Lovers in Arms: Empedoclean Love and Strife in Lucretius and the Elegists

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Abstract / Description of output

This article argues that Lucretius’ ‘tableau’ of Mars and Venus at the opening of the De rerum natura (DRN 1.29-43) imparts to elegy’s fixation with love and war a quasi-Empedoclean outlook on the creative and destructive forces that regulate the world and human life. In the context of an age that claimed to have begotten peace through war (cf., e.g., Augustus, Res Gestae 13), the elegiac opposition of love and war is a political theme with urgent philosophical ramifications. The implications of Lucretius-reception in Virgil (Aeneid 8) suggest parallel avenues for exploration in three elegiac case-studies: Tibullus 1.1 and 1.10; Propertius 3.4 and 3.5; Ovid, Ars Amatoria 3.771-788. These examples suggest that elegy’s manifold juxtapositions of Mars and Venus, peace and war, and even militia amoris may be more frequently informed by Empedocleo-Lucretian implications than we are accustomed to think.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2014

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Virgil
  • Lucretius
  • Propertius
  • Tibullus
  • Ovid
  • Empedocles
  • Mars
  • Venus
  • Love and Strife
  • cosmic cycle
  • Golden Age
  • militia amoris
  • elegy
  • didactic poetry
  • ancient philosophy


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