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10 thoughts on “De rerum natura

  1. Fergus Fergus says:

    ALL MATTER?NEVER MIND Bertrand Russell’s GrandmotherMocking his Materialist PhilosophyWhen I was in my late teens I had a stunning Lucretian prise de conscience that utterly knocked the wind out of my youthful sails It seemed the overwhelming answer to Eliot’s “overwhelming uestion”Or was it really? Perhaps it is only the crass materialist’s non workable answer to life’s big puzzle I later reckoned when my early Faith reappeared and took deep root giving me a harbour of peaceful refuge from the materialists’ amoral typhoonWhen the eminent American philosopher George Santayana was a green undergrad he carried a copy of Lucretius everywhere he wentSo go figureI think back then at the dawn of the Twentieth Century it was probably the now conveniently forgotten Loeb Classical Library English and Latin on facing pages that he packed in his vest pocket yes even Freshmen wore suits to classes in those daysSantayana like Bertrand Russell though was a dyed in the wool member of the New Freethinkers which is where it was at in American and European colleges for this New GenerationBright young things all as Evelyn Waugh waspishly muttered at the time a wary undergrad himself “All the Fun of the Fair” Sam Beckett would later rejoinderGaudeamus igiturJuvenes dum sumusSo it goesWhat this new Brains Trust and their young confederates around the world were about to do of course was throw out the Baby with the BathwaterTotally Dis tradition and all its values all the accumulated wisdom mystery legends and profound insights of our classical cultural heritage and pave the way to our Shining Instant Society with all its myriad Instant Gratifications and build a shining highway to the Total Devaluation of MankindAnd I of course as an undergrad thought Santayana was so incisive until I read the Lucretius bit and only much later cottoned to his gameSo I DID finally read Lucretius and no it wasn’t this new jazzed up translationYikes Was this the Cult Classic of the great Santayana who even had the apparent temerity to gush over the mystical chorus at the end of Faust at a much later time not for its wisdom but for its metaphysics this lengthy Latin lay written by a gregarious morally bankrupt Roman Materialist?All this book does is sweep the table clean of the priceless family silverware and china plates and replace it all with cheap plasticIncluding the dying vision of that redeemed fallen hero Faust the last great gasp of our forgotten all encompassing worldviewPlastic?In exchange for that great Western vision?Welcome to the Real World of smoke and mirrors kidsWe grow too soon oldAnd too late smartWell all that took place starting a hundred years ago way before we were born and you know what?If this Roman dude who crowned Aphrodite as ueen of the world could see all the hordes of stressed out happy camper Black Friday shoppers now materialists just like him He might finally see that on Aphrodite’s well rutted road his philosophy has now constructed a dead end to block and alienate idealistic dreamers in a soulless neon jungleBuilt on the cracked foundation of a dead empire’s empty materialism

  2. Manny Manny says:

    First an apology for only giving it three stars I am well aware that this is a brilliant piece of poetry but my Latin is very poor and I rapidly abandoned my initial plan of reading it in the original with the English translation alongside In a way though I'm following Lucretius's advice he explicitly says at one point that it's wrong to allow yourself to be swayed by beautiful words and you should judge an idea on its merits Reading him in my barbarian's tongue is certainly one way to do thatI have often debated the uestion of whether it is right to call atheism a religion and with Lucretius it seems natural to argue that it is The poem reminded me rather strongly of Dante when I got to the bibliography I was interested to see that Santayana had written a book comparing Lucretius Dante and Goethe but while Dante loves the One Lucretius goes a step further and praises the Zero His noble goal is to convince you that divine intervention is never reuired in order to explain what happens in the world and that if we just stop and and think carefully enough we can liberate ourselves from irrational terror of the supernatural Given that he's writing in the first century BC and science barely exists yet this is ambitious indeed But Lucretius has faith in his project; it's hard to avoid using the word The rest of this review is available elsewhere the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons

  3. Jan-Maat Jan-Maat says:

    The Nature of Things is a long narrative Latin poem which sets out Epicurean philosophy This I read in an English prose translation The Epicureans believed in atomic theory and so this aspect of the work feels most familiar and recognisably modern and one can be impressed that people through speculation raw brain power and idle after dinner conversations over olives and watered wine had a perception of reality very close to what scientists have achieved today after much experimentation and great efforts and expenditures Lucretius is also recognisable in his handling of the gods the Epicureans were rather sceptical over the traditional stories of gods chasing each over about full of adulterous intent pausing only to swallow their own children rape their nieces aid mortals to abduct beautiful women and so onOn the other hand his teachings on the causes of winds view spoiler not the type due to human digestion hide spoiler

  4. David Sarkies David Sarkies says:

    Epicurian Physics31 July 2013 Well here I am once again sitting in the passenger seat of my Dad's car on our final trek to Melbourne and since I have been reading sleeping or driving for most of the day I might as well fix up a couple of my reviews while I am sitting here and since I have a smartphone and my Dad has this adapter that allows me to plug my laptop into the cigarette lighter I might as well make use of it – such are the benefits of having an electronic engineer as a father Lucretius I wonder if there is a connection with Star Trek wrote this treatise on the natural world some time during the 2nd century BC The period is important because it gives us an idea of the background in which the text was written In a way it is probably one of the last ancient texts that have a scientific feel to it since most later philosophical texts unless they dealt with medicine focused mainly on ethics with maybe the exception of Ptolemy as opposed to scientific explanation though there are probably a lot that have been lost It wasn't until the renaissance that people began to once again uestion the nature of the world in which they lived The reason behind this is probably two fold Firstly there was no need for industrial development namely because the culture was a slave based culture Who needed machines when you had slaves to do all of the menial tasks This can actually be seen in the United States in the lead up to the civil war as well as in England because in the North where slavery was illegal there was a lot of industrial development while in the South where slavery was legal the society was still very much an agrarian society The second reason was simply that nobody saw a need to actually uestion the world around them As far as anybody was concerned if something happened then it was because the gods had willed it to happen and there was no need to venture beyond that and even then to suggest that the gods didn't exist even in Rome was nothing short of blasphemous Lucretius wrote at an interesting time it was after the decline of the Greek culture and during the rise of the Roman culture Lucian wrote in Latin but at this time Latin was still a very basic language used mostly for trade and war However the Greeks had already had a developed language that was being used much culturally which suggests that what Lucretius began was the slow morphing of the Latin language as well as the Roman culture into the culture that ended up producing the greats such as Cicero and Tacitus among many others Lucretius was not the first to write a treatise that was enuiring into the nature of the world This had been begun centuries early almost as early as the Seven Sages of antiuity There were sages like Democritus who developed the idea of the atom Aristotle who wrote treatises on zoology and even Plato dabbled in writing a scientific treatise not that there was a distinct field of study at the time because back then everything was philosophy The person however who influenced Lucretius the most was a guy named Epicurus Now during this period there were three popular philosophies the Epicurians the Stoics and the Cynics I will describe these philosophies in a nutshell Epicurians pretty much believe 'if it feels good do it'; Stoics believe 'no pain no gain'; and Cynics believes 'life sucks and then you die' Okay that is probably being very basic description of each of these philosophies but that is how I remember them Mind you we get the term stoic from the stoic philosophers and the word cynic from the cynic philosophers It is interesting to see how Lucretius understands the universe and in a way there is a lot of what we understand in his ideas such as the idea of the atom that everything is made up of atoms that there is space between the atoms which determines the hardness of the objects We also know that Lucretius comes to his understandings through observation something that is done very much today however there is no well defined scientific method in the way that he performs his enuiries Another aspect that we see is the idea of the vacuum which Lucretius suggests is the space between the atoms However his understanding of a vacuum is different to our understanding because he does not necessarily see the air as molacules Because he can see anything despite being able to feel wind which demonstrates at least to me that there is something there then he assumes that there is nothing there Further there is no concept that nature abhors a vacuum Lucretius seems to see everything in the form of atoms though this is not unusual today in modern physics where certain elements have both wave and particle like properties however we must remember that much of what Lucretius was writing about was little than educated guesses Basically he had come up with a theory based on observation and used this basis to try to explain everything Light and darkness are particles that hit the eyes which allows us to see Sound is also made up of particles however we note that he does not seem to understand the concept of waveforms By saying this I refer to where he tries to understand why one can hear sound through solid objects We know this because the sound hits the object causing the object to vibrate which then causes the air behind the object to also vibrate and thus continue the sound wave We also notice interestingly that his concept of colour comes once again from particles An object has a certain colour because the particles on that object also have that colour It is ideas like this that makes a typical modern like me baulk namely because even though I may have only completed year 12 physics I still remember uite a lot of it and as such know that what he is suggesting is basically wrong I know that an object has a certain colour because the object absorbs that particular part of the colour spectrum However Lucretius was not working from much because there was not all that much before him In a way Lucretius is no different from the early scientists of the modern era in that much of what he was writing about were educated guesses and it was only after further study and experimentation that we have come to understand that the beliefs of those that came before us were well wrong Once again I point to the idea of light travelling as a wave Many of us who do not understand or have not been taught advanced Physics believe that is the case but those of us who know advanced Physics know that light can also travel as a particle it's called a photon The funny thing that I have noticed is how much of our science is still actually based on the findings of Lucretius The wave particle duality of light aside we still understand sight as working on the basis of things striking the retina in our eyes Lucretius had an understanding that the eyes were than simply windows or doors that allowed the brain to see out namely because he points out that if you remove the eyes then well you can't see but rather an integral part of how we see The same goes with the idea of smell that we smell things because particles drift into our nose which causes the nerves in our nose to react to the particle While Lucretius may not have had a full understanding of the nervous system he still understands the reactions and senses that are caused when the body feels pain As for religion I was going to suggest that Lucertius is a 'functional Athiest' namely that while he believed in the gods he does not believe that they have any power or control over the way the universe functions However I thought about this for a bit and realised that it is not that he is an Atheist but of what one would consider an ancient version of a Deist The reason I say that is because he still believed in the polytheistic religion of the time but responded in the same way to the gods that a modern Deist would respond to Christianity namely that while God may exist he has little or no influence or care over the operation of the universe in which we live This brings me onto Lucretius' idea of the soul He believes in the soul but not in its immortality In fact he goes to great pains to demonstrate that before birth the soul and the mind of that particular individual does not exist and as such after death the soul ceases to exist as well Lucretius has no interest or time for theories and ideas relating to the afterlife which is probably why he holds to the Epicurian idea of if it feels good do it In fact he seems to think that the whole idea of the afterlife and in particular Hades is absurd and spares no haste in pointing that out As such Lucretius does not believe in reincarnation either so it is clear that his ideas are purely materialistic in much the same way that modern materialism holds their beliefs It is interesting to compare some of Lucretius' thoughts to the what modern evolutionists accept today One of the things that I noted was Lucretius' ideas of the origins of various parts of the body such as the limbs The modern belief is that a need arose therefore the body adapted an organ to meet that need However Lucretius holds the opposite view in that the organ exists prior to the need arising and when the need became apparent the body was able to meet that need with the limb As such it appears that Lucretius is not an evolutionist and the evolutionists claim that it is the Christians that are backward Further Lucretius believes in a young Earth but his argument in this regard is incredibly flawed His argument is that because there is no recorded history dating back before the Theban and Trojan wars then ergo there must not have been anything therefore the Earth is young Obviously he is not an anthropologist nor has he read Herodotus which I would find very surprising from such a learned person Mind you similar flawed reasonings and educated guesses are still made today in relation to the arguments verses the young Earth and old Earth theories As for me I find both postulations namely the Bible says the Earth is 6000 years old therefore it must be so to which I respond by saying no it doesn't; and it is the best theory we have so we might as well stick to it to which I respond but what if it is wrong have their flaws Mind you Lucretius' section of cosmology seems to read like an evolutionist's in that it is suggested that he may have come up with something similar to the big bang theory thousands of years before modern science had postulated it It seems that he believes just as the modern cosmologist believes that the universe began as a chaotic mess and that it was only through the collision of particles which is the word that I feel obliged to use because that is what I understand Lucretius' atom to be though it is interesting that in the modern world we seem to continue to break this building block into smaller and smaller things – these days we have uarks which are sub subatomic particles However I also notice that Lucretius believes that the Earth is stationary and that the stars sun and moon move around the Earth In reponse to that I wonder why the Catholic Church branded Galileo as a heretic when their ideas were actually taken from the pagans Also finally it is interesting to see how he describes that lightning is caused by the collision of particles in the clouds which themselves are made up of particles and points to the sparks that are created when certain rocks are smashed together Once again it goes to show how many of Lucretius' theories came about through observation and educated guessing which in many ways is how modern scientists come up with their theories

  5. E. G. E. G. says:

    IntroductionFurther ReadingA Note on the Text and TranslationAcknowledgements The Nature of Things NotesGlossary of Proper Names

  6. Clif Hostetler Clif Hostetler says:

    The antiuity of this book calls for respect and appreciation However for a modern reader it is very boring to read It's a long 300 pages poem written in the first century BC in which the author pontificates about the physical sciences for the purpose of defending Epicureanism philosophy It is of some interest for the modern reader to see where the author is correct and not so correct when judged from the perspective of modern science However Lucretius was a poet in his day not a mathematician or noted natural philosopher and thus he is not necessarily a ualified spokesperosn for his era's understanding of the physical universe For example in this poem Lucretius makes fun of the absurdity of people walking upside down on the other side of the earth Well it so happens that Eratosthenes of Cyrene who lived approximately 100 years before Lucretius calculated the circumference of the Earth and tilt of the Earth's axis to a remarkably level of accuracy This is an example of the poet Lucretius not being the best spokesperson for the science of his dayThe purpose of this poem was to explain to the Romans in Latin verse the ideas of Epicurus who lived approximately 300 years before Lucretius Lucretius honors the teaching of Epicurus with the use of richly poetic language and metaphors He 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 probability not by the divine action of the traditional Roman deitiesMost of what may be original and creative with regard to science contained in this book should probably be credited to Epicurus Lucretius' role is to give it poetic form in Latin

  7. Darwin8u Darwin8u says:

    There are a handful of books that seem to float above the rabble They are certainly not scripture but belong on a shelf above philosophy Reading Lucretius is like reading the dreams of Darwin or Newton interpreted by the hand of Shakespeare On the Nature of Things belongs on the shelf next to Bacon Dante Montaigne Marcus Aurelius and the rest of my demi Gods

  8. Jeremy Jeremy says:

    Wow this was a real surprise Lucretius was just so shockingly ahead of his time It's probably important than Newton in terms of the sheer range of thought he originates His conception of atomic theory is surprisingly accurate down to recognizing that atoms are composed of about three different parts He also figured out the law of conservation of matter realized that the majority of matter is made up of empty space recognized the basic principles of gravitation heat light relativity hell he even realized that chaos and randomness played a role in atomic activity several millennia before Heisenberg and Schrodinger On top of that he tears down religious dogmatism as a means of understanding the natural world and replaces it with a system of secular observation and understanding all while creating a totally original synthesis between hard science and humanism centuries before either would really be codified Oh and did I mention the whole fucking thing is a poem?

  9. Anima Anima says:

    “Therefore death to us Is nothing nor concerns us in the least Since nature of mind is mortal ever”“ Now then learn How tenuous is the nature of an image And in the first place since primordials be So far beneath our senses and much less E'en than those objects which begin to grow Too small for eyes to note learn now in few How nice are the beginnings of all things—”“And if the reason be Unable to unravel us the cause Why objects which at hand were suare afar Seemed rounded yet it availeth us Lacking the reason to pretend a cause For each configuration than to let From out our hands escape the obvious things And injure primal faith in sense and wreck All those foundations upon which do rest Our life and safety For not only reason Would topple down; but even our very life Would straightaway collapse unless we dared To trust our senses and to keep away From headlong heights and places to be shunned Of a like peril and to seek with speed Their opposites Again as in a building If the first plumb line be askew and if The suare deceiving swerve from lines exact And if the level waver but the least In any part the whole construction then Must turn out faulty—shelving and askew Leaning to back and front incongruous That now some portions seem about to fall And falls the whole ere long—betrayed indeed By first deceiving estimates so too Thy calculations in affairs of life Must be askew and false if sprung for thee From senses false So all that troop of words Marshalled against the senses is uite vain”

  10. Jonathan Jonathan says:

    Matter for sure is not one solid mass Close packed together We see that everything Diminishes and through the long lapse of timeWe note that all things seem to melt away As years and age withdraw them from our sightAnd yet the sum of things stays unimpaired This is because when particles are shed From a thing they diminish it as they leave it And then increase the object that they come toThey make the one grow old the other flourishBut do not linger there The sum of things Is thus forever renewed and mortals live By mutual interchange one from anotherSome races increase others fade awayAnd in short space the breeds of living creaturesChange and like runners pass on the torch of life Now if you think that atoms can be at rest And can by resting beget new movements in thingsYou are lost and wander very far from truthFor since the atoms wander through the voidAll must be driven either by their own weight Or by some chance blow from another atom For often when as they move they meet and clash They leap apart at once in different directionsNo wonder since they are extremely hard And solid and there is nothing behind to stop themTo see clearly that all particles of matter Are constantly being tossed about rememberThat there is no bottom to the universe That primal atoms have nowhere to rest Since space is without end or any limitAnd I have shown by many words and provedBy surest reasoning that it extendsBoundless in all directions everywhereSince that stands true no rest we may be sureIs given to atoms in the void abyss But rather as unceasing differentMovements impel them some colliding leap Great intervals apart while others recoil Only a short distance from the impactAnd those whose union being closely packed Leap back short distances after a collision Being fast entangled by their own complex shapes These constitute strong roots of stone and the brute bulk Of iron and other objects of that kindOf the rest which wander further through the void A few leap far apart and far recoil Over great intervals; these make for us Thin air and make the shining light of sun And many wander through the mighty voidRejected from all union with others Unable anywhere to gain admittanceAnd bring their movements into harmonyAn image and similitude of this Is always moving present to our eyes Consider sunbeams When the sun's rays let in Pass through the darkness of a shuttered roomYou will see a multitude of tiny bodies All mingling in a multitude of waysInside the sunbeam moving in the void Seeming to be engaged in endless strife Battle and warfare troop attacking troopAnd never a respite harried constantly With meetings and with partings everywhereFrom this you can imagine what it is For atoms to be tossed perpetually In endless motion through the mighty voidTo some extent a small thing may affordAn image of great things a footprint of a concept

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De rerum natura ➼ De rerum natura Free ➲ Author Lucretius – Titus Lucretius Carus ca 99 55 bc is known primarily as the Roman author of the long didactic poem De Rerum Natura On the Nature of Things In it he set out to explicate the universe embracing and refu Titus Lucretius Carus ca bc is known primarily as the Roman De rerum PDF/EPUB ² author of the long didactic poem De rerum natura On the Nature of Things In it he set out to explicate the universe embracing and refuting ideas of the great Greek philosophers Now available in paperback this annotated scholarly edition of the Latin text of De rerum natura has long been hailed as one of the finest editions of this monumental work It features an introduction to Lucretius's life and work by William Ellery Leonard an introduction to and commentary on the poem by Stanley Barney Smith the complete Latin text with detailed annotations and an index of ancient sources.