Englert's translation of the poem is indeed accurate and readable. He knows the poem as thoroughly as he knows the scholarship that bears on it an admirable translation, admirably supported by scholarly tools.
English translation of Classic Latin text with notes, introduction, glossary of key terms. .An outstanding translation of the complete poem which adheres faithfully to the text, with poetic force, accuracy, and humanitas. Includes intro, notes, outline and a glossary of philosophical terms cross-referenced to use throughout the poem.
About Englert and the translation: Author 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.
Preface 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.Read more ›
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Poetic philosophyJuly 1 2000
Neil Scott Mcnutt
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How incredible it is to read a poet and philosopher from 60 B.C. writing on the philosophical derivation of the idea that atoms must exist, that they have some spin on them, and that there is conservation of matter in nature! These thoughts about "atomism" would have been lost except for the fact that Lucretius presented them in a very good Latin poem. Although credit is given to Leucippus and Democritus for starting the idea of atomism, Epicurius and Lucretius were strong exponents of these ideas. The poem utilizes common observations to illustrate that the world about us is simply a combination of atoms and void. This had strong implications not only for the demise of the Roman and Greek gods and goddesses but also for how humans should live in the real world, and how they largely create their own misery. Lucretius loves life, looks straightly at it, speaks strongly against the fear of death, and promotes a rational calm life in which friendship is very important. The poetry is wonderful and powerful in itself. Two quotes (I,62 and I, 140) in the early part of the poem speak clearly to the modern reader: "When before our eyes man's life lay groveling, prostrate, crushed to dust under the burden of Religion (which thrust its head from heaven, its horrible face glowering over mankind born to die) one man, a Greek, was the first mortal who dared oppose his eyes, the first to stand firm in defiance. Not the fables of the gods, nor lightning, nor the menacing rumble of heaven could daunt him, but all the more they whetted his keen mind with longing to be first to smash open the tight-barred gates of Nature"..."And yet your virtue and the hoped-for pleasure of a delightful friendship urge me to persevere in my work, to watch through the calm nights, seeking choice words, the song by which at last I can open to your mind such dazzling light that you may see deep into hidden things." This is a great and astonishing poem, powerfully translated by Anthony Esolen. Lucretius did not conceive of the idea that parts of atoms, i.e. electrons, might spread rapidly through the body, so his poem gets more labored in Book III where he deals with the relationship between the body, mind, soul, and spirit. However he did think the soul had to be made up of the very smallest atoms that could pass quickly to all parts of the body. If the modern reader substitutes "electrons" where he mentions "atoms" in reference to the soul, then Lucretius is not far off the mark. The book has a 21 page introduction and 49 pages of notes at the end to help the reader understand the place of this poem in the history of ideas. It should be required reading for biological scientists and physicians.
47 of 56 people found the following review helpful
On the Nature of ThingsMay 28 2012
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"On the Nature of Things" by Lucretius. A translation by Frank Copley of the famous Latin poem, written by Lucretius, who lived circa 95-50 B.C., setting forth the atomistic philosophy of Epicureus 340-270 B.C. The poem was lost with the collapse of the Roman empire and only came to light again in 1417 when a copy of a copy of a copy...was found in a German monastery by a discharged papal secretary--see "The Swerve". Astoundingly, much of this poem is consistent with scientific models today---invisible and minute atoms forever moving in a void under internal and external forces, joining together in various ways to form the visible objects of the world. The atoms themselves were eternal but the bodies came to an end and the atoms recycled into other bodies so that the mass of the world remains constant. He got it wrong about the speed of " heat atoms" being faster than the speed of "light atoms", but by and large this is the atomic theory of Maxwell and Boltzmann and later physicists, without the math of course. While not denying the existence of gods of various sorts,Lucretias' view was that the universe goes on without their aid or attention. The world as we know it was brought into being and maintained by natural forces and follows natural laws, not in any degree by divine intervention. Since the world is a conglomerate of atoms and void, it is impermanent and must someday inevitably be destroyed, including the soul upon death. Seeing things thusly, there is no room for the afterlife, no need for gods major or minor, no reason to despair of death, and certainly no reason to forgo the pleasures of this world for a reward in the afterlife. What we see in this life is all there is and we should enjoy it. Small wonder that this view was not welcomed by the Church of Rome upon discovery of the poem. Although he was basically right on the atoms, Lucretias' labored and today laughable explanations of the causes of physical phenomena in terms of the different properties of "smooth" or " rough" atoms, of differences in "heat" and "light" atoms, the flows of air, etc. only serve to illustrate the fallacies of pure reason without an anchor to empirical observation. Ironically, his Epicurean view of the things that could be seen was altogether wrong--earth, water, air and ether being the basic components of which everything was constituted, the motion of heavenly bodies on circular currents of ether, the size of the sun, moon and stars being as they seemed (totally lacking the concept of perspective that a little knowledge of the available mathematics would have given). It clearly never occurred to the thinkers of his age to check any of these postulated causes by comparison with experiment. However, the speculation on biological evolution through many failures is not far from the modern theory.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Thought ProvokingOct. 21 2011
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I wondered if I would find this 2000 year old poem relevant to my 21st century life. It is. On The Nature of Things is almost a reference book of everyday subjects from pain, harmony, love, touch, taste and free will. It also goes on the broader subjects such as life, rain, atoms, religion, earth and the universe. The outline of the poem gives you a broad idea of what Lucretius is talking about, and the index lets you quickly find his thoughts on any given subject. I find that I pick up the book when I'm thinking about something, and I wonder what Lucretius has to say about it. I would suggest this book to any independant thinker.
21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Deserves the highest recommendation especially for public and college library collectionsJan. 13 2011
Midwest Book Review
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Format: Audio CD
On the Nature of Things is the unabridged audiobook adaptation of the only surviving work of the Roman philosopher Lucretius, born in 99 BC. In "On the Nature of Things", Lucretius sought to liberate his fellow Romans from their fear of the gods, and their fear of death. Lucretius argued that the gods are not directly involved in life, and therefore there is no need to appease them; he also argued that death is the end of a human being's body and soul, and therefore there is no point in fearing it. An unforgettable amalgamation of insight, now in a new English translation by Ian Johnston and intuitively performed by theater, film, and television actor Hugh Ross, On the Nature of Things deserves the highest recommendation especially for public and college library collections.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Great translation (Focus)Dec 8 2012
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Like all of the Focus Philosophical Library series books, Englert's translation is clear and accurate. One of, if not the best translations of this brilliant masterpiece.