Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher and sage, who founded the highly influential school of philosophy, Epicureanism. He had been born to Athenian parents on the Greek island of Samos. Influenced by Democritus, Aristippus, Pyrrho and probably the Cynics, he turned against his day's Platonism and founded his own academy in Athens, known as Garden. Epicurus and his disciples were known to eat simple meals and explore a broad range of metaphysical themes. As a matter of principle he had freely allowed the women to attend the classroom. It is said that Epicurus originally wrote more than 300 works on different subjects, but the vast majority of those writings have been lost. Just three letters he wrote, along with a few fragments of his other works, the letters to Menoeceus, Pythocles, and Herodotus, and two quotation books, the Principle Doctrines and the Vatican Sayings, remained intact. Most knowledge of his teachings comes from later writers, notably the biographer Diogenes Laërtius, the Epicurean Roman poet Lucretius and the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus, as well as violent though mainly correct accounts from the Pyrrhonist philosopher Sextus Empiricus, and the statesman and Intellectual Skeptic Cicero. The aim of philosophy for Epicurus was to help people attain a healthy, prosperous existence marked by unity, and free from fear and painlessness. He believed that people would best accept the faith by living a life of self-sufficiency, surrounded by friends. He explained that the source of all human neurosis is fear of death and a desire for people to think that death would be terrible and traumatic, which he claimed would cause excessive distress, self-protective habits and hypocrisy. Death is the death of both body and spirit, according to Epicurus, and so should not be dreaded. Epicurus explained that although there are gods they have no experience in human affairs. He believed that people should act ethically not because the gods blame or praise people for their actions but because they would be burdened with guilt for amoral conduct and prevented from attaining ataraxia. Unlike Aristotle, Epicurus was an empiricist, suggesting he assumed the senses were the universe's only real source of information. Through the earlier philosopher Democritus he studied much about his philosophy and cosmology. Epicurus, like Democritus, taught that the universe is limitless and eternal, and that all matter consists of incredibly small, unseen objects known as atoms. All occurrences in the natural universe originate fundamentally from the motion and touch of atoms in empty space. Though famous from the beginning, the epicurean teachings were controversial. In the late years of the Roman Empire the epicureanism achieved its height of prominence. It died out in the late antiquity and fell under early Christian animosity. In the Middle Ages, Epicurus was popularly viewed as a patron saint of drunkards, whoremongers, and gluttons, though inaccurately. With the rediscovery of critical sources, his ideas slowly became more widely accepted in the fifteenth century. Epicurus was born in February 341 BC, in the Athenian town on the island of Samos Aegean. His parents were both Athens-born Neocles and Chaerestrate and his father was an Athenian citizen. During the last years of the Greek Classical Era the Epicurus grew. Plato died seven years before Epicurus was born, and seven years after when Alexander the Great crossed the Hellespont into Persia. As a boy, a typical ancient Greek education should have been given to Epicurus. Epicurus is known to have been studying under the supervision of Pamphilus, a Samian platonist, possibly for about four years. Throughout his Letter to Menoeceus, he had extensive rhetorical knowledge, and surviving fragments of his other works. Upon Alexander the Great's death, Perdiccas expelled the Athenian inhabitants from Samos to Colophon, on the coast of what now is Turkey.