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Journal > Volumes > 45 (2014) / 2 (Summer)
De rerum textura: Lucretius, Fracastoro, and the Sense of Touch
Pablo Maurette
University of Chicago

This article explores the substantive influence that Lucretius’s poem De rerum natura had on Girolamo Fracastoro’s (1478–1553) theory of contagion.Perhaps the first early modern intellectual to systematically adopt Lucretius’s experiential epistemology, Fracastoro was also one of the very few who picked up on Lucretius’s insistency on the crucial importance of tactility.Tactus is, for Lucretius, not only the bodily sense par excellence, but also—understood as atomic contact—the ontological mechanism that articulates generation and corruption.Fracastoro’s theory of contagion, based on the concept of direct contact, is the product of a sophisticated and critical reading of Lucretian ideas on which the Veronese poet and physician had been ruminating since the dawn of his career.

Pages: 309 - 330