Session II: July 8 - August 18.
What happens when we die? Is religion good for society? How can atomic theory help people lead better lives? These questions were on the mind of the poet-philosopher Lucretius when he composed On the Nature of Things for his fellow Romans in the first century BCE. Through a complete reading of the text in translation, this course examines how ancient Greeks and Romans rationalized their world and analyzes how philosophy and religion governed their understanding of natural phenomena, such as disaster, decay, and death. Together, we will explore where these ideas originated and how they were transformed through metaphor and language. At the same time, we will critique Lucretius’ poetry and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his illustrative, didactic style. Supplementary readings will discuss contemporary intertexts, the poem’s historical and cultural context, and the influence of Lucretian philosophy on the modern humanities and sciences.
Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)