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HorkosThe Oath in Greek Society$
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Alan Sommerstein and Judith Fletcher

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781904675679

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781904675679.001.0001

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Cosmological Oaths in Empedocles and Lucretius1

Cosmological Oaths in Empedocles and Lucretius1

(p.189) 16 Cosmological Oaths in Empedocles and Lucretius1

Myrto Garani

Liverpool University Press

This chapter focuses on the Lucretian phrase foedera naturai, or ‘the covenants of nature’, tracing it to a ‘broad oath’ (or rather two oaths) spoken of in the philosophical poetry of Empedocles. It examines how the specific political image of the oath functions within Empedocles's cosmological poems, analyses the relationship between his two extant fragments, DK31 B30 and DK31 B115, and considers how the oath is deployed only in the first as a metaphor to describe cosmic order. The chapter then turns to Lucretius's cosmological poem De Rerum Natura, arguing that he evokes the similar imagery of Empedocles. In particular, it shows that Lucretius, when he presents the image of a universe organised according to fixed agreements, the foedera naturae, looks back directly to Empedocles's metaphor of the oath as his model.

Keywords:   foedera naturai, oaths, Empedocles, political image, cosmological poems, cosmic order, Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, imagery, universe

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