On the Nature of Things (chapter one)

From Hmolpedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In famous publications, On the Nature of Things (chapter one) (LH:#) refers to chapter one of Lucretius' 60BC atomic theory based On the Nature of Things (60BC).

Chapter one

Summary: establishes the general principles of the atomic system, refutes the views of rival physicists, and proves the infinity of the universe and of its two ultimate constituents, matter and void (Loeb, 1924).[1] Columns show original Latin, Google (Thims, 66AE), William Leonard (1916), and Ian Johnston (2020) translations:

# Latin[2] Google Leonard (1916)[3] Johnston (2010)[4]
Aeneadum genetrix, hominum divomque voluptas, Mother and men pleasure? Mother of Rome, delight of gods and men, Mother of Aeneas’[5] sons, joy of men and gods,
alma Venus, caeli subter labentia signa Venus beneath the gliding standards Dear Venus that beneath the gliding stars nourishing Venus, who beneath the stars
quae mare navigerum, quae terras frugiferentis which is the sea of no navigable, who fills the fruitful Makest to teem the many-voyaged main that glide across the sky, crams full of life
concelebras, per te quoniam genus omne animantum lands, because through thee, that the all of living[6] things [every kind of animal] And fruitful lands-for all of living things ship-bearing seas and fruitful lands—through you; are conceived all families of living things
concipitur visitque exortum lumina solis: evermore conceived lights of the sun; Through thee alone are evermore conceived; through thee are risen to visit the great sun- which rise up to gaze upon the splendour; of sunlight,
te, dea, te fugiunt venti, te nubila caeli you goddess, you run the wind, stormy clouds Before thee, goddess, and thy coming on, and when you approach, goddess,
adventumque tuum, tibi suavis daedala tellus and your arrival, you daedal earth Flee stormy wind and massy cloud away, winds and sky clouds scurry off; for your sake,
summittit flores, tibi rident aequora ponti he sends up the flowers, for you are laughing at the ocean-plains For thee the daedal earth bears scented flowers; for thee waters of the unvexed deep artful earth puts forth sweet flowers; for you,
placatumque nitet diffuso lumine caelum. Glow with diffused radiance. Smile, and the hollows of the serene sky; Glow with diffused radiance for thee! smooth seas smile, calm sky pours glittering light,
nam simul ac species patefactast verna diei for it is at the same time of the day, and the appearance of the springtime For soon as comes the springtime face of day, and once day’s face reveals the spring, winds blow
et reserata viget genitabilis aura favoni, and procreant air from the West And procreant gales blow from the West unbarred; First fowls of air, smit to the heart by thee, freely from the west, bringing fertility,
aeriae primum volucris te, diva, tuumque unbarred winged goddess, yes Foretoken thy approach, O thou Divine, and air-born birds whose heart your power strikes; give first signs of you, goddess, and your approach.
significant initum perculsae corda tua vi. is signified by, that there arose a similar fate, the heart of your own power. And leap the wild herds round the happy fields Then herds of wild beasts leap in carefree fields,
inde ferae pecudes persultant pabula laeta therefore wild cattle leap pastures Or swim the bounding torrents. Thus amain, swim through raging rivers—so seized with joy
et rapidos tranant amnis: ita capta lepore and turbulent streams, thus captured by the charm Seized with the spell, all creatures follow thee and eagerness, all follow you, no matter
te sequitur cupide quo quamque inducere pergis. I follow thee persist in leading each. Whithersoever thou walkest forth to lead, where you lead—from there through seas and mountains,
denique per maria ac montis fluviosque rapacis in short, by means of the seas and mountains and swift streams, And thence through seas and mountains and swift streams, roaring streams, leafy homes of birds, and fields
frondiferasque domos avium camposque virentis leafy homes of birds and greening plains Through leafy homes of birds and greening plains, now turning green, as you inspire all hearts
omnibus incutiens blandum per pectora amorem driving the gentle love through the hearts Kindling the lure of love in every breast, with tempting love and, through desire, bring out
efficis ut cupide generatim saecla propagent. you bring the races in general kind. Thou bringest the eternal generations forth, new generations, each in accordance
quae quoniam rerum naturam sola gubernas And since 'tis thou alone dost govern the Kind after kind. And since 'tis thou alone with its kind. And because you, by yourself,
nec sine te quicquam dias in luminis oras without you naught of light Guidest the Cosmos, and without thee naught guide natural things and lacking your support
exoritur neque fit laetum neque amabile quicquam, It flows does not become more lovable to the height of his happiness, nor anything at all; Is risen to reach the shining shores of light; Nor aught of joyful or of lovely born, nothing rises in the godlike regions; of the light, and nothing rich and worthy
te sociam studeo scribendis versibus esse, Thee do verses; Thee do I crave co-partner in that verse of our love comes into being, I yearn
quos ego de rerum natura pangere conor I endeavor to whom I shall say about the nature of things to make a Which I presume on Nature to compose for you to be my partner as I write; attempting verses on the nature of things,
Memmiadae nostro, quem tu, dea, tempore in omni Memmius, whom you, my goddess, in the time, for all the For Memmius mine, whom thou hast willed to be for my Memmius[7], whom you, goddess,
omnibus ornatum voluisti excellere rebus. all respects to be willed to be Peerless. Peerless in every grace at every hour- have willed at all times to be excellent,
quo magis aeternum da dictis, diva, leporem. the more I give my words, O Goddess, and the hare. Wherefore indeed, Divine one, give my words a splendid man in everything he does.
effice ut interea fera moenera militiai to see to it that in the meantime the wild animal of duties of military service Immortal charm. Lull to a timely rest; O'er sea and land the savage works of war, So for him, divine lady, give these words all the more everlasting grace. Bring in a universal lull meanwhile
per maria ac terras omnis sopita quiescant; put to rest by means of the seas and the sea and all lands are at rest; For thou alone hast power with public peace which calms all brutal works of war on sea and land,
nam tu sola potes tranquilla pace iuvare For you alone can help calm and peaceful To aid mortality; since he who rules since you alone can succor mortal men
mortalis, quoniam belli fera moenera Mavors mortal, since war and the wild animal of the Lull to The savage works of battle, puissant Mars, with tranquil peace, for Mars, the lord of war,
armipotens regit, in gremium qui saepe tuum se O'er the drudges who often come to How often to thy bosom flings his strength who controls the savage acts of battle,

will often hurl himself onto your breasts,

reiicit aeterno devictus vulnere amoris, He rejects the eternal wound of love; O'ermastered by the eternal wound of love- conquered by the eternal wound of love,
atque ita suspiciens tereti cervice reposta And after this, he looked up, with shapely neck thrown And there, with eyes and full throat backward thrown, and there, with his smooth neck leaning back,
pascit amore avidos inhians in te, dea, visus shepherd love you greedy, greedy, Goddess of sight Gazing, my goddess, open-mouthed at thee, he gazes up, goddess, his mouth open,
eque tuo pendet resupini spiritus ore. holds his breath hang in your mouth. Pastures on love his greedy sight, his breath and feeds his eyes, greedy with love, on you;
hunc tu, diva, tuo recubantem corpore sancto You goddess, you hold body Hanging upon thy lips. Him thus reclined as he reclines, his breath hangs on your lips.
circum fusa super, suavis ex ore loquellas round, above the lips soft sweet Fill with thy holy body, round, above! Pour from those lips soft syllables to win While he is there, goddess, from above allow

your sacred body to flow around him.

funde petens placidam Romanis, incluta, pacem; syllables to win peace for the Romans, glorious Lady, we have peace; Peace for the Romans, glorious Lady, peace! O splendid lady, let pleasing words pour from your lips, seeking sweet peace for Romans,
nam neque nos agere hoc patriai tempore iniquo Nor will we be able to do this in the time of the wicked, for they For in a season troublous to the state since at a time of crisis in our land,
possumus aequo animo nec Memmi clara propago we can not without more ado with peace of mind, nor the illustrious offspring of Neither may I attend this task of mine we cannot do this work with peace of mind,
talibus in rebus communi desse saluti. a region in matters of the safety of such things in common. With thought untroubled, nor mid such events, The illustrious scion of the Memmian house,

Neglect the civic cause.

And for the rest, summon to judgments true,

nor in these events can the noble son of Memmius neglect the common good.

Nature of the gods

omnis enim per se divum natura necessest

And also that every by itself, the nature of the gods, you must, [not available] For the "whole nature of gods"[8], in itself,
immortali aevo summa cum pace fruatur to enjoy the same peaceably, immortal life in the deepest must for all time enjoy the utmost peace—
semota ab nostris rebus seiunctaque longe; if we mentally separate, far removed from our affairs; far removed and long cut off from us and our affairs,
nam privata dolore omni, privata periclis, for without any pain, without danger, and free from any pain, free from dangers,
ipsa suis pollens opibus, nihil indiga nostri, in their own works, and need nothing from us, strong in its own power, and needing nothing from us, such nature
nec bene promeritis capitur nec tangitur ira. has not been well services, nor touched by wrath. will not give in to those good things we do nor will it be moved by our "resentment".

Instructions to Memmius

Quod super est, vacuas auris animumque sagacem

The above is an empty ear keen mind Unbusied ears and singleness of mind As for the rest, you must direct yourself, with unbiased ears and judicious mind
semotum a curis adhibe veram ad rationem, separated from the cares to true reason, quite free from care, to proper reasoning,
ne mea dona tibi studio disposta fideli, the study of all this is set to you, do not make my gifts of the faithful, Withdrawn from cares; lest these my gifts, arranged so that you do not scorn and throw away, my gifts to you, laid out with true good will,
intellecta prius quam sint, contempta relinquas. prior to being understood than they are, I have held abandon it. For thee with eager service, thou disdain before you grasp them.
nam tibi de summa caeli ratione deumque For most of the air out of your account ghosts Before thou comprehendest: since for thee For I will begin to set down for you the highest matters
disserere incipiam et rerum primordia pandam, And the beginnings begin to divulge I prove the supreme law of gods and sky, of heaven and gods, and I will disclose, the first principles of matter, the ones
unde omnis natura creet res, auctet alatque, the nature of the latter can create the source of all things, bless you and sustains, And the primordial germs of things unfold, nature uses to produce, increase, sustain
quove eadem rursum natura perempta resolvat, and how all the same things once both taken off to putrefy, Whence Nature all creates, and multiplies all things, and into which she changes them
quae nos materiem et genitalia corpora rebus We are formed, and its generative matters And fosters all, and whither she resolves; once more, when they disintegrate.
reddunda in ratione vocare et semina rerum I have to restore to call, and the seeds of things are in the nature of Each in the end when each is overthrown. These things, in explanatory accounts of them,
appellare suemus et haec eadem usurpare and these same things to use to call the suemus This ultimate stock we have devised to name we are accustomed to call “materials” and “the generating bodies of things”
corpora prima, quod ex illis sunt omnia primis. the bodies of the first, that which is in them, are all the first ones. Procreant atoms, matter, seeds of things; or primal bodies, as primal to the world. to name them “seeds of things[9], using the term “primordial elements,” since they come first, and from these things all objects are derived.


Humana ante oculos foede cum vita iaceret

Before human eyes life lay groveling Whilst human kind, throughout the lands lay miserably crushed When to all eyes men’s life lay foully crushed
in terris oppressa gravi sub religione, In countries under the burden of religion; Before all eyes beneath Religion- who throughout the land beneath the heavy burden
quae caput a caeli regionibus ostendebat He showed the head from heaven Would show her head along the region skies, of religion, who, from heavenly regions
horribili super aspectu mortalibus instans, dreadful over mankind; Glowering on mortals with her hideous face- would show her head, menacing mortal men
primum Graius homo mortalis tollere contra the first time a Greek mortal A Greek it was who first opposing dared with her hideous face, a "Greek man"[10] was the first
est oculos ausus primusque obsistere contra; The dared to oppose them; Raise mortal eyes that terror to withstand, who dared raise his mortal eyes against her,
quem neque fama deum nec fulmina nec minitanti of gods, nor lightning, nor the threatening him with a man that was not Whom nor the fame of gods nor lightning's stroke the first one to oppose her, undeterred by stories of the gods, by lightning strikes
murmure compressit caelum, sed eo magis acrem Rumble of the sky, but the more virulent Nor threatening thunder of the ominous sky or menacing rumbles from the heavens.
inritat animi virtutem, effringere ut arta is stirred with longing to be tight Abashed; but rather chafed to angry zest Instead, with even greater eagerness
naturae primus portarum claustra cupiret. Nature first barred gates. His dauntless heart to be the first to rend; The crossbars at the gates of nature old. he roused his spirit’s keen intelligence, to answer his desire to be the first, to break the narrow bolts of nature’s doors.
Line 72

ergo vivida[11] vis[12] animi pervicit et extra

the vigor of mind prevailed, and he And thus his will and hardy wisdom won; And so the living power[13] of his mind
processit longe flammantia moenia mundi Beyond the fiery walls of the world And forward thus he fared afar, beyond won out, and he moved forward, far beyond
atque omne immensum peragravit mente animoque, and that the entire traversed the boundless mind and soul elevated, The flaming ramparts of the world, until the flaming bulwarks of the world, and then,
unde refert nobis victor quid possit oriri, Our victor what can arise, He wandered the unmeasurable All. Whence he to us, a conqueror, reports in his mind and spirit, made his way through
quid nequeat, finita potestas denique cuique what can not be, in short, to each is the power of What things can rise to being, what cannot, the boundless immensity of all things.
quanam sit ratione atque alte terminus haerens. regard to his route and deep-set boundary mark to be treated. And by what law to each its scope prescribed, From there, triumphant, he brings back to us

what can come into being and what cannot,

quare religio pedibus subiecta vicissim On the other hand, why the religion of the subjects of the feet, Its boundary stone that clings so deep in Time. Wherefore Religion now is under foot, and finally the processes by which the power of each thing has boundary stones, a deep-set limit. And so religion, in its turn cast down, is thrown underfoot.
opteritur, nos exaequat victoria caelo. And we are the victory. And us his victory now exalts to heaven. This victory makes us heaven’s equals.

Sacrafice of Iphianassa at Aulis

Illud in his rebus vereor, ne forte rearis

This is, in these matters, I fear, lest by any means had mercy, I fear perhaps thou deemest that we fare But I fear in these matters you perhaps
impia te rationis inire elementa viamque You enter a conceptual base elements wherein An impious road to realms of thought profane; may think you move into first principles
indugredi sceleris. quod contra saepius illa indugredi crime. The contrary is more often But 'tis that same religion oftener far of an wicked way of thinking, starting down an impious road—whereas, in fact
religio peperit scelerosa atque impia facta. the ordinance of the bore produced wicked and impious deeds. Hath bred the foul impieties of men: that same religion has too often spawned profane and criminals acts
Aulide quo pacto Triviai virginis aram Aulide quo pacto Triviai virginis aram As once at Aulis, the elected chiefs, like that time at Aulis, when leaders chosen by the Greeks,
Iphianassai turparunt sanguine foede Iphianassa blood revolting Foremost of heroes, Danaan counsellors, preeminent men, horribly
ductores Danaum delecti, prima virorum. Greeks leaders picked the men. defiled Diana's altar, virgin queen, with Agamemnon's daughter, foully slain. defiled the virgin Trivia’s[14] altar with the blood of Iphianassa[15]
cui simul infula virgineos circumdata comptus to whom at the same time surrounded by her virgin fillet on his head; She felt the chaplet round her maiden locks Once the bands of wool were wrapped around the young girl’s hair and hung
ex utraque pari malarum parte profusast, with equal recklessness in wrong doing on this side and the side of profusast, And fillets, fluttering down on either cheek, down both cheeks equally, and once she saw
et maestum simul ante aras adstare parentem and sad at the same time a parent to stand down And at the altar marked her grieving sire, her father standing right by the altars
sensit et hunc propter ferrum celare ministros and she said to conceal from him, on account of the ministers of the iron The priests beside him who concealed the knife, looking gloomy and, there beside him, priests
aspectuque suo lacrimas effundere civis, and a tree to weep; And all the folk in tears at sight of her. hiding the knife, with people gazing on,
muta metu terram genibus summissa petebat. Threats change her knees candidate. With a dumb terror and a sinking knee weeping at the sight of her, she sank down,
nec miserae prodesse in tali tempore quibat, for such a time was able to profit from it, nor of the miserable, She dropped; nor might avail her now that first kneeling on the ground, struck dumb with terror. The hapless girl had been the very first
quod patrio princeps donarat nomine regem; that the Father and the name of the captain of the king, she hastily; Twas she who gave the king a father's name. to award the king the name of father,
nam sublata virum manibus tremibundaque ad aras For removing a hand down to tremibundaque They raised her up, they bore the trembling girl but at such a time that was no help to her. For men’s hands lifted her and bore her on,
deductast, non ut sollemni more sacrorum deductast, not as a customary ritual On to the altar- hither led not now trembling, to the altars—and not so that,
perfecto posset claro comitari Hymenaeo, from bright to accompany it could be a perfect marriage, With solemn rites and hymeneal choir, with a solemn ritual completed, a loud bridal hymn could now escort her,
sed casta inceste nubendi tempore in ipso But on the eve of pure incestuous But sinless woman, sinfully foredone, but so she, quite pure in her defilement,
hostia concideret mactatu maesta parentis, mactatu fall victim of her mother; A parent felled her on her bridal day, even at the time of her own wedding,
exitus ut classi felix faustusque daretur. faustusque given the class a successful outcome. Making his child a sacrificial beast, To give the ships auspicious winds for Troy: might fall a wretched victim to a blow, from her father’s hand in that sacrifice, to ensure a happy, successful trip

was granted to the fleet.

tantum religio potuit suadere malorum. religion in persuading bad. Such are the crimes to which religion leads. That shows how much religion could turn mankind to evil.

Religious superstition

Tutemet a nobis iam quovis tempore vatum

In all times, from the us and in the poets' tutemet And there shall come the time when even thou, And even for you the time will come when,
terriloquis victus dictis desciscere quaeres. terriloquis been defeated abandon search. Forced by the soothsayer's terror-tales, shalt seek overpowered by prophets’ horror stories,
quippe etenim quam multa tibi iam fingere possunt In fact how many have been able to invent To break from us. Ah, many a dream even now you seek to move away from us. No doubt,
somnia, quae vitae rationes vertere possint of his dreams, which are fundamental aspects of life are able to turn Can they concoct to rout thy plans of life, they can now make up many dreams for you, which could disturb a life of principle
fortunasque tuas omnis turbare timore! Every disturb the fortunes of your fear? And trouble all thy fortunes with base fears; I own with reason: for, if men but knew and with fear upset all your good fortune — and rightly so. For if men could perceive
et merito; nam si certam finem esse viderent And justly; For sure you can see the end Some fixed end to ills, they would be strong there is a set limit to their troubles,

they would, with some reason,

aerumnarum homines, aliqua ratione valerent Men suffering, for some reason valerent By some device unconquered to withstand have strength enough to resist
religionibus atque minis obsistere vatum. religious beliefs, and threats to resist the seers. Religions and the menacings of seers. to resist religion and prophets’ threats.
nunc ratio nulla est restandi, nulla facultas, Restandus now is no argument, no chance; But now nor skill nor instrument is theirs,
aeternas quoniam poenas in morte timendum. in death, the penalty of eternal because the object of fear. Since men must dread eternal pains in death. But now, since we must fear that, when we die, we will be punished for eternity, there is no means, no possibility, of fighting back.
ignoratur enim quae sit natura animai, For it is not known what is the nature of the soul, For what the soul may be they do not know, For people do not know the nature of the soul—
nata sit an contra nascentibus insinuetur be born or to be instilled at birth Whether 'tis born, or enter in at birth, whether it is born with them, or, by contrast, is inserted at their birth,
et simul intereat nobiscum morte dirempta and at the same time with us, and die the death of the removal of the And whether, snatched by death, it die with us; whether it perishes with us, dissolved in death,
an tenebras Orci visat vastasque lacunas Hell or dark spaces visât vastasque or visit the shadows and the vasty caves of Orcus, or whether it visits the shades of Orcus[16], his enormous pools,
an pecudes alias divinitus insinuet se, or other farm animals given by insinuating itself; or by some divine decree, enter the brute herds, or whether, as our Ennius said in song, it sets itself, by divine influence, in other animals
Ennius ut noster cecinit, qui primus amoeno Ennius that our sounds, the first stream as our Ennius sang,
detulit ex Helicone perenni fronde coronam, brought down from Helicon of leaves throughout the crown, Who first from lovely Helicon brought down; A laurel wreath of bright perennial leaves, He first brought back from lovely Helicon a wreath of leaves that never fades—
per gentis Italas hominum quae clara clueret; the people of an Italian school of men, by means of a very clear image clueret; Renowned forever among the Italian clans; its fame is spoken of by families of men in Italy.
etsi praeterea tamen esse Acherusia templa In addition, even if they are Acherusian Proclaims those vaults of Acheron to be, And yet after this, Ennius explains,
Ennius aeternis exponit versibus edens, Ennius world exposes lines Eating Yet Ennius too in everlasting verse setting it down in deathless poetry, there are truly regions in Acheron
quo neque permaneant animae neque corpora nostra, Where neither continue in the soul, nor to the bodies of our own, Though thence, he said, nor souls nor bodies fare, where our souls and bodies do not remain,
sed quaedam simulacra modis pallentia miris; but only in certain wondrous-pale Phantoms were; But only phantom figures, strangely wan; And tells how once from out those regions rose but only certain phantoms, strangely pale.
unde sibi exortam semper florentis Homeri Hence, the character of Homer created, one is always of a flowering Old Homer's ghost to him and shed salt tears From there, he says, in front of him arose

the ghost of always flourishing Homer,

commemorat speciem lacrimas effundere salsas calls to mind the beauty of the salt to pour forth tears, began to spread and the nature of things. And with his words unfolded nature's source. which started to shed salty tears and then, to describe in words the nature of things.

Mind and soul

coepisse et rerum naturam expandere dictis.

whom for the sake of the well, with the gods of these matters we must Then be it ours with steady mind to clasp And so we must with proper reasoning; look into celestial matters—
qua propter bene cum superis de rebus habenda The purport of the skies - the law behind explain the reasons for the
nobis est ratio, solis lunaeque meatus us is our reason, the paths of the sun and the moon The wandering courses of the sun and moon; wandering of the sun and of the moon,
qua fiant ratione, et qua vi quaeque gerantur which causes them, and with what force they severally go on To scan the powers that speed all life below; the force which brings about everything that happens on the earth;
in terris, tunc cum primis ratione sagaci on earth, and then it was the first place to the cunning of reason But most to see with reasonable eyes and, in particular, we must employ, keen reasoning, as well, to look into
unde anima atque animi constet natura videndum, from which it is clear that the nature of the mind and spirit to be seen, Of what the mind, of what the soul is made, what makes up the soul, the nature of mind.[17]
et quae res nobis vigilantibus obvia mentes it meets the minds of business with us while we are awake, and that which And what it is so terrible that breaks and what it is that comes into our minds
terrificet morbo adfectis somnoque sepultis, terrifies disease, are buried in sleep; On us asleep, or waking in disease, and terrifies us when we are awake

and suffering some disease or in deep sleep,

cernere uti videamur eos audireque coram, we seem to make use of them, and hearing you in the eyes to see, Until we seem to mark and hear at hand so that we seem to see and hear right there,
morte obita quorum tellus amplectitur ossa. the bones of those whose death is past, embraces the region. Dead men whose bones earth bosomed long ago. before our eyes, those who have met their deaths, whose bones the earth now holds in its embrace.

Unclouded mind

Nec me animi fallit Graiorum obscura reperta

And I do not mind fail to break dark discovered I know how hard it is in Latian verse
difficile inlustrare Latinis versibus esse, it is difficult to illumine the Latin verses; To tell the dark discoveries of the Greeks,
multa novis verbis praesertim cum sit agendum Many new words, especially with its agenda Chiefly because our pauper-speech must find
propter egestatem linguae et rerum novitatem; on account of the poverty of the language, and the novelty of the; Strange terms to fit the strangeness of the thing;
sed tua me virtus tamen et sperata voluptas but he still has the strength and hope of pleasure yet worth of thine and the expected joy
suavis amicitiae quemvis efferre laborem sweet friendship would still carry out work Of thy sweet friendship do persuade me on
suadet et inducit noctes vigilare serenas recommends and induces the bright nights to watch To bear all toil and wake the clear nights through,
quaerentem dictis quibus et quo carmine demum asking what song, which is then Seeking with what of words and what of song
clara tuae possim praepandere lumina menti, praepandere may have bright lights on his mind, I may at last most gloriously uncloud
res quibus occultas penitus convisere possis. convisere are hidden deeply as possible. For thee the light beyond, wherewith to view

The core of being at the centre hid.

hunc igitur terrorem animi tenebrasque necessest This terror therefore and darkness of mind must This terror, then, this darkness of the mind,
non radii solis neque lucida tela diei the weapons of the day not by the rays of the sun, by the bright Not sunrise with its flaring spokes of light; nor glittering arrows of morning can disperse,
discutiant, sed naturae species ratioque. a part in examining, but by nature and her law. But only Nature's aspect and her law,

First principle

Principium cuius hinc nobis exordia sumet,

Fundamental axiom is a principle belongs to us, on the one side, Which, teaching us, hath this exordium: And we will start to weave her first principle as follows:
nullam rem e nihilo gigni divinitus umquam. no connection with anything created out of nothing by divine power at any time. Nothing from nothing ever yet was born. nothing is ever brought forth by the gods from nothing.
quippe ita formido mortalis continet omnis, Fear grips all mortal Fear holds dominion over mortality
quod multa in terris fieri caeloque tuentur, that many things are done on earth and in the sky, Only because, seeing in land and sky
quorum operum causas nulla ratione videre the former finished by no means to see the causes of So much the cause whereof no wise they know,
possunt ac fieri divino numine rentur. they can not discern. Men think divinities are working there.
quas ob res ubi viderimus nil posse creari which on account of the fact, when we see him, and nothing can be created Meantime, when once we know from nothing still
de nihilo, tum quod sequimur iam rectius inde out of nothing, then we shall perceive more accurately from thence, Nothing can be create, we shall divine; More clearly what we seek: those elements
perspiciemus, et unde queat res quaeque creari of this, and from what each thing to be created From which alone all things created are,
et quo quaeque modo fiant opera sine divom. And in what manner without gods. And how accomplished by no tool of gods.

If things were made out of nothing

Nam si de nihilo fierent, ex omnibus rebus

In fact, if it were made out of nothing, out of all his things,
omne genus nasci posset, nil semine egeret. it could be every kind might be born, nothing would require seed. Suppose all sprang from all things: any kind
e mare primum homines, e terra posset oriri men out of the ocean for the first time, be able to rise out of the earth Might take its origin from any thing,
squamigerum genus et volucres erumpere caelo; the genus of fishes and the birds of the hatch from the sky; No fixed seed required. Men from the sea
armenta atque aliae pecudes, genus omne ferarum, Cattle and the other tamed animals, and all manner of wild animals, Might rise, and from the land the scaly breed,
incerto partu culta ac deserta tenerent. uncertain generation cultivated and wild places. And, fowl full fledged come bursting from the sky;
nec fructus idem arboribus constare solerent, neither shall the fruit of the trees be accustomed to,
sed mutarentur, ferre omnes omnia possent. But would change, everything would be able to bear any kind.
quippe ubi non essent genitalia corpora cuique, inasmuch as it is would not be generative bodies for everything,
qui posset mater rebus consistere certa? who is his mother could, assigned to all things?
at nunc seminibus quia certis quaeque creantur, but now that specific seeds, which are created
inde enascitur atque oras in luminis exit, there arises from thence, and cometh out of the shores of the world of light,
materies ubi inest cuiusque et corpora prima; it is the matter of each of which there is, and the bodies of the first;
atque hac re nequeunt ex omnibus omnia gigni, they can not be all things to this matter, and from which it engenders,
quod certis in rebus inest secreta facultas. The specific things resides facilities.


Praeterea cur vere rosam, frumenta calore,

Furthermore, why do we see the rose in the heat of,
vites autumno fundi suadente videmus, vines to harvest the farm's urging see,
si non, certa suo quia tempore semina rerum if they do not, the seeds of its own fixed for at the time of things,
cum confluxerunt, patefit quod cumque creatur, when they were amassed, it becomes clear that, when it is created,
dum tempestates adsunt et vivida tellus While storms are most vigorous region
tuto res teneras effert in luminis oras? ensure a slight lifting of light?
quod si de nihilo fierent, subito exorerentur But if they were made out of nothing, he suddenly will arise
incerto spatio atque alienis partibus anni, uncertainty as to the length and unsuitable times of the year,
quippe ubi nulla forent primordia, quae genitali they had no existence, even where the first beginnings, which are the female genitals
concilio possent arceri tempore iniquo. the council, they could be excluded from the evil time.


Nec porro augendis rebus spatio foret usus

Moreover, it would be no use of space for exciting the things
seminis ad coitum, si e nilo crescere possent; seed in respect to the sexual act, if I were able to grow out of nothing;
nam fierent iuvenes subito ex infantibus parvis a sudden, the young men were made of small things, for from little children
e terraque exorta repente arbusta salirent. arose on a sudden out of the land, plantations and salirent.
quorum nil fieri manifestum est, omnia quando But that none of it is clear that to be done, all things, when they
paulatim crescunt, ut par est semine certo, will gradually grow to match a particular race;
crescentesque genus servant; ut noscere possis keep the kind of the growing; so that you
quicque sua de materia grandescere alique. proper law, from the matter of the swell to a certain person.


Huc accedit uti sine certis imbribus anni

laetificos nequeat fetus submittere tellus
nec porro secreta cibo natura animantum
propagare genus possit vitamque tueri;
ut potius multis communia corpora rebus
multa putes esse, ut verbis elementa videmus,
quam sine principiis ullam rem existere posse.


Denique cur homines tantos natura parare

non potuit, pedibus qui pontum per vada possent
transire et magnos manibus divellere montis
multaque vivendo vitalia vincere saecla,
si non, materies quia rebus reddita certast
gignundis, e qua constat quid possit oriri?
nil igitur fieri de nilo posse fatendumst, nil igitur fieri de nilo posse fatendumst,
semine quando opus est rebus, quo quaeque creatae the seed of things, when it is necessary, as each tree they were created
aeris in teneras possint proferrier auras. copper tender fields of air.


Postremo quoniam incultis praestare videmus

Lastly, since you seem to guarantee the hair, she
culta loca et manibus melioris reddere fetus, she took vengeance on the hands of a better divers places, and to render to the unborn child,
esse videlicet in terris primordia rerum for instance, in countries of origin
quae nos fecundas vertentes vomere glebas
terraique solum subigentes cimus ad ortus;
quod si nulla forent, nostro sine quaeque labore
sponte sua multo fieri meliora videres. he will be much better again.

Huc accedit uti quicque in sua corpora rursum

To this is added again, the bodies of the thing just as it is in its
dissoluat natura neque ad nihilum interemat res.
nam siquid mortale e cunctis partibus esset,
ex oculis res quaeque repente erepta periret;
nulla vi foret usus enim, quae partibus eius
discidium parere et nexus exsolvere posset. be able to comply and the connexion of the dissension of the pay.
quod nunc, aeterno quia constant semine quaeque,
donec vis obiit, quae res diverberet ictu
aut intus penetret per inania dissoluatque,
nullius exitium patitur natura videri.

Praeterea quae cumque vetustate amovet aetas,

In addition, when she removes old age
si penitus peremit consumens materiem omnem,
unde animale genus generatim in lumina vitae
redducit Venus, aut redductum daedala tellus
unde alit atque auget generatim pabula praebens?
unde mare ingenuei fontes externaque longe from which the springs of the sea, and with the outside by far the ingenuei
flumina suppeditant? unde aether sidera pascit?
omnia enim debet, mortali corpore quae sunt,
infinita aetas consumpse ante acta diesque.
quod si in eo spatio atque ante acta aetate fuere
e quibus haec rerum consistit summa refecta, out of which this is the highest of things had been repaired,
inmortali sunt natura praedita certe.
haud igitur possunt ad nilum quaeque reverti.

Denique res omnis eadem vis causaque volgo

In short, the whole question is an equal influence on the cause of the common people
conficeret, nisi materies aeterna teneret, made up the accounts, except in the matter of the eternal man held on,
inter se nexus minus aut magis indupedita; too little, or a connection with each other more entangled; dubbing
tactus enim leti satis esset causa profecto, which would be enough for it to leave for the touch of death,
quippe ubi nulla forent aeterno corpore, quorum
contextum vis deberet dissolvere quaeque.
at nunc, inter se quia nexus principiorum
dissimiles constant aeternaque materies est, differing materials are constant and eternal;
incolumi remanent res corpore, dum satis acris
vis obeat pro textura cuiusque reperta.
haud igitur redit ad nihilum res ulla, sed omnes
discidio redeunt in corpora materiai.
postremo pereunt imbres, ubi eos pater aether At last, the showers are lost, the air here that they are the father of the
in gremium matris terrai praecipitavit;
at nitidae surgunt fruges ramique virescunt
arboribus, crescunt ipsae fetuque gravantur.
hinc alitur porro nostrum genus atque ferarum,
hinc laetas urbes pueris florere videmus
frondiferasque novis avibus canere undique silvas,
hinc fessae pecudes pinguis per pabula laeta
corpora deponunt et candens lacteus umor
uberibus manat distentis, hinc nova proles
artubus infirmis teneras lasciva per herbas Sick baby playful frame of vegetables
ludit lacte mero mentes perculsa novellas plays with the minds of wine, the consternation of the young with milk
haud igitur penitus pereunt quaecumque videntur, So not all appear to be completely lost;
quando alit ex alio reficit natura nec ullam quando alit ex alio reficit natura nec ullam
rem gigni patitur nisi morte adiuta aliena. unless it is acted upon the death of a child is born with the help of a strange thing.

Nunc age, res quoniam docui non posse creari

Lo, now what, the thing since I have shown not to be able to be created
de nihilo neque item genitas ad nil revocari, s daughters, nor moreover can be recalled to the things out of nothing, nothing,
ne qua forte tamen coeptes diffidere dictis, began to lose faith in what was said, however, so that wrath may,
quod nequeunt oculis rerum primordia cerni, that they can not be seen with the eyes of the first beginnings of things,
accipe praeterea quae corpora tute necessest In addition, the bodies must take yourself
confiteare esse in rebus nec posse videri. to be able to be seen to be in the prosperity and not to admit to.

Principio venti vis verberat incita corpus

The wind beats to stimulate the body
ingentisque ruit navis et nubila differt,
inter dum rapido percurrens turbine campos
arboribus magnis sternit montisque supremos
silvifragis vexat flabris: ita perfurit acri silvifragis sorely whipped so sharp rages
cum fremitu saevitque minaci murmure pontus.
sunt igitur venti ni mirum corpora caeca,
quae mare, quae terras, quae denique nubila caeli
verrunt ac subito vexantia turbine raptant,
nec ratione fluunt alia stragemque propagant nor by reason of the flow of the other, propagating the slaughtered
et cum mollis aquae fertur natura repente
flumine abundanti, quam largis imbribus auget
montibus ex altis magnus decursus aquai
fragmina coniciens silvarum arbustaque tota,
nec validi possunt pontes venientis aquai bridges are so strong they can come spring
vim subitam tolerare: ita magno turbidus imbri
molibus incurrit validis cum viribus amnis, glaciers encounters with the forces hurled a stream;
dat sonitu magno stragem volvitque sub undis
grandia saxa, ruit qua quidquid fluctibus obstat.
sic igitur debent venti quoque flamina ferri, the blasts of wind, too, so, therefore, ought to be carried,
quae vel uti validum cum flumen procubuere
quam libet in partem, trudunt res ante ruuntque
impetibus crebris, inter dum vertice torto
corripiunt rapidique rotanti turbine portant.
quare etiam atque etiam sunt venti corpora caeca, therefore it is also the bodies of the blind, as well as there are winds,
quandoquidem factis et moribus aemula magnis
amnibus inveniuntur, aperto corpore qui sunt.

Tum porro varios rerum sentimus odores

nec tamen ad naris venientis cernimus umquam
nec calidos aestus tuimur nec frigora quimus nor cold nor hot: hot weather, reads as
omnis et <e> nihilo fient quae cumque creantur; Every priest and a <e> and when things will happen which, nevertheless, they are created;
nam quod cumque suis mutatum finibus exit, And when he cometh out of the coasts of by being changed, for that which,
continuo hoc mors est illius quod fuit ante. once this is the death of that which was before.
proinde aliquid superare necesse est incolume ollis, Consequently, it is necessary to overcome safety locks;
ne tibi res redeant ad nilum funditus omnes you may not think, all things return to the utterly to
de nihiloque renata vigescat copia rerum. carrying out other's no amount of flourish.
immutabile enim quiddam superare necessest, since some things which must remain immutable,
ne res ad nihilum redigantur funditus omnes; that the matter might be brought to nothing, utterly to all of them;
nam quod cumque suis mutatum finibus exit, And when he cometh out of the coasts of by being changed, for that which,
continuo hoc mors est illius quod fuit ante. once this is the death of that which was before.
quapropter quoniam quae paulo diximus ante For this reason: because the things we mentioned a little before,
in commutatum veniunt, constare necessest they come in the name is substituted, it must consist of
Haec sic pernosces parva perductus opella;
namque alid ex alio clarescet nec tibi caeca
nox iter eripiet, quin ultima naturai
pervideas: ita res accendent lumina rebus.

End matter

Next | Previous


  1. Lucretius. (60BC). On the Nature of Things (translator: William Rouse) (Ѻ) (Amz). Loeb, 1924.
  2. Lucretius. (60BC). De Rerum Natura (WS). Publisher.
  3. Lucretius. (60BC). On the Nature of Things (translator: William Leonard) (tufts) (MIT). Dutton, 1916.
  4. Lucretius. (60BC). On the Nature of Things (translator: Ian Johnston) (txt). Vancouver, 2010.
  5. Note: Aeneas is the legendary founder of the Roman people, and Aeneas’ sons are the Romans; the goddess of love, Venus, is his mother (Johnston, 2010).
  6. Note: "genus omnus animantum" renders as "every kind of animal"; the insertion of "living" seems to be a modern translation rendering?
  7. Note: Gaius Memmius was a leading politician in Rome (tribune in 66 BC), and evidently a friend of Lucretius.
  8. Note: The passage “For the whole nature of the gods . . . resentment” (lines 45 to 49) reappears in chapter 2 (line 646). Many editors and translators omit these lines from this opening part of the poem. It seems likely, too, that after line 43 a few lines have been lost, in which a transition is made to Memmius (Johnston, 2010).
  9. Note: Lucretius, according to Johnston (2010), for some reason wishes to avoid the Greek word atom and its Latin equivalent, atomus. Johnston conjectures that it may be that, given his desire to show how his Latin, in spite of its limitations, is capable of explaining “obscure” Greek ideas, he does not wish to use a Greek word very familiar to many of his readers.
  10. Namely: Epicurus.
  11. Vivida – Latin-is-Simple.com.
  12. Note: "vivida vis" translates, via Google, as "living force" or "vigor".
  13. Note: here we see the Latin "vivida" rendered as "vigor", "will", and "living power"; this is a life terminology reform issue.
  14. Note: Trivia is another name for the Greek goddess Artemis or her Roman equivalent, Diana (Johnston, 2010).
  15. Note: Homer gives Agamemnon’s eldest child the name Iphianassa. However, the girl is usually called Iphigenia. Smith suggests that Lucretius uses the Homeric name in order to give his poem more epic weight. Agamemnon, the leader of Greek expedition to Troy had offended the goddess Artemis, who then sent contrary winds to prevent the fleet assembled at Aulis from sailing. The prophet Calchas told Agamemnon he would have to sacrifice his daughter in order to get favorable winds. In some versions of the story Agamemnon lured Iphigenia to Aulis by telling her she was going to be married to Achilles. Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter, and the fleet sailed to Troy (Johnston, 2010).
  16. Note: Orcus is the Roman god of the underworld (Johnston, 2010).
  17. Cited by Helvetius (On the Mind, 1758) as: “We must see what life consists in, and the spirit. How they work and what forces drive them.”
Theta Delta ics T2.jpg