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A 1st-century BC didactic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius 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 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.
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Titus Lucretius Carus was probably born in the early first century B.C., and he died in the year 55. Writing in the waning days of the Roman Republic - as Rome's politics grew individualistic and treacherous, its high-life wanton, its piety introspective and morbid - Lucretius sets forth a rational and materialistic view of the world which offers a retreat into a quiet community of wisdom and friendship. Even to modern readers, the sweep of Lucretius's observations is remarkable. A careful observer of nature, he writes with an innocent curiosity into how things are put together - from the oceans, lands, and stars to a mound of poppy seeds, from the "applause" of a rooster's wings to the human mind and soul. Yet Lucretius is no romantic. Nature is what it is - fascinating, purposeless, beautiful, deadly. Once we understand this, we free ourselves of superstitious fears, becoming as human and as godlike as we can be. The poem, then, is about the universe and how human beings ought to live in it. Epicurean physics and morality converge.About the Author:
Titus Lucretius Carus (c. 99 BC c. 55 BC) was a Roman poet and philosopher. His only known work is the epic philosophical poem De Rerum Natura about the tenets and philosophy of Epicureanism, and which is usually translated into English as On the Nature of Things.
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