lucretius

How to Die like an Ancient Philosopher

Empedocles: leap into a dormant volcano
Protagoras: run into the shore. in a ship.
Socrates: gargle w/ hemlock juice
Plato: either get serenaded TOO HARD or just generally party TOO HARD
Isocrates: go on a crash diet
Diogenes: eat raw octopus, get bitten by a dog, hold your breath indefinitely
Anaxarchus: get pounded w/ a giant mortar and pestle while loling
Xenocrates: trip over a pot
Epicurus: piss bricks
Zeno of Citium: trip, break your toe, hold your breath indefinitely
Chrysippus: get a donkey drunk, laugh at it
Lucretius: chug a love potion and let it do the rest
Hypatia: anger a mob of christians
Boethius: get strangled by your boss

Functions as Latin Quotes

Se: Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero; Seize the day, trust as little as possible in the future

Si: Plus uno maneat perenne saeclo; Let it remain for more than one age, everlasting

Ne: Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit; There was no great genius without a mixture of madness

Ni: Omne immensum peragravit mente animoque; In his heart and mind, he traveled the entire universe

Te: Veni vidi vici; I came I saw I conquered

Ti: Eloquentiam vero sine sapientia nimium obesse plerumque; Truly eloquence without wisdom hurts the majority too much

Fe: Est enim amīcitia nihil aliud nisi omnium divinarum humanarumque rerum…consensio; For friendship is nothing other than the harmony of all divine and human things

Fi: Uror, et in vacuo pectore regnat Amor; I burn, and Love reigns in my empty heart

What Roman poet should you fight

Cicero
Who wins: ???
I don’t know who will win this but please, he is so egotistical. Beat him up. Do it.

Vergil
Who wins: Nobody
No one benefits from this. Why would you fight Vergil? What kind of evil person would do that??? He’s not hurting anyone, he is too precious. Don’t fight Vergil.

Catullus
Who wins: You
Dude is essentially a scrawny little white boy. if you punch him he will probably cry. Do it. Fight Catullus.

Martial
Who wins: You
BUT he will probably sass you so badly in one of his poems and you will never be able to live it down. Don’t do it. Don’t fight Martial.

Ovid
Who wins: You
I know you want to punch him, hell I kinda wanna punch him, but you’ll regret it. He’ll probably seduce everyone in your family after. Don’t do it. Don’t fight Ovid.

Julius Caesar
Who wins: Caesar
I know his poems are shit and he deserves to get punched in the face for them but don’t fight him. Dude is a renounced general and is practically unstoppable. Don’t fight Caesar. He will kill you.

Seneca
Who wins: You
Dude is so fucking old you can probably KO him in one punch. Do it. Fight Seneca.

Horace
Who wins: Horace
He was a fucking officer in the military. If he wanted to, he could kill a man. Plus if you fought him you would probably make Vergil sad. Don’t do it. Don’t fight Horace.

Lucretius
Who wins: You
Please look towards the entirety of De Rerum Natura. Dude is a weak ass fucking nerd. Do it. Fight Lucretius.

Petronius
Who wins: Petronius
He is metal as HELL. He does basically anything he wants and chose to fucking kill himself before he could be sentenced and will probably not hesitate to punch someone in the gut. Don’t do it. Don’t fight Petronius.

Pliny the elder
Who wins: Pliny
He was a military officer and commander. He knows how to fight and stuff. He will most likely not hesitate to beat you up. Don’t do it. Don’t fight him.

Pliny the Younger

Who wins:???

Who wins this is irrelevant. Dude practiced law. He’s practically BEGGING for someone to punch him. Do it. Fight him.

Quintilianus
Who wins: ???
I honestly don’t know who will win but he looks deeply distressed in every picture ever as well as completely punchable. Do it. Fight Quintilianus.

Lucan
Who wins: You
Look he may have written about wars, but he didn’t do shit. You can punch him in the face easily. The only issue is that he’s a sweetie and you’ll feel super bad about it after.

3

The Dead Romans Society - There are worst things than Suetonius

Notes on this comic:

  1. Catullus, Lucretius and Sappho obviously were born before Christians were a thing. But here it is implied that much time has passed, and they got to know Christians too (the sections of this afterlife communicate with each other, and an author always knows when someone wrote about them)
  2. In his Chronicon Jerome also writes a few lines on Lucretius. Of him Jerome says that he died by his own hand, after having gone crazy because of a love potion. This notion is obviously fake (although I do not reject the suicide part), and it really sounds like a Christian mockery of Lucretius’ ideas.
  3. Tatian the Syrian is an early Christian author who vehemently opposes pagan authors in his writings, and he does write strong insulting words about Sappho.
  4. About the last panel: I added Origen, because I could not resist. Origen, together with Jerome, is my favorite Early Christian author. His reception has a very troubled history; he will heavily influence his successors (even in Middle Ages), but he will be considered a heretic. Jerome, after a first period in which he admires Origen’s works (he will use his Hexapla a lot) and ideas, abruptly rejects him with incredible aggressiveness. Let’s give Origen a bit of revenge. And about Lucian, well, he does not like Christians very much.
When atoms are travelling straight down through empty space by their own weight, at quite indeterminate times and places, they swerve ever so little from their course, just so much that you would call it a change of direction. If it were not for this swerve, everything would fall downwards through the abyss of space. No collision would take place and no impact of atom on atom would be created. This nature would never have created anything.
—  Lucretius
But nothing is more blissful than to occupy the heights effectively fortified by the teaching of the wise, tranquil sanctuaries from which you can look down upon others and see them wandering everywhere in their random search for the way of life, competing for intellectual eminence, disputing about rank, and striving night and day with prodigious effort to scale the summit of wealth and to secure power.
—  Lucretius, De rerum natura 

“insan en çok sabahları arar sevdiği kadını”(1)
diyor birisi, katılıyorum o sabahlara
öğleler kaba yaşanır, kalındır
akşamüstleri ince hüzünlü
çiçekler alınıp verilebilir
sabahtır yalnızlık
nasıl sabah nasıl yalnızlık
ve şiirsel hiçbir yanı yok sanılır
var mıdır, vardır
vardır, ama çiçeklerle değil
kendi başına
zımpara taşı gibi acımasız

ne aklıma gelse bir bakıyorum unutmuşum
tren penceresinden bir tarla
eskiyip atılmış bir gömlek- hiç unutmam

“hiç unutmam hiç unutmam hiç unutmam”(2)
diyor birisi, yineliyorum
hiç unutmam hiç unutmam hiç unutmam
çünkü hiç unutmam hiç unutmam hiç unutmayın
insan nasıl direnir başka
“hiç unutma”

bir zamanlar kars’ta bir otel odasında
bir gezgin kokucunun bana verdiği
bir alüminyum şişeyi unutmuyorum

“ölümü geciktirmek sonsuzluğu kısaltmaz”(3)
diyor birisi, evet ama
hayatı uzatır sanki

sanki ama ne adına
-hayatın kendisi adına
sonsuz bir törenle susuyorum
sonsuz dirim için, o sonsuz adama

sonra duyguya, ele benzer şeyler giriyor hayatıma
el midir duygu mudur
evet bazı kişiler kararsız ama
benim seçmediğim sanılır hayatımda

“el altından el ilanı dağıtıyor”(4)
birisi, almıyorum allahaşkına
alamam, neden alamam
biliyorum hiçbir şey yapamam tek başıma
biliyorum beni kendi başıma sana birisi
durmadan hata yapıyor
serçeye kumruya öküze sormadan

insanın kendi seçtiği toprak
-doğrusu, toprağın kendi seçtiği insan-
dirimin geleceğini doğruluyor durmadan

“her şeyden biraz kalır”(5)
diyor birileri, çoğulluk haklılıktır
kavanozda biraz kahve
kutuda biraz ekmek
insanda biraz acı
insanda biraz mutluluk
ama en geçerli söz
(1) numaranın söylediğidir
türkiye’de ve dünya’da..

—  (1) John Gordon Davies
(2) Metin Eloğlu
(3) Lucretius
(4) Turgut Uyar
(5) Bir İtalyan Atasözü - ve tabi ki turgut uyar

In my collegiate salad days, I read good old Rolfe Humphries’s The Way Things Are, his translation of Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura. A bit here:

As myrrh cannot be readily stripped of scent
without destruction of its substance, too,
so mind and soul cannot be readily drawn
out of the body but that all three must die.
pg. 64, Bk. III, lines 327-330

In honor of the Swerve I’m going to go home tonight and see what I underlined.

It’s sweet, when winds blow wild on open seas,
to watch from land your neighbor’s vast travail,
not that men’s miseries bring us dear delight
but that to see what ills we’re spared is sweet;
sweet, too, to watch the cruel contest of war
ranging the field when you need share no danger.
But nothing is sweeter than to dwell in peace
high in the well-walled temples of the wise,
whence looking down we may see other men
wavering, wandering, seeking a way of life,
with wit against wit, line against noble line,
contending, striving, straining night and day,
to rise to the top of the heap, High Lord of Things.
O wretched minds of men, O poor blind hearts!
How great the perils, how dark the night of life
where our brief hour is spent! Oh, not to see
that nature demands no favor but that pain
be sundered from the flesh, that in the mind
be a sense of joy, unmixed with care and fear!
— 

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things

Book II:1-19