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DE RERUM NATURA
A SELECTION FROM THE FIFTH BOOK
WITH INTRODUCTION, ANALYSIS, AND NOTES
W. D. LOWE, LITT.D., M.A.
FORMERLY SCHOLAR OF PEMBROKE COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
HENRY FROWDE, M.A.
PUBLISHER TO THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
LONDON, EDINBURGH, NEW YORK
TORONTO AND MELBOURNE
THIS edition of the first half of the fifth book of Lucretius has been prepared as objections have been raised that it was unsatisfactory to read only the latter half of the book and that it was therefore advisable to complete the edition.
The object of the earlier book was to introduce the poem of Lucretius to lower forms than usual, but as the latter half is considerably easier than the earlier, I believe it would be a practicable solution to read the second part in one term and the first part in the following. This is a feasible suggestion, strange though it may seem, for the creation of the things in the world (11. 783-1457) might easily precede, as being simpler, the more complicated account of the creation of the world and the formation of the heavenly bodies (11. 1-782). Then, after being gradually accustomed to the style of Lucretius, the harder and more philosophical portion could be read with greater ease later.
As was the case with the earlier edition this also is based on Munro's 'magnum opus', and owes very much to Mr. Duff's admirable book, especially with regard to the astronomy, and also to the care and suggestions of the reader of the Clarendon Press. The text is practically that of the Clarendon Press.
W. D. LOWE.
THE LIFE OF LUCRETIUS
THE life of Lucretius, as it is usually accepted, is given here without any examination of the conflicting accounts and theories put forward by different editors.
Titus Lucretius Carus was born probably B. C. 99 and died October 15, B.C. 55. The statement that his death was due to suicide during a fit of madness caused by drugs must be regarded with suspicion: the story of the love-philtre would be suggested by the contemptuous attitude of the poet towards love in the fourth book, while the fiction of his insanity might be readily invented by the Christian writers who found his attitude towards religion so abhorrent. He was almost certainly a man of good family: his name is that of an old patrician house, and he addresses Memmius, himself of high birth, in a tone of serene equality.
Lucretius was a man of literary tastes and he showed no inclination for political life, more especially during the troublous times of the struggles between Pompey and Caesar. He was moreover an Epicurean and the Epicureans had no sympathy with politics. He lived the life of a student and busied himself with the works of the Greek authors and the old Latin writers, but above all he devoted himself to the philosophy of Epicurus; and the result of his lifework is the presentation of that philosophy in the didactic poem De Rerum Natura in six books, a work that is not the production of a madman, whatever defects it may contain. Moreover, as Prof. Mackail in his Latin Literature says: 'Many of the most important physical discoveries of modern times are hinted at or even expressly stated by Lucretius.' Indeed his theories of the atomic doctrine, of light, of evolution, and of the ultimate constitution of atoms have won the admiration of modern scientists. Yet, after all, the true greatness of Lucretius rests