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On the Nature of the Universe
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Science > On the Nature of Things (95-55 BCE) - #16

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Kendra (kendrary) | 146 comments Mod
"De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things) is a first-century BC didactic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius (c. 99 BC – c. 55 BC) with the goal of explaining Epicurean philosophy to a Roman audience. The poem, written in some 7,400 dactylic hexameters, is divided into six untitled books, and explores Epicurean physics through poetic language and metaphors. Namely, Lucretius explores the principles of atomism; the nature of the mind and soul; explanations of sensation and thought; the development of the world and its phenomena; and explains a variety of celestial and terrestrial phenomena. The universe described in the poem operates according to these physical principles, guided by fortuna ("chance"), and not the divine intervention of the traditional Roman deities." Source: Wikipedia

This will be our last science book before we pass through almost 1600 more years.


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Cleo (cleopatra18) | 249 comments Mod
I have On the Nature of the Universe Is that the same book?


Kendra (kendrary) | 146 comments Mod
Yes! It seems like there's a little variety of titles used but it is the same content. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the book, Cleo!


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Cleo (cleopatra18) | 249 comments Mod
To be honest, I doubt I'll have the time to read it but I will try. But I'll definitely look forward to hearing your thoughts.


Kenia Sedler (keniasedler) | 240 comments Mod
Wow, I've been out of the loop with this group for a while, because I'm just now seeing this thread!

Anyway, I LOVE this work. I read it a couple years ago with my philosophy Meetup group, and wrote up a short review/essay/overview on my website: http://www.keniasedler.com/lucretius-...


Kendra (kendrary) | 146 comments Mod
To be honest, when I first read this I did not find it especially interesting and I quickly tossed it aside. But while reading Caesar and Christ by Will Durant today, he quotes a passage that, when pulled out, became more meaningful to me:

"If men could feel, as they seem to feel, that there is an
oppression on their minds, which wearies them with its
weight, and could also perceive from what causes it arises,
and whence so great a mass, as it were, of evil exists in their
breasts, they would not live in the manner in which we
generally see them living; for we observe them uncertain what
they would have, and always inquiring for something new; and
changing their place, as if by the change they could lay aside
a load.

He, who has grown weary of remaining at home, often
goes forth from his vast mansion, and suddenly returns, inasmuch as he perceives that he is nothing bettered by being
abroad. He runs precipitately, hurrying on his horses, to his
villa, as if he were eager to carry succour to an edifice on
fire; but, as soon as he has touched the threshold of the
building, he yawns, or falls heavily to sleep, and seeks forgetfulness of himself, or even with equal haste goes back and
revisits the city.

In this way each man flees from himself; but himself, as it
always happens, whom he cannot escape, and whom he still
hates, adheres to him in spite of his efforts; and for this reason, that the sick man does not know the cause of his disease,
which if every one could understand, he would, in the first
place, having laid aside all other pursuits, study to learn the
NATURE OF THINGS" (Lucretius, Book III, 1066-1084)

Durant reads this "weight" as an effect of the turbulent times in Rome which Lucretius and others were living through. He says, "But not one of them found peace. War and revolution touched them with pervasive infection; and even Lucretius must have known the restlessness which he describes...His poem is a longing for physical and mental peace."

I think this is a fascinating perspective to view his work from and it's just another reason why I'm reading Durant alongside these other books... even if I am quite a bit behind at the moment.


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