Epicurus is the father of the philosophy embraced in De rerum natura. Throughout the work, Lucretius praises Epicurus as "the founder of that way of life called 'wisdom'," "glory of Greece," "founder of truth," and "the first to stand firm in defiance" of popular religion.
De rerum natura is addressed to Memmius. Lucretius writes to him as to a student, a convention that allows Lucretius to speak authoritatively as an instructor to all his readers. Memmius was a contemporary of Lucretius who wrote erotic verse. He became involved in questionable political activities and was eventually exiled. Many historians believe that Lucretius received financial patronage from Memmius.