Titus Lucretius Carus (/ˈtaɪtəs ljuːˈkriːʃəs/; c. 15 October 99 BC – c. 55 BC) was a Roman poet and philosopher. His only known work is the philosophical poem De rerum natura, a didactic work about the tenets and philosophy of Epicureanism, and which is usually translated into English as On the Nature of Things. Lucretius has been credited with originating the concept of the three-age system which was formalised in 1836 by C. J. Thomsen.
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. 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" (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.
Titus Lucretius Carus
Bust of Lucretius
|Born||c. 15 October 99 BC|
|Died||c. 55 BC (aged around 44)|
|Ethics, metaphysics, atoms|
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 psychology. 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[a] 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 eons, 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.
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) round earth theory.
Charaxes lucretius, the violet-washed charaxes or common red charaxes, is a butterfly in the family Nymphalidae.Clinamen
Clinamen (; plural clinamina, derived from clīnāre, to incline) is the Latin name Lucretius gave to the unpredictable swerve of atoms, in order to defend the atomistic doctrine of Epicurus. In modern English it has come more generally to mean an inclination or a bias.DRN
DRN may refer to:
Dark Room Notes, a band originally from Galway, Ireland
De rerum natura, a 1st-century BC epic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius
Disaster Resource Network, a World Economic Forum initiativeDe rerum natura
De rerum natura (Latin: [deːˈreːrũn.naːˈtuːraː]; On the Nature of Things) is a first-century BC didactic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius (c. 99 BC – c. 55 BC) 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.Epicureanism
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 what he called "pleasure" (ἡδονή) was the greatest good, but that the way to attain such pleasure was to live modestly, to gain knowledge of the workings of the world, and to limit one's desires. This would lead one to attain a state of tranquility (ataraxia) and freedom from fear as well as an absence of bodily pain (aponia). 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.
Epicureanism was originally a challenge to Platonism, though later it became the main opponent of Stoicism. Epicurus and his followers shunned politics. Epicureans shunned politics because it could lead to frustrations and ambitions which can directly conflict with the epicurean pursuit for peace of mind and virtues. After the death of Epicurus, his school was headed by Hermarchus; later many Epicurean societies flourished in the Late Hellenistic era and during the Roman era (such as those in Antiochia, Alexandria, Rhodes, and Ercolano). Its best-known Roman proponent was the poet Lucretius. By the end of the Roman Empire, being opposed by philosophies (mainly Neo-Platonism) that were now in the ascendant, Epicureanism had all but died out, but would be resurrected in the Age of Enlightenment.
Some writings by Epicurus have survived. Some scholars consider the epic poem On the Nature of Things by Lucretius to present in one unified work the core arguments and theories of Epicureanism. Many of the scrolls unearthed at the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum are Epicurean texts. At least some are thought to have belonged to the Epicurean Philodemus.Epicurus
Epicurus (341–270 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher and sage who founded a highly influential school of philosophy now called Epicureanism. He was born on the Greek island of Samos to Athenian parents. Influenced by Democritus, Aristotle, 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, and he openly allowed women to join the school as a matter of policy. An extremely prolific writer, he 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 and quotations of his other writings. Most knowledge of his teachings comes from later authors, particularly the Roman poet Lucretius, the biographer Diogenes Laërtius, the statesman Cicero, and the philosophers Philodemus and Sextus Empiricus.
For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia—peace and freedom from fear— and aponia—the absence of pain— and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that the root of all human neurosis is death denial, and the tendency for human beings to assume that death will be horrific and painful, which he claimed causes unnecessary anxiety, selfish self-protective behaviors, and hypocrisy. According to Epicurus, death is the end of both the body and the soul and therefore should not be feared. Likewise, Epicurus taught that the gods, though they do exist, have no involvement in human affairs and do not punish or reward people for their actions. Nonetheless, he maintained that people should still behave ethically because amoral behavior will burden them with guilt and prevent them from attaining ataraxia.
Like Aristotle, Epicurus was an empiricist, meaning he believed that the senses are the only reliable source of knowledge about the world. He derived much of his physics and cosmology from the earlier philosopher Democritus (c. 460–c. 370 BC). Like Democritus, Epicurus taught that the universe is infinite and eternal and that all matter is made up of extremely tiny, invisible particles known as atoms. All occurrences in the natural world are ultimately the result of atoms moving and interacting in empty space. Epicurus deviated from Democritus in his teaching of atomic "swerve", which holds that atoms may deviate from their expected course, thus permitting humans to possess free will in an otherwise deterministic universe.
Though popular, Epicurean teachings were controversial from the beginning. Epicureanism reached the height of its popularity during the late years of the Roman Republic, before declining as the rival school of Stoicism grew in popularity at its expense. It finally died out in late antiquity in the wake of early Christianity. Epicurus himself was popularly, though inaccurately, remembered throughout the Middle Ages as a patron of drunkards, whoremongers, and gluttons. His teachings gradually became more widely known in the fifteenth century with the rediscovery of important texts, but his ideas did not become acceptable until the seventeenth century, when the French Catholic priest Pierre Gassendi revived a modified version of them, which was promoted by other writers, including Walter Charleton and Robert Boyle. His influence grew considerably during and after the Enlightenment, profoundly impacting the ideas of major thinkers, including John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Jeremy Bentham, and Karl Marx.Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas
“Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas” is verse 490 of Book 2 of the "Georgics" (29 BC), by the Latin poet Virgil (70 - 19 BC). It is literally translated as: “Fortunate who was able to know the causes of things”. Dryden rendered it: "Happy the Man, who, studying Nature's Laws, / Thro' known Effects can trace the secret Cause" (The works of Virgil, 1697). Virgil may have had in mind the Roman philosopher Lucretius, of the Epicurean school.Gnaeus Lucretius
Gnaeus Lucretius Trio was a Roman moneyer, who minted denarii in Rome c. 136 BCE. He may be an ancestor of Lucius Lucretius Trio.
One of his denarii shows a head of Roma facing right with "TRIO" behind and an "X" below the chin. The reverse shows the Dioscuri galloping right with "CN. LVCR" below the horses and "ROMA" in the exergue. It is cataloged in
"Roman Silver Coins" as "Lucretia 1" and in "Roman Republican Coinage" as "237/1".List of English translations of De rerum natura
De rerum natura (usually translated as On the Nature of Things) is a philosophical epic poem written by Lucretius in Latin around 55 BCE. The poem was lost during the Middle Ages, rediscovered in 1417, and first printed in 1473. Its earliest published translation into any language (French) did not occur until 1650; in English — although earlier partial or unpublished translations exist — the first complete translation to be published was that of Thomas Creech, in heroic couplets, in 1682. Only a few more English translations appeared over the next two centuries, but in the 20th century translations began appearing more frequently.
Only complete (or nearly complete) translations are listed. Notable translations of individual passages include the "invocation to Venus" by Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queene IV.X.44-47; and five passages in John Dryden's Sylvae (1685).Lucretia (gens)
The gens Lucretia was a prominent family of the Roman Republic. Originally patrician, the gens later included a number of plebeian families. The Lucretii were one of the most ancient gentes, and the wife of Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome, was named Lucretia. The first of the Lucretii to obtain the consulship was Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus in 509 BC, the first year of the Republic.Not by Its Cover
"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.Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing comes from nothing (Latin: ex nihilo nihil fit) is a philosophical expression of a thesis first argued by Parmenides. It is associated with ancient Greek cosmology, such as is presented not just in the works of Homer and Hesiod, but also in virtually every internal system—there is no break in-between a world that did not exist and one that did, since it could not be created ex nihilo in the first place.Numen
Numen, pl. numina, is a Latin term for "divinity", or a "divine presence", "divine will." The Latin authors defined it as follows. Cicero writes of a "divine mind" (divina mens), a god "whose numen everything obeys," and a "divine power" (vim divinam) "which pervades the lives of men." It causes the motions and cries of birds during augury. In Virgil's recounting of the blinding of the one-eyed giant, Polyphemus, from the Odyssey, in his Aeneid, he has Odysseus and his men first "ask for the assistance of the great numina" (magna precati numina). Reviewing public opinion of Augustus on the day of his funeral, the historian Tacitus reports that some thought "no honor was left to the gods" when he "established the cult of himself" (se ... coli vellet) "with temples and the effigies of numina" (effigie numinum). Pliny the younger in a letter to Paternus raves about the "power," the "dignity," and "the majesty;" in short, the "numen of history." Lucretius uses the expression numen mentis, or "bidding of the mind," where "bidding" is numen, not, however, the divine numen, unless the mind is to be considered divine, but as simply human will.Since the early 20th century, numen has sometimes been treated in the history of religion as a pre-animistic phase; that is, a belief system inherited from an earlier time. Numen is also used by sociologists to refer to the idea of magical power residing in an object, particularly when writing about ideas in the western tradition. When used in this sense, numen is nearly synonymous with mana. However, some authors reserve use of mana for ideas about magic from Polynesia and southeast Asia.Publius Valerius Publicola
Publius Valerius Poplicola or Publicola (died 503 BC) was one of four Roman aristocrats who led the overthrow of the monarchy, and became a Roman consul, the colleague of Lucius Junius Brutus in 509 BC, traditionally considered the first year of the Roman Republic.Quintus Lucretius Vespillo
Quintus Lucretius Vespillo was a Roman consul, and the son of another Quintus Lucretius Vespillo, an orator and jurist. The elder Lucretius was proscribed by Sulla and murdered.
Lucretius served in the Pompeian military in 48 BC. He was proscribed by the triumvirs in 43 BC. His good fortune
was that he was concealed by his wife Curia in their home at Rome. He hid out there in the ceiling until his friends could obtain his pardon. In 20 BC he was one of the people selected as a candidate to represent the people that the Roman Senate sent to Augustus in Athens to request for him to assume the consulship in 19 BC. Lucretius was ultimately appointed as the Roman consul with C. Sentius Saturninus in that year.
He is believed to be the author of the Laudatio Turiae, a tombstone engraved with an epitaph in the form of a husband's eulogy for his wife.Rabirius (Epicurean)
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.In his Academica, Cicero criticizes Amafinius and Rabirius from an elitist perspective for their unsophisticated prose style, and says that in their efforts to introduce philosophy to common people they end up saying nothing. He concludes indignantly: "they think there is no art of speechmaking or composition." Although Cicero in his writings is mostly hostile toward Epicureanism, his dear friend Atticus was an Epicurean, and this remark, occurring within a dialogue, is attributed to the interlocutor Varro, not framed as Cicero's own view.Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus
Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus is a semi-legendary figure in early Roman history. He was the first Suffect Consul of Rome and was also the father of Lucretia, whose rape by Sextus Tarquinius, followed by her suicide, resulted in the dethronement of King Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, therefore directly precipitating the founding of the Roman Republic. It is believed that Lucretius and his accomplishments are at least partly mythical and most ancient references to him were penned by Livy and Plutarch.Titus Lucretius Tricipitinus
Titus Lucretius Tricipitinus was a politician and military leader in the early days of the Roman Republic. Twice, in the years 508 and 504 BC, he was elected Roman Consul, alongside Publius Valerius Poplicola. Also a military leader, he was victorious against Lars Porsena during his first consulate. According to Livy, he led the Roman army together with Valerius against the Sabines in 504 BC and both consuls were awarded the honour of a triumph, however the Fasti Triumphales only mention the triumph of Valerius, in May 504 BC. During the war between Rome and Clusium, Lucretius participated in a successful sally organised by Valerius, killing a Clusian raiding party.The stories of Titus and his exploits may in part be mythical.Tribuni militum consulari potestate
The tribuni militum consulari potestate ("military tribunes with consular power"), in English commonly also Consular Tribunes, were tribunes elected with consular power during the so-called "Conflict of the Orders" in the Roman Republic, starting in 444 BC and then continuously from 408 BC to 394 BC and again from 391 BC to 367 BC.
Ancient Rome topics
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