Sources (7)

Sources of information on epicureanism -- these are the texts on which modern understanding of this philosophy is based.

Seneca's Letters from a Stoic

Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium better known as Letters from a Stoic, is a collection of letters by Seneca the Younger. Seneca is one of the top Stoic writers, but this book contains ~30 quotations of Epicurus.

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The Wall of Oenoanda

Diogenes of Oenoanda was an epicurean in modern day Turkey (circa 200AD). A wealthy man, and concerned epicurean, he commissioned an inscription that expounds on Epicurus’ teachings on physics, epistemology, and ethics. It was originally about 25,000 words long and filled 260 square meters of wall space. Less than a third of it has been recovered.

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Villa of the Papyri

Like the nearby city of Pompeii, Herculaneum was destroyed and buried under volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Archaeological discoveries include the Villa of the Papyri, an ancient Roman villa, named after its unique library of papyri (or scrolls), discovered in 1750. It contained over 1,800 papyrus scrolls, now carbonised by the heat of the eruption, the “Herculaneum papyri”.

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Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers

Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius (circa 300AD) is a biography of major Greek philosophers, including Book 10 on Epicurus. Contained within are:

  • A letter from Epicurus to Herodotus entitled “A Summary of Physical Nature”
  • A letter from Epicurus to Pythocles entitled “A Summary of Phenomena of the Sky”
  • A letter from Epicurus to Menoeceus entitled “How to Live a Happy Life”
  • The last will of Epicurus, outlining his final thoughts and disposition of his assets (and care of the children)

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Cicero's De Natura Deorum

On the Nature of the Gods by Cicero is written as a dialogue between Cicero and representatives from Epicurean, Stoic and Academic Sceptic schools. Book 1 contains the discourse of Velleius – a Senator and Epicurean – which consists of three parts: a general attack on Platonist and Stoic cosmology; a historical review of the earlier philosophers; and an exposition of Epicurean theology.

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