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John Evelyn’s Translation of Titus Lucretius Carus- «De rerum natura»

An Old-Spelling Critical Edition


Michael M. Repetzki

«It remains, however, slightly surprising that Evelyn was attracted to Lucretius, for, despite his appeal to men like Gassendi and Charleton, Lucretius was a figure who had long been frowned on in orthodox circles,» Michael Hunter, the unrivalled expert on Evelyn’s philosophical and scientific interests, states in his article on the translator. In addition to presenting, for the first time, the full text of Evelyn’s translation of De rerum natura, still in manuscript in the British Library, this study tries to answer the question why the project appealed at all to somebody who «had a worldview which could hardly be further from a clear, atomistic exposition of things.»
Contents: Epicurean cosmogony and cosmology – Infinite space and infinity of worlds – Vacuum – Concept of matter – Matter in motion – (Im)mortality of the human soul – Vita contemplativa vs vita activa – Editions of Lucretius – Commentaries on Lucretius/Epicureanism.