Epicurus and the Simple Life: What Is Good Is Easy to Get
“No one should postpone the study of philosophy when he is young, nor should he weary of it when he becomes mature because the search for mental health is never untimely or out of season.
To say that the study of philosophy has not yet arrived or that it is past is like saying that the time for happiness is not yet at hand or is no longer present.
Thus both the young and the mature should pursue philosophy, the latter in order to be rejuvenated as they age by the blessings that accrue from pleasurable past experiences, and the youthful in order to become mature immediately through having no fear of the future.”
These are the words of Epicurus; A hedonistic philosopher who lived in the ancient Greek city state of Athens around 300 years BC. Epicurus advocated a simple, rural life of obscurity spent in the company of friends indulging in life’s natural pleasures.
At the age of Thirty Four (after completing mandatory military service for the Athenian state) he bought a house and set up the philosophical commune known as the Garden; A self sufficient community of friends and like minded individuals who where all devoted to the epicurean way of life. He allowed women and slaves to join the garden promoting a form of equality, which was unusual and radical for the time.
Pivotal to his philosophy is the idea that pleasure is the highest good, that the pleasures of the mind and soul are far greater than the pleasures of the body and that this can be achieved through the removal and diminishment of all pain, whether mental or physical.
“Nothing is sufficient for the person who finds sufficiency too little”
“Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance”
He died at the ripe age of seventy two and true to his philosophy, on his final day he wrote to his friends:
“I have written this letter to you on a happy day to me, which is also the last day of my life. For I have been attacked by a painful inability to urinate, and also dysentery, so violent that nothing can be added to the violence of my sufferings. But the cheerfulness of my mind, which comes from the recollection of all my philosophical contemplation, counterbalances all these afflictions.”
Tetrapharmakos (Four Part Remedy)
|Don’t fear god,
Don’t worry about death;
What is good is easy to get,
What is terrible is easy to endure
|Ἄφοβον ὁ θεός,
ἀνύποπτον ὁ θάνατος
καὶ τἀγαθὸν μὲν εὔκτητον,
τὸ δὲ δεινὸν εὐεκκαρτέρητον