'On the Nature of Things'
By Lucretius (Author), Ian Johnston (Translator), Ian Crowe (Illustrator)
On the Nature of Things by Titus Lucretius Carus (written around 60 BC) has for centuries been one of the most popular and influential works from our classical past. The poem is a long, impassioned plea for a materialistic understanding of the universe and of human life, without reference to divine creativity or benevolence or to a future life. Only such a view, Lucretius claims, can liberate human beings from religious superstitions, irrational fears, and false ambitions and thus enable us to live successfully. Long celebrated as the greatest expression of faith in Epicurean philosophy, the poem has exercised a decisive influence on the development of Western scientific thought since the Renaissance and is a vitally important part of our humanist traditions. Ian Johnston's new poetic translation brings out the full emotional range of this great work and captures the restless and intense urgency of the original text. The English is an accurate rendition of Lucretius in a fluent modern idiom, so that it makes this important vision of the world accessible to the modern reader. The translation includes notes to assist the reader who is encountering Lucretius for the first time.
Johnson's new translation of On the Nature of Things is a genuine pleasure to read. The philosophy - "Nothing is ever brought forth by the gods from nothing" - is clear and accessible. The poetry "What evil longing for life is so strong / that it forces us with such compulsion / to remain confused, in doubt and danger?" - is sparkling. The accompanying notes are helpful without being smothering. The book is warmly recommended.
(Andrew Irvine, Professor of Philosophy, University of British Columbia)
Titus Lucretius Carus (c. 99 BC – c. 55 BC) was a Roman poet and philosopher. His only known work is the epic philosophical poem De rerum natura about the tenets and philosophy of Epicureanism, and which is usually translated into English as On the Nature of Things. Very little is known about Lucretius's life; the only certain fact is that he was either a friend or client of Gaius Memmius, to whom the poem was addressed and dedicated.