“On the Nature of Things” Book 3 by Lucretius (1st Century BC)



  • Lucretius is following in Epicurus;s footsteps even many years later, in another country, in another language
    • He feels the desire to imitate Epicurus’s work & help spread his word around the world
    • He enjoys reading & re-reading all Epicurus’s work because he understands the world through it & sees the truth in it.


  • It’s so sad to see so many people worrying their entire lives about death
    • Our philosophy relieves men of the fear of death because we emphasize the gods of the dead don’t exist
    • People shouldn’t focus on fear, money, fame, wealth & power, & focus on building their souls, as well as friendships


  • Our minds & souls govern our lives but are nothing more than a body part like eyes, feet & hands
    • The Greeks called the soul a life-giving state of harmony but pain & feeling may vary in location, it isn’t universal
    • “Anima” – life spirit is a body part that only dies off when the body dies off – breath atoms are tied to soul atoms


  • The spirit & the soul are tied together
    • The soul is the captain & lord of the body – found in the chest
    • The spirit is spread throughout the body & obeys the mind’s will
    • The mind thinks for itself & does its thing even when we’re in pain
      • When the mind is pre-occupied with fear, the spirit throughout the body is affect negatively – your spirit sweats, shakes, etc. – it causes the body to react


  • The mind & spirit are corporeal because they can cause the body to move & guide it – how is that not corporeal?
    • The soul is one with the body & shares its feeling & it moves the body’s muscles & bones at its whim


  • The atoms of the soul are “super-subtle” the tiniest particles
    • Nothing can happen as fast as the mind imagines & initiates
    • They are the roundest & smallest seeds – so small that they can be moved by impules
  • The soul is woven in a tight weave so that only when they body dies, the soul is gone too – without weight or space
    • It’s woven within the body’s muscles, flesh & veins


  • Our souls are made of air, breath & warmth separating them from inanimate objects but they aren’t enough to give life to our minds to give them power & thought
    • There’s a fourth, nameless element, smaller than the other 3 elements, that causes arms to move, blood to circulate, the ability to feel joy, passion, pain & generally the force of life
    • Each element races around the body , invigorating its functions with the fourth element making up the soul of the soul, guiding the other 3.
    • Anger & rage come from “warmth” & lack of it cause fear
    • “Calm air” causes peace & easy heart
    • Different animals’ constitutions are made up of varying degrees of these elements
    • Men would do well to have them under control to live better lives


  • The body & soul are inextricable just as roots are attached to the tree, to kill one is to kill the other
    • Neither one can exist without the other & their atoms are interwoven
    • Once the body dies, the soul dies & the body dies


  • The soul is dependent on the body for sensation because it uses the functions of the body – sight, hearing, feeling as a window to the world outside of itself


  • The atoms of the soul & body aren’t matched 1-to-1
    • There are fewer soul atoms than atoms of the flesh & body
    • But since they are so tightly woven together with flesh atoms, that they are present throughout
    • Our souls don’t feel every bump & changes our bodies feel


  • The soul is the master of the spirit because the spirit can’t exist without the soul – life is completely dependent on the existence of the soul while spirit can be muted or diminished in the same way a body can live without an arm or a leg


  • The soul is a part of a living thing & is mortal, as is the spirit
    • The soul being made of the lightest atoms, it is only capable of being contained within the jar of the soul, the only thing possible to have tight enough containment qualities for it


  • The body & soul are born together, grow together & decay together
    • The body & soul are weak & growing in babies, they’re strong in adults & eventually they lose strength & sharpness in old age


  • When the body suffers disease or disorders, the mind is affected too
    • The comatose don’t have function of either mind or body
    • The drunk are incapacitated mentally & physically
  • Some illnesses of the body don’t affect the mind right away but eventually they will – mental illness also eventually affect the body
  • If nature repairs one, often it will repair the other


  • The dying lose physical & mental sensation
    • Because the body & mind are chained together, failure in one will lead to failure in the other
    • As senses in one slip, senses in the other slip as well


  • The soul is every bit as much of a body part as the hands, eyes & ears – but it can’t live by itself – it needs the body to live


  • When the mind & body are together, life is in full force
    • Neither one can live without the other
      • The soul can’t make the motions of life without the body
      • The body can’t make use of its functions & senses without the soul
  • The soul is much like smoke that seeps away when its container is cracked or broken
    • If the soul were immortal, physical dying would just be the soul shedding or molting its dead skin/body – not sad at all


  • Why do we have no instances of a body-less spirit or spiritless body?
    • They both have to exist together for there to be life


  • If the soul can be without a body, how would it get around in the afterlife – it would need senses, hands & feet, etc.


  • If we chop a body into 2 parts, would the soul be divided in 2?
    • The body would die & so would the soul
    • If something can be cut in half & not die, it is immortal
    • Stories are told of men losing arms in battle & carrying on
    • But once the soul or entire body dies, the other one does too


  • If the soul is immortal & is placed into the body at birth, why do we not have any memories from before?
    • That doesn’t make sense
    • The soul is born when the body is born because it is so entangled with the body that it couldn’t happen otherwise
    • Since the body & soul can’t live without each other, they are born together & die together


  • The question arises: are there soul-seeds left behind in a dead body? If yes, that would mean that the soul is immortal
    • But we know when the body dies, the life, soul & spirit die with it
    • What happens to the atoms that become worm food?
    • Do they become maggot souls?
    • No they fade – souls don’t make bodies for themselves or float around looking for a new home


  • Why is it that animals are born with characteristics of their kind/species?
    • They never crossover because the soul of a lion can only be in a lion just as a human soul can only be in a human
    • So souls are not passed on by eating another animal & ingesting its soul
    • Men would act like animals & animals would act like men
  • There’s also no fusion of souls by way of sex
    • Men would act like women & women would act like men


  • The body is the unique jar of a unique soul
    • Only 1 soul can inhabit 1 body – no switching allowed!


  • Anything everlasting must be impossible to break up & stay that way for all of eternity
    • Health will never be a problem & there are no threats to an immortal life
    • If the body is mortal but not the soul, the body’s atoms will disperse leaving the soul to roam & go insane


  • Death is of no concern to us once we realize the soul is mortal
    • We won’t worry about proper burial rites
    • Once the soul & body are split, the game is over & nothing remains for you
    • Some don’t like this idea because they want to stick around
    • The future & past become irrelevant
  • When you die, there’ll be no other “you” to cry about what’s been taken away from you
    • No good things, no bad things – nothing, just eternal sleep


  • Nature would laugh at you crying about having no more life after you’re dead – there’s no point in crying
    • If you’ve had a good life, then you’ve got nothing to complain about
    • If you’ve had a bad life, then don’t worry, it won’t last forever
      • Doing this either ruins a good thing or worsens a bad thing
  • We are all living a life that we borrow from nature & she takes it back when she feels it’s time


  • Everything said to be in the depths of hell is here in our lives & we just attribute them to gods [fear]
    • But everlasting pain as hell promises is not possible
    • We experience fear, worry, anguish, defeat on earth
    • Those who know their sin punish themselves


  • Keep in mind – the great kings, as much as they have ruled & conquered, have died just the same as any menial nameless slave has
    • So who are you to be reluctant about dying?
    • It’s not fitting to panic or worry about death


  • People piss their lives away worrying about & ruin life trying to avoid death or spending all their time crying about it
  • Nobody survives life & death will last forever
    • Every person great or small dies & it’s forever

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