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Ennius and the Revaluation of Traditional Historiography in Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura

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Chapter Summary

On the basis of what Lucretius says explicitly about his poem's generic affinities, the reader would be inclined to recognize Lucretius as an epic poet. He names both Homer and Ennius in the proem to the De rerum natura, citing a passage of Ennius' Annales in which Ennius had presented himself as the epic successor of Homer. This chapter explores the two ways of characterizing the epic genre as inherently historiographical. It will become clear that Lucretius represents a striking counter-example to the overall exploration of positive valuations of antiquity in antiquity. Lucretius uses the example of the Punic Wars as evidence that historical events do not have any effect on the present but earlier in DRN, Lucretius argues that the past does not actually exist at least not in the fundamental way that atoms and void exist.

Keywords: De rerum natura; Ennius' Annales; historiographical; Homer; Lucretius; Punic Wars

10.1163/9789004274952_018
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