Thursday, April 29, 2021


A Fragment of Epicurus

Epicurus, fragment 471 in Hermann Usener, Epicurea (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1887), p. 301 = fragment 189 in Graziano Arrighetti, ed., Epicuro, Opere (Turin: Giulio Einaudi Editore, 1960), p. 510, from Porphyry, To Marcella 27 (tr. Kathleen O'Brien Wicker, rev. Elias Tempelis, with Arrighetti's Greek text):
It is not rare to find a man poor in the attainment of Nature but rich in empty false opinions. For no ignorant man is satisfied with what he has; instead he pines for what he does not have. So then, just as those who have a fever are always thirsty because of the serious nature of their disease and eagerly desire what is most detrimental, so also those who have the soul which manages it in distress are always in need of everything and fall prey to fickle desires under the influence of their excessive greed.

οὐ σπάνιόν γε εὑρεῖν ἄνθρωπον πρὸς τὸ τῆς φύσεως τέλος <πένητα> καὶ πλούσιον πρὸς τὰς κενὰς δόξας· οὐδεὶς γὰρ τῶν ἀφρόνων οἷς ἔχει ἀρκεῖται, μᾶλλον δὲ οἷς οὐκ ἔχει ὀδυνᾶται. ὥσπερ οὖν οἱ πυρέσσοντες διὰ κακοήθειαν τῆς <νόσου> ἀεὶ διψῶσι καὶ τῶν ἐναντιωτάτων ἐπιθυμοῦσιν, οὕτω καὶ οἱ τὴν ψυχὴν κακῶς ἔχοντες διακειμένην πένονται πάντων ἀεὶ καὶ εἰς πολυτρόπους ἐπιθυμίας ὑπὸ λαιμαργίας ἐμπίπτουσιν.
See Elias Tempelis, "A chapter of Epicurean philosophy in Porphyry's Letter to Marcella."

I find "those who have the soul which manages it in distress" to be awkward and misleading as a translation of οἱ τὴν ψυχὴν κακῶς ἔχοντες διακειμένην. I construe the adverb κακῶς as modifying the participle διακειμένην, i.e. "those who have the soul badly disposed." Peter Saint-Andre translates "those whose souls are in a bad condition."

Usener supplies some parallels, including (p. 302) Horace, Epistles 1.12.3-6 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
Away with complaints; for he is not poor, who has enough of things to use. If stomach, lungs, and feet are all in health, the wealth of kings can give you nothing more.

                                                tolle querellas:
pauper enim non est, cui rerum suppetit usus.
si ventri bene, si lateri est pedibusque tuis, nil
divitiae poterunt regales addere maius.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?