De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things) Topics for Further Study
by Titus Lucretius Carus

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Topics for Further Study

(Epics for Students)

Conduct general research on what modern-day physicists know about atoms (size, properties, visibility, etc.). Compare your findings to Lucretius' version of atomic theory. In what ways was he correct? In what ways was he mistaken? What can you conclude about Lucretius' ability as a scientist and observer of the world?

Choose a partner. Think about a subject matter about which you are knowledgeable. Teach your partner about this topic using three analogies, just as Lucretius uses analogies to clarify his points to his readers. Then trade roles, with your partner acting as teacher and yourself as student.

Review the passage in Book Five that begins with Line 852. What parallels can you draw between Lucretius' statements and evolutionary theory? Also, Lucretius writes, "And many have been entrusted to our care, / Commended by their usefulness to us." Is there anything in this passage that reminds you of the creation narrative in Genesis?

In Book Five, Lucretius states, "But if true reason governs how one lives, / To have great wealth means to live sparingly, / With a clear heart: small wants are always met." Consider the philosophies of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Could you say that Lucretius was a Romantic or a Transcendentalist? Why or why not?

Take into account Lucretius' views on death and write an Epicurean eulogy for him.