A Novel of Mythos and Desire in Ancient Greece

in Love

The Epicuriana

Paul B. Donovan

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ISBN # 978-0-578-69786-4, Copyright © 2022 by Paul Donovan. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means whatsoever without the prior written permission of the author.

Published by The Euphorion Press


 the Epicuriana

The gently smoking cone blows its top, belching flames and molten debris. Suffocating rains of ash, pumice, and blistering hot gases shower down on the unfortunate luxury resort, amid rivers of lava.

Breaking news, with the byline of climate change, Live from CNN — No, this is 79 AD. Vesuvius, the sacred mountain of Hercules, engulfs the Roman city of Pompeii, burying everything and everyone. Miraculously, a papyrus scroll, carbonized but still intact, lies buried under the ruins of a collapsed seaside villa.

Given up as vanished forever, the fabled ‘Epicuriana’ is painfully assembled, letter by letter — a riveting tale of action-adventures, loves, and losses from the ‘The Golden Age’ of classical Greece — told firsthand as a novel by Epicurus of Samos. The long-lost scroll comes to life once again: an offbeat portrayal of Epicurus unbuttoned, wild and passionate alike in his humanist beliefs and feelings,….a smasher of idols! The same young philosopher from humble origins, who more than any other, trod in the footsteps of Socrates.

Meanwhile, Hubris meets Eros: Servilia, his childhood sweetheart — born to a world of luxury — turns back to the myths of the far distant past, particularly the cult of Demeter at Eleusis. Destiny and Love, each pull in different directions, greedy of time and devotion. Servilia becomes a celebrated priestess….but not before composing a heartfelt poem, ‘Where Love Lies’, pleading for their union.

Book-ending two romances, classical Athens and 21st century Boston, the storyline pays homage to the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries — tracing the ceaseless synchronicity of chance encounters that may take minutes or millennia to play out. Eschewing coincidences — every step we take, every small act of generosity, is not without meaning!


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Paul B. Donovan, Ph.D, draws upon his lifelong interest in the Greek Golden Age and the wish — using the narrative possibilities of a novel — to bring its impressive cast of players back from the dusty-dry history books, back to the vibrant if sometimes messy lives of everyday human beings. His love of all things Greco spills over into ‘The Epicuriana’ of 73,000 words, each torturously written at a snails-pace — limited by the author’s one-finger keyboarding. A digitus accident waiting to happen perhaps, bringing his scribbling days to an inglorious end? Given to offbeat humor, he lives in rural Maine with his partner-in-crime, the scholarly Dr. Pamela S. Pease — a two-handed keyboarder, no less.

Interview Quote: “As for Epicurus, I think of him sometimes in the role of ‘Court-Jester’, the crazy-but-wise clown, teasing us mischievously with his love of paradox and aphorisms, inviting us to look at things in fresh ways. There are times for example, when I get bored with textbook history — following Epicurus, I find myself playing mind-games on a whim, toying with his Epicurean proverbs:

Athens, 273 BC — As Epicurus said offhandedly, coining one of famous aphorisms: “Facebook is bad for You.”

I wonder conceitedly, bending the man to suit the message, if Epicurus was made of the same wonky stuff as me. Heaven Forbid!


It is Deeply Character-Driven

“The Epicuriana is clearly very well researched, drawing on a rather substantial bibliography. There are many interesting sequences throughout the novel — it certainly has the ability to evoke emotion in the reader and I found myself hooting and laughing and having other pleasant emotional responses occasionally throughout the reading.”

– Society of Friends of Epicurus

The Story Really makes You think

“A lovely personal story which mirrors the struggles and doubts of many of us today, but comes a full circle when we reflect on the past and the present. I still find it so interesting that Epicurus struggles within himself, doubts and successes….repeated through the ages — perhaps we should spend time to look back, but we are in too much of a hurry to make our own mistakes!”

– Unsolicited Reviewers

The novel has so many twists, turns and surprises, which make for a thriller, but then the Greek gods work in mysterious ways!

“I just finished reading Epicurus in Love and liked it very much. I was impressed by the author’s literary ability to trace the evolution of Epicurean philosophy through the first-person narrative of Epicurus and his love affair with Servilia.
Such observations, especially regarding intimate family connections, are as applicable today as they were in ancient times! Which is a great feat. Bravo!”

– Emile A. Nakhleh, Ph.D.
Life Member, Council on Foreign Relations


 the Book

Finally, but not least: a few words about the cache of wood-cut engravings scattered throughout ‘The Epicuriana’. Incisive yet naively charming, the engravings come replete with an alluring story — the fateful collaboration between a zealous, eccentric pioneer and his gifted master engraver, at the dawn of ancient Greek ethnography. Anthony Rich, B.A., Esquire, was a proper English ‘gentleman-scholar’ in the stiff-upper-lip Victorian tradition, during the heyday of the British Empire. A graduate of Cambridge University and confidant of Charles Darwin, Mr. Rich spent seven years roaming and documenting Greco-Roman curiosities with the blind dedication of a proverbial bower-bird, eventually publishing his weighty tome in 1849. Fifty of Mr. Rich’s antiquarian woodcuts, courtesy of The Library of Congress, are embedded in the pages of ‘Epicurus in Love — The Epicuriana’.

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