Physiologizing (In)fertility in the Roman World: Lucretius on Sacrifice, Nature, and Generation

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The present paper reassesses the intellectual background of Lucretius’treatment of infertility in 4.1233-1241, pointing out the author’s abilityto combine genuine Epicurean doctrine and Roman cultural patterns.Lucretius’ denigration of religious mentality and his efforts to offer anentirely rational explanation of (in)fertility are interpreted in light of bothinternal evidence in the De Rerum Natura (e.g. 1.1-20; 248-264; 2.581-660) and differents kinds of external evidence - including the so-calledLaudatio Turiae, Rome’s fertility cults, and underused Epicurean sourcessuch as PHerc 908/1390. Indeed, while systematically delegitimizing thetraditional connection between supernatural powers and generation,the poet endeavors to convert his readers to a comprehensive Epicureanworldview in which death and birth, fecundity and sterility, reflect theexistence of a material ‘great chain of being’.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)773-804
Numero di pagine32
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2016


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