by Stephen Greenblatt (2011). Vivid historical account of the re-discovery in 1417 (in a monastery in Germany) by Poggio Bracciolini, sometime private scribe and secretary to the Pope, of Lucretius’s famous poem De Rerum Natura or On the Nature of Things (see next entry), written 1,500 years earlier. The book vividly conveys the intellectual climate of the Dark Ages, with its focus on the horrible fates that awaited sinners in the hereafter and the general denial of earthly pleasures. In uncovering the classical Greek and Roman texts, Poggio and his fellow humanists helped revive a more enlightened and genial culture that emphasizes the here-and-now, beauty and the rational exploration of the world. In the process, they played midwife to the Renaissance. Engagingly written and good at mise-en-scene, the work does read on occasion as a polemical diatribe against Christian thought.