The Nature of Things Paperback
Lucretius' poem "On the Nature of Things" combines a scientific and philosophical treatise with some of the greatest poetry ever written.
With intense moral fervour he demonstrates to humanity that in death there is nothing to fear since the soul is mortal, and the world and everything in it is governed by the mechanical laws of nature and not by gods; and that by believing this men can live in peace of mind and happiness.
He bases this on the atomic theory expounded by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, and continues with an examination of sensation, sex, cosmology, meteorology, and geology, all of these subjects made more attractive by the poetry with which he illustrates them.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 304 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 26/07/2007
- Category: Poetry by individual poets
- ISBN: 9780140447965
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by booksontrial
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.
Review by Heduanna
Finally finished this! This was my January poetry read, but just a bit too dense to read all in one month. It's poetry, but it's not poetry as I've ever seen it before; it's not about love, it's not an epic, doesn't tell a story, really. It's a physics/philosophy (they didn't really draw lines between these things back then) textbook written in verse by an Epicurean Roman two thousand years ago. And frequently, decoding the verse to figure out what worldview created it, what assumptions he's making about the nature of the universe, and from there to what his point is... well, it was heavy lifting. And I complained often. But now that I've gotten through it once, I can fairly easily see myself dipping back in occasionally. And now, I can read The Swerve about how this book influenced the Renaissance!
Review by TJWilson
This is an astounding poem. I can’t believe such deep understanding of the world occurred so long ago. Makes the evolution of our sciences through the ages seem rather depressing. If only the spark came from this book! Regardless, an invigorating read into a person who lived so long ago and who was so wise in [insert title here].