Lucretius' imagery; |b a poetic reading of the D̲e̲ R̲e̲r̲u̲m̲ N̲a̲t̲u̲r̲a̲
Sullwold, George John
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Philosophical and philological matters have often distracted the reader and the scholar from a poetic reading of the Be Rerum Natura. The philosophy and the language present certain problems and these are worth studying, hut there has been all too frequently an attitude that something called poetry has been grafted on to the philosophical argument, and that the scholar*s task is to separate the philosophy from the poetry. In other words, the poem has not been considered a work of literature and the critical attitude toward it has been inadequate because literature, philosophy, and philology have not been regarded as separate, though interdependent, aspects of the work under consideration. Even those who have sought most eagerly for the philosophy have sometimes been most eloquent in praising Lucretius as a poet. The praise of poetry, so generously offered, is seldom backed up by a satisfactory demonstration of wherein the poetic merit lies. The basic difficulty can be found in the assumption that the philosophical argument and the poetry are two different elements, sometimes alternating in the poem, and sometimes getting in each other's way. If the success of the Be Rerum Natura as a poem is granted, and it almost universally is, it certainly must be shown that the philosophical argument is expressed and projected in the poetry and that the poetry is the vehicle of the philosophical argument.