Titus Lucretius Carus

Franklin Library Titus Lucretius Carus books

Works of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Titus Lucretius Carus - Great Books of the Western World - 1981

Titus Lucretius Carus biography

Titus Lucretius Carus, commonly known as Lucretius, was an ancient Roman poet and philosopher, born around 99 or 94 BCE, and he lived during the late Roman Republic. Unfortunately, little is known about his life, and much of what is known comes from the few existing references in the works of other ancient writers. Lucretius is best known for his epic poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), a didactic poem that expounds the teachings of the Greek philosopher Epicurus. The poem consists of six books and is a comprehensive exposition of Epicurean philosophy, covering topics such as the nature of the universe, the existence of gods, the soul, and the principles of atomism.

In De Rerum Natura, Lucretius passionately promotes the Epicurean view that the highest good is the tranquility and happiness achieved through the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. He argues against the fear of death and the influence of superstition, emphasizing the importance of reason and the scientific understanding of the natural world. Lucretius was a proponent of atomism, a theory that posits that everything is composed of indivisible particles called atoms. He used this framework to explain natural phenomena and to challenge prevailing beliefs about the capricious actions of the gods. Lucretius argued for a materialistic and deterministic worldview in which natural laws govern the universe.

While Lucretius' work did not gain significant recognition during his lifetime, De Rerum Natura had a revival during the Renaissance and has since become recognized as a seminal work in the history of philosophy and literature. His influence can be seen in the works of later philosophers and writers, including the likes of Thomas Jefferson and the poet John Milton. Despite the relative obscurity surrounding his personal life, Lucretius left a lasting legacy through his philosophical and poetic contributions. His work continues to be studied and appreciated for its unique blend of scientific inquiry, poetic eloquence, and a radical perspective on the nature of existence.

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