Angie Hobbs, David Sedley and James Warren join Melvyn Bragg to discuss Epicureanism, the system of philosophy based on the teachings of Epicurus and founded in Athens in the fourth century BC. Epicurus outlined a comprehensive philosophical system based on the idea that everything in the Universe is constructed from two phenomena: atoms and void. At the centre of his philosophy is the idea that the goal of human life is pleasure, by which he meant not luxury but the avoidance of pain. His followers were suspicious of marriage and politics but placed great emphasis on friendship. Epicureanism became influential in the Roman world, particularly through Lucretius's great poem De Rerum Natura, which was rediscovered and widely admired in the Renaissance.


Angie Hobbs
Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield

David Sedley
Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Cambridge

James Warren
Reader in Ancient Philosophy at the University of Cambridge

Producer: Thomas Morris.

Release date:

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 7 Feb 2013 21:30

Related topics


Professor Angie Hobbs at the University of Sheffield


Professor David Sedley at the University of Cambridge


Dr James Warren at the University of Cambridge


Epicureanism – Wikipedia





S. Gillespie and P. Hardie (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius (Cambridge University Press, 2007)


S. Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began (Bodley Head, 2011)


B. Inwood, L. Gerson and D. Hutchinson, The Epicurus Reader (Hackett 1994)


A. A. Long and D. N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers (Cambridge University Press, 1987)


T. O’Keefe, Epicureanism (Acumen Press, 2010)


D. Sider, The Library of the Villa Dei Papiri at Herculaneum (Getty Publishing, 2005)


J. Warren (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism (Cambridge University Press, 2009)


J. Warren, Epicurus and Democritean Ethics: An Archaeology of Ataraxia (Cambridge University Press, 2002)


J. Warren, Facing Death: Epicurus and his Critics (Oxford University Press, 2004)


C. Wilson, Epicureanism at the Origins of Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2008)


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