“On the Nature of Things” Book 2 by Lucretius (1st Century BC)


  • It’s comforting to watch another ship fight the sea & wind while yours is calm, not because you rejoice in others’ struggles but because it reminds you of how nice it is to be free from struggle yourself
    • It reminds you that you don’t actually need very much at all – just calm & ease, & to have your body refreshed from time to time
    • Luxury & worship of the gods are useless to our bodies & souls, & will only cause you pain if you feel that you need them


  • Atomic Motion – engendering bodies move & give things life through their motion
  • Everything grows but everything also decays
    • As atoms leave something, the thing diminishes & eventually dies, just as when atoms form, they build up & the thing blooms
    • Things whither & are later renewed through the movement of atoms
  • Atoms will continue to move, bouncing off one another
  • Remember, there’s no bottom of the universe where the atoms can collect, so they crash around & collect together to form shapes & things we know in the world
  • You can understand how they work by watching dust in the sunlight, moving around, never ceasing to be there


  • Atoms move quickly but once they bounce into one another, they slow down but still move with great force – sometimes even faster than the speed of light


  • Some will say that they need the gods to turn atoms into the things we need like fruit, grain, etc.
    • But we don’t need to attribute these things to the gods – they happen by themselves
    • In fact, there’s just too much wrong with the world to say that these perfect gods are ordering things to be as they are


  • Nothing comes about spontaneously
    • Fire is a reaction that seems spontaneous but it needs to feed off of wood – its flames start small & grow
    • Grass & trees grow from seeds of their own kind


  • Atoms, when moving, don’t move in a completely straight way – they swerve a little
    • If they didn’t, they’d all fall completely down
  • The collision of atoms comes from this swerving of atoms
    • Heavier objects collide into smaller ones that give way in the void
    • The atoms must swerve a little, but no more than that
    • This swerve is related to our free will on earth – allowing us to go where we choose by swerving a little from what seems to be a pre-planned path by the swerving of all the atoms of the body together
      • Our bodies can be dragged against their will just like the atoms can


  • No matter is crammed in or spread thin. No matter is born or dies
    • No force can change the universe or alter the nature of things


  • Although things are in initial motion, all things are at peace, except motions of each body
    • When stepping back, you can see how in spite of all the collisions & violent movements, all matter & void is in harmony


  • Atoms take different shapes for all the different types there are
    • They can’t all be the same size or shape, & tend to be as variable as animals, all unique enough to be recognized individually by their mothers, who’ll never be satisfied as long as their young are missing
    • Even plants & grains have a least some minor variation but still within the same kind


  • Light atoms are smaller & faster than water atoms
  • Oil is thinker & slower than wine or water
  • There’s variation in taste – milk & honey are sweet & pleasant while other things can be harsh & bitter
  • The different forms have different textures: smooth, sharp, causing physical revulsion, they can make our eyes water, they can be grating, chaffing, pleasant or rough feeling
  • Tightly packed & interlocked atoms are hard & firm, some have a liquid form or are sharp & prickly, while others are sticky or salty


  • There is a limited amount of variations of atomic shapes
    • While there are many, seemingly there are few compared to how many there are in the universe
    • They can combine to make mixtures of different qualities


  • Nature has ways of allowing things/atoms to grow & combine but it also has ways of destroying them, forcing nature to have to start all over again, drawing from the endless source of atoms


  • These lethal collisions don’t go on forever killing off all life
    • Life prevails or has to seek refuge from disaster
    • This is nature destroying in order to rebuild later


  • The earth is considered the Mother of gods, beasts & humans
    • It can’t stand on other earths
    • Those who “sully” Mother Earth’s laws are unworthy of bearing children who live
      • Those sin against her will regret it
      • Those abide in her & honor her will reap the rewards of doing so…
  • Those who reject this way of thinking will remove all the sorrow & danger promised by the “gods”
  • If we insist on calling the sea, “Neptune”, that’s fine as long as the name is the only aspect of religion we keep
  • There’s a smorgasbord of matter in any grass, stream, etc.
    • All built from the same things
    • The body has seeds of many things hidden in it of various shapes, smells, tastes & colors all lumped together in one mass
      • Like the letters of the alphabet – a letter can be used in many different words to give different sounds & meanings


  • Not everything is possible
    • You don’t see things like a half-man, half-animal because things have their own seeds & they don’t fuse together to make a mixture very often
    • Nature usually doesn’t all such things – if they do happen, nature finds a way to get rid of it quickly


  • Atoms don’t have color – it all depends on how they’re combined for color to appear
    • Things can change color easily
      • Sea can turn from blue to foam
    • Taking away or adding atoms can change the color
    • No colors can exist without light & therefore atoms can’t have color without it
      • Even light can change its own color
  • Atomic shapes aren’t assigned a certain color because each shape can occur in any color
  • Not all things have a smell or sound, so not everything has a color


  • Just like atoms have no color, they don’t have any perishable qualities like smell, heat or cold because objects can be smelly or not smelly, hot or cold & still be the same thing


  • Atoms don’t have any sensation but they do form to make things that do: animals grow from insensate matter
  • Worms grow in manure, cattle turn into our flesh by our eating them
  • Insensate matter can turn to fire
    • All depends on how matter is formed
  • If you blend matter willy-nilly, you probably won’t get anything living or sensing
    • It all depends on how the atoms collect – it has to be in a special way to produce life
  • Sense requires muscles, flesh, veins, etc.
    • These are all perishable & the perishable nature of animals comes from the combination of non-perishable atoms
    • Sense comes after the birth of an animal because the constituent atoms aren’t together until the birth & only when they come together do we have an animal who can sense
  • When an animal gets pounded extremely hard, all the senses, the soul & body get hit & the atoms get unravelled
    • The motions of life are shattered
    • Sometimes the blow isn’t too hard & motions of life prevail & the atoms settle, rallying the animal back to life
  • Atoms don’t feel pain but when they are upset, the animal feels pain & feels pleasure once they are settled
    • If they could feel pain or pleasure, you’d see them laughing & crying, which is an absolutely ridiculous idea
    • You never see it
    • Death is not the destruction of atoms but a break down in the functioning of the thing that they atoms have formed


  • I know this is all new & hard to believe but we know of many things being true that are hard to believe at first
    • There’s no consequence, negative or positive, of not believing this but don’t let the novelty or strangeness of this deter you
    • Just see where these ideas take you


  • There’s no reason to think that this world is unique
    • If atoms could combine to make the earth & there’s an infinite number of them, there’s every chance that there’s another world out there just like ours with different animals & different men


  • There’s nothing that’s one-of-a-kind because nothing comes from nothing & things come from other similar things
    • There’s infinite sky, earth, sun, moon & sea


  • Nature is free & unchained from the gods that men claim to rule the universe
    • Who can control infinite space & matter?
    • Not possible


  • When the world was born, a lot was added together
    • Seas, land & skies came together
      • Water settles with water, earth atoms grow together & air collects with air
      • Maturity grows with the continuation of atoms accumulating faster than separating
      • As time goes on, they being to separate faster than they accumulate & this is old age


  • The world will be battered & will crumble into ruin
    • It makes food to make new & whole things
    • Eventually, nature won’t be able to supply what’s needed & things collapse to become food & source for growth for new things
    • We curse our old age & loss of our lives but forget that we once fed off dying things when we were young

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