On the Nature of Things (Leonard translation) cover

On the Nature of Things (Leonard translation)

Titus Lucretius Carus (c. 99 BC - 55 BC)

1. Book I, Part 1: Proem
2. Book I, Part 2: Substance is Eternal
3. Book I, Part 3: The Void
4. Book I, Part 4: Nothing Exists per se Except Atoms and the Void
5. Book I, Part 5: Character of the Atoms
6. Book I, Part 6: Confutation of Other Philosophers
7. Book I, Part 7: The Infinity of the Universe
8. Book II, Part 1: Proem
9. Book II, Part 2: Atomic Motions
10. Book II, Part 3: Atomic Forms and Their Combinations
11. Book II, Part 4: Absence of Secondary Qualities
12. Book II, Part 5: Infinite Worlds
13. Book III, Part 1: Proem
14. Book III, Part 2: Nature and Composition of the Mind
15. Book III, Part 3: The Soul is Mortal
16. Book III, Part 4: Folly of the Fear of Death
17. Book IV, Part 1: Proem
18. Book IV, Part 2: Existence and Character of the Images
19. Book IV, Part 3: The Senses and Mental Pictures
20. Book IV, Part 4: Some Vital Functions
21. Book IV, Part 5: The Passion of Love
22. Book V, Part 1: Proem
23. Book V, Part 2: Argument of the Book and New Proem Against a Teleological Concept
24. Book V, Part 3: The World is Not Eternal
25. Book V, Part 4: Formation of the World and Astronomical Questions
26. Book V, Part 5: Origins of Vegetable and Animal Life
27. Book V, Part 6: Origins and Savage Period of Mankind
28. Book V, Part 7: Beginnings of Civilization
29. Book VI, Part 1: Proem
30. Book VI, Part 2: Great Meteorological Phenomena, Etc.
31. Book VI, Part 3: Extraordinary and Paradoxical Telluric Phenomena
32. Book VI, Part 4: The Plague Athens

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    Summary

    On the Nature of Things, written in the first century BCE by Titus Lucretius Carus, is one of the principle expositions on Epicurean philosophy and science to have survived from antiquity. Far from being a dry treatise on the many topics it covers, the original Latin version (entitled De Rerum Natura) was written in the form of an extended poem in hexameter, with a beauty of style that was admired and emulated by his successors, including Ovid and Cicero. The version read here is an English verse translation written by William Ellery Leonard. Although Leonard penned his version in the early twentieth century, he chose to adhere to both the vocabulary and meter (alternating between pentameter and hexameter) of Elizabethan-era poetry.While the six untitled books that comprise On the Nature of Things delve into a broad range of subjects, including the physical nature of the universe, the workings of the human mind and body, and the natural history of the Earth, Lucretius repeatedly asserts throughout the work that his chief purpose is to provide the reader with a means to escape the "darkness of the mind" imposed by superstition and ignorance. To this end he offers us his enlightening verses, that through them might be revealed to us "nature's aspect, and her laws".