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Summary

Titus Lucretius Carus (c. 99 – 55 BC) was a Roman poet and philosopher. He is author of the Latin epic poem De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things), comprised of six books in hexameter verse that address topics in Epicurean philosophy, including the atomic theory, the nature of the gods, freewill and determinism, the nature of mind and soul, sensation and thought, cosmogony, how the physical world is ordered and regulated, and the development of human civilization. The poem is a key source for our knowledge of Epicureanism and it had a major impact on Western thought in the Enlightenment and early modern period.

Key works

The most accessible English translation of Lucretius’ De rerum natura, with facing Latin text, is the Loeb edition of W. H. D. Rouse (revised M . F. Smith) Rouse & Smith 1975. There is also a verse translation by R. Melville in the Oxford World’s Classics Series with a good introduction by D. P. Fowler Melville & Fowler 1999. The collected papers in Algra et al 1997, Gale 2007, and Gillespie & Hardie 2007 highlight a range of literary and philosophical approaches to Lucretius.

Introductions David Sedley offers the best introductory article on Lucretius Sedley 2013.  
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  1. added 2020-05-11
    Memmius, Cicero and Lucretius: A Note on Cic. Fam. 13.1.Christopher V. Trinacty - forthcoming - Classical Quarterly:1-4.
    A recent piece in this journal by Morgan and Taylor made the case that C. Memmius is not to be seen as an active prosecutor of Epicureanism but rather as an Epicurean himself, who merely has disagreed with the grimly orthodox Epicurean sect in Athens. As such, Memmius’ building intentions for Epicurus’ home could have been to create an honorary monument or possibly even construct a grander locus for pilgrimage and the practice of Epicureanism. This note adds to their findings (...)
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  2. added 2020-05-11
    Lucretius and the Conscience of an Epicurean.David Konstan - 2019 - Politeia 1 (2):67-79.
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  3. added 2020-05-11
    Physical Theories of the Soul: Democritus, Epicurus, Lucretius.Archontissa Kokotsaki - 2018 - Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy 2 (3):37-41.
    The Epicurean philosophy is based upon the theory of Democritus, who believed that everything is composed of ‘atoms’, physically but not geometrically indivisible, and lie in a void. Democritus paid a great deal of attention to the structure of the human body, the noblest part of which is considered to be the soul. These all-pervading souls - atoms perform in different functions. In this case, Epicurus and his followers believed that the soul, just like the body, was somehow material, consisting (...)
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  4. added 2020-04-28
    Mixed Bodies, Agency and Narrative in Lucretius and Machiavelli.Sean Erwin - 2020 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (2):337-355.
    Scholars have cited the influence of Lucretius on Machiavelli as important to framing Machiavelli’s position on the freedom of political agents. Some scholars like Roecklin and Rahe argue that Machiavelli was a determinist based on Machiavelli’s rejection of the clinamen; others argue with Brown and Morfino that Machiavelli’s affirmation of Lucretian natural principles left room for the freedom of agents. However, this paper takes a different approach by arguing that Machiavelli successfully resists identification with either of these positions. I argue (...)
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  5. added 2020-04-28
    How A-Theoretic Deprivationists Should Respond to Lucretius.Natalja Deng - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (3):417-432.
    What, if anything, makes death bad for the deceased themselves? Deprivationists hold that death is bad for the deceased iff it deprives them of intrinsic goods they would have enjoyed had they lived longer. This view faces the problem that birth too seems to deprive one of goods one would have enjoyed had one been born earlier, so that it too should be bad for one. There are two main approaches to the problem. In this paper, I explore the second (...)
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  6. added 2020-03-10
    Epicureanism by Tim O'Keefe. [REVIEW]Monte Johnson - 2012 - Aestimatio 9:108.
  7. added 2020-02-11
    Facing Death: Epicurus and His Critics.R. Kamtekar - 2004 - Philosophical Review 116 (4):650-653.
    James Warren, Facing Death, Epicurus and his Critics. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004. Pp. viii, 240. ISBN 0-19-925289-0. $45.00. Reviewed by Thornton Lockwood, Sacred Heart University Word count: 2152 words ------------------------------- To modern ears, the word Epicurean indicates an interest in fine dining. But at least throughout the early modern period up until the 19th century, Epicureanism was known less for its relation to food preparation and more so, if not scandalously so, for its doctrine about the annihilation of the human (...)
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  8. added 2020-02-10
    Lucretius' Arguments on the Swerve and Free-Action.Basil Evangelidis - 2019 - Landmarks in the Philosophy, Ethics and History of Science.
    In his version of atomism, Lucretius made explicit reference to the concept of an intrinsic declination of the atom, the atomic swerve (clinamen in Latin), stressing that the time and space of the infinitesimal atomic vibration is uncertain. The topic of this article is the Epicurean and Lucretian arguments in favour of the swerve. Our exposition of the Lucretian model of the atomic clinamen will present and elucidate the respective considerations on the alleged role of the swerve in the generation (...)
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  9. added 2020-02-10
    The End of Epicurean Infinity: Critical Reflections on the Epicurean Infinite Universe.Frederik Bakker - 2018 - In Frederik Bakker, Delphine Bellis & Carla Rita Palmerino (eds.), Space, Imagination and the Cosmos from Antiquity to the Early Modern Period. Cham, Zwitserland: pp. 41-67.
    In contrast to other ancient philosophers, Epicurus and his followers famously maintained the infinity of matter, and consequently of worlds. This was inferred from the infinity of space, because they believed that a limited amount of matter would inevitably be scattered through infinite space, and hence be unable to meet and form stable compounds. By contrast, the Stoics claimed that there was only a finite amount of matter in infinite space, which stayed together because of a general centripetal tendency. The (...)
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  10. added 2020-02-03
    La peur, passion radicale : Sur l’économie des passions chez Lucrèce.Pierre-Marie Morel - 2018 - Elenchos 39 (2):281-299.
    This paper deals with the aetiological aspect of the Epicurean conception of passions. It is argued that the therapy of the soul relies on an overall explanation of the various emotional states, and that fear is at the core of this framework in so far as it is the root of most psychic troubles. The first part deals with fear in the context of the general theory of passions. The second part shows that this basic emotion is the root of (...)
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  11. added 2020-01-12
    Death, and Life.Dorothy L. Grover - 1987 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 17 (4):711 - 732.
    Most of us, were we faced with a life threatening situation, would try to avoid it; we do not want to die. Yet Lucretius has argued that death can be ‘nothing to us,’ for when death has occurred we don't exist: we can't suffer something if we don't exist.If death can be a misfortune, what is the misfortune suffered, and who suffers it? The misfortune must be suffered by the person who dies, before death has occurred, otherwise – as Lucretius (...)
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  12. added 2019-12-22
    Lucretius and Spinoza or Clinamen and Conatus.Pedro Mauricio Garcia Dotto - 2019 - Cadernos Espinosanos 41:241-277.
    Este artigo compara e contrasta dois conceitos filosóficos provenientes de distintas linhagens de pensamento: de um lado, o _clinamen _de Lucrécio; do outro, o _conatus _de Espinosa. O que fomentou minha pesquisa foi uma conjugação dessas noções tal como proposto por Deleuze no apêndice de seu _Logique du sens_. Nesse sentido, a primeira seção está orientada tendo em vista uma elucidação da filosofia de Lucrécio — consequentemente, também a de Epicuro — e, especificamente, uma interpretação do desvio dos átomos ou (...)
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  13. added 2019-12-10
    Michel Serres and the Rhythms of the Flow – Part 2.Pascal Michon - forthcoming - Rhuthmos.
    Previous chapter Rhuthmic ontology Having set up the larger scientific frame, Serres introduced Lucretius' ontology. He did not pay attention to the atoms themselves but it is worth noticing that Lucretius described them as endowed with various size, weight, and “shape” which was an accurate translation of the Democritean rhuthmós. Serres started from Book 2 where the concept of clinamen – declination was introduced as “depellere paulum, tantum quod - Physique – Nouvel article.
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  14. added 2019-12-10
    Michel Serres and the Rhythms of the Flow – Part 3.Pascal Michon - forthcoming - Rhuthmos.
    Previous chapter Rhuthmic Perception Theory At the juncture point between ontology and knowledge was the soul. According to Lucretius, the soul consisted of two parts: the animus, located in the chest, which commanded intellectual operations and will, and the anima which was spread throughout the body, received perceptions and transmitted in turn the impulses of the command center. The soul in both aspects could be shown to be corporeal. To make it short, anthropology could be - Physique – Nouvel article.
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  15. added 2019-11-25
    Lucretius’ Use of the Name Iphianassa.Robert Brown - forthcoming - Classical Quarterly:1-10.
    The name Iphianassa occurs only once in Latin literature—in the proem to De Rerum Natura. Here Lucretius illustrates the evils of religion with a description of Iphianassa's sacrifice at Aulis : illud in his rebus uereor, ne forte rearis impia te rationis inire elementa uiamque indugredi sceleris. quod contra saepius illa religio peperit scelerosa atque impia facta. Aulide quo pacto Triuiai uirginis aram Iphianassai turparunt sanguine foede ductores Danaum delecti, prima uirorum. cui simul infula uirgineos circumdata comptus ex utraque pari (...)
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  16. added 2019-10-29
    Head-Fake: Two Jokes in Lucretius 3.136–50.Michael McOsker - forthcoming - Classical Quarterly:1-2.
    Towards the beginning of Book 3, Lucretius starts his description of the soul. According to Epicurus, the soul is divided into two, an irrational part, which is coextensive with the body, and a rational part, the ‘mind’, which is located in the chest. This position is a relic from an earlier, non–philosophical tradition, and was adopted by several different philosophers. But Alexandrian doctors would soon correctly locate the mind in the head, and later Epicureans would have to defend an increasingly (...)
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  17. added 2019-09-25
    The Translation of Lucretius, Vol. 1 of The Works of Lucy Hutchinson Ed. By Reid Barbour and David Norbrook.Stephen Greenblatt - 2019 - Common Knowledge 25 (1-3):458-458.
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  18. added 2019-09-25
    Senecan Signification.Troades1055.T. S. Allendorf - 2017 - Classical Quarterly 67 (1):320-323.
    The fourth choral ode in Seneca's tragedyTroadesends thus :tum puer matri genetrixque natoTroia qua iaceat regione monstransdicet et longe digito notabit:‘Ilium est illic, ubi fumus alteserpit in caelum nebulaeque turpes.’Troes hoc signo patriam uidebunt.This ending provides a powerful conclusion to the Chorus’ Epicurean-inspired philosophizing in the ode. The image of the Trojan women ‘seeing’ the ‘smoke and squalid clouds creep[ing] high into the heavens’ recalls the Lucretian description of the soul, atomic in nature, leaving the dead body: compare especiallyet nebula (...)
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  19. added 2019-09-23
    Lucretius on the Divine: DRN 3.17-30, 5.1161-93, and 6.68-79.Chris Eckerman - 2019 - Mnemosyne 72:284-299.
    I provide a new interpretation of DRN 3.17-30 and 6.68-79, reading 3.17-30 in relation to Epicurus’ teachings on the mental construction of gods and 6.68-79 in relation to popular religion. I also review 5.1161-1193, discussing the evidence that the passage provides for the idealist and realist theses.
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  20. added 2019-09-22
    Cosmos in the Ancient World.Phillip Sidney Horky (ed.) - 2019 - Cambridge University Press.
    How did the ancient Greeks and Romans conceptualise order? This book answers that question by analysing the formative concept of kosmos in ancient literature, philosophy, science, art, and religion. This concept encouraged the Greeks and Romans to develop theories to explain core aspects of human life, including nature, beauty, society, politics, the individual, and what lies beyond human experience. Hence, Greek kosmos, and its Latin correlate mundus, are subjects of profound reflection by a wide range of important ancient figures, including (...)
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  21. added 2019-09-08
    Embryology, Female Semina and Male Vincibility in Lucretius, de Rervm Natvra.Michael Pope - 2019 - Classical Quarterly 69 (1):229-245.
    In a poem setting forth the way things are in nature, it is fitting for Lucretius to address, among many other phenomena, human conception and embryonic determination. With an eye toward ethics, Lucretius demonstrates how sexual reproduction at the seminal level can be explained by Epicurean atomism. In this paper, I am concerned with the biological ‘how’ of conception as explained in De Rerum Natura but also with the ethical ‘therefore’ for Lucretius’ readership and estimations of male autonomy. For modern (...)
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  22. added 2019-08-13
    Matters of Life and Death.Michael Rabenberg - 2018 - Dissertation, Harvard University
    This dissertation comprises three chapters, each of which is concerned with a normative topic having to do with death. Chapter 1, “Against Deprivationism,” is concerned with the deprivationist thesis that a person’s death is bad for her if and only if, and because and to the extent that, it makes her life worse for her than it otherwise would have been. I argue that deprivationism is probably false. Chapter 2, “Some Versions of Lucretius’ Puzzle,” is concerned with Lucretius’ Puzzle, very (...)
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  23. added 2019-07-25
    Jacques Derrida in Agamben's Philosophy.Virgil W. Brower - 2017 - In Adam Kotsko & Carl Salzani (eds.), Agamben's Philosophical Lineage. Edinburgh, UK: pp. 252-261.
  24. added 2019-07-16
    The First Edition of Lucretius Reproduced. Beretta Lucrezio. De Rerum Natura, Editio Princeps . Pp. 62 + 208. Bologna: Bononia University Press, 2016. Paper, €150. Isbn: 978-88-6923-066-0. [REVIEW]David Butterfield - forthcoming - The Classical Review:1-2.
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  25. added 2019-07-08
    Reformulación del rol político de la diosa Venus en el De rerum natura de Tito Lucrecio Caro.Mayra Salas - 2019 - Areté. Revista de Filosofía 31 (1):217-233.
    La invocación a la diosa Venus en el proemio al libro primero del De rerum natura es uno de los más memorables en la historia de la literatura, así como uno de los más inquietantes en la historia de los textos que niegan todo influjo divino en los asuntos humanos. El presente trabajo busca hallar en la presencia de la diosa Venus a lo largo de todo el poema una dimensión ordenadora que la distinguiría de cualquier entidad divina tradicional. Proponemos, (...)
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  26. added 2019-07-08
    La peur, passion radicale : Sur l’économie des passions chez Lucrèce.Pierre-Marie Morel - 2018 - Elenchos: Rivista di Studi Sul Pensiero Antico 39 (2):281-299.
    This paper deals with the aetiological aspect of the Epicurean conception of passions. It is argued that the therapy of the soul relies on an overall explanation of the various emotional states, and that fear is at the core of this framework in so far as it is the root of most psychic troubles. The first part deals with fear in the context of the general theory of passions. The second part shows that this basic emotion is the root of (...)
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  27. added 2019-07-08
    Passione e immaginazione in Lucrezio: il caso dell’inganno onirico.Francesca G. Masi - 2018 - Elenchos 39 (2):257-279.
    Lucretius devotes some sections of his De rerum natura to the treatment of dreams. He is particularly interested in the phenomenon of dream deception, namely the belief that the dreamt object is the object itself. This psychological phenomenon has some both unwanted and philosophically interesting implications. Firstly, from an ethical point of view, it can stimulate uncontrolled worries and feelings in the dreamer that undermine his/her mental tranquility and health. Secondly, from a physiological perspective, it seems to reveal a failure (...)
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  28. added 2019-07-08
    Ficino, Lucretius and Atomism.Elena Nicoli - 2018 - Early Science and Medicine 23 (4):330-361.
  29. added 2019-07-08
    Epicurean Political Philosophy: The. [REVIEW]R. J. - 1977 - Review of Metaphysics 30 (4):770-771.
    This small book explores the political thought of Lucretius, by analysing De rerum natura. Nichols does not move immediately to the last section of Book V, which discusses clearly political phenomena; rather he locates that section within the place it has in the entire poem. Writing in the Straussian tradition, Nichols analyses not only the sections of the poem relevant to the political enterprise, but discusses the form and movement of the poem as a whole. Chapter 1 asks how we (...)
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  30. added 2019-07-08
    Lucrezio. By Vittorio Enzo Alfieri. Pp. 222; Reproduction of Frontispiece of Lambinus' Lucretius, 1563. Florence: Felicele Monnier, 1929. [REVIEW]C. Bailey - 1929 - The Classical Review 43 (6):242-242.
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  31. added 2019-06-07
    Lucrezio: L'Atomo E la Parola. Colloquio Lucreziano Bologna 26 Gennaio 1989. [REVIEW]C. D. N. Costa - 1991 - The Classical Review 41 (1):231-232.
  32. added 2019-06-07
    Simulacrum Et Imago. Gli Argomenti Analogici Nel De Rerum Natura. [REVIEW]C. D. N. Costa - 1991 - The Classical Review 41 (2):481-482.
  33. added 2019-06-07
    Religio, Natura, Voluptas: Studi Su Lucrezio. Con Un' Antologia di Testi Annotati E Tradotti. [REVIEW]C. D. N. Costa - 1990 - The Classical Review 40 (1):154-155.
  34. added 2019-06-07
    Lucrezio: Le Parole E le Cose. [REVIEW]C. D. N. Costa - 1989 - The Classical Review 39 (2):389-390.
  35. added 2019-06-07
    Ars Adeo Latet Arte Sva. [REVIEW]E. J. Kenney - 1981 - The Classical Review 31 (1):19-21.
  36. added 2019-06-07
    The Latin Relative Clause. [REVIEW]E. Laughton - 1977 - The Classical Review 27 (1):65-66.
  37. added 2019-06-07
    The Lucretian Question. [REVIEW]A. F. Wells - 1961 - The Classical Review 11 (2):128-131.
  38. added 2019-06-07
    El Origen Del Filosofar: A Propósito de Un Texto de Lucrecio.Constantino Láscaris Comneno - 1955 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 11 (3):276-281.
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  39. added 2019-06-07
    La Poestía de Lucrecio. [REVIEW]A. D. Fitton Brown - 1952 - The Classical Review 2 (3-4):229-229.
  40. added 2019-06-07
    Tito Lucrezio Caro E l' Epicureismo Campano. [REVIEW]Cyril Bailey - 1934 - The Classical Review 48 (4):150-151.
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  41. added 2019-06-06
    Epicureanism. By Tim O’Keefe. [REVIEW]Jeffrey S. Purinton - 2012 - Ancient Philosophy 32 (2):468-479.
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  42. added 2019-06-06
    Facing Death. Epicurus and His Critics. [REVIEW]John Martin Fischer - 2006 - The Classical Review 56 (1):67-69.
  43. added 2019-06-06
    Atome Et Nécessité. Démocrite, Épicure, Lucrèce. [REVIEW]Richard Dufour - 2002 - Dialogue 41 (3):591-593.
    L'objectif de la collection «Philosophies» est de faciliter l'accès à une œuvre ou à un thème philosophique. Dans ses publications, elle vise le grand public et non une poignée de spécialistes. C'est une caractéristique qu'il faut garder en tête lorsque nous abordons le présent livre de Pierre-Marie Morel. En effet, la présentation de l'atomisme qu'il nous offre n'entre pas dans tous les détails et évite les grandes controverses. Les discussions trop pointues cèdent la place à une explication d'ensemble mettant en (...)
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  44. added 2019-06-06
    Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics: An Introduction to Hellenistic Philosophy. [REVIEW]Robert J. Rabel - 1998 - Ancient Philosophy 18 (1):199-201.
  45. added 2019-06-06
    The Rhetoric of Philosophy. [REVIEW]Christopher Gill - 1992 - The Classical Review 42 (2):338-340.
  46. added 2019-06-06
    "The Epicurean Tradition", by Howard Jones. [REVIEW]Phillip De Lacy - 1991 - Ancient Philosophy 11 (1):199.
  47. added 2019-06-06
    "Hellenistic Philosophy: Stoics, Epicureans, Sceptics". Second Edition, by A.A. Long. [REVIEW]Alexander Dalzell - 1989 - Ancient Philosophy 9 (1):131.
  48. added 2019-06-06
    The Hellenistic Philosophers: Volume 1, Translations of the Principal Sources with Philosophical Commentary.A. A. Long & D. N. Sedley - 1987 - Cambridge University Press.
    Volume 1 presents the texts in new translations by the authors, and these are accompanied by a philosophical and historical commentary designed for use by all readers, including those with no background in the classical world. With its glossary and indexes, this volume can stand alone as an independent tool of study.
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  49. added 2019-06-06
    "Epicurus' Scientific Method", by Elizabeth Asmis. [REVIEW]David Konstan - 1985 - Ancient Philosophy 5 (1):121.
  50. added 2019-06-06
    Studies in Epicureanism. [REVIEW]C. W. Chilton - 1979 - The Classical Review 29 (1):84-86.
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