Episode Two - The Achievement of Epicurus

  • Sounds like Epicureanism needs its own glossary! Is there a good dictionary of Greek and Latin philosophical terms that makes this comparison between schools of thought? (I have one for Sanskrit..) I know there is a reference section for terms here. I will check that out too.

    By the way, being the newbie here, I know I must be asking questions that have been thoroughly addressed in other threads or readings. I take no offence in simply being redirected to those sources if I have missed them. I'm grateful for your patience. :)

    I am particularly interested the Epicurean theology, so I will be reading up on that.

  • Quote

    I found it interesting to look up the Latin for exactly what is being condemned, variously translated as Superstition, or Religion. It is actually "religio" which Martin Furguson Smith annotates as:

    "false religion," not "religion,"... The Epicureans were opposed not to religion, but to the traditional religion which taught that the gods govern the world."

    I believe that's from the Loeb edition?

    I think there is strong tendency to put the cart before the horse with that word. Whether religio should be translated as religion or superstition is of secondary concern. What Lucretius meant for us, his readers, to actually understand by religio, he laid out for us in the surrounding lines and with the story of Iphigenia.

    Religio is believing that:

    -Humans are hemmed in, above and below,

    -In a specially created world

    -By supernatural, intervening gods,

    -(And their oracles and priests),

    -Whose natures are threatening and capricious, and

    -Whose ultimate power is to torment us beyond the grave.

    To follow Epicurus is to believe that:

    -We are free agents,

    -In one natural world among innumerable worlds

    -(Where the gods, if they exist, do not create or intervene),

    -who ignore the priests, choosing instead the philosopher

    -whose foundation is material nature and whose end is pleasure,

    -and for whom death is nothing.

    I probably could have made that a little smoother, but I was aiming for symmetry.

  • Yes, excellent, Joshua. Thank you for your precision! And it is the Loeb edition. Help me with this! It says it is a translation by Rouse but revised by Smith. When people speak of the Martin Ferguson Smith translation, are they talking about this one or a translation that was wholly done by Smith??

  • That's an excellent question, Susan! He is a translator in his own right, as well as the most recent editor of Rouse's translation.

    Here is his translation available on Amazon;


    It was published in 1969, and Professor Smith is still alive. So the text is not in the public domain—unless he's made arrangements that I wouldn't know about.

  • Oh good, I made a good choice, then. (I wanted that Latin on the facing page.)

  • You've done it again, Joshua ! You are a consummate wordsmith, and I so enjoy reading your posts! Pure pleasure!

    You are correct! Getting caught up in the weeds of vocabulary can be a distraction from what is conveyed by the words. "You're asking what kinds of evils can religio do? What religio is?" Lucretius asks. "Didn't I just tell you the story of Iphigenia? That's what I'm talking about!"

  • I have the Loeb edition too, as it is great to have the facing page Latin. But it is my understanding (i hate to say, if Susan just bought the Loeb) that the Hacket edition (the black cover, at the Amazon link) is the most recently-updated version of Martin Ferguson Smith's work. I may be wrong, but I am gathering that the Hacket version is a revised and updated version of his work on the Loeb.

  • Oh this reminds me too, that in my checking it always seemed to me that there ought to be a PDF version of a public domain version of the Loeb Lucretius, as I think several (at least two) editions have been published. But unlike many of the other older Loeb editions, I have not been able to find a PDF of it. Munro and Bailey are easy to find (links here: http://www.newepicurean.com/library ) but not the Loeb.