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Author of On the Nature of Things

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Works by Lucretius

On the Nature of Things (0054) — Author — 5,264 copies
Sensation and Sex (2005) 100 copies
De Rerum Natura: V (1984) 19 copies
Selections from Lucretius (1967) 13 copies
De la naturaleza (1987) 8 copies
Da natureza das coisas (2015) 8 copies
De la natura 7 copies
La naturaleza (1901) 7 copies
De rerum natura (2000) 6 copies
De la Nature (2019) 5 copies
Vivere laico (2007) 4 copies
De la natura. I 4 copies
La ‰natura (1976) 4 copies
La Naissance des choses (2021) 3 copies
Della natura delle cose (2018) 3 copies
De Rervm Natvra 3 copies
Lvcretivs 2 copies
Om tingens natur (2022) 2 copies
La naturaleza (2008) 2 copies
Lucrèce (1990) 2 copies
De natura rerum (1938) 2 copies
De rerum natura V (1982) 1 copy
DE RERUM NATURA 1980 (1970) 1 copy
Il poema della natura (1970) 1 copy
La voce di Epicuro (2006) 1 copy

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Common Knowledge



Lucretius vs Intelligent Design in Ancient History (February 2010)


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.
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jwhenderson | 45 other reviews | Nov 7, 2023 |
Versified philosophy isn't poetry--it's versified philosophy.
judeprufrock | 45 other reviews | Jul 4, 2023 |
This is one of those classics that has always looked too hard even though it's widely quoted and I was a bit reluctant to start on 7000 lines plus of poetry. But finally made the effort...and it wasn't so difficult in this translation anyway. And it's certainly been an eye opener for me. As Richard Jenkyns says in the introduction ..it's a poem without a story, without people; instead it's a treatise on science and philosophy. And....amazingly modern.
Essentially, Lucretius sets out to explain the universe and we who live in it.
He was a convert to the philosophy of Epicurus who died in 270BC and Lucretius was writing about 40AD ...so a difference of about 300 years. And I find it remarkable that Lucretius was able to absorb and maybe transform the ideas of Epicurus into a major statement of how the world works. In many ways, he is amazingly modern...especially with his rejection of the gods and religion; "it is religion breeds wickedness and that has given rise to wrongful deeds".
Basically he espouses the atomic theory and explains how atoms can pretty much account for every phenomena that we observe in the world. Commencing with his evidence for the existence of particles which" ARE but cannot be seen"...as evidenced in the squalls and sweeping hurricanes.
And there is an amazing passage p43 explaining why "all things fall at equal speed through the still void. (although they fall at different speeds through water or thin air). It took another 1400 years for Galileo to show this.
From simple reasoning he claims that the atoms of things that flit about must come in many a shape.....and this is more or less what the periodic table combined with quantum theory tells us.Though he does suggest p55 that there is nothing that's composed of atoms of a single kind.....which seems to wipe out the chances of isolating the pure elements such as oxygen or gold.
It's a remarkable tour de force......not perfect: but given that nearly 2000 years have elapsed since he wrote the work it is astonishing to me how closely he was able to explain so much of the natural world. His explanation of magnetism p119 is rather fanciful but if you replace "seeds flowing out from the lodestone" by magnetic lines of force...you come fairly close to the truth.
I love his analysis of lightning....and his put-down of the superstitious: "If the gods can throw lightning bolts in whatever direction they like, why don't they smite the scoundrels ?...and why do they waste good throws on deserted places?...and why does Jupiter never hurl one of his blows in fine weather? And why does he smite the sea?.... what have the whitecaps ever done him? Great questions.
All in all, I was mightily impressed by his thoughtful rationality and his explanatory powers. Just amazing really. I'm surprised that it never really seemed to have more impact and we still have people today seeing God's justice in lightning bolts.
Oh, and I think the translator, A.E. Stallings, has done a great job. I'm not qualified to check his Latin but it certainly flows well. No mean feat translating poetry and keeping something of the metre etc.
Happy to give this book five stars.
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booktsunami | 45 other reviews | Jul 24, 2022 |
Enjoyed reading Ronald Melville’s verse translation of De rerum natura in a concentrated burst over the past week. Here are a couple of thoughts on the poem as a whole.

The two things that most impressed me were:
1. Lucretius’ bottom-up thinking: His general approach is to explain natural phenomena without recourse to outside agency and this method, allied with technological advances, has been essential to the progress of science. That Lucretius and the other atomists were read by so many of the greatest minds such as Newton, and may have been influential in his thinking about the laws of motion, is enough to secure him a valuable place in the history of western thought, in my eyes.
2. Lucretius’ poetry and spirit: There are so many wonderful passages, especially as the poem progresses, notably the lyrical codas to Books 3 and 5, the latter containing Lucretius’ potted history of the evolution of prehistoric man, probably my favourite section of the entire poem. I also enjoyed his irreverent spirit, notably the passage where he shamelessly advocates sexual permissiveness (“And by avoiding love you need not miss / The fruits that Venus offers, but instead / You may take the goods without the penalty”).

Only disappointment I had, apart from some of the comical explanations (i.e. a rough voice is caused by rough atoms, a smooth one by smooth atoms) and the occasional misogyny, was the way the poem ends abruptly, in an unsatisfying way. That said, I don’t feel that there’s enough in the text itself to suggest he was going mad; it’s fair to say that the first two books of the poem come across as more rigorous than the other four, but he seems lucid to me throughout and the greater freedom he enjoys in Books 3-6 is to the benefit of the poetry.
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dbredford | 45 other reviews | Feb 1, 2022 |



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