Departmental Papers (Classical Studies)

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Book Chapter

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The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius

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From the arrangement of individual phrases to the grand structure of the entire poem, Lucretius uses poetic form with economy and imagination to attract the reader’s attention and to drive home his philosophical message. In their main lines, the structure and content of the poem’s argument derive from earlier Epicurean and other philosophical models, and Lucretius’ debts to some of his predecessors are quite detailed. But his handling of this material is distinctive, and his greatest originality lies in the reshaping of a philosophical exposition adapted from previous writers to produce a poem whose form instantiates the main points of its argument at every level and is aesthetically satisfying as well.

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© 2007 by Cambridge University Press. Reprinted with permission.

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Date Posted: 12 December 2016