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On the Nature of Things: De rerum natura Paperback – June 1, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0801850554 ISBN-10: 080185055X Edition: 1St Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1St Edition edition (June 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080185055X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801850554
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Esolen has focused on the poet, translating the Latin hexameters into accented pentameter in order to capture the dynamics, rhythms, and syntax of the original. The results are both satisfying and readable. Esolen includes an elegant introduction on Lucretius, as well as useful notes. A valuable contribution to students of literature as well as philosophy.

(Library Journal)

Esolen has the rare gift of being both a fine poet and a lover of languages. His diction is poetic and natural; he has a fine ear for sound, and the translation benefits greatly from being read aloud—as Latin poetry was meant to be. This translation is clear and forceful. It can, and will, be read.

(Kenneth J. Reckford, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Review

"Esolen has the rare gift of being both a fine poet and a lover of languages. His diction is poetic and natural; he has a fine ear for sound, and the translation benefits greatly from being read aloud -- as Latin poetry was meant to be. This translation is clear and forceful. It can, and will, be read." -- Kenneth J. Reckford, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Neil Scott Mcnutt on July 1, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How incredible it is to read a poet and philosopher from 60 B.C. writing on the philosophical derivation of the idea that atoms must exist, that they have some spin on them, and that there is conservation of matter in nature! These thoughts about "atomism" would have been lost except for the fact that Lucretius presented them in a very good Latin poem. Although credit is given to Leucippus and Democritus for starting the idea of atomism, Epicurius and Lucretius were strong exponents of these ideas. The poem utilizes common observations to illustrate that the world about us is simply a combination of atoms and void. This had strong implications not only for the demise of the Roman and Greek gods and goddesses but also for how humans should live in the real world, and how they largely create their own misery. Lucretius loves life, looks straightly at it, speaks strongly against the fear of death, and promotes a rational calm life in which friendship is very important. The poetry is wonderful and powerful in itself. Two quotes (I,62 and I, 140) in the early part of the poem speak clearly to the modern reader: "When before our eyes man's life lay groveling, prostrate, crushed to dust under the burden of Religion (which thrust its head from heaven, its horrible face glowering over mankind born to die) one man, a Greek, was the first mortal who dared oppose his eyes, the first to stand firm in defiance. Not the fables of the gods, nor lightning, nor the menacing rumble of heaven could daunt him, but all the more they whetted his keen mind with longing to be first to smash open the tight-barred gates of Nature"...Read more ›
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Neil Scott Mcnutt on June 25, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How incredible it is to read a poet and philosopher from 60 B.C. writing on the derivation of the idea that atoms must exist and that there is conservation of matter in nature! These thoughts about "atomism" might have been lost except for their inclusion in a very good Latin poem. Although credit is given to Leucippus and Democritus for starting the idea of atomism, Epicurius and Lucretius were strong exponents of these ideas. This poem utilizes common observations to illustrate that the world about us is simply a combination of atoms and void. This had strong implications not only for the demise of the Roman and Greek gods and goddesses but also for how humans should live in the real world, and how they largely create their own misery. Lucretius loved life, speaks strongly against the fear of death, and promotes a rational calm life in which friendship is very important. The poetry is wonderful and powerful in itself. Two quotes from the early part of the poem speak clearly and dramatically to the modern reader: "When before our eyes man's life lay groveling, prostrate, crushed to dust under the burden of Religion (which thrust its head from heaven, its horrible face glowering over mankind born to die), one man, a Greek, was the first mortal who dared oppose his eyes, the first to stand firm in defiance. Not the fables of the gods, nor lightning, nor the menacing rumble of heaven could daunt him, but all the more whetted his keen mind with longing to be first to smash open the tight-barred gates of Nature....Read more ›
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16 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Neil J. Wassermann on March 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
This translation by Esolen is not as arcane as William Ellery Leonard's, just so you know. Too bad some of us like that arcane stuff. But what the hey, Leonard's is on the internet, and this book has one beautiful cover. If you like science, then you'll love Lucretius, because he makes a lot of good, scientific observations. Some aren't so scientific, like the idea that a woman can only be in one certain sexual position in order to be inseminated. Lucretius was a man of his day, though, you know? Even the great Charles Darwin wrote, in "The Descent of Man", that women certainly had smaller skulls than males. I've never researched this myself, but I've never heard it repeated.

The point is, just like there are some sound ideas, there are also some ideas here that are not only far-fetched, but totally incorrect as well. But of course I admire Lucretius -- and his predecessor, Epicurus (and his predecessor) -- because he really buckled down and looked out at the world, and inside himself, and showed in his logic the possible fortitude of the human mind. "De Rerum Natura" is historic and inspiring, and it sure is an easy read! I recommend buying this book! I'm proud to have it in my own library.

P.S. -- There is essentially no Latin included in this book.
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