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Of the Nature of Things

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Indypublish.Com (May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1421979306
  • ISBN-13: 978-1421979304
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 517 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
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Product Description


"Esolen has focused on the poet, translating the Latin hexameters into accented pentameter in order to capture the dynamics, rhythms, and syntax of the original. The results are both satisfying and readable. Esolen includes an elegant introduction on Lucretius, as well as useful notes. A valuable contribution to students of literature as well as philosophy."--'Library Journal' "Esolen has the rare gift of being both a fine poet and a lover of languages. His diction is poetic and natural; he has a fine ear for sound, and the translation benefits greatly from being read aloud--as Latin poetry was meant to be. This translation is clear and forceful. It can, and will, be read."--Kenneth J. Reckford, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

David R. Slavitt is the author of more than eighty books of poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and drama. His "Propertius in Love "is available from University of California Press. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Format: Paperback
In other words, we have here one of the least "empirical" texts of all time: practically no element of this work is fixed by an image "unfixed" by that of the *raisonneur* turning his *apercus* over and over in his mind: and if you dislike "thought-experiments", this might very well put you off the genre entirely. However, this is not to say that Lucretius' language is not in itself an instructive guide for the aspiring "Benjaminite", by virtue of its being one of the first philosophical text to work with the character of Latin (compare with Aurelius' *Meditations*, written in Greek some centuries later); and those familiar with Adorno's pronouncements upon paratactic form would do well to consider his commendation of the heavily rhetorical *litterateur* in light of this book's "effective history". Whether or not Lucretius could have "done well" without his thoughts on these topics, you have already not been able to do without this book; and here is an English edition careful enough to remind you about other realities.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x995b1654) out of 5 stars 61 reviews
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97fa2594) out of 5 stars Poetic philosophy July 1 2000
By Neil Scott Mcnutt - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
50 of 60 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97fa27e0) out of 5 stars On the Nature of Things May 28 2012
By weston - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"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.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97fa27a4) out of 5 stars Thought Provoking Oct. 21 2011
By Ray Chanley - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97fa2a98) out of 5 stars Deserves the highest recommendation especially for public and college library collections Jan. 13 2011
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
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.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97fa2f90) out of 5 stars A stunning synthesis between early scientific thinking and humanism. A high water mark, for sure March 10 2012
By jafrank - Published on
Format: Paperback
Wow, this was a real surprise. Lucretius was just so shockingly ahead of his time. It's probably more important than Newton in terms of the sheer range of thought he originates. His conception of atomic theory is surprisingly accurate, down to recognizing that atoms are composed of about three different parts. He also figured out the law of conservation of matter, realized that the majority of matter is made up of empty space, recognized the basic principles of gravitation, heat, light, relativity, hell, he even realized that chaos and randomness played a role in atomic activity, several millennia before Heisenberg and Schrodinger. On top of that he tears down religious dogmatism as a means of understanding the natural world and replaces it with a system of secular observation and understanding, all while creating a totally original synthesis between hard science and humanism centuries before either would really be codified. Oh, and did I mention the whole thing is a poem?

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