Essential Epicurus: Letters, Principal Doctrines, Vatican Sayings and Fragments (Great Books in Philosophy) Paperback – 19 May 1993
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Epicureanism is commonly regarded as the refined satisfaction of physical desires. As a philosophy, however, it also denoted the striving after an independent state of mind and body, imperturbability, and reliance on sensory data as the true basis of knowledge. Epicurus (ca. 341-271 B.C.) founded one of the most famous and influential philosophical schools of antiquity. In these remains of his vast output of scientific and ethical writings, we can trace Epicurus' views on atomism, physical sensation, duty, morality, the soul, and the nature of the gods.
About the Author
EPICURUS (341 - 271 B.C.E.) was an Athenian philosopher of the Hellenistic period, who was born on the Aegean island of Samos off the coast of present-day Turkey. At age eighteen, he moved to Athens to complete a compulsory two-year term of military service and thereafter began studying philosophy under Nausiphanes of Teos. This teacher, at the time a follower of Democritus, proved to have considerable influence on Epicurus's thinking. Nonetheless, Epicurus later criticized some of the ideas of Nausiphanes and claimed to be mainly self-taught. After this period of study, he taught briefly in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos and then founded a school in Lampsacus on the Hellespont before returning to Athens in 306 B.C.E. There he purchased a house with a garden that became the site of a school and commune thereafter known as "The Garden." It admitted both men and women, slave and free. Located midway between the famous Athenian Stoa and the Academy founded by Plato, the school and the philosophy taught there by Epicurus attracted many students and continued to be influential for centuries after his death.
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This book is mostly useful for scholars of antiquity - NOT for the educated reader. - The title of the book seems to indicate something different which is why this review lands on two stars.
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Letter to Herodotus
Letter to Pythocles
Letter to Menoeceus
Here are the discrepancies:
Letter to Idomeneus is missing.
Last Will is missing.
Ideas for Life is missing.
Fragments is extra.
What's important to the average reader though is whether this is the book you should pick up to learn about him. The short answer is yes, the longer one is that it is not enough.
The book has a fairly weak introduction that doesn't provide much context. The author would have been well-served to have included the entirety of Laertius' essay on Epicurus to which he dedicated a large portion to in his biography of great philosophers.
Otherwise, the translation is good and the organization is helpful. The book is structured like a college reader - no frills, thin paper and a drab cover. It has all of Epicurus' fragments, letters and writings. Unfortunately many of the best ones are cut off or lost so we have to make due with what is left.
A first time reader or student looking to introduce themselves to Epicurus could do worse than starting here. I often refer back to my copy.