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On the Nature of Things (De Rerum Natura) (Philosophical Classics)

4.1 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 080-0759434466
ISBN-10: 048643446X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Ensolen 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. Ensolen includes an elegant introduction on Lucretius, as well as useful notes. A valuable contribution to students of literature as well as philosophy." -- Library Journal

"Ensolen 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. Ensolen includes an elegant introduction on Lucretius, as well as useful notes. A valuable contribution to students of literature as well as philosophy." -- Library Journal --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (March 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048643446X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486434469
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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"On the Nature of Things" by Lucretius. A translation by Frank Copley of the famous Latin poem, written by Lucretius, who lived circa 95-50 B.C., setting forth the atomistic philosophy of Epicureus 340-270 B.C. The poem was lost with the collapse of the Roman empire and only came to light again in 1417 when a copy of a copy of a copy...was found in a German monastery by a discharged papal secretary--see "The Swerve".
Astoundingly, much of this poem is consistent with scientific models today---invisible and minute atoms forever moving in a void under internal and external forces, joining together in various ways to form the visible objects of the world. The atoms themselves were eternal but the bodies came to an end and the atoms recycled into other bodies so that the mass of the world remains constant. He got it wrong about the speed of " heat atoms" being faster than the speed of "light atoms", but by and large this is the atomic theory of Maxwell and Boltzmann and later physicists, without the math of course.
While not denying the existence of gods of various sorts,Lucretias' view was that the universe goes on without their aid or attention. The world as we know it was brought into being and maintained by natural forces and follows natural laws, not in any degree by divine intervention. Since the world is a conglomerate of atoms and void, it is impermanent and must someday inevitably be destroyed, including the soul upon death. Seeing things thusly, there is no room for the afterlife, no need for gods major or minor, no reason to despair of death, and certainly no reason to forgo the pleasures of this world for a reward in the afterlife. What we see in this life is all there is and we should enjoy it.
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I wondered if I would find this 2000 year old poem relevant to my 21st century life. It is. On The Nature of Things is almost a reference book of everyday subjects from pain, harmony, love, touch, taste and free will. It also goes on the broader subjects such as life, rain, atoms, religion, earth and the universe. The outline of the poem gives you a broad idea of what Lucretius is talking about, and the index lets you quickly find his thoughts on any given subject. I find that I pick up the book when I'm thinking about something, and I wonder what Lucretius has to say about it. I would suggest this book to any independant thinker.
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It has always facinated me how we as humams come to a point in our lives, if we are lucky, where it occurs to us NEW thoughts, new realizations, brand new ways to see and experience our lifes. How is it that we think the way we think and not another way? Why does it occur to others, the great thinkers, that they can change the way they think and completely change the life experience?
This is one of this original thinkers book. Can you change your life experience? Sure, you can!
Good luck!!!!
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As a layman who has enjoyed many pleasurable hours of leisure reading philosophy, science, religion, and history, I had read of Lucretius’ poem many times. Finally, I decided to read it and see for myself. Others more capable than me have commented on it in detail, so I will be brief. You should read it slowly and even reread sections, especially for a while until you get the feel for the language and how Lucretius uses it to construct the poem. Patience will be rewarded: It is beautiful and incredible. But the most astounding part, which I had read about many other times, is how modern it seems to be in its outlook, philosophy, and physical explanations of reality. If you go down the path, take your time and enjoy it. It is special!
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