Poeticizing Epicurus in Lucretius' De rerum natura
Ryan, Kelly Erin
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The relationship of Lucretius to his master, Epicurus, is a central question in the study ofLucretiusÕ De rerum natura. As a devout follower of Epicureanism, Lucretius claims to adherefaithfully to EpicurusÕ teachings. However, as a poet, Lucretius openly flouts his masterÕs beliefin the inherent immorality of poetry. This paper examines how Lucretius recreates the personaof Epicurus in order to make the poetry of the De rerum natura seem compliant with Epicureanthought. Through this study, I conclude that Lucretius not only transforms Epicurus into a poet,but into a distinctly Lucretian poet. He does this several ways. Lucretius depicts EpicurusÒpoetically,Ó placing him in situations more suitable for an epic hero or god; he parallelsEpicurus with his poetic predecessors; and he forms associations between himself as poet,Epicurus, and various poetic purveyors of the natura rerum, such as Venus, Ennius, Homer andEmpedocles.