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On the Nature of Things Essay

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Lucretius' derisive stance toward cult at 5.1198- 1203 diverges so starkly from Epicurus' attitude about religion that many consider it a temporary aberration. Other passages in De rerum natura seem to reveal the poet's admiration for those same rites and ceremonies that he elsewhere despises, or, as Bailey said, to indicate "something like a personal affection for their details." Nevertheless, I will argue that none of those so-called religious passages provide evidence that Lucretius encourages his readers to continue participating in the traditional worship of the gods; instead, in each case the poet either follows his description of a religious practice with some qualification, or contrasts the fear that marks the practice to the pax that comes through the rational contemplation of nature.

Those who want to see in Lucretius a religious sensitivity most often turn to 6.68-79:

quae nisi respuis ex animo longeque remittis dis
indigna putare alienaque...

(read more from the Critical Essay #5 section)

This section contains 1,051 words
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On the Nature of Things from Epics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.