(1) Gods exist. Epicurus not an atheist.
(2) Gods are unconcerned with human affairs.
(3) Gods are nothing for people to fear. In fact, they are a model for our own happiness.
(1) According to the universal belief, gods are immortal and blessed. So they cannot suffer or
inflict suffering, or feel anger or favor.
(2) Happiness, whether for a god or a human being, consists in uninterrupted tranquility. If the
gods intervene any way, it could only be from some disturbance of their tranquility. But that is
impossible. The gods are immortal; they have no troubles, and therefore never trouble others.
(3) The existence of evil proves the indifference of the gods. They have the foresight and power
to prevent it, but do not do so. So they must just not care.
1. All bodies are either atomic or compound
2. Nothing comes from nothing or disappears into nothing.
3. Cosmos: bodies + void. Motion is endless—both without purpose, and infinite.
4. Extent of void and quantity of atoms is unlimited.
5. Inconceivably (but not infinitely) many differences of atomic shape.
Differences from Democritus
1. Limit of atomic shape.
2. Internal atomic structure.
3. Atomic swerve. 4. Compounds introduce new properties.
• Necessary (non-satisfaction brings pain)
• For happiness (philosophy, friends)
• For life (food, water)
• For an untroubled body (law, leisure)
• Not necessary (non-satisfaction does not necessarily bring pain, and any pain of non-
satisfaction can be relieved by means other than satisfaction of the desire; for example, by
changing one’s opinion about the object)
• Natural (sex, immortality) (the most dangerous cases)
• Conventional (reputation)
• Kinetic pleasure: depends on an object; is intermittent, discontinuous.
• Katastematic: continuous rather than discontinuous; independent of external objects,
• Aponia: the pleasure of leisure; idleness; physical ease; stressless well-being.
• Ataraxia: the pleasure of an untroubled, tranquil mind.
Hedonism: Pleasure is the sole inherent good.
1. A feeling, not a sensation.
2. An evaluation of sensation.
3. Pleasure and pain are distinct qualities; neither is merely the lack of the other.
Why is pleasure the highest good? 1. Cradle Argument
2. Conceptual Argument
Virtues are characteristics that assist us in the pursuit of happiness. Examples of such virtues are
wisdom and justice.
The Virtues According to Epicurus
1. Prudence, practical wisdom
5. Justice icurus (Greek: Ἐπίκοσρος, Epikouros, "ally, comrade"; 341 BCE – 270 BCE) was an ancient
Greek philosopher as well as the founder of 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 derives from later followers and commentators.
For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by
ataraxia—peace and freedom from fear—and aponia—the absence of pain—and by living a self-
sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that pleasure and pain are the measures of what is
good and evil; death is the end of both body and soul and should therefore not be feared; the
gods do not reward or punish humans; the universe is infinite and eternal; and events in the
world are ultimately based on the motions and interactions of atoms moving in empty space.
2 The school
o 3.1 Prefiguring science and ethics
o 3.2 Pleasure as absence of suffering
6 Hero cult
7 In literature and popular media
8 Epicurus and the Epicursim
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Part of a series on
Schools of hedonism[show]
Key concepts[show] v
His parents, Neocles and Chaerestrate, both Athenian-born, and his father a citizen, had
emigrated to the Athenian settlement on the Aegean island of Samos about ten years before
Epicurus's birth in February 341 BCE [1As a boy, he studied philosophy for four years under the
Platonist teacher Pamphilus. At the age of 18, he went to Athens for his two-year term of
military service. The playwright Menander served in the same age-class of the ephebes as
After the death of Alexander the Great, Perdiccas expelled the Athenian settlers on Samos to
Colophon, on the coast of what is now Turkey. After the completion of his military service,
Epicurus joined his family there. He studied under Nausiphanes, who followed the teachings of
Democritus. In 311/310 BCE Epicurus taught in Mytilene but caused strife and was forced to
leave. He then founded a school in Lampsacus before returning to Athens in 306 BCE. There he
founded The Garden, a school named for the garden he owned that served as the school's
meeting place, about halfway between the locations of two other schools of philosophy, the Stoa
and the Academy.
Even though many of his teachings were heavily influenced by earlier thinkers, especially by
Democritus, he differed in a significant way with Democritus on determinism. Epicurus would
often deny this influence, denounce other philosophers as confused, and claim to be "self-
Epicurus never married and had no known children. He suffered from kidney stones, to which
he finally succumbed in 270 BCE [3at the age of 72, and despite the prolonged pain involved, he
wrote to Idomeneus:
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.
And I beg you to take care of the children of Metrodorus, in a manner worthy of the devotion
shown by the young man to me, and to philosophy. 
Epicurus' school, which was based in the garden of his house and thus called "The Garden",
had a small but devoted following in his lifetime. The primary members were Hermarchus, the
financier Idomeneus, Leonteus and his wife Themista, the satirist Colotes, the mathematician
Polyaenus of Lampsacus, Leontion, and Metrodorus of Lampsacus, the most famous popularizer
of Epicureanism. His school was the first of the ancient Greek philosophical schools to admit 
women as a rule rather than an exception. The original school was based in Epicurus's home
and garden. An inscription on the gate to The Garden is recorded by Seneca in epistle XXI of
Epistulae morales ad Lucilium: 
Stranger, here you will do well to tarry; here our highest good is pleasure.
Epicurus emphasized friendship as an important ingredient of happiness, and the school
resembled in many ways a community of friends living together. However, he also instituted a
hierarchical system of levels among his followers, and had them swear an oath on his core tenets.
Main article: Epicureanism
Prefiguring science and ethics
Epicurus is a key figure in the development of science and the scientific method because of his
insistence that nothing should be believed, except that which was tested through direct
observation and logical deduction. Many of his ideas about nature and physics presaged
important scientific concepts of our time. He was a key figure in the Axial Age, the period from 800 BCE to 200 BCE, during which similarly revolutionary thinking appeared in China, India,
Iran, the Near East, and Ancient Greece. His statement of the Ethic of Reciprocity as the
foundation of ethics is the earliest in Ancient Greece, and he differs from the formulation of
utilitarianism by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill by emphasizing the minimization of
harm to oneself and others as the way to maximize happiness.
Epicurus's teachings represented a departure from the other major Greek thinkers of his period,
and before, but was nevertheless founded on many of the same principles as Democritus. Like
Democritus, he was an atomist, believing that the fundamental constituents of the world were
indivisible little bits of matter (atoms, Greek atomos, indivisible) flying through empty space
(kenos). Everything that occurs is the result of the atoms colliding, rebounding, and becoming
entangled with one another, with no purpose or plan behind their motions. (Compare this with
the modern study of particle physics.) His theory differs from the earlier atomism of Democritus
because he admits that atoms do not always follow straight lines but their direction of motion
may occasionally exhibit a 'swerve' (clinamen). This allowed him to avoid the determinism
implicit in the earlier atomism and to affirm free will. (Compare this with the modern theory of
quantum physics, which postulates a non-deterministic random motion of fundamental particles,
which do not swerve absent an external force; randomness originates in interaction of particles in
He regularly admitted women and slaves into his school and was one of the first Greeks to break
from the god-fearing and god-worshipping tradition common at the time, even while affirming
that religious activities are useful as a way to contemplate the gods and to use them as an
example of the pleasant life. Epicurus participated in the activities of traditional Greek religion,
but taught that one should avoid holding false opinions about the gods. The gods are immortal
and blessed and men who ascribe any additional qualities that are alien to immortality and
blessedness are, according to Epicurus, impious. The gods do not punish the bad and reward the
good as the common man believes. The opinion of the crowd is, Epicurus claims, that the gods
"send great evils to the wicked and great blessings to the righteous who model themselves after
the gods," whereas Epicurus believes the gods, in reality, do not concern themselves at all with
It is not the man who denies the gods worshipped by the multitude, who is impious, but he who
affirms of the gods what the multitude believes about them.
Pleasure as absence of suffering
Epicurus' philosophy is based on the theory that all good and bad derive from the sensations of
pleasure and pain. What is good is what is pleasurable, and what is bad is what is painful.
Pleasure and pain were ultimately, for Epicurus, the basis for the moral distinction between good
and evil. If pain is chosen over pleasure in some cases it is only because it leads to a greater
pleasure. Although Epicurus has been commonly misunderstood to advocate the rampant pursuit
of pleasure, he was actually after the absence of pain (both physical and menta