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On the Nature of the Universe (Penguin…

On the Nature of the Universe (Penguin Classics)

by Titus Lucretius Carus

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,131391,966 (3.77)1 / 92
This great poem stands with Virgil's Aeneid as one of the vital and enduring achievements of Latin literature. Lost for more than a thousand years, its return to circulation in 1417 reintroduced dangerous ideas about the nature and meaning of existence and helped shape the modern world.

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English (38)  Dutch (1)  All languages (39)
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871.01 LUC
  alessandragg | Apr 26, 2020 |
I picked up The Nature of Things (De rerum natura) since I was curious to see a verse form applied to what amounts to a lecture. I enjoyed engaging with Lucretius and his treatise on Epicurean philosophy and science. I think A. E. Stallings did a great job translating the text and rendering into rhyming fourteeners. I think it made the text flow more easily and pulled me through the work.

Epicurean philosophy posits a materialistic world, one where natural science is applied to understand the world and its processes. The world is made up of indivisible atoms and all events and processes are merely the effects of their movement, hence there is no need for supernatural explanations (p. ix). It also espouses a pursuit of pleasure, not a hedonistic approach, but one of the abstract joys of philosophical contemplation and friendship.

What strikes me as impressive is how things Lucretius describes are still true today. He notes how jaded people have become to the natural beauty around them: “Behold the pure blue of the heavens, and all that they possess, / The roving stars, the moon, the sun’s light, brilliant and sublime– / […] Now, however, people hardly bother to lift their eyes / To the glittering heavens, they are so accustomed to the skies” (II: 1030-1031, 1038-1039). And some people never change: “For idiots admire things all the more / when they discern them hidden in tangled words, and set great store / In anything that tickles the ear, in phrases dyed a shade / of purple” (I 641-644).

On religion, Lucretius writes “More often, on the contrary, it is Religion breeds / Wickedness and that has given rise to wrongful deeds” (I: 83-84). And “So potent was Religion in persuading to do wrong” [I:101]; a line Voltaire said was so important it would last as long as the world (p. 241).

The ideas are intriguing, Stallings translation is strong and the introduction by Richard Jenkyns is wonderful. ( )
  drew_asson | Mar 22, 2020 |
TThis great poem stands with Virgil's Aeneid as one of the vital and enduring achievements of Latin literature. Lost for more than a thousand years, its return to circulation in 1417 reintroduced dangerous ideas about the nature and meaning of existence and helped shape the modern world
  Caomhghin | Jan 9, 2020 |
This is a good handbook type translation that was very popular in first half of 20th Century since this is the 8th printing (1946) ( )
  atufft | Jul 7, 2019 |
Gave to me long time ago
  ajapt | Dec 30, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (341 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lucretius Carus, TitusAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bailey, CyrilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Büchner, KarlTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eiduss, JāzepsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fowler, DonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Higginson, Thomas WentworthTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Humprhries, RolfeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jenkyns, RichardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Latham, RonaldTranslatorsecondary 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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Translations are not to be combined with the original Latin work.
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