Home Dedication Introduction For Further Information The Wisdom of
Introduction The material on this web page comes from two poems Catius’ Cat has presented to me for translation.  They represent a summary of what she teaches her own kittens – at an early age – of the wisdom handed down for generations of cats in the House of Catius.  The poems are merely an outline of what all cats can expect to find as they growolder and begin the study of Nature for themselves.  Catius’ Cat has not attempted to argue any of these points in detail; the purpose of these poems is to provide the tools with which new kittens may pursue their own studies as a head start in determining how to live happy lives. Catius’ Cat has warned me to emphasize that none of this material constitutes original thinking on her part.  Each verse is a direct application of a doctrine as taught in the ancient texts of Epicurus and Lucretius, and as she is told was taught by the original Catius thousands of years ago.  Catius’ Cat tells me that she is aware that some of this material, especially that on Anticipations, is a matter of some controversy.  She reassures me, however, that these poems contain her most advanced and current understanding of the topic of Anticipations in particular and  Epicureanism in general.  I am informed that Catius’ Cat is not entirely fond of Englishmen, who are understood to prefer bulldogs over cats.  Nevertheless, she directs anyone wishing to study further on the topic of anticipations to her favorite English author, Jackson Barwis, and to his essay “Dialogue on Innate Principles.”  She has further asked me to stress that her perspectives on Epicureanism are based on those of the professor she considers to be the most reliable modern interpreter of Epicureanism, Norman W. DeWitt, especially as presented in his book Epicurus And His Philosophy. I am also instructed to apologize that this poem has not addressed the Epicurean way of living and thinking in even greater detail.  Catius’ Cat struggled to decide which topics were essential for a beginner, and which could be omitted for the sake of a digestible meal, but she was not entirely satisfied with the result.  I am informed that if Catius’ Cat decides to purr further for public consumption in the future, she will be sure to elaborate on the following: The references to “dancing” as a description of the proper operation of Nature’s three-legged stool should be clear enough, but the analogy could be developed much further.  Proper thinking requires us to process artfully all of the data we obtain through each of the three legs.  Dancing is thus an apt analogy for what we do as we – in an intelligent and coordinated manner – focus all our mental and physical capabilities to pursue whatever new evidence we encounter, no matter what twists and turns may be required. The verses devoted to rules for avoiding error address only a small part of the process of sifting through the evidence provided by our senses.  Life requires that – at a certain point – we must judge that we have enough information to conclude that a thing is “true,” and we must act on that judgment.  If we are to live happily we must judge well which matters we can safely hold to be “true” and which matters must be considered provisional, to await further evidence.  Catius’ Cat stresses to all her kittens that once a fundamental judgment is confirmed by clear evidence from each leg of the stool (for example, that the nature of a divine being is to be perfect, without anger,  gratitude, or the disposition to trouble anyone else), then we must vigorously reject any speculations that would contradict such an established truth.  This is the meaning of the injunction to keep the “sure” and the “not sure” far apart in our minds.  The poem addresses the highly controversial subject of the nature of the gods, but Catius’ Cat would have preferred to emphasize further the fact that no god or gods created Nature, and that indeed the truth is quite the reverse.  She is also aware that in common usage the word “god” is understood to imply “all-powerful.” This she of course rejects as nonsense, as did her ancestors.  She chose, however, to follow the prudent guideline that detailed discussion of the nature of the gods is inherently speculative and rarely worth the time – even though this meant omitting her view that the gods speak not only Greek but also Latin, and a dialect of Siamese as well. Catius’ Cat also regrets not having elaborated on Nature’s “tuning” of the three- legged stool for our use.  She thinks that it is very helpful to draw the analogy that just as our eyes and our ears are tuned to receive sights and sounds only within a certain range of wavelengths, the other two legs are likewise “tuned” to receive input only within a certain range set by Nature as acceptable.  But once again she reminds me to refer readers to Jackson Barwis for further study.  And last – but far from least – Catius’ Cat purrs that it is not possible to stress strongly enough that the central message of Epicurus is to look to NATURE for guidance, not to “virtue,” not to the gods, and not to any speculations of the Academy.  She teaches her kittens that “Pleasure” does not exist without a context, and that all kittens must understand that pleasure is but the signal Nature uses to guide us toward a life of happiness – the type of life to which Nature calls all living beings.  Catius’ Cat is quite disgusted that for so many ages, men have alleged that Epicurus held the excitement of momentary pleasure to be the goal of human life.  She is fond of pointing out that the same Lucretius who referred to “Divine Pleasure, Guide of Life,” began his own poem with a hymn singing the praise of a benevolent Nature, and not praise of luxury and dissipation.  If Catius’ Cat chooses to purr poetically again, she assures me that she will drive home this point with even greater feline persistence. For those who may wish to obtain these poems in Epub format, please follow the links by clicking the appropriate graphic below.  Peace and Safety! Cassius Amicus, January 2013
Other Epicurean Websites: