Talk:De rerum natura

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Why a picture for On the nature of things[edit]

Sorry, I removed the Earth picture before checking here. I'm still anti-picture but I'll leave it as is.

Why not a nose then?

Human nose
cute nose, but the picture of the earth summarizes the point of the poem -- the earth, alone in a black vaccuum -- just like an atom moving randomly in the universe -- no gods in the heavens controlling it ... just more atoms and natural laws for us to explore and try to understand for our own sake. i'm gonna put the photo back in. Ungtss 01:14, 27 Dec 2004 (UTC)


I really can't see what the Galapagos Islands have to do with Lucretius's poem. If it's some sort of subtle joke maybe we should remove the image to make the article clearer. --Mihai 05:39, 6 Feb 2004 (UTC)

The only connection I can think of is that the Galapagos Islands are a prime example of evolution, and Charles Darwin visited and observed them... which is not really much of a connection at all. I support removing the image, or finding a more suitable one. [Ok, I just went ahead and removed it, it has no real relationship to the article] -- Jacius 02:40, 2 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Only because, seeing in land and sky
So much the cause whereof no wise they know,
Men think Divinities are working there.
Meantime, when once we know from nothing still
Nothing can be create, we shall divine
More clearly what we seek: those elements
From which alone all things created are,
And how accomplished by no tool of Gods.
--Lucretius, "De rerum natura," written about 60 BC

After visiting the Galápagos Islands photographed from a NASA satellite above, Charles Darwin in 1859 first published the "cause" for the many forms of life on earth including man, accomplished by natural selection from previous forms without divine intervention.

Reuniting caption with image. If you don't like the image, then any appropriate image of land and sky that illustrates "Only because, seeing in land and sky / So much the cause whereof no wise they know, / Men think Divinities are working there" would do, is that not so? NASA has lots of "land and sky" images that are in the public domain. ---Rednblu 05:19, 2 Oct 2004 (UTC)

True, that passage talks about "land and sky", and the picture certainly looks pretty nice, but I don't think that "just" a picture of land, water, and/or sky is very relevant to De rerum natura as a whole. Such a picture makes me think that the article will be talking about what the picture is about, and use up some bandwidth too (without contributing very much to the quality of the article). I don't think a picture is necessary for this article (as it would be for, say, an article about a famous person, a piece of art, or something else with a good visual representation). -- Jacius 22:08, 3 Oct 2004 (UTC)

A Space Age image from the other side of the world is completely out of place for this - better would be a contemporary image, such as a piece of ancient pottery or a mosaic, or maybe a photo of a place that Lucretius might seen himself, perhaps with some ruins to link to his time. Stan 23:00, 3 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Reasons for a picture on On the nature of things

  1. Any respectable best example of Wikipedia page has a picture. Hence, every good Wikipedia encyclopedia page should have a picture.
  2. Having a picture that gives an example of a verse of Lucretius's poem would no more mislead the reader into thinking that the page would explain the picture than a picture of the plots of the wavefunctions of the electron in a hydrogen atom on the Quantum mechanics page would mislead the reader into thinking the page would explain "wavefunctions of the electron in the hydrogen atom." Generally, the picture on a Wikipedia page provides a graphic view of an example of one aspect of the subject on the Wikipedia page.
  3. Having a vast-looking picture about the origins of human understanding of the human place in nature on the On the nature of things page is artistically fitting for a page about a 60 BC epic poem about a vast "theory" of
    • how the earth, its people, and its animals got here without the aid of Divinity,
    • the people's relationship to the universe, and
    • the very nature of human existence without a Divinity to help.
  4. What better illustration of Lucretius's 60 BC lines "Only because, seeing in land and sky / So much the cause whereof no wise they know, / Men think Divinities are working there" could there be than a picture of the place on earth where "men, beginning with one man, began to see the cause of the existence of his own species, accomplished by no tool of Gods"?
  5. To ask "why" a picture is as ridiculous as asking Lucretius: "Why an epic poem"? The reason for the picture is the same as for the epic poem--to illustrate excerpts from Lucretius's view of the vastness of "what is going on" without the need for Divinities to be working there. ---Rednblu 00:15, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Unfortunately your fellow encyclopedists are a curmudgeonly lot, and have no special appreciation for Lucretius' timeless appeal. You're going to need a really down-to-earth reason to keep the other 8,000 (or whatever it is) editors from removing the picture when you're not looking. For instance, it would have to seem like a good picture to editors who think Lucretius is a lamer. Stan 04:50, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)
You are a poet of the first class! I tell you what. Let's leave it here on the Talk page for someone to find. ---Rednblu 05:40, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Being a curmudgeony sort ;), I think this new picture (Earth over Africa) needs a nice summarizing caption. Some, even more curmudgeony than me, might not understand what the the poem is talking about, and some might even not like reading that much in a caption (heathens, the lot of them!). I'll try my hand at tying in the beauty of Earth as seen from space with the atomistic view of Lucretius. -- Jacius 05:46, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Darwin Connection is biased && bogus[edit]

The linked reference is utter garbage and should not be associated with this article.

Increasing the scope of the article[edit]

The article Lucretius suggests that On the Nature of Things covered a wide variety of topics. So far this article seems to focus on his attempts at "debunking" the idea of a deity-created universe. Are there more topics the article could talk about? I might have to take the time to read the whole Gutenburg text! ;) Amazing how one becomes attached and invested in seeing an article grow and flourish :) -- Jacius 06:17, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)


I personally applaud the spirit of your endeavor. My personal criteria in creating the page were the following.

  • I wanted to give anyone who read the text a "good enough" taste of the whole thing. The image I used was this: You would need at least TWO heaping teaspoons of Ben & Jerry's ice cream to get a "good enough" taste of the whole thing.
  • But I wanted to leave enough unsaid about Lucretius's poem that someone like you would come along and say, "Are there more topics the article could talk about?" And I jump up and down and say YES. Here are just some of the juicy nuggets I purposely did not "mine" to put into the article.
    • Charles Darwin's grandfather Erasmus Darwin talked about Lucretius's poem and theory of godless evolution all the time. Erasmus Darwin even tried to write his own poems about the grand scope of nature without a God to guide it. And Erasmus Darwin's contemporaries wrote off Erasmus Darwin's efforts with comments like, "Well! Erasmus Darwin is certainly no Lucretius!"
    • Lucretius's theory of godless evolution differed from Charles Darwin's in positing that animals could spring not only from animals but also directly from the Earth that was an aging and evolving creature unto herself, a mother of all the animals, a mother with a mother also that could spring from and evolve from the potentials in the collections and vibrations of atoms.
    • Lucretius hypothesizes that, though the atoms are indivisible, still the atoms have an internal structure of component parts. However, Lucretius asserts that these "components" cannot exist outside the atom of which they are a part.

Good hunting! Unfortunately, the e-texts available are not the best translations, in my opinion, but at least they are available by immediate link--and the e-text translations are in the public domain, which means you can quote them extensively without worrying about copyright problems. I suggest you stop by a BIG bookstore and peruse the different qualities of the available translations. Some translations are crystal clear; you can spot them immediately when you first read them. I find the e-text translations unnecessarily contorted to make reading them something of a puzzle unto themselves, but at least they are on-line. I will be watching the joy in what you find! ---Rednblu 16:53, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Paraphrases of the cited scholar[edit]

Are you sure you found a mention of a "God of Truth, Love, and Reason" in the cited scholar's writing? :)) What you will find is "moral constraint"--twice! And where is the mention of "madness" in the cited scholar's writing? The cited scholar mentioned "unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness ..." which you might paraphrase as "fucking"--but not "madness." 8)) Perhaps "evil" would do? ---Rednblu | Talk 08:12, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

oops -- i didn't think it was cited -- it didn't mention the organization by name, quote anybody, or give any author -- it merely said, "some creationists" and then gave a link to an example -- so i figured i'd give a general one -- i'll find a quote from the text:). sorry:). Ungtss 15:52, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
the take by THOSE scholars (which was why i changed it) was that atomism is a rejection of LOGIC and CAUSATION -- which is why i summarized it as madness -- i also thought it was a nice segue to lucretius' alleged "love potion" -- but perhaps false philosophy is better? Ungtss 16:00, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I inserted a few words in an attempt to make the distinction clearer on first reading. What do you think? After all, the "atomist" reading this page would think that godless atomism is searching for "reality, causality, and unity" of the universe, right? ---Rednblu | Talk 16:38, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The atomists would think so ... but the common sense science people seem to think that atomism is a REJECTION of reality, causality, and unity -- probably a distortion of atomism (seeing as how the atomists think the creationists are doing the same thing) ... but it's what they're saying, anyway. one last little change to finesse it -- the logic of the creationist position is this: "because God created the order science and philosophy are studying, to deny the creator is to cut yourself off at the knees." Ungtss 00:15, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Good quote! Where did you get it? :) When you publish your book, we can put it in! ---Rednblu | Talk 05:50, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  •  :) -- at the rate i'm learning around here ... i'll have a book soon enough:). Ungtss 14:37, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • (hoping you didn't think i wanted to put my quote in there -- that was just a summarized form of the last little change i put in -- i know the rules:). Ungtss 17:39, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Right. I was just noticing that it was a good summary statement! :)) ---Rednblu | Talk 18:13, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Are we missing the point of the book?[edit]

Perhaps I'm biased; I'm a historian of science and read Lucretius in Latham's Penguin translation, but Latham's table of contents lists these as the topics of the main sections of the book:

  1. Matter and Space
  2. Movements and Shape of Atoms
  3. Life and Mind
  4. Sensation and Sex
  5. Cosmology and Sociology
  6. Meteorology and Geology

Most of these topics are neglected in this article. The discussion of Lucretius's religious thought is crucial to understanding his motivation, but we seem to be missing his concern with providing a naturalistic explanation of natural phenomena. Also, we are missing the tension between his agenda to explain phenomena in naturalistic terms and his outright skepticism about the ability of humans to come to a true explanation of these phenomena:

I will explain by what forces nature steers the courses of the Sun and the journeyings of the Moon, so that we shall not suppose that they run their yearly races between heaven and earth of their own free will [i.e., are gods themselves] of that they are rolled round in furtherance of some divine plan.... (V, 76-81)
Let us now take as our theme the cause of stellar movements.
  • First let us suppose that the great globe of the sky itself rotates....
  • There remains the alternative possibility that the sky as a whole is stationary while the shining constellations are in motion. This may happen
  • because swift currents of ether ... whirl round and round and roll their fires at large across the nocturnal regions of the sky. Or
  • an external current of air from some other quarter may whirl them along in their course. Or
  • they may swim of their own accord, each responsive to the call of its own food, and feed their fiery bodies in the broad pastures of the sky.
One of these causes must certainly operate in our world.... But to lay down which of them it is lies beyond the range of our stumbling progress. (V, 510-533)

Since Lucretius's atomism is often taken to make him a modern scientist, his doubts about the possibility of attaining demonstrative knowledge belong in any encyclopedia article. --SteveMcCluskey 13:50, 23 June 2006 (UTC)


Lucretius a "modern scientist"? Surely not. Lucretius was a poet who phrased a series of ideas that he had learned. If we accept what Lucretius wrote, then Epicurus may have been the "scientist" whose explanations Lucretius phrased. --Rednblu 15:42, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

You're right; we can't call any of the Greeks and Romans "modern scientists."
Let me take one step back and say "Lucretius's atomism is often taken as making him a precursor of modern science." He was certainly considered an important source for the theory or atomism by seventeenth-century scientists. (Johnson and Wilson, "Lucretius and the History of Science",forthcoming in The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius)
However, his criticism of the ability to attain demonstrative knowledge (what his contemporaries would call scientia) makes him much less of a scientist than Plato or Aristotle, and (one could argue) typical of the turning from demonstrative knowledge to spiritual concerns that dominated late antiquity and the early Middle Ages. --SteveMcCluskey 16:53, 24 June 2006 (UTC)


There are differing Points-of-View on whether Lucretius had any skepticism of demonstrative knowledge, are there not? Lucretius the poet did not provide a scientific method for determining which was best of the explanations more plausible than the religious explanation because the scientist that Lucretius phrased did not include a scientific method in his teaching. A better interpretation of the section you labeled as "Lucretius's skepticism" would be something like "Lucretius's identification of the lack of a scientific method in 60 BC." --Rednblu 17:28, 24 June 2006 (UTC)


Sorry, we disagree fundamentally. There were scientific methods in Ancient Greece and they were practiced extensively by Plato, Aristotle, and their colleagues. They were not identical to modern scientific methods, but it would be anachronistic to judge them by modern standards of scientific method.

There is no doubt that the ancient Greeks were doing science and had effective methods to evaluate competing hypotheses. To the extent that Lucretius and Epicurus were unable declined to evaluate such alternative hypotheses, they fell short of the standards set by their own contemporaries. For details, see the extensive works on Greek science by G. E. R. Lloyd and others. --SteveMcCluskey 18:12, 24 June 2006 (UTC)


Lloyd has his particular ax to grind. And at the other end of the spectrum on Lucretius is, among many, Alban Winspear who in his Lucretius and Scientific Thought (1963) noted that the proper interpretation of Aristotle and Lucretius was that they both shaped their "science" to espouse the political and religious points-of-view they preached. Winspear interprets Lucretius's atomist campaign as politics and the ethics of personal responsibility in a Godless world. Then of Aristotle, Winspear said "it is very probable that his association with the Macedonian court influenced to a very great degree his theoretical formulation."

Somewhere between the two extreme interpretations of Lloyd and Winspear, Professor Sandbach, the son, said the following. "It would be unfair to leave the impression that [Winspear's] book is nothing but pamphleteering. Professor Winspear is far too open to impressions to allow himself to be confined within his prejudices and card-houses. He makes many observations from which the reader may form a different and truer picture, aided by the fact that Lucretius is allowed to speak for himself: over a quarter of the book consists of extracts from the author's translation."

It is from this NPOV perspective of "letting the atomists speak for themselves" that I objected to your censoring Epicurus's direct quotes of what atomism is. --Rednblu 23:16, 24 June 2006 (UTC)


Thanks for pointing out Winspear's book and Sandbach's review of it. My reading of Sandbach's review sees it as much more negative than the qualifying passage you quoted which concludes it. For example:

"Winspear has no use for 'idealist' philosophers who sit in their studies and 'dream up a universe' for the purpose of preserving social inequality. All of the ancients fall under this ban except the atomists, who favour science's philosophy of materialism.... [Under close examination] the division into idealist anti-scientific governing classes and materialistic scientific progressives breaks down."

Given Wikipedia's concern with representing mainstream scholarly consensus, I find it significant that in the ISI databases there are only 13 citations of Winspear's writings, while there are 867 citations of Lloyd's. Similarly, there are 17 reviews of Lloyd's books in J-STOR while there is only one of Winspear's. Winspear seems to be on the fringe of scholarly consensus, Lloyd much closer to the mainstream.

I would be reluctant to give's Winspear's interpretation of Lucretius very much scholarly weight. --SteveMcCluskey 17:58, 25 June 2006 (UTC)


Exactly. And how many citations are there to the writings of Epicurus on what atomism is? --Rednblu 18:08, 25 June 2006 (UTC)


I've been thinking over this discussion the last few days, since it seems to be going nowhere and I'd like to know why. I found what seems to be the key in the comment you left on the history page when you started this article: (New page to complete the link from Lucretius -- and to pay tribute to a great man.)

I hope I'm not projecting too much to say that you approach Lucretius and atomism for their immediate current relevance; while I approach them as historical artifacts. In this regard, the tension between us is similar to the tension between historians of philosophy and those who teach ancient philosophers in great books programs. Historians are interested in all their thought, and in what contributed to the directions it took; those who study authors of the great books are interested in the timeless elements of their thought; those parts which retain some current relevance

This might explain why you tend to select what De rerum natura, or atomism, have to say about the enduring question of the existence of gods, while you tend to ignore what Lucretius and his colleagues say about the physical structure of the world. After all, Greek atomism is not timeless but is clearly outdated. If we're trying to understand the nature of things, we'd find much better material on that in a high school science text.

To a historian, however, Greek atomism is an important element in ancient natural philosophy, but one which for some reason was abandoned and went nowhere until the seventeenth century. Thus I'm interested in the details of the varying kinds of atomistic thought and the arguments that were advanced for and against them. In this regard, the ethical arguments of Lucretius and Epicurus are just part of these arguments.

This brings me to two specific issues that have caused conflict: the use of unanalyzed quotations and the issue of balance. As to the first, historians tend to avoid extensive quotations but only use brief quotations to document and support a clearly stated argument. If one approaches a philosopher in a timeless fashion, it seems better to let the author speak for himself, without analysis standing between him and the reader. For an encyclopedia article with the No Original Research rule, the quotation should be accompanied by a an interpretation of that text that cites a reliable source.

As to balance, in the article on Atomism it seems that we should stick pretty close to the topic of atoms – their material structure and how they account for the large scale appearances in the world around us. Ethical considerations drawn from atomism deserve only a brief mention; they should not dominate the article.

In the article On the Nature of Things our goal is to present an accurate depiction of the book and its arguments. From a rough scan of the table of contents of my copy, Lucretius's discussion of the gods and religion occupies some 10% - 15% of the book, while the remainder is devoted to his discussion of atoms and their relation to natural phenomena. If we are to accurately depict the book, the final article should roughly have this balance.

Discussions of the later influence of the book, ranging from medieval texts of the same title by Isidore and Bede to his influence on modern atheistic movements, could go in a separate section which would clearly have a different balance, reflecting those parts of the book which specifically influenced later readers.

I'm afraid I won't be able to continue this interesting discussion for a while, as I will be away for several months on research and holidays. See you later. --SteveMcCluskey 15:44, 28 June 2006 (UTC)


I would characterize our battle of dogmas as the opposition of neutral point of view to its polar opposite scientific point of view. For example, under the scientific point of view that you preach, "As to balance, in the article on Atomism it seems that we should stick pretty close to the topic of atoms – their material structure and how they account for the large scale appearances in the world around us."

In contrast, by the neutral point of view, what matters is how people of all lines of human inquiry used what the atomists wrote. And the historical record shows that there are two main views of atomism: the line of inquiry that led to 1) atomic theory and the contrasting line of inquiry that, for example, led to Marx's doctrines that others turned into 2) dialectical materialism. Your scientific point of view recognizes only the first line of inquiry as legitimate and discounts the second as "they fell short of the standards set by their own contemporaries."

What specifically distinguishes the scientific point of view that you preach is the discounting of Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Erasmus Darwin as minor and ignorant points-of-view on atomism--despite the fact that the writings of the atomists inspired more thinking in 1) Marx, Nietzsche, and Darwin than the atomists inspired in 2) Dalton's nice simple discovery

  • 1st. That water is a binary compound of hydrogen and oxygen, and the relative weights of the two elementary atoms are as 1:7, nearly;
  • 2nd. That ammonia is a binary compound of hydrogen and azote [nitrogen], and the relative weights of the two atoms are as 1:5, nearly. . . .

Specifically, Dalton did not use the complicated thoughts of Democritus and Epicurus when he developed his atomic theory. For example, nowhere in Dalton's musings in his diary did Dalton ponder what Democritus meant by "ultimate particles" or what Epicurus meant by "homogeneous bodies." For Dalton by his understanding had direct access to the same elements of reality that Democritus and Epicurus saw; so Dalton did not find it useful to look through the eyes of Democritus and Epicurus to see reality. Dalton could go to the source of empirical reasonings for his understandings, bypassing the notebooks of Democritus and Epicurus.

How different were the inspirations that Marx, Nietzsche, and Darwin found in the writings of the atomists. For example, Karl Marx wrote his doctoral dissertation on the inner meanings of the writings of Democritus and Epicurus. And by Marx's own notebooks, in developing his doctrine of dialectical materialism, Marx repeatedly found it useful to consult what Democritus and Epicurus said about reality.

From my neutral point of view, the acknowledgment that Marx, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Darwin gave to the insights of the atomists in battling religion and other forms of superstition far outweighs in the balance of history the puny significance of G. E. R. Lloyd's conclusions that Democritus's statements about atoms "were pure speculations, incapable of being brought to any experimental test." Lloyd's statement is clearly wrong and shows Lloyd's fundamental misunderstanding of the actual process by which scientists bring their insights to "experimental test." For obviously any valuable insight such as Democritus's insight can be developed in a falsifiable form so that it can be brought to "experimental test"--as Dalton showed Lloyd to be wrong in practice. --Rednblu 04:45, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Note on poetry?[edit]

Should we add an explanation of the honey metaphor in this article? SJCstudent 17:38, 11 September 2006 (UTC)


I think that is a great idea! Here is where I would start. If you click on this link, you will go directly to the eText. Just watch how quickly the screen fills with the whole poem, and think for a moment how long it took OurGreatFather to write each and every word so lovingly--in Latin even.

Then search for the word "honey." You will find Lucretius's own statement of his "honey metaphor" as you so aptly called it.

Lucretius says:

But as physicians, when they seek to give
Young boys the nauseous wormwood, first do touch
The brim around the cup with the sweet juice
And yellow of the honey, in order that
The thoughtless age of boyhood be cajoled
As far as the lips, and meanwhile swallow down
The wormwood's bitter draught, and, though befooled,
Be yet not merely duped, but rather thus
Grow strong again with recreated health:
So now I too (since this my doctrine seems
In general somewhat woeful unto those
Who've had it not in hand, and since the crowd
Starts back from it in horror) have desired
To expound our doctrine unto thee in song
Soft-speaking and Pierian, and, as 'twere,
To touch it with sweet honey of the Muse-

You might make the "explanation" more interesting and more NPOV by paraphrasing a scholar's published explanation. "Neutral point of view (NPOV)" just means couching a point-of-view (POV)--such as an "explanation"--in the form "Scholar1 said that POV1 is true." Then you would be merely stating the fact "Scholar1 said that POV1 is true." There are many explanations, I might add. Do you have access in your library to a text search over eText of scholarly writings? Ask your librarian. You could just search on ...Lucretius AND honey.... You will get a lot of "sweet" explanations and surrounding articles for you to quote, paraphrase, and cite. Good luck. Keep us informed. I look forward to read what you find. --Rednblu 18:26, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

Move to: De rerum natura[edit]

Shouldn't this article reside at De rerum natura just like De republica? CaveatLector Talk Contrib 08:22, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

I would support the move. Aramgar (talk) 16:01, 2 January 2009 (UTC)


Besides being a work of science, De Rerum Natura is also a work of poetry. I think at least a section should be devoted to explaining the literary aspects of the work. (I couldn't find anywhere what meter it is written in.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:37, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

image of atom[edit]

I deleted the image that represented a modern schema of an atom. There is absolutely no grounds for thinking that Lucretius, or any other ancient atomist, conceived of an atom as having a nucleus around which particles rotated; quite the contrary, for if the atom was the smallest divisible unit (a-tom means "not divisible"), there could be no such particles. To illustrate this article with such an image is completely misleading. Cynwolfe (talk) 12:05, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

'personal responsibility'[edit]

Please quote a line from Lucretius in Latin that contains a phrase that can be accurately translated as "personal responsibility." This is a modern phrase (and a fairly silly one, if you think about the adjective "personal" as applied to "responsibility") that fails to get at the traditional philosophical question of free will. The problem of free will and determinism is acute in Epicureanism, because it rejects traditional ideas of fate and destiny while opening itself to criticisms of mechanism. Cynwolfe (talk) 12:12, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

It's in book 7, I think. Just past the fifth line Lucretius says:

ipso facto, atomi causa responsibiliti personalitatem

Oh okay, seriously, a quick check reveals that the lines about "personal responsibility" are a survival from the first draft of the very colourful version of this page back in 2003 [1]. In some ways, Wikipedia was a more interesting encyclopedia back then. Did you know that "Charles Darwin was but the clever missionary of the atomism of Epicurus and Lucretius in inventing the evolution theory that could propel atomism to hijack science and philosophy in the service of the assumption and objectives of atomism". :-) Anyway, feel free to remove anything that seems too much like WP:OR - this page sees very little active editing. Singinglemon (talk) 16:34, 7 May 2010 (UTC)
Ho ho. If it were just a matter of OR, but otherwise an insightful remark, I'd be happy to leave it, as I think WP's notions of OR are often perverse. Most of what's bad about OR is already taken care of by verifiability and neutral POV. Currently an unspoken rule seems to be: articles must be as dull as possible, and painful to read. But I digress. DRN does deserve a more developed article, but the effort is daunting. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:38, 7 May 2010 (UTC)


I didn't link to Fortuna in restoring "chance" to the lead section. As with Lucretius's attention to Venus, the role of Fortuna as a personification would need to be explained in the body text first, because otherwise it seems confusing to say the universe isn't ruled by deities and then to say "except Fortuna." This is interesting, however, in particular because it's one of the pieces of evidence used when scholars have tried to demonstrate Epicurean tendencies in Julius Caesar, son-in-law of the noted Epicurean Calpurnius Piso, a patron of Philodemus: Fortuna is the only deity Caesar mentions in the Gallic Wars, I think, and the timeline suggests that Quintus Cicero might've had an ms. of De rerum natura in Gaul. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:47, 2 August 2010 (UTC)


Just wanted to acknowledge the problems with genre in relation to this work, since I reverted the deletion of "Epic poems in Latin." DRN is a multi-book didactic poem written in the meter of epic, dactylic hexameter, and drawing on some conventions of epic. Any history of Latin epic will include a discussion of Lucretius's work, which is why the category should remain despite the many ways in which the DRN will raise questions (the raising of these questions is usually taken as part of the poet's "intention," for want of a better word at the moment). So just some quick notes in case this comes up again:

  • From Minyard's classic work: Lucretius's "aim is reformation of the literary tradition by provision of a new kind of epic and hero";
  • Monica Gale, Myth and Poetry in Lucretius[2] explores the relation of didactic and epic for Lucretius in some depth;
  • Treated at length in a chapter titled "Didactic epic" in the Blackwell Companion to Latin Literature[3];
  • Characterized as "didactic epic" in the recent encyclopedic volume The Classical Tradition[4];
  • In his history of Latin literature, Gian Biagio Conte[5] labels DRN as an "epic-didactic poem";
  • Inconsistency in Roman Epic: Studies in Catullus, Lucretius, Vergil, Ovid and Lucan[6] (although the presence of Catullus, presumably for the so-called epyllion, is novel).

So anyway, the point is that the question of genre is a major theme of Lucretian scholarship, but the DRN is a work without which any discussion of Latin epic would be incomplete. Cynwolfe (talk) 12:56, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

The swerve[edit]

The Swerve is the flavor of the month. This superficial pop treatment is not notable enough to warrant its own sub-section. This subsection should be deleted. If it contents warrant it, they can be folded into other sections. Rwflammang (talk) 23:34, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

Um, the book won the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction. It's notable. I don't think the article should be based on this popularized treatment, mind you, but as a vehicle for bringing Lucretius to the attention of contemporary readers, it certainly is notable as a phenomenon. The subsection, anyway, appears to be about "the swerve," lower case, the usual translation of clinamen. Which certainly deserves a section—with scholarly sources. What's intolerable is that the Wikipedia article is so poor, when the media attention given to Greenblatt's book has surely driven traffic here. Cynwolfe (talk) 03:14, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

Brownian motion[edit]

Can anyone identify which translation is quoted in Brownian motion#History? It's from Book II, lines 166-185 (approx.). I suspect it might be one of the Penguin versions, either Latham or Stallings.
Also, someone might wish to add a mention of Brownian motion to this article itself: Albert Einstein won a Nobel Prize for confirming in detail that Lucretius had been essentially right! Lacking a modern translation, I'm reluctant to do so myself. Narky Blert (talk) 17:11, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

The Paduans[edit]

Apropos the recent edits regarding the Paduans, there is an interesting English-language account to be found here. This extract seems to be from The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius, Stuart Gillespie, Philip Hardie, Cambridge University Press, Oct 18, 2007. Rwflammang (talk) 21:36, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Some of these same points are elucidated in a blog post and book review: [7]
Rwflammang (talk) 03:44, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

Guido or Giuseppe Billanovich?[edit]

I recently changed the discussion of an article by Giuseppe Billanovich to read Guido Billanovich, following the table of contents of the Journal in which it appeared. I do not have access to the entire journal but, assuming the table of contents is accurate, this article was written by Guido, not Giuseppe, Billanovich. Since that issue also included other articles by "Gius. Billanovich", we are not dealing with different forms of the same name. They also co-authored several works, confirming we're dealing with two distinct people. The VIAF has two brief entries for Guido Billanovich and according to Amazon, a book by Guido is still in print.

I will restore the name Guido, pending further evidence that Giuseppe wrote the article in question. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 13:18, 31 October 2015 (UTC)

I merely looked at the cited source, (currently reference #10 in the article), which clearly states "Giuseppe". -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 13:49, 31 October 2015 (UTC)
I understand, probably that's why Wikipedia says you should cite "where you read" a source, rather than relying on another author's citation. I notice that the author of your source not only cites the author as "Giuseppe", he also cites the journal incorrectly as Italia Meriodionale e Umanistica, rather than Italia Medievale…. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 14:04, 31 October 2015 (UTC)

The author is Guido Billanovich; there's a little mistake in the source. Btw, they are brothers... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:59, 14 September 2016 (UTC)


I think the two sentences on Cicero's response to Lucretius are a bit misleading:

"The earliest recorded verdict of [sic] Lucretius' work is by Cicero, who calls Lucretius's poetry "full of inspired brilliance, but also of great artistry".[b] However, Cicero is elsewhere critical of Lucretius and the Epicureans, and disparaged them for their omission from their work of historical study.[20]"

Cicero refers only to Lucretius' "poems" (plural), so that might not refer to De Rerum Natura. We don't know what else Lucretius wrote or indeed whether Cicero is talking about the same Lucretius who wrote DRM. And saying "Cicero is elsewhere critical of Lucretius" implies he refers to Lucretius somewhere else in his extant works, but so far as I know he does not. He's critical of Epicureanism elsewhere, but again, since we don't know what else Lucretius wrote (were all his poems Epicurean, or was the DRM just a one-off didactic poem?) that may or may not contrast with his assessment of Lucretius' poetry. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:CFED:4070:D5CE:EB0C:BCF:749F (talk) 19:22, 24 December 2016 (UTC)

New translation by Thomas Nail[edit]

A new translation has been released by Thomas Nail, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Denver.

Quoted from the Edinburgh University Press page (linked above):

He posted an article about atomism on Aeon as well.

Hopefully these new resources can help with the writing on this entry. Tkbrett 02:33, 20 May 2018 (UTC)

Very interesting! I'll look into it soon. Sounds like its definitely worth mentioning in the article, as it was published by a reputably press and has garnered a buzz. With that said, I'm a bit hesitant to see this as radically overthrowing literally hundreds of years of Lucretian scholarship. That seems kinda like PR-y buzz.--Gen. Quon (Talk) 18:17, 20 May 2018 (UTC)

A Commons file used on this page has been nominated for deletion[edit]

The following Wikimedia Commons file used on this page has been nominated for deletion:

Participate in the deletion discussion at the nomination page. —Community Tech bot (talk) 13:37, 29 September 2018 (UTC)