School of History, Classics & Archaeology

About the conference

This conference will bring together leading scholars to explore and develop approaches to the interpretation of Lucretius’ didactic epic on Epicurean atomic physics, De Rerum Natura (DRN).

The Andromeda Galaxy (NASA)

Recent reception-criticism has suggested that ‘modernity’ owes much to Lucretius; a central concern of this conference will be the extent to which the DRN is, accordingly, a suitable text to which to apply contemporary interpretative practices.

The conference will consider, in particular, the value and/or limitations of modern critical theory alongside more traditional approaches. Papers will encompass a wide range of philological, literary-critical, and philosophical methodologies, and the boundaries and complementarities between these will be explored.

Three broad aims of the conference may, therefore, be stated as follows:

Conference aims

  • to situate the text of the DRN at the centre of its interpretation and to explore how Lucretius’ Latin activates the various kinds of response that mediate our access to it
  • to explore the relationship of the DRN with philosophical and literary traditions and to seek opportunities for dialectic between literary and philosophical approaches to the text
  • to consider ways in which the DRN, as a scientifically and ethically philosophical work in verse, is hospitable to literary-critical theories that are themselves part philosophical and part literary