Over 2,000 years ago, a Roman named Lucretius penned a long poem called On the Nature of Things. It was soon lost to obscurity until the fifteenth century, when a former secretary to the pope found it tucked away on a library shelf in a German monastary. The poem’s irreligious ideas would cause an intellectual upheaval that led to the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution.
Harvard Professor Stephen Greenblatt tells the saga of Lucretius’s influential poem in The Swerve: How the World Became Modern.
Dave Miller spoke with Greenblatt in March in front of an audience at the Literary Arts space in downtown Portland. Here’s a clip where Stephen Greenblatt explains what drove the Renaissance book hunters to search for ancient texts:
And here is Greenblatt’s take on what literature stands the test of time:
Have you read The Swerve or On the Nature of Things?