Peace and Safety to the Epicureans of today, no matter where you might be!
For today’s Twentieth of March post I had in mind going back to what I consider one of the most important sections of Lucretius, from Book IV, starting around line 460 – the area that is concerned with validating the reliability of the senses. I’ll come back to that in the future, but for now I found something that I was not aware existed. I want to make sure that all fans of Epicurus are aware that the best, most readable, most up-to-date, and most authoritative translation of Epicurus has recently been made available in EPUB/Digital format for much easier reference!
I can’t say how late-breaking this news is, but I know I have looked for this edition in the past without success. Hackett Publishing, which distributes this for Mr. Smith, has an excellent page on the book, and I see that is available from all the major sources, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and even Nook Study. This version is extensively annotated, and I see that the digital version has the notes well hyperlinked.
If you have never studied Lucretius, this is the version you want for your library. My humble advice is that no one is well served by going for one of the poetic translations until they have a firm grounding in the meaning of the text. The Martin Ferguson Smith version is the place to get that grounding.
Once one has an understanding of the big picture of the material, poetic translations are valuable also. There, the one I recommend is the version by Rolfe Humphries, which is also now in Epub/Digital at Amazon. Although in my view this is by far the best poetic version, I am disappointed with this ebook edition. It omits the introduction by Burton Feldman, omits the line number references, and even includes cover art that does not live up to the paperback version. In its favor is that this is the same text used by Charlton Griffin for the Audible audiobook edition, which is also available separately on Amazon.
Except for the biography of Diogenes Laertius, there is nothing more important for one’s understanding of Epicurus than getting familiar with Lucretius. The argument, and perhaps more importantly, the method and progression of argument illustrated in Lucretius, is our best preserved source for applied Epicureanism.
In my own free epubs I present translations by Cyril Bailey and Hugh Munro in epub format. Comparison of different translations is very helpful for bringing out shades of meaning. But if you only had access to one edition, this one by Martin Ferguson Smith is the one to get!
Peace and safety to you all!
As Seneca recorded: Sic fac omnia tamquam spectet Epicurus! So do all things as though watching were Epicurus!
And as Philodemus wrote: “I will be faithful to Epicurus, according to whom it has been my choice to live.“