Lucretius Themes

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In On the Nature of Things, Lucretius is a sort of doctor, as it were, in that he is medicating mankind to rid them of their pestilential misconceptions on nature, the soul, and reality. His poem is “the sweet, golden liquid of honey” and his stance against religion as the explanation for the universe is “the bitter wormwood juice” to purge humanity of its disease (IV, 13-16). It’s obvious that Lucretius is firmly against religion and instead views the world in such a way that reality is explained through practical observations and explanations than through divinity. These ideas are prevalent throughout the poem, which makes the condemnations of war which are found in the work, that much stranger. In the beginning of the poem, in Lucretius’ …show more content…
Human life began as simple, people lived close to nature and sought not wealth or power, but reveled in the beauty of nature (V 1329-1418). This seems to be humanity’s first mistake, where necessity was met and luxury took over. People grew “distaste for acorns” and took off their animal skins, leaving behind the simplicity that served man well. People were happy with the basic necessities in life and had no need for violence and war. However, as humanity continued to grow, they learned how to use and manipulate nature towards their own ends. Man learned how to melt metal and to turn it into “amazingly thin and sharply pointed tips” (V, 1265), making killing one another that much easier. The human race took what nature provided, which is undoubtedly pure as it is nature itself, and tainted it with blood and violence. And, unfortunately, man turned more and more violence over time, only aided by the resources found in the natural world. Lucretius states that man “does not know what the limit of possessing things is” (V, 1432), so if man should continue to take without knowing when to stop, then it’s logical to assume that “the great tides of war” (V, 1435) will overtake all, and peace will never be reached. Yet, even as the human race finds better ways to kill one another, war will always be fruitless. Man takes advantage of what …show more content…
In Book Five Lucretius says “if anyone would govern his life with true reason, great wealth for a human being is to live modestly with a calm mind, for never is there want of a little” (V, 1117-1119). According to Lucretius, it seems that moderation is to avoid what might lead to bloodshed. It is mankind’s desire for more than what they have that creates violence, as sooner or later more than one person will desire the same things, as with land and wealth for example. However, should a person live modestly, they’ll have want of very little or nothing, and the urge to take through acts of war completely disappears. As for “true reason”, that undoubtedly must be the knowledge of how the universe, the soul, and the divine operate, all of which can also prevent violence as has already been discussed. Not only does Lucretius suggest that there is a practicality to living in such a way, but that there can also be pleasure derived from it. In the beginning of Book Two, he describes the satisfaction of watching another struggle while being safe and without strife. Specifically, to watch others “exerting themselves night and day with outstanding effort to rise to the level of the greatest wealth and to have mastery over things” (II, 12-13) while “well fortified by the teachings of the

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