“On the Nature of Things” by Lucretius

Lucretius

Philosophy is Supposed to be Fun!

Cicero, because of his personal aversion to the Epicurean philosophy, didn’t quite do it justice in his book The Nature of the Gods, which introduced the Greek philosophical schools to the Romans (He all but made the Epicurean the laughing-stock of all the other philosophers). However, he also prepared and edited the transcript of this book by Lucretius, arguably the best exposition of Epicureanism, as a counterpoint.

Lucretius made a strong case for Epicureanism with epic poetry and systematic reasoning. His thoughts and presentation with creative use of analogies are eminently clear and logical to a modern reader, in spite of his relative lack of scientific knowledge.

In this book, he sought to dispel the notion of gods governing the universe, and demonstrate the natural causes of all things based on a few premises, from thunderbolts to earthquakes, from the nature of disease to the nature of the mind, from the beginning of the earth to the development of society.

Highly recommended for its epic scope, clarity of thought, beauty of narrative, richness of humor and compassion.

References:

  1. Carus, Titus Lucretius. The Way Things Are: The De Rerum Natura of Titus Lucretius Carus. Trans. Rolfe Humphries. London: Indiana UP, 1969.
  2. Lucretius. De Rerum Natura. Trans. William Ellery Leonard (E. P. Dutton, 1916). Perseus Digital Library. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.02.0131

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