Man and Beast in Lucretius and the Georgics

Classical Quarterly 41 (02):414- (1991)
Abstract
The overwhelming importance of Lucretius' De Rerum Natura for the interpretation of the Georgics is recognized by almost all critics. As W. Y. Sellar expressed it over a hundred years ago, ‘the influence, direct and indirect, exercised by Lucretius on the thought, composition and even the diction of the Georgics was perhaps stronger than that ever exercised, before or since, by one poet on the work of another’. Richard Thomas' recent commentary attempts to play down the extent of this influence, contending that ‘the debt of Virgil to Lucretius in the Georgics is predominantly formal’, and manifests itself chiefly on a verbal level, whereby the poet seeks ‘to create a didactic appearance for his poem’. The aim of this paper is to reassert the pervasive importance of Lucretian ideas, as well as Lucretian language, throughout the poem, and particularly in Virgil's presentation of the physical and metaphysical relationships between man and beast
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