Epicurus’ Historical Narratives

Have you heard of any prolific author who was credited to have written 300 manuscripts and 37 treatises on diverse subjects? Let’s give you more clue about this. Do you know the founder of Epicureanism? This philosopher is no other person but Epicurus. And there is more to this man than meets the eye. Read on, to know more about his historical accounts.
Early Life of Epicurus
Epicurus was born 341 BC on the island of Samos, seven years after Plato’s death. Neocles was his father while Chaerestrate was his mother. He studied philosophy for four years under Pamphilus, a protégé of Plato. At 18, he proceeded to Athens to render his service to the military for 2 years.
Adult Life
After completing his two-year military service, Epicurus reunited with his family. He studied under Nausiphanes, a protégé of Democritus. Around 311/310 BC, Epicurus taught in Mytilene, but he was forced to leave due to his thought-provoking teachings. He established a school in Lampsacus before returning in 306 BC to Athens where he remained until his death. He founded The Garden, a school of philosophy in Athens.
Epicurus sees himself as a self-made theorist. He was never married and had no children. He was presumably a vegetarian. He died at age 72 of kidney stones in 270 BC.
Philosophical Beliefs
Epicurus throughout his life held the following beliefs:

  • Science: He held that nothing should be believed except that which was tested through direct observation and logical deduction.
  • Ethics: He opined that in reality, the gods do not concern themselves at all with humans.
  • Pleasure as Absence of Suffering: To him, good things are pleasurable and bad things are painful.
  • Politics: He held that one should live without pursuing wealth, power or glory but covertly enjoying the little things like food and association with friends.
  • Epistemology: The principle of explaining a particular point with series of theories i.e. Principle of Multiple Explanations.

Epicurus’ contributions to a large extent touched the world in the following ways:

  • Epicureanism: This idea was adopted by democratic intellectuals such as John Locke who wrote about people’s right to life, liberty and property. Epicureanism was also imported into American freedom movement and Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson (he considered himself an Epicurean).
  • Epicurean Physics: Epicurus was a key figure in the development of science and scientific methodology.
  • Epicurean Influence: The Epicurean influence rubbed off on many thinkers over the ages. Arther Schopenhauer adopted the Epicurus’ view on suffering and death so did Friedrick Nietzche who cited Epicurus in many of his works.

Famous Quotations of Epicurus

  • “If several theories are consistent with the observed data, retain them all.”
  • “Stranger, here you will do well to tarry, here our highest good is pleasure.”

Bottom Line
Epicurus indeed was a great philosophy. His schools made it through the 4th century BC till the 4th century AD. Little “Epicureans” was mentioned in the bible by Apostle Paul in Act 17:18.
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