Since ever manhood, on their reflections on life, has been wondering the reasons why we were born and the reasons why we must suffer.
Lucretius in his fith book of " de rerum natura" praises Epicurus for his endeavors to cut out religion from human life.
When I was younger I thought that religion was just a way to dominate the men: a toil in the hands of the priests to control men's life; exactly what Epicurus said in the third millennium B.C. and Lucretius quotes in his masterpiece "de rerum natura".
According to Epicurus men must search for happyness; to do with this they must not fear death; as matter of fact, says the great greek philosopher , when a man is alive, is not conscious of death; and when is dead, he cannot realize death.
The fear of Death is the key for superstions, passions and all the other conditioning of life.
Epicurus says that Gods do not exist and men must search for happyness regardless of gods.
Then I found out my faith in God: in the truly, unique, God; and I have found Him out through the life, the words, the example of His Son, Jesus, who descended in the earth wearing clothes of man.
I know that my faith is not a rational answer to thoughts like those of Epicurus (and even those of Lucretius), but faith is not a result of reasoning; faith is a search of reasons: reasons of life, of suffering, of happiness...
On the other hand Epicurus, like most of ancient greek philosophers may consider to be illuministic thinkers (in an ante litteram sense) and to them can be told what theologists have answered to Illuminism since 18th century A.D.(this is not the right place to undertake such an ardous task).
I don't want to diminish the value of their concepts against mines: I instead take much respect on their ideas though I can't share them in the light of God.
It must be said that probably western thinking must never approached even the religious thruths it now accepts, without such great contributes from greek and roman Writers.
Angelo Ruggeri, a bright scholar on classic studies, in his critique and analysis of Lucretius masterpiece, declares the powerlessness of Epicurus's thought against harmness and sufference in human life.
In his own words, he asks : "does the universe of Epicurus really remove fears from human mind, enabling a happy life?" (I'll to try to give an answer, with the help of Angelo Ruggeri in a next post).
I present in the end of my post an English translation of some verses from Lucretius' masterpiece's Book VI, wich is one of the praises that the roman poet dedicates to his greek mentor through out all the six books.
About these verses Angelo Ruggeri himself explains:
"As in a system of tyranny who is defending its own just rights, defends the rights of all, so in this society of dissatisfied individuals, who manages to be happy and teaches others the way to be such , shall cooperate to the happiness of all. The Roman poet Lucrezio placed the Greek philosopher Epicurus among the Gods for having proposed this order."
Praise to Epicurus - from Book V - VV 1-51
English Version by Angelo Ruggeri
Who ever could have so much strength in the heart
to raise a song worthy of the grandiosity
of the things treated and of the wonderful discoveries?
Or have so much value to be able with words
to compose a praise worthy of the merits
of the one who left us gifts so wanted ,
drawing them from his own mind?
None I think, who is made of mortal body.
In fact, if we want to use words worthy
of the acknowledged grandiosity of the work
he was a God, noble Memmius, a God certanly
he who first found the rule of life that today is called wisdom
and by means of this art, pulled the life from the darkness
of a stormy sea, and raised it in a quiet and enlightened place.
Compare this exploit with those of ancient Gods.
Cerere is said to have given harvest to mortals,
Bacco the strong and sweet juice of the vine:
indeed we could live without those goods,
as it is fame that live some people,
but we cannot live happy without a quiet heart ;
therefore with a just reason we think he is a God
who has taught us the comfort of sweet life
that even today, disseminated among men,
cheer up minds.
If you then thought that the undertakings of Ercole
are of greater value, you’re ages ago from the truth.
What evil could make us today the Nemeus lion
with its big mouth or the terrible wild boar Arcadius?
What harm could make us the bull of Creta
or the pestiferous Hydra of Lerna fitted with poisonous snakes?
Or the trebled strength of Gerione provided of three bodies?
What evil would do us today the Harpies
who live in the Stinfali woods or Diomede’s horses
which in Bistonia and in Ismaro blows flames from their nostrils?
What harm could do us the snake
wrapped around the tree with the enormous
body and the fierce look which guards
splendid golden apples in the
garden of Esperidi
at the beaches of Atlas and the stormy sea where nobody,
Roman and barbarian do ever approach?
These and similar monsters, now disappeared,
had them not been won and still lived
what evil could make us today? None I think:
even today the earth abounds up to satiety
of fierce beasts and it is full of appalling
terrors within the great mountains,
the canyons and the deep forests,
but we are not forced to go there if we do not want.
But if the heart is not pure, how many dangers
creep in and how many inside battles
there are preparing against our will!
How many pungent anxieties tear man
invaded by passions, and then how many fears!
And the pride, the dishonesty, the presumption,
what they do? How many massacres do!
What does shamelessness , what apathy?
The man thus, who has beaten all these evil
and thrown them out of the soul with the words,
not with the weapons, do not deserve to be put among Gods?