How should one lead a short life

Summary of ways to luck


In the fourth century BC At first, Greece was a collection of different states and tribes. First under Alexander the great all states, with the exception of Sparta, united. Alexander became the common military leader and conquered large parts of the then known world on his campaigns against the east and west. After his death in 323 BC He left the world empire to his generals, the so-called Diadochi, who divided it up among themselves in various wars. To secure the possessions in the east, Greeks were settled there as colonists, whereby a strict two-class society between oriental and Greek citizens was observed. The different Greek tribes intermingled, and for the first time a single language emerged, the Koine, in which the New Testament was later also written. The cultural export of the small Greek city-states to a huge area, a kind of mini-globalization, is known as Hellenism. Suddenly z. B. vases or buildings in places as different as Sicily, Syria and Egypt share the same style.

Philosophy also made enormous strides during this time: Hatten for Socrates and Plato While the human being as a social being and the ideal order of the state were in the foreground, the Greek philosophers in Hellenism were more concerned with the question of how the human being as an individual should shape his life. Three important schools emerged: the Cynics with their ideal of needlessness, the Stoics (a split-off group of Cynics who attached particular importance to self-control) and finally the Epicureans. The latter two in particular contradicted each other violently.

While Athens was and remained the center of philosophy, Alexandria became the center of new science in Egypt. With its Museion (today it would be called University) and the famous library, the city drew thinkers like Euclid and Archimedes whose findings z. T. are still valid today.


Epicurus combined numerous influences in his teachings. In his ethics he relied to a large extent on the hedonistic teachings Aristips, in his natural philosophy, however, he closed himself completely Democritus Theory of atoms. In Epicurus himself, of course, there is no such reference to foreign influences: he insisted on being understood as a completely autonomous thinker who had gained all knowledge from his own mind.

The chronology of Epicurus' writings and their exact origins are not known. His main work About nature Epicurus included three major themes: natural philosophy, epistemology, and ethics. He also wrote various pamphlets and letters in which he summarized his teachings for individual students. However, only three of these lesson units have survived. At the center of his teaching activities were the collections of sayings (only two of them have survived), which his students had to learn by heart and were not allowed to undergo any change. Probably for this reason, the Epicurus School is one of the few in ancient Greece that did not experience any secession.

Impact history

The numerous quotations that make up the first part of the ways to luck show how deeply many ancient thinkers were concerned with Epicurus' teachings. Not all of them were his followers: some quotes have come down to us from declared opponents of the philosopher. Nevertheless: The Epicurean natural philosophy and ethics influenced many great minds. So it is believed that about Lucretius in his didactic poem About the nature of things Passages from Epicurus' work About nature has taken over unchanged. In contrast to many other philosophical currents, the Epicurean school was to last for 700 years.

Our image of the thinker today is largely shaped by what his opponents ascribed to him. The Stoics and later Christianity stylized Epicurus as a welcome image of the enemy. By deliberately misunderstanding his doctrine of pleasure, he became the epitome of the atheist and pleasure addict for centuries. It was only in the early modern period that people began to look at it in a more differentiated manner. Pierre Gassendi took up Epicurus' ethics in the 17th century and tried to bring them into harmony with Christian teachings; his preoccupation with Epicurean natural philosophy is now considered a milestone on the way to modern atomic theory. In this way, the teachings of Epicurus were rehabilitated, at least in scientific circles, and influenced scholars such as Thomas Hobbes, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Isaac Newton, the utilitarians of the 19th century and the ethical theories of Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche and Herbert Marcuse.