[Latest Updated MP3 Version here] [Vimeo Edition]Of all the original texts that are available from the ancient world, Epicurus’ Letter to Herodotus preserved by. Letter to Herodotus has 52 ratings and 1 review. Epicurus summarizes the key doctrines from “On Nature” (of which only a few fragments have been recovere. curus’ Letter to Herodotus which is faithful to the best manuscript tradition of the text, credits Epicurus with a clear and plausible. (though lamentably fallacious).

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In a word, they have no relation – a moment’s consideration will prove this by itself – with those imperishable and happy natures which heroditus of no division and of no confusion. Again, there are outlines or films, which are of the same shape as solid ltter, but of a thinness far exceeding that of any object that we see. But they cannot, like atoms, combine themselves, and form compound bodies in virtue of any motion belonging to themselves.

After the foregoing we have next to consider that the worlds and every finite aggregate which bears a strong resemblance to things we commonly see have arisen out of the infinite. Hence those who call soul incorporeal speak foolishly. Next, keeping in view our perceptions and feelings for so shall we have the surest grounds for beliefwe must recognize generally that the soul is a corporeal thing, composed of fine particles, dispersed all over the frame, most nearly resembling wind with an admixture of heat, in some respects like wind, in others like heat.

Diogenes Laertius: Letter of Epicurus to Herodotus

For outside the sum of things there is nothing which could enter into it and bring about the change. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. They are not to be classed among invisible entities nor are they incorporeal. To the former, then—the main heads—we must continually return, and must memorize them so far as to get a valid conception of the facts, as well as the means of discovering all the details exactly when once the general outlines are rightly understood and remembered; since it is the privilege of the mature student to make a ready use of his conceptions by referring every one of them to elementary facts and simple terms.

Hence it is possible to assume one direction of motion, which we conceive as extending upwards ad infinitumand another downwards, even if it should happen ten thousand times that what moves from us to the spaces above our heads reaches the feet of those above us, or that which moves downwards from us the heads of those below us.

On the other hand, all these bodies will be successively destroyed, some more, and others less rapidly; some under the influence of one cause, dpicurus others because of the agency of some other.

We must therefore admit that from the first movement impressed on the heavenly bodies since the organization of the world there is derived a sort of necessity which regulates their course to this day. In fact it is not impossible but that there may be lletter space some secretions of this kind and an aptitude herodptus form surfaces without depth, and of an extreme thinness; or else that from the solids there may emanate some particles which preserve the connection, the disposition, and the motion which they had in the body.

Nor can we help thinking that in this way, by proceeding forward from one to the next in order, it is possible by such a progression to arrive in thought at infinity. Not that, if we consider the minute times perceptible by reason alone, the moving body itself arrives at more than one place simultaneously for this too is inconceivablealthough in time perceptible to sense it does arrive simultaneously, however different the point of departure from that conceived by us.

Moreover, when we come to deal with composite bodies, one of them will travel faster than another, although their atoms have equal speed. Beyond bodies and space there is nothing which by mental apprehension or on its analogy we can conceive to exist. Further, the whole of being consists of bodies and space.


For it is not impossible that there should be found in the surrounding air combinations of this kind, materials adapted for expressing the hollowness and thinness of surfaces, and effluxes preserving the same relative position and motion which they had in the solid objects from which they come.

For if it changed its direction, that would be equivalent to its meeting with resistance, even if up to that point we allow nothing to impede the rate of its flight. Hence, since such a course is of service to all who take up natural science, I, who devote to the subject my continuous energy and reap the calm enjoyment of a life like this, have prepared for you just such an epitome and manual of the doctrines as a whole.

These elements are indivisible and unchangeable, and necessarily so, if things are not all to be destroyed and pass into non-existence, but are to be strong enough to endure when the composite bodies are broken up, because they possess, a solid nature and are incapable of being anywhere or anyhow dissolved. The air thus emitted was molded by their individual feelings or sense-presentations, and differently according to the difference of the regions which the tribes inhabited.

Hence, if we discover more than one cause that may account for solstices, settings and risings, eclipses and the like, as we did also in particular matters of detail, we must not suppose that our treatment of these matters fails of accuracy, so far as it is needful to ensure our tranquillity and happiness. And from this movement, if it be not confirmed or be contradicted, falsehood results; while, if it be confirmed or not contradicted, truth results.

Epicurus – Letter to Herodotus

London, “Epicurus,” trans. Hence also their velocities are enormous, since they always find a void passage to fit them.

And further, we must not suppose that the worlds have necessarily one and the same shape. Laura Vilka rated it liked it Nov 09, He adds that sleep is produced either when the parts of the soul diffused over the whole of the body concentrate themselves, or when they disperse and escape by the pores of the body; for particles emanate from all bodies.

They all have their own characteristic modes of being perceived and distinguished, but always along with the whole body in which they inhere and never in separation from it; and it is in virtue of this complete conception of the body as a whole that it is so designated. May 02, Matt Thomas rated it liked it. That it is which the faculties of the soul sufficiently prove, and the passions, and the mobility of its nature, and the thoughts, and, in a word, everything, the privation of which is death.

We must chiefly reflect upon that to which we attach this peculiar character of time, and by which we measure it. Accordingly, they who pretended that the soul is incorporeal, utter words destitute of sense; for if it had this character, it would not be able either to do or to suffer anything; but, as it is, we see plainly enough that it is liable to both these circumstances.

This remark applies particularly to the earth. Hence, so long as the soul is in the body, it never loses sentience through the removal of some other part.

Letter to Herodotus

And in virtue of certain peculiar modes of apprehension into which the complete body always enters, each of them can be called an accident. Movement from low to high, horizontal movement to and fro, in virtue of the reciprocal percussion of the atoms, movement downwards, in virtue of their lettter, will be all equal, for in whatever sense the atom moves, it must have a movement as rapid as the thought, till the moment when it is repelled, in virtue of some external cause, or of its own herodotua weight, by the shock of some object which resists it.


And if there were no space which we call also void and place and intangible naturebodies would have nothing in which to be and through which to move, as they are plainly seen to move. Hence there will be nothing to hinder an infinity of worlds. As epivurus as eicurus motion obtains, it must continue, quick as the speed of thought, provided there is no obstruction, whether due to external collision or to the atoms’ own weight counteracting the force of the blow.

John rated it it was letteer May 06, He suffered from kidney stones, to which he finally succumbed in BCE at the age of 72, and despite the prolonged pain involved, he wrote to Idomeneus: And, first of all, we must admit that nothing can come of that which does not exist; for, were the fact otherwise, then everything would be produced from everything, and there would be no need of any seed. When this is clearly understood, it is herodotjs to consider generally things which are obscure.

Again, hearing takes place when a current passes from the object, whether eipcurus or thing, which emits voice or sound or noise, or produces the sensation of hearing in any way whatever.

For that which is finite has an extreme, and that which has an extreme is looked at in relationship to something else.

The containing sheaths may be dislocated in whole or in part, and portions of the soul may thereby be lost; yet in spite of this the soul, if it manage to survive, will have sentience. There would be no sense of smell if there did not emanate from most objects certain particles capable eicurus producing an impression on the sense of smell.

Next, we must by all means stick to our sensations, that is, simply to the present impressions whether of the mind or of any criterion whatever, and similarly to our actual feelings, in order that we may have the means of determining that which needs confirmation and that which is obscure.

We must consider the minimum perceptible by sense as not corresponding to that which is capable of being traversed, that is to say is extended, nor again as utterly unlike it, heordotus as having something in common with the things capable of being traversed, though it is without distinction of parts. Accordingly, it is sufficient to express the general idea of the movement of transference to enable us to conceive in a moment certain distinct qualities, and those combined beings, which, being taken in their totality, receive the name of bodies; and the necessary and eternal attributes without which the body cannot be conceived.

The good, says Epicurus, is pleasure—a thesis that was explicitly rejected by Socrates and Plato before him—and pain is evil. The solidity which they possess causes them, while knocking against one another, to re-act the one upon the other; till at last the repeated shocks bring on the dissolution of the combined body; and for all this there is no external cause, the atoms and the void being the only causes.

This is because each atom is separated from the rest by void, which is incapable of offering any resistance to the rebound; while it is the solidity of the herldotus which makes it rebound after a collision, however short the distance to which it rebounds, when it finds itself imprisoned in a mass herootus entangling atoms.