Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Epicurus and Epicureanism (PGHC11181)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAn advanced introductory survey of Ancient Epicureanism. Students will mainly use source materials in translation. When students have the requisite language skills, they may also work from original Greek and Latin sources.
Course description Ancient Epicureanism was one of the main philosophical schools of Antiquity, and the one whose outlook, at least superficially, is the most comparable to modern popular attitudes on life, death, morality and justice. The course will aim to provide an accurate picture of Ancient Epicureanism, including areas where it does not match up to current attitudes.

List of weekly lectures or presentations, by topic

1. The Man and his School: a) biography b) school c) nature of our evidence

2. Philosophy before Epicurus: a) Democritean Atomism b) Ethics and Pleasure

3. Epicurus on scientific method.

4. Atoms and void: Epicurean atomism.

5. Pleasure and Ethics.

6. Mortality: Soul and Body.

7. Agency and Freedom.

8. Society, friendship and free speech (parrhesia).

9. Cosmology and anti-teleology.

10. Gods and Religion.

After the first three sessions, presented by the lecturer, students will be asked to research and present one topic each. Normally, this will then lead to their essay, although students are not obliged to write on the topic if they wish to pursue something else. Each session should last for about 1h30 - 2hrs, consisting of about one hour of lecturing, followed by group discussion. The lecturer will cover all topics not assigned to a student.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs 1 course text, A.A. Long and D. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, vol. 1
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate in seminars and the essay a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning Ancient Epicureanism, including close, historically informed reading of philosophical texts
  2. Demonstrate in seminars and the essay an ability to analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning ancient Epicureanism, primary source materials concerning Epicurus and his school, conceptual discussions about modern and ancient ideals; the use of philosophical doctrine as a guide to practical conduct and philosophical allegiance within the Greco-Roman world and the links between ancient philosophy and religion
  3. Demonstrate in seminar participation and the essay an ability to understand and apply specialised research or professional skills, techniques and practices considered in the course
  4. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form in seminar discussions, presentations by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course, including awareness of the difficulties of dealing with fragmentary texts
  5. Demonstrate in seminar discussions, presentations, and the essay originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy
Reading List
* Algra, K., Barnes, J., Mansfeld, J., and Schofield, M. eds. (1999) The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy, Cambridge (CHCP: chapters 8, 11, 12, 16 and 20 deal directly with Epicureanism, while others do in part)

Clay, D. (1998) Paradosis and Survival: three Chapters in the History of Epicurean philosophy, Ann Arbor

Cooper, J. (2012) Pursuits Of Wisdom, Princeton [general history of ancient ethics/the good life: 'Epicurean life' on pp. 226-76]

Erler, M. (1994) "Epikur" and "Die Schule Epikurs" in H. Flashar, ed. Die Hellenistische philosophie, Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie, Basel, vol. 4/1, 29-490

Furley, D., ed.(1997), From Aristotle to Augustine, London, (pp. 188-221 by S. Everson on Epicureanism)

Long, A.A. (1974) Hellenistic Philosophy, London (Epicurus is pp. 14-74)

* Morel, P.M.(2006) 'Epicureanism' in M.L. Gill and P. Pellegrin eds. (2006) A Companion to Ancient Philosophy, London

* O'Keefe, T. (2010) Epicureanism, Acumen/Durham

Rist, J. (1972) Epicurus, Cambridge

Sedley, D, (1998) Lucretius and the Transformation of Greek Wisdom, Cambridge (ch. 4 attempts a reconstruction of On Nature)

Sharples, R.W. (1996) Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics, ch. 1, London

* Warren, J. (2010) The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism, Cambridge (=CCE)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsEpicurus Epicireanism
Course organiserDr Simon Trepanier
Tel: (0131 6)50 3589
Course secretaryMiss Danielle Jeffery
Tel: (0131 6)50 7128
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information