Titus Lucretius Carus
Bust of Lucretius
|Born||c. 99 BC|
|Died||c. 55 BC (aged around 44)|
|School|| Epicureanism |
|Ethics, metaphysics, atoms|
Titus Lucretius Carus ( // TY-təs loo-KREE-shəs, Classical Latin: [ˈtɪtʊs lʊˈkreːtɪ.ʊs] ; c. 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 has been credited with originating the concept of the three-age system which was formalised in 1836 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.
De rerum natura was a considerable influence on the Augustan poets, particularly Virgil (in his Aeneid and Georgics , and to a lesser extent on the Eclogues ) and Horace. (c. 60 BC) has a remarkable description of Brownian motion of dust particles in verses 113–140 from Book II. He uses this as a proof of the existence of atoms.The work virtually disappeared during the Middle Ages, but was rediscovered in 1417 in a monastery in Germany by Poggio Bracciolini and it played an important role both in the development of atomism (Lucretius was an important influence on Pierre Gassendi) and the efforts of various figures of the Enlightenment era to construct a new Christian humanism. Lucretius's scientific poem "On the Nature of Things"
De rerum natura (tr. Melville) 1.50
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 the poet is born."If Jerome is accurate about Lucretius's age (43) when Lucretius died (discussed below), it can then be concluded he was born in 99 or 98 BC. Less specific estimates place the birth of Lucretius in the 90s BC and death in the 50s BC, in agreement with the poem's many allusions to the tumultuous state of political affairs in Rome and its civil strife.
Lucretius was probably a member of the aristocratic gens Lucretia , and his work shows an intimate knowledge of the luxurious lifestyle in Rome.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.
A brief biographical note is found in Aelius Donatus's Life of Virgil, which seems to be derived from an earlier work by Suetonius.The note reads: "The first years of his life 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 the poet passed away." However, although Lucretius certainly lived and died around the time that Virgil and Cicero flourished, the information in this particular testimony is internally inconsistent: If Virgil was born in 70 BC, his 17th birthday would be in 53. The two consuls of 70 BC, 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 contends in the aforementioned Chronicon that 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." The claim that he was driven mad by a love potion, although defended by such scholars as Reale and Catan, is often dismissed as the result of historical confusion, or anti-Epicurean bias. In some accounts the administration of the toxic aphrodisiac is attributed to his wife Lucilia. Regardless, Jerome's image of 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.
His poem 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 cosmology. Lucretius was the first writer to introduce Roman readers to Epicurean philosophy.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 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.
Within this work, 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 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.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". 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 followed the use of stones and branches and preceded the use of iron.
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 (1000 BC to 1 BC). He may have considered bronze to be a stronger variety of copper and not necessarily a wholly individual material. 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.
In a letter by Cicero to his brother Quintus in February 54 BC, Cicero said: "The poems of Lucretius are as you write: they exhibit many flashes of genius, and yet show great mastership."In the work of another author in late Republican Rome, Virgil writes in the second book of his Georgics, apparently referring to Lucretius, "Happy is he who has discovered the causes of things and has cast beneath his feet all fears, unavoidable fate, and the din of the devouring Underworld."
An early thinker in what grew to become the study of evolution, Lucretius believed nature experiments endlessly across the aeons, and the organisms that adapt best to their environment have the best chance of surviving. Living organisms survived because of their strength, speed, or intellect. In contrast to modern thought on the subject, he did not believe that new species evolved from previously existing ones and denied that modern animals, which dwell on land, derived from marine ancestors. Lucretius challenged the assumption that humans are necessarily superior to animals, noting that mammalian mothers in the wild recognize and nurture their offspring as do human mothers.[ citation needed ]
Despite his advocacy of empiricism and his many correct conjectures about atomism and the nature of the physical world, Lucretius concludes his first book stressing the absurdity of the (by then well-established) spherical Earth theory.
While Epicurus left open the possibility for free will by arguing for the uncertainty of the paths of atoms, Lucretius viewed the soul or mind as emerging from arrangements of distinct particles.
Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher and sage who founded Epicureanism, a highly influential school of philosophy. He was born on the Greek island of Samos to Athenian parents. Influenced by Democritus, Aristippus, Pyrrho, and possibly the Cynics, he turned against the Platonism of his day and established his own school, known as "the Garden", in Athens. Epicurus and his followers were known for eating simple meals and discussing a wide range of philosophical subjects. He openly allowed women to join the school as a matter of policy. Epicurus is said to have originally written over 300 works on various subjects, but the vast majority of these writings have been lost. Only three letters written by him—the Letters to Menoeceus, Pythocles, and Herodotus—and two collections of quotes—the Principle Doctrines and the Vatican Sayings—have survived intact, along with a few fragments of his other writings. Most knowledge of his teachings comes from later authors, particularly the biographer Diogenes Laërtius, the Epicurean Roman poet Lucretius and the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus, and with hostile but largely accurate accounts by the Pyrrhonist philosopher Sextus Empiricus, and the statesman and Academic Skeptic Cicero.
Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Following Aristippus—about whom very little is known—Epicurus believed that the greatest good was to seek modest, sustainable "pleasure" in the form of a state of tranquility and freedom from fear (ataraxia) and absence of bodily pain (aponia) through knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of our desires. The combination of these two states constitutes happiness in its highest form. Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism insofar as it declares pleasure to be its sole intrinsic goal, the concept that the absence of pain and fear constitutes the greatest pleasure, and its advocacy of a simple life, make it very different from "hedonism" as colloquially understood.
Gaius Memmius was a Roman orator and poet. He was Tribune of the Plebs, patron of Lucretius and an acquaintance of Catullus and Helvius Cinna.
De rerum natura is a first-century BC didactic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius with the goal of explaining Epicurean philosophy to a Roman audience. The poem, written in some 7,400 dactylic hexameters, is divided into six untitled books, and explores Epicurean physics through poetic language and metaphors. Namely, Lucretius explores 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.
The Georgics is a poem by Latin poet Virgil, likely published in 29 BC. As the name suggests the subject of the poem is agriculture; but far from being an example of peaceful rural poetry, it is a work characterized by tensions in both theme and purpose.
Zeno of Sidon was an Epicurean philosopher from the Phoenician city of Sidon. His writings have not survived, but there are some epitomes of his lectures preserved among the writings of his pupil Philodemus.
Gaius Memmius may refer to:
Ancient Roman philosophy was heavily influenced by the ancient Greeks, in particular, the Stoics and the Epicureans.
Religious skepticism is a type of skepticism relating to religion. Religious skeptics question religious authority and are not necessarily anti-religious but skeptical of specific or all religious beliefs and/or practices. Socrates was one of the most prominent and first religious skeptics of whom there are records; he questioned the legitimacy of the beliefs of his time in the existence of the Greek gods. Religious skepticism is not the same as atheism or agnosticism, and some religious skeptics are deists.
Catius was an Epicurean philosopher, identified ethnically as an Insubrian Celt from Gallia Transpadana. Epicurean works by Amafinius, Rabirius, and Catius were the earliest philosophical treatises written in Latin. Catius composed a treatise in four books on the physical world and on the highest good. Cicero credits him, along with the lesser prose stylist Amafinius, with writing accessible texts that popularized Epicurean philosophy among the plebs, or common people.
Gaius Amafinius was one of the earliest Roman writers in favour of the Epicurean philosophy. He probably lived in the late 2nd and early 1st century BC. He wrote several works, which are censured by Cicero as deficient in arrangement and style. He is mentioned by no other ancient writer but Cicero. In the Academica, Cicero reveals that Amafanius translated the Greek concept of atoms as "corpuscles" (corpusculi) in Latin.
De Natura Deorum is a philosophical dialogue by Roman orator Cicero written in 45 BC. It is laid out in three books, each of which discusses the theology of different Roman and Greek philosophers. The dialogue uses a discussion of Epicurean, Stoic, and Academic Skeptic theories to examine fundamental questions of theology.
Lucilia is believed to have been the wife of the Roman philosopher Lucretius, though there is little evidence of their relationship, let alone marriage. Moreover, the name 'Lucilia' was not associated with Lucretius until many centuries after his death. In Walter Map's twelfth century work titled De nugis curialium, 'Lucilia' is the name of a woman who murders her husband by giving him a potion that causes him to go insane. It wasn't until 1511, in Pius's vita, that the name 'Lucilia' became associated with Lucretius. Some have even questioned whether this association was made-up for the sake of writing, that is, to maintain literary style.
Alessandro Marchetti was an Italian mathematician, noted for criticizing some conclusions of Guido Grandi, a student of Giovanni Alfonso Borelli who was influenced by Galileo and Aristotle.
Phaedrus was an Epicurean philosopher. He was the head (scholarch) of the Epicurean school in Athens after the death of Zeno of Sidon around 75 BC, until his own death in 70 or 69 BC. He was a contemporary of Cicero, who became acquainted with him in his youth at Rome. During his residence in Athens Cicero renewed his acquaintance with him. Phaedrus was at that time an old man, and was already a leading figure of the Epicurean school. He was also on terms of friendship with Velleius, whom Cicero introduces as the defender of the Epicurean tenets in the De Natura Deorum, and especially with Atticus. Cicero especially praises his agreeable manners. He had a son named Lysiadas. Phaedrus was succeeded by Patro.
"Not by Its Cover" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, a sequel to his first published science fiction short story, "Beyond Lies the Wub". The story continues the former's theme of immortality, although not focusing on a living Wub itself, but rather its fur.
Don Paul Fowler was an English classicist.
Rabirius was a 1st-century BC Epicurean associated with Amafinius and Catius as one of the early popularizers of the philosophy in Italy. Their works on Epicureanism were the earliest philosophical treatises written in Latin. Other than Lucretius, Amafinius and Rabirius are the only Roman Epicurean writers named by Cicero.
De Fato is a partially lost philosophical treatise written by the Roman orator Cicero in 44 BC. Only two-thirds of the work exists; the beginning and ending are missing. It takes the form of a dialogue, although it reads more like an exposition, whose interlocutors are Cicero and his friend Aulus Hirtius.
Martin Ferguson Smith, is a British scholar and writer. After education at Shrewsbury School (1953-1958) he proceeded to Trinity College, Dublin (1958-1963), where he was a Foundation Scholar in Classics and won several academic prizes, including the Tyrrell Memorial Gold Medal for Greek and Latin verse and prose composition (1960). After gaining First Class Honours and a Moderatorship Prize (1962), he carried out postgraduate research under Donald Ernest Wilson Wormell for a thesis entitled Lucretius: The Man and His Mission.
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