De rerum natura by Tito LUCRECIO Caro
Jun 20, 2022
In this class we are going to travel to Ancient Rome to talk about the work of Titus Lucretius Caro (99 a. c.-55 BC C.), Roman poet and philosopher who falls within the doctrines of the Epicureanism of Epicurus and the atomism of Democritus of Ábdera. Both are present in his most important work, the poem entitled Natural Rerum either On the nature of things.
Tito Lucrecio Caro was a poet who influenced other Roman authors such as Virgil (Aeneid). However, his work was forgotten during the Middle Ages and was not recovered until the Renaissance, when Poggio Bracciolini translated it in 1418. If you want to read a summary of Natural Rerum by Tito Lucrecio Caro, continue in this lesson. In a PROFESOR we explain it to you in detail.
Titus Lucretius Caro He was born into an aristocratic family and lived in one of the turbulent times of the Ancient Rome. Specifically, his life took place during the war played by Gaius Marius and Lucio Cornelio Sila, the Catilina conspiracy, the rise of Julius Caesar, the war between Octavio Augusto and Mark Antony/Cleopatra and the rise of the Roman Empire.
In this context, our protagonist developed a taste for philosophy and poetry, writing his most outstanding work, De rerum natura or On the nature of things. A didactic poem dedicated to the noble Gaius Memio, written in Latin and composed of approximately 7,400 hexameters.
This work, possibly, was divided by Cicero in six parts or volumes:
- Book 1 or Hymn to Venus and praise to Gaius Memio and Epicurus: In this part Tito Lucrecio explains to us that the world is made up of atoms.
- book 2: Explains the movement of atoms and their groupings.
- book 3: The nature of the soul is discussed and it is stated that it is mortal.
- book 4: Exposes the theory of sensation.
- book 5: Talk about the world.
- book 6: Analyzes atmospheric phenomena and diseases, more specifically exposes the ravages of the plague in Athens.
This work falls within two of the most important doctrines of classical philosophy: the Epicureanism of Epicurus and the atomism of Democritus of Abdera.
Epicureanism was born in Athens by the philosopher Epicurus of Samos (341-270 BC). C.), founder of the school "The garden”. A place where the acquisition of knowledge was open to all individuals: wise, rich, poor, slaves, men and women.
This doctrine spread rapidly throughout the Mediterranean, gaining both adherents (Demetrius of Lacon, Laertius Diogenes, Lucretius, Zeno of Sidon or Titus Lucretius) as detractors (Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Plutarch and Seneca). Among the latter, the idea was spread that the Epicureans were libertine, effeminate and weak, since they considered that the concept they had of pleasure was counterproductive to their idea of virtue.
And it is precisely that one of the key points of this doctrine is his conception and pursuit of pleasure. A search that has to be rational, moderate and without excesses, that is to say, that a smart pleasure. Thus, a pleasure obtained in this way is a good pleasure because it gives us the happiness, separates us from pain and helps us achieve balance (between body and mind), tranquility or the ideal state, the ataraxia.
Therefore, according to this current we must avoid accumulating possessions and move away from excesses, from suffering, our fears (death, loneliness, the gods, destiny...) and achieve pleasure or a full life.
“The key to a happy life is to accumulate the greatest amount of pleasure and minimize the pain”
The atomic theory states that all matter is made up of atoms intertwined, indivisible, eternal, invisible and of different sizes (which makes the property of matter vary), which are in constant movement (in a whirlwind, the heaviest move towards the center and the lightest move out) and that between them is the void (the non be).
“... Leucippus and his companion Democritus held that the elements are "the full" and the "empty", which they called "being" and "not being", respectively. Being is full and solid; the empty and subtle non-being. Since the void exists no less than the body, it follows that non-being exists no less than being. Together the two constitute the material causes of existing things...”Aristotle, Metaphysics.
In this way, everything in nature is made up of different compositions of atoms: the Sun would be the result of a great concatenation of atoms and the soul would be composed of small atoms spherical with great mobility and that were distributed throughout the body (concentrating in the chest and the brain). Thus, thought, consciousness or sensation are the result of a combination of atoms.