Stephen Greenblatt

John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities

De rerum natura
Amsterdam, 1620

It is easy to imagine the poet and playwright Ben Jonson carrying his handy copy of Lucretius’s philosophical poem, De rerum natura, around with him and discussing its subversive, epicurean arguments with his cronies.  On one of these occasions, they evidently played a game writing rhymed Latin couplets against the Puritans.  Jonson wrote these down on the blank pages at the end of the book.  At this or another time the poet—who was a famously heavy tippler—or one of his friends evidently spilled ink, high in acid content, on the opening pages.

4.5 L x 2.5 W x 1 Th (in)
EC.J7382.Zz620ℓ, Gift of Mr. Arthur Freeman, 1972

Stephen Greenblatt speaks about Jonson’s Lucretius