Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE - On the Nature of Things
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PREFACE - Titus Lucretius Carus, On the Nature of Things 
Lucretius On the Nature of Things, trans. Cyril Bailey (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910).
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Oxford University Press, Amen House, London E.C. 4
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Geoffrey Cumberlege, Publisher to the University
FIRST PUBLISHED 1910
REPRINTED 1920, 1921, 1923
1924, 1928, 1936, 1946, 1948
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN
No one can set about translating Lucretius into English without finding his head full of the great work of H. A. J. Munro. It is not only that certain striking phrases ring in one’s ears—vitai claustra, ‘the fastnesses of life,’ alte terminus haerens, ‘the deepset boundary-mark,’ &c.—but one is possessed with a strong feeling that he has finally set the tone or colour which Lucretius in English must assume. It might indeed be thought that with so fine a model in existence it is unnecessary and unprofitable to undertake the task again. But there are, I think, good reasons to justify the attempt. In the first place, the study of Lucretius has made considerable advances since Munro’s edition: thanks largely to Dr. Brieger and still more to the late Professor Giussani,1 the philosophy of Epicurus is far better understood than it was, and, as a consequence, much light has been thrown on many dark places in the poem, and its general grouping and connexion can be far more clearly grasped. Secondly, though Munro set the tone, he did not always keep it: in the more technical parts of the poem he is apt to drop almost into the language of a scientific textbook, and phrases and even passages of sheer prose give the reader the idea that Lucretius’s muse allowed him only a fitful inspiration. While acknowledging then my debt to Munro for the main spirit of the translation and often for words and phrases which seemed to me inevitable, I have tried at once to embody the results of more recent Lucretian scholarship, and to preserve a more equable level of style, which will, I hope, leave the impression that the De Rerum Natura, even in its most scientific discussions, is still poetry.
I have translated from my own text published in the Bibliotheca Oxoniensis in 1898, but in the—I fear—numerous places, where I have since altered my opinion, I have taken what I now believe to be the right reading or the best suggestion and added the warning of a footnote. I have appended some notes for the general reader, which are intended either to explain allusions or to elucidate what seemed to me difficult or obscure passages in the light of the general Epicurean theory.
I wish to thank the Rector of Lincoln for several valuable suggestions, and Professor H. H. Turner for much help in the elucidation of the astronomical problems raised in Book V.
In the present reprint the translation has been adapted to the second edition of the text in the Bibliotheca Oxoniensis (1921).
[1 ] In our own country Dr. Masson (Lucretius: Epicurean and Poet) has recently written a very suggestive, though not always accurate, sketch of Lucretius’s relations to his predecessors and to modern scientific ideas, and has most successfully represented the spirit of the poem.