Letter to Herodotus has 52 ratings and 1 review. Epicurus summarizes the key doctrines from “On Nature” (of which only a few fragments have been recovere. [Latest Updated MP3 Version here] [Vimeo Edition]Of all the original texts that are available from the ancient world, Epicurus’ Letter to Herodotus preserved by. EPICURUS’ LETTER TO HERODOTUS. SOME TEXTUAL NOTES. Luis Andr?s Bredlow Wenda. L ‘UP’ AND ‘DOWN’ IN INFINITE SPACE. 60 (,)1.

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None the less is it true that the whole of the motion in the respective cases is conceived as extending in opposite directions ad infinitum. He says, further on, that the atoms have no peculiar quality of their own, except from magnitude and weight.

For why should heavy atoms have a more rapid movement than those which are small and light, since in no quarter do they encounter any obstacle? Moreover, there is an infinite herodotue of worlds, some like this world, others unlike it.

Diogenes Laertius : The Letter of Epicurus to Herodotus

No further proof is required: If, then, we know that such a phenomenon can be brought about in the same manner as another given epucurus of the same character which does not inspire us with any apprehension; and if, on the other hand, we know that it can take place in many different manners, we shall not be more troubled hefodotus sight of it than if we know the real cause of it.

For outside the sum of things there is nothing which could enter into it and bring about the change. The atoms are in a continual state of motion. But they cannot, like atoms, combine themselves, and form compound bodies in virtue of any motion belonging to themselves.

From low to high, when even the object in motion, going from us to the places situated above our heads, meets ten thousand times with the feet of those who are above us; and from high to low, when in the same way it advances towards the heads of those who are below us. Chaos rated it really liked it Nov 15, Besides, their incessant effluence meets with no resistance or very little, although many atoms, not to say an unlimited number, do at once encounter resistance.

Again, you should not suppose that the atoms have any and every size, lest you be contradicted by facts; but differences of size must be admitted; for this addition renders the facts of feeling and sensation easier of explanation. We know, in reality, that if, wishing to determine the infinite, we conceive a point above our head, this point, whatever it may be, will never appear to us to have the character in question: Let us disdain those men who do not know, by means of the different images which result form distance, how to give an account of the different appearances of things; who, in a word, are ignorant about what are the objects which can excite any trouble in us.

Accordingly, it is well to pay a scrupulous attention to existing phenomena and to the sensations, to the general sensations for general things, and to the particular sensations for particular things.

Epicurus, Letter to Herodotus

But, as it is, both these properties, you see, plainly belong to soul. And empty space cannot itself either act or be acted upon, but simply allows body to move through it. Our canon is that direct observation by sense and direct apprehension by the mind are alone invariably true. For clearly our infinite number of particles must have some size; and then, of whatever size they were, the aggregate they made would be infinite. But the rest of the frame, whether the whole of it survives or only a part, no longer has sensation, when once those atoms have departed, which, however few in number, are required to constitute the nature of soul.


Laura Vilka rated it liked it Nov 09, But there are other manners in which phenomena of this kind are produced; for there is nothing in all this which at all contradicts the senses, if one only considers in what way the senses are exercised, and if one is inclined to explain the relation which is established between external objects and ourselves.

In short it is evident that in connection with these different states, we can conceive a particular property to which we give the name of time.

They all have their own characteristic modes of being perceived and distinguished, but always along with the whole body in which they inhere and never in separation from it; and it is in virtue of this complete conception of the body as a whole that it is so designated. Andrew Miller rated it it was amazing Sep 21, But the rest of the frame, whether the whole of it survives or only a part, no longer has sensation, when once those atoms have departed, which, however few in number, are required to constitute the nature of soul.

For troubles eplcurus anxieties and feelings of anger and partiality do not accord with bliss, but heroxotus imply weakness and fear and dependence upon one’s neighbors. There exists in it a special part, endowed with an extreme mobility, in consequence of the exceeding slightness of the elements which compose it, and also in reference to its more immediate sympathy with the rest of the body.

If, then, we bring all these arguments concerning soul to the criterion of our feelings and perceptions, and if we keep in mind the proposition stated at the outset, we shall see that the subject has been adequately comprehended in outline: Of all this there is no beginning, since both atoms and void exist from everlasting.

But the rest of the frame, though it provides this indispensable conditions for the soul, itself also has a share, derived from the soul, of the said quality; and yet does not possess all the qualities of soul. And in some cases according to periods and times greater lettr those which proceed from the infinite; in other cases according to those which are smaller.

Again, we must suppose that nature too has been taught and forced to learn many various lessons by the facts themselves, that reason subsequently develops what it has thus received and makes fresh discoveries, among some tribes more quickly, among others more slowly, the progress thus made being at certain times and seasons greater, at others less.

For the community which exists between them and the unchangeable parts the minimal parts of area or surface is sufficient to justify the conclusion so far as this goes. For external things would not stamp on us their own nature of color and form through the medium of the air which is between them and use or by means of rays of light or currents of any sort going from us to them, so well as by the entrance into our eyes or minds, to whichever their size is suitable, of certain films coming from the things themselves, these films or outlines being of the same color and shape as the external things themselves.


Nor can we help thinking that in this way, by proceeding forward from one to the next in order, it is possible by such a progression to arrive in thought at infinity.

Historical Context for Letter to Herodotus by Epicurus

For if it changed its direction, that would be equivalent to its meeting with resistance, even if up to that point we allow nothing to impede the rate of its flight.

Goodreads helps nerodotus keep track of books you want to read. London, “Epicurus,” trans. Lists with This Book. The section numbers in the Greek text are shown in red and the section numbers in the translation are shown in green. And herodotua this movement, if it be not confirmed or be contradicted, falsehood results; while, if it be confirmed or not contradicted, truth results.

Want to Read Currently Reading Read. It follows, therefore, as a matter of absolute necessity, that the principles of things must be corporeal, indivisible elements. Columbia College Search Enter a keyword Search.

As long as either motion obtains, it must continue, quick as the speed of thought, provided there is no obstruction, whether due to external collision or to the atoms’ own weight counteracting the force of the blow.

It is on that account that, when the soul departs, the oetter is no longer possessed of sensation; for it has not this power, namely that of sensation in itself; but on the other hand, this power can only manifest itself in the soul through the medium of the body. Spenser rated it liked it Mar 31, 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.

He also says tl other places, that the earth rests suspended in the air. He tl, in fact, in the twelfth book of his treatise on the World, that the worlds differ from one another; some being spherical, other elliptical, and others of other shapes.

Only the gods are immortal, says Epicurus, but we are not.

Epicurus – Letter to Herodotus

And as for things not visible, so far as those who were conscious of them tried to introduce letteer such notion, they put in circulation certain names for them, either sounds which they were instinctively compelled to utter or which they selected by reason on analogy according to the most general cause there can be for expressing oneself in such a way.

And if there were no space which we call also void and place and intangible naturebodies would have nothing in which to be and through which to move, as they are plainly seen to move. In a word, they have no relation – a moment’s consideration will prove this herovotus itself – herodotud those imperishable and happy natures which admit of no division and of no confusion. But, again, the worlds also are infinite, whether they resemble this one of ours or whether they are different from it.