GALE, M. R.,
Myth and Poetry in Lucretius.
Cambridge University Press, 1994. XIV,260p. Original blue gilt titled cloth with dust wrps. Series: Cambridge Classical Studies. 'Why Lucretius should have written a major poem propounding Epicurean doctrine in the face of Epicurus' well attested hostility to poetry has for generations been a rich source of books, articles and undergraduate essays. Much sensitive work on the DRN (e.g. pasoli, Snyder, David West) has shown that this is not the paradox it might seem, that Lucretius the poet / philosopher is an unreal dichotomy, and that all or nearly all the poetic devices in the poem are carefully controlled and directed at persuasive Epicurean evangelism. This book examines Lucretius' use of myth, and aims to show that myth is as much an instrument of the poem's argument as, say, similes and repetitions, and it not to be regarded as an 'anti-Lucrèce' element, diverting the poet from his main didactic purpose. (...) G.'s main argument is that Lucretius was facing a long tradition of the poetic use of myth, and also of much criticism of myth: in particular, philosophical poetry, like that of Parmenides and Empedocles, had made good use of mythological motifs, but his master Epicurus had uncompromisingly condemned myth as opposed to rational thought. As she puts it neatly: 'he had to chose between an un-Epicurean employment and un unpoetic neglect of myth' (p.229). His solution to the dilemma was a careful compromise in the way he handled mythic stories, by treating them as fundamentally misleading but at the same time useful for protreptic and didactic purposes. (...) This allows the poet to exploit the attractive elements in the story for the sake of his readers without also accepting the false ideas (e.g. about the gods) which overlay the 'uponoia' of the myth. (...) This is an unpretentiously sensible book, well structured and tidily argued. It offers both a fresh perpective on much old ground, some welcome new insights to help us cope with an extremely complex poet.' C.D.N. COSTA in The Classical Review (New Series), 1995, pp.28-30). From the library of Professor Carl Deroux.