This translation renders selected fragments of Epicurus from Greek into English. The numbering follows that of Hermann Usener in his 1887 volume Epicurea.
 The English translation is provided under Creative Commons CC0 (for details, refer to the Publisher's Note). The Greek text is in the public domain. The text provided here generally follows that of Hermann Usener as published in his Epicurea (1887), with some attention paid to the texts of G. Arrighetti as published in Epicuro Opere (Torino: Giulio Einaudi Editore, 1960) and of A.A. Long and D.N. Sedley as published in Volume 2 of The Hellenistic Philosophers (Cambridge University Press, 1987). I have not included fragments whose meaning is very close to paragraphs from the Letter to Menoeceus, the Principal Doctrines or the Vatican Sayings (e.g., fragments 447, 473, and 532), nor have I translated any fragments from Latin since those cannot possibly represent the exact words of Epicurus. [back]
 For related thoughts, see Vatican Saying #33. [back]
 When Epicurus says "if they bring pleasure", he means "if they cause no harm, do not require excessive struggle, and alleviate either bodily pain or psychological distress" -- see Vatican Saying #21, Principal Doctrine #21, Principal Doctrine #3, etc. [back]
 By "culture" Epicurus means the traditional form of ancient Greek enculturation and socialization (παιδεία), which he seems to have thought of as something close to indoctrination. [back]
 Regarding self-reliance, see Letter to Menoeceus, Section 130, Vatican Saying #44, Principal Doctrine #14, etc. [back]
 On the simultaneity of removing a great evil and creating a great good, see Vatican Saying #42. The phrase "strolling about" (περιπατῇ) is a jibe at the Aristotelians (also called the Peripatetics), since Aristotle was known to teach while strolling about the grounds of his school in Athens. [back]
 On weighing the costs and benefits of pleasures and pains, see Letter to Menoeceus, Section 129 and Vatican Saying #73. [back]
 Epicurus discusses the role of chance in life at Letter to Menoeceus, Section 133 [back]
 The word I have rendered as "passion" is ἔρως; thus for Epicurus the love of wisdom is an erotic emotion! [back]
 In the second chapter of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle characterizes desires as groundless and trifling (κενὴν καὶ ματαίαν) if they are not related to or subsumed under an overarching goal of life; in this fragment and in Fragment 442, Epicurus applies the same terms to certain kinds of desires. [back]
 What does it mean to "live unknown"? It seems to mean that it is best to live one's life hidden from public view, unseen by prying eyes, unnoticed by the many, without fame or celebrity even to go through life in secret. There are connections here to Epicurus's disdain for conventional culture, his raising of the simple pleasures above traditional Greek values like fame (κλέος), and his advice to not get involved in public affairs (Vatican Saying #58). [back]
The Greek text provided here is in the public domain.
The translator has provided the following statement regarding the copyright of his translation:
I, Peter Saint-Andre, made this translation of the Selected Fragments of Epicurus from Greek into English in the year 2011. By licensing this translation under Creative Commons CC0, I hereby release all legal and economic rights to this translation under all jurisdictions (including but not limited to the rights to copy, republish, translate, arrange, modify, and make derivative works from this translation), and I grant anyone the right to use this translation without conditions for any purpose. My intent is that this translation shall be free from all claims of copyright and therefore shall pass directly into the public domain.
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Last Updated: 2013-06-04
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