Work-In-Progress: Topical Guide

  • Overview

    Want to contribute to a thread but only halfway remember that quote you read the other day? To help you with finding quotes and learning more about a given subject, the topical guide below allows you to search through indexed passages using a keyword. Follow the instructions in below in "How to Use" to gain an SQL database containing passages and a desktop browser to help you use it.

    # of Epicurean Indexed Passages: 217

    # of Epicurean Sources Used: 8

    In Use

    Important Information

    This topical guide is still being built.

    Suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated.

    Download Link to SQL Database:…sjql/topicalGuide.db?dl=0

    Please see "How to Use" below for help with using SQL.

    List of Possible Topics:

    Not every topic may have a passage associated with it. The topical guide is still being built. Please have patience.

    Want to help?

    See "Contributing Passages" below, review the topical guide so far, and start reading any of the texts below. Thank you!

    Diogenes Laertius’ Life of Epicurus (

    On the Nature of Things (

    Cicero's "On Ends"

    Cicero's "On The Nature of the Gods"

    And so many more texts!

    Table of Contents

    - How to Use

    o What it Does

    a. Example

    o How to Search

    - Topics

    - SQL Database Contents

    o Currently Used Sources

    o topicalGuide

    o sources

    o topics

    - Contributing Passages

    o How to Index Passages

    o Example

    - Background

    How to Use

    What it Does

    There are two major uses of a topical guide:

    1. Find passages useful for describing certain topics

    2. Find sources or where to look for certain topics

    This is done by searching for topics within the topical guide. For each topic, the guide will display every indexed passage tagged with the topic. Each passage should be useful for describing the topic and have a reference to where it may be found, allowing one to know where to look to learn more about the topic.


    Topic = Limit Desires


    All desires that do not lead to pain when they remain unsatisfied are unnecessary, but the desire is easily got rid of, when the thing desired is difficult to obtain or the desires seem likely to produce harm.

    - Epicurus, Principal Doctrines, 26

    [Shortened for brevity] a correct understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not by adding to life a limitless time, but by taking away the yearning after immortality. [Shortened for brevity]

    - Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus

    If you want to make Pythocles wealthy, don't increase his riches but reduce his desires.

    - Epicurus, Selected Fragments, 135

    These results would go on for as many passages there are in the topical guide tagged with "Limit Desires", since that was the topic selected.

    How to Search

    For every useable topic, please see the separate file, "Topics.txt", located at:

    Assuming one does not have any knowledge of SQL, this section will cover how to install a user-friendly SQL browser and explain how to use it.

    -Installing SQL Browser:-

    1. Go to

    2. Choose and download the correct installer for your machine.

    3. Run the installer.

    -Using SQL Browser:-

    1. Open the SQL browser.

    2. Click on "Open Database" at the top-left. Navigate to and select the .db file you wish to open. To use the topical guide, please download the .db file located at:…sjql/topicalGuide.db?dl=0.

    3. Click on "Browse Data" at the top-left. You may now see and filter through each table and entry within the database.

    a. Use the "Table" dropdown menu to view any table within the database.

    b. Type into the "Filter" textbox underneath any field to display only entries whose fields have the keywords in the textbox. For topics, it is recommended to search for only one topic at a time.


    For every useable topic, please see the separate file, "Topics.txt", located at:

    Not every topic may have a passage associated with it. The topical guide is still being built. Please have patience.

    Make sure you understand a topic's definition before using it. Many of the topics may have unusual definitions since their definitions are based on bible dictionaries and various religions.

    For example, the common definition for compassion makes sympathetic its synonym. This topical guide defines compassion according to biblical definitions and describes it as the desire to actively relieve pain or bring joy to others. If one wanted to find passages on sympathy, they may be find the search difficult if using compassion and may wish to refine or broaden their search with mercy, reverence, charity, and other topics.

    SQL Database Contents

    This section describes what is in the SQL database holding the topical guide.

    Currently Used Sources

    The following list are Epicurean sources with indexed passages:

    Epistles to Lucilius (1 passage)

    Letter to Herodotus

    Letter to Menoeceus

    Letter to Pythocles

    Peter Saint-Andre's Selected Fragments

    Principal Doctrines

    Sayings about the Wise Man

    Vatican Sayings


    Holds every passage and their keywords.

    author: The name of whomever originally wrote the passage.

    passage: A quotation, teaching, or other words.

    source: Where the passage may be found.

    topics: Keywords associated with the passage.

    notes: Information to help users better understand the passage.


    Describes sources referred to in the topical guide.

    title: The name of the text containing passages.

    author: The name of whomever originally created the text.

    translator: The name of whomever converted the text from one language into the source's language.

    datePublication: Whenever the text was first released.

    dateTranslation: Whenever the text was translated.

    links: Where to find the source.

    description: Notes or background concerning the source.


    Lists every possible topics within the topical guide.

    Please see this link for an alternate view of the topics:

    topic: A keyword associated with passages in topicalGuide.

    definition: A description or synonym of a topic.

    occurrences: The number of passages marked with the topic within the topical guide.

    Contributing Passages

    The topical guide may be missing your favorite passages or perhaps even an entire book you liked. Unfortunately, this may be because I have different interests than you or have difficulty understanding certain literature (such as Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things").

    You may fix these gaps within the topical guide. Please read this section to learn how. Thank you.

    I have a simple converter which turns .txt files filled with passages into commands to add to the topical guide.

    This is meant to allow people to take quick notes while reading to index passages without having to worry too much about technical details.

    If you have passages you would like to add to the topical guide, please format them as described below and send your file to me. I will try to add them to the topical guide.

    How to Index Passages

    The converter uses symbols placed at the beginning of each line to tell the computer if the line contains a passage, name of the author, a source, topics pertaining to the passage, or notes.

    These symbols are removed before the content is added to the topical guide. There is no need to place a space before a symbol.

    The order the symbols are placed in does not matter. Whether or not every symbol is used for a given passage does not matter.

    Each passage must have exactly one blank line between it and the next passage to load properly.

    Please use only the topics listed in "Topics.txt" (Link: and make sure you understand the definition of the topic before using it.

    This will improve consistency and prevent problems with not finding passages because of synonyms or disagreements between definitions of topics.

    Additionally, please try to use the links given for sources within the topical guide.

    This will help people find passages attributed to the same source within a single translation (as opposed to searching across multiple translations of the same source).

    If the topical guide gives multiple links for a source, please try to use the first link listed.

    Converter Symbols:

    [None] = Quote

    - = Author

    > = Source

    # = Topics

    * or ^ = Notes


    The following, when placed into a .txt file and fed into the converter, succeeded in converting the passages into SQL commands for adding to the topical guide:

    I summon you to sustained enjoyment and not to empty and trifling virtues, which destroy your confidence in the fruits of what you have.


    >Selected Fragments, 116

    #Soundbite, Indoctrination, Superstition, Long-Term

    {<--- The single blank lines between two passages are necessary!}

    >Principal Doctrines, 16

    Chance seldom interferes with the wise man; his greatest and highest interests have been, are, and will be, directed by reason throughout his whole life.

    *Chance = Misfortune


    #Limit Desires, Humility, Greed

    #Obedience, Long-Term


    Exercise yourself in these and related precepts day and night, both by yourself and with one who is like-minded

    >Letter to Menoeceus


    #Ethics, Hedonism

    Empty is the argument of the philosopher which does not relieve any human suffering.


    Oh no! My post is too long. Do not worry, the "Background" section may be found at:…/Topical%20Guide.txt?dl=0.

    Edited 5 times, last by Daniel Van Orman: Update: 27 new passages and 2 two sources. ().

  • Wow! I will look further into this asap - thanks for posting! So you are basically creating an SQL database for the Epicurean texts? What translations are you using?

    I am pretty familiar with the nature of SQL databases but I usually see them associated with some kind of "Front End" to make them more usable. Do you have a goal for that?

    Also, if I read your post correctly, you pretty much jumped directly into the technical details without explaining much about the background and goals of your project, and how it replaces other resources that might already be available. Can you sort of back up and give us the global view of what you are doing? Thanks very much!

  • I am glad you are excited for this project. I hope it will be useful to many.

    I am creating an SQL database for Epicurean and utilitarian passages/quotes from texts (I am a utilitarian, see the "Background" section for details). The passages have citations and are tagged with topics. One may search using a topic and find a number of passages from multiple sources to find quotes or know where to go to learn more about a topic.

  • I am unfamiliar with creating front ends, but have experience with backends (I am a college student, studying computer science). I do not know to begin creating a front end for an SQL database and I am new to SQL.

    The background and goals of my project are described in the "Background" section, the very last section of the post, which is available at the bottom of this file:…/Topical%20Guide.txt?dl=0 (I use a separate file since I hit the character limit for posts on the forum).

  • Daniel I wonder if you could post some screen shots of the program in use.

    Also, what is the data you are putting into the database? It would probably be helpful to post a list of the source material so that it would be clear what it is possible to find by searching the database.

  • Having a screenshot and list of sources in the post are excellent ideas! Thank you.

    How to input data into the database is explained in the "Contributing Passages" section. Please see the "Example" subsection to see what data my Java converter will take. For quality control, I plan to manage any data going into the master copy of the database.