The gods live a supremely tranquil life, never disquieted by either favour or anger towards us.
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By contemplating them as they truly are we can aspire to achieve that same blissful state within the confines of a human lifespan. But Lucretius adds another dimension to this theology: for as the poem progresses Epicurus himself is increasingly presented as a god.
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In itself this apotheosis is probably consistent with Epicurean theology: Epicurus did after all attain the same morally paradigmatic status which characterizes the gods. But in the proem to book 5 Epicurus is permitted to go beyond this paradigmatic role, and to become a heroic benefactor of mankind. What Lucretius effectively asserts is that, on a Euhemeristic ranking, Epicurus is a far greater god than Ceres or Bacchus, held to have originally been the institutors of, respectively, agriculture and wine, and also a far greater god than the divinized Hercules.
Epicurus on the other hand has offered us real and permanent salvation from monsters, namely those truly frightful monsters that haunt our souls, such as insatiable desires, fears, and arrogance. But, he adds in an important codicil, this usage is permissible only if one avoids the pernicious religious beliefs that such locutions imply. The same suspicion recurs with even greater force when we focus on the proem to book 1. In it Lucretius prays to Venus, not only as the universal life force but also as ancestress of the Romans, begging her to intervene with her lover Mars and save the troubled Roman republic from civil strife.
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Readers, as they progress further into the poem, are no doubt expected to accumulate the appropriate materials for understanding the proem as in tune with the true Epicurean message, but there is little agreement as to how this is meant to be achieved. One possibility is as follows. If so, the prayer for Venus to pacify Mars is no more than the expressed hope that Romans will return to appreciating the true peaceful nature of divinity, which for an Epicurean like Lucretius is nothing different from their themselves striving to emulate this paradigm of peacefulness.
Lucretius was both admired and imitated by writers of the early Roman empire, while in the eyes of Latin patristic authors like Lactantius he came to serve as the leading spokesman of the godless Epicurean philosophy. Life 2. Epicurean background 4. Physics 5.
Ethics 6. Religion 7. It falls into three matching pairs of books: The permanent constituents of the universe: atoms and void How atoms explain phenomena The nature and mortality of the soul Phenomena of the soul The cosmos and its mortality Cosmic phenomena The sequence is one of ascending scale: the first pair of books deals with the microscopic world of atoms, the second with human beings, the third with the cosmos as a whole. Epicurean background Epicurus founded his system in the late 4 th and early 3 rd century BCE, and it became one of the most influential of the Hellenistic age.
Physics Book 1 sets out the fundamental principles of Epicurean atomism. Book 2 explains the nature of atomic compounds.
Book 3 turns to the soul and its mortality. Books 5 and 6 set out to explain the cosmos as a whole and its phenomenal contents. Ethics The De rerum natura is, as its title confirms, a work of physics, written in the venerable tradition of Greek treatises On nature. Influence Lucretius was both admired and imitated by writers of the early Roman empire, while in the eyes of Latin patristic authors like Lactantius he came to serve as the leading spokesman of the godless Epicurean philosophy.
Bibliography Editions Bailey, C. Monumental edition, with translation and commentary. Brown, P. Brown, R. Butterfield, D. Costa, C. Ernout, A. Fowler, D.
Gaius Valerius Catullus
Lucretius on Atomic Motion. A Commentary on De Rerum Natura 2.
Gale, M. Godwin, J. Kenney, E. Piazzi, L. Un commento a De rerum natura 1, — , Pisa: Edizioni della Normale. Smith, M. Translations See Bailey and Smith, above.
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Also: Englert, W. Latham, R. Fowler, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Stallings, A. Commentary Algra, K. Asmis, E. Bright, D.
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Classen, C. Clay, D. Commager, H. Dalzell, A. De Lacy, P. Edwards, M. Griffin, J. Barnes, eds.
Furley, D. Garani, M. Gillespie, S. Gordon, C. Greenblatt, S. Hadzits, G. Holmes, B. Hutchinson, G. Johnson, M. Johnson, W. Jones, H. Kennedy, D. We can have, furthermore, a "loose cycle", the poems of which are "individual but not autonomous", and not necessarily one after another, and a "closed cycle", the poems of which are consecutive and the handling of the theme unfolds from poem to poem. I am grateful to Prof. Kathryn Gutzwiller for her most helpful comments on the present article. Alan Griffiths for his useful remarks on an earlier version of the paper.
A number of improbable non-Greek etymologies have also been suggested. The alteration from b to ph is explained as a "familiar" characteristic of Greek "obvious from the Macedonians ". The cult of Aphrodite in Greece was imported from, or at least influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia ,     which, in turn, was influenced by the cult of the Mesopotamian goddess known as "Ishtar" to the East Semitic peoples and as " Inanna " to the Sumerians. The Phoenicians, in turn, taught her worship to the people of Cythera. Aphrodite took on Inanna-Ishtar's associations with sexuality and procreation.