For a work written more than two thousand years ago, in a society in many ways quite alien to our own, Lucretius' De Rerum Natura contains much of striking, even startling, contemporary relevance. This is true, above all, of the fifth book, which begins by putting a strong case against what it has recently become fashionable to call 'intelligent design', and ends with an account of human evolution and the development of society in which the limitations of technological progress form a strong and occasionally explicit subtext. Along the way, the poet touches on many themes which may strike a chord with the twenty-first century reader: the fragility of our ecosystem, the corruption of political life, the futility of consumerism and the desirability of limiting our acquisitive instincts are all highly topical issues for us, as for the poem's original audience. Book V also offers a fascinating introduction to the world-view of the upper-class Roman of the first century BC. This edition (which complements existing Aris and Phillips commentaries on books 3, 4 and 6) will help to make Lucretius' urgent and impassioned argument, and something of his remarkable poetic style, accessible to a wider audience, including those with little or no knowledge of Latin. Both the translation and commentary aim to explain the scientific argument of the book as clearly as possible; and to convey at least some impression of the poetic texture of Lucretius' Latin.
Monica Gale is Lecturer in Classics at Trinity College, Dublin; she is author of 'Myth and Poetry in Lucretius' (1994), 'Virgil on the Nature of Things: The Georgics, Lucretius and the Didactic Tradition' (2000), and articles on Lucretius, Virgil and Propertius.
List of illustrations
I. Lucretius and the Late Republic
II. Epicurus and his Philosophy
III. The Didactic Epic
IV. De Rerum Natura V Cosmology and Human Prehistory
V. Language and Style
VI. The Transmission of the text
Note on references to the Presocratic Philosophers
De Rerum Natura V
...a significant addition to the Lucretius bibliography... merits high
praise as a splendid achievement by a distinguished Lucretian [...] offers exactly what students need to appreciate one of the longest and finest achievements of Latin epic.'
210 x 149 mm
November 1, 2008