men, but have purely natural causes (Lucr. 6.43-702). From the gods, as from all objects, flows an unceasing stream of simulacra. Simulacra are always of a very fine texture, but, since the gods are of the finest atomic composition, the simulacra which emanate from their bodies are surpassingly tenuous—so tenuous, in fact, that they cannot be received by the senses at all, but only by the mind (Lucr. 5.148-149). Even the mind does not easily perceive them, and it is in sleep, when there is less “interference,” that visions of the gods are most often seen (Lucr. 5.1169-1171). The person whose mind is not disturbed by false opinions and fears concerning the gods is best able to receive the simulacra, which can transmit to him something of the beauty, tranquillity, and happiness of the gods (Lucr. 6.68-78). And although the wise man will not worship the gods or make sacrifices to them in the hope of influencing them, he will participate in religious ceremonies, for this will make it easier for him to concentrate his attention on the divine simulacra. Thus Epicurus, far from being an opponent of religion, was a strong supporter of it: he wanted to reform it, not abolish it.

The identity of the moral end which we should aim to achieve is, according to Epicurus, not a matter for argument. It is a matter of universal experience that pain is bad and pleasure good; therefore pain is to be avoided, and pleasure (ἡδoνή, voluptas) is the end to be sought. However, not every pleasure is to be taken and not every pain avoided, for sometimes temporary pleasure is outweighed by subsequent pain, and sometimes temporary pain is out­weighed


by subsequent pleasure. In each case we must carefully consider which course will in the long term bring us most pleasure and least pain.

According to Epicurus, pleasure is limited (Lucr. 5.1433), and the limit of pleasure for the body is reached when desire is satisfied and the pain of want is removed.49 Two kinds of pleasure are to be distinguished: kinetic pleasure or the pleasure of movement, which is the pleasure derived from the process of satisfying desire, and katastematic pleasure or the pleasure of equilibrium, which is enjoyed when desire is satisfied and pain is absent. Before Epicurus the Cyrenaics, founded by Aristippus, had held that pleasure is the summum bonum, but, whereas they regarded kinetic pleasure as the only true pleasure and did not recognize katastematic pleasure as a pleasure at all, Epicurus not only recognized katastematic pleasure as well as kinetic pleasure, but actually regarded it as much superior to kinetic pleasure: katastematic pleasure is more lasting and involves no pain, whereas kinetic pleasure is not lasting and necessarily involves pain, for kinetic pleasure is, as we have seen, derived from the process of satisfying desire and removing the pain of want. It is to be noted that Epicurus did not recognize a neutral state of feeling intermediate between pleasure and pain, but indeed regarded absence of pain (ἀπoνίa) as the highest form of bodily pleasure.

Since unsatisfied desire causes pain, we must distinguish the desires which can be satisfied from those which cannot. There are in fact three classes of desires: natural and necessary, natural but not