prevent it and cannot do so?
A reflection that has reached our days and that puts in check the idea of a divine being.
6. He lives in hiding.
In praise of discretion, taken to the extreme.
7. Philosophy is an activity that with speeches and reasoning seeks a happy life.
His humble definition of philosophy, far from any transcendental claim.
8. Nothing is enough for those who little is enough.
One of those phrases from Epicurus that invites us to reflect.
9. Pleasure is good first. It is the beginning of all preference and all dislike. It is the absence of pain in the body and of restlessness in the soul.
His definition of pleasure: the absence of pain.
10. He who forgets the goods enjoyed in the past is old today.
Memory is inherent to happiness.
11. We must look for someone to eat and drink with before we look for something to eat and drink, for to eat alone is to lead the life of a lion or a wolf.
The company of good and kind people is the reason for living.
12. For those who are not content with the small, nothing will satisfy them.
13. It is ungodly not to suppress the Gods, but to conform them to the opinions of mortals.
The human notion of God will always be poor and incomplete.
14. Gods? Maybe there are. I neither affirm nor deny it, because I do not know nor have the means to know. But I know, because life teaches me this daily, that if they exist, they do not care for us.
A skeptical view of the existence of divine entities.
15. We are not so much in need of help from friends, as of the certainty of help.
Knowing that someone is there to help us is certainly comforting.
16. He who says that everything happens out of necessity cannot object to him who denies that everything happens out of necessity, for this very thing he claims to be happening out of necessity.
A convoluted explanation of the great Epicurus.
17. Just as the wise man does not choose the most abundant food, but the most delicious, he does not aspire to the longest life, but the most intense one.
A great reflection on how to live life intensely.
18. We judge many pains better than pleasures because a greater pleasure is obtained for us.
About pleasure and how to take advantage of it.
19. It is absurd to ask the gods for what each one is capable of procuring for himself.
Another sign of his scepticism about divine miracles.
20. Philosophy is an activity that with speeches and reasoning seeks a happy life.
On the ultimate goal of this essential discipline of knowledge.
21. The fool, among other evils, has this one: he always tries to start his life.
In other words, it doesn’t learn from experience.
22. He who does not consider what he has as the greatest wealth is wretched, even if he owns the world.
Grateful people are the happiest.
23. Death is a chimera: for as long as I exist, death does not exist; and when death exists, I no longer exist.
One of Epicurus’s most famous and remembered phrases.
24. Get used to thinking that death for us is nothing, because all good and all evil reside in sensations, and death consists precisely in being deprived of sensation. Therefore, the right conviction that death is nothing to us makes us enjoy the mortality of life; not because it adds an indefinite time to it, but because it deprives us of an inordinate desire for immortality.
Epicurus’ exceptional aphorism about non-existence.
25. The wise will not strive to master the art of rhetoric and will not intervene in politics or want to be king.
All artifice and social recognition are out of place, according to the Greek philosopher.
26. What is insatiable is not the belly, as the vulgar asserts, but the false belief that the belly needs infinite satisfaction.
It is our perception of needs that creates the need.
27. No one, seeing evil, chooses it, but lets himself be deceived by it, as if it were a good thing in relation to a worse evil.
On the imperceptible seduction of evil.
28. Whoever forgets what a good time he had one day has become old that same day.
A sign of his vitalist hedonism.
29. Retreat into yourself, especially when you need company.
The need to share time with others is a symptom of weakness.
30. Everyone leaves life as if they were just born.
Helpless, unprotected and naked. Thus ends our existence.
31. Unbridled anger breeds madness.
Self-control, a basic trait for happiness, according to the great Epicurus.
32. Necessity is within evil, but there is no dianetic cause for living with need.
Austerity made famous.
33. Pleasure is the beginning and the end of a happy life.
One of Epicurus’ phrases in which he shows us the responsibility of having a carefree life.
34. The greatest fruit of justice is the serenity of the soul.
When you have nothing to regret, you can sleep with all the peace of mind in the world.
35. The one who needs tomorrow the least is the one who is most willing to move towards it.
Another quote on austerity, one of the great virtues a person can possess.
36. We must, therefore, meditate on the things that bring us happiness, because, if we enjoy it, we possess everything, and if we lack it, we do everything possible to obtain it.
Excerpt from one of his letters to Meneceo.
37. Let’s eat and drink that tomorrow we will die.
Carpe diem: let’s enjoy the moment.
38. Thus, death is not real either for the living or for the dead, since it is far from the former, and when it approaches the latter, the former have already disappeared.
Another reflection on death.
39. Let no one, while he is young, be reluctant to philosophize, nor, when he becomes old, to tire of philosophizing. For, in order to reach the health of the soul, one is never too old nor too young.
His idea about philosophy, in a letter to Meneceo.
40. That is why I take pleasure in recalling the ecclesiastical sentences of Epicurus, because I see that those who come to them in the vile hope of covering up their vices will understand that wherever they go they must live honestly. (Seneca)
The great Seneca, speaking of the protagonist of the post: Epicurus.