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The Nature of Things (Penguin Classics) by…
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The Nature of Things (Penguin Classics) (edition 2007)

by Lucretius, Alicia Stallings (Translator)

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3,390321,600 (3.71)1 / 74
Member:ECherkas
Title:The Nature of Things (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Lucretius
Other authors:Alicia Stallings (Translator)
Info:Penguin Classics (2007), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Meaning of Life Books
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The Nature of Things by Lucretius

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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
I thoroughly disliked this book, both the text and the translation. The arrogant tone made it extremely difficult to get through, and it was not helped by versed, rhyming poetry. The honey on the cup approach turned me off. Nonetheless, this man was brilliant. Obviously many of his ideas are preposterous, but to have ideas about atoms and that like gives rise to like, and other such thoughts was really stunning. ( )
  serogers02 | Aug 27, 2016 |
The philosophy of Epicurus is not presented any better than in the classic poem, On the Nature of Things (De Rerum Natura) by Titus Lucretius Carus. We know little about his life. He was probably born in the early first century B.C. This meant that he lived during the turbulent era of the end of the Roman Republic and beginning of the Empire that saw the rise of Sulla and Pompey and, ultimately, Julius Caesar. On the Nature of Things, posthumously edited by Cicero, was his poetic plea to the Roman elite that they change course.

The poem by Lucretius has the goal of explaining Epicurean philosophy to a Roman audience. It was written in some 7,400 dactylic hexameters, divided into six untitled books, and explores Epicurean philosophy and physics through richly poetic language and metaphors. It is a rational and materialistic view of the world that presents the principles of atomism; the nature of the mind and soul; explanations of sensation and thought; the development of the world and its phenomena; and explains a variety of celestial and terrestrial phenomena. The universe described in the poem operates according to these physical principles, guided by fortuna, "chance", and not the divine intervention of the traditional Roman deities. He extols the life of contemplation as seen in these lines from the opening of Book Two:
"But nothing is sweeter than to dwell in the calm
Temples of truth, the strongholds of the wise." (II, 7-8)

Thankfully we can still enjoy the vision of the good life as presented in this beautiful poem. The basics of Lucretius' philosophy include acknowledging pleasure (or the absence of pain) as the highest good, basing ethics on the evidence of the senses, and extolling plain living and high thinking. He also is a committed atheist, denouncing the gods in Book I of the poem, advocating free will in Book II, and reassuring his readers that they have nothing to fear from death in Book III. This lucid translation by Anthony M. Esolen reminds me why Lucretius is still worth reading. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jun 29, 2016 |
I read the Frank Copley translation, and found his notes and introduction quite useful. The poem itself is exceedingly strange and seems surprisingly modern in certain places (though decidedly less so in others). Glad to have finally read it, though; I can see why it's stood the test of time. ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Apr 15, 2016 |
Bks. I-III. ( )
  middlemarchhare | Nov 25, 2015 |
Philosophy is Supposed to be Fun!

Cicero, because of his personal aversion to the Epicurean philosophy, didn't quite do it justice in his book [b:The Nature of the Gods|84603|The Nature of the Gods|Marcus Tullius Cicero|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1171056392s/84603.jpg|81664], which introduced the Greek philosophical schools to the Romans (He all but made the Epicurean the laughing-stock of all the other philosophers). However, he also prepared and edited the transcript of this book by Lucretius, arguably the best exposition of Epicureanism, as a counterpoint.

Lucretius made a strong case for Epicureanism with epic poetry and systematic reasoning. His thoughts and presentation with creative use of analogies are eminently clear and logical to a modern reader, in spite of his relative lack of scientific knowledge. In this book, he sought to dispel the notion of gods governing the universe, and demonstrate the natural causes of all things based on a few premises, from thunderbolts to earthquakes, from the nature of disease to the nature of the mind, from the beginning of the earth to the development of society.

Highly recommended for its epic scope, clarity of thought, beauty of narrative, richness of humor and compassion.
( )
  booksontrial | Oct 13, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (126 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lucretiusprimary authorall editionscalculated
Büchner, KarlTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fowler, DonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Higginson, Thomas WentworthTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Humprhries, RolfeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Latham, Ronald E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Melville, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munro, Hugh Andrew JohnstoneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schrijvers, PietTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stallings, AliciaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
W.E., LeonardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Mother of Rome, delight of Gods and men, Dear Venus that beneath the gliding stars Makest to teem the many-voyaged main And fruitful lands- for all of living things Through thee alone are evermore conceived, Through thee are risen to visit the great sun- Before thee, Goddess, and thy coming on, Flee stormy wind and massy cloud away, For thee the daedal Earth bears scented flowers, For thee waters of the unvexed deep Smile, and the hollows of the serene sky Glow with diffused radiance for thee!
Mother of Aeneas and his race, delight of men and gods, life-giving Venus, it is your doing that under the wheeling constellations of the sky all nature teems with life, both the sex that buoys up our ships and the earth that yields our food.  [translated by R.E. Latham]
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140446109, Paperback)

This is regarded as a seminal text of Epicurean science and philosophy. With a new introduction and commentary and a revised translation, this edition acknowledges advances in textual research and also provides more background information for the reader. Epicurians discarded both the idea of immortality and the superstitious worship of wilful gods for a life of serene contentment in the available pleasures of nature. Lucretius (c100-c55BC), in elucidating this belief, steers the reader through an extraordinary breadth of subject matter, ranging from the indestructibility of atoms and the discovery of fire to the folly of romantic love and the phenomena of clouds and rainstorms.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:35 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

"This great poem stands with Virgil's Aeneid as one of the vital and enduring achievements of Latin literature.... Based on the tenets of Epicurean philosophy, On the Nature of Things asserts that matter is composed of an infinite number of small particles; that even the soul, like the body, is made up of these atoms and dissolves painlessly after death; that there is no afterlife and therefore no cause for fear; and that the universe operates without the aid or attention of gods."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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