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Posts by Joshua…us/de_Poetis/Vergil*.html

    I've found the relevant passage in Seutonius.


    Vergil spent his early life at Cremona until he assumed the gown of manhood, upon his fifteenth birthday, in the consulship of the same two men who had been consuls the year he was born; and it chanced that the poet Lucretius died that very same day.

    Most of Seutonius' De Poetis is lost, or else we might have quite a lot more to go on with Lucretius.

    I'll add for those curious, just as I was, that this is not the same Donatus who St. Augustine polemicizes in Ad Donatum. This Aelius Donatus was a teacher of Rhetoric, although he happens to have been the tutor of St. Jerome.

    And strange coincidences with birth and death dates do happen all the time, of course. There are only 365 days in the calendar. It's well known that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died in their beds on Independence Day, July 4th, 1826, a few hours and several hundred miles apart. And Mark Twain was born just after Halley's comet, and wryly predicted that he would die when it came back around. He was right!

    Alright, upon review I see that the Loeb edition mentions the possibility that Lucretius died on October 15th, on Virgil's 17th birthday (the very day he assumed the toga virilis). The editor cites "4th century grammarian Donatus, probably following Seutonius", while remaining himself skeptical of the connection. There's no mention of the birth date.

    There's certainly no harm in picking a date to honor him, and we don't have any other candidates! The rediscovery of the manuscript by Poggio was in January of 1417, but no day is known.


    Around the 25 minute mark where she talks about the rise of civilization, and how according to Lucretius the primitive period was the happiest period in the human race: is that just his opinion; does she agree with it? Did Epicurus have the same view?

    It also sounds quite Marxist to point out the power dynamics, oppression and slavery as the evils of civilization. She does mention the good products of culture also, but it doesn't seem to outweigh the bad?

    And I have to disagree with this negative assessment of civilization. The primitive prehistory of mankind was not a paradise, but filled with violence and suffering in the struggle to survive. Civilization has progressively made things better for humankind.

    There are several things going on here;

    Lucretius did not accept the view, common though it was in his day, that there was an original paradisal state or a primitive golden age. This view is logical (although not reasonable) if we adopt a creation model of origins, since presumably a creator doesn't begin by creating a fallen world.

    Lucretius did not adopt such a model; he was a materialist, and concluded rightly that man emerged from a nighttime of shivering ignorance little better than a beast. He slept in caves. He ate flesh raw. At length he tamed fire, wore skins, and built dwellings. Lucretius believed, like Thomas Hobbes, that primitive life was "nasty, brutish and short".

    Nor did Lucretius believe that civilization was a Grand March of History tending always toward greater wisdom and glory. After all, he repeatedly bemoans the poverty of the Latin language when compared with the 4th century BC literature of the Greeks. But in the century before that, Athens was beset by war and plague. In the centuries afterward, by the Macedonian conquest. And look where the Athenians were now; sacked by Sulla in the poet's own lifetime. This is again a materialist position—things come together, and things fall apart.

    Indeed, if he seems to think little of civilization it is only because civilization hadn't got very far in his day. It seems probable that the majority in Italy couldn't read. Medicine hadn't advanced much beyond herbalism and bone-msetting. Mankind lay, as he puts it, "foully grovelling, crushed beneath the weight of grim religion".

    Lucretius sums up the contrast between primitive and civilized man with delicious and wry irony;


    In those days men often unwittingly poured poison for themselves; now they make away with themselves more skillfully.

    My 2 cents;

    The Latin eventum is indeed the root of English 'event', and is itself derived from the Latin verb venio, "to come". (Compare venir in Spanish). Incidentally, this is the same verb from Caesar's notable formulation, veni, vidi, vici.

    Eventum merely adds the Latin prefix ex-, shortened to e-; (out)-come. Contrasted with the word adventum (or "coming [to]")--which Lucretius uses in the Musae Invocatio in book 1--eventum doesn't specify a relationship between object and subject. With adventum, the object "comes to" the subject. With eventum, the object and the subject can be considered separately.

    This word is of particular interest to me since it relates to one of my old Literature professors' favorite hobby-horses; What Shakespeare meant by the word "prevent" and what we think Shakespeare meant are two different things. In modern idiom, "prevent" means to stop or inhibit. In Shakespeare's day the word did not yet have this connotation; it merely meant "to come/arrive before"--that is, to anticipate. The 1743 translation is old enough that this becomes a legitimate concern; we have to remember that Dr. Samuel Johnson's lexicon of the English Language (the first serious effort of its kind) wasn't even published until 1755.


    Damn poets. :)

    Such happy interview, and fair event

    Of love, and youth not lost, songs, garlands, flow'rs,

    And charming symphonies, attach'd the heart

    Of Adam. Milton's Par. Lost, b. xi.


    Edit; I was long in typing; Todd prevented me!!!


    It could be exciting times for Epicureans if this is succesful!

    We have been incredibly fortunate.

    If Diogenes Laertius had been a less sympathetic biographer...

    If Poggio hadn't laid his hands on the manuscript of Lucretius at the monastery in Fulda...

    If Vesuvius hadn't buried Herculaneum...

    If Cicero had been less the combative showman...

    Our school seems to specialize in Resurrection ;) .

    It seems to me that the chief problem is not with entropy itself but with inflation. If the rate of expansion were declining we could reasonably expect a reversal, followed by a collapse back into singularity. In theory this process could be cyclical. But what we seem to know about the rate of expansion is that it is accelerating.

    In a hundred years our conception of physics might be as unrecognizable to us now as our models now would be to those living a century ago. For the practical student of philosophy, the ends remain unchanged. There continues to be no good evidence for the miraculous. The explanatory power of a hypothetical 'god' continues to be, as Neil DeGrasse Tyson put it, "an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance". And the stage is still too big for the drama.

    Welcome to the forum! I've always been interested in low-overhead alternative living situations. Finally decided to get my CDL and make it "no-overhead". Been living in the truck for over a year now. (It ain't quite boondocking here in New Jersey though 🤷‍♂️)

    Epicurus the Unannointed. Epicurus the Unrisen. The Unprophecied. Epicurus sired of mortals, and alone of mortals reconciled to die. Epicurus who sank in the surf when he trod there, and learned to swim with the current. Who healed mens' minds, and did not pretend to heal their bodies. Who bid us partake of friendship in his memory, and not of blood.

    Who taught us to enjoy the water, when we could not get the wine.

    My experience talking with people close to me tells me that they ARE prepared. They are prepared to believe the inviolate truth of their Authorized King James Version even if it means denying the evidence of their own lyin' eyes. This they already do, denying even the age and shape of the world; the foundation is laid well, and will not be uprooted by any passage of years. Only, perhaps, by passage of generations.


    Also, do you know history? Do you know the importance of Christianity? It built the western world.


    It slunk like a petty thief into the shadows of the ruins of Ancient Greece, and has the gall to name itself Great. It delivered 14 centuries of stultifying darkness and ignorance, and dares to call itself Light. It kindled for Bruno and all his kind the nightfires of charred and choking death, and promises the water of Life.

    It holds in a bold hand the rod of the shepherd, and in a deep sleeve the crooked knife of the abattoir.

    It is altogether evil.

    Edit; Ah! But I forget myself. I should not name them evil. It is only that all of their works and yearnings weave themselves toward bitter ends, and my complaint is that I am doomed to a hapless share in the warp and weft.

    I think I get the sense of what Hiram means. I also know several recovering alcoholics, and a group of them turned to traditional Lakota spiritualism as a path out. I've taken part in some of these ceremonies myself--the sweat lodge, and Sun Dance, and that sort of thing, though I was not myself a believer. It's a powerful communal experience, and potentially an engine of personal growth and change.

    We do have to meet people where they are. I think it was Patton Oswalt who said, that "if the only thing stopping you killing somebody is religion, I hope you stay religious forever." The tremendous majority are not in that position; their bible doesn't inform their morality--their morality informs which part of the bible they extol, and which they ignore.


    The real nut of the case, however, is that the logical conclusion of Epicurus is that the reality of real people feeling real pleasure and pain, and making decisions based on their own feelings, is the way Nature works.

    Excellent point, Cassius. The pleasure principle is descriptive/observational before it is normative.

    People who can't be trusted with moral relativism won't bear the yoke of moral absolutism any more wisely, if there were any such thing. The Christians have dreamt of it, but the hangings went on apace; and indeed, it's fair to ask what 'moral absolute' justified the dealings of the Hebrews with the Amalekites.

    No, I'm afraid we must have recourse to the only certain end, which is pleasure; and if we doubt the rightness of that way, then let us bolster ourselves, not with 'divine' or inhumane fiat, but with friendship, prudence, and candor.