After the dust had settled, this short poem became the inspiration for generations of artists and scientists like Botticelli, da Vinci and Galileo.
Greenblatt’s passion for this primitive poem comes across on every single page of the book. He tells us that, as a young man, he stumbled across the poem by Lucretius in a used bookstore for the bargain price of 10 cents. As Greenblatt recounts, Lucretius was the first to counter that humans should “conquer their fears, accept the fact that they themselves and all things they encounter are transitory and embrace the beauty and pleasure of the world.” These ideas, the author notes, may seem common today, but were heretical both at the time they were written and a thousand years later when the poem was rescued.
Greenblatt tells his story in the manner of a detective’s tale, which keeps things fascinating through the final page. The pleasure is reading the details of the discovery and how the work of just a few individuals can change the world. Grade: A+
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