NATURE OF THINGS - DE RERUM NATURA
Evolution - Growth - Extinction

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Lucretius Carus (99-55 BC)


Extract from poems by the epic Epicurean Roman Poet Titus Lucretius Carus “On the Nature of Things or the Universe” or “De Rerum Natura”, ( c. 50 BC), Book V "Cosmology and Sociology", translated into prose by R. E. Latham, Penguin Books, England, 1951 (offers concepts regarding; fitness, selection, extinction; chimera, cloning, mosaic, uniparental disomy or monosomy, evolution, nature/nurture, mind, abstraction, mysticism, religion, language, logic, science ...

EPIGRAM
(in prose)

"... many species must have died out altogether and failed to reproduce their kind. Every species that you now see drawing the breath of life has been protected and preserved from the beginning of the world either by cunning or by prowess or by speed ... there never were, nor ever can be Centaurs - creatures with a double nature ... of different origin ... or an other such monstrous hybrid between species ... how could there be a Chimaera ... each species develops according to its own kind ... all guard their specific characters ... human beings were relatively insensitive to heat and cold ... did not know as yet how to enlist the aid of fire or to make use of skins ... they could have no thought of the common good, nor notion of the mutual restraint of morals and laws ... thanks to their surpassing strength of hand and foot, they hunted ... did not follow standards that led thousands to their death during a single day war ... the agent by which fire was first brought down to earth and made available to mortal man was lightning ... men learnt to change ... by means of fire and other inventions instructed by those of outstanding ability and mental energy. Kings began to found cities and establish citadels ... Men craved for fame and power ... enmeshed by violence and wrong-doing ... men noticed the orderly succession of celestial phenomena and the round of the seasons ... so they took refuge in handing over everything to the gods ..." (translation by R. E. Latham, 1951)

(a poetic version)
" ... no single thing abides
but all things flow
fragment to fragment clings
the things thus grow
until we name them ...
by degrees they melt and
are no more the things we know
globed from the atoms 
I see the suns ...
even their systems and their suns
shall go back slowly
to the eternal drift
thou too  o earth
thine empires lands and seas ...
thou art goin   hour by hour ...
nothing abides ... "
(translation by D. Bellingham, 1989)


 

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