Memmius, Cicero and Lucretius: A Note on Cic. Fam. 13.1
A recent piece in this journal by Morgan and Taylor made the case that C. Memmius is not to be seen as an active prosecutor of Epicureanism but rather as an Epicurean himself, who merely has disagreed with the grimly orthodox Epicurean sect in Athens. As such, Memmius’ building intentions for Epicurus’ home could have been to create an honorary monument or possibly even construct a grander locus for pilgrimage and the practice of Epicureanism. This note adds to their findings by considering allusions to De Rerum Natura found in Fam. 13.1 and the implications of Cicero speaking to Memmius in Lucretius’ striking language. Cicero expresses his judgement on De Rerum Natura, famously, at QFr. 2.10.3, Lucreti poemata ut scribis ita sunt, multis luminibus ingeni, multae tamen artis. sed cum ueneris, uirum te putabo si Sallusti Empedoclea legeris, hominem non putabo, and Memmius, of course, is the addressee of De Rerum Natura. This Lucretian language, unremarked on by previous scholars, points to the shared literary culture of Cicero and Memmius as well as Memmius’ own ability to recollect and contextualize the references. By echoing Lucretius in this letter, Cicero hints at Memmius’ sophistication and learning (Cic. Brut. 247), underscores Lucretius’ own fervent devotion to Epicurus’ strictures, and suggests the need for Memmius to achieve atarax, at the very least, in regards to his building plans and the furore it is causing in Athens.
Trinacty, Christopher V. 2020. "Memmius, Cicero and Lucretius: A note on Cic. Fam 13.1." The Classical Quarterly 70(1): 440-443.
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The Classical Quarterly