The Best Books On Epicureanism

John Sellars Author Of The Pocket Epicurean
By John Sellars

The Books I Picked & Why

The Art of Happiness

By Epicurus

The Art of Happiness

Why this book?

Epicurus wrote a series of letters summarizing his philosophy and we also have a couple of sets of short aphorisms that report key ideas. All of these are translated in this volume, along with the ancient biography of Epicurus and a substantial introduction. For any one keen to learn more about Epicureanism, the first thing to reader are his letters, especially the Letter to Menoeceus and the Letter to Herodotus.


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On the Nature of Things

By Lucretius, Martin F. Smith, W. H. D. Rouse

On the Nature of Things

Why this book?

Lucretius’ poem De rerum natura is the longest ancient work we have outlining Epicurean ideas. It’s also a masterpiece in its own right, covering everything from the origins of the cosmos, the rise and fall of civilizations, and the development of human culture to the nature of sensation and how to think about death. There are numerous translations out there; this one is a reliable translation into prose that has the original Latin verse on the facing page, along with helpful notes.


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Epicureanism: A Very Short Introduction

By Catherine Wilson

Epicureanism: A Very Short Introduction

Why this book?

Wilson’s Very Short Introduction is a great overview of the central themes in Epicurean philosophy. If you want to learn more about Epicurean atomism, knowledge, the nature of the mind, politics, and ethics, then this book will give you a solid foundation and references to further academic reading.


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How to Be Content: An Ancient Poet's Guide for an Age of Excess

By Horace, Stephen Harrison

How to Be Content: An Ancient Poet's Guide for an Age of Excess

Why this book?

The Roman poet Horace was influenced by Epicurean ideas and they often feature in his work. This book forms a nice introduction to Horace and his works, with carefully chosen selections in both English and the original Latin. Horace might not be the first place that someone curious about Epicureanism would look, but he’s well worth reading, both in his own right and as a Epicurean author. 


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The Library of the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum

By David Sider

The Library of the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum

Why this book?

In the first century BC an Epicurean community developed in the Bay of Naples area. A key figure in this community was Philodemus, an Epicurean philosopher originally from Jordan who had studied at the Epicurean Garden in Athens. His patron owned a villa near the town of Herculaneum and his library contained numerous works by both Philodemus and Epicurus himself. When Vesuvius erupted in the next century the villa was buried, only to be discovered in the eighteenth century. Since then, scholars have recovered and deciphered the burnt papyri from the villa’s library, discovering a whole host of otherwise lost Epicurean texts. David Sider’s wonderful book tells this story in a detailed by accessible way, all lavishly illustrated.


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