Jan 30, 2021Lucretian Dialogues
What business does a classical Roman epic have at a 21st century lunch table? Very little, it may seem, yet it made for a far more interesting conversation than any gossip about the stock market. What explains the contemporary appeal of a philosophical poem like De Rerum Nature? Might it be down to successful modern advertising of the work as one of the origins of modern science, a candle of reason flickering in the dark age of religious dogma and superstition? Whatever the reason, there is no denying its staying power. The texts of the past should be discussed and challenged in view of our own time, their undying elegance savoured.
But how much can one savour the beauty of verse without knowing the language it was written in? How does one appreciate the ingenuous crafting of verbal and syllabic lengths to fit the rules of poetic meter? It is a great tragedy that so many of the world's literary treasures fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. So many gems go unnoticed, overshadowed by certain 'classics' of disproportionate influence that have attained their status largely thanks to the dominant culture of the age. For every Lucretius there are probably ten others just as good. The only way is to stay curious and to continue learning. Few pleasures are greater than that when the darkness is lifted and the gems glitter in the light.