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Epicurean Quotations

The Greek philosopher Epicurus (341–270 BC) founded the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. Only a few fragments and letters of Epicurus's 300 written works remain. Much of what is known about Epicurean philosophy comes from later followers and commentators.

He taught that by deep thinking (philosophy) one should aim for a happy, tranquil life of peace - one without fear and pain - a self-sufficient life among friends.


A man cannot enjoy full happiness, untroubled by turmoil, in a debilitated state.

As far as death is concerned, humans live in a city without walls. [Cf. Epicurus]

As for the bad, the more they prosper, the more they injure themselves. [Epicurus, the Vatican Selection]

Beauty and virtue and the like are to be honored, if they give pleasure; but if they do not give pleasure, we must bid them farewell. [Epicurus fragment]

Enjoy good health in truth. [Epicurus, abr.]

He has become an old man on the day on which he forgot his past blessings. [Epicurus, The Vatican Sayings]

He who fails to heed this limit falls into an error. [Epicurus, the Vatican Selection]

He who says either that the time for philosophy has not yet come is like someone who says that the time for happiness has not yet come. [Epicurus]

Human pain and suffering can help you pursue the things that make for happiness.

It is well nigh impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly. [With Epicurus]

Let no one weary of the study of philosophy when old. [Epicurus]

Let us banish evil men who have done us long and grievous harm. [With Epicurus, Vatican Selection]

Live in obscurity. [Epicurus]

Many men when they have acquired riches have not found the escape from their ills but only a change to greater ills. [Epicurus fragment]

Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little. [Epicurus]

Pleasure is the beginning and the end of living happily. [Epicurus, in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers]

That we have suffered certain bodily pains aids us in guarding against their like. [Epicurus, the Vatican Selection]

The art of living well and the art of dying well are one. [Epicurus]

The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it. [Epicurus]

The greatest fruit of justice is serenity. [Epicurus fragment]

The honour paid to a wise man is a great good for those who honour him. [Epicurus, the Vatican Selection]

The man who has attained the natural end of the human race will be equally good, even though no one is present. [Epicurus fragment]

The man who says that all events are necessitated has no ground for critising the man who says that not all events are necessitated. For according to him this is itself a necessitated event. [Epicurus Letters, Principal Doctrines, and Vatican Sayings]

The misfortune of the wise can be better than the prosperity of the fool. [Mod. Epicurus]

To acquire many possessions is not easy without servility to mobs or monarchs. [With Epicurus]

To enjoy life better, try to live in obscurity.

We think highly of frugality not that we may always keep to a cheap and simple diet . . . [Epicurus fragment]


Epicurean Quotations, Literature  

Bailey, Cyril, tr. Epicurus: The Extant Remains. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1926. ⍽▢⍽ Extant writings.

DeWitt, Norman Wentworth. Epicurus and His Philosophy. Cleveland, OH: The World Publishing Company, 1967.

Lang, A. A. and D. N. Sedley. The Hellenistic Philosophers. Volume 1: Translations of the Principal Sources with Philosophical Commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. ⍽▢⍽ Epicureanism is dealt with from p. 25 to p. 158.

Oates, Whitney Jennings. The Stoic and Epicurean Philosophers: The Complete Extant Writings of Epicurus.New York: Random House, 1940. ⍽▢⍽ With fragments.

O'Keefe, Tim. Epicureanism. Durham: Acumen Publishing, 2010.

Roskam, Geert. Live Unnoticed: On the Vicissitudes of an Epicurean Doctrine. Leiden: Brill, 2007.

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