On Lucretius

The Value of Living Separately

We’ve talked a lot about De Rarum Natura, but we haven’t actually experienced the poem in these pages. There’s a reason for that—poor Lucretius has been unlucky in his translators. The vast majority of the DRN translations have been made by Latin scholars. These renderings are technically accurate and have the merit of passing along …

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Time Warp with Lucretius

Lucretius lived and wrote a long time ago. Indeed, if we wanted to, we could calculate how much time has passed since De Rerum Natura was completed in 50 BCE—how many centuries, years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds. (But don’t bother. It was 20 centuries, 2,079 years, 24,948 months, 759,355 days, 18,224,520 hours, 1,093,471,200 minutes, and 65,608,272,000 seconds—i.e., a …

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On Lucretius, Part II: Why His Poem Was so Great

“The greatest poem by the greatest poet.” —Dryden on De Rerum Natura and Lucretius ”Carmina sublimis tunc sunt peritura Lucreti / exitio terras cum dabit una dies.” —Ovid [“The verses of the sublime Lucretius/will perish only when a day will bring the end of the world.”] What exactly was it that made De Rerum Natura, or DRN, so remarkable? …

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On Lucretius: The Man Who Changed the World

One happy day in the year 1417, with the mind of Europe still firmly in the grip of the Dark Ages, a fellow named Poggio Bracciolini was mucking around in the Benedictine library at Fulda in present-day Germany. He reached out his hand and pulled off the musty shelves a volume which, to his astonishment, …

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