Category Archives: Lucretius

De Rerum Natura 5.110-145

Before which I step to speak holier oracles about this matter
And with much reasoning certain by more than the Pythian
Oracle prophesied from the tripod and laurel of Phoebus,
I will reason many solaces for you with learned words;
Lest you, bridled by religion, believe by chance
that lands and sun and sky, sea, heavens, moon
Withstand by divine body to remain to eternity,
And after you think it to be by manner of the giants,
that they weigh out punishments for all great wickedness,
Who, by their reasoning, drove asunder the bulwarks of the world
And the gods wished to quench the sun,
Marking things immortal with mortal talk;
After which, these things are thus distant from godly power
And seem to be unworthy thus far for rank of the gods,
That they may be thought to be able to better provide an idea
Which might by removed from life, motion, and sense.
Of course, it is not, as when it is thought that the nature of the mind
And judgement are able to be within the same body.
Just as a tree can not be in the sky, nor are clouds able to be
In water, nor are fish able to live in fields,
Nor can blood be in wood, nor sap in stones: this is
Certain and laid out where everything may grow and be present,
Thus the nature of the mind is unable to rise without a body
Nor can it be far alone from nerves and blood.
Because, if it were able to be so, that strength of the mind
Would be able to be in the head or the shoulder, or the heels
And it would be wont to spring up in any part of the body,
At length to remain in the same person and the same vessel.
Because also it is consistent within our body, and
Seems fixed where it is, the mind and spirit
Otherwise are able to grow, by such the more denying
That it is able to be totally without the body and that it
Can remain without animal form in rotting clods of earth
Or in the fire of the sun, or in the water or high heavenly shores.
By no means then do these things furnished by heavenly sense agree,
Since they are unable to be vital with life.


De Rerum Natura 5.91-109

What is next, lest we delay you longer with promises,
Firstly, look at the seas and land and skies;
Of whose triple nature, whose three bodies, Memmius,
So dissimilar in three appearances, three great webs,
A single day shall give to ruin, and the great fabric and mechanism
Of the world, sustained through many years, shall fall.
Nor does it deceive my mind how strange and marvelous
A thought the future destruction of earth and sky,
And which is difficult to me to surmount with words;
That it is made where you bring novel news before ears
Lest you are nevertheless able to substitute this for seeing,
Nor to put it into hand, where the paved road of faith
Bears close to the human heart and the temple of the mind.
But nevertheless I will speak. Perhaps this work will give
Faith through words and you will discern that all
Of the world will be shaken with risen motions in little time.
Let governing fortune govern this afar from us,
And let reason, more able than the fact itself, persuade
That all things are able to fall, conquered with horrid din.

De Rerum Natura 5.55-90

Having followed in his footsteps, now I follow his ideas
And teach with his words, and by which agreement
they have been created, in this such must be endured
Lest they are able to rescind the strong laws of the age,
Firstly in which kind the nature of the heart has been found
To exist in a body born first from the earth,
Nor to be able to endure through the entire great age,
But to be wont to deceive the mind in an image of sleep,
When we seem to discern that which looses us from life,
Because it is greater, now the line of reasoning removes me here,
That a thought mist be returned by me that people
Born are halted in body by death;
And by which measure that congregated of matter
Lays war for earth, sky, sea, heavens, son
And the orb of the moon; which then brought forth
Living things from the earth, and what things at no time were;
Or by what measure the human kind began among themselves
To use various languages through the names of these things;
And by which measure that fear of the gods pushed its way
Into their hearts, which in the sacred orb of the lands watches
From a temple the lakes, groves, altars, and likenesses of the gods.
Beside, I will discern by what power guiding nature
Directs the path of the sun and the course of the moon;
Lest by chance we estimate these endless paths to traverse
Between the earth and sky by their own free will,
Compliant for the growing of crops and animals,
Or lest we think them to be turned by another reckoning of the gods.
For those who have well learned the gods to be endlessly free from worry,
If nevertheless they wonder still by what reckoning
Everything is able to go on (particularly in those works
Which are discerned above on heavenly shores)
Are, turned back, brought again to antiquated religions
And adopt harsh masters, whom they all, pitiable, believe
To have power, unknowing what is able to be,
What is unable, and at last, by what method and by
Whom their power has been bound, clinging to the lofty boundary.

De Rerum Natura 5.1-54

Who has been able to compose a poem of the world
Worthy of greatness for the majesty these finds?
Or who is so well-off with words, who might be able
To handle praises for his merit, who has left to us
Such rewards from fruitful search within his heart?
None, as I see it, will have been loosed from the body of a mortal.
For if he seeks the known majesty of our world,
it must be said, he was a god–a god, celebrated Memmius!–
Who firstly comes upon that method of life which
Nor is called philosophy, and who in his art
From such waves and out of such darkness
Placed life in such clear and so tranquil light.
Compare the ancient divine discoveries of others.
And so it is said Ceres had planted fruits and
Bacchus bore the liquid of the vine for mortals;
However, life can remain without these works,
As rumor goes, other people live so now.
And it was not possible to well be alive without pure heart;
By which the more this man seems to be a god by his merit to us,
From whom sweet solaces of life, spread through
Many peoples, soothe their hearts.
But if you will seek to stand before the acts of
Hercules, you are born by far from much true reasoning.
What of ours could now that great Nemean maw
Harm, or the bristling Caledonian boar;
At length, what bull of Crete and virulent hydra
Of Lernaea, fenced with venomous snaked, would be able?
Or what the three-fold strength of three-headed Geryon?
Would the Stymphalians, tending to such a work, hinder us,
And would the horses of Thracian Diomedes, breathing flame
Through their nostrils, near the Bistonian and Ismarian straights?
And what would the harsh  serpent, watching sternly, with great body
Wrapped around the base of the tree, guarding the Hesperian apples, shining  with gold, harm, near the Atlantean shore and grim sea,
Where neither of us approaches, nor does any foreigner dare?
What could that of another kind, which are portended dead,
Or if they are yet unconquered,  injure in life?
Nothing, as I see,  and thus and at last the world gushes
Satiation of beasts, and is replete through the sacred groves and
Great mountains, and deep forests with agitated terror;
And the place to avoid is replete in our power.
But, unless the heart is cleansed, what battles and
Perils then must be shoved upon ourselves?
Such acrid desires of lust then tear down
Men and  so, thus, do our fears!
Or what of haughty filth and petulence?
Such make calamity! What of debauchery and sloth?
Thus, he who has tamed these entirely, and has
Expelled them from his mind with words, not arms:
Is it right that this man be worthy of the gods by rank?
When foremost he will have given well many words
And divine pronouncement of the immortal gods
And is wont to unfold all the nature of the world.