One project that has been percolating in the background here at NewEpicurean.com is a reading list for new students of Epicureanism.
Note: This post is very much in need of updating. Until it is revised, please check the FAQ/Discussion at Epicureanfriends.com here.
The original source material left to us today includes texts that are very clear and understandable, but often wrapped under so many layers of historical context that readers today find the core principles difficult to ferret out.
And so, as a modest proposal, think about this: What would an Epicurean of 250 AD, knowing that he had available as texts only copies of Diogenes Laertius’ biography, Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura, and the letters of Cicero, recommend for new students to explain the basic principles of Epicureanism?
Each bullet is an excerpt from the original text.
- Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura – Book IV: The Senses are Reliable, Reality is Knowable, and Knowledge of Reality is the Key to Human Life
- Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura – Book I: The Significance Of Epicurus, The Danger Of Religion, And The Foundational Observation of Epicurean Analysis – Nothing Comes From Nothing, Nothing Goes To Nothing, And Therefore The Universe Is Eternal And Was Not Created By Any Force Outside Itself
- Epicurus’ Letter to Herodotus, from Diogenes Laertius’ Biography: The World We See Around Us Operates By Natural Processes
- Epicurus’ Letter to Pythocles, from Diogenes Laertius’ Biography: The Entire Universe Operates By Natural Processes
- Epicurus’ Letter to Menoeceus, from Diogenes Laertius’ Biography: How Men Should Live
- Marcus Tullius Cicero’s De Finibus – On Ends: A Defense of Man’s Pursuit of Happiness
- The Principal Doctrines, from Diogenes Laertius’s Biography of Epicurus: Nature’s Rules For Human Life
- Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura – Book III: Understanding Death
- Epicurus’ Description of the Wise Man, from Diogenes Laertius’ Biography: An Illustration Of The Correct Application of the Lessons of Nature