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Ancient Greek Quotes: Apollonius, Aristophanes, & Epicurus

By Yona Williams    11/24/07

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In this article, you are introduced to Apollonius Rhodus (a notable librarian), Aristophanes (important to the development of comedy), and Epicurus (founder of Epicureanism).

Apollonius Rhodus

The famous library situated in Alexandria, Egypt became the haven for Apollonius Rhodus, who served as librarian. He is responsible for writing the epic poem, Argonautica, which illustrated the tale of Jason's search for the Golden Fleece with the Argonauts, which occurred later in his life. Apollonius was also known as a scholar. A misconception of his life is that he did not actually comes from Rhodes, but only lived there for awhile, in which case – he was adopted as a "Rhodian." One of his quotes include:

"Life is short to the fortunate, long to the unfortunate."

Aristophanes

Born in 456 BC, Aristophanes was the son of Philippus, who later became an ancient Greek dramatist that followed the Old Comic ways. Some Greeks called him the Father of Comedy, while others referred to him as the Prince of Ancient Comedy. Comic plays were his specialty – 11 are still in tact. If you ever get a chance to read some of his comedies, you will find that they take on a political theme. Some of his signature writing habits included a quick wit and the ability to create brilliant fantasies.

To read some of the work by Aristophanes, consider the following plays that have survived throughout the years: The Acharnians (425BC), The Knights (424 BC), The Wasps (422 BC), The Birds (414 BC), Lysistrata (411 BC), The Frogs (405 BC), Plutus (388 BC), The Clouds (423 BC), and Peace (421 BC). A few notable quotes of Aristophanes include:

1) "We’re keen to let the judges know
Just what they’ll get if we come in first!"

2) "You have all the traits of a popular politician: a horrible voice, bad upbringing, and a vulgar
manner."

Epicurus

In Samos, Epicurus was born in 341 BCE and later grew to become a remarkable ancient Greek philosopher and the founder of Epicureanism – a favorable school of thought that followed Hellenistic Philosophies. This way of thinking would last for many years – nearly 600. Out of the more than 300 works he has written, only a couple of fragments and letters exist. Most of the details relating to Epicureanism that we know about have come from the writings of others.

We can gather that the focus on this sort of philosophy centers on the achievement of happiness in a life that knows no pain or fear. Those following these teachings believed in gaining a self-sufficient life amongst friends. Under his teachings, Epicurus also stressed beliefs associated with good and evil, death, pleasure, punishment, and the universe.

When it comes to the only surviving complete works associated with Epicurus, only three letters exist. These are found in book X of Diogenes Laertius' Lives of Eminent Philosophers, and two sets of quotes called the Principal Doctrines and the Vatican Sayings. His philosophies basically touched upon learning how to live life to the fullest. A good Epicurus quote to keep in mind is:

"One is never too young or too old to seek wisdom."

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