On the Nature of Things (Leonard translation)
On the Nature of Things, written in the first century BCE by Titus Lucretius Carus, is one of the principle expositions on Epicurean philosophy and science to have survived from antiquity. Far from being a dry treatise on the many topics it covers, the original Latin version (entitled De Rerum Natura) was written in the form of an extended poem in hexameter, with a beauty of style that was admired and emulated by his successors, including Ovid and Cicero. The version read here is an English verse translation written by William Ellery Leonard. Although Leonard penned his version in the early twentieth century, he chose to adhere to both the vocabulary and meter (alternating between pentameter and hexameter) of Elizabethan-era poetry.
While the six untitled books that comprise On the Nature of Things delve into a broad range of subjects, including the physical nature of the universe, the workings of the human mind and body, and the natural history of the Earth, Lucretius repeatedly asserts throughout the work that his chief purpose is to provide the reader with a means to escape the "darkness of the mind" imposed by superstition and ignorance. To this end he offers us his enlightening verses, that through them might be revealed to us "nature's aspect, and her laws". (Summary by Daniel Vimont)
Genre(s): Classics (Antiquity), Poetry, Ancient