His central argument is that the modern idea of happiness was an invention of the Enlightenment. ...
Historically speaking, this was a radical change. For the ancient Greeks, happiness was largely bound up with notions of luck and fortune. Any man, however high and mighty, could be brought down by a twist of fate. The important thing, therefore, was not to seek happiness for its own sake but to live virtuously. Being good, as Mr McMahon nicely puts it, was more important than feeling good. For Herodotus and his contemporaries, happiness was not a “subjective state” but a “characterisation of an entire life that can be reckoned only at death.”
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