23. Lucretius

The dates of his birth and death are uncertain; first half of 1st century BC.

Original language: Latin.

De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

I read the Rolfe Humphries translation published 1968 by Indiana University Press.

What a restless mind, ever thinking, ranging over physics and biology. And proving propositions with logic.  

It’s clear to me now that De Rerum is considered a great book because it was part of the advancement of science, not because it’s a great work of literature. It is not the latter. 

I really enjoyed Lucretius’ book. He wasn’t afraid to theorize about science and to confidently present his theories as fact. Lots of them are wrong, but in some he came near right. 

And Humphries’ verse translation is very good. It must have been very difficult to do. 

Final thoughts on Lucretius: De Rerum is a tour de force, an encyclopedia of all the big questions, confidently (if often wrongly) answered. The notes of the edition I read helpfully included modern science’s views on Lucretius’s topics, and when the discoveries were made.


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