I’ve had an amazingly productive last several weeks thanks to the kindness of the people from the Loyola University library, who allowed me access to very rare books: the translations and commentaries of the Philodemus scrolls. Some of these works are impossible to find online, others are prohibitively expensive. The last time I checked, the translation of On Piety was going for $250 on amazon. Although I’m not a student at Loyola, being a neighbor I’m not allowed to take the books out but I can spend time at the library and read them.
It’s extremely unfortunate that the writings of Philodemus are so inaccessible to the common man. His scrolls are the intellectual legacy of all of humanity. Philodemus taught Epicurean philosophy in Italy during the first century BCE. A collection of his scrolls was kept in library from the city of Herculaneum, which was destroyed (along with Pompeii) by the Mount Vesuvius eruption during the first century. However, his scrolls were in recent times recovered and many of the fragments have been deciphered.
I’ve taken it upon myself to read, distill and write commentaries on the scroll as they’ve become available to me over the months. The result of my work is the updated
Philodemus Series, which is live on the Society of Friends of Epicurus webpage and will continue to be updated over the coming weeks.
These teachings represent a second layer of Epicurean tradition and history that evolved away from Greece during the Roman era in the days of Lucretius. Unlike the original founders, Philodemus was teaching to wealthy Romans and his teachings reflect the changing audience and the adaptability of our philosophy.
I hope you take advantage of the availability of this content … and share the love on your social media!