The Garden of Epicurus and the Garden of Eden: Friendship's Counsel in <i>De Rerum natura</i> and <i>Order and Disorder</i>

Penelope Anderson

in Friendship's Shadows

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780748655823
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780748676620 | DOI:
The Garden of Epicurus and the Garden of Eden: Friendship's Counsel in De Rerum natura and Order and Disorder

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This chapter argues that the key to Lucy Hutchinson's political imagination lies in the relation between her two epics, the De rerum natura translation and Order and Disorder. In both poems, Hutchinson tells a story of how humans came to be who they are and how best they can live in the world; and she grapples with a world riven with conflict and distrust, constituted by betrayal and changeability. Her answer to the problem of conflicting obligations turns this problem into a resource by understanding these threats as integral to human existence. Drawing on Epicurean friendship doctrine and Lucretius' modifications of it, Hutchinson describes the origin of human society in chosen associations between friends rather than biological ties within families. This leads, in Order and Disorder, not only to a mitigation of procreation as a dominant structure, but also to a larger scope for wifely prudential counsel.

Keywords: Lucy Hutchinson; epic poems; poetry; conflicting obligations; Epicurean friendship; Lucretius

Chapter.  14810 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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