By Eudora Olsen

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From Atoms to Cosmos: The Genius of Lucretius. By Eudora Olsen. By Eudora Olsen. Meet Lucretius. Birth in 94 BC, death in either 54 or 51* Epicurean poet Wrote in the middle years of the first century BC Member of aristocratic clan, Lucretii or possibly a former slave - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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By Eudora Olsen

From Atoms to Cosmos: The Genius of LucretiusBy Eudora Olsen

Meet Lucretius

Birth in 94 BC, death in either 54 or 51*

Epicurean poet

Wrote in the middle years of the first century BC

Member of aristocratic clan, Lucretii or possibly a former slave

Cicero: flashes of genius and craftsmanship characterize Lucretius' poetry

*Little known about exact dates of birth/death (early Christianity branded Lucretius an enemy of religion)

Historical ContextFirst Century BCE91 BC: Social War88 BC: Lucius Cornelius Sulla starts Civil War and becomes dictatorRise of Sulla to fall of CatilineBloodshed, war, tumult

Whats Epicureanism?(On Epicurus): O you who out of the vast darkness were the first to raiseA shining light, illuminating the blessings of life,O glory of the Grecian race, it is you I follow (Bk 3, 1-3)Seeks to link Physics, Ethics, and CanonicThe universe consists of matter and voidAll matter made of imperishable atoms that are homogenous in substance but differ in shape and size

Epicureanism cont.The universe is an ongoing cosmic eventEpicurus was a materialist, not an atheist (Gods do not have interest in human affairs)Objects send off idols of themselves to travel through air and thus we have senses

De Rerum NaturaOn the Nature of ThingsEpic Poem6 BooksUnfolding of a complex philosophical argument (utm.edu)Wide range of themes: philosophy, love, reason, luxuriesUnfinished

The Structure of De Rerum Natura Book I: Invocation of Venus, explains EpicureanismBook II: Atomic motionBook III: Proof of materiality, deathBook IV: Epicurus theory of vision/sensationBook V: Proliferation and extinction of life formsBook VI: Meteorology, geology

Selected PassagesAll life is a struggle in the dark. (Bk II, 54)

Such is the power of reason to overcome inborn vices/That nothing prevents our living a life worthy of gods. (Bk III, 321-22)If she stutters or lisps, she speaks musically.If shes dumb, shes modest; and if shes hot-temperedAnd a chatterbox, shes a ball of fire. (Bk 4, 1159-71)

The Lucretius LegacyOne of the principal sources for Epicurean thoughtSpurred innovative scientific thought in the sixteenth/seventeenth centuryNeo-Epicurean philosopher Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655)Published elaboration of Epicurean scienceMilton, Whitman, WordsworthDarwin

Bibliographyhttp://www.iep.utm.edu/lucretiu/#SH2c

http://classics.mit.edu/Carus/nature_things.html