Core Texts

This is a collection of the core texts here at EpicureanFriends for ease of reference. To ask a question or post a comment on any of the individual texts, please post in the appropriate subforum linked in each article. See the bottom of this page for suggestions as to a reading list.


The question of a reading list comes up frequently. You will do yourself a big favor if you start with "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Norman DeWitt, but below are several links to lists of books and discussions of reading suggestions that are freely available.


There are many controversies as to the proper interpretation of Epicurus. If, instead of starting with DeWitt or the primary sources, you choose to read a modern book written in the last 30 years, you will find Epicurus presented to you from the perspective that Epicurus was primarily interested in "absence of pain" rather than "pleasure." That is why many of us at this forum recommend Norman DeWitt's "Epicurus and His Philosophy" as a starting point. DeWitt's perspective is found in the opening chapter of his book which can be read for free here. An article - "Philosophy For The Millions" - summarizing DeWitt's perspective is here.


As an initial list for a new student of Epicurus start, I would suggest the following, in order of priority:


  1. "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Norman DeWitt
  2. The Biography of Epicurus by Diogenes Laertius. This includes the surviving letters of Epicurus, including those to Herodotus, Pythocles, and Menoeceus.
  3. "On The Nature of Things" - by Lucretius (a poetic abridgement of Epicurus' "On Nature"
  4. "Epicurus on Pleasure" - By Boris Nikolsky
  5. The chapters on Epicurus in Gosling and Taylor's "The Greeks On Pleasure."
  6. Cicero's "On Ends" - Torquatus Section
  7. Cicero's "On The Nature of the Gods" - Velleius Section
  8. The Inscription of Diogenes of Oinoanda - Martin Ferguson Smith translation
  9. A Few Days In Athens" - Frances Wright
  10. Lucian Core Texts on Epicurus: (1) Alexander the Oracle-Monger, (2) Hermotimus
  11. Philodemus "On Methods of Inference" (De Lacy version, including his appendix on relationship of Epicurean canon to Aristotle and other Greeks)


Here is a "library" page at NewEpicurean.com with links to where many additional translations are available for free on the internet.