According to Greenblatt, the Renaissance began with the rediscovery of the long lost text of On The Nature of Things, a poem and philosophical treatise by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius. According to Greenblatt, Lucretius argued that:
- Everything is made of invisible particles.
- The elementary particles of matter are eternal.
- The elementary particles are infinite in number.
- All particles are in motion in an infinite void.
- Nature ceaselessly experiments.
- Everything comes into being as a result of a "swerve."
- The universe was not created for or about humans.
- Human society began in a primitive battle for survival.
- The soul dies.
- There is no afterlife.
- All organized religions are superstitious delusions.
- Religions are invariably cruel.
- There are no angels, demons, or ghosts.
- The goal of human life is the enhancement of pleasure.
- The greatest obstacle to pleasure is not pain; it is delusion.
- Understanding the nature of things generates deep wonder.
Next off my bookshelf: Lucretius himself.