Valentina Prosperi

A Catholic Lucretius. The De Rerum Natura and the Italian Church in the Renaissance

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: A Catholic Lucretius. The De Rerum Natura and the Italian Church in the Renaissance

In the light of recent narratives focusing on the De rerum natura as the jurisdiction and fodder of essentially only heretics and atheists, in this paper I reassess the impact of the Catholic Church and its clergy on the circulation of Lucretius in Italy, especially after the Reformation and the Council of Trent. In the first part, I examine the approach to the De rerum natura of several leading Catholic prelates, who not only read and appreciated Lucretius, but were crucial to his survival and dissemination in Italian culture. In the second part, I investigate the presence of the De rerum natura in the homiletic literature of post-Tridentine Italy: Lucretius features in these texts as a non-problematic, authoritative source, one with the added bonus of deeply-held and recognized moral principles. Finally, in the third part, I show how the various reworkings of the De rerum natura’s ii proem reveal the depth of the poem’s integration even in the Catholic, confessional discourse.

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