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Emily Austin's new book has invited many of us to reconsider how we think about the way in which Lucretius ends the sixth and final book of De Rerum Natura--with a horrific account of the Plague of Athens in 430 BCE. The ending has long been a source of conflicting opinions. George Santayana in his collection of essays called Three Philosophical Poets speculated, like many before and after him, the poem was unfinished--that the conclusion does not seem to satisfy the potential symmetry that Lucr…
Some further considerations: it would be fair to object that it is war, and not disease, that is the province of Mars. This is true--and it's also true that the plague of 430 BCE coincided with a war between Athens and Sparta. Mars was Sparta's patron god, for obvious reasons, and Lucretius could have ended more explicitly with war as Santayana proposes. But disease works better for Lucretius on a moral level. Philosophy was for him a kind of medicine, and it was a medicine that people needed ev…
And finally, in DRN Book 1, 192-198 Lucretius uses fetus to describe the fruit of plants after rain. https://sententiaeantiquae.com…n-to-letters-to-elements/
Yeah, it's not so much about bringing the gods into the equation, it's more about expecting that Lucretius would live up to the paradigm that he sets up in the beginning of the poem. To really understand what the Hymn to Venus represents, we need to know what the poet was reading. Lucretius had three principal influences in writing On the Nature of Things. The main influence was of course Epicurus, who provides all of the main content of the poem, which Lucretius translates into Latin, fleshes o…