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The Nature of Things (Penguin Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Lucretius , Richard Jenkyns , Alicia Stallings
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition, July 26, 2007 $9.99  
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Book Description

Lucretius' poem On the Nature of Things combines a scientific and philosophical treatise with some of the greatest poetry ever written. With intense moral fervour he demonstrates to humanity that in death there is nothing to fear since the soul is mortal, and the world and everything in it is governed by the mechanical laws of nature and not by gods; and that by believing this men can live in peace of mind and happiness. He bases this on the atomic theory expounded by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, and continues with an examination of sensation, sex, cosmology, meteorology, and geology, all of these subjects made more attractive by the poetry with which he illustrates them.

Editorial Reviews


One of the most extraordinary classical translations of recent times -- Peter Stothard Times Literary Supplement A.E. Stallings's brilliant recent translation -- Eric Orrmsby Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Titus Lucretius Carus (who died c.50 BC) was an Epicurean poet writing in the middle years of the first century BC. His six-book Latin hexameter poem De rerum natura survives virtually intact, although it is disputed whether he lived to put the finishing touches to it. As well as being a pioneering figure in the history of philosophical poetry, Lucretius has come to be our primary source of information on Epicurean physics, the official topic of his poem. A. E. Stallings was born in 1968. She grew up in Decatur, GA, and was educated at the University of Georgia and Oxford University in classics. Her poetry has appeared in The Best American Poetry (1994 and 2000) and has received numerous awards, including a Pushcart Prize (Pushcart Prize Anthology XXII), the 1997 Eunice Tietjens Prize from Poetry and the third annual James Dickey Prize from Five Points. Richard Jenkyns is Professor of the Classical Tradition, University of Oxford, a Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall and author of a number of books including Dignity and Decadence: Some Classical Aspects of Victorian Art and Architecture and The Victorians and Ancient Greece.

Product Details

  • File Size: 490 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed. / edition (July 26, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI96Y4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,784 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
261 of 267 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a real poem July 30, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lucretius missed being translated in full by any of the classic English early modern translators: Chapman, Dryden, Pope. (Dryden did tantalizing selections) So it's fitting that Stallings goes back to those roots with a translation in rhymed fourteeners (think ballad form: da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum/da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, in couplets). There are a number of reasonably good translations available, including Latham's reliable prose in the older Penguin Classics edition, but this is the most ambitious modern attempt at a full, poetic translation of what is both (in Latin) a marvelous, sonorous epic poem and a fascinating account of Epicurean philosophy (serious, scientific, respectful of the gods but the opposite of conventional piety, mordantly disrespectful of love and politics).
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198 of 205 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable translation April 30, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After reading the work in two other translations, I was very pleased to find this one. In my opinion, it's the best. The artistry is still there, but the meaning isn't being sacrificed for the sake of poetry. For me, that's important.
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77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fluency January 20, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lucretius' poem DE RERUM NATURA is still revolutionary, fundamental to a view of the world that is materialist, atheist and humanist at the same time. The text's influence on civilized thought has been immense and yet, somehow clandestine, not unlike a samizdat.
Ms. Stallings has translated the Latin into English rhyme with admirable ease and fluency; reading, I find passages enrapturing me; it is amazing how elegantly the English language lends itself to this transformation of Latin, as compared to the stiffness of my native German.
Readers who do not know Lucretius might learn the trick from him to look at life with cold yet loving eyes, at the same time enjoying the unique presentation of his ideas in rhyme of the most sophisticated kind, thanks to a superb translation.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-boggling. Jaw-dropping. Incredible. April 6, 2012
By amk
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Mind-boggling. Jaw-dropping. Incredible. These are just some of the superlatives that come to mind when thinking back about what I had read in "On the Nature of Things." I first learned of the book's existence while listening to "Hmmm...", an NPR show hosted by Robert Krulwich. That episode featured Stephen Greenblatt, the author of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, a book about how "On the Nature of Things" was rediscovered, put back out into the world, and how it influenced important historical figures, such as Shakespeare, Machiavelli, and Thomas Jefferson.

"On the Nature of Things" was written over 2,000 years ago by a philosopher who prescribed to the thoughts and beliefs of Epicurus. Epicurus believed that everything in this universe was made of atoms and that these atoms arranged and rearranged themselves into everything that we see and touch, without any help from the gods. I was continuously in shock when I read Lucretius touch upon natural selection, talk about how these atoms had to have arranged themselves into a planet with life on it in a distant part of the universe, and more.

Do yourselves a favor. Read this book and then read The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. Incredible.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dance of atoms, rap style? February 27, 2014
By Owl
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase

Stephen Greenblatt, in "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern" re-ignited interest in a long poem by Titus Lucretius Carus, who lived around the time of Augustus. As Greenblatt tells the fascinating story, the papal secretary, Poggio, searching for old Latin and Greek manuscripts, found a tattered copy of the previously unknown De Rerum Natura in an alpine monastery.

Master of church theology, calligraphy and Latin, Poggio recognized the fiery nature of Lucretius' work and gave thought to the fiery nature of the Inquisition. Copies of the manuscript circulated at first only cautiously and only to a few trusted friends. Lucretius' ideas, expressed in noble poetry, challenged thinking of earth as divinely created for the use of man and of a Creator to be worshipped in awe, fear, and trembling.

Lucretius, following Greek philosopher Epicurus & his school, sees everything evolving from the dance of atoms, infinite in number in an infinite space. These irreducible entities cannot be divided, created, or destroyed. The atoms are unceasingly in random motion. Some collide & veer off; some collide and stick. These atomic clusters form other clusters; and over enough time and enough collisions, they form all we know, from galaxies, gastropods and us. When we die, the bonds dissolve, and the atoms continue the eternal dance of creation, evolution, dissolution.

There are, writes Lucretius, no gods and if there were or are, they have no interest in us. So there is no reason for us to sacrifice Iphegenias for fair winds so the Greek fleet can sail from Aulis to Troy, no reason to be afraid of or worshipful to the gods, and no reason, for ourselves to fear of death or anticipate some future mystic bliss.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Choice March 27, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book in paperback, as a reference for an e-book. I now wish I'd gotten a Kindle version. The introduction is worth the price of the book. Reading the the translation requires patience, a good dictionary and perhaps a copy of Bullfinch. If that sounds appealing to you, go for it. I'm glad I did.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars yes
Published 2 days ago by Murat Avci
4.0 out of 5 stars Four stars
Hard reading, but worth it
Published 1 month ago by Eli Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
the return of fourteeners. terrific
Published 1 month ago by Stephen Scully
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a good read.
I read The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt, which lead me to On The Nature of Things by Anthony Esolen, and then to this book, published by Penquin Classics. Read more
Published 1 month ago by David L. Hosea
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
nice like it thnx
Published 3 months ago by MOHSIN KAZMI
1.0 out of 5 stars some butt
this is some butt
Published 3 months ago by Sam Brunswick
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
How can you give Lucretius less than five stars? The Penguin edition is their usual quality of translation.
Published 3 months ago by B. Lindquist
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this!
This translator uses modern vernacular English, and I love it. Timeless ideas, expressed in good conversational language. Should be on every young person's reading list. Read more
Published 4 months ago by David Burch
5.0 out of 5 stars Companion reader for The Swerve
This is a book we ordered as a companion reader to Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve since The Nature of Things was a world changer. Read more
Published 4 months ago by AMY K. RUBIN
1.0 out of 5 stars WARNING: Kindle edition is NOT the A.E. Stallings verse translation.
... although I clicked specifically on the Kindle Edition option under the Stallings (Penguin) edition header. Instead, you get some crummy prose translation. Fair Warning. Read more
Published 6 months ago by RW
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