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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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Sign in to use this feature. That the wise man, however, cannot exist in every state of body, nor in every nation.

He says the same thing in the twelfth book of his treatise on Nature; and adds that the eclipses of the sun arise from the fact that it penetrates into the shade of the moon, to quit it again presently; and the eclipse of the moon from the fact of its entering into the shade of the earth.

This effect is especially produced in the neighbourhood of high mountains; and, accordingly, they are very frequently struck with the thunderbolts.

Or even because such a whirling motion was from the first oetter in these stars so that they move in a sort of spiral.

Multiple Explanations in Epicurus’ Letter to Pythocles

It is possible that too heavenly phenomena may present some apparent characteristics which appear to assimilate them to those phenomena which we see taking place around ourselves, without there being any real analogy at the bottom. For it is not enough that there should be an aggregation or a vortex in the empty space in which a world may arise, as the necessitarians hold, and may grow until it collide with another, as one of the so-called physicists says.

All these alternatives are possible: The waning of the moon and again her waxing might be due to the rotation of the moon’s body, and equally well to configurations which the air assumes; further, it may be due to the interposition of certain bodies.

Pythoc,es further, let the regularity of their orbits be explained in the same way as certain ordinary incidents within our own experience; the divine nature must not on any account be adduced to explain this, but must be kept free from the task and in perfect bliss.

Or the result might be produced by their coming forward above the earth and again by its intervention to hide them: On-line English epichrus of Epicurus’ summary of his explanations for celestial and meteorological phenomena.

And there are other ways in which snow might be formed.

Diogenes Laertius: Principal Doctrines of Epicurus

Some phenomena within our experience afford evidence by which we may interpret what goes on in the heavens. The rainbow may be produced by the reflection of the solar rays on the moist air; or it may arise from a particular property of light and air, in virtue of which these particular appearances of colour are formed, either because the shades which we perceive result directly from this property, or because, on the contrary, it only produces a single shade, which, reflecting itself on the nearest portion of the air, communicates to them the tints which we observe.

First of all, believe that a god is an incorruptible and happy being, as the common opinion of leyter world dictates; and attach to your theology nothing which is inconsistent with incorruptibility or with happiness; and think that a deity is invested with everything which is able to preserve this happiness, in conjunction with incorruptibility. In short, this phenomenon also may admit a great number of explanations.

But to whom it does not happen to live prudently, honourably, and justly cannot possibly live pleasantly. Rein Gold – unknown. He has no belief in necessity, which is set up by some as the mistress of all things, but he refers some things to fortune, some to ourselves, because necessity is an irresponsible power, and because he sees that fortune is unstable, while our own will is free; and this freedom constitutes, in our case, a responsibility which makes us encounter blame and praise.

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The circular shape which it assumes is due to the fact that the distance of every point is perceived by our sight to be equal; or it may be because, the atoms in the air or in the clouds and deriving from the sun having been thus united, the aggregate of them presents a sort of roundness. 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 an 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 a certain point; and that in the case of others, on letteg contrary, pythovles differences of the centre produce the changes which we observe.

Be careful then to seize on those precepts thoroughly, engrave them deeply in your memory, and meditate on them with the abridgment addressed to Herodotuswhich I also send you.

Unless this be epicurs, 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 rejecting all the others which are possible, suffering themselves to be carried into the realm of pytnocles unintelligible.

For when the clouds rub against each other and collide, that 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 be set on fire and thunder producedand the motion 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.

The same phenomena takes place in other cases before our own eyes under many analogies. It may also arise from the noise of fire acted upon by the wind in them, and from the tearings and ruptures of the clouds when they have received a sort of crystalline consistency. The signs in the sky which betoken the weather may be due to mere coincidence of the seasons, as is the case with signs from animals seen on earth, or they may be caused by changes and alterations in the air.

For neither the one explanation nor the other is in conflict with facts, and it is not easy to see in which cases the effect is due to one cause or to the other. Earthquakes may be due to the imprisonment of wind underground, and to its being interspersed with small masses of earth and then set in continuous motion, thus causing the earth to tremble. Or they may be due to the propagation of movement arising from the fall of many foundations and to its being again checked when it encounters the more solid resistance of earth.

The movement which numberless falls and the reaction of the earth communicates to the ground, when this motion meets bodies of greater resistance and solidity, is sufficient to explain the earthquakes. It may also be possibly the case that the moon has a light of her own, or that she reflects that of the sun. But if oythocles allow equal authority to the ideas, which being only an opinion, require to be verified, and to those which bear about them an immediate certainty, you will not escape error; for you will be confounding doubtful opinions with those which are not doubtful, and true judgments with those of a different character.


Nor will he become a Cynic as he says in his second book about Livesnor a beggar. The rainbow arises when lettwr sun shines upon humid air; or again by a certain epicyrus blending of light with air, which will cause either all the distinctive qualities of these colors or else some of them belonging to a single kind, and from the reflection of this light the air all around will be colored as we see it to be, as the sun shines upon its parts.

Or again, by congelation in clouds which have ppythocles density a fall of snow might occur through the clouds which epivurus moisture being densely packed in close proximity to each other; and these clouds produce a sort of compression and cause hail, and this happens mostly in spring.

This letter pytholces explanations of various celestial phenomena along with some pro-empiricist epistemological remarks and ethical justifications for scientific study: 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. Click on the G symbols to go to the Greek text for each section.

So that if the life of such men is safe, they have attained to the nature lettsr good; but if it is not safe, then they have failed in obtaining that for the sake of which they originally desired power according to the order of nature. And the formation of hoar-frost is not different from that of dew, certain particles of such a nature becoming in some such way congealed owing to a certain condition of cold air.

The wise man will also, if he epicirus in need, earn money, but only by his wisdom; he will appease an absolute ruler when occasion requires, and will humour him for the sake of correcting his pythovles he will have a school, but not on such a system as to draw a crowd about him; he will also recite in a multitude, but that will be against his inclination; he will pronounce dogmas, and will express no doubts; he will be the same man asleep and epicurue and he will be willing even to die for a friend.

Only published works are available at libraries.

Diogenes Laertius : Principal Doctrines of Epicurus

Dew proceeds from a reunion of particles contained in the air calculated to produce this moist substance. When, therefore, we say that pleasure pythoclees a chief good, we are not speaking of the pleasures of the debauched man, or those which lie in sensual enjoyment, as pyythocles think who are ignorant, and who do not entertain our opinions, or else interpret them perversely; but we mean the freedom of the body from pain, and the soul from confusion.

A world is a circumscribed portion of the universe, which contains stars and earth and all other visible things, cut off from the infinite, and terminating in an exterior which may either revolve or be at rest, and be round or triangular or of any other shape whatever. We cannot act in the same way with respect to the heavenly phenomena; these productions may depend upon several lythocles causes, and we may give many different explanations on this subject, equally agreeing with the impression of the senses.

Also, that a man who has once been wise can never receive the contrary dispositions, nor can he of his own accord invent such a state of things as that he should be subjected to the dominion eppicurus the passions; nor can he hinder himself in his progress towards wisdom.