What Did Epicurus Say About "Gods?" Was Epicurus an "atheist?"

  • According to Philodemus, no.

    "Please always remember my doctrines!" - Epicurus' last words

  • Thanks Hiram -- I intend to link in response to this question some of our earlier discussions. For the time being I have just set these questions up first and will come back to them as time permits.

  • Cassius

    Changed the title of the thread from “Was Epicurus an "atheist?"” to “What Did Epicurus Say About "Gods?" Was Epicurus an "atheist?"”.
  • I know that we are missing numbers of links here to prior discussions about "gods." I will add more as I find them and I invite others to do the same, as people who read the FAQ and follow the link there will find this thread.

  • Epicurus believed that the gods did not interfere with the lives of men.

    For Epicurus the gods are perfectly happy beings. Epicurus invited his disciples to venerate the gods to imitate their happiness.

    I believe that every religion carries with it a part of "wisdom" and that Epicurus does not want to reject religion in its entirety, preferring to save the little good that is in it.

  • Michele since you are an Italian and presumably very in tune with Lucretius ;-)

    Lol! :-)


    How do you interpret the references to Venus in the opening of Book 1 of his poem?

    I don't have enough studies for my opinion to be authoritative. I make a simple hypothesis:

    Venus is the goddess of love. Lucretius wanted to open his book with an ode to Love.

    It is quite common that a deity is mentioned to understand what it represents.

    For example: I love Bacchus = I am a drunkard.

  • Can anybody recommend some material on the Greek gods? I'm a little familiar with the stories of anger, chicanery and such. It would be Interesting to have references to peruse that deal with such things as:


    - stories of the Greek gods

    - Greek gods versus Greek myths: are the myths just stories of the gods?

    - the place of the gods in Greek culture, especially during Epicurus's time


    It might be helpful to see more specifically what the general thinking was that Epicurus was responding to. If so, maybe this subforum is a good place to gather references.

  • That's a great idea and we can pursue it here or in the subforum on "Gods" - The Nature (Non-Existence) of Supernatural Gods - "Atheism" - Epicurean "Divinity"


    As for reference works, I see that Matthaeus posted this thread on Thesiod. I confess I have heard of his work but am not sure whether it is a compendium of material on the gods or what - Hesiod’s Theogony

  • Yep! The Theogony is a pretty solid ancient resource for the Greek deities.


    Cassius , that’s the beauty of avatara, I remain the same, yet each incarnation is different. 😉