Philosophy Lucretius
by
Duncan F. Kennedy
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 October 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0291

Introduction

The De rerum natura (usually translated as “On the Nature of Things” or “On the Nature of the Universe”) is a Latin poem in six books composed in the mid-1st century BC by Titus Lucretius Carus to introduce a Roman audience to the philosophy of the Greek materialist thinker Epicurus (341–270 BC). The loss of much of Epicurus’s own output means that Lucretius has become the most important source for Epicurean philosophy, but the creative transformation of that philosophy in Lucretius’s poem has left its distinctive mark on the reception of Epicurean physics and ethics in the Western materialist tradition. Virtually nothing is known of Lucretius himself, and little can be reliably inferred about him from the poem. The sole contemporary reference to the poet and his poem comes in a letter of Cicero to his brother from February 54 BC in which Cicero (a critic of Epicureanism in his own philosophical writings) echoes his brother’s marked admiration for its literary qualities. That admiration is echoed in the Roman literary tradition, but the poem’s impassioned rejection of the notions of divine creation of (or intervention in) the world, and of life after death made it a repeated target in later centuries for Christian polemic. This may underlie the biographical tradition attested in late ntiquity (though now largely rejected) of the poet’s suicide, driven mad by a love potion. The poem was effectively unknown for a millennium after the fall of the western Roman Empire, but following the re-discovery and copying of a manuscript by the humanist Poggio Bracciolini in 1417, it has played an important and continuing role in the history of ideas and theories of materialism. It became the chief vehicle for the dissemination of ancient atomism in Renaissance and early modern thought as well as a focus or proxy for anticreationist views and a precursor of some aspects of evolutionary theory. In the modern period, its views on atomic motion (particularly the swerve of atoms), and its arguments against the fear of death continue to be invoked to frame debate, while its self-conscious response to the challenge of transmitting ideas across time, and the boundaries of language and culture, address the relationship of language and philosophy.

General Overviews

Sedley 2013 provides a concise and authoritative introduction to the structure and content of the poem and its philosophical concerns. Twenty-first-century overviews overwhelmingly take the form of edited collections rather than individual monographs. They appeal to different audiences and levels, but the editors’ introductions offer informed overviews of trends in recent research as well as guides to further reading. Gale 2007 reprints eighteen classic articles and book chapters on Lucretius that provide a sense of how approaches to Lucretius in classical scholarship have developed over the past couple of generations. The essays in Gillespie and Hardie 2007 deal with aspects of the poetic and philosophical content but are mainly devoted to surveying the reception of the poem and its ideas, which has been the most important area of growth in Lucretian studies in the past decade and is represented also in the theoretically inflected case studies of the reception of Epicureanism (Holmes and Shearin 2012). Another prominent trend in recent work has been to investigate how Lucretius’s philosophical and poetic concerns interact, and this is the particular focus of Lehoux, et al. 2013. So bound up is Lucretius with the exposition of Epicureanism that consideration of the philosophical importance of his poem is inseparable from the legacy of Epicureanism in general. Although not focused specifically on Lucretius, Warren 2009 offers concise and critical accounts of the chief areas of philosophical interest in Epicureanism. Campbell 2011 provides a complementary bibliography to the present one that addresses the disciplinary interests of classical studies.

  • Campbell, Gordon Lindsay. “Lucretius.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Classics. Edited by Dee L. Clayman. 2011.

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    An extensive bibliographic guide to Lucretius from the perspective of classical philology: language, meter, textual tradition, poetics, and literary studies included.

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    • Gale, Monica R., ed. Lucretius. Oxford Readings in Classical Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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      Gale’s introduction (pp. 1–17) to this collection of influential articles provides a clear overview of recent classical scholarship, supplemented in the footnotes by bibliographies of further reading that focus on the particular topics discussed. A good point of entry to the field.

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      • Gillespie, Stuart, and Philip Hardie, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

        DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521848015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Informative introductory articles on the philosophical and poetic contexts of Lucretius’s poem, and on episodes in its reception from Antiquity to the 20th century, arranged by period.

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        • Holmes, Brooke, and W. H. Shearin, eds. Dynamic Reading: Studies in the Reception of Epicureanism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

          DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794959.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Eleven innovative studies, ranging from Antiquity to the 20th century, that offer sophisticated perspectives on the legacy of Epicurus and Lucretius. The editors’ introduction (pp. 3–29) sets a thought-provoking theoretical agenda.

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          • Lehoux, Daryn, A. D. Morrison, and Alison Sharrock, eds. Lucretius: Poetry, Philosophy, Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

            DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605408.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            Ten essays on central Lucretian topics that seek to combine perspectives (e.g., literary analysis, philosophy, and the history of the sciences) that often figure separately in approaches to the poem. Most suitable for those with some experience of Lucretian scholarship.

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            • Sedley, David N. “Lucretius.” Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. 2013.

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              An accessible overview of the poem’s structure and contents, as well as its Epicurean background, by a scholar whose contributions to the field have been groundbreaking. Also contains an extensive bibliography.

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              • Warren, James, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

                DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521873475Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                Introductory essays by leading scholars on the history of Epicureanism and its major areas, with a particular focus on the thought of Epicurus himself, including his ruminations on physics, cosmology, psychology, ethics, language, and prescriptions for living.

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                Texts and Translations

                There are a number of reliable and readily available prose translations, although these efface the poetic form of the Latin text in the service of an accurate rendering of its content. Arguably Lucretius 2001, translated by Martin Ferguson Smith (whose career was focused on the study of Epicureanism), best suits the needs of philosophical readers, but Lucretius 1994 is also serviceable. Of recent verse translations, Lucretius 2007 perhaps best captures Lucretius’s distinctive style. For those who require a Latin text as well as a translation, the revised Smith 1992 is the most convenient and has become standard, though the commentary in Bailey 1947 remains a useful supplement to his text and translation.

                • Bailey, C. Titi Lucreti Cari De rerum natura libri sex. 3 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1947.

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                  Volume 1 contains an extensive introduction and a Latin text with facing prose translation. Volumes 2 and 3 include a detailed commentary on the poem that is dated but still useful.

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                  • Lucretius. On the Nature of the Universe. Translated by R. E. Latham. Revised by John Godwin. London: Penguin, 1994.

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                    Latham’s readable prose translation is judiciously revised by Godwin and equipped with useful introduction, notes, and bibliography.

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                    • Lucretius. On the Nature of Things. Translated with introduction and notes by Martin Ferguson Smith. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2001.

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                      Clear, accurate, and scholarly prose translation. Helpful introduction and notes make this a dependable point of entry for readers new to Lucretius.

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                      • Lucretius. The Nature of Things. Translated by A. E. Stallings. Introduction by Richard Jenkyns. London: Penguin, 2007.

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                        A verse translation inevitably has to make some sacrifices in accuracy, but this one is attractive and well sustained.

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                        • Smith, M. F. Lucretius: De rerum natura. Rev. ed. Translated by W. H. D. Rouse. Loeb Classical Library 181. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.

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                          A reliable Latin text with facing prose translation and some explanatory notes. A tried and trusted working edition to which scholars and beginners alike can turn to with confidence.

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                          Commentaries

                          From the time of the Renaissance up to the 21st century, the line-by-line commentary keyed to the Latin text has been the chief way that classical scholarship has sought to meet the pedagogical, philological, and philosophical challenges Lucretius’s poem presents. A basic knowledge of Latin and Greek is an undeniable advantage in accessing this tradition, but for many purposes this is not an absolute necessity, as commentators have increasingly adopted the practice of providing extended introductions to the issues discussed in particular passages and the debates they have provoked. The last commentary in English on the entire poem is Bailey 1947 (cited under Texts and Translations), and is now inevitably dated. However, a number of important commentaries have appeared that focus specifically on passages of key philosophical interest: Piazzi 2005 on Lucretius’s critique of pre-Socratic philosophers in Book 1; Fowler 2002 on atomic motion and the swerve in Book 2; Kenney 2014 on the arguments for the mortality of the soul in Book 3; Brown 1987 on the attack on passionate love and sex in Book 4; Campbell 2003 on Lucretius’s account of the emergence of life, human prehistory, and early societies in Book 5. There are commentaries on individual books that are geared toward a student audience and offer useful guidance on philosophical as well as literary and interpretive issues: Brown 1984 on Book 1; Brown 1997 on Book 3; Godwin 1986 on Book 4; Gale 2009 on Book 5; Godwin 1991 on Book 6. There is currently no available individual edition on the whole of Book 2.

                          • Brown, P. Michael. Lucretius: De rerum natura I. Bristol, UK: Bristol Classical, 1984.

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                            Latin text and reasonably detailed commentary.

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                            • Brown, Robert D. Lucretius on Love and Sex: A Commentary on De rerum natura IV, 1030–1287, with Prolegomena, Text, and Translation. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1987.

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                              Latin text, facing translation, and detailed commentary. Three extensive introductory chapters contextualize the arguments of Book 4 and their philosophical background.

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                              • Brown, P. Michael. Lucretius: De rerum natura III. Warminster, UK: Aris and Phillips, 1997.

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                                Latin text, facing English translation, and commentary keyed to the translation. Less detailed than Kenney 2014, but more accessible for those without Latin.

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                                • Campbell, Gordon. Lucretius on Creation and Evolution: A Commentary on De rerum natura 5.772–1104. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                  Latin text, translation, and detailed commentary, which distinctively views Lucretius’s account of the origin of life and the prehistory of human society as part of an ongoing anticreationist tradition and locates his arguments in relation to both ancient and contemporary debates.

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                                  • Fowler, Don P. Lucretius on Atomic Motion: A Commentary on De rerum natura 2.1–322. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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                                    Hugely detailed line-by-line commentary keyed to the Latin text, as well as an extensive bibliography. An important contribution to the understanding of atomic swerve.

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                                    • Gale, Monica R. Lucretius: De rerum natura V. Aris and Phillips Classical Texts. Oxford: Oxbow, 2009.

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                                      Latin text with facing English translation. The commentary is keyed to the translation rather than to the Latin text.

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                                      • Godwin, John. Lucretius: De rerum natura IV. Warminster, UK: Aris and Phillips, 1986.

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                                        Latin text, facing English translation, and commentary keyed to the translation.

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                                        • Godwin, John. Lucretius: De rerum natura VI. Warminster, UK: Aris and Phillips, 1991.

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                                          Latin text with facing English translation. The commentary is keyed to the translation for accessibility.

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                                          • Kenney, E. J. Lucretius: De rerum natura Book III. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

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                                            Latin text and detailed commentary on Lucretius’s development of the arguments against the fear of death. Keenly alert to poetic and rhetorical strategies.

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                                            • Piazzi, Lisa. Lucrezio e i Presocratici: un commento a De rerum natura 1, 635–920. Pisa, Italy: Edizioni della Normale, 2005.

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                                              Latin text with detailed commentary in Italian.

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                                              Lucretius and Epicureanism

                                              On the Nature of Things was written in the mid-1st century BC at a time when a prominent Epicurean circle had assembled around the Epicurean writer Philodemus of Gadara (historically contextualized in Sedley 2009), although it has not been conclusively established that Lucretius was associated with this circle. A library (probably that of Philodemus himself) in the so-called Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum on the Bay of Naples (destroyed in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD), contains the carbonized remains of papyrus rolls of Epicurean texts (see Obbink 2007). Some of Epicurus’s own writings survive in Book 10 of The Lives of the Philosophers of the 3rd-century AD writer Diogenes Laertius, but given the loss of Epicurus’s main work On Nature (which filled thirty-seven rolls)—except for fragments that continue to be recovered from the Villa dei Papiri—Lucretius is the most important surviving source for his philosophy, as well as its most dynamic and attractive exposition. Long and Sedley 1987 collects and comments on the main texts from Antiquity that attest to Epicurean ideas. Asmis 1984 is a detailed examination of key issues in Epicurean method. Warren 2009 (cited under General Overviews) provides an up-to-date survey of the major areas of philosophical interest. Lucretius presents himself on a number of occasions as a devoted and faithful follower of Epicurus. Earlier scholarship sought to detect polemic against the Stoics in the poem, but this has largely receded since Furley 1966 and was superseded by the question of how closely Lucretius follows Epicurus. Scholarship splits into two camps. Clay 1983 argues that Lucretius was an original thinker in his own right, selecting critically among his Epicurean sources and developing an independent exposition. On the other hand, Sedley 1998 regards Lucretius as a “fundamentalist,” closely adhering to Epicurus’s On Nature in structure and argument and showing little interest in (or knowledge of) other contemporary philosophical debates. This dispute remains unresolved but has generated much of the most interesting recent work on a wide range of issues.

                                              • Asmis, Elizabeth. Epicurean Scientific Method. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984.

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                                                Lucretius is an important source for this dense and rigorous discussion of the chief Epicurean methods of investigation, initial concepts and observation, including how observation can give indications of what cannot be observed.

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                                                • Clay, Diskin. Lucretius and Epicurus. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983.

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                                                  Wide ranging and instructive, this remains a key point of reference in debates about Lucretius’s philosophical significance.

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                                                  • Furley, D. J. “Lucretius and the Stoics.” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 13 (1966): 13–33.

                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-5370.1966.tb00027.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    Argues that the philosophical criticisms in On the Nature of Things targeted Platonist and Aristotelian natural philosophy rather than the Stoics. A decisive intervention into a long-running debate that re-oriented scholarship on Lucretius’s philosophical concerns. Reprinted in Cosmic Problems (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 183–205.

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                                                    • Long, A. A., and D. N. Sedley. The Hellenistic Philosophers. 2 vols. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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                                                      A fundamental resource for the study of Hellenistic philosophy, including Epicurean thought, accessible to all but beginners. Volume 1 contains translations of the principal sources, with philosophical commentary; Volume 2 contains the Greek and Latin texts with notes and bibliography.

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                                                      • Obbink, Dirk. “Lucretius and the Herculaneum Library.” In The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius. Edited by Stuart Gillespie and Philip Hardie, 33–40. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521848015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        Brief but wide-ranging introduction to the significance of the library of the Villa dei Papiri for the study of Lucretius and Epicureanism, with a useful guide to further reading.

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                                                        • Sedley, David. Lucretius and the Transformation of Greek Wisdom. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511482380Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          An instant classic of Lucretian scholarship that continues to set the agenda, Sedley combines technical expertise and accessibility with sensitivity to both the poetic and philosophical aspects of the poem.

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                                                          • Sedley, David. “Epicureanism in the Roman Republic.” In The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism. Edited by James Warren, 29–45. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521873475Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Examines the role of Epicureanism in Roman intellectual and political life at the time of Lucretius.

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                                                            Atomism in Lucretius

                                                            While On the Nature of Things is driven by a clear Epicurean ethical impulse that identifies fear of divine intervention in the world and fear of death as the sources of human unhappiness, the main focus of exposition is Epicurean physics, and Lucretius is the main source for the controversial doctrine of the random uncaused atomic swerve (clinamen is the term he uses) that guarantees free will in an otherwise mechanistic universe. Fowler 2002 (cited under Commentaries) offers a detailed commentary on the passage in Book 2 that deals with the motion of atoms. How the swerve assures free will has been the subject of debate. Against the view of Furley 1967 that a single swerve is sufficient to ensure free will, Fowler 1983 argues that every voluntary action involves a swerve. O’Keefe 2005 argues that to read Epicurus against the modern preoccupation with free will and determinism is anachronistic; rather, his ideas have closer ties to those of Aristotle. In a radically original interpretation of the swerve in terms of fluid dynamics, Serres 2000 presents Lucretius as a philosopher of turbulence and of how emergent order can arise from chaotic motion (see further Lucretius in Modern Discussions of Materialism).

                                                            • Fowler, Don. “Lucretius on the clinamen and ‘Free Will’.” In Suzētēsis: Studi sull’epicureismo Greco e romano offerti a Marcello Gigante. By Don Fowler, 329–352. Naples, Italy: Macchiaroli, 1983.

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                                                              Argues that every act of will involves the swerve of an atom. Reprinted with some bibliographical updating in Fowler 2002 (cited under Commentaries), pp. 407–427.

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                                                              • Furley, D. J. Two Studies in the Greek Atomists. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967.

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                                                                Argues in “Aristotle and Epicurus on Voluntary Action” (pp. 159–237) that not every act of volition is accompanied by a swerve in the atoms of the soul.

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                                                                • O’Keefe, Timothy. Epicurus on Freedom. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511482571Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Chapter 2 (pp. 26–47) discusses Lucretius on atomic swerve and his concept of voluntas (i.e., will).

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                                                                  • Serres, Michel. The Birth of Physics in the Text of Lucretius. Translated by J. Hawkes. Manchester, UK: Clinamen, 2000.

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                                                                    A provocative challenge to traditional accounts of atomism, and to linear histories of physics more generally. A demanding text, but the introduction (pp. vii–xx) by David Webb is helpful. Originally published in French in 1977.

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                                                                    Lucretian Exposition of Key Epicurean Ideas

                                                                    How closely Lucretius followed the Greek texts of Epicurus himself remains open to debate, but the nature of his task, writing a poetic text in Latin so as to draw his readers into a sympathetic engagement with Epicurean beliefs, led him to develop very distinctive expository strategies. Epicurus notoriously had no time for poetry, but far from viewing this as a negative imposition, Lucretius exploited to the full the license he gave himself to explore the affective potential of ideas central to the Epicurean thinking. Atomism presents a microscopic world that in many crucial respects does not match the macroscopic world we are familiar with; Wardy 1988 is a groundbreaking discussion of Lucretius’s poetic strategies in countering the potentially alienating effects of atomic theory. Central to Epicureanism are existents, atoms, and void that are not only not visible but unlike anything we can see; Lehoux 2013 draws attention to the prevalence in Lucretius, unusual in ancient philosophical texts, of the vocabulary of “seeing” to suggest a capacity for philosophical insight that transcends the limits of physical vision and that can join up the understanding of the physical and the ethical. The imagery Lucretius uses to represent atoms and their motion is crucial to these strategies and has been profoundly influential even beyond the immediate philosophical concerns of the later Epicurean materialist tradition. Asmis 2008 discusses how Lucretius uses the language of the “laws” or “pacts” of nature (foedera naturae) to suggest order in a universe made up of the purposeless activity of atoms. The legacy of such modes of representation is not necessarily benign; the residues in modern theories of individualism of the aggressively masculine imagery Lucretius used to represent the behavior of atoms are discussed in Kennedy 2006. Porter 2003 probes the elusive notion of void and plots the links Lucretius makes between it and humans’ responses to their own nonexistence in death. Infinity is a concept crucial to the Epicurean understanding of the universe and of how the human race comes to be within it through the action of atoms with no need for a divine act of creation (Sedley 2007 offers a compelling analysis). However, it gives rise to bewildering and much-ridiculed consequences, notably the existence of multiple worlds in every respect similar to our own, as Warren 2004 explores. Kennedy 2013 discusses how Lucretius deploys the Aristotelian distinction between actual and potential infinity to bridge cosmology, epistemology, and politics.

                                                                    • Asmis, Elizabeth. “Lucretius’ New World Order: Making a Pact with Nature.” Classical Quarterly 58.1 (2008): 141–157.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0009838808000116Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Discusses how Lucretius uses the imagery of “treaties” and “laws” to describe the behavior of atomic matter, and how this forms a bridge between physics and ethics.

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                                                                      • Kennedy, Duncan F. “Atoms, Individuals, and Myths.” In Laughing with Medusa: Classical Myth and Psychoanalysis. Edited by Vanda Zajko and Miriam Leonard, 233–252. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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                                                                        Against the background of feminist critiques of masculine bias in the theory and practice of the sciences, this essay explores how the imagery Lucretius uses of atoms has contributed to naturalizing patriarchal social theories.

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                                                                        • Kennedy, Duncan F. “The Political Epistemology of Infinity.” In Lucretius: Poetry, Philosophy, Science. Edited by Daryn Lehoux, A. D. Morrison, and Alison Sharrock, 51–67. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605408.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Explores the ways in which Lucretius deploys the notion of infinity to suggest the human capacity for universal knowledge, and, perhaps inadvertently, to underpin the idea of universal empire.

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                                                                          • Lehoux, Daryn. “Seeing and Unseeing, Seen and Unseen.” In Lucretius: Poetry, Philosophy, Science. Edited by Daryn Lehoux, A. D. Morrison, and Alison Sharrock, 131–151. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

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                                                                            Argues that the vocabulary of “seeing” and “blindness” in Lucretius points beyond the fallibility of the senses to the capacity for philosophical insight into the truth and into the “unseeing,” nonteleological behavior of “unseen” atoms.

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                                                                            • Porter, James I. “Lucretius and the Poetics of Void.” In Le jardin romain: Epicurisme et poésie à Rome, Mélanges offerts à Mayotte Bollack. Edited by A. Monet, 197–226. Lille, France: Villeneuve d’Ascq, 2003.

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                                                                              A subtle and engaging discussion of how Lucretius negotiates the curious status of void as not-being and yet a constituent of reality.

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                                                                              • Sedley, David. Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

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                                                                                Chapter 5 on “The Atomists” (pp. 133–166) is a lucid and authoritative account of Epicurean arguments against creationist views of the universe. A stimulating contribution to understanding how the anticreationist stance of Epicurus and Lucretius relates to the agenda of ancient philosophy more generally.

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                                                                                • Wardy, Robert. “Lucretius on What Atoms Are Not.” Classical Philology 83 (1988): 112–128.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1086/367091Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Atomism opens up a gap between appearance and reality. Wardy discusses how Lucretius seeks to reconcile the demands of philosophical theory and the need to communicate the look of a world understood as such.

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                                                                                  • Warren, James. “Ancient Atomists on the Plurality of Worlds.” Classical Quarterly 54 (2004): 354–365.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/clquaj/bmh044Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Discusses the degree to which Lucretius and other atomists registered the ethical impact of the consequence that in an atomic universe infinite in space and time there are many worlds like our own.

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                                                                                    Lucretius on Language and Translation

                                                                                    Epicurus’s interests in language and its origins (see Verlinsky 2005) are reflected in Lucretius; Epicurus’s surviving pronouncements on the origins of language are elliptical, so Lucretius’s account is vital although in need of careful interpretation, as the analysis of Reinhardt 2008 makes clear. The development of human speech from animal cries is discussed by Lucretius in 5.1028–1090, and the theoretical problems involved in his account are the focus of Atherton 2005. Lucretius makes language itself one of his chief means of explaining Epicurean theory (most famously in his comparison of atoms and letters, on which see Friedländer 1941), and his interest in its creative power is explored in Holmes 2005, which discusses the status of the poem as a created object by examining what Lucretius has to say about the creation of speech in general. Lucretius is acutely aware of the status of his text as a verbal construct, and what it has to say about the refinement and naturalization of philosophical vocabulary across languages has become an important focus of research. The poem explicitly sees its task as to translate Epicurean ideas for a Roman audience, and the poem self-consciously addresses the challenge of expounding what it takes to be universal truth in a version that is historically and linguistically situated. Farrell 2001 analyzes these issues in the cultural context of Lucretius’s repeated observations on the “poverty” of the Latin language in comparison with Greek. Sedley 1998 is indispensable for its detailed discussion of how Lucretius seeks to develop a technical philosophical vocabulary that domesticates Epicurean ideas for its Roman audience while at the same time suggesting their universality. Shearin 2015 brings together the speech-act theory of J. L. Austin and the Epicurean theory of language to explore the place of performative language in Lucretius’s poem.

                                                                                    • Atherton, Catherine. “Lucretius on What Language is Not.” In Language and Learning: Philosophy of Language in the Hellenistic Age. Edited by D. Frede and B. Inwood, 101–138. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511482526Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      A searching critique of the theory of language in Lucretius that seeks to assess the difficulties it presents against those encountered more generally in naturalistic and emergentist theories of language.

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                                                                                      • Farrell, Joseph. “The Poverty of Our Ancestral Speech.” In Latin Language and Latin Culture. By Joseph Farrell, 28–51. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                        An accessible analysis of how Lucretius negotiates the challenge of developing a Latin philosophical vocabulary to render Epicurean ideas.

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                                                                                        • Friedländer, P. “Pattern of Sound and Atomistic Theory in Lucretius.” American Journal of Philology 62 (1941): 16–34.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/291222Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          A classic article that set in motion many subsequent studies of how Lucretius uses letters, words, and verbal effects to convey how atoms behave. Reprinted in Gale 2007 (cited under General Overviews), pp. 351–370.

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                                                                                          • Holmes, Brooke. “Daedala Lingua: Crafted Speech in the De rerum natura.” American Journal of Philology 126 (2005): 527–585.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1353/ajp.2006.0008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            Explores in detail Lucretius’s accounts of speech production in Book 4 and of the origins of language in Book 5. The discussion is detailed and technical but wide-ranging.

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                                                                                            • Reinhardt, Tobias. “Epicurus and Lucretius on the Origins of Language.” Classical Quarterly 58.1 (2008): 127–140.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/S0009838808000104Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              As well as comparing the accounts of Epicurus and Lucretius, Reinhardt’s close reading looks to elucidate the meanings and philosophical connotations of the specific Latin terminology Lucretius uses in his account of the development of language.

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                                                                                              • Sedley, David. “Two Languages, Two Worlds.” In Lucretius and the Transformation of Greek Wisdom, 35–61. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                An examination of the strategies underlying Lucretius’s use of Greek technical vocabulary and his coinage of new Latin terms, a linguistic economy Sedley sees as promoting a sense of the universality of Epicureanism.

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                                                                                                • Shearin, W. H. The Language of Atoms: Performativity and Politics in Lucretius’ De rerum natura. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190202422.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Analyzes the performative dimension of Lucretian language, with particular reference to acts of promising and naming.

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                                                                                                  • Verlinsky, A. “Epicurus and his Predecessors on the Origin of Language.” In Language and Learning: Philosophy of Language in the Hellenistic Age. Edited by D. Frede and B. Inwood, 56–100. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511482526Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    A necessarily speculative but intriguing attempt to reconstruct how Epicurus developed his evolutionary theory of language and communication from what can be gleaned from 5th-century BC thinkers.

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                                                                                                    Lucretius and Greek Philosophy Before Epicurus

                                                                                                    At 1635–920, Lucretius turns to consider the doctrines of the 5th-century BC philosophers Heraclitus, Empedocles, and Anaxagoras. This seems odd in that there is little evidence to suggest that philosophers at the time Lucretius was writing had much interest in them. However, as Warren 2007 shows, the title of Lucretius’s poem looks not only to Epicurus’s On Nature but to earlier works similarly titled, some of which were themselves previously in verse (most notably Empedocles’s works). Furthermore, this section of the poem brings together several aspects of Lucretius’s overall rhetorical strategy. Earlier in Book 1 he was concerned with establishing the two existents according to Epicurus, atoms and void, and now advocates them against competing ontologies, which are in turn refuted in ascending order of ontological complexity: Heraclitus represents monism (fire), Empedocles finite pluralism (four elements: earth, air, fire, water), and Anaxagoras infinite pluralism. Although, as Tatum 1984 shows and Montarese 2012 explores in much greater detail, Lucretius was following established traditions of Epicurean polemic. Twenty-first-century studies agree that his interest in these thinkers was stylistic as much as philosophical, and they are introduced to emphasize the clarity and accessibility of his own exposition: Heraclitus is criticized for his obscurity and Anaxagoras ridiculed for his jargon. Empedocles not only escapes criticism on stylistic grounds but is treated with admiration. Furley 1970 emphasized the presence of Empedoclean motifs in the introductory section of Book 1, though Sedley 1998 argued strongly against any philosophical debt in the poem more generally; he modified his position a little in Sedley 2003 in the light of the publication of new fragments of Empedocles not available to him earlier. Garani 2007 explores Lucretius’s indebtedness to Empedocles for argumentative strategies and techniques.

                                                                                                    • Furley, D. J. “Variations on Themes from Empedocles in Lucretius’ Proem.” Bulletin of the Institute for Classical Studies 17 (1970): 55–64.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-5370.1970.tb00082.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      A decisive demonstration of the influence of Empedocles on the introductory section of Lucretius’s poem. Reprinted in Cosmic problems, pp. 172–182 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

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                                                                                                      • Garani, Myrto. Empedocles redivivus: Poetry and Analogy in Lucretius. London: Routledge, 2007.

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                                                                                                        A detailed exploration of the indebtedness of Lucretius to Empedocles in his use of personification, similes, and metaphors.

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                                                                                                        • Montarese, F. Lucretius and His Sources: A Study of Lucretius De rerum natura 1.635–920. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1515/9783110218817Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Against Sedley 1998, argues that Book 14 and Book 15 of Epicurus’s On Nature were not the primary sources for Lucretius’s critique of pre-Socratic theories.

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                                                                                                          • Sedley, David. “The Empedoclean Opening.” In Lucretius and the Transformation of Greek Wisdom. By David Sedley, 1–34. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                            Drills deep into Lucretius’s relationship with Empedocles to suggest that the debt is poetic rather than philosophical. Reprinted in Gale 2007 (cited under General Overviews), pp. 48–87.

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                                                                                                            • Sedley, David. “Lucretius and the New Empedocles.” Leeds International Classical Studies 2.4 (2003).

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                                                                                                              Reassesses the philosophical debt of Lucretius to Empedocles in the light of the publication in 1998 of the Strasbourg papyrus of Empedocles.

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                                                                                                              • Tatum, W. J. “The Presocratics in book 1 of Lucretius’ De rerum natura.” Transactions of the American Philological Association 114 (1984): 177–189.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/284146Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                While accepting that the introduction of these philosophers serves primarily stylistic and poetic purposes, Tatum sees the passage as falling into an established tradition of Epicurean polemical doxographies.

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                                                                                                                • Warren, James. “Lucretius and Greek Philosophy.” In The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius. Edited by Stuart Gillespie and Philip Hardie, 19–32. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521848015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  A clear introduction to Lucretius’s engagement with Greek philosophy and to the scholarly debates surrounding it.

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                                                                                                                  Lucretius and the Fear of Death

                                                                                                                  Warren 2004 provides the most searching philosophical analysis of Lucretius’s impassioned arguments against the fear of death in Book 3 of On the Nature of Things; Kenney 2014 (cited under Commentaries) is an observant guide to how the arguments develop over the course of the book. Segal 1990 presents a treatment that relates the fear of death to concerns about creation and destruction in the poem as a whole. Lucretius’s arguments continue to be regularly deployed to frame debates about human mortality by philosophers generally (not only those primarily interested in ancient thought), and a renewed respect for the consolatory dimension of philosophical writing has stimulated widespread interest in ancient ethics as therapy and spiritual exercise. A pioneer of such perspectives, Nussbaum 1994 engages in a close reading of Lucretius to explore the rhetorical dimension of his presentation of the fear of death. Porter 2005 similarly seeks to engage with the arguments of Lucretius in a broad philosophical context, while Scheffler 2013 offers a fresh riposte to Epicurean orthodoxy.

                                                                                                                  • Nussbaum, Martha. “Mortal Immortals: Lucretius on Death and the Voice of Nature.” In The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics. By Martha Nussbaum, 192–238. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                                    Against a broad background of philosophical arguments about the fear of death, Nussbaum offers a close reading of Lucretius that gives due weight to his distinctive presentation and rhetoric.

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                                                                                                                    • Porter, James I. “Love of Life: Lucretius to Freud.” In Erotikon. Edited by Shadi Bartsch and Thomas Bartscherer, 113–141. Chicago: University Press of Chicago, 2005.

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                                                                                                                      Asks why we should love life when life is often intolerable and must end. A love of life must encompass death, for otherwise what one loves is something other than life.

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                                                                                                                      • Scheffler, Samuel H. Death and the Afterlife. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199982509.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Against the Epicurean and Lucretian belief that “death is nothing to us,” Scheffler argues that it matters to us that the human species should have a future, or an “afterlife,” beyond our personal death.

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                                                                                                                        • Segal, Charles P. Lucretius on Death and Anxiety: Poetry and Philosophy in the De rerum natura. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                          Brings psychoanalytic and anthropological theory to bear on Lucretius’s treatment of violence, dissolution, and death, relating human death to the poem’s larger concerns with the creative and destructive forces of the universe.

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                                                                                                                          • Warren, James. Facing Death: Epicurus and His Critics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/0199252890.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Detailed analysis of the arguments of Epicurus, Lucretius, and Philodemus against the fear of death, set against modern philosophical discussion.

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                                                                                                                            The Reception of Lucretius in the Renaissance and Early Modern Period

                                                                                                                            The importance for European intellectual life of the rediscovery at Constance in 1417 of a manuscript of Lucretius by Poggio Bracciolini (vividly narrated in Greenblatt 2011) has become the focus of intensive research. The poem not only provided access to ancient atomism, but in its denial of an afterlife and of any providential role for the divine (and its arguments for individual free will and the place of pleasure) had subversive moral and religious implications. At the time of the voyages of discovery to Africa and the New World, its evolutionary history of human civilization provided an important alternative to the biblical account of creation. Nonetheless, the damaged state of the text and ignorance of its philosophical context presented formidable obstacles to the intelligibility of the poem. Brown 2010 has explored in detail the ways in which prominent Renaissance figures engaged with the text of Lucretius. Palmer 2014 charts how humanist annotations on the text prepared the way for the more systematic engagement with its materialism in the early modern period by accommodating its heterodoxy within the cultural and Christian norms. Passannante 2011 offers a theoretical perspective of these developments in terms of the very materialism thematized in Lucretius’s text: drawing on the Lucretian analogy of atoms and letters of the alphabet, he argues that encounters with the very materiality of the text of Lucretius (e.g., in the philological practice of the correction of corrupted manuscripts) were themselves part of the process by which Lucretian materialism was disseminated in Renaissance thought, and articulated its concerns with history, knowledge, and renewal. Lucretian materialism was fully drawn into philosophical debate in the 17th century, as Wilson 2008 shows, and even domesticated to the extent that Gassendi could make the Christian God the principle behind the created world in his development of atomism. Johnson and Wilson 2007 offers a broad overview that takes the story forward to the present.

                                                                                                                            • Brown, Alison. The Return of Lucretius to Renaissance Florence. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                              Studies the reception of Lucretius in 15th-century Florence through three important political figures: Bartolomeo Scala, Marcello Adriani, and Niccolò Machiavelli.

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                                                                                                                              • Greenblatt, Stephen. The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began. London: The Bodley Head, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                Energetically written and aimed at a general audience but has been criticized for its ready acceptance of the humanist rhetoric of the “re-birth” of classical learning.

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                                                                                                                                • Johnson, Monte, and Catherine Wilson. “Lucretius and the History of Science.” In The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius. Edited by Stuart Gillespie and Philip Hardie, 131–148. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521848015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  A concise and well-argued account of how debates on atomism came to supplant Aristotelian theories of matter in the early modern period, which then goes on to track the continuing engagement with Lucretius as natural philosophy transformed itself into the sciences. A good starting point.

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                                                                                                                                  • Palmer, Ada. Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014.

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                                                                                                                                    Explores the reading practices of prominent readers of Lucretius in the 15th and 16th centuries through the marginalia they left on the manuscripts and printed editions they used and the biographies of the poet they compiled. Argues that although engagement with the poem was largely philological rather than philosophical, its controversial ideas were accommodated to prevailing norms of belief and practice.

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                                                                                                                                    • Passannante, Gerard. The Lucretian Renaissance: Philology and the afterlife of tradition. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2011.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226648514.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      A subtle exploration of how materialist ideas were mediated in the responses of Lucretius’s readers from Petrarch (whose access to the poem was through secondary citation) through Montaigne, Bacon, and Gassendi.

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                                                                                                                                      • Wilson, Catherine. Epicureanism at the Origins of Modernity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199238811.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        A wide-ranging exploration of the reception of Lucretius by philosophers in the 17th century, tracing the importance of his influence not only for materialism, but for ethical and social theory as well.

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                                                                                                                                        Lucretius in Modern Discussions of Materialism

                                                                                                                                        Lucretian materialism has informed the thinking of a number of philosophers of process, movement, and becoming since the late 19th century, from Bergson through Serres to Deleuze. Bergson 1959 is the introduction to an edition of selections from Lucretius that he produced for his students in 1884. In the field of nonlinear dynamics, the work of Michel Serres (see Serres 2000, cited under Atomism in Lucretius) influenced Ilya Prigogine (winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1977 for his work on the formation of dissipative structures) who explicitly appealed to the notion of the swerve. The version of atomism Serres advances raises many unsettling questions about the borders between philosophy and the sciences, and between history and philosophy; the broader implications of his work are explored in Serres and Latour 1995 and Webb 2006. Deleuze 1990 engaged with Lucretian materialism as part of a larger historicizing project of revising the philosophical canon (which he referred to as “reversing Platonism”); his work is surveyed in Goldberg 2009 and Holmes and Shearin 2012 (cited under General Overviews), and analyzed in greater detail in Bennett 2013. Recent discussions of materialism that invoke Lucretius have taken on an increasingly political tone, Goldberg 2009 from the perspective of gender studies, and Bennett 2010 from that of ecology. What is meant by “the atom” became a familiar topic in philosophical debates about scientific realism and antirealism. Kennedy 2002 uses the tensions in the text of Lucretius between the fundamental reality attributed to the Epicurean atom and the challenges posed by its representation to analyze these debates at a time when constructivist approaches in science studies had made them particularly contentious.

                                                                                                                                        • Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                          Lucretian atomism is one of the sources for the construction of a tradition of “vital materialism” that sees agency as not restricted to human beings but distributed across nonhuman bodies as well.

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                                                                                                                                          • Bennett, Michael James. “Deleuze and Epicurean Philosophy: Atomic Speed and Swerve Speed.” Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy 21 (2013): 131–157.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.5195/jffp.2013.599Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            A detailed discussion not only of Deleuze 1990 but also of the influence of Epicurean ideas on Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition (1968) and Deleuze and Guattari’s What is Philosophy? (1991).

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                                                                                                                                            • Bergson, Henri. The Philosophy of Poetry: The Genius of Lucretius. Translated by Wade Baskin. New York: Philosophical Library, 1959.

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                                                                                                                                              An early and formative engagement with Lucretius, who was an ambivalent presence in Bergson’s thought throughout his life. Also available at the Internet Archive online.

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                                                                                                                                              • Deleuze, Gilles. “Lucretius and Naturalism.” In The Logic of Sense. By Gilles Deleuze, 266–279. Translated by Mark Lester. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                Originally published in French in 1969 as Logique du sens (Paris: Editions de Minuit). For a perceptive contextualization and close reading, see Brooke Holmes, “Deleuze, Lucretius, and the Simulacrum of Naturalism” in Holmes and Shearin 2012 (cited under General Overviews), pp. 316–342.

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                                                                                                                                                • Goldberg, Jonathan. The Seeds of Things: Theorizing Sexuality and Materiality in Renaissance Representations. New York: Fordham University Press, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823230662.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  In what is primarily a work of literary criticism and gender theory, chapter 2 offers a critical survey of modern attempts that use Lucretius to theorize materialism, including Marx, Bergson, Serres, Deleuze, Foucault, and Bennett.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Kennedy, Duncan F. Rethinking Reality: Lucretius and the Textualization of Nature. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                    Uses Lucretius to think through the contrasting perspectives of realist and constructivist accounts of the sciences, engaging with theorists of the sciences including Ian Hacking, Evelyn Fox Keller, Bruno Latour, and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Serres, Michel, with Bruno Latour. Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time. Translated by Roxanne Lapidus. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                      The most accessible introduction to the work of Serres, arranged as a series of conversations between him and Bruno Latour. His approach to Lucretius is explored in the second conversation, “Method” (pp. 43–76). Originally published in French in 1990 as Eclairissements (Paris: Editions François Bourin).

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                                                                                                                                                      • Webb, David. “Michel Serres on Lucretius: atomism, science and ethics.” Angelaki 11 (2006): 125–136.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/09697250601048580Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Webb discusses the extent to which the approach to Lucretian atomism Serres develops also underpins an ethical perspective.

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                                                                                                                                                        Lucretius and the Sublime

                                                                                                                                                        Conte 1994 is a pioneering attempt to link Lucretian themes and style to the concerns of the 1st-century AD text On the Sublime attributed to Longinus. Several essays in Hardie 2009 take up Conte’s invitation to trace how the immediate poetic successors of Lucretius “pass through” the style of Lucretius and show themselves sublime readers of said style. Porter 2007 and Most 2012 look to draw Lucretius theoretically into ancient and modern discourses of the sublime, while Norbrook 2013 relates Lucretius to expressions of the sublime in the poetry and natural philosophy of the 17th century, and Janowitz 2013 to the “cosmic sublime” of the 18th century.

                                                                                                                                                        • Conte, Gian Biagio. “Instructions for a Sublime Reader: Form of the Text and Form of the Addressee in Lucretius’s De rerum natura.” In Genres and Readers: Lucretius, Love Elegy, Pliny’s Encyclopaedia. By Gian Biagio Conte, 1–34. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                          Refocuses familiar aspects of Lucretius’s poem to highlight the feelings of grandeur, terror, and awe that his revelations on the workings of nature evoke.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Hardie, Philip. Lucretian Receptions, History, the Sublime, Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                            Traces the Lucretian influence on sublime images in Virgil, Horace, and Ovid.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Janowitz, Anne. “The Sublime Plurality of Worlds: Lucretius in the Eighteenth Century.” In The Art of the Sublime. Tate Papers 13. Edited by Nigel Llewellyn and Christine Riding. 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                              Relates Lucretian themes (especially the doctrine of the plurality of worlds) to the idea of a “cosmic sublime” in discussions of the night sky at the end of the 17th century and through the 18th century.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Most, Glenn W. “The Sublime, Today?” In Dynamic Reading: Studies in the Reception of Epicureanism. Edited by Brooke Holmes and W. H. Shearin, 239–266. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794959.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                Contrasts the familiar “Longinian sublime,” which relies upon a theistic perspective, with a “Lucretian sublime” that rejects that perspective.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Norbrook, David. “Milton, Lucy Hutchinson, and the Lucretian Sublime.” In The Art of the Sublime. Edited by Nigel Llewellyn and Christine Riding. 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Explores the response to Lucretius in Milton’s Paradise Lost and in the early translation of On the Nature of Things by Lucy Hutchinson to plot the emergence of a theory of the sublime in the early modern period.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Porter, James I. “Lucretius and the Sublime.” In The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius. Edited by Stuart Gillespie and Philip Hardie, 167–184. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521848015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Juxtaposes Lucretius with Longinus and Kant in a bold reconsideration of the history of the sublime.

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