The paper examines closely the technique of recontextualization in Lucretius 3.978-1023 and sheds further light on the problems of its source and complex rhetorical goals. In order to prove erroneous the belief in the Underworld punishments described in Homer, which according to Epicurean teaching exist in real life, Lucretius uses a technique of careful selection and repetition of keywords in two different, juxtaposed contexts. The same technique is found in Seneca’s Letter 88, where Seneca seeks to show that typical school questions are worthless in comparison with their philosophical counterparts, oriented toward the realm of real life. The similarity is not only formal: both Seneca and Lucretius believe that the study of traditional poetry cannot offer adequate guidance for living. Seneca borrows his technique from the Hellenistic philosophical polemics against the grammarians, and Lucretius’s passage was most likely modeled after a similar one in Epicurus.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.