On the Nature of Things cover

On the Nature of Things

Titus Lucretius Carus (94? BC - 49? BC)

1. 00 - Preface and Remarks on the life and poem of Lucretius
2. 01 - Book I, pt 1 - Invocation and Dedication of the poem. Praise of Epicurus. The theory of the atom.
3. 02 - Book I, pt 2 - Time doesn't have a real existence. Atoms are solid and indivisible. Attack on the theory of Empedocles.
4. 03 - Book 1, pt 3 - Attack on the theory of Anaxagoras. The universe is boundless, limitless and has no center. Praise of philosophy.
5. 04 - Book 2, pt 1 - Praise of philosophy. Properties of the atoms: weight, combination, swiftness.
6. 05 - Book 2, pt 2 - Attack on those who refuse the theories of Epicurus. Properties of the atoms: atoms are constantly in motion, and tend to move downwards. Figure, flavor, surface of atoms. The different kinds of atoms are many, but not infinite.
7. 06 - Book 2, pt 3 - Compound bodies contain atoms of different figures. The infinite number of atoms moving through infinite space creates an infinite number of bodies.
8. 07 - Book 3, pt 1 - Eulogy of Epicurus. Denial of divine power over the world. The fear of gods and the fear of death torment men and lead them into crimes. Difference between mind and soul. Both mind and soul are corporeal,i.e., composed of atoms like the body.
9. 08 - Book 3, pt 2 - The substance of the mind and the soul. The soul and the body can't be separated without destruction of both. Twenty arguments which prove that the soul perishes with the body, contrary to the Pythagorean theory.
10. 09 - Book 3, pt 3 - Death is the end of man, and nothing should be feared after it. All suffering happens only during life. All men die, good or bad, and death should be contemplated with calmness and reason.
11. 10 - Book 4, pt 1 - Theory of image. Vision is produced by the impact of images on the eye. Senses may be trusted; false opinions arise from false reasoning about the testimony of senses.
12. 11 - Book 4, pt 2 - Other senses: sound, taste and odor. Imagination and thought are produced by means of images. The nature of dreams. The use of the organs of the body.
13. 12 - Book 4, pt 3 - Motion in animals and motion in images. Sleep and causes of dreams. Love and desire and their influence.
14. 13 - Book 5, pt 1 - Praise of Epicurus. The world is not eternal. Heavenly bodies. The world had a beginning and will have an end.
15. 14 - Book 5, pt 2 - Cosmogony according to Epicurus. Causes of the motions of heaven. The magnitude of heavenly bodies and causes of their phenomena: day and night, phases and eclipses of the moon and the sun. The production of plants, animals and man. The existence of monsters.
16. 15 - Book 5, pt 3 - The rudeness of the early life of men. The invention of speech.The discovery of fire, the progress of society. The rise of religion from ignorance of natural causes. The discovery of metals and the progress of the arts.
17. 16 - Book 6, pt 1 - Panegyric on Athens. Meteoric appearances in the heaven. Causes of shooting stars, lightning, thunderbolts. Ridicule of those who attribute the origin of the storms to gods.
18. 17 - Book 6, pt. 2 - Origin of water-spouts, clouds, rain, rainbow, earthquakes and other phenomena. About the seas and volcanoes. About rivers and lakes.
19. 18 - Book 6, pt. 3 - About the temperature of waters. About magnets and why metals are attracted to them. About the origin and cause of diseases. Description of the plague that depopulated Athens during the Peloponnesian war.

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Summary

Written in the first century b.C., On the Nature of Things (in Latin, "De Rerum Natura") is a poem in six books that aims at explaining the Epicurean philosophy to the Roman audience. Among digressions about the importance of philosophy in men's life and praises of Epicurus, Lucretius created a solid treatise on the atomic theory, the falseness of religion and many kinds of natural phenomena. With no harm to his philosophical scope, the author composed a didactic poem of epic flavor, of which the imagery and style are highly praised.