Lucretius: On the Nature of Things

(ca. 59–55 BCE)

Lucretius was a classical Roman writer whose only surviving work is De rerum natura. Usually the title is translated from the Latin as On the Nature of Things. Sometimes the title is translated as On the Nature of the Universe, for the work, an epic poem divided into six books, is a wide-ranging exploration of physics, the nature of the soul and mind, sensation and thought, the origins and evolution of the world, and a variety of natural phenomena such as lightning, thunder, earthquakes, heat and cold, and volcanoes.

Although it is not strictly a religious text, On the Nature of Things implicitly and explicitly examines a range of issues that are normally thought of as the province of religion and theology. That it does so is not surprising, for it was written in an age when science and religion often merged in the field of philosophy as philosophers tried to understand the nature of creation, the existence and role of deities, and the place of humans in the natural and...

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"Hannibal Crossing the Alps" by Heinrich Leutemann (Yale University Art Gallery)

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