About Englert and the translation:
Walter Englert is the Omar and Althea Hoskins Professor of Classical Studies at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He earned his PhD at Stanford University, and has published on aspects of Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Roman Philosophy.
This translation is an attempt to render Lucretius' powerful Latin philosophic poem into an English translation that reflects the philosophic clarity and poetic power of the original. I have tried to model my translation of Lucretius' epic poem on English translations of classical and medieval poems that I greatly admire, Richmond Lattimore's translations of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and Allen Mandelbaum's translations of Virgil's Aeneid and Dante's Divine Comedy. I have always been struck by the way Lattimore renders the beauty and clarity of Homer while remaining so faithful to the text, and by how Mandelbaum translates Virgil and Dante with such poetic force, accuracy, and humanitas. When I began this project I was convinced that what was needed for Lucretius was an English translation which would bring out the inseparable poetic qualities and philosophic clarity of the poem, and which could be used by students and general readers as an accurate guide to the original.
My interest in Lucretius first began when I read Lucretius as an undergraduate in the Integral Liberal Arts program at St. Mary's College of California. The seminars I had on Lucretius gave me my first glimpses of the poem's power and beauty. I first read Lucretius in Latin as a graduate student with Jo-Ann Shelton at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and I learned a great deal about reading Lucretius from her. I owe a special debt to Michael Wigodsky of Stanford University, who taught a Lucretius seminar I took and was the advisor of my Stanford Dissertation, Aristotle and Epicurus on Voluntary Action, (1981), which I later reworked into a monograph, Epicurus on the Swerve and Voluntary Action, American Classical Studies 16, Atlanta, GA, 1987. Both projects involved close scrutiny of numerous passages in Lucretius (one of our chief sources of Epicurus' thought), and made me want to continue to work on the enigmatic Roman poet who put Epicurus' Greek philosophic prose into strikingly beautiful Latin verse.
In the years I worked on this translation I received help from many quarters. I want to express thanks to Reed College, which provided the sabbaticals and summer grants needed to complete the work. Thanks are also owed to my colleagues in the Reed Classics Department, Richard Tron and Nigel Nicholson, as well as colleagues and students in the Humanities 110 course at Reed who read earlier drafts of Book 1 and provided helpful feedback. I also received help from a number of Reed students who read and commented on portions of the text, including Robin Adler, Josephine Martell, Dan Harris, and Andrew Hoke. Finally, my greatest thanks go to my wife Mary and daughters Francesca and Molly. They have offered unfailing support while I worked on Lucretius, and I dedicate the translation to them with love.