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The Language of Atoms – Performativity and Politics in Lucretius' De rerum natura - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Language of Atoms: Performativity and Politics in Lucretius' De rerum natura

W. H. Shearin


The Language of Atoms argues that ancient Epicurean writing on language offers a theory of performative language. Such a theory describes how languages acts, providing psychic therapy or creating new verbal meanings, rather than passively describing the nature of the universe. This observation allows us new insight into how Lucretius, our primary surviving Epicurean author, uses language in his great poem, De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things). The bulk of the book then studies Lucretius’ work in the light of performative language, looking at promising, acts of naming, and the larger polit ... More

Keywords: Lucretius, De rerum natura, Epicureanism, atomism, performativity, promising, naming, politics of literature

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780190202422
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190202422.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

W. H. Shearin, author
Assistant Professor of Classics, University of Miami

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