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De rerum natura
De rerum natura
(Latin: [deːˈreːrũn.naːˈtuːraː]; On the Nature of Things) is a first-century BC didactic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius
Lucretius
(c. 99 BC – c. 55 BC) with the goal of explaining Epicurean philosophy to a Roman audience. The poem, written in some 7,400 dactylic hexameters, is divided into six untitled books, and explores Epicurean physics through poetic language and metaphors.[1] Namely, Lucretius
Lucretius
explores 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 fortuna ("chance"),[2] and not the divine intervention of the traditional Roman deities.

Contents

1 Background 2 Contents

2.1 Synopsis 2.2 Purpose 2.3 Completeness

3 Main ideas

3.1 Metaphysics

3.1.1 Lack of divine intervention 3.1.2 Mortalism

3.2 Physics

3.2.1 The swerve

4 Textual history

4.1 Classical antiquity to the Middle Ages 4.2 Rediscovery to the present

5 Reception

5.1 Classical antiquity 5.2 Late antiquity and the Middle Ages 5.3 Renaissance to the present

6 Notes 7 Work cited 8 Further reading

8.1 Translations

9 External links

Background[edit]

De rerum natura
De rerum natura
was written by the Roman poet Lucretius.

To the Greek philosopher Epicurus, the unhappiness and degradation of humans arose largely from the dread which they entertained of the power of the deities, from terror of their wrath. This wrath was supposed to be displayed by the misfortunes inflicted in this life and by the everlasting tortures that were the lot of the guilty in a future state (or, where these feelings were not strongly developed, from a vague dread of gloom and misery after death). Epicurus
Epicurus
thus made it his mission to remove these fears, and thus to establish tranquility in the minds of his readers. To do this, Epicurus
Epicurus
invoked the atomism of Democritus
Democritus
to demonstrate that the material universe was formed not by a Supreme Being, but by the mixing of elemental particles that had existed from all eternity governed by certain simple laws. He argued that the deities (whose existence he did not deny) lived forevermore in the enjoyment of absolute peace—strangers to all the passions, desires, and fears, which affect humans— and totally indifferent to the world and its inhabitants, unmoved alike by their virtues and their crimes. This meant that humans had nothing to fear from them. Lucretius's task was to clearly state and fully develop these views in an attractive form; his work was an attempt to show through poetry that everything in nature can be explained by natural laws, without the need for the intervention of divine beings.[3] Lucretius identifies the supernatural with the notion that the deities created our world or interfere with its operations in some way. He argues against fear of such deities by demonstrating, through observations and arguments, that the operations of the world can be accounted for in terms of natural phenomena. These phenomena are the result of regular, but purposeless motions and interactions of tiny atoms in empty space. Contents[edit] Synopsis[edit] The poem consists of six untitled books, in dactylic hexameter. The first three books provide a fundamental account of being and nothingness, matter and space, the atoms and their movement, the infinity of the universe both as regards time and space, the regularity of reproduction (no prodigies, everything in its proper habitat), the nature of mind (animus, directing thought) and spirit (anima, sentience) as material bodily entities, and their mortality, since, according to Lucretius, they and their functions (consciousness, pain) end with the bodies that contain them and with which they are interwoven. The last three books give an atomic and materialist explanation of phenomena preoccupying human reflection, such as vision and the senses, sex and reproduction, natural forces and agriculture, the heavens, and disease.

Lucretius
Lucretius
opens his poem by addressing Venus (center), urging her to pacify her lover, Mars (right). Given Lucretius's relatively secular philosophy and his eschewing of superstition, his invocation of Venus has caused much debate.

Lucretius
Lucretius
opens his poem by addressing Venus not only as the mother of Rome (Aeneadum genetrix) but also as the veritable mother of nature (Alma Venus), urging her to pacify her lover Mars and spare Rome from strife.[4][5] By recalling the opening to poems by Homer, Ennius, and Hesiod
Hesiod
(all of which begin with an invocation to the Muses), the proem to De rerum natura
De rerum natura
conforms to epic convention. The entire proem is also written in the format of a hymn, recalling other early literary works, texts, and hymns and in particular the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite.[6] The choice to address Venus may have been due to Empedocles's belief that Aphrodite represents "the great creative force in the cosmos".[5] Given that Lucretius
Lucretius
goes on to argue that the gods are removed from human life, many have thus seen this opening to be contradictory: how can Lucretius
Lucretius
pray to Venus and then deny that the gods listen to or care about human affairs?[5] In response, many scholars argue that the poet uses Venus poetically as a metonym. For instance, Diskin Clay sees Venus as a poetic substitute for sex, and Bonnie Catto sees the invocation of the name as a metonym for the "creative process of natura".[7] After the opening, the poem commences with an enunciation of the proposition on the nature and being of the deities, which leads to an invective against the evils of superstition. Lucretius
Lucretius
then dedicates time to exploring the axiom that nothing can be produced from nothing, and that nothing can be reduced to nothing (Nil fieri ex nihilo, in nihilum nil posse reverti). Following this, the poet argues that the universe comprises an infinite number of Atoms, which are scattered about in an infinite and vast void (Inane). The shape of these atoms, their properties, their movements, the laws under which they enter into combination and assume forms and qualities appreciable by the senses, with other preliminary matters on their nature and affections, together with a refutation of objections and opposing hypotheses, occupy the first two books.[3] In the third book, the general concepts proposed thus far are applied to demonstrate that the vital and intellectual principles, the Anima and Animus, are as much a part of us as are our limbs and members, but like those limbs and members have no distinct and independent existence, and that hence soul and body live and perish together; the book concludes by arguing that the fear of death is a folly, as death merely extinguishes all feeling—both the good and the bad.[3] The fourth book is devoted to the theory of the senses, sight, hearing, taste, smell, of sleep and of dreams, ending with a disquisition upon love and sex.[3] The fifth book is described by Ramsay as the most finished and impressive,[3] while Stahl argues that its "puerile conceptions" is proof that Lucretius
Lucretius
should be judged as a poet, not as a scientist.[8] This book addresses the origin of the world and of all things therein, the movements of the heavenly bodies, the changing of the seasons, day and night, the rise and progress of humankind, society, political institutions, and the invention of the various arts and sciences which embellish and ennoble life.[3] The sixth book contains an explanation of some of the most striking natural appearances, especially thunder, lightning, hail, rain, snow, ice, cold, heat, wind, earthquakes, volcanoes, springs and localities noxious to animal life, which leads to a discourse upon diseases. This introduces a detailed description of the great pestilence that devastated Athens during the Peloponnesian War. With this episode, the book closes; this abrupt ending suggests that Lucretius
Lucretius
might have died before he was able to finalize and fully edit his poem.[3] Purpose[edit] Lucretius
Lucretius
wrote this epic poem to "Memmius", who may be Gaius Memmius, who in 58 BC was a praetor, a judicial official deciding controversies between citizens and the government.[9] There are over a dozen references to "Memmius" scattered throughout the long poem in a variety of contexts in translation, such as "Memmius mine", "my Memmius", and "illustrious Memmius". According to Lucretius's frequent statements in his poem, the main purpose of the work was to free Gaius Memmius's mind of the supernatural and the fear of death—and to induct him into a state of ataraxia by expounding the philosophical system of Epicurus, whom Lucretius
Lucretius
glorifies as the hero of his epic poem. However, the purpose of the poem is subject to ongoing scholarly debate. Lucretius
Lucretius
refers to Memmius by name four times in the first book, three times in the second, five in the fifth, and not at all in the third, fourth, or sixth books. In relation to this discrepancy in the frequency of Lucretius's reference to the apparent subject of his poem, Kannengiesse advances the theory that Lucretius
Lucretius
wrote the first version of De rerum natura
De rerum natura
for the reader at large, and subsequently revised in order to write it for Memmius. However, Memmius' name is central to several critical verses in the poem, and this theory has therefore been largely discredited.[10] The German classicists Ivo Bruns and Samuel Brandt set forth an alternative theory that Lucretius did at first write the poem with Memmius in mind, but that his enthusiasm for his patron cooled.[11][12] Stearns suggests that this is because Memmius reneged on a promise to pay for a new school to be built on the site of the old Epicurean school.[13] Memmius was also a tribune in 66, praetor in 58, governor of Bithynia in 57, and was a candidate for the consulship in 54 but was disqualified for bribery, and Stearns suggests that the warm relationship between patron and client may have cooled (sed tua me virtus tamen et sperata voluptas / suavis amicitiae quemvis efferre laborem, "But still your merit, and as I hope, the joy / Of our sweet friendship, urge me to any toil").[13][14] There is a certain irony to the poem, namely that while Lucretius extols the virtue of the Epicurean school of thought, Epicurus
Epicurus
himself had advised his acolytes from penning poetry because he believed it to make that which was simple overly complicated.[15] Near the end of his first book, Lucretius
Lucretius
defends his fusion of Epicureanism
Epicureanism
and poetry with a simile, arguing that the philosophy he espouses is like a medicine: life-saving but often unpleasant. Poetry, on the other hand, is like honey, in that it is a "a sweetener that sugarcoats the bitter medicine of Epicurean philosophy and entices the audience to swallow it."[16][17] Completeness[edit] The state of the poem as it currently exists suggests that it was released in an unfinished state.[18] For instance, the poem concludes rather abruptly, there are dual passages throughout, and at 5.155 Lucretius
Lucretius
mentions that he will spend a great deal of time discussing the nature of the gods, which never comes to pass.[3][19] Some have suggested that Lucretius
Lucretius
died before being able to edit, finalize, and publish his work.[20] Main ideas[edit] Metaphysics[edit] Lack of divine intervention[edit] After the poem was rediscovered and made its rounds across Europe and beyond, numerous thinkers began to see Lucretius's Epicureanism
Epicureanism
as a "threat synonymous with atheism."[21] Some Christian apologists viewed De rerum natura
De rerum natura
as an atheist manifesto and a dangerous foil to be thwarted.[21] However, at that time the label was extremely broad and did not necessarily mean a denial of divine entities (for example, some large Christian sects labelled dissenting groups as atheists).[22] What is more, Lucretius
Lucretius
was himself a theist, and in his work he does not deny the existence of deities;[23][24] he simply argues that they did not create the universe, that they do not care about human affairs, and that they do not intervene in the world.[25] Regardless, due to the ideas espoused in the poem, much of Lucretius's work was seen by many as direct a challenge to theistic, Christian belief.[26] Ada Palmer
Ada Palmer
has labelled six ideas in Lucretius's thought (viz. his assertion that the world was created from chaos, and his denials of Providence, divine participation, miracles, the efficacy of prayer, and an afterlife) as "proto-atheistic".[27][28] She qualifies her use of this term, cautioning that it is not to be used to say that Lucretius
Lucretius
was himself an atheist in the modern sense of the word, nor that atheism is a teleological necessity, but rather that many of his ideas were taken up by 19th, 20th, and 21st century atheists.[28] Mortalism[edit] De rerum natura
De rerum natura
does not argue that the soul does not exist; rather, the poem claims that the soul, like all things in existence, is made up of atoms, and because these atoms will one day drift apart, the human soul is not immortal. Lucretius
Lucretius
thus argues that death is simply annihilation, and that there is no afterlife. He likens the physical body to a vessel that holds both the mind (mens) and spirit (anima). To prove that neither the mind nor spirit can survive independent of the body, Lucretius
Lucretius
notes that once a vessel (the body) shatters (dies) its contents (mind and spirit) can no longer exist. So, as a simple ceasing-to-be, death can be neither good nor bad for this being, since a dead person—being completely devoid of sensation and thought—cannot miss being alive.[5] To further alleviate the fear of non-existence, Lucretius
Lucretius
makes use of the symmetry argument: he argues that the eternal oblivion awaiting all humans after death is exactly the same as the nothingness that preceded our birth. Since that nothingness caused us no discomfort, we should have no fear of the same post-death nothingness that will follow:[5]

Look back again—how the endless ages of time comes to pass Before our birth are nothing to us. This is a looking glass Nature holds up for us in which we see the time to come After we finally die. What is there that looks so fearsome? What's so tragic? Isn't it more peaceful than any sleep?[29]

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Lucretius
Lucretius
sees those who fear death as embracing the fallacious assumption that they will be present in some sense "to regret and bewail [their] own non-existence."[5] Physics[edit] Lucretius
Lucretius
maintained that he could free humankind from fear of the deities by demonstrating that all things occur by natural causes without any intervention by the deities. Historians of science, however, have been critical of the limitations of his Epicurean approach to science, especially as it pertained to astronomical topics, which he relegated to the class of "unclear" objects.[30][31] Thus, he began his discussion by claiming that he would

explain by what forces nature steers the courses of the Sun and the journeyings of the Moon, so that we shall not suppose that they run their yearly races between heaven and earth of their own free will [i.e., are gods themselves] or that they are rolled round in furtherance of some divine plan....[32]

However, when he set out to put this plan into practice, he limited himself to showing how one, or several different, naturalistic accounts could explain certain natural phenomena. He was unable to tell his readers how to determine which of these alternatives might be the true one.[33] For instance, when considering the reason for stellar movements, Lucretius
Lucretius
provides two possible explanations: that the sky itself rotates, or that the sky as a whole is stationary while constellations move. If the latter is true, Lucretius, notes, this is because: "either swift currents of ether whirl round and round and roll their fires at large across the nocturnal regions of the sky"; "an external current of air from some other quarter may whirl them along in their course"; or "they may swim of their own accord, each responsive to the call of its own food, and feed their fiery bodies in the broad pastures of the sky". Lucretius
Lucretius
concludes that "one of these causes must certainly operate in our world... But to lay down which of them it is lies beyond the range of our stumbling progress."[34] Drawing on these, and other passages, William Stahl considered that "The anomalous and derivative character of the scientific portions of Lucretius' poem makes it reasonable to conclude that his significance should be judged as a poet, not as a scientist."[35] The swerve[edit] Main article: Clinamen Determinism
Determinism
appears to conflict with the concept of free will. Lucretius
Lucretius
attempts to allow for free will in his physicalistic universe by postulating an indeterministic tendency for atoms to veer randomly (Latin: clinamen, literally "the turning aside of a thing", but often translated as "the swerve").[1][36] According to Lucretius, this unpredictable swerve occurs at no fixed place or time:

When atoms move straight down through the void by their own weight, they deflect a bit in space at a quite uncertain time and in uncertain places, just enough that you could say that their motion has changed. But if they were not in the habit of swerving, they would all fall straight down through the depths of the void, like drops of rain, and no collision would occur, nor would any blow be produced among the atoms. In that case, nature would never have produced anything.[37][38]

This swerving provides the indeterminacy that Lucretius
Lucretius
argues allows for the "free will which living things throughout the world have" (libera per terras ... haec animantibus exstat ... voluntas).[39] Textual history[edit] Classical antiquity to the Middle Ages[edit]

St. Jerome
St. Jerome
contended in his Chronicon that Cicero
Cicero
amended and edited De rerum natura. This assertion has been hotly debated, with most scholars thinking it was a mistake on Jerome's part.

Martin Ferguson Smith
Martin Ferguson Smith
notes that Cicero's close friend, Titus Pomponius Atticus, was an Epicurean publisher, and it is possible that it was his slaves who made the very first copies of De rerum natura.[40] If this was the case, then it might explain how Cicero came to be familiar with Lucretius's work.[41] In c. AD 380, St. Jerome
Jerome
would contend in his Chronicon that Cicero
Cicero
amended and edited De rerum natura,[42] although most scholars argue that this is an erroneous claim;[43] the classicist David Butterfield argues that this mistake was likely made by Jerome
Jerome
(or his sources) because the earliest reference to Lucretius
Lucretius
is in the aforementioned letter from Cicero.[43] Nevertheless, a small minority of scholars argue that Jerome's assertion may be credible.[5] The oldest purported fragments of De rerum natura
De rerum natura
were published by K. Kleve in 1989 and consist of sixteen fragments. These remnants were discovered among the Epicurean library in the Villa of the Papyri, Herculaneum. Because, as W. H. D. Rouse notes, "the fragments are so minute and bear so few certainly identifiable letters", at this point in time "some scepticism about their proposed authorship seems pardonable and prudent."[44] However, Kleve contends that four of the six books are represented in the fragments, which he argues is reason to assume that the entire poem was at one time kept in the library. If Lucretius's poem was to be definitely placed at the Villa of the Papyri, it would suggest that it was studied by the Neapolitan Epicurean school.[44] Copies of the poem were preserved in a number of medieval libraries, with the earliest extant manuscripts dating from the ninth-century.[45] The oldest—and, according to David Butterfield, most famous—of these is the Codex Oblongus, often called O. This copy has been dated to the early ninth century and was produced by a Carolingian
Carolingian
scriptorium (likely a monastery connected to the court of Charlemagne).[46] O is currently housed at Leiden University.[47] The second of these ninth-century manuscripts is the Codex Quadratus, often called Q. This manuscript was likely copied after O, sometime in the mid-ninth century.[48] Today, Q is also housed at Leiden University.[49] The third and final ninth-century manuscript—which comprises the Schedae Gottorpienses fragment (commonly called G and located in the Kongelige Bibliotek of Copenhagen) and the Schedae Vindobonenses fragments (commonly called V and U and located in the Austrian National Library
Austrian National Library
in Vienna)—was christened by Butterfield as S and has been dated to the latter part of the ninth century.[50][51] Scholars consider manuscripts O, Q, and S to all be descendants of the original archetype, which they dub Ω.[52] However, while O is a direct descendant of the archetype,[52] Q and S are believed to have both been derived from a manuscript (Ψ) that in turn had been derived from a damaged and modified version of the archetype (ΩI).[53][54] Rediscovery to the present[edit]

De rerum natura
De rerum natura
was rediscovered by Poggio Bracciolini c. 1416–1417.

While there exist a handful of references to Lucretius
Lucretius
in Romance and Germanic sources dating between the ninth-and fifteenth centuries (references that, according to Ada Palmer, "indicate a tenacious, if spotty knowledge of the poet and some knowledge of [his] poem"), no manuscripts of De rerum natura
De rerum natura
currently survive from this span of time.[55] Rather, all the remaining Lucertian manuscripts that are currently extant date from or after the fifteenth century.[56] This is because De rerum natura
De rerum natura
was rediscovered in January 1417 by Poggio Bracciolini, who probably found the poem in the Benedictine library at Fulda. The manuscript that Poggio discovered did not survive, but a copy (the "Codex Laurentianus 35.30") of it by Poggio's friend, Niccolò de' Niccoli, did, and today it is kept at the Laurentian Library in Florence.[1] Machiavelli made a copy early in his life. Molière
Molière
produced a verse translation which does not survive; John Evelyn
John Evelyn
translated the first book.[1] The Italian scholar Guido Billanovich demonstrated that Lucretius's poem was well known in its entirety by Lovato Lovati (1241–1309) and some other Paduan pre-humanists during the thirteenth century.[57][58] This proves that the work was known in select circles long before the official rediscovery by Poggio. It has been suggested that Dante (1265–1321) might have read Lucretius's poem, as a few verses of his Divine Comedy
Divine Comedy
exhibit a great affinity with De rerum natura, which can hardly be explained otherwise.[57] The first printed edition of De rerum natura
De rerum natura
was produced in Brescia, Lombardy, in 1473. Other printed editions followed soon after. Additionally, although only published in 1996, Lucy Hutchinson's translation of De rerum natura
De rerum natura
was in all likelihood the first in English and was most likely completed some time in the late 1640s or 1650s.[59] Reception[edit] Classical antiquity[edit]

Many scholars believe that Lucretius
Lucretius
and his poem were referenced or alluded to by Cicero
Cicero
(left) and Virgil
Virgil
(right).

The earliest recorded critique of Lucretius's work is in a letter written by the Roman statesman Cicero
Cicero
to his brother Quintus, in which the former claims that Lucretius's poetry is "full of inspired brilliance, but also of great artistry" (Lucreti poemata, ut scribis, ita sunt, multis luminibus ingeni, multae tamen artis).[60][61] It is also believed that the Roman poet Virgil
Virgil
referenced Lucretius and his work in the second book of his Georgics
Georgics
when he wrote: "Happy is he who has discovered the causes of things and has cast beneath his feet all fears, unavoidable fate, and the din of the devouring Underworld" (felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas/atque metus omnis et inexorabile fatum/subiecit pedibus strepitumque Acherontis avari).[5][62][63] According to David Sedley of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "With these admiring words, Virgil
Virgil
neatly encapsulates four dominant themes of the poem—universal causal explanation, leading to elimination of the threats the world seems to pose, a vindication of free will, and disproof of the soul's survival after death."[5] Lucretius
Lucretius
was almost certainly read by the imperial poet Marcus Manilius (fl. 1st century AD), whose didactic poem Astronomica (written c. AD 10–20), alludes to De rerum natura
De rerum natura
in a number of places.[64] However, Manilius's poem, espouses a Stoic, deterministic understanding of the universe,[65] and by its very nature attacks the very philosophical underpinnings of Lucretius's worldview.[64] This has led scholars like Katharina Volk to argue that "Manilius is a veritable anti-Lucretius".[64] What is more, Manilius also seems to suggest throughout this poem that his work is superior to that of Lucretius's.[66] (Coincidentally, De rerum natura
De rerum natura
and the Astronomica were both rediscovered by Poggio Bracciolini
Poggio Bracciolini
in the early 15th century.)[67] Additionally, Lucretius's work is discussed by the Augustan poet Ovid, who in his Amores writes "the verses of the sublime Lucretius
Lucretius
will perish only when a day will bring the end of the world" (Carmina sublimis tunc sunt peritura Lucreti / exitio terras cum dabit una dies),[68] and the Silver Age poet Statius, who in his Silvae
Silvae
praises Lucretius
Lucretius
as being highly "learned".[69][70] David Butterfield also writes that "clear echoes and/or responses" to De rerum natura
De rerum natura
can be detected in the works of the Roman elegiac poets Catullus, Propertius, and Tibullus, as well as the lyric poet Horace.[71] In regards to prose writers, a number either quote from Lucretius's poem or express great admiration for De rerum natura, including: Vitruvius
Vitruvius
(in De Architectura),[72][73] Marcus Velleius Paterculus
Marcus Velleius Paterculus
(in the Historiae Romanae),[73][74] Quintilian
Quintilian
(in the Institutio Oratoria),[69][75] Tacitus
Tacitus
(in the Dialogus de oratoribus),[69][76] Marcus Cornelius Fronto (in De eloquentia),[77][78] Cornelius Nepos (in the Life Of Atticus),[73][79] Apuleius
Apuleius
(in De Deo Socratis),[80][81] and Gaius Julius Hyginus (in the Fabulae).[82][83] Additionally, Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
lists Lucretius
Lucretius
(presumably referring to his De rerum natura) as a source at the beginning of his Naturalis Historia, and Seneca the Younger
Seneca the Younger
quoted six passages from De rerum natura across several of his works.[84][85] Late antiquity and the Middle Ages[edit]

Lucretius
Lucretius
was quoted by several early Christian writers, including Lactantius
Lactantius
(left) and Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
(right).

Because Lucretius
Lucretius
was critical of religion and the claim of an immortal soul, his poem was disparaged by most early Church Fathers.[86] The Early Christian
Early Christian
apologist Lactantius, in particular, heavily cites and critiques Lucretius
Lucretius
in his The Divine Institutes
The Divine Institutes
and its Epitome, as well as his De ira Dei.[87] While he argued that Lucretius's criticism of Roman religion were "sound attacks on paganism and superstition", Lactantius
Lactantius
claimed that they were futile against the "True Faith" of Christianity.[88] Lactantius
Lactantius
also disparages the science of De rerum natura
De rerum natura
(as well as of Epicureanism in general), calls Lucretius
Lucretius
"the most worthless of the poets" (poets inanissimus), notes that he cannot read more than a few of the poet's line without laughing, and sarcastically asks, "Who would think that [Lucretius] had a brain when he said these things?"[88] After Lactantius's time, Lucretius
Lucretius
was almost exclusively referenced or alluded to in a negative manner by the Church Fathers. The one major exception to this was Isidore of Seville, who at the start of the 7th century produced a work on astronomy and natural history dedicated to the Visigothic king Sisebut
Sisebut
that was entitled De natura rerum. In both this work, and as well as his more well-known Etymologiae
Etymologiae
(c. AD 600–625), Isidore liberally quotes from Lucretius a total of twelve times, drawing verses from all of Lucretius's books except his third.[89][90] (Of note, about a century later, the British historian and Doctor of the Church Bede
Bede
produced a work also called De natura rerum, partly based on Isidore's work but apparently ignorant of Lucretius's poem.)[91] Renaissance to the present[edit] Montaigne owned a Latin edition published in Paris, in 1563, by Denis Lambin which he heavily annotated.[92] His Essays contain almost a hundred quotes from De rerum natura.[1] Additionally, in his essay "Of Books", he lists Lucretius
Lucretius
along with Virgil, Horace, and Catullus
Catullus
as his four top poets.[93] Notable figures who owned copies include Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
whose copy is held at the Houghton Library, Harvard; and Thomas Jefferson, who owned at least five Latin editions and English, Italian and French translations.[1] Lucretius
Lucretius
has also had a marked influence upon modern philosophy, as perhaps the most complete expositor of Epicurean thought.[94] His influence is especially notable in Spanish-American
Spanish-American
philosopher George Santayana, who praised Lucretius—along with Dante
Dante
and Goethe—in his book Three Philosophical Poets.[95] In 2011, the historian and literary scholar Stephen Greenblatt
Stephen Greenblatt
wrote a popular history book about the poem, entitled The Swerve: How the World
World
Became Modern. In the work, Greenblatt argues that Poggio Bracciolini's discovery of De rerum natura
De rerum natura
reintroduced important ideas that sparked the modern age.[96][97][98] Notes[edit]

^ a b c d e f Greenblatt (2011). ^ In particular, De rerum natura
De rerum natura
5.107 (fortuna gubernans, "guiding chance" or "fortune at the helm"). See: Gale (1996) [1994], pp. 213, 223–24. ^ a b c d e f g h Ramsay (1867), pp. 829–30. ^ Leonard (1916). ^ a b c d e f g h i Sedley (2013) [2004]. ^ Keith (2012), p. 39. ^ Catto (1988), p. 98. ^ Stahl (1962), pp. 82–83. ^ Englert (2003), p. xii. ^ Stearns (1931), p. 67. ^ Bruns (1884). ^ Brandt (1885). ^ a b Stearns (1931), p. 68. ^ Lucretius, De rerum natura
De rerum natura
1.140. ^ Lucretius
Lucretius
& de May (2009), v. ^ Lucretius, De rerum natura
De rerum natura
1.936–50. ^ Keith (2013), p. 46. ^ Butterfield (2013), p. 2. ^ Butterfield (2013), p. 2, note 7. ^ West (2007), p. 13. ^ a b Sheppard (2015), p. 31. ^ Sheppard (2015), pp. 21–23. ^ Palmer (2014), p. 26. " Lucretius
Lucretius
was a theist." ^ Bullivant & Ruse 2013. "To be sure, Lucretius
Lucretius
and Epicurus
Epicurus
are not professed atheists [but] the resulting theism is one that denies providence and rejects transcendentalism." ^ Sheppard (2015), p. 31. ^ Sheppard (2015), p. 29. ^ Palmer (2014), p. 25. ^ a b Palmer (2014), p. 26. ^ Lucretius, De rerum natura
De rerum natura
3.972–76. ^ Lloyd (1973), p. 26. ^ Stahl (1962), pp. 81–83. ^ Lucretius, De rerum natura
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5.76–81. ^ Alioto (1987), p. 97. ^ Lucretius, De rerum natura
De rerum natura
5.510–533. ^ Stahl (1962), p. 83. ^ Lewis & Short (1879). ^ Lucretius, De rerum natura
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2.216–224. ^ Lucretius, Inwood, & Gerson (1994), pp. 65–66. ^ Lucretius, De rerum natura
De rerum natura
2.256–57. ^ Smith (1992) [1924], pp. xiii–xiv. ^ Smith (1992) [1924], p. xiii. ^ Jerome, Chronicon. ^ a b Butterfield (2013), p. 1, note 4. ^ a b Rouse (1992) [1924], pp. liv–lv. ^ Butterfield (2013), pp. 6–13. ^ Butterfield (2013), pp. 6–8. ^ Butterfield (2013), p. 8. ^ Butterfield (2013), pp. 8–9. ^ Butterfield (2013), p. 312. ^ Butterfield (2013), pp. 10–11. ^ Butterfield (2013), pp. 313–14. ^ a b Butterfield (2013), p. 17. ^ Butterfield (2013), pp. 15–16. ^ Butterfield (2013), pp. 18–19. ^ Palmer (2014), p. 100. ^ Smith (1992) [1924], p. lvi. ^ a b Piazzi, Francesco (2010). "Hortus Apertus – La fortuna – Dante
Dante
e Lucrezio" (PDF). Editrice La Scuola. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 10, 2015.  ^ Billanovich (1958). ^ Goldberg (2006), p. 275. ^ Lucretius
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& Lee (1893), p. xiii. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Quintum Fratrem 2.10.3. ^ Virgil, Georgics
Georgics
2.490-492. ^ Smith (1992) [1924], p. xx. ^ a b c Volk (2009), p. 192. ^ Volk (2009) (2009), p. 1. ^ Volk (2009), p. 193. ^ "Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini" (2013). ^ Ovid, Amores 1.15.23–24. ^ a b c Butterfield (2013), pp. 50–51. ^ Statius, Silvae
Silvae
2.7.76. ^ Butterfield (2013), pp. 47–48. ^ Vitruvius, De Architectura 9.pr.17–18. ^ a b c Butterfield (2013), p. 49. ^ Marcus Velleius Paterculus, Historiae Romanae 2.36.2. ^ Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria
Institutio Oratoria
1.4.4; 3.1.4; 10.1.87; 12.11.27. ^ Tacitus, Dialogus de oratoribus 23.1. ^ Butterfield (2013), pp. 52–53. ^ Marcus Cornelius Fronto, De eloquentia 3.2. ^ Cornelius Nepos, Vitae, "Atticus" 12.4. ^ Butterfield (2013), pp. 53–54. ^ Apuleius, De Deo Socratis 1.7; 10.7. ^ Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae 57, 151. ^ Butterfield (2013), p. 54. ^ Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia 1. ^ Butterfield (2013), pp. 49–50. ^ Butterfield (2013), p. 56. ^ Butterfield (2013), p. 56. ^ a b Palmer (2014), p. 125. ^ Dronke (1984), p. 459. ^ Butterfield (2013), p. 89. ^ Kendall & Wallis (2010), p. 191. ^ "Titi Lucretii Cari De rerum natura
De rerum natura
Libri Sex (Montaigne.1.4.4)". Cambridge University. Archived from the original on August 29, 2016. Retrieved July 9, 2015 – via The Cambridge Digital Library.  ^ Montaigne, Essays, "Of Books". ^ Gillespie & MacKenzie (2007), p. 322. ^ Santayana (1922) [1910], pp. 19–72. ^ 'The Swerve': When an Ancient Text Reaches Out and Touches Us, PBS, May 25, 2012, retrieved May 31, 2012  ^ Garner (2011). ^ Owchar (2011).

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Further reading[edit] Translations[edit] For a more comprehensive list, see List of English translations of De rerum natura.

Lucretius
Lucretius
(1968). The Way Things Are: The De Rerum Natura. Translated by Rolfe Humphries. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 025320125X.  ———— (1994). On the Nature of the Universe. Translated by R. E. Latham. London, UK: Penguin Books. ISBN 0140446109.  ———— (1992) [1924]. On the Nature of Things. Loeb Classical Library. Translated by W. H. Rouse. Revised by Martin Ferguson Smith. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674992008.  ———— (1995). On the Nature of Things: De rerum natura. Translated by Anthony M. Esolen. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 080185055X.  ———— (1998). On the Nature of the Universe. Translated by Ronald Melville. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198150978.  ———— (2001). On the Nature of Things. Hackett Classics Series. Translated by Martin Ferguson Smith. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company. ISBN 0872205878.  ———— (2007). The Nature of Things. Penguin Classics. Translated by A.E. Stallings. London, UK: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780140447965.  ———— (2008). De Rerum Natura (The Nature of Things): A Poetic Translation. Translated by David R. Slavitt. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520942769.  ———— (2009). Lucretius: Poet
Poet
and Epicurean. Cambridge Learning. Philip De May, ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521721561. 

External links[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Of The Nature of Things

Latin Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: De rerum natura

Wikiquote has quotations related to: De rerum natura

Text at thelatinlibrary.com An English verse translation of On The Nature of Things at Project Gutenberg by William Ellery Leonard An English prose translation of On the Nature of Things at archive by John Selby Watson On the Nature of Things public domain audiobook at LibriVox De rerum natura
De rerum natura
public domain audiobook at LibriVox
LibriVox
(in Latin) David Sedley, "Lucretius", the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Includes extensive discussion of On the Nature of Things Summary of On the Nature of Things, by section De rerum natura
De rerum natura
(1475–1494), digitized codex, at Somni Titi Lucretii Cari De rerum natura
De rerum natura
libri sex, published in Paris 1563, later owned and annotated by Montaigne, fully digitised in Cambridge Digital Library

v t e

Epicureanism

Philosophers

Greek era

Epicurus Polyaenus Metrodorus Batis Leontion Carneiscus Idomeneus Hermarchus Colotes Themista Leonteus Polystratus Dionysius of Lamptrai Basilides Philonides Diogenes of Tarsus Alcaeus and Philiscus Apollodorus Demetrius Lacon Zeno of Sidon

Roman era

Amafinius Rabirius Titus Albucius Phaedrus Philodemus Lucretius Patro Catius Siro Diogenes of Oenoanda

Philosophy

Epicureanism
Epicureanism
(cf. Hedonism) Tetrapharmakos

Concepts

Aponia Ataraxia Clinamen Eudaimonia Hedone Metakosmia

Works

On the Nature of Things List of English translations of De rerum natura

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 176199512 LCCN: n81120503 GND: 4122497-8 SUDOC: 028343565 BNF:

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