Front Page Titles (by Subject) SHORT ANALYSIS OF THE POEM - On the Nature of Things
SHORT ANALYSIS OF THE POEM - 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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SHORT ANALYSIS OF THE POEM
- Book I deals with the ultimate constitution of the universe, which consists of infinite atoms moving in infinite space.
- Introduction: Invocation to Venus and appeal to Memmius; 1-145.
- A.General principles; 146-482.
- (a) The existence of ‘first-bodies’, or fundamental matter in the form of particles; 146-328.
- (b) The existence of void, or empty space; 329-417.
- (c) Everything else is either property or accident of these two; 418-82.
- B.The ‘first-bodies’ are atoms: solid, eternal and indivisible particles; 483-634.
- C.Refutation of rival theories; 635-920.
- (a) Heraclitus; 635-704.
- (b) Empedocles; 705-829.
- (c) Anaxagoras; 830-920.
- D.The universe is infinite; 921-1117.
- Book II deals with the motion and forms of the atoms, and their combination in things.
- Introduction: The blessings of philosophy; 1-61.
- A.The motion of the atoms; 62-332.
- (a) The incessant movement of the atoms; 80-141.
- (b) The velocity of their motion; 142-164.
- (c) Universal downward motion due to weight; 184-215.
- (d) The swerve of the atoms; 216-293.
- (e) The permanence of matter and motion; 294-332.
- B.The forms of the atoms and their effects in combination; 333-729.
- (a) The variety of atomic forms and their effects on sensation; 333-477.
- (b) This variety not infinite; 478-521.
- (c) Atoms of any given form infinite; 522-580.
- (d) Variety of combinations: differences within species; 581-729.
- C.The atoms are without secondary qualities; 730-990.
- (a) Colour; 730-841.
- (b) Heat, Sound, Taste, Smell; 842-64.
- (c) Sensation; 865-990.
- (d) Summary; 991-1022.
- D.The infinite worlds and their formation and destruction; 1023-1174.
- Book III deals with the soul, its nature, and its fate.
- Introduction: Praise of Epicurus and effect of the fear of punishment after death; 1-93.
- A.Nature and formation of the Soul; 94-416.
- (a) Distinction between mind and soul, or vital principle; 94-160.
- (b) Their corporeal nature and composition; 161-257.
- (c) Their relation to one another and to the body; 258-416.
- B.Proofs of the Mortality of the Soul; 417-829. (This section cannot be satisfactorily subdivided, but may roughly be classified as follows:)
- (a) Proofs from the structure of the soul; 425-58.
- (b) Proofs from disease and its cure; 459-547.
- (c) Proofs from connexion of soul and body; 548-623.
- (d) Proofs from absurdity of separate existence of soul; 624-829.
- C.The folly of the fear of death; 830-1094.
- Book IV deals mainly with the psychology of sensation and thought, and also with certain biological functions.
- Introduction: Lucretius’s Mission; 1-25.
- A.Existence and nature of the ‘idols’; 26-216.
- (a) Their existence; 26-109.
- (b) Their fineness of texture; 110-42.
- (c) Swiftness of their formation; 143-75.
- (d) Rapidity of their motion; 176-216.
- B.Sensation and Thought; 217-822.
- (a) Sight and phonomena connected with it; 217-378.
- (b) False inferences of the mind and infallibility of the senses; 379-521
- (c) Hearing; 522-614.
- (d) Taste; 615-72.
- (e) Smell; 673-721.
- (f) Thought, i. e. mental images, both in sleep and waking life; 722-822.
- C.Some functions of the Body; 823-1057.
- (a) Refutation of teleological view; 823-57.
- (b) Food; 858-76.
- (c) Walking: the act of will; 877-906.
- (d) Sleep and dreams; 907-1036.
- (e) Love; 1037-57.
- D.Attack on the passion of Love; 1058-1287.
- Book V deals with our world and its formation, astronomy, the beginnings of life and civilization.
- Introduction: Praise of Epicurus; 1-54. Argument of the book; 55-109; attack on the theological and teleological view; 110-234.
- A.The world had a beginning and is mortal; 235-415.
- B.Formation of the world; 416-508, 534-64.
- C.Astronomy; 509-33, 564-770.
- (a) Motions of heavenly bodies; 509-33.
- (b) Size of sun, moon and stars; 564-613.
- (c) Cause of orbits of heavenly bodies; 614-49.
- (d) Causes of night and day, and their variations; 650-704.
- (e) Cause of the moon’s light; 705-50.
- (f) Cause of eclipses; 751-70.
- D.The youth of the world; 772-1010.
- (a) Origin of vegetable and animal life; 772-924.
- (b) Origin of human life and primitive man; 925-1010.
- E.The beginnings of civilization; 1011-1457.
- Book VI explains from the atomic point of view a variety of occurrences, partly meteorological phenomena, partly terrestrial curiosities.
- Introduction: Praise of Epicurus: the gods; 1-95.
- A.Celestial phenomena; 96-534.
- (a) Thunder, lightning and thunderbolts; 96-422.
- (b) Waterspouts; 423-50.
- (c) Clouds and Rain; 451-534.
- B.Terrestrial phenomena; 535-1137.
- (a) Earthquakes; 535-607.
- (b) Constant size of the sea; 608-38.
- (c) Volcanoes; 639-711.
- (d) The Nile; 712-37.
- (e) Pestilential lakes, &c.; 738-847.
- (f) Curious fountains; 848-905.
- (g) The Magnet; 906-1089.
- (h) Pestilences; 1090-1137.
- C.The Plague at Athens; 1138-1286.