When I have tried to read Lucian in the past I always got bogged down in his “literary” essays, which probably were very funny two thousand years ago, but don’t mean much today. What I have done in this Ebook is compile the essays that refer directly to Epicurus, plus the most meaningful of Lucian’s other essays that have philosophical or religious commentary. In focusing on these it becomes much easier to see that Lucian’s unifying theme is largely Epicurean. His targets are largely the same as those of Lucretius and of course Epicurus himself, and the attacks are very wittily written.
I have some more revisions to the opening essay pending over the next several weeks, and a few more essays to excerpt where I have found illuminating criticisms of Aristotle, Plato, Stoics, etc. In the meantime, this collection of Epicurean passages of Lucian as it stands already is largely complete. The final essay – “Hermotimus” – from which I’ve taken the title of the book, is especially powerful. It does not reference Epicurus directly, but it demolishes the pretensions of philosophers who base their greatest goods on some hypothetical “Virtue” rather than on the standards set by Nature. Thus it seems to me to be a great application of Epicureanism even though it does not reference it by name. I suspect a listener two thousand years ago would have had no trouble identifying his point of reference.