Empedocles Redivivus: Poetry and Analogy in Lucretius by Myrto Garani

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By Myrto Garani

Despite the final scholarly consensus approximately Lucretius’ debt to Empedocles because the father of the style of cosmological didactic epic, there's a significant confrontation relating to Lucretius’ applause for his Presocratic predecessor’s praeclara reperta (DRN 1.732). within the current examine, Garani means that by means of praising Empedocles’ discoveries, Lucretius issues to his predecessor’s epistemological tools of inquiry in regards to the unseen, tools upon which he himself attracts greatly and creatively complements. during this means, he effectively penetrates into the invisible wildlife, deciphers its secrets and techniques, and hence liberates his scholar from superstitious fears approximately loss of life and actual phenomena. To justify this proposition, Garani undertakes a scientific research of Lucretius’ integration of Empedocles’ tools of making analogies within the type of literary units -- personifications, similes, and metaphors -- and demonstrates that his intertextual engagement with Empedocles’ philosophical poem is direct and extensive at either the poetic and the philosophical degrees.

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7 Personification 31 Therefore, by no means could Lucretius accept any kind of “religious personification,”8 as this could certainly cause a conflict with his master, contradicting his theological precepts. In other words, by imitating Empedocles’ personifications he runs the risk of introducing into his text theological and teleological connotations that could prove rather unsettling within an Epicurean context. 9 Whatever the case may be, it seems that Lucretius plays on dangerous ground. In order to dispel any doubts about his method and his actual goals, Lucretius provides us with self-referential comments and invites us to use them as our reading guidelines throughout DRN.

Yet, when it comes to basic tenets of atomism, he does not allow for alternative possibilities, but insists on just one valid mental model corresponding to one dogmatic scientific explanation. 96 His ultimate aim is to penetrate into the invisible natural world and express its secrets in a code of communication decipherable by his uninitiated pupil. At the same time he endeavours to teach his student the way of further creating well-founded analogies in order to be capable of answering possible future queries himself and deepening his knowledge.

More precisely, Lucretius envisages the structure of the universe as “a hierarchy of subordinated and coordinated levels,” to use Hardie’s words. ”102 So, through a process of magnifying or shrinking a visible phenomenon, we can mentally shift between subordinated levels and analogically project our knowledge from the visible world onto another level of microcosmic or macrocosmic reality. In order to descend into the microcosm, we should opt for an object from the visible world that is as neutral in qualities as possible and of limited dimensions; in other words a very basic atomic combination situated a level above the atomic in the scale of creation.

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