From beginning to end, the De rerum natura upsets expectations. This book's premise is that Lucretius intentionally provokes his imagined male audience, playfully and forcefully proving to them that they are not the men they suppose themselves to be. From astral bodies to the magnetic draw of human sexuality to the social bonds linking parents to children, Lucretius shows that everything is compounded material, both a source of atomic issue and receptacle of atomic ingress. The universe, as Lucretius presents it, is a never-ending cycle of material interpenetration, connectivity, and dissolution. Roman men, in the vastness of it all, are only exceptional in their self-defeating fantasies. Close analysis of Lucretius' poetics reveals an unremitting assault upon the fictions that comprise Roman masculinity, from seminal conception in utero to existential decomposition in the grave. Nevertheless, Lucretius offers an Epicurean vision of masculinity that just might save the Republic.
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