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Poeticizing Epicurus in Lucretius' De rerum natura

by 1980- Ryan, Kelly Erin

Abstract (Summary)
The relationship of Lucretius to his master, Epicurus, is a central question in the study of Lucretius’ De rerum natura. As a devout follower of Epicureanism, Lucretius claims to adhere faithfully to Epicurus’ teachings. However, as a poet, Lucretius openly flouts his master’s belief in the inherent immorality of poetry. This paper examines how Lucretius recreates the persona of Epicurus in order to make the poetry of the De rerum natura seem compliant with Epicurean thought. Through this study, I conclude that Lucretius not only transforms Epicurus into a poet, but into a distinctly Lucretian poet. He does this several ways. Lucretius depicts Epicurus “poetically,” placing him in situations more suitable for an epic hero or god; he parallels Epicurus with his poetic predecessors; and he forms associations between himself as poet, Epicurus, and various poetic purveyors of the natura rerum, such as Venus, Ennius, Homer and Empedocles.
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School:The University of Georgia

School Location:USA - Georgia

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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