66 episodes

Lucretius Today is a podcast dedicated to learning Epicurean philosophy through study of the poet Lucretius, who lived in the age of Julius Caesar and wrote "On The Nature of Things," the only complete presentation of Epicurus' ideas left to us from the ancient world. We'll walk you line by line through the six books of Lucretius' poem, and we'll discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. In this podcast we won't be talking about modern political issues. How you apply Epicurus in your own life is entirely up to you. Over at the Epicureanfriends.com web forum, we apply this approach by following a set of ground rules we call "Not Neo-Epicurean, But Epicurean." Epicurean philosophy is not a religion, it''s not Stoicism, it's not Humanism, it's not Libertarianism, it's not Atheism, and it's not Marxism or any other philosophy - it is unique in the history of Western Civilization, and as we explore Lucretius's poem you'll quickly see how that is the case. The home page of this podcast is LucretiusToday.com, and there you can find a free copy of the version of the poem from which we are reading, and links to where you can discuss the poem between episodes at Epicureanfriends.com.

Lucretius Today - Epicurus and Epicurean Philosophy Cassius Amicus

    • Philosophy
    • 5.0 • 4 Ratings

Lucretius Today is a podcast dedicated to learning Epicurean philosophy through study of the poet Lucretius, who lived in the age of Julius Caesar and wrote "On The Nature of Things," the only complete presentation of Epicurus' ideas left to us from the ancient world. We'll walk you line by line through the six books of Lucretius' poem, and we'll discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. In this podcast we won't be talking about modern political issues. How you apply Epicurus in your own life is entirely up to you. Over at the Epicureanfriends.com web forum, we apply this approach by following a set of ground rules we call "Not Neo-Epicurean, But Epicurean." Epicurean philosophy is not a religion, it''s not Stoicism, it's not Humanism, it's not Libertarianism, it's not Atheism, and it's not Marxism or any other philosophy - it is unique in the history of Western Civilization, and as we explore Lucretius's poem you'll quickly see how that is the case. The home page of this podcast is LucretiusToday.com, and there you can find a free copy of the version of the poem from which we are reading, and links to where you can discuss the poem between episodes at Epicureanfriends.com.

    Episode 066 - The End of All Things (But Not Of The Universe Itself!)

    Episode 066 - The End of All Things (But Not Of The Universe Itself!)

    Welcome to Episode Sixty-Six of Lucretius Today.I am your host Cassius, and together with my panelists from the EpicureanFriends.com forum, we'll walk you through the six books of Lucretius' poem, and discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. We encourage you to study Epicurus for yourself, and we suggest the best place to start is the book, "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Canadian professor Norman DeWitt.

    For anyone who is not familiar with our podcast, please check back to Episode One for a discussion of our goals and our ground rules. If you have any question about that, please be sure to contact us at EpicureanFriends.com for more information. In this Episode 66 we continue our discussion of Book 5 with Don reading today's text, starting with approximately Latin Line 91:

    Browne 1743

    And what remains but now, as the order of my design requires, to convince, by proper reasons, that this world is formed of mortal seeds; that it began to be, and must have an end; and to show how the seeds of matter were united and disposed to produce the Earth, the Heavens, the Sea, the Stars, the Sun and Moon; and then what creatures sprung from the Earth, and what never had a being, and how the human race, with various language, began to give names to things, and to converse together. And by what means that dread of deities above first crept into the heart, which preserves the holy things throughout the world - the Temples, the Lakes, Groves, Altars, and Images of the gods. Besides, I shall explain the course of the sun and moon, and by what over-ruling force Nature directs their motions; lest you should suppose these luminaries travel their constant stages freely and of their own accord between Heaven and Earth, and by their kind influence promote the growth of fruits and the whole animal creation; or conceive that they are rolled about by the will of the gods. For those who well know that the gods live a life of ease, if they should wonder by what power the world is carried on, especially in the things they see over their heads in the Heavens above, they relapse again into their old superstition; they raise over themselves a set of cruel tyrants, who the wretches fancy can do all things, because they know nothing of what can or what cannot be, or by what means a finite power is fixed to every being, and a boundary immovable which it cannot pass.

    And therefore, to keep you no longer in suspense in what I promised, take a view in the first place of the seas, the Earth, and the Heavens; this triple nature, these three bodies, my Memmius, these beings of so different a frame, three so wonderfully formed, one Day shall put an end to; and the whole mass and fabric of the world, that has stood for many ages, shall tumble to pieces. I know how this, this future ruin of Heaven and Earth, seems strange and surprising to your apprehensions, and how difficult it is to convince you of the truth of it. This is a common case, when you offer a subject to the ear it has been unused to, and which you cannot discover with your eyes, nor feel with your hands, the ways by which knowledge and belief generally find a passage to the breast, and affect the mind. I'll go on, however. The very nature of the things perhaps will give a credit to my words, and you may soon see the whole fabric of the world shaken grievously by terrible convulsions; but the commanding power of Chance remove that day far from us! And let reason, rather than the thing itself, convince us that all things dissolved by the last dreadful crack will fall to ruin.

    But before I attempt to teach these truths, more sacred and much more worthy of belief than what the Pythoness delivers from the Tripod and Laurel of Apollo, I shall first offer some encouragements against your fears, lest, being under the check of religion, you should by chance imagine that the Earth, the Sun, t

    • 43 min
    Episode 065 - Introducing a New Panelist (Don) and A Recap of the Opening of Book Five

    Episode 065 - Introducing a New Panelist (Don) and A Recap of the Opening of Book Five

    Welcome to Episode Sixty-Five of Lucretius Today. I am your host Cassius, and together with my panelists from the EpicureanFriends.com forum, we'll walk you through the six books of Lucretius' poem, and discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. We encourage you to study Epicurus for yourself, and we suggest the best place to start is the book, "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Canadian professor Norman DeWitt.

    For anyone who is not familiar with our podcast, please check back to Episode One for a discussion of our goals and our ground rules. If you have any question about that, please be sure to contact us at EpicureanFriends.com for more information.

    In this Episode 65 we introduce a new panel member, Don, one of our regulars at EpicureanFriends.com. We take this episode to introduce Don and recap where we've been, where we're going, and we get Don's take on the opening section of Book Five. Next week we will return to our normal format.

    • 33 min
    Episode 064 - Due To His Accomplishments, Epicurus Should Be Thought Of As Godlike

    Episode 064 - Due To His Accomplishments, Epicurus Should Be Thought Of As Godlike

    Welcome to Episode Sixty-Four of Lucretius Today. I am your host Cassius, and together with my panelists from the EpicureanFriends.com forum, we'll walk you through the six books of Lucretius' poem, and discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. We encourage you to study Epicurus for yourself, and we suggest the best place to start is the book, "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Canadian professor Norman DeWitt. For anyone who is not familiar with our podcast, please check back to Episode One for a discussion of our goals and our ground rules. If you have any question about that, please be sure to contact us at EpicureanFriends.com for more information.

    In this Episode 64 we begin our discussion of Book 5. Now let's join Martin reading today's text, which is fromLatin Lines 1-90 (Book 5)


    Browne 1743

    Who can, with all his soul inspired, compose fit numbers, worthy the majesty of so great things, of these discoveries? Or who, in words alone, can sing his praise, and equal his deserts, who from the labour of his mind has left such benefits, and bestowed rewards so glorious on mankind? No mortal man alive, as I conceive, for could I raise my verse to reach the dignity of things he knew - he was a god, my noble Memmius, a god he was, who first found out that rule of life which is now called true wisdom; and who this human life, so tossed with storms, and so overwhelmed in darkness, has been rendered by his art so calm, and placed in so clear a light. Compare the benefits long since found out by those who now are gods. Ceres, they say, discovered first the use of corn, and Bacchus gave to me the knowledge of the vine and its sweet juice. Yet men might still have lived without both these, as many nations, we are told, do now. But no true life could be, without the mind easy and free, and therefore with better right is he to us a god, whose gentle rules, received throughout the world, bestowed on men tranquility and peace.

    If you should think the great exploits of Hercules exceeded his, you are carried far from truth. For how could the wide, gaping jaws of the Nemaean Lion, or the terrible Arcadian Boar, affright us now? How could the bull of Crete, or Hydra, the Plague of Lerna, encompassed with his poisonous snakes? Or Geryon, with his triple face, and the collected strength of his three bodies? Or what can we now suffer from Diomedes' horses, from their nostrils breathing fire, dreadful to Thrace, the Bistonian Plains, and all about Mount Ismarus? Or what from the Arcadian birds of Stymphalus, feared for their crooked talons? Or that huge dragon, fierce and terrible in look, that, twining round the tree, guarded the gold fruit of the Hesperides? How could he hurt us here, removed far from us near the Atlantic shore, and the rough seas, where neither Roman nor barbarian dared to visit? And other monsters, which that hero slew, had they not been subdued, how could they hurt us now, were they alive? Not in the least, I think. For now the world abounds with frightful beasts, that fill with dreadful terror the forests, the high mountains and thick woods; yet these places commonly 'tis in our power to avoid.

    But unless the mind be purged, what wars within, what dangers wretched mortals must endure? What piercing cares of fierce desire must tear the minds of men? And then, what anxious fears? What ruin flows from pride, from villany, from petulance? What from luxury and sloth? The man therefore that has subdued these monsters, and drove them from the mind by precept, not by force; should not this man be worthy to be numbered with the gods? Especially since of these immortal deities he has spoken nobly and at large, and by his writings has explained to us the laws of universal nature?

    His steps I follow, and now pursue his rules, and by my verse I teach that things must needs subsist by the same laws by which they were

    • 30 min
    Episode 063 - The Perils of Romantic Love (Part 3 - End of Book 4)

    Episode 063 - The Perils of Romantic Love (Part 3 - End of Book 4)

    Welcome to Episode Sixty-Three of Lucretius Today. I am your host Cassius, and together with my panelists from the EpicureanFriends.com forum, we'll walk you through the six books of Lucretius' poem, and discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. We encourage you to study Epicurus for yourself, and we suggest the best place to start is the book, "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Canadian professor Norman DeWitt. For anyone who is not familiar with our podcast, please check back to Episode One for a discussion of our goals and our ground rules. If you have any question about that, please be sure to contact us at EpicureanFriends.com for more information.

    In this Episode 63 we will complete Book Four and our discussion of perils of romantic love. Now let's join Charles reading today's text, which comes from Latin Line 1209 to the end of Book Four.


    Browne 1743

    If, in the mixing of the seed, the female draws in and snatches with sudden force the male seed, the child, the female seed is prevailing, is like the mother, as he is like the father if his prevails. But those who, you observe, express jointly the resemblance, and mingle the features of both parents, are formed equally from the juices of both; for then the mutual ardor of the combatants has justly tempered the conflicting seed, which, raised by the stings of Venus, is sent in due proportion through all the limbs. The success of the battle is equal, neither is victor nor vanquished. It happens sometimes that children are like their grandfathers, and resemble the persons of their remote ancestors, because the parents have frequently many seeds concealed and variously mingled in their bodies, which preserve the features of the family, and are delivered down from one to another. These Venus forms into different figures, as the qualities of the seeds require, and represents the complexion, the voice and hair of the progenitors; for these no less arise from proper seeds than the face, the body, or any parts of it. And a female child proceeds partly from the father's seed, and a male from the mother's, for the issue always consists of the seed of both; but the greater likeness it bears to the one than to the other, it partakes of more than a just proportion of the seed of that sex, which you easily apprehend, whether the child be male or female.

    Nor do divinities above ever destroy the prolific virtue of the seed, or prevent a man's being called father by a number of sweet children, or curse him all his life with unfruitful love, as some vainly think, and therefore with much concern stain the altars with the blood of many victims, and make them smoke with clouds of incense, to implore a blessing upon the showery seed and promote conception; but to no purpose they tire out the gods and fatigue the oracles, for they are frequently unfruitful because the seed is too thick or too thin. The thin seed will not stay in the parts where it was injected, but soon dissolves and flows back; and the thick has no effect, because it is sent out heavy and condensed, or it does not carry home to the mark, or it cannot rightly penetrate the passages, or if it does, it is not at all disposed to mix kindly with the female juice. For the harmony of love between the sexes is widely different; men are more prolific with some women, and women conceive more readily, and swell with their burden after the embrace of some men than with others. Many women have been barren in a first and second marriage, and been fruitful at last, have borne lusty boys and blessed the family with a sweet offspring; and men, after marrying several times without issue, have at length found out a wife of a constitution agreeable to their own, and supported their old age with many children.

    Of so great concern it is that the seed of both should kindly mix and mutually glow with genial heat, that the thick a

    • 53 min
    Episode 062 - The Perils of Romantic Love (Part 2)

    Episode 062 - The Perils of Romantic Love (Part 2)

    Welcome to Episode Sixty-Two of Lucretius Today. I am your host Cassius, and together with my panelists from the EpicureanFriends.com forum, we'll walk you through the six books of Lucretius' poem, and discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. We encourage you to study Epicurus for yourself, and we suggest the best place to start is the book, "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Canadian professor Norman DeWitt.

    For anyone who is not familiar with our podcast, please check back to Episode One for a discussion of our goals and our ground rules. If you have any question about that, please be sure to contact us at EpicureanFriends.com for more information. In this Episode 62 we will continue our discussion of perils of romantic love. Our text today is Latin Lines -1141-1208 - of Book Four.


    Browne 1743

    These are the misfortunes that attend an amour ever so fortunate and constant; but the miseries of a wretched and disastrous love are innumerable, and obvious to everyone with his eyes open. You had better therefore be upon your guard beforehand, and observe the rules I have laid down to prevent your being caught; for 'tis not so difficult to avoid being drawn into the snares of love as to disengage yourself from the net when you are taken, and to break through the strong knots which Venus ties close upon all her votaries.

    And though you are entangled and within the net, you may still avoid much of the evil, unless you willfully set yourself against the remedy. First then, you are to take no notice of any imperfections, either of mind or body, you find in the mistress you admire and fondly love. All lovers, blinded by their passion, observe this, and attribute beauties to the fair to which they have no real pretence; and therefore the ugly and deformed we see have their several charms, and secure a sovereign power over their admirers. The lover that has such a forbidding Dowdy for a mistress is laughed at by his companions, who advise him to appease Venus and render her propitious, while they think nothing of their greater misfortunes in placing their esteem upon others less lovely and less beautiful. The black seems brown; the nasty and rank is negligent, the owl-eyed is a Pallas, the sinewy, with her dry skin, is a little Doe, the dwarf, of the Pygmy Breed, is one of the Graces, wit and spirit all over; the large and gigantic is surprising and full of majesty. If she stammers and cannot speak, then she lisps; she is modest if she is dumb; but the Turbulent, the violent and the talkative is all Fire. If she is worn away with a consumption, she is my Slender Love, you may span her in the waist if she is dying with a cough. The two-handed Virago, with her full Duggs, is Ceres herself, a bedfellow for Bacchus; the flat-nosed is my Silene, a little Satyr; the pouting lip is a very Kiss. It would be endless to say all that might be offered upon this subject.

    But allow your mistress all the advantages of beauty in her face, that charms of love arise from every limb, yet there are others as lovely as she, and time was when you lived without her, and we know she plays the same game that homelier women can do as well. And then she perfumes, rank as she is with filthy smells, that her maids cannot come near her, but make a jest of her when they are not seen. But when the lover is shut out, and all in tears crowns the gates with flowers and garlands, and pours ointments upon the stately pillars, and the wretch warms the very doors with his kisses; yet when he is admitted, and one blast from her armpits strikes full upon him as he enters, he presently seeks for a plausible reason to be gone, and all his long-labored speeches of complaint are forgotten, and he condemns himself of folly for raising such ideas of her beauty, which no mortal could lay claim to. This secret is well known to women of the town, and they act cunningl

    • 51 min
    Episode 061 - The Perils of Romantic Love (Part 1)

    Episode 061 - The Perils of Romantic Love (Part 1)

    Welcome to Episode Sixty-One of Lucretius Today. I am your host Cassius, and together with my panelists from the EpicureanFriends.com forum, we'll walk you through the six books of Lucretius' poem, and discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. We encourage you to study Epicurus for yourself, and we suggest the best place to start is the book, "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Canadian professor Norman DeWitt. For anyone who is not familiar with our podcast, please check back to Episode One for a discussion of our goals and our ground rules. If you have any question about that, please be sure to contact us at EpicureanFriends.com for more information.


    In this episode 61 we will begin discussion of the well-known ending of Book 4, addressing the perils of romantic love. Out text today is Latin Lines 1037-1140 of Book Four.


    Browne 1743

    And then, what mighty deeds are men hurrying themselves about in their dreams? Then they show their valor, and do wonderful exploits; they engage with kings, and are taken captive, are in the confusion of battle; they cry out as if they were expiring on the spot. Some are the hottest in the fight, and groan with the anguish of their wounds, and fill the air with complaints, as if they were torn by the teeth of a panther or fierce lion. Some in their sleep talk of the mysteries of State, and frequently discover the treason of their own contriving. Some think they are dying away, and others, falling from the dreadful precipices with all their weight upon the earth, are terrified, and awake almost out of their senses, and can scarce recover themselves from the hurry and distraction of their spirits. Another, parched up with thirst, sits on the river's bank, or by the side of a pleasant fountain, and almost drinks down his throat the whole stream. And children in their sleep often fancy that they are near some sink or public pissing place; they think they are taking up their clothes that they may make water freely, and so the Babylonian coverlid with its purple dye and the rich bedding are wet through. And further, those who are in the heat of youth, whose ripening age has well digested the semen through all the limbs, on such the images of every beauteous object strike deeply, and show the lovely face and blushing cheek which so provoke and stimulate the parts, swelling with seed in abundance, that they discharge, as if the deed were done, large floods of moisture and pollute the robe.

    For (as I said before) the seed begins to boil as soon as mature age has well-braced the limbs. Other thing are moved and provoked by other impressions, but nothing but the power of beauty can put the human semen into motion, which, as soon as it is ejected from its little cells, flows through the limbs and through every part of the body, and being received into the receptacle of the nerves proper for it, in an instant stimulates the g******s. These parts grow turgid with the semen, and thence proceeds the will to project it where the heat of lust strives to reach; for the mind drives furiously toward the lovely body from when it received the wound of love. Men generally fall upon their wound, and the blood gushes with violence toward the part from which we received the blow. If the murderer be near, the red liquor will spout all over him. So he that is struck with the darts of Venus (whether some beauteous boy, with female charms, the arrow casts, or some more beauteous maid, that shoots out love from every pore) tends to the part that gave the stroke; he is in raptures to enjoy, to inject and to consummate, for the hot desire to the act foreshows the mighty pleasure that attends it.

    This is properly Venus to us, this is the Deity of Love. Hence the drops of sweet delight first strike upon the heart, and the burning fever of succeeding care follows it close, for if the object of your love be abs

    • 57 min

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