Reviews for On the Nature of Things

Library Journal BookSmack
In a poem of astounding power, half the length of Homer's Iliad, Lucretius (c.99 BCE-c.55 BCE) wrote that all matter is made of invisible seeds and that there is no difference between the elementary particles that make humans and the particles that make the universe. There is only matter and void. There is no afterlife; the soul dies with the body. Given that there is only this life, the philosophy maintains, the only path is to live for pleasure and avoid pain. Far from hedonistic, Epicureanism defined pleasure in very specific ways: to live modestly, to pursue knowledge, to reach a state of tranquility, and to resist fear. Even if they do not wish to read the entire poem, fans of Greenblatt should dip into Lucretius's work, if only for context. Translations abound. John Dryden created lovely versions of some sections, and Greenblatt uses those in his book. Norton is re-issuing this translation by Copley to accompany The Swerve, but translations by Rolfe Humphries, A.E. Stallings, Ronald E. Latham, and Anthony Esolen are also notable. Audio listeners might be interested in Hugh Ross's reading of the poem, released by Naxos. - "RA Crossroads", Booksmack! 8/4/11 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.