This thread is the place for discussion of the FAQ found here.
Please consult the links and material on this page, keeping in mind the following preliminary recommendation:
The ancient Epicurean texts that remain to us today are available freely on the internet in many different translations. There are many websites and articles available on the internet with many varying opinions as to the true teachings of Epicurus and many varying evaluations of the merit of those teachings. Unless you are already familiar with the major issues of Greek philosophy, it is very helpful to start the study of Epicurus with a sympathetic overview which attempts to present the full picture of Epicurean philosophy as an ancient Roman or Greek would have known it. That overview can be found in Norman DeWitt’s Epicurus And His Philosophy. Only when you have heard the Epicurean side presented fairly are you equipped to deal with the legions of critics of Epicurus, and only then can you develop your own fair verdict on Epicurus’ conclusions. A taste of Professor DeWitt's approach and assessment of Epicurus can be found in his article “Philosophy For The Millions.”
If you do not have immediate access to DeWitt's book, a second source that provides a very accessible picture of the sweep of Epicurean Philosophy is Frances Wright's A Few Days In Athens. The full book is available here
Wright's book is a fictional story about a young student in ancient Athens attempting to pick from several competing schools, and she does a great job of contrasting Epicurus with the alternatives, especially with stoicism. Wright's book is highly recommended, and like DeWitt does not lead the reader off into a rabbit chase after ataraxia / "absence of pain" as the goal of life.
So as an initial list in the order I would suggest a new student of Epicurus start, I would list:
- "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Norman DeWitt
- "A Few Days In Athens" by Frances Wright