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While glorified as the ultimate goal by the Stoics and other Hellenistic philosophical schools, virtue was appreciated by Epicurus and his followers instead as instrumental to, and indeed indispensable for ataraxia.

Epicurus believed that one could not possibly be happy without also being virtuous (e.g. prudent, just, law-abiding, etc.) and, conversely, that one could not help but be happy, if one possessed those virtues.

The Epicurean argument for the specifically instrumental function of virtue is often presented by analogy to medicine, i.e. medicine is not valued because of some abstract goodness inherent in it, but because it heals the sick.

Similar analogies were used by Epicurus and his followers in their justification and praise of philosophy.