Second, Third and Fourth Principles of Piety

From Philodemus’ Scroll On Piety

Humans imitate the qualities they see in divinity. Therefore, the wise have noble expectations concerning the Gods

Worship is an act of self-expression and only benefits the worshiper. It does not necessarily affect the object of worship

There is good, pure and wholesome religion as well as defiled and unwholesome religion

The Goal of True Spiritual Practice: Pure, Effortless Pleasure

Review of De l’inhumanité de la religion

Epicureanism as a Religious Identity

To pray is natural. – Epicurus, in On Lifecourses

For not small [or ineffectual] are these gains for us which make our disposition godlike and show that not even our mortality makes us inferior to the imperishable and blessed nature; for when we are alive, we are as joyful as the gods. Diogenes of Oenoanda

(To others,) piety appears to include not harming both other people and especially one’s benefactors and homeland.  To be sure, they honor something rather kindly and propitious, whereas we all regard our views as the true cause of our tranquility. – Philodemus of Gadara

But those who believe our oracles about the Gods will first wish to imitate their blessedness, insofar as mortals can, so that, since it was seen to come from doing no harm to anyone, they will endeavor most of all to make themselves harmless to everyone as far as it is within their power, and second, to make themselves noble … The just person has noble expectations concerning the Gods, and at the same time exceedingly enjoys pleasures that are unalloyed and effortless. – Philodemus of Gadara

In any case, even virtuous actions often have no advantage because, in the cases mentioned above, men show too much arrogance or fall back without reason into superstitious fears, and because in other actions in life they make many mistakes of every kind, so that no one really exhibits virtue. We, in turn, committed to follow pleasure, will witness in our favor that our affairs are carried out with more ease in the circumstances within which hitherto we had exhibited pain. –  Polystratus the Scholarch


About hiramcrespo

Hiram Crespo is the author of 'Tending the Epicurean Garden' (Humanist Press, 2014) and 'How to Live a Good Life' (Penguin Random House, 2020), and founder of He's also written for The Humanist, Eidolon, Occupy, The New Humanism, The Secular Web, Europa Laica, AteístasPR, and many other outlets.
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