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Mar 10, 2011

On the Nature of Things: Lucretius

Lucretius’s only but incomplete work of six volumes, dedicated to Gaius Memmius—a politician and his pupil—edited by Marcus Cicero, is On the Nature of Things which was originally written in Latin language with title De Rerum Natura in hexameter form where one finds the combination of Democritus and Epicurus’s scientific ideas. This philosophical work says “tat um religio potuit suad ere matorum” means evil deeds are done under the power of religion.

In Book I, although Lucretius does not call Epicurus by name but he indicates that this hero set out on ‘mental voyages’ and brought back the ‘news of natural laws’ to all. Book II presents introduce the atomic theory of Epicures: “The sum of the things remains the same”.  In Book III Lucretius praises his master and comparing his words to nectar, he says:

“As bees in the flowery meadow suck each flower,
So we your golden words [suck] repeated;
We feed on them and find them golden
Worth of eternal life.”
Book IV refers to common notion that love is the answer to human ills and Book V shows that cosmos is “subject to decay”; in next he refers the horror of nature phenomena—lightening, earthquakes etc.

Lucretius’s purpose in writing De Rerum Natura was to expound a new relationship between human beings and Divine. He thinks, laws of the universe govern us, and it is futile to pray to gods. Marcus Cicero remarks “Lucretius poetry is filled with flashes of genius, but at the same time, it shows great technical skill”.

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