Epicureanism, In All Honesty

May 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

“How sweet it is to watch from dry land when the storm-winds roil

A mighty ocean’s waters, and see another’s bitter toil-

Not because you relish someone else’s misery-

Rather, it’s sweet to know from what misfortunes you are free,

Pleasant it is even to behold contests of war

Drawn up on the battlefield, when you are in no danger,

But there is nothing sweeter than to dwell in towers that rise

On high, serene and fortified with teachings of the wise,

From which you may peer down upon the others as they stray

This way and that, seeking the path of life, losing their way:

The skirmishing of wits, the scramble for renown, the fight,

Each striving harder than the next, and struggling day and night,

To climb atop a heap of riches and lay claim to might,

O miserable minds of men! O hearts that cannot see!

Beset by such great dangers and in such obscurity

You spend your little lot of life! Don’t you know it’s plain

That all your nature yelps for is a body free from pain,

And, to enjoy pleasure, a mind removed from fear and care?

And so we see the body’s needs are altogether spare-

Only the bare minimum to keep suffering at bay,

Yet which can furnish pleasures for us in a wide array.”

-Lucretius, De Rerum Natura (On The Nature of Things)

, II.1-23

Trans. by A.E. Stallings


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