A study of Lucretius, De Rerum Natura I 635-920 : Lucretius and his sources
My thesis is a study of lines 635-920 of DRNI, Lucretius' refutation of the theories about the fundamental nature of matter elaborated by Heraclitus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras and other unnamed thinkers. My main concern is establishing what source Lucretius used in these lines and how he used it. In chapter 1 I give my reasons for believing that Lucretius, in DRN I635-920, was following an Epicurean source, which in turn derived its information from Theophrastean doxography. In chapter 21 argue that books XIV and XV of the IIO were not Lucretius' source-text for Lucretius' refutation of earlier thinkers. In chapter 31 discuss how lines 635-920 fit in the structure of the first book of Lucretius' poem, whether the critique was an addition from a later stage in composition, and whether the source is more likely to be Epicurus himself or a later Epicurean author. In chapter 41 focus on Lucretius' own additions to the material he found in his source and his poetical and rhetorical contributions. Lucretius contributed extensively himself to this section as a finished poetic product. It will appear that even if the philosophy comes from the source, Lucretius shows understanding of the points in the way he adapts his poetical devices to the philosophical arguments. It will also appear that Lucretius foreshadows philosophical points in what have often been thought the 'poetical sections' or 'purple passages' of his poem (e.g. the invocation of Venus in the proem, and the description of Sicily and Aetna in DRN I 716-733), so that he could take them up later on in his narrative and provide an adequate explanation of reality.