The Way Things Are: The De Rerum Natura

captures the relentless urgency of Lucretius didacticism, his passionate conviction and proselytizing fervour The Classical Review
The Way Things Are The De Rerum Natura captures the relentless urgency of Lucretius didacticism his passionate conviction and proselytizing fervour The Classical Review

  • Title: The Way Things Are: The De Rerum Natura
  • Author: Titus Lucretius Carus
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 443
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • 1 thought on “The Way Things Are: The De Rerum Natura”

    1. First, an apology for only giving it three stars. I am well aware that this is a brilliant piece of poetry, but my Latin is very poor, and I rapidly abandoned my initial plan of reading it in the original with the English translation alongside. In a way, though, I'm following Lucretius's advice: he explicitly says at one point that it's wrong to allow yourself to be swayed by beautiful words, and you should judge an idea on its merits. Reading him in my barbarian's tongue is certainly one way to [...]

    2. IntroductionFurther ReadingA Note on the Text and TranslationAcknowledgements--The Nature of ThingsNotesGlossary of Proper Names

    3. Epicurian Physics31 July 2013 Well, here I am, once again sitting in the passenger seat of my Dad's car on our final trek to Melbourne, and since I have been reading, sleeping, or driving for most of the day, I might as well fix up a couple of my reviews while I am sitting here (and since I have a smartphone, and my Dad has this adapter that allows me to plug my laptop into the cigarette lighter, I might as well make use of it – such are the benefits of having an electronic engineer as a fathe [...]

    4. The antiquity of this book calls for respect and appreciation. However, for a modern reader it is very boring to read. It's a long (300 pages) poem written in the first century BC in which the author pontificates about the physical sciences for the purpose of defending Epicureanism philosophy. It is of some interest for the modern reader to see where the author is correct and not so correct when judged from the perspective of modern science. However, Lucretius was a poet in his day, not a mathem [...]

    5. The Nature of Things is a long narrative Latin poem which sets out Epicurean philosophy. This I read in an English prose translation. The Epicureans believed in atomic theory and so this aspect of the work feels most familiar and recognisably modern and one can be impressed that people through speculation, raw brain power, and idle after dinner conversations over olives and watered wine had a perception of reality very close to what scientists have achieved today after much experimentation and g [...]

    6. Wow, this was a real surprise. Lucretius was just so shockingly ahead of his time. It's probably more important than Newton in terms of the sheer range of thought he originates. His conception of atomic theory is surprisingly accurate, down to recognizing that atoms are composed of about three different parts. He also figured out the law of conservation of matter, realized that the majority of matter is made up of empty space, recognized the basic principles of gravitation, heat, light, relativi [...]

    7. There are a handful of books that seem to float above the rabble. They are certainly not scripture, but belong on a shelf above philosophy. Reading Lucretius is like reading the dreams of Darwin or Newton interpreted by the hand of Shakespeare. On the Nature of Things belongs on the shelf next to Bacon, Dante, Montaigne, Marcus Aurelius and the rest of my demi-Gods.

    8. "True piety lies in the power to contemplate the universe with a quiet mind." This is a truth even C.S. Lewis, a sincere Christian, assented to, remarking that only the atheist can believe. So it is with Lucretius, whose poetry here anticipates many scientific discoveries, including several of Galileo's and Newton's, along with the general structure of atomic theory, although widely missing the mark in the theory of "films" (supposedly an explanation of what Locke would later call secondary subs [...]

    9. When was the last time you read an ancient Roman text that predicts quantum theory and genetics, promotes sustainable agriculture, and is written in the form of an epic poem? Anyone? Anyone?Jesus Christ this was weird. And good. And nothing like it will ever be written again. I dig all wildly interdisciplinary, utterly anti-parochial writers (see also: Sebald, Vico, Browne), and Lucretius joins their ranks in my mind. A poetically beautiful, prescient, coruscant puzzle-box of a book.

    10. Lucretius wrote this explication and celebration of Epicureanism in the first century BCE. The text was lost for many years but apparently rediscovered during the Renaissance, and it has been influential ever since. There is probably no translation from the Latin that perfectly combines the poetic beauty and the philosophical insights of the original, although there have been many attempts to do so. I was particularly interested during this reading in having as clear a delineation of Lucretius [...]

    11. Why doesn't anyone write pop science books like this any more? You know, full of cutting-edge particle physics and cosmology (who cares if it's all wrong? it's magnificently wrong) but with bits about earthquakes and evolution, mixed up with hot sex tips and complaints about why women are all such fucking bitches. And the whole thing done as exquisite poetry. Brian Greene, eat your heart out. No one's going to be reading you a couple of thousand years from now.

    12. Philosophy is Supposed to be Fun!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 [...]

    13. The De Rerum Natura is the sole surviving work of Lucretius, a Roman poet writing in the 1st century BC. The book summarizes and explains the principles of Epicureanism, a philosophy founded by the Greek philosopher Epicurus around 300 BC. Epicureanism emphasized that while gods existed, they did not interfere in human affairs, and free will instead of fate governed people’s lives. Epicurus also rejected the existence of an afterlife, believed in a rudimentary kind of atomism, and argued that [...]

    14. If I were to try to prove that time machines were possible, this is the book I would submit as exhibit one for my evidence. There is really no other explanation for this book than the fact that Richard Feynman had built a time machine and had the opportunity to talk with Lucretius for one hour (but no more) and explain to him what he (Feynman) has said is the most important statement he could say in the fewest words, "that all things are made of atoms—little particles that move around in perpe [...]

    15. Wonderful translation by AE Stallings, one of my favorite poets. Lots of playful language. The lines flow nicely, and the sentence structure to get the rhymes is not obtrusive. Quite startling prescience at times about atomic structure, while other explanations of natural occurrences are pretty amusing. The section on death and its aftermath--or not--is very good.

    16. The importance of reading influential classic books as original texts is an idea that has been drummed into me by well-meaning academics, but I have long been skeptical of the value of this practice. I have come to believe that I can often learn more from an expert on a particular thinker than reading the actual writings of the thinker himself. This book is further evidence. Yes, it’s interesting that 2000 years ago Lucretius had these ideas about all matter consisting of similar atoms, etc, b [...]

    17. At first, The Nature of Things seemed to me quite an extensive attempt at explaining the world without the use of mythology. Although undoubtedly interesting, Lucretius’ poetry read like a manual, a compilation of rational thought processes which ultimately jumped to barely founded conclusions — to be expected from a two thousand year-old epic philosophical poem. And it seemed to me as though the poem lacked just that: philosophy. However, as I dragged myself through the endless explanations [...]

    18. 3.75 stars. Lucretius thoroughly convinced me that Roman mythology is bosh. :-) But his materialistic apologetics failed to convert me. Lucretius's poem follows the general outline of epicureanism as presented in Epicurus's Letter to Herodotus. His ontology begins and ends with atoms. While he is not the first in the ancient world to propose the existence of atoms, he is the first (that I could find) who posited their existence while insisting on a sensory epistemology. The way he "proves" their [...]

    19. nwhytevejournal/1391691mlThis is one of the best-argued cases for atheism I have read (speaking as a non-atheist). Millennia before Dawkins, Hitchens, or even Bertrand Russell, Lucretius argued the nature of the universe from first principles, concluding vigorously that there is no God and no afterlife, just matter made of atoms. There is no tedious sniping at current beliefs (apart from a rather funny bit towards the end about why Jupiter does not hurl thunderbolts; and he has a go also at the [...]

    20. It's easy to read this book and snicker at all the things he got wrong, all the while being impressed and amazed at the bit he got right. He figured out that ball of wool and a ball of metal would fall at the same rate in a vacuum and yet he couldn't quite wrap his head around how a mirror works. But what makes this book great is the insight it offers into the thinking of someone trying to understand the universe without the aid of superstition and religion well over two millennia ago. Truly a h [...]

    21. Whatever happened to didactive poetry?The instance of De Rerum Natura shows one of many ways the Romans were different from us. Lucretius was known to his contemporaries as much for his poetic style as for the Epicurean atomism he preached. While I tried with my little Latin to appreciate this style by reading much of the reconstructed original's text aloud, I was unable to confirm Cicero's positive judgment and had to satisfy myself with appreciating the scope of the author's "science" and, let [...]

    22. Cum Lucretii librum De Rerum Natura perlegissem, pagina evoluta ultima multa de doctrina, scientia et disciplina epicurea in mente animadverti. Carmen legere diu volueram, quod libri in quo physica et philosophia per poemata explicantur me maxime delectaret. Insolitum videtur, saltem temporibus hodiernis ; nemo nisi doctrinae infantum carmina de physicis nunc componit.Scientia antiqua me semper adlicet. De philosophiis religionibus scientiis antiquis legere soleo, Aegypticis praecipue et magis m [...]

    23. Sometimes boring, sometimes astonishing in its perception, sometimes silly because it is a very early attempt at seeing the entire universe (including our minds and spirits) as made up entirely of tiny seeds. Nothing exists except the seeds and the void. Various combinations of these atoms (Lucretius doesn't use that word) make the world we perceive seem to be made up of different things. Everything eventually perishes; there is no immortality. The only proper attitude towards this truth is the [...]

    24. If I had to choose one ancient text for ancient / medieval people to look to as a guide for living I would probably choose this work. The physics and biology and neuroscience (particularly) are way off and the aesthetics are far more cold and austere than those of a mystery cult, but the depth at which Lucretius - and the other Epicureans before him - investigated the workings of the world is truly staggering compared to say Plato or even Aristotle. Along the same thread, the backbone of the phi [...]

    25. The only way to read Lucretius is slowly, preferably in Latin. Most of us can't manage the latter, so we lose the poetry -- but all is not lost for the Latin-less. Reading it slowly, analyzing the shape of Lucretius's thought, and finally putting the pieces together with an eye to the purpose of the poem can make an otherwise arduous experience rewarding. Lucretius wanted to make Epicurean materialism palatable to a society bolstered by state-sanctioned religion. This took some daring in the lat [...]

    26. This spring I read Greenblatt's book "The Swerve" which argues (unconvincingly) that the discovery of a manuscript of Lucretius'' De Rerum Natura led to the Renaissance. It made me recall a course I took on Lucretius many years ago at the CUNY graduate center. This summer, for a sight reading session with some other local Latin teachers I chose Lucretius' lines on the swerve to read and discuss. Wow - tough job working through the Latin and then trying to piece together the threads of what seeme [...]

    27. review to be resumed latera mighty shame it was not fully recovered, though. guess we're lucky to have it at all. stole the thunder from darwin, einstein, kinsey and countless many.

    28. Review forthcomingI'll probably wuss out on all the quote-heavy analysis I plan to do and end up half-assing it anyway.

    29. Poemul lui Lucrețiu e o curioasă combinație între poezie, filosofie și știință. Expunerea amănunțită a doctrinei epicuraniene, cu tot alaiul ei de atomi și vid, e uneori într-atât de abstractă în termeni, încât stihuirea pasajelor poate fi ușor suprimată fără vreo pierdere; teorie lipsită de valoare poetică. Mereu cu teoria mecanicistă a atomilor la îndemână, ca un far ce-i luminează traseul prin versuri, poetul nostru filosof se avântă în explicații științific [...]

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