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Of the Nature of Things


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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 richly poetic language and metaphors.

Part of the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World set.

This book has 415 pages in the PDF version. This translation by William Ellery Leonard was originally published in 1916.

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Excerpt from 'Of the Nature of Things'

Mother of Rome, delight of Gods and men,

Dear Venus that beneath the gliding stars

Makest to teem the many-voyaged main

And fruitful lands — for all of living things

Through thee alone are evermore conceived,

Through thee are risen to visit the great sun —

Before thee, Goddess, and thy coming on,

Flee stormy wind and massy cloud away,

For thee the daedal Earth bears scented flowers,

For thee waters of the unvexed deep

Smile, and the hollows of the serene sky

Glow with diffused radiance for thee!

For soon as comes the springtime face of day,

And procreant gales blow from the West unbarred,

First fowls of air, smit to the heart by thee,

Foretoken thy approach, O thou Divine,

And leap the wild herds round the happy fields

Or swim the bounding torrents. Thus amain,

Seized with the spell, all creatures follow thee

Whithersoever thou walkest forth to lead,

And thence through seas and mountains and swift streams,

Through leafy homes of birds and greening plains,

Kindling the lure of love in every breast,

Thou bringest the eternal generations forth,

Kind after kind. And since ’tis thou alone

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