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LUCRETIUS: POETRY, PHILOSOPHY, AND SCIENCE

An international conference at the University of Manchester (6-7 July 2009)

The De rerum natura is at once one of the most brilliant and powerful poems
in the Latin language, a passionate attempt at dispelling humanity's fear of
death and its enslavement by empty religio, and a detailed exposition of
Epicurean atomist physics. There is perhaps no other Latin poem which so
requires and rewards approaches which combine the critical perspectives of
literary analysis, philosophy and the history of science. This conference
aims to bring together a group of scholars from a wide range of relevant
disciplines to examine such issues as the ways in which its poetic form
affects the presentation of the philosophical and scientific content of the
poem, the relationship between physics and ethics in the poem, the tensions
in the poem between the philosophical position being urged and the affective
impact of some striking passages, its generic self-positioning with regard
to earlier Greek didactic poetry, its key role in the dissemination and
transformation of Epicureanism at Rome, and its place in the history of
ancient science.

The recent Cambridge Companion to Lucretius edited by Stuart Gillespie and
Philip Hardie represents a landmark in bringing together cross-disciplinary
approaches to the DRN. This conference aims to build on this important
combination of different scholarly methodologies, but also to focus
attention more directly on the poem itself and its multifaceted nature,
particularly with regard to the interaction between its poetic form and its
scientific and ethical content, and its focus on physics. This is also an
ideal opportunity to re-evaluate whether existing approaches (across a range
of disciplines) are sufficient for understanding as difficult and important
a text as the DRN, and which new questions it might be most productive to
ask about the poem.

Confirmed speakers include:
Monica Gale, 'Lucretius and Hesiod'
James Hankinson, 'Lucretius and the Logic of Multiple Explanation'
Brooke Holmes, 'Lucretius and the Poetics of Cosmic Indifference'
Monte Johnson, 'Lucretius and the cause of spontaneity'
Duncan Kennedy, 'Lucretius, Virgil and the Instauratio Magna: Knowledge as a
Project of Universal Empire'
David Konstan, 'Lucretius and the Epicurean Attitude toward Grief'
Daryn Lehoux, 'Soul in a World without Spirit: The Ethics of Sensation in an
Inanimate Universe'
Andrew Morrison, 'Nil igitur mors est ad nos? Iphianassa, the Athenian
plague, and Epicurean views of death'


For further information email Andrew Morrison in the first instance (andrew.morrison@manchester.ac.uk).

The programme and conference booking form are now available via the links below.