55 - The Constant Gardener: Epicurus and his Principles

Peter begins to examine the philosophy of Epicurus, focusing on his empiricist theory of knowledge and his atomic physics.

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Further Reading: 

• C. Bailey, Epicurus: the Extant Remains (Oxford: 1926).

• S. Everson, “Epicurus on the Truth of the Senses,” in S. Everson (ed.), Companions to Ancient Thought 3: Epistemology (Cambridge: 1990), 161-83.

• D. Furley, “Knowledge of Atoms and Void in Epicureanism,” in J.P. Anton and G.L. Kustas (eds), Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy (Albany: 1971), 607-19.

• D. Glidden, “Epicurean Prolepsis,” Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 3 (1985), 175-217.

• J.M. Rist, Epicurus: an Introduction (Cambridge: 1972).

• G. Vlastos, “Minimal Parts in Epicurean Atomism,” Isis 56 (1965), 121-47.

• J. Warren (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism (Cambridge: 2009).

Stanford Encyclopedia: Epicurus

Sam Glenn's picture

Epicurious' Birthday

So, what is his birthday?

Love your podcast.

Peter Adamson's picture

Happy birthday Epicurus

Hi Sam,

Funny you ask, in my original script I had him being born in January and it said "you should clear a space on your calendar each January..." in the first paragraph. But then when I was revising before recording it I couldn't remember where I had this from, and couldn't find it in any of the books I had here... so I took it out. But I think it's probably January, I was just playing on the safe side.



CarolA's picture

Epicurus birthday

I saw a book on Google Books -  "Paradosis and Survival: three chapters in the history of Epicurean philosophy"  by Diskin Clay.  This says the date was on the tenth day of the month of Gamelion - whenever that was!  This was apparently quoted from Epicurus' will. 

Gamelion seems to run from about mid January to mid February so January sounds reasonable. (About the 25th?)

Peter Adamson's picture


Thanks Carol -- it's coming back to me now, there was some mention of the month Gamelion in what I read. So I guess I should have been brave and stuck to my original text! I suspect I found the date in the Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism edited by James Warren (which is really good by the way, I found it helpful).


CarolA's picture

Thanks for the book tip - and

Thanks for the book tip - and it is in our Uni library.  Something to read over the summer break.

Felix's picture

Book recommendations

I really like the sound of Epicurus - friends, conversation and atomism. I would like to get a book on this 'school'. (I have noticed the 'further reading' list on epsiode 55)

FolIowing your recommendation I purchased James Warren's 'Presocratics' and really liked it. And the cover was really nice!

I was wondering whether you had read any of the other books in the 'Ancient Philosophies' series and would care to recommend any?


By the way, it was great to hear you, Angie Hobbs and James Warren discussing Heraclitus on In Our Time today. :-)


Peter Adamson's picture


Thanks to alert listener Charles Snyder for pointing out that, when I say (4:11) that Epicurus was born 6 years after Aristotle died, I meant to say 6 years after Plato died!