In his book, The Swerve, on the re-discovery of Lucretius at the very end of the Middle Ages, Stephen Greenblatt wants us to believe that Lucretius’s epic poem De Rerum Natura initiated the Renaissance and ultimately made the world modern. I agree with very little of his broad brush history, but to win our assent, he creates a fable of a dark medieval world being enlightened by the genius of a Roman poet far ahead of his own time. Greenblatt wants to re-circulate Lucretius’s Epicurean philosophy to a wide modern audience hoping it will enable a widespread epicurean happiness i. e. lessen anxiety and encourage tranquility of mind. But is Greenblatt's version of this ancient philosophy likely to make modern Americans, much less the world, happier?
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/charleskaysmith/135/