T. Lucretius Carus, Of the Nature of Things, Volume 1
This poem by Lucretius combines a scientific and philosophical treatise with poetry. 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 argument on the atomic theory expounded by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, and the poem explores sensation, sex, cosmology, meteorology, and geology with sympathy for man's place in the world. All of these subjects are made more attractive by the poetry with which he illustrates them. The Introduction gives full details of the little that is known of Lucretius' life and background in 1st century BCE Rome, and also of the Epicurean philosophy that was his inspiration. It also explores why the issues Lucretius' poem raises about the scientific and poetical views of the world continue to be important.
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Page 302 - Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage. Far off from these, a slow and silent stream, Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls...
Page 283 - ... with hope, men favour the deceit; Trust on, and think to-morrow will repay: To-morrow's falser than the former day; Lies worse, and, while it says, we shall be blest With some new joys, cuts off what we possest.
Page 200 - A dungeon horrible, on all sides round, As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames No light; but rather darkness visible Served only to discover sights of woe, Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace And rest can never dwell, hope never comes That comes to all, but torture without end Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed.
Page 98 - The institution has, indeed, continued to our own time ; the garret is still the usual receptacle of the philosopher and poet ; but this, like many ancient customs, is perpetuated only by an accidental imitation, without knowledge of the original reason for which it was established.
Page 138 - High as the Mother of the Gods in place, And proud, like her, of an immortal race. Then, when in pomp she makes the Phrygian round, With golden turrets on her temples crown'd; A hundred gods her sweeping train supply; Her offspring all, and all command the sky.
Page 206 - The next, in place and punishment, are they Who prodigally throw their souls away; Fools, who, repining at their wretched state, And loathing anxious life, suborn'd their fate. With late repentance now they would retrieve The bodies they forsook, and wish to live; Their pains and poverty desire to bear, To view the light of heav'n, and breathe the vital air: But fate forbids; the Stygian floods oppose, And with nine circling streams the captive souls inclose.
Page 100 - And craves no more than undisturb'd delight: Which minds unmix'd with cares, and fears, obtain; A Soul serene, a body void of pain. So little this corporeal frame requires; So bounded are our natural desires, That wanting all, and setting pain aside, With bare privation sence is satisfied.