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Horror in Lucretius

DRN III, 28-30, the sublime and the Epicurean proficiens
Enrico Piergiacomi
p. 39-63

Résumés

Lucrèce débute son livre III du poème De rerum natura par l’éloge des enseignements d’Épicure - qui effacent la peur de la mort, des fantômes et des dieux - et la description des sentiments suscités par les principes épicuriens. Il écrit, dans les vers 28-30, qu’il ressent à la fois une volupté divine (divina voluptas), allusion probable au plaisir catastématique qui permet d’approcher la quiétude de la divinité, et l’horreur (horror). La formule est énigmatique, voire même contradictoire. En effet les occurrences d’horror dans le De rerum natura démontrent que le terme est lié surtout à la crainte de la mort, des fantômes et des dieux, autrement dit la même peur que les épicuriens veulent éliminer pour donner accès à la volupté divine. Dans cet article, nous étudions cette formule de DRN III, 28-30 et nous proposons une nouvelle solution à sa contradiction interne, qui n’est qu’apparente. Cette solution est fondée sur l’hypothèse d’un emploi thérapeutique de la poétique du sublime.

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Entrées d’index

Mots-clés :

Lucrèce, horreur, sublime, thérapie

Auteurs anciens :

Lucrèce
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Texte intégral

1. Is there a contradiction in DRN III, 28-30?

  • 1  Cf. Büchner 1952, for a general overview, Boyancé 1963, p. 57-83, and Canfora 1982.
  • 2  Cf. deus mortalis in DRN V, 1-12, with Cambiano 2008, Asmis 2016, p. 457-459.

1At the beginning of book III of De rerum natura, which is probably one of the proems written at a later stage in the composition of the poem1, Lucretius describes his reactions to Epicurean physics. In v. 14-30, which deserves to be quoted in full, Epicurus is compared to a mortal god2 who unveils the secrets of the universe, especially the quiet place of the blessed and immortal deities:

nam simul ac ratio tua coepit vociferari / naturam rerum divina mente coorta / diffugiunt animi terrores, moenia mundi / discedunt. totum video per inane geri res. / apparet divum numen sedesque quietae, / quas neque concutiunt venti nec nubila nimbis / aspergunt neque nix acri concreta pruina / cana cadens violat semper<que> innubilus aether / integit et large diffuso lumine ridet: / omnia suppeditat porro natura neque ulla / res animi pacem delibat tempore in ullo. / at contra nusquam apparent Acherusia templa, / nec tellus obstat quin omnia dispiciantur, / sub pedibus quae cumque infra per inane geruntur. / his ibi me rebus quaedam divina voluptas / percipit atque horror, quod sic natura tua vi / tam manifesta patens ex omni parte retecta est.

As soon as your philosophy begins to proclaim the true nature of things revealed by your divine mind, the terrors of the mind are dispelled, the walls of the world dispart, and I see what happens throughout the whole void. Plainly visible are the gods in their majesty, and their calm realms which, buffeted by no wind, sprinkled by no storm cloud’s shower, sullied with no white fall of snow crystallized by biting frost, are ever pavilioned by a cloudless ether that smiles with widespread flood of radiance. All the needs of the gods are supplied by nature, and nothing at any time detracts from their peace of mind. On the other hand, nowhere are the precincts of Acheron visible, even though the earth does not prevent me from discerning all that happens down in the expanse of space beneath our feet. At this experience, at this realization that by your power nature has been so completely exposed and unveiled on every side, I am seized by a kind of divine pleasure and horror. (Trans. Smith 2001, p. 68, modified; italics are mine.)

  • 3  Schrivjers 1970, passim.
  • 4  For the former view, cf. esp. Sedley 2011 and Eckermann 2019. For the latter, cf. Essler 2011 and (...)
  • 5  On this topic, cf. Giancotti 1989, p. 75-76, Auvray-Assayas 1991, Nussbaum 1994, p. 216-217, Gale (...)

2Particularly interesting here is the expression quaedam divina voluptas / percipit atque horror of vv. 28-29. As stressed by Piet Schrijvers in ‘Horror ac divina voluptas’: études sur la poétique et la poésie de Lucrèce, these verses have a programmatic value. They suggest that Lucretius’ poetry aims precisely to awaken this mixture of divina voluptas and horror in the reader3. This is the case regardless of whether the anthropomorphic gods were conceived of by Lucretius (and by the Epicurean school) as thought-constructs, or as real entities made up of atoms4. Indeed, horror is aroused by generically false beliefs and conceptions about the divine, while divina voluptas is equally felt whether we imitate only a mental projection of human perfection, as claimed by the “idealistic” reading, or whether we assimilate ourselves to a living deity that embodies the model of blessedness5.

3The co-presence of these two emotions is highlighted by Lucretius through the use of atque. Unlike et, this word evidently points to a strong internal connection between horror and divina voluptas. If this is the case, there is a tension or even contradiction in the optimistic description of the soothing powers of Epicurean physics.

  • 6  DRN III, 136-160. On ἀταραξία, cf. D.L. X 136 (= fr. 7, ed. Arrighetti 1973). I will not analyze t (...)
  • 7  It must also be noted that this passage is an imitation of Homer’s description of the Olympic gods (...)

4It is clear why Epicurus’ teachings bring divina voluptas, which is to say the katastematic pleasure of ἀταραξία of the mind that is alluded to in some parts of the proem. V. 14 says that Epicurean doctrines dispel the terrors of the rational part of the soul (diffugiunt animi terrores), namely the animus6. Moreover, ridet in v. 22 and animi pax in v. 24 are expressions that also indicate pleasurable reactions on perceiving the quiet abodes of the gods7. Even the statement ‘nowhere are the precincts of Acheron visible’ can be interpreted as an allusion to a pleasurable sense of tranquility. Since this mythical path to the Underworld is described in other parts of the poem as fearful (e.g. DRN III, 85-86, VI 762-768), the endorsement of the Epicurean principles that show its non-existence leads to the katastematic pleasure of tranquility that allows us to live like the gods or, better, to assimilate ourselves to their blessedness.

  • 8  Boyancé 1963, p. 294, Gale 1994, p. 194. Contra Giancotti 1989, p. 49-56, and von Albrecht 2006, p (...)
  • 9  Ep. [1] 79 with Verde 2010, p. 224.
  • 10  Kazantzidis 2021, p. 104.

5On the contrary, it is not clear why calm contemplation of the secrets of nature should also be accompanied by horror, or by an emotion that seems connected with fear, and therefore with the exact opposite of divina voluptas or the pleasure of ἀταραξία. A contradiction or a non-genuine Epicurean element seems to lie at the core of this praise of Epicurus. Preliminary confirmation of this supposition comes from the fact that the reference to horror seems to be a personal touch of Lucretius. Nowhere in the writings of Epicurus (or of other Epicureans) do we find anything comparable to this emotion. We only find a praise of physics as something soothing and pleasurable (Ep. [1] 53, 80, 82, 87; [2] 96). Moreover, if we agree with Boyancé and Gale that horror is a Latin translation of the Greek θάμβος8, it is possible to observe that the latter word has a negative connotation in Epicurus. The philosopher uses it once to refer to the wrong way of studying physics (i.e. by focusing just on one single detail), which fills the scholar of nature with intense turmoil9. If we instead follow Kazantzidis and suppose that horror translates the Greek φρίκη10, the separation from Epicurus becomes even stronger. The latter calls death the most horrific evil (Ep. [3] 125: τὸ φρικωδέστατον τῶν κακῶν), but immediately after making this claim shows that death is only an apparent evil, because it consists in the loss of perception (Ep. [3] 125-127). If we follow Epicurean thanatology, therefore, we should be freed from horror and be left with divina voluptas.

  • 11  Cf. Polignac 1780, Patin 1868, esp. 135, Perelli 1969. Cf. also Clay 1983, p. 234-238, Romani Mist (...)
  • 12  Cf. infra, n. 24.

6Similar real or apparent contradictions could have been explained in the past through the bold claim of the presence of an “Anti-Lucretius” within Lucretius. Originally formulated by Cardinal Melchior de Polignac, then recovered by Henry Patin and more recently by Luciano Perelli, this explanation – sometimes based on Jerome’s account of the poet’s madness, if not on psychoanalytical interpretations – supposes that the poet wrote verses conflicting with his Epicurean beliefs under the influence of anxiety, or of other inner disturbances that clouded his mind11. Nowadays, instead, Lucretian scholarship is increasingly displaying a tendency to read such statements as complex rhetorical/poetic strategies adopted for the reader’s benefit. More generally, scholars acknowledge that the De rerum natura was conceived as a work of poetry that resorts to psychagogic means to promote Epicurus’ rational teachings, or at least to persuade the audience of the need to resort to an Epicurean therapy12. In this paper, I intend to follow this line of research and to present a new reading of DRN III, 28-30: one that proposes the existence of a sort of dialectical interaction between divina voluptas and horror.

7I will attempt to provide three personal contributions. Firstly, I will propose that Lucretius may be mixing horror and divina voluptas in order to refer to the difficulty of the quest of approaching Epicurean happiness. In doing so, he introduces an original existential and meditative element in his poetry, which is intended to reach a specific moral agent: the proficiens or non-Epicurean reader who yearns for divina voluptas, but still has a lot to learn in order to become wise and happy. I will then try to reconstruct the exact meaning of horror in Lucretius and to confirm its negative connotation. In this way, I hope, on the one hand, to show that there is a real tension in DRN III, 28-30 and, on the other, to clarify what kind of horrific fears the poet attributes to his proficiens. Finally, I wish to connect the dialectical interaction between divina voluptas and horror with the poetics of the sublime, which in my opinion (and in that of other contemporary scholars) can be traced back to Lucretius and is presented as a form of therapy. In this respect, the De rerum natura may be interpreted as a work of philosophical poetry that promotes the therapy of sublimity.

2. Lucretius and the proficiens’s horror?

  • 13  Trans. Smith 2001, p. 68, of vv. 7-8: aut quid nam tremulis facere artubus haedi / consimile in cu (...)
  • 14  Giancotti 1989, p. 105. On the metaphor, cf. Nelis 2020.

8Let us return to the proem of book III and try to identify the person who experiences horror and divina voluptas. At first sight, it might seem natural to identify this individual with Lucretius. After all, the proem opens with the poet’s self-comparison to a disciple of Epicurus who is struggling to follow his master’s path and desires to imitate his perfection (vv. 1-13). Lucretius asks ‘how could an unsteady-legged kid match in a race the strength of a mettlesome horse?’13, implying that there is no possibility of victory. Now, it may be tempting to read me percipit in vv. 28-29 as the confession of a personal feeling that the poet is still experiencing. In other words, Lucretius’ reference to horror may be a development of the self-comparison in psychological terms. Whereas Epicurus is like a god exploring the universe and driven by divina voluptas, the poet struggles to follow in his footsteps14, because he is slowed down in his progress by horrifying fears that are difficult to dispel. Horror is like a weight that prevents Lucretius from swiftly following the path to happiness and running like a ‘mettlesome horse’.

  • 15  Cf. DRN III, 322 (ut nihil inpediat dignam dis degere vitam), with von Albrecht 2006, p. 241-242, (...)
  • 16  On the composition and behavior of the soul, cf. now the recent study Verde 2020, with bibliograph (...)

9This interpretation is reinforced by the fact that the proem also says that the poet sees (cf. video in v. 17) the world as it is described by Epicurus’ teaching. Moreover, it could be justified by a reference to DRN III, 319-322. Here, Lucretius claims that nothing prevents us from living a life worthy of the gods (v. 322: dignam dis degere vitam). In the language of the proem of book III, this could be taken to mean that it is always possible to achieve divina voluptas, provided that we scrupulously follow the rational teachings of Epicurus15. But v. 320-321 also show the existence of some small natural remains (naturarum vestigia parvola) that cannot be removed even through Epicurean ratio. The preceding verses suggest that, among these ineradicable remains, one also finds the disposition toward horror. Indeed, in the general description of the four elements of the soul (heat, wind, air and the nameless element) which are responsible (among other things) for the emotions that we feel (III, 262-313)16, it is said that the atoms of the windy (ventosa) quality responsible for the passion of fear are what makes our limbs tremble horrendously (v. 291: quae ciet horrorem membris et concitat artus). It might follow that even a moral agent who exercises Epicurus’ ratio to the highest degree (cf. v. 14 of the proem of book III) and achieves divina voluptas cannot completely remove horror from his soul.

  • 17  I agree with Giancotti 1989, p. 98-99, that the pleasurable effect directly derives from the ‘ammi (...)

10This interpretation may therefore suggest that the mixture of these two emotions is due to Lucretius’ disposition. He is convinced by Epicurus’ teachings, and hence professes to feel that divina voluptas which has been opened up by the Greek philosopher17; yet, at the same time, he also confesses that the vestigia of horror sometimes return to his mind and enter in conflict with his sound reason. Lucretius, in other words, may be confessing that his condition is that of the proficiens. He is an Epicurean who is following the path toward pure divina voluptas, but who is slowed down by irrational horror, which he strives to overcome.

11Moreover, DRN III, 28-30 is followed (vv. 31-40) by the claim that the rest of book III will poetically argue that the nature of the soul is mortal and dispel all fear of the Acheron – the very Acheron whose existence was supposed to have been dispelled by Epicurus’ revelation of the universe. Without these arguments, it is impossible to achieve unclouded and pure pleasure (v. 40: voluptatem liquidam puramque), which is to say complete divina voluptas. The point made here may be that, although Epicurus was right, Lucretius needs to personally dispel the horror of death through a poetic imitation of his master’s teachings.

  • 18  Mitsis 2018, p. 69-89.

12However, this interpretation presents two weaknesses. On the one hand, although Lucretius claims to be running behind Epicurus, he also says that his steps are firm (v. 4: ficta pedum pono pressis vestigia signis). This suggests that the poet is stable in his pursuit of the Epicurean path to happiness: a condition that can be hardly applied to a beginner. Without bearing this in mind, it would be impossible to explain why in other parts of the poem Lucretius boldly claims to have mastered those Epicurean teachings which he here instead states to be following with difficulty18. On the other hand, the proem of book III is not simply a diary of personal distress. The text hints that Epicurus’ teachings are intended to reach a wider audience (nobis in v. 9, nos depascimur in v. 12), and the use of verbs in the third person (e.g., diffugiunt terrors in v. 16 and apparet in v. 18) suggests that its purpose is to reveal some objective state of affairs. It seems, then, that Lucretius wants to move from the personal to the impersonal. The account of his private reaction to Epicurus’ teachings may be a strategy to describe both the benefits (divina voluptas) and the risks (scil. the horror) that the Epicurean reader or listener faces.

  • 19  Cf. respectively Erler 1997, who recognizes many ‘meditative elements’ scattered throughout the De (...)

13As regards the idea of the poetic imitation of Epicurus’ arguments, one could object that it is not necessarily developed for Lucretius’ own sake and reassurance. This complex reworking may be intended to help those readers who are still full of horror to attain divina voluptas, even if some vestigia of the passion will always remain present in their soul. Viewed in this light, Lucretius’ poem might be compared to a sort of meditation and conversion narrative19. I suppose that DRN III, 28-30, with all its subsequent arguments, might be included in this list. Therefore, quiet gods have been revealed and the Acheron has disappeared from the Epicurean universe, but the poet must still struggle to help others to avoid horror and to grasp this truth in full.

  • 20  Cf. horribili super aspectu in v. 65 with Lagache 1997, p. 356, and Gigandet 1998, p. 346. Cf. als (...)

14Initial confirmation of this hypothesis may be drawn from the criticism of religio developed for the sake of Memmius’ improvement (DRN I, 62-109). In v. 80-83 Lucretius acknowledges that his interlocutor may be prevented from following the route (via in v. 81) opened up by the De rerum natura, and hence that he may be led to abandon the role of Epicurean proficiens, if he is induced by seers to follow the horror of religio20. Even through Memmius is receiving reassurance from Epicurean teachings, and thus approaching the divina voluptas of tranquility, superstition may return to the surface of his mind and fill him with horror. As the text says, the priests of religio may one day scare Memmius and make him depart from the Epicurean route (vv. 102-103).

  • 21  Cf. horrisono in v. 109 and Galzerano 2019, p. 108-118.

15In another passage (DRN V, 91-125), instead, horror seems to be presented as an inevitable side-effect of Epicurus’ truth. Lucretius invites Memmius not to shun the novel revelation of the end of the world (v. 96-103; for the fear of novitas, cf. also DRN II, 1040-1043) and to accept that everything will ultimately be crushed with a horrifying sound21. Horror is apparently a spontaneous response to this physical doctrine, which however also grants divina voluptas or tranquility, for it leads one to reject the terrifying religio responsible for the belief that the earth and other celestial bodies are ever-watching eternal gods (v. 114-116).

  • 22  Cf. the definition of pietas as mage pacata omnia mente tueri in vv. 1198-1203. As far as this sec (...)
  • 23  Boyancé 1963, p. 250-252, Schrijvers 1970, p. 60-78, Gigandet 1998, p. 170-194.

16However, Memmius may also reject the Epicurean doctrines with horror for reasons other than personal shortcomings. He may be naturally prone to this negative emotion like any other human being, for Epicurus believed fear to be embedded in the weakness of humanity (cf. ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ καὶ φόβῳ in Ep. [2], 77). Two excerpts from the De rerum natura could ground this claim. The first comes from the section offering a genealogy of religio (DRN V, 1161-1240), or more precisely an account of the insitus horror that still nourishes religio and the attempt to dispel it in order to contemplate the gods with pacata mens (= with divina voluptas), which almost comes across as a sacrilege22. Lucretius firstly (vv. 1169-1182) claims that its psychological causes are rooted in the reception of the simulacra (facies in v. 1170) that reach the mind especially during sleep (v. 1171: magis in somnis) and are interpreted as emitted by active and omnipotent anthropomorphic living beings23. Afterwards (v. 1204-1240), he adds that this horror is renewed (1208: expergefactum) by new doubts (dubia mens in v. 1211), when we look at meteorological phenomena, such as thunder (vv. 1218-1221; cf. also DRN VI, 256-261). Even when Memmius or other proficientes have been persuaded of the existence of detached gods, they still run the risk of falling into divine horror through the contemplation of striking natural events.

  • 24  I will return to this image in § 4. On its connection with the sense of horror, see Lagache 1997, (...)
  • 25  DRN III, 9-13, with Kenney 2014, p. 76, discussing libant in v. 11 and the comparison drawn betwee (...)

17The second excerpt concerns the famous image of the bitter Epicurean medicine sweetened by Lucretius’ poetry (DRN I 921-950 and IV 1-25)24. Here, the poet resorts to the verb abhorret (I, 945; IV, 20) to describe the most common reaction to Epicurus’ physics, thus conveying the idea that the philosopher’s revelations and the philosophical contents of the De rerum natura may fill readers with horror. Potential confirmation is provided by Kenney, who suggests that the proem of book III echoes this poetic image through Lucretius’ self-comparison to a bee gathering honey from the flowers of Epicurus’ writings. The poet ‘imagines his aspiration to transmute Epicurus’ prose into poetic honey’, i.e. to convert his bitter philosophy into poetic sweetness25. Therefore, these extracts express the conflict between horror and divina voluptas in different ways. Poetry is a means to mitigate the feeling of horror one feels at being exposed to the medicine of Epicurean truth which can lead to blessedness.

18So my suggestion is that we should read the proem of book III as a work of poetry that produces a sort of transference. By pretending to still feel some horror at Epicurus’ teachings, Lucretius seeks to warn inexpert readers right from the start that they will surely be horrified by some aspects of the world revealed by Epicurean doctrine. This is inevitable, for he knowns that the vestigia of such a negative passion and, more generally, natural human weakness will never be removed by ratio. But the poet also reassures his readers that, if they persevere, they will gradually control their horror and proceed more swiftly along the road to divina voluptas. Studying the horrific aspects of the world is a necessary step to attain happiness. More precisely, it could be argued that Lucretius is offering a kind of fictional autobiography that anticipates what an advanced student is likely to experience.

  • 26  Cf. Procl. In R. p. 106.9-14 with Piergiacomi 2017, p. 131-139.

19Nonetheless, it might seem strange to identify the individual who experiences horror as an Epicurean proficiens. Indeed, at a first sight, it might seem like a Stoicizing reading of Lucretius. After all, it was Seneca who divided proficientes into three classes and described the second one in very similar terms to the individual whose profile I have outlined on the basis of DRN III, 28-30. This advanced student is not wise, because he can still fall back into the passions and errors from which he had apparently been freed (Ep. 75. 8-16, spec. 13). Moreover, Epicureanism speaks more often of the character of the rare σοφός, opposed to the multitude of fools. Diogenes Laertius devotes an entire doxography to the behavior of the Epicurean wise man (X, 117-121b). The Epicureans Colotes and Velleius seem to deny that there is an intermediate agent between the σοφός and the fools. The former author attacks Plato’s use of the fear of the underworld in the myth of Er (R. X, 614b5-621b7), because it is useless both for the wise, who act well without the need for such fables, and for the unwise, who will not understand the ethical content of the poetic tale26. Velleius (ap. Cic. N. D. 1, 23) instead criticizes providence for a similar reason. If the world was providentially created for the wise, then god has erred because he has benefited only a few individuals; but if it was created for the unwise, the mistake consists in having done something for unworthy people who will waste the divine gift. Therefore, both Epicureans exclude that there could be a person in the middle that could benefit from poetry and providence.

  • 27  Cf. letter 26F2, edited by Erbì 2020.
  • 28  Plutarch Adv. Col., 1108E10-F3 (= 68 A 53 DK, 27 R82 LM), Erler 2011, p. 18-19, Roskam 2019, p. 11 (...)
  • 29  These texts correspond to Epicurus’ fr. 188 and 234 (ed. Usener 1887), and to Metrodorus’ fr. 33 a (...)
  • 30  Cf. coll. 13.36-14.14, ed. Henry 2009, with Tsouna 2007, p. 273-275.

20Conversely, there is some evidence that might support the hypothesis of the existence of an Epicurean proficiens. In a letter to Idomeneus, Epicurus notes that his interlocutor was not wise, but that he is now struggling to become so (νῦν δὲ ἐσπούδασας τοῦτο γενέσθαι). The sign is that now (νῦν) he is showing himself capable of enduring illnesses and of manage wealth better than before27. Idomeneus, then, seems to be a proficiens who is making some moral progresses toward wisdom. Metrodorus wrote an unfortunately lost work Περὶ τῆς ἐπὶ σοφίαν πορείας (D.L. X, 24), whose title seems to suggest that wisdom can be compared to a path and therefore admits various degrees of proficiency. He apparently resorted to this metaphor when claiming that Epicurus showed himself wise in the work Περὶ φιλοσοφίας because he had been preceded by Democritus28 and that all Epicureans can become wise, providing that they follow their master’s footsteps (vestigia), as Seneca (Ep. 79, 16) says29. The last indication is particularly interesting in relation to Lucretius. We have seen that vestigia also appears in v. 4 of the proem of book III of the De rerum natura, where it refers to the footsteps along the road opened by Epicurus and which the poet tries to follow. One might also consider Philodemus’ apparent reference to a disciple of Epicureanism who is not completely wise, and who therefore does not yet follow Epicurus in all respects. In some columns of book IV of his treatise Περὶ θανάτου30, Philodemus seems to be describing a person who has achieved wisdom, yet needs to spend some time in this condition in order to become truly wise and happy. As regards the opinions of Colotes and Velleius, it is possible that they chose not to mention the case of someone falling halfway between wisdom and foolishness because it was not relevant to their arguments. After all, if providence and Platonic myths cannot improve the σοφός, then maybe they will also prove useless for a person who is advancing in the quest for wisdom.

21But the most important piece of evidence is once again preserved by Seneca (Ep. 52, 3-4). It is worth quoting this passage in full:

Quosdam ait Epicurus ad veritatem sine ullius adiutorio exisse, fecisse sibi ipsos viam; hos maxime laudat quibus ex se impetus fuit, qui se ipsi protulerunt: quosdam indigere ope aliena, non ituros si nemo praecesserit, sed bene secuturos. Ex his Metrodorum ait esse; egregium hoc quoque, sed secundae sortis ingenium. (…) Praeter haec adhuc invenies genus aliud hominum ne ipsum quidem fastidiendum eorum qui cogi ad rectum conpellique possunt, quibus non duce tantum opus sit sedadiutore et, ut ita dicam, coactore; hic tertius color est. Si quaeris huius quoque exemplar, Hermarchum ait Epicurus talem fuisse. Itaque alteri magis gratulatur, alterum magis suspicit; quamvis enim ad eundem finem uterque pervenerit, tamen maior est laus idem effecisse in difficiliore materia.

  • 31  Trans. Graver-Long 2015, p. 149-150 = Epicurus fr. 192, ed. Usener 1887; Metrodorus fr. 30 app., e (...)

Epicurus says there are some who have escaped toward truth without assistance from anyone, forging their own path. His highest praise is reserved for these, whose impetus and advancement come from within. Others, he says, require aid from someone else: they would not get there if no one went before them, but they are good followers. (…) Besides these you will find yet another kind of person, and these too are not to be despised: people who can be driven and compelled toward the right thing, who need not only a leader but a helper and, as it were, a drill sergeant. This is the third stripe. Would you like an example here as well? Epicurus says Hermarchus was such a person. For that reason, he has greater congratulations for the one, but more admiration for the other. For although both arrived at the same destination, it is more praiseworthy to have achieved the same result with more difficult material31.

  • 32  D. L. X 13 (= 13T Erbì 2020), with Erler 2011, p. 14-15.

22Seneca is apparently quoting a doctrine of Epicurus (cf. ait Epicurus) that compared the quest for truth to a road (via), which in turn may correspond to Metrodorus’ πορεία and to the road mentioned in the proem of book III of the De rerum natura. Seneca also formulated a threefold division of philosophical souls. The first agent is the master who has achieved the truth autonomously, and Epicurus may have praised himself as such. After all, in the fragment of a letter Πρὸς Εὐρύλοχον, he claimed to be an autodidact32. The other two agents could instead be interpreted as two different Epicurean proficientes. One kind cannot open the path toward truth, but can follow the master who has opened the route well (cf. bene secuturos). Epicurus gives the example of his beloved Metrodorus. Another kind of proficiens does not simply require a leader: he/she needs also a helper (auditor) and insistent supporter (coactor), who should almost compel him/her to follow the right track (cf. qui cogi ad rectum conpellique). Epicurus mentioned Hermarchus as an example of this character.

  • 33  Mitsis 2019, p. 28-29.
  • 34  For further arguments, cf. Erler 2011, p. 15-18. More generally, cf. DeWitt 1936.
  • 35  Mitsis 2019, p. 79-89.

23Of course, one must be very careful in evaluating this evidence. In particular, the Epicurean threefold division of those searching for the truth may have been presented by Seneca precisely with the aim of comparing Epicurus’ theory of moral advancement to the Stoic conception. We cannot even be sure that Philodemus is presenting a personal view of his. For it is possible that book IV of his Περὶ θανάτου is making an ironic allusion again to the Stoic notion of moral advancement, since the Stoics had probably tried to undermine Epicurean thanatology with this very theory33. In any case, I find no compelling reasons to believe that the core doctrine of the existence of two kinds of proficientes must be dismissed, since Seneca says it is based on genuine claims by Epicurus34. Therefore, it may be plausible to detect in Lucretius’ poetry too an echo of this threefold division. Epicurus is surely the master who opens the road and runs like a ‘mettlesome horse’. Thanks to his firm steps, Lucretius may have presented himself as an advanced student who was following well the via opened by his master. As regards the proficiens who requires an auditor and coactor, it is not implausible to consider Memmius in these terms, since he is always on the verge of abandoning Epicurean divina voluptas under the compulsion of horror. Moreover, DRN I, 398-417, describes him as a person who might doubt the Epicurean arguments and who needs to be continually reassured about the truthfulness of the verses, if not compelled to accept them35. Lucretius could be interpreted as a teacher who acts toward Memmius as an auditor and coactor.

24I hope to have shown, then, that there may be an interesting active dialectic at work in the De rerum natura. Lucretius struggles to lead the readers or listeners of the poem to divina voluptas, but knows that in the minds of the advanced students horror will often come into the surface. When this happens, the poet must carefully assist the readers who, like Hermarchus in Seneca’s source, would abandon the Epicurean road in the absence of an auditor and coactor. All this is densely suggested in the metaphor of the via in the proem of book III and by the close connection between horror and the much yearned-for divina voluptas.

3. Two kinds of horror

  • 36  Schrijvers 1970, 88, 197, 340. Similarly, Bailey 1947, vol. 2, p. 933, Brown 1997, p. 96, and Kenn (...)
  • 37  Boyancé 1963, p. 250 and 294; von Albrecht 2006, p. 244 (‘Qui l’orrore sacro riceve una rivalutazi (...)
  • 38  Segal 2014, p. 92-93, 103-106, 184.
  • 39  Giancotti 1989, p. 66 and 87-115.

25The previous reconstruction has taken it for granted that horror has a negative connotation. It conflicts with divina voluptas because it assumes the same meaning of intense fear that we have seen in some occurrences of the word throughout the poem. However, some scholars have pointed to the indefinite quaedam to argue that the horror of the proem of book III is somewhat different from the ordinary emotion. Schrijvers seems to embrace this perspective, describing Lucretius’ horror as the ‘sentiment d’étonnementprovoked by the experience of something marvelous, which is to say as religious awe36. The same idea is explicitly addressed by some of the scholars who attribute the poetics of the sublime to Lucretius: Boyancé, von Albrecht, Lovatt, Asmis37, and Segal. The last of these scholars maintains that horror is fear not accompanied by agitation or anxiety, but by ‘expansion, calm, and joy’. The sublime fortifies Lucretius and his readers with ‘tonic energy and confidence’, thus allowing them to face the ‘dark sides’ of nature and the terrors they inspire38. Conversely, Giancotti has contended that horror in DRN III, 28-30 is a ‘hapax semanticoand that, thanks to its association with divina voluptas, it signifies ‘brivido piacevole39.

  • 40  Kazantzidis 2021, p. 103-104. Cf. also von Albrecht 2006, p. 233-234.
  • 41  Another solution would be to suppose that Lucretius is implicitly confessing his difficulty to tra (...)

26As I will argue in the next paragraph, this association with the sublime is correct in my view. What I disagree with is the claim that it is very unlikely that here alone horror assumes a completely different meaning, whereas – as Kazantzidis has observed – it represents ‘the standard term employed elsewhere in the poem in order to designate an unwelcome feeling of dread’40. In my opinion, the quaedam is used by Lucretius precisely to suggest the paradoxical condition of the proficiens who continues to experience horror while approaching divina voluptas41. In any case, this reading could make the proem of book III – and its original psychagogical strategy – more coherent, if less interesting.

  • 42  Cf. Austin 2001, esp. p. 118-119, who quotes DRN III, 59-75, and V, 1120-1134; Tsouna 2006, esp. p (...)

27In this section, therefore, I will analyze the remaining occurrences of horror in DRN III, 28-30, and argue that Lucretius may be describing two kinds of horror, both possessing a negative connotation. Before proceeding, it is useful to establish a general premise. The emotion of the fear of dying is ambiguous, because it is not always necessarily directed toward an empty object or experience. Austin and Tsouna have argued that Epicureans may have admitted that one is naturally scared by violent death, or by the fear of mortality (= the thought that one day my life will surely end), also using Lucretius as one of their sources42. The two scholars’ supposition can be strengthened by a fragment by Diogenes of Oinoanda, who distinguishes between a clear fear of dying and an unclear one:

ν̣[ῦν δὲ] | οὗτοςφόβος τ̣[οτὲ] | μέν ἐστιν τετρα[νωμέ]|νος, τοτὲ δἀτρα[νής]· | τετρανωμένος [μὲν] | ὅταν ἐκ φανεροῦ̣ [κακόν] | τι φεύγωμεν ὥς[περ] | τὸ πῦρ φοβούμε[νοι δι’] | αὐτοῦ τῷ θανάτῳ̣ [περι]|πεσεῖσθαι, v. ἀτραν̣[ής] | δὲ ὅταν, πρὸς ἄλλ̣[ῳ τι]|νὶ τῆς διανοίας [παρ]|χούσης, ἐνδεδυμ̣[ένος τῇ] |φύσει καὶ ὑποφω[λεύων]

As a matter of fact this fear is sometimes clear, sometimes not clear – clear when we avoid something manifestly harmful like fire through fear that we shall meet death by it, not clear when, while the mind is occupied with something else, it (fear) has insinuated itself into our nature and [lurks]… (Diogenes of Oinoanda fr. 35 II, ed. and transl. by Smith 1993, p. 212 and 385)

28This excerpt may allow to claim that the clear or τετρανωμένος kind of fear is something that we naturally experience, and hence that it identifies a real danger and may be considered somewhat rational. Diogenes gives the example of fire, which represents a manifest (φανερός) deadly and fearful force. By contrast, the unclear or ἀτρανής kind of fear stems from the mind that presumably identifies a false danger, and which therefore is unnatural and irrational. Now, it may be possible that Lucretius too tacitly distinguishes two forms of horror: one deriving from real external sources of danger, the other produced by the mind when it identifies false threats.

  • 43  DRN III, 834-835 and 1034-1035, V, 1305-1307, Segal 2014, p. 135-136 and 198-199.
  • 44  DRN VI 1282-1286 with Kazantzidis 2021, p. 136-160 (esp. 151-152).
  • 45  Segal 2014, p. 53-57 and 121, Kazantzidis 2021, p. 104-105. Similar observations are found in Lort (...)

29The first category may be taken to include the above-mentioned horrific sound of the world when it is ultimately destroyed. The same kind of clear fear of a real danger is probably also at work in the horror engendered by war43, savage beasts (DRN V, 25 and 218-220), the crackling noise of a burning forest (DRN V, 1252-1254), and the plague44. More generally, we can take this kind of fear to apply to all those Lucretian passages that, according to Segal, describe the ‘horror of bodily violation’ – a phenomenon that Kazantzidis has recently analyzed in depth, connecting it to the notion of φρίκη45. Horror is applied to the harmful sound of the saw, which releases atoms that are less smooth than those emitted by sweet melodies (DRN II, 410-413); to the spear that severs bones and sinews (DRN III, 170-171); to deadly wounds (DRN V, 994-998); and to the chill that spreads through our limbs when we are ill and touch cold iron (DRN VI, 591-595 and 1009-1011). All these things or phenomena have in common the fact that they threaten our physical survival.

  • 46  Indeed, when we eliminate religio, we are left with the calm image of gods, which promotes the imi (...)

30As regards the horror based on unclear causes, namely on false opinions, we have already seen the horrified reaction to Epicurean ratio and the gods. Since neither are harmful – on the contrary, both are actually beneficial46, as they preserve and perfect life – this repulsion is not based on the perception of any real danger.

31This unclear horror is probably what is also being described in DRN IV, 30-37. Here, Lucretius claims that we often have visions of marvelous forms and ghosts of dead people (vv. 34-35: cum saepe figuras / contuimur miras simulacraque luce carentum), which visit us during waking moments or in dreams. When we dream, the experience is also accompanied by a powerful horror that forces us to suddenly awake from our rest (vv. 36-37: quae nos horrifice languentis saepe sopore / excierunt). Now, these oneiric visions are those of the gods and of the Acheron mentioned in DRN III, 28-30.

  • 47  Dionigi 1998. In turn, it should be noted that other places of the Underworld (e.g. Tartarus) and (...)
  • 48  This theoretical move seems to be Lucretius’ personal addition to Epicurus’ original theory (cf. D (...)
  • 49  On the topic of oneiric error, cf. now especially Masi 2017. This is also a cross-polemic against (...)

32Ghosts are also studied in the verses that follow (DRN IV, 37-44). Lucretius reassures his reader that this oneiric experience must not lead us to conclude that these are specters that have somehow escaped from the Acheron’s boundaries (v. 37). Apart from the fact that the poet has already demonstrated in the preceding book of the poem that souls do not survive death and that this mythical place may be at best interpreted as an allegory of the torments of foolish human beings47, he intends to show that such horrific visions are not real. Indeed, ghosts are simulacra, but by this term we must understand only the atomic effluences that continuously flow from external bodies48. If we confuse them with ghostly appearances, this is due to some erroneous conceptual additions to sensory data. Proof of this is the long argument of DRN IV, 749-821 (spec. 757-767). Lucretius claims that sleepers’ faculties of sensation and memory are temporarily inactive, hence they cannot counter the false construction of the dreaming mind, which is instead awake and active (cf. v. 758: mens animi vigilat), and supposes that what it perceives are the ghosts of dead relatives and not, say, the simulacra of some old men and women49.

  • 50  Cf. col. 29.27-30.7 (ed. Henry 2009, p. 68-69 = Democritus 68 B 1a DK, 27 D281 LM), with Piergiaco (...)
  • 51  Tsouna 2007, p. 293-296.
  • 52  DRN III, 970-977 (but cf. III, 909-911), with Lortie 1954, p. 53-54, Schrijvers 1970, p. 132-133, (...)

33Finally, horror is elicited by rotten or charred corpses lying in the open (DRN III 906-908, VI 1267-1271). This might be the outcome of both a clear fear and an unclear one. Proof of the fact that corpses are the cause of a clear horror may be found in book IV of Philodemus’ Περὶ θανάτου. The Epicurean seems to borrow from Democritus the idea that dead bodies emit simulacra with a bad appearance (δυσμορφία) and a bad complexion (κακόχροια) that harm us50. But it may also be possible that, again, horror is the outcome of a false opinion of the mind. After all, one may interpret the condition of being a buried or unburied corpse as intrinsically terrible51. Lucretius confutes this conceptual mistake by means of many proofs. What interests us is the so-called “Symmetry Argument”, who also aims to remove the sense of horror. If we are not horrified at the thought of our past or ante ortum non-existence, why should we be horribly scared by the thought that we will no longer exist post mortem52 and that we will leave behind only some rotten or charred remains?

34Now that we have collected all the evidence, it is possible to draw some conclusions. The impression is that Lucretius is interested in expressing a general condemnation of the horrific fear of death, although he recognizes that at least in some of its forms it is motivated by real dangers. Even in these cases, however, he still challenges as irrational the belief that it is harmful to die in war, during a plague, and so on. So although the cause of the fear is natural, Lucretius thinks that it is unnatural to give in to such fear. What is utterly condemned instead is horror toward gods and ghosts, because in this case we are responsible for adding false contents to the simulacra emitted by external bodies. If we would reason correctly, these objects would no longer appear horrid. In any case, the horror of death – not death per se – seems to be intrinsically harmful or painful, in both physical and psychological terms.

35This conclusion intensifies the tension between divina voluptas and horror in DRN III 14-30, more precisely the conflict within the soul of the Epicurean proficiens. The peaceful view of the gods, the non-existence of the Acheron, and the demonstration that death is not fearful should engender only the former feeling. However, Lucretius anticipates in the proem that the proficiens is also pervaded by horror when hearing about the horrific topics studied or mentioned in the De rerum natura (religio, ghosts, war, plague, etc.). The following, final section of this essay will propose a possible poetic therapy to overcome and transform this negative feeling.

4.The therapeutic assessment of the horror of sublimity

  • 53  Conte 1991 and Porter 2016, p. 445-450, esp. p. 448. Cf. also Mazzoli 2000, p. 237-239, Galzerano (...)
  • 54  Kazantzidis 2021, p. 105-106. The scholar (p. 104, n. 84) also proposes a parallel with col. 24.3- (...)

36At the beginning of § 3, I briefly mentioned the opinion of those scholars suggesting that the expression quaedam divina voluptas atque horror conveys the feeling of sublimity. This line of research has been fruitfully deepened by Conte and Purinton. In their view, through his poetry Lucretius seeks to offer a grandview of nature and of its many unimaginable or absolute events, like death, which combines fascination with horror and transforms fear into ecstasy at the sight of the maiestas rerum53. More recently, Kazantzidis has made the further argument that the Lucretian sublime may not be entirely positive, since it can fill one with horror. Therefore, he contends that ‘terrifying phenomena continue to carry an aesthetic value even for those who fail to comprehend them while, inversely, the beauty of knowledge – grounded as it may be on a firm grasp of atomic principles – is never free from a subverting feeling of shudder and dread’54. If Kazantzidis is right, then this paradoxical condition may be identified as the emotional disposition of the proficiens. While feeling divine pleasure by hearing or reading the sublime Lucretian verses, he/she is also horrified by sublimity.

37However, Kazantzidis does not attempt to clarify whether the negative horror is just recognized by Lucretius as an unavoidable side-effect, or whether it may have been intentionally pursued by the poet for the sake of the proficiens’s moral improvement. I believe that the latter hypothesis is preferable, and therefore that DRN III, 28-30, can also be read as a programmatic declaration concerning the therapeutic usefulness of sublimity.

  • 55  Cf. e.g. Plutarch, Adv. Col., 1101A5-B1 (= Epicurus fr. 16, ed. Arrighetti 1973), and col. 3.13-18 (...)
  • 56  Gale 2018, p. 67-68 and 74-75. Morrison 2013 arrives at a similar conclusion, but without discussi (...)

38This bold claim can be defended by placing it in the more general framework of the Epicurean doctrine about the status of negative emotions. Epicureans believed that at least pain, grief and wrath are evil, and therefore should be removed from our bodies and mind as far as possible. However, by following Epicurus’ sober assessment that we need to accept some painful experiences in order to enjoy greater pleasures in the future (cf. Epicurus Ep. [3] 132), they also reached the conclusion that these negative emotions can be transformed into instruments for our own well-being55. Specifically in relation to Lucretius’ horror, this thesis is supported in particular by Gale’s analysis of therapeutic and psychagogical strategies in the De rerum natura56. It could be argued, then, that the Lucretian verses evoke the horror of existence in an effort to try to transform it into a positive means to pleasure.

  • 57  On the connection between tragedy and sublimity, cf. Porter 2016, p. 334-350.
  • 58  DRN V, 1061. On this topic, cf. Bailey 1947, vol. 2, p. 933, Kenney 2014, p. 79, and Kazantzidis 2 (...)
  • 59  For arguments and texts, cf. Piergiacomi 2019b, p. 140-142, esp. p. 142.

39To further reinforce this claim, it is interesting to note that earlier Roman poets focusing on the tragic sublime57 had already resorted to the expression percepit horror used in DRN III, 29. Other scholars have drawn attention to a fragment from Pacuvius’ Medea (Trag. fr. 169) and its reworking in Plautus (Amph. 1118). But one could also add the expression animi horrescit et gliscit gaudium occurring in the former’s Periboea, where an unidentified character confesses to experiencing mixed feelings of horrific fear and sudden joy toward something unknown (Trag. fr. 225). Lucretius surely had this tragic passage in mind as well, since he imitated Pacuvius by writing gaudia gliscunt58. The precedent from the Medea confirms that horror has a negative meaning. The Periboe instead recognizes the same simultaneous reaction of fear and pleasure in one’s animus as the De rerum naturae – although it must be noted that Pacuvius describes this feeling in relation to something unknown, whereas Lucretius associates it with the revelation of Epicurus’ knowledge. Now, the detection of the tragic catharsis and intertext in DRN III, 28-30 might lead us to suppose that this Lucretian passage is intended to generate a sense of tragic horror, in turn aimed at bringing emotional catharsis about through didactic Epicurean verses59, i.e. at reaching an ethical goal once more through a poetic and psychological device.

  • 60  Giovacchini 2013, esp. p. 45-56.

40In this respect, it is tempting to link Lucretius’ cathartic and sublime poetics to the image of the cup of his poetic honey. Giovacchini has demonstrated that this metaphor is also used to compare the relationship between the poet and his reader to that between a doctor and his patient. Lucretius is like a practitioner who sweetens his medicine with honey in order to mask its bitterness and avoid “shocking” the patient60. Now, it is possible to suppose that the poetics of the sublime treat horror in a similar way. Lucretius may be presenting in a sweetened form (i.e. a poetic, and hence cathartic and pleasurable, form) the horrific features of reality and the world revealed by Epicurus’ philosophy. In doing so, the proficiens will come to know the dark sides of nature that scare him/her and will be freed from the terrifying darkness thanks to Epicurean physics (DRN II, 55-61), just as the patient discovers and cures his/her own illnesses through dialogue with the physician.

  • 61  On which cf. at least Kenney 1974 and Perutelli 1996.

41An example of this therapy may be the verses on Iphigenia’s sacrifice (DRN I, 80-101). Lucretius claims that Memmius should not consider Epicurus’ negation of providence impious and obey the horrific religio of the priests (remember DRN I, 65). By poetically describing Iphigenia’s sacrifice61, therefore, Lucretius is inviting the proficiens to assume the reverse emotional perspective. It is traditional religio that should engender horror, not the Epicurean detached gods. In other words, Memmius must become horrified of the false conception of divinity, so as to purify his soul from error and be ready to embrace the truth.

42In conclusion, we are in the position to suppose that the poetics of sublimity described in DRN III, 28-30 can become a form of therapy, if its poetic honey sweetens a bitter object of horror and transforms it into a philosophical means toward divina voluptas. This hypothesis would explain the presence both of the particle quaedam, which highlights that this negative emotion is being used in a positive instrumental way, and of atque. Indeed, in Lucretius’ verses poetic horror may be seen to coincide with divina voluptas, or at any rate to be almost inseparable from it.

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Notes

1  Cf. Büchner 1952, for a general overview, Boyancé 1963, p. 57-83, and Canfora 1982.

2  Cf. deus mortalis in DRN V, 1-12, with Cambiano 2008, Asmis 2016, p. 457-459.

3  Schrivjers 1970, passim.

4  For the former view, cf. esp. Sedley 2011 and Eckermann 2019. For the latter, cf. Essler 2011 and Piergiacomi 2017, with additional bibliography provided by both scholars.

5  On this topic, cf. Giancotti 1989, p. 75-76, Auvray-Assayas 1991, Nussbaum 1994, p. 216-217, Gale 1994, p. 146, and Erler 2002.

6  DRN III, 136-160. On ἀταραξία, cf. D.L. X 136 (= fr. 7, ed. Arrighetti 1973). I will not analyze the notion of katastematic pleasure and how it differs from kinetic pleasure, which is still an open issue (cf. at least Liebersohn 2015 and Mitsis 2019, p. 82-88).

7  It must also be noted that this passage is an imitation of Homer’s description of the Olympic gods (Od. VI, 42-46). Cf. i.a. Lienhard 1969, p. 352-353, Segal 2014, p. 104-105.

8  Boyancé 1963, p. 294, Gale 1994, p. 194. Contra Giancotti 1989, p. 49-56, and von Albrecht 2006, p. 234, who think that Lucretius translates θάμβος as pavor.

9  Ep. [1] 79 with Verde 2010, p. 224.

10  Kazantzidis 2021, p. 104.

11  Cf. Polignac 1780, Patin 1868, esp. 135, Perelli 1969. Cf. also Clay 1983, p. 234-238, Romani Mistretta 2014. An attempt to develop a psychoanalytical reading was made by Logre 1946 (contra Lagache 1997, p. 415-418, and Mitsis 2018, p. 91-106). Jerome in turn drew the information about Lucretius’ madness from the Chronicon by Eusebius of Caesarea (Migne 1844-1855, vol. 27, p. 425).

12  Cf. infra, n. 24.

13  Trans. Smith 2001, p. 68, of vv. 7-8: aut quid nam tremulis facere artubus haedi / consimile in cursu possint et fortis equi vis?

14  Giancotti 1989, p. 105. On the metaphor, cf. Nelis 2020.

15  Cf. DRN III, 322 (ut nihil inpediat dignam dis degere vitam), with von Albrecht 2006, p. 241-242, Konstan 2008, p. 126-152, and Mitsis 2019, p. 166-185.

16  On the composition and behavior of the soul, cf. now the recent study Verde 2020, with bibliographical references.

17  I agree with Giancotti 1989, p. 98-99, that the pleasurable effect directly derives from the ‘ammirazione o reverenza per la benefica vis di Epicuro’.

18  Mitsis 2018, p. 69-89.

19  Cf. respectively Erler 1997, who recognizes many ‘meditative elements’ scattered throughout the De rerum natura, and Santini 2009, Asmis 2016, p. 448-459, esp. 456.

20  Cf. horribili super aspectu in v. 65 with Lagache 1997, p. 356, and Gigandet 1998, p. 346. Cf. also the horrific image of the Magna Mater in DRN II, 600-643, esp. 609, on which see at least the recent study of Garani 2018 and the relative status quaestionis.

21  Cf. horrisono in v. 109 and Galzerano 2019, p. 108-118.

22  Cf. the definition of pietas as mage pacata omnia mente tueri in vv. 1198-1203. As far as this section is concerned, it is essential to refer to Gigandet 1998, p. 170-206, esp. 201-203, which I implicitly also use in the arguments that follow.

23  Boyancé 1963, p. 250-252, Schrijvers 1970, p. 60-78, Gigandet 1998, p. 170-194.

24  I will return to this image in § 4. On its connection with the sense of horror, see Lagache 1997, 242-248. More generally, cf. Schrijvers 1970, p. 214-229, Gale 1994, passim, the essays edited in Obbink 1995, and Beer 2009, 436-460.

25  DRN III, 9-13, with Kenney 2014, p. 76, discussing libant in v. 11 and the comparison drawn between the poet and bees.

26  Cf. Procl. In R. p. 106.9-14 with Piergiacomi 2017, p. 131-139.

27  Cf. letter 26F2, edited by Erbì 2020.

28  Plutarch Adv. Col., 1108E10-F3 (= 68 A 53 DK, 27 R82 LM), Erler 2011, p. 18-19, Roskam 2019, p. 112-113.

29  These texts correspond to Epicurus’ fr. 188 and 234 (ed. Usener 1887), and to Metrodorus’ fr. 33 and 43 (ed. Körte 1890).

30  Cf. coll. 13.36-14.14, ed. Henry 2009, with Tsouna 2007, p. 273-275.

31  Trans. Graver-Long 2015, p. 149-150 = Epicurus fr. 192, ed. Usener 1887; Metrodorus fr. 30 app., ed. Körte 1890; Hermarchus fr. 18, ed. Longo Auricchio 1988.

32  D. L. X 13 (= 13T Erbì 2020), with Erler 2011, p. 14-15.

33  Mitsis 2019, p. 28-29.

34  For further arguments, cf. Erler 2011, p. 15-18. More generally, cf. DeWitt 1936.

35  Mitsis 2019, p. 79-89.

36  Schrijvers 1970, 88, 197, 340. Similarly, Bailey 1947, vol. 2, p. 933, Brown 1997, p. 96, and Kenney 2014, p. 79.

37  Boyancé 1963, p. 250 and 294; von Albrecht 2006, p. 244 (‘Qui l’orrore sacro riceve una rivalutazione inattesa’); Lovatt 2013, p. 99-101; Asmis 2016, p. 454-455.

38  Segal 2014, p. 92-93, 103-106, 184.

39  Giancotti 1989, p. 66 and 87-115.

40  Kazantzidis 2021, p. 103-104. Cf. also von Albrecht 2006, p. 233-234.

41  Another solution would be to suppose that Lucretius is implicitly confessing his difficulty to translate the original Greek of Epicurus into Latin (DRN I, 135-145).

42  Cf. Austin 2001, esp. p. 118-119, who quotes DRN III, 59-75, and V, 1120-1134; Tsouna 2006, esp. p. 88, 103-105, 113-114, who claims that the fear of mortality is implied by the so-called Symmetry Argument (DRN III, 832-842 and 972-975).

43  DRN III, 834-835 and 1034-1035, V, 1305-1307, Segal 2014, p. 135-136 and 198-199.

44  DRN VI 1282-1286 with Kazantzidis 2021, p. 136-160 (esp. 151-152).

45  Segal 2014, p. 53-57 and 121, Kazantzidis 2021, p. 104-105. Similar observations are found in Lortie 1954, p. 62, and Warren 2004, p. 13.

46  Indeed, when we eliminate religio, we are left with the calm image of gods, which promotes the imitation of their happiness (cf. supra, n. 5).

47  Dionigi 1998. In turn, it should be noted that other places of the Underworld (e.g. Tartarus) and the punishments inflicted on mythical damned souls (Sisyphus, etc.) are also horrific. Cf. DRN III 1011-1017. On the fear of the Underworld, cf. generally Lortie 1954.

48  This theoretical move seems to be Lucretius’ personal addition to Epicurus’ original theory (cf. Dalzell 1974, p. 23).

49  On the topic of oneiric error, cf. now especially Masi 2017. This is also a cross-polemic against Ennius, who is mentioned in DRN I, 102-145, as a poet claiming that ghosts come from the Underworld and appear in our dreams (Cucchiarelli 1994, and Segal 2014, p. 175-177). Cf. Traver Vera 2019, p. 93-105, for other arguments on Lucretius’ criticism of ghostly appearances. On sleep, cf. finally Gigandet 2015.

50  Cf. col. 29.27-30.7 (ed. Henry 2009, p. 68-69 = Democritus 68 B 1a DK, 27 D281 LM), with Piergiacomi 2019a, p. 461-466.

51  Tsouna 2007, p. 293-296.

52  DRN III, 970-977 (but cf. III, 909-911), with Lortie 1954, p. 53-54, Schrijvers 1970, p. 132-133, Rosenbaum 1989-1990, and Warren 2004, p. 57-109 (esp. 65-75).

53  Conte 1991 and Porter 2016, p. 445-450, esp. p. 448. Cf. also Mazzoli 2000, p. 237-239, Galzerano 2019, p. 99-101, 252-270. Finally, on the ancient poetics of the sublime in general, cf. again Porter 2001 (with the comments in Rispoli 2001) and 2016 passim.

54  Kazantzidis 2021, p. 105-106. The scholar (p. 104, n. 84) also proposes a parallel with col. 24.3-4 of Philodemus’ Περὶ οἰκονομίας (ed. Tsouna 2012).

55  Cf. e.g. Plutarch, Adv. Col., 1101A5-B1 (= Epicurus fr. 16, ed. Arrighetti 1973), and col. 3.13-18 of Philodemus’ Περὶ ὀργῆς (ed. Armstrong-McOsker 2020), with Tsouna 2003, Armstrong 2008 and Konstan 2013, p. 203-206.

56  Gale 2018, p. 67-68 and 74-75. Morrison 2013 arrives at a similar conclusion, but without discussing the notion of horror.

57  On the connection between tragedy and sublimity, cf. Porter 2016, p. 334-350.

58  DRN V, 1061. On this topic, cf. Bailey 1947, vol. 2, p. 933, Kenney 2014, p. 79, and Kazantzidis 2021, p. 104, n. 84. For Greek precedents, cf. instead Giancotti 1989, p. 9. I am quoting the Pacuvius’ fragments from the new edition by Schierl 2012.

59  For arguments and texts, cf. Piergiacomi 2019b, p. 140-142, esp. p. 142.

60  Giovacchini 2013, esp. p. 45-56.

61  On which cf. at least Kenney 1974 and Perutelli 1996.

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Enrico Piergiacomi

Bruno Kessler Foundation of Trento

enrico_piergiacomi@libero.it

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