On the Nature of Things (Leonard translation)

Titus Lucretius Carus (c. 99 BCE - 55 BCE)
Translated by William Ellery Leonard (1876 - 1944)

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 (Greek & Latin Antiquity), Poetry, Ancient

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 Book I, Part 1: Proem Daniel Vimont
Play 02 Book I, Part 2: Substance is Eternal Daniel Vimont
Play 03 Book I, Part 3: The Void Daniel Vimont
Play 04 Book I, Part 4: Nothing Exists per se Except Atoms and the Void Daniel Vimont
Play 05 Book I, Part 5: Character of the Atoms Daniel Vimont
Play 06 Book I, Part 6: Confutation of Other Philosophers Daniel Vimont
Play 07 Book I, Part 7: The Infinity of the Universe Daniel Vimont
Play 08 Book II, Part 1: Proem Daniel Vimont
Play 09 Book II, Part 2: Atomic Motions Daniel Vimont
Play 10 Book II, Part 3: Atomic Forms and Their Combinations Daniel Vimont
Play 11 Book II, Part 4: Absence of Secondary Qualities Daniel Vimont
Play 12 Book II, Part 5: Infinite Worlds Daniel Vimont
Play 13 Book III, Part 1: Proem Daniel Vimont
Play 14 Book III, Part 2: Nature and Composition of the Mind Daniel Vimont
Play 15 Book III, Part 3: The Soul is Mortal Daniel Vimont
Play 16 Book III, Part 4: Folly of the Fear of Death Daniel Vimont
Play 17 Book IV, Part 1: Proem Daniel Vimont
Play 18 Book IV, Part 2: Existence and Character of the Images Daniel Vimont
Play 19 Book IV, Part 3: The Senses and Mental Pictures Daniel Vimont
Play 20 Book IV, Part 4: Some Vital Functions Daniel Vimont
Play 21 Book IV, Part 5: The Passion of Love Daniel Vimont
Play 22 Book V, Part 1: Proem Daniel Vimont
Play 23 Book V, Part 2: Argument of the Book and New Proem Against a Teleological Concept Daniel Vimont
Play 24 Book V, Part 3: The World is Not Eternal Daniel Vimont
Play 25 Book V, Part 4: Formation of the World and Astronomical Questions Daniel Vimont
Play 26 Book V, Part 5: Origins of Vegetable and Animal Life Daniel Vimont
Play 27 Book V, Part 6: Origins and Savage Period of Mankind Daniel Vimont
Play 28 Book V, Part 7: Beginnings of Civilization Daniel Vimont
Play 29 Book VI, Part 1: Proem Daniel Vimont
Play 30 Book VI, Part 2: Great Meteorological Phenomena, Etc. Daniel Vimont
Play 31 Book VI, Part 3: Extraordinary and Paradoxical Telluric Phenomena Daniel Vimont
Play 32 Book VI, Part 4: The Plague Athens Daniel Vimont