On the Nature of the Universe (Classics)

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9780140440188: On the Nature of the Universe (Classics)
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Translated by Ronald Latham, this is Lucretius' 'On the Nature of the Universe', first published in Penguin Classics in 1951. Lucretius (c.100-c.55B.C.), who devoted his life to the exposition of the teachings of Epicurus, wrote with the force of an unshakeable personal conviction in the materialistic doctrine. This poet's view of the scientific attitude of his time towards matter, atoms, the workings of the mind, cosmology, and geology, inter alia, can be read today as it was intended two thousand years ago: as an appeal to a disillusioned age to take comfort from the sanity of science. Almost nothing is known about Lucretius' own life - he was probably already dead when his poem was given to the world in 55B.C. He was a Roman citizen and a friend of Gaius Memmius, an eminent Roman statesman, and his poem was read and admired by Cicero. In form, the poem is addressed to Gaius Memmius, an eminent Roman statesman whose career is no great testimony to the moral efficacy of Epicurean doctrine. In fact Lucretius was aiming his poem at a wider audience in the hope that, tempted by 'the sweet honey of the Muses' (I 947), they would 'swallow the bitter draught' of his doctrine and so find peace. Not least, he was addressing us. In the course of 2,000 years of scientific and religious experience, some articles of his creed have become incredible, some have become commonplace. But we can still feel the impulsive force of his tremendous personal conviction, even if at times our chief impusle may be to counter his arguments and urge him to thing again. There is no ancient writer who speaks more directly to the modern reader. It is doubtful if there is any truth in the story preserved by Jerome and immortalized by Tennyson that he died by his own hand after being driven mad by a love philtre. R. E. Latham's direct and lucid prose translation makes clear for the reader both the differences and the resemblances between ancient and modern materialism.

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A modern prose translation of Lucretius' work appealing to a disillusioned age to take comfort from the sanity of science. Bibliogs.

About the Author:

Titus Lucretius Carus (who died c.50 BC) was an Epicurean poet writing in the middle years of the first century BC. His six-book Latin hexameter poem De rerum natura survives virtually intact, although it is disputed whether he lived to put the finishing touches to it. As well as being a pioneering figure in the history of philosophical poetry, Lucretius has come to be our primary source of information on Epicurean physics, the official topic of his poem.

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9780140446104: On The Nature Of The Universe (Penguin Classics S.)

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ISBN 10:  0140446109 ISBN 13:  9780140446104
Publisher: Penguin Classics, 1994
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