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Truths kindle light for truths.

Titus Lucretius Carus (ca. 99 BC - 55 BC) was a Roman poet and philosopher. His major work is De Rerum Natura, On the Nature of Things, which is considered by some to be the greatest masterpiece of Latin verse.


De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

  • Ergo vivida vis pervicet et extra
    processit longe flamentia moenia mundi
    atque omne immensum peragravit mente animoque.
    • The vivid force of his mind prevailed, and he fared forth far beyond the flaming ramparts of the heavens and traversed the boundless universe in thought and mind.
      • Book I, line 72.
  • Possunt ac fieri divino numine rentur.
    • Nothing can be created from nothing.
      • Book I, line 155.
  • Nequeunt oculis rerum primordia cerni.
    • The first beginnings of things cannot be distinguished by the eye.
      • Book I, line 268.
  • Stilicidi casus lapidem cavat, uncus aratri.
    • Continual dropping wears away a stone.
    • Book I, line 313. Compare: "The soft droppes of rain perce the hard marble; many strokes overthrow the tallest oaks", John Lyly, Euphues, 1579 (Arber's reprint), p. 81.
  • Etsi difficiile esse videtur credere quicquam
    in rebus solido reperiri corpore posse.
    transit enim fulmen caeli per saepta domorum,
    clamor ut ad voces; flamen candescit in igni
    dissiliuntque ferre ferventi saxa vapore.
    tum labefactatus rigor auri solvitur aestu;
    tum glacies aeris flamma devicta liquescit;
    permanat calor argentum penetraleque frigus
    quando utrumque manu retinentes pocula rite
    sensimus infuso lympharum rore superne.
    • And yet it is hard to believe that anything
      in nature could stand revealed as solid matter.
      The lightning of heaven goes through the walls of houses,
      like shouts and speech; iron glows white in fire;
      red-hot rocks are shattered by savage steam;
      hard gold is softened and melted down by heat;
      chilly brass, defeated by heat, turns liquid;
      heat seeps through silver, so does piercing cold;
      by custom raising the cup, we feel them both
      as water is poured in, drop by drop, above.
      • Book I, lines 487-496.
  • Ita res accedent lumina rebus.
    • Truths kindle light for truths.
      • Book I, line 1117.
  • Suave magni maro turbantibus aequora ventis
    e terra magnum alterius spectare laborem;
    non quia vexari quemquamst jucunda voluptas,
    sed quibus ipse malis careas quia cernere suave est.
    • Pleasant it is, when over a great sea the winds trouble the waters, to gaze from shore upon another's tribulation: not because any man's troubles are a delectable joy, but because to perceive from what ills you are free yourself is pleasant.
      • Book II, line 1.
  • Omnis cum in tenebris praesertim vita laboret.
    • Life is one long struggle in the dark.
      • Book II, line 54.
  • Sic rerum summa novatur
    semper, et inter se mortales mutua vivunt.
    augescunt aliae gentes, aliae
    inque brevi spatio mutantur saecla animantum
    et quasi cursores vitai lampada tradiunt.
    • Thus the sum of things is ever being renewed, and mortals live dependent one upon another. Some nations increase, others diminish, and in a short space the generations of living creatures are changed and like runners pass on the torch of life.
      • Book II, line 75.
  • Dum taxat, rerum magnarum parva potest res
    exemplare dare et vestigia notitiai.
    • So far as it goes, a small thing may give analogy of great things, and show the tracks of knowledge.
      • Book II, line 123.
  • Omnia qua propter debent per inane quietum
    aeque ponderibus non aequis concita ferri.
    • All things must needs be borne on through the calm void, moving at equal rate with unequal rates.
      • Book II, line 238.
  • Infidi maris insidis virisque dolumque
    ut vitare velint, neve ullo tempore credant
    subdola cum ridet placidi pellacia ponti.
    • Never trust her at any time, when the calm sea shows her false alluring smile.
      • Book II, line 558.
  • Cedit item retro, de terra quod fuit ante,
    in terras.
    • What once sprung from the earth sinks back into the earth.
      • Book II, line 999.
  • Quo magis in dubiis hominem spectare periclis
    convenit adversisque in rebus noscere qui sit;
    nam verae voces tum demum pectore ab imo
    eliciuntur et eripitur persona, manet res.
    • So it is more useful to watch a man in times of peril, and in adversity to discern what kind of man he is; for then at last words of truth are drawn from the depths of his heart, and the mask is torn off, reality remains.
      • Book III, line 55-8.
  • Nam veluti pueri trepidant atque omnia caecis
    in tenebris metuunt, sic nos in luce timemus
    interdum, nilo quae sunt metuenda magis quam
    quae pueri in tenebris pavitant finguntque futura.
    hunc igitur terrorem animi tenebrasque necessest
    non radii solis neque lucida tela diei
    discutiant sed naturae species ratioque.
    • For as children tremble and fear everything in the blind darkness, so we in the light sometimes fear what is no more to be feared than the things children in the dark hold in terror and imagine will come true.
      • Book III, line 87.
  • Nil igitur mors est ad nos neque pertinet hilum,
    quandoquidem natura animi mortalis habetur.
    • Therefore death is nothing to us, it matters not one jot, since the nature of the mind is understood to be mortal.
      • Book III, line 831.
  • Cur non ut plenus vitae conviva recedis
    aequo animoque capis securam, stulte, quietem?
    • Why dost thou not retire like a guest sated with the banquet of life, and with calm mind embrace, thou fool, a rest that knows no care?
      • Book III, line 938-9.
  • Nam petere imperium quod inanus nec datur umquam,
    atque in eo semper durum sufferre laborem,
    hoc est adverso nixantem trudere monte
    saxa quod tamen e summo iam vertice rursum
    volvitur et plani raptim petit aequora campi.
    • Yes, to seek power that's vain and never granted
      and for it to suffer hardship and endless pain:
      this is to heave and strain to push uphill
      a boulder, that still from the very top rolls back
      and bounds and bounces down to the bare, broad field.
      • Book III, lines 998-1002.
  • Nec prorsum vitam ducendo demimus hilum
    tempore de mortis nec delibare valemus.
    • By protracting life, we do not deduct one jot from the duration of death.
      • Book III, line 1087.
  • Ut quod ali cibus est aliis fuat acre venenum.
    • What is food to one, is to others bitter poison.
      • Book IV, line 637. Compare: "What's one man's poison, signor, / Is another's meat or drink", Beaumont and Fletcher, Love's Cure, Act iii, Scene 2.
  • Nequiquam, quoniam medio de fonte leporum
    surgit amari aliquit quod in ipsis floribus angat.
    • In the midst of the fountain of wit there arises something bitter, which stings in the very flowers.
      • Book IV, line 1133. Compare: "Still from the fount of joy’s delicious springs / Some bitter o’er the flowers its bubbling venom flings", Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto i, Stanza 82.
  • Quod siquis vera vitam ratione gubernet,
    divitiae grandes homini sunt vivere parvo
    aequo animo; neque enim est umquam penuria parvi.
    • But if one should guide his life by true principles, man's greatest wealth is to live on a little with contented mind; for a little is never lacking.
      • Book V, line 1117.
  • Nam cupide conculcatur nimis ante metutum.
    • Men are eager to tread underfoot what they have once too much feared.
      • Book V, line 1140.
  • Circumretit enim vis atque iniuria quemque,
    atque, unde exortast, at eum plerumque revertit.
    • Violence and injury enclose in their net all that do such things, and generally return upon him who began.
      • Book V, line 1152.


  • All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher. -- Quoted by Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion (1972 [c1945], p. 245), quoted from James A Haught, 2000 Years of Disbelief (see: Talk:Seneca_the_Younger)

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