The Philodemus Series

I learned about the papyri from the villa at Herculaneum and their importance while doing research for my book, Tending the Epicurean Garden, where I dedicate a chapter to fiscal and spiritual autarchy, and delve a bit into the need for reinventing labor and retirement in our society now that machines are replacing us, and elsewhere discuss the complexities of Epicurean friendship. Two of Philodemus’ scrolls dealt with economy and frank speech, which got me thinking about what would be the ideal professions and means of making a living for an Epicurean philosopher living in contemporary society and with modern labor conditions. The following is the fruit of these reasonings:

On Philodemus’ Art of Property Management (Part I)
On Philodemus’ Art of Property Management (Part II)

Reasonings about Philodemus’ On Frank Criticism:

(Part I) The Role of Frankness in a Philosophy of Freedom and Friendship
(Part II) The Masters as Moral Models
(Part III) Against the Charlatans

The Reasonings about Philodemus’ On Piety conclude, as in the case of On Property Management, with seven general teachings related to Piety and with an invitation to an ecumenic conversation between theists and Epicureans. His work On Death is, in my view, the greatest and most useful masterpiece in the application of personal ethics.

(Part I) Against the Accusers
(Part II) Doctrine of Harm and Benefits of the Gods, Against the Theologians
(Part III) On the Purpose of Religion and On Whether It’s Natural and Necessary
(Part IV) Socrates and the Live Unknown Maxim; Against the Atheists; Conclusion

Reasonings about On Death

Other works:

Reasonings About On Methods of Inference

Reasonings About Rhetorica

Reasonings On Anger

Reasonings about On Arrogance

Reasonings About On the Stoics

Reasonings About On Music

Reasonings About The Poems

Reasonings About Philodemus’ On Choices and Avoidances:

(Part I) Doctrine of the Principal Things

(Part II) Imaginary Evils

(Part III) Against Existing Only to Die

In addition to Philodemus’ works, the Library at Herculaneum included works by others. The works at the library were charred when Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year 79, but fragments have been rescued and deciphered over the last few centuries and recent scientific breakthroughs give us hope that more content will soon be desciphered. It’s possible that this collection of Herculaneum scrolls may continue to expand in the future.

The following is based on Polystratus, who was the third Scholarch of the Athenian Garden. Two extant scrolls by him were found at Herculaneum. Here, he expounds a doctrine of hedonist moral realism, and argues that the cultivation of virtue without the study of nature–which we frequently see in many religions–is not profitable and degenerates into superstitious fear and slavery.

Reasonings About Polystratus’ On Irrational Contempt

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