Epitomizing Philosophy and the Critique of Epicurean Popularizers

Erlend D. MacGillivray* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explores the concern in Epicureanism to create brief renderings of its philosophical tenets. It is argued that although the Epicureans were characteristically apprehensive about simplifying their philosophy so that it would appeal to a broad audience, they utilized literary formats such as epitomes to allow new students and well-disposed outsiders to gain an overview of the philosophy. From around 150–50 BCE evidence though emerges that some Epicureans produced heavily abridged and simplistic texts in order to promote the philosophy widely and to ease the induction of new recruits into the school. This study allows the character and intentions of this largely forgotten movement to emerge, and the potential this has for aiding our understanding of the dissemination of philosophy and intellectual ideas in antiquity to be highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-54
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Ancient History
Issue number1
Early online date29 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Epitomes
  • Epicureanism
  • Ancient Philosophy
  • Philodemus
  • Cicero


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