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Epicurean Theology/Philosophy

Post  spokane89 on Wed Jun 25, 2014 12:37 am

I am wanting to read up more on Epicureans and their belief system, forms of worship etc etc; was just wondering if anyone has knowledge a few primary sources for them?
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Re: Epicurean Theology/Philosophy

Post  Erodius on Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:22 am

spokane89 wrote:I am wanting to read up more on Epicureans and their belief system, forms of worship etc etc; was just wondering if anyone has knowledge  a few primary sources for them?

Not a great deal of original Epicurean texts have survived (although the discovery of a preserved library of an evidently wealthy Epicurean at Herculaneum in Italy has given us a variety of Epicurean writings that are in the process of being catalogued and translated).

The only complete, purely Epicurean text I know of is the long poem On the Nature of Things by the Roman Epicurean Lucretius, which, over it's almost 8,000 lines, discusses just about every aspect of Epicurean philosophy, so I am told. I have never read it, although I did have a professor who would often mention how awful it is to read in Latin.

It's available freely here:

It's a fairly common text for philosophy students and scholars, so if you're really into Epicureanism, I'm sure you can find a variety of hardcopies on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

There are a few other Classical sources that mention or discuss Epicureanism, though aren't themselves Epicurean. Several are available here:

You asked about Epicurean theology and worship, though – those are sort of paradoxical questions  Laughing . Epicureanism is essentially non-theistic. Although it does not totally deny the existence of gods (though sometimes it does seem to come close to open atheism), Epicureanism does usually reject religious practice or worship as being pointless. The sum total of Epicurean theology is essentially "if the Gods exist at all, they are far away, and cannot/will not intervene in the world anyhow." As such, 'Epicurean worship' is a bit of a self-contradiction; Epicureans didn't worship.  Wink

"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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