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Titus Lucretius
Lucretius
Carus (/ˈtaɪtəs lʊˈkriːʃəs/; c. 15 October 99 BC – c. 55 BC) was a Roman poet and philosopher. His only known work is the philosophical poem De rerum natura, a didactic work about the tenets and philosophy of Epicureanism, and which is usually translated into English as On the Nature of Things. Lucretius
Lucretius
has been credited with originating the concept of the three-age system which was formalised from 1834 by C. J. Thomsen. Very little is known about Lucretius's life; the only certain fact is that he was either a friend or client of Gaius Memmius, to whom the poem was addressed and dedicated.[1] De rerum natura
De rerum natura
was a considerable influence on the Augustan poets, particularly Virgil
Virgil
(in his Aeneid
Aeneid
and Georgics, and to a lesser extent on the Eclogues) and Horace.[2] The work virtually disappeared during the Middle Ages, but was rediscovered in 1417 in a monastery in Germany[3] by Poggio Bracciolini
Poggio Bracciolini
and it played an important role both in the development of atomism ( Lucretius
Lucretius
was an important influence on Pierre Gassendi)[4] and the efforts of various figures of the Enlightenment era to construct a new Christian humanism.

Contents

1 Life 2 De rerum natura

2.1 Reception

3 See also 4 Notes 5 References 6 Bibliography 7 External links

Life[edit]

And now, good Memmius, receptive ears And keen intelligence detached from cares I pray you bring to true philosophy

De rerum natura
De rerum natura
(tr. Melville) 1.50

If I must speak, my noble Memmius, As nature's majesty now known demands

De rerum natura
De rerum natura
(tr. Melville) 5.6

Virtually nothing is known about the life of Lucretius, and there is insufficient basis for a confident assertion of the date of Lucretius's birth or death in other sources. Another yet briefer note is found in the Chronicon of Donatus's pupil, Jerome. Writing four centuries after Lucretius's death, he enters under the 171st Olympiad: "Titus Lucretius
Lucretius
the poet is born."[5] If Jerome
Jerome
is accurate about Lucretius's age (43) when Lucretius
Lucretius
died (discussed below), it can then be concluded he was born in 99 or 98 BC.[6][7] Less specific estimates place the birth of Lucretius
Lucretius
in the 90s BC and death in the 50s BC,[8][9] in agreement with the poem's many allusions to the tumultuous state of political affairs in Rome
Rome
and its civil strife. Lucretius
Lucretius
was probably a member of the aristocratic gens Lucretia, and his work shows an intimate knowledge of the luxurious lifestyle in Rome.[10] Lucretius' love of the countryside invites speculation that he inhabited family-owned rural estates, as did many wealthy Roman families, and he certainly was expensively educated with a mastery of Latin, Greek, literature, and philosophy.[10] A brief biographical note is found in Aelius Donatus's Life of Virgil, which seems to be derived from an earlier work by Suetonius.[11] The note reads: "The first years of his life Virgil
Virgil
spent in Cremona until the assumption of his toga virilis on his 17th birthday (when the same two men held the consulate as when he was born), and it so happened that on the very same day Lucretius
Lucretius
the poet passed away." However, although Lucretius
Lucretius
certainly lived and died around the time that Virgil
Virgil
and Cicero
Cicero
flourished, the information in this particular testimony is internally inconsistent: If Virgil
Virgil
was born in 70 BC, his 17th birthday would be in 53. The two consuls of 70 BC, Pompey
Pompey
and Crassus, stood together as consuls again in 55, not 53. Another yet briefer note is found in the Chronicon of Donatus's pupil, Jerome. Writing four centuries after Lucretius's death, Jerome
Jerome
contends in the aforementioned Chronicon that Lucretius
Lucretius
"was driven mad by a love potion, and when, during the intervals of his insanity, he had written a number of books, which were later emended by Cicero, he killed himself by his own hand in the 44th year of his life."[5] The claim that he was driven mad by a love potion, although defended by such scholars as Reale and Catan,[12] is often dismissed as the result of historical confusion,[1] or anti-Epicurean bias.[13] In some accounts the administration of the toxic aphrodisiac is attributed to his wife Lucilia. Regardless, Jerome's image of Lucretius
Lucretius
as a lovesick, mad poet continued to have significant influence on modern scholarship until quite recently, although it now is accepted that such a report is inaccurate.[14] De rerum natura[edit] Main article: De rerum natura

A manuscript of De Rerum Natura in the Cambridge University Library collection.

De rerum natura
De rerum natura
(1570)

His poem De rerum natura
De rerum natura
(usually translated as "On the Nature of Things" or "On the Nature of the Universe") transmits the ideas of Epicureanism, which includes Atomism and psychology. Lucretius
Lucretius
was the first writer to introduce Roman readers to Epicurean philosophy.[15] The poem, written in some 7,400 dactylic hexameters, is divided into six untitled books, and explores Epicurean physics through richly poetic language and metaphors. Lucretius
Lucretius
presents the principles of atomism; the nature of the mind and soul; explanations of sensation and thought; the development of the world and its phenomena; and explains a variety of celestial and terrestrial phenomena. The universe described in the poem operates according to these physical principles, guided by fortuna, "chance", and not the divine intervention of the traditional Roman deities.[16] Within this work, Lucretius
Lucretius
makes reference to the cultural and technological development of man in his use of available materials, tools and weapons through prehistory to Lucretius' own time. He specifies the earliest weapons as hands, nails and teeth. These were followed by stones, branches and, once man could kindle and control it, fire. He then refers to "tough iron" and copper in that order but goes on to say that copper (sic) was the primary means of tilling the soil and the basis of weaponry until, "by slow degrees", the iron sword became predominant (it still was in his day) and "the bronze sickle fell into disrepute" as iron ploughs were introduced.[17] He had earlier envisaged a pre-technological, pre-literary kind of man whose life was lived "in the fashion of wild beasts roaming at large".[18] From this beginning, he theorised, there followed the development in turn of crude huts, use and kindling of fire, clothing, language, family and city-states. He believed that smelting of metal, and perhaps too the firing of pottery, was discovered by accident: for example, the result of a forest fire. He does specify, however, that the use of copper (sic) followed the use of stones and branches and preceded the use of iron.[18] Lucretius
Lucretius
seems to equate copper with bronze, an alloy of copper and tin that has much greater resilience than copper; both copper and bronze were superseded by iron during his millennium (1000BC to 1BC). He may have considered bronze to be a stronger variety of copper and not necessarily a wholly individual material. Lucretius
Lucretius
is believed to be the first to put forward a theory of the successive usages of first wood and stone, then copper and bronze, and finally iron. Although his theory lay dormant for many centuries, it was revived in the nineteenth century and he has been credited with originating the concept of the three-age system which was formalised from 1834 by C. J. Thomsen.[19] Reception[edit] In a letter by Cicero
Cicero
to his brother Quintus in February 54 BC, Cicero said: "The poems of Lucretius
Lucretius
are as you write: they exhibit many flashes of genius, and yet show great mastership."[20] In the work of another author in late Republican Rome, Virgil
Virgil
writes in the second book of his Georgics, apparently referring to Lucretius,[21] "Happy is he who has discovered the causes of things and has cast beneath his feet[a] all fears, unavoidable fate, and the din of the devouring Underworld."[22] See also[edit]

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, a modern historiography by Stephen Greenblatt List of English translations of De rerum natura

Notes[edit]

^ subiecit pedibus; cf. Lucretius
Lucretius
1.78: religio pedibus subiecta, "religion lies cast beneath our feet"

References[edit]

^ a b Melville (2008), p. xii. ^ Reckford, K. J. Some studies in Horace's odes on love ^ Greenblatt (2009), p. 44. ^ Fisher, Saul (2009). "Pierre Gassendi". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  ^ a b Jerome, Chronicon. ^ Bailey (1947), pp. 1–3. ^ Smith (1992), pp. x–xi. ^ Kenney (1971), p. 6. ^ Costa (1984), p. ix. ^ a b Melville (2008), Foreword. ^ Horsfall (2000), p. 3. ^ Reale & Catan (1980), p. 414. ^ Smith (2011), p. vii. ^ Gale (2007), p. 2. ^ Gale (2007), p. 35. ^ In particular, De rerum natura
De rerum natura
5.107 (fortuna gubernans, "guiding chance" or "fortune at the helm"): see Monica R. Gale, Myth and Poetry in Lucretius
Lucretius
(Cambridge University Press, 1994, 1996 reprint), pp. 213, 223–224 online and Lucretius
Lucretius
(Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 238 online. ^ Lucretius. De rerum natura, Book V, around Line 1200 ff.  ^ a b Lucretius. De rerum natura, Book V, around Line 940 ff.  ^ Barnes, pp. 27–28. ^ Cicero
Cicero
& 54 BC, 2.9. ^ Smith (1975), intro. ^ Virgil
Virgil
& c. 31 BC, 2.490.

Bibliography[edit]

Library resources about Lucretius

Online books Resources in your library Resources in other libraries

By Lucretius

Online books Resources in your library Resources in other libraries

Bailey, C. (1947). "Prolegomena". Lucretius's De rerum natura.  Barnes, Harry Elmer (1937). An Intellectual and Cultural History of the Western World, Volume One. Dover Publications. OCLC 390382.  Cicero. "Letters to his brother Quintus". tr. Evelyn Shuckburgh. Retrieved 16 May 2012.  Costa, C. D. N. (1984). "Introduction". Lucretius: De Rerum Natura V. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-814457-1.  Dalzell, A. (1982). "Lucretius". The Cambridge History of Classical Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  Gale, M.R. (2007). Oxford Readings in Classical Studies: Lucretius. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-926034-8.  Greenblatt, Stephen (2009). The Swerve. New York: WW. Norton and Company.  Horsfall, N. (2000). "A Companion to the Study of Virgil". ISBN 978-90-04-11951-2. Retrieved 16 May 2012.  Kenney, E. J. (1971). "Introduction". Lucretius: De rerum natura. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-29177-4.  Melville, Ronald; Fowler, Don and Peta, eds. (2008) [1999]. Lucretius: On the Nature of the Universe. Oxford World's Classics. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-162327-1.  Reale, G.; Catan, J. (1980). A History of Ancient Philosophy: The Systems of the Hellenistic Age. SUNY Press.  Santayana, George (1910). "Three philosophical poets: Lucretius, Dante, and Goethe". Retrieved 16 May 2012.  Smith, M. (1992). "Introduction". De rerum natura. Loeb Classical Library.  Smith, M. F. (1975). De rerum natura. Loeb Classical Library.  Smith, M. F. (2011) [2001]. "Lucretius, On the Nature of Things". Hackett. ISBN 978-0-87220-587-1. Retrieved 16 May 2012.  Stearns, J. B. (December 1931). Lucretius
Lucretius
and Memmius. The Classical Weekly. 25. pp. 67–68. doi:10.2307/4389660. JSTOR 4389660.  Virgil. "Georgics". Retrieved 16 May 2012. 

Editions

Hutchinson, Lucy (b. 1620 d. 1681) De Rerum Natura. Lucretius. De rerum natura. (3 vols. Latin
Latin
text Books I-VI. Comprehensive commentary by Cyril Bailey), Oxford University Press 1947. On the Nature of Things, (1951 prose translation by R. E. Latham), introduction and notes by John Godwin, Penguin revised edition 1994, ISBN 0-14-044610-9 T. Lucreti Cari De rerum natura
De rerum natura
(1963). Edidit Joseph Martin (Bibliotheca scriptorvm Graecorvm et Romanorvm Tevbneriana). Lucretius
Lucretius
(1971). De rerum natura
De rerum natura
Book III. ( Latin
Latin
version of Book III only– 37 pp., with extensive commentary by E. J. Kenney– 171 pp.), Cambridge University Press corrected reprint 1984. ISBN 0-521-29177-1 Lucretius
Lucretius
(2008 [1997, 1999]), On the Nature of the Universe (tr. Melville, Robert) (introduction and notes by Fowler, Don; Fowler, Peta). Oxford University Press [Oxford World Classics], ISBN 978-0-19-955514-7 Munro H. A. J. Lucretius: On the Nature of Things Translated, with an analysis of the six books. 4th Edn, Routledge (1886). Online version at the Internet Archive
Internet Archive
(2011). Piazzi, Lisa (2006) Lucrezio e i presocratici. Edizioni della Normale. Stallings, A.E. (2007) Lucretius: The Nature of Things. Penguin Classics. Penguin.

Commentary

Strauss, Leo. "Notes on Lucretius," in Liberalism: Ancient and Modern (Chicago, 1968), pp. 76–139. Erler M. "Lukrez," in H. Flashar (ed.), Die Philosophie der Antike. Bd. 4. Die hellenistische Philosophie (Basel, 1994), 381–490. Esolen, Anthony M. Lucretius
Lucretius
On the Nature of Things (Baltimore, 1995). Deufert, Marcus. Pseudo-Lukrezisches im Lukrez (Berlin-New York, 1996). Melville, Ronald. Lucretius: On the Nature of the Universe (Oxford, 1997). Sedley D. Lucretius
Lucretius
and the Transformation of Greek Wisdom (Cambridge, 1998). Fowler, Don. Lucretius
Lucretius
on Atomic Motion: A Commentary on De rerum natura 2. 1–332 (Oxford, Oxford UP, 2002). Campbell, Gordon. Lucretius
Lucretius
on Creation and Evolution: A Commentary on De rerum natura
De rerum natura
Book Five, Lines 772–1104 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). Rumpf L. Naturerkenntnis und Naturerfahrung. Zur Reflexion epikureischer Theorie bei Lukrez (Munich: C.H. Beck, 2003) (Zetemata, 116). Sedley, David N. Lucretius
Lucretius
and the Transformation of Greek Wisdom (Cambridge, CUP, 2003). Godwin, John. Lucretius
Lucretius
(London: Bristol Classical Press, 2004) ("Ancient in Action" Series). Gale Monica R. (ed.), Oxford Readings in Classical Studies: Lucretius (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). Garani, Myrto. Empedocles
Empedocles
Redivivus: poetry and analogy in Lucretius. Studies in classics (London; New York: Routledge, 2007). Marković, Daniel. The Rhetoric of Explanation in Lucretius’ De rerum natura (Leiden, Brill, 2008) (Mnemosyne, Supplements, 294). Beretta, Marco. Francesco Citti (edd), Lucrezio, la natura e la scienza (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 2008) (Biblioteca di Nuncius / Istituto e Museo distoria della scienza, Firenze; 66). DeMay, Philip. Lucretius: Poet
Poet
and Epicurean (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009) (Greece & Rome: texts and contexts.

External links[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original works written by or about: Titus Lucretius
Lucretius
Carus

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Lucretius

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lucretius.

 "Lucretius". Encyclopædia Britannica. 17 (11th ed.). 1911.  Works by Lucretius
Lucretius
at Project Gutenberg

On The Nature Of Things

Works by or about Lucretius
Lucretius
at Internet Archive Works by Lucretius
Lucretius
at LibriVox
LibriVox
(public domain audiobooks) Works by Lucretius
Lucretius
at Perseus Project Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry by David Simpson Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry Lucretius's works: text, concordances and frequency list Bibliography De rerum natura
De rerum natura
Book III Online Galleries, History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries High-resolution images of works by Lucretius
Lucretius
in .jpg and .tiff format. Lucretius: De rerum natura
De rerum natura
(1475–1494), digitised codex at Somni Titi Lucretii Cari De rerum natura
De rerum natura
libri sex, published in Paris 1563, later owned and annotated by Montaigne, fully digitised in Cambridge Digital Library

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 106388020 LCCN: n79033010 ISNI: 0000 0001 2146 3483 GND: 118575236 SELIBR: 208669 SUDOC: 026997576 BNF: cb11913603g (data) BIBSYS: 90060393 NLA: 35315470 NDL: 00470725 NKC: jn1998100

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