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Parménide chez Lucrèce

Paul Jackson


Recent scholarship on Lucretius’ engagement with the tradition of philosophical poetry has tended to focus on the figure of Empedocles. Lucretius was undoubtedly familiar with his work, both eulogising and criticising the poet-philosopher by name in the first book of the De rerum natura; indeed, he was not alone. Philodemus in his On piety mentions an Epicurean polemic treatise, Against Empedocles, and Diogenes Laertius records that Epicurus himself wrote specifically about Empedocles. The inscription of Diogenes of Oenoanda mentions Empedocles too. While the influence of Empedocles upon Lucretius (Campbell, Furley), and especially upon the proem to the DRN(Sedley), has been suggested and duly accepted, that of another poet-philosopher bears further exploration.

The influence of Parmenides upon Lucretius has been relatively neglected and, I argue, underestimated. Rumpf’s 1995 article in Philologus, “Lukrez und Parmenides”, claims Parmenides’ influence upon the first two books of the DRN. Gale, on the other hand, has suggested that any influence is indirect. Although Lucretius does not mention Parmenides in the DRN, there are nevertheless striking intertextual echoes between their works, such as Parmenides’ ἐν δὲ μέσωι τούτων δαίμων ἥ πάντα κυβερνᾶι (F12) perhaps being answered by Lucretius’ quae…rerum naturam sola gubernas (DRN I.21) or solis cursus lunaeque meatus…flectat natura gubernans (DRN V.76-7).

This paper will draw out some of these parallels, and go beyond Rumpf to advocate a Parmenidean influence upon the DRN as a whole, with respect to both Lucretius’ mode of expression, and the very substance of the DRN and the Epicurean physics it imparts. It will thus demonstrate that there really is a Parmenides within Lucretius, and perhaps allow for further illumination of Parmenides, as well.


Lucretius; Parmenides; poet-philosopher; influence; intertextuality

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11606/issn.2358-3150.v0i15p51-61

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