His labours on Epicurus have a certain historical value, but the want of consistency inherent in the philosophical system raised on Epicureanism is such as to deprive it of genuine worth.
The attitude of Epicurus in this whole matter is antagonistic to science.
The dogmas of Epicurus became to his followers a creed embodying the truths on which salvation depended; and they passed on from one generation to another with scarcely a change or addition.
The moral philosophy of Epicurus is a qualified hedonism, the heir of the Cyrenaic doctrine that pleasure is the good thing in life.
The combative energy, the sense of superiority, the spirit of satire, characteristic of him as a Roman, unite with his loyalty to Epicurus to render him not only polemical but intolerant and contemptuous in his tone toward the great antagonists of his system, the Stoics, whom, while constantly referring to them, he does not condescend even to name.
But the greatest of its Roman names was Lucretius, whose De rerum natura embodies the main teaching of Epicurus with great exactness, and with a beauty which the subject seemed scarcely to allow.
Cudworth criticizes two main forms of materialistic atheism, the atomic, adopted by Democritus, Epicurus and Hobbes; and the hylozoic, attributed to Strato, which explains everything by the supposition of an inward self-organizing life in matter.
When two or more modes of accounting for a phenomena are equally admissible as not directly contradicted by known phenomena, it seems to Epicurus almost a return to the old mythological habit of mind when a savant asserts that the real cause is one and only one.
It is true that the philosophy of Epicurus put great stress on these, as affording the explanation of the origin of supernatural beliefs.
The stories of the Stoics, who sought to refute the views of Epicurus by an appeal to his alleged antecedents and habits, were no doubt in the main, as Diogenes Laertius says, the stories of maniacs.