The Nature of Things (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 26 Jul 2007
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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.
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Top customer reviews
It is very interesting to read Classical literature and see hints of subjects thought to have been considered only in recent times - Lucretius is one author whose writing is as relevant today as when it was first written. In Lucretius' epic poem, one can see hints of arguments for the lack of intelligent design, the lack of divine purpose, a world based on the movement of atoms,a world where pleasure should be sought and pain should be eliminated as well as, importantly, an understanding of human life based entirely on what can be experienced. All the basic atheist arguments are presented here, perhaps more succinctly than Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins ever achieved during their careers. It remains an integral book for a full understanding of world philosophy.
"For what's to come, open your ears"
1. Atoms: He believed everything is made up of atoms. Remember, this was written 2000 years ago.
2. Chemistry: "For when you rearrange atoms, you change what they compose"
3. Creation: "In no way was the universe made by the power of God". Thank you.
4. Scientific: We should base things on "proven facts" not beliefs and stick to things "observation shows us is true".
5. Re-incarnation and Spirits
"And it's ridiculous to think that as wild beasts are mating
And whelping they're surrounded by immortal spirits waiting
For mortal bodies to move into, mobbing myriads deep,
Jostling and elbowing to be the first to creep
Inside the flesh. That is, unless instead the spirits keep
Some deal they've struck amongst themselves - so that the first to light
Upon a body gets to slither in without a fight."
I laughed so hard. Love it.
6. Evolution: "Don't imagine that the bright lights of our eyes were purpose-made so we could look ahead."
He then goes on to describe various parts of the body that did not just appear so we could do this or that. He says that approach "jumbles effect and cause" but "that which is born creates its own use". Thus demolishing those who've argued that if evolution is true of what use is half an eye or half a wing.
7. Reason: we should embrace it and "let go of the terror of the new". And:
"The mind seeks explanation. Since the universe extends forever out beyond" we should "peer into infinity and soar free".
8. The Universe: It extends forever. It's infinite.
There's so much more. It's also a poem so there's much to enjoy as long as you keep in mind that not everything Lucretian is true. The most ludicrous being the true size of the sun is as we see it. But given the range of subjects covered and how on point he was on so many other things way way before the age of science and experiments, I'm in awe.
If I haven't convinced you yet to read this book I never will.
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Most recent customer reviews
text book, does what it says on the cover
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