Sivut kuvina

implores her to intercede with the god of war, to restore peace and quiet to his native country.

Hunc tu diva, tua rccubantem eorpore sancto
Circumfusa super, suaves ex ore loquelas
Fundc petens placidam Rnmanis inclyta pacem.
Nam neque nos agere hoc patriai tcmporr iniquo
Possumus zquo aoimo, ncque Mcmmi clara

Tallibus in rebus communi desse faluti.

Lucr. lib. i. v. 39.

These are yet some other accounts given of the time and manner of his death; but since in so great a variety of opinions we can fix on no certainty, nor determine which of them is true, it would be loss of time to dwell any longer upon them.

The only remains this great wit has left os, are his fix books of the Nature of Things, which contain an exact system of the Epicurean philosophy. They were read and admired by the ancients; aud if Ovid could presage,

Carolina sublimis tune sunt peritura Lucrcti,
Ezitio terras cum dabit una dies.

Lucretius' lofty song shall live in deathless fame,-
Till fate dissolves at once this universal frame.

But because some are in doubt concerning the number of books written by Lucretius, and believe that he writ more than fix, it will not be improper to convince them of their error. They ground their opinion chiefly on a passage in VarTo, which, fay they, make it evident that Lucretius left one and twenty books, and that this is rot the beginning of his poem which is commonly taken to be so, since Varro cites a quite different verse as the beginning of it.

The passage of Varro, which they allege in favour of their opinion, is in his fourth book, De lingua Latlna, where we find these words:

Loca secundum antiquam divisionem prima.duo, cerium et terra: i qua bipartita divisione Lucretius suorum unius et viginti librorum initium fecit hoc:

Ætheris et terra; genitabile quscrere tempus.'' These words, indeed, are very plain and positive; nevertheless, I insist, that unless there were another poet Lucretius among the ancients, who was author of the one and twenty books, spoken of in that passage of Varro: and that there was 1 own, no mention is made in any of the records of antiquity, I insist, I fay, that there must be a fault in the above passage of that author, and believe, that instead of Lucretius, it was formerly written Lunlius. Whoever reflects on the following reasons, will, if I mistake not, be of my opinion.

In the first place, it is believed upon good grounds^that Varro writ that treatise of the Latin tongue, about the time that Cæsar was dicta tor. or rather a little before: if so, it is highly probable that copies of Lucretius could not so loon be got abroad, for he died but in the fourth year before .tbe dictatorship of Cajsar; and after

his death, his poem of the Nature of Things, wij first begun to be corrected by his intimate friend Tnlly, a talk which may seem to require some time; and, it may be, even a longer than that which passed from the death of Lucretius to the writing of the treatise by Terentius Varro.

Moreover, faults of the like nature were very frequent in the writings of the ancients, where Lucilius, Lucretius, and Lncullus, in like manner as Cælius and Cccilius, and the like, were often put by mistake one for another. Thus, for example. Priscian, lib. xviii. observes, that in Sallust, Hist lib. v. there was a mistake of this nature: "At Lucilius audito Marium regem proconfulem per Lycaoniam cum tribus Legionibus in CiHciam tenderc," &c. which that grammarian thus corrects: "At Luculius audit" Marium regera proconsulem," &c.; for Salhist there treated of the war that Luculius was carrying on against Mithridates. In like manner, Macrobius, lib. hi. Saturnal. cap. xv. M M. Vajro in lib. de agricultura refert M. Catonem, qui Utica: periit, cam haeres testameuto Lucilii esset relictus," &c f read, fays he," Testamento Luculli," &c Macrobius, nevertheless is there mistaken in one thing, for, as Plutarch witnesses, Lucullua left not Cato his heir, but only appointed him to be guardian of his son, as being his uncle. And many the like instances might tnsily he produced.

But to remove all manner of objections concerning the beginning of this poem, and to evince beyond reply the first book now extant to be the first book Lucretius writ, besides the invocation, with which, according to the custom of all pocti, he begins his poem, I will, in opposition to the above passage of Varro, produce the authority of old Priscian, whp, after having said that words of the first declension form the geniti»e plural in inn, and by contraction in y/w, by way of elample, adds atnpharum for ampljorarum. entzim for entadamm. For ib, fays he, Lucretius has it in his first verse :"" Ita enim Lucretius in primo versu."

Æneaduni genitrix, hominum divsimq voluptai.

Besides, is there the least ground of probability that Lucretius ever writ above fix books, since not one of the ancient grammarians, or other writers, neither Festus, Nonius, Diomcdes. Priscian, Frobus, Carisius, Donatus, Servius, Tertullian, Arnobius. nor Lactantius. who so frequently bring quotations from the fifth, sixth, and all the foregoing boohs of this poet, ever cite so much as one single verse from the seventh, eighth, Ac This, morally speaking, would be impossible, had Lucretius written fifteen books, of the Nature of Things, more than are now extant. This roakei me the rather wonder at the poCtivenefi with which some assert, that the seventh book of Lacretius is praised in Priscian, who, nevertheless, does not so much as mention any such book.

Moreover, in my opinion, Lucretius hinvMf sufficiently determines this controversy, for, "> his sixth book, reminding his reader of what h: had been treating of in the first, he fays,

None omnea repetam qui-n claro corpore sint ret

Ccmmemorare, quod in primo qunque carmine

claret. Lucrtt. lit. vi.v. 936.

Thi< sufficiently proves (be first of the books now extant to be the first he writ, since in that he has endeavoured to evince," omnes——quam claro carport sint res," that no bodies are so solid at rot to contain seme void; "quod in primo qooqoe carmine claret." See Book I. ver. 403. And htfom. expressly to call the sixth book his last, in these excellent verset,

~o mihi suprem* prxscripta ad Candida calcit ^-orrcnti sp itium przmonstra, callida musa, Ci!u pe, requies hominum, divfimque voluptas, Tc due ut iusigni capiam cum laude coronam.

Liuret. lib. vi. v. 91.

From wrrenee we may easily infer, that he never fc much as proposed to himself to write above six nooks, since he tells us he is now hastening, "ad prxscripta Candida suprxme calcis," to the end of the race he had determined with himself to run; and therefore lie invokes his muse,

To lead him on, and show the path to gain
The race and glory too, and crown hit pain.

1 Crtul.

Lastly, To strengthen all the foregoing argutKnts, we may observe, that in these six books oars it contained the whole doctrine, and all the jbi&dfhy of Epicurus, in as much as it relates to tte explication of nature, or natural causes and tfcctvi and there is nothing left for any one to fay farther upon that subject.

Add to this the manifest and pertinent connection tf 00c book to another, the judicious method be has observed in handling the several subjects «f which he treats, aad hit artfulness in the disposition os them. They seem naturally to follow tac another. In the first book, he treats of the principle* of things; in the last, of meteors and of the heavens. Has not this method been confiantly practised by all who have treated of the knowledge os nature? Even Epicurus himself observed the very (ame disposition, at appeart by the sew surviving remains of that philosopher, hit three epistles to Herodotus, Mcenccceus, and Pythocles.

But at, {or the reasons above alleged, I am verily persuaded that Lucretius never writ more -tan these six books es the Nature of Things; se,

on the other hand, lam readily Inclined to believe, that some of his verses are; perhaps, wanting; for, as with almost all the ancient authors, so more especially with this poet, some have assumed to themselves too great a liberty, and altered, added, or taken away many things, as we have made it appear in several placet in our notes. Servius cites this fragment from Lucretius:

——Superi froliatus luminis aer.

which may perhaps have been his, though it be no where found in any of his books; nor can it easily be discovered where it hat been left out. To restore it to its due place, would require an accurateness of judgment as great, if possible, at was their disingenuity who first left it out.

I now return to Lucretius, who, as Eufebius declares, wrote these six books of Epicurean philosophy, in his lucid intervals, when the strength of nature had thrown off all the disturbing particles, and his mind, as it is observed of madmen, was sprightly and vigorous. Then, in a poetical rapture, he could fly with his Epicurus beyond the flaming limits of this world, frame and dissolve seas and heavens in an instant, and, by some unusual sallies, be the strongest argument of his own opinion; for it seems impossible that some things which he delivers should proceed from reason and judgment, or from any other cause but chance, and unthinking fortune.

After his death, as I hinted before, Cicero, at Eufebius witnesses,revised and corrected his writings. Lambinus contradicts this; but the arguments he brings against the assertion of Eufebius are but weak, and of little validity.

Virgil, who was eager and assiduous in the study of them, has borrowed from him in many places: as both Macrobius and Gellius testify: the last of whom calls him "Poetam ingenio et facundia "prxcellcntem;" and Cornelius Ncpos has placed him " inter elegantissimos poc'tas." So that if some great divines have given him the ill name of Canis, it was not for any rudeness in hit verse, but due rather to his Grecian master; the eternity of matter, and the like absurd assertion*, having corrupted most of the philosophies of Athena. • As a corollary to these few remaining memoir* of the life of Lucretius, I will here give the opinions of several learned men, concerning him and his writings.

Y iij



Jlf. Cicero to bit Broibtr <?, Cicero^ tool it, epijl. II. 1 He poems of Lucretius, as yon observe, are not written with much brightness of wit, but with a great deal of art.

Upon which passage of Cicero, the learned P. Victorrus, in his Castigarions on Tully's Epistles, makes the following remark:

If any one, fays he, thinks it strange that some have been of opinion, that the po<:m& of the most elegant and excellent poet Lucretius, are written ■with no brightness of wit, let him blame the judgment <4 Qviinctus; for we may reasonably mistrust, that, since M. Cicero defends and commends him in the manner he docs he was not altogether of his brother's opinion, though he seems indeed, to confirm it; but that he would not thwart a testy man, who, perhaps, because he writ versus himself, was blinded with envy, and did not perceive the truth: Besides, he might be of that oyinion, bicause Lucretius composed not his poem to boast his shining wit, but to explain, with bis utmost art and industry, the whole philosophy of Epicurus.

The same Victorious Var. LeSi. Kb. XvYt. cap. l6. The copiousness and purity of the Latin tongue, appear chiefly in Lucretius.

Jll. yitrbviuj, i:i bit Treatise os Arcbiteclare, book ix. fhjp. 3.

Those, whose minds arc instructed with the delights of learning, cannot, but with veneration, tarry in their breasts, a.i they do the images of the gods, so too, that of the poet Ennius. Those, who are pleasingly diverted with the poems of Attius, stem to have present with them, not only his virtues, but his figure and n semblance likewise. In Jikc manner, many will, in after agca, srem to dispute, as it were, fare to face with Lucretius, concerning the Nature of Thing*, as they will with Cicero, ot the t\n of Rhetoric,

QuinhltM, bcoi z.

For Macer and Lucretius are, indeed, worth the reading: but not as if they contained the ■whole body of eloquence. Each of them is elegant in the subject he treats os; but the ouch low, the other crabbed and obscure.

Upon ivhicb foffagt of ^uintiliant Gisaniui tlut:
This opinion-of Qointilun is, the greatest part

•f it, unanimously condemned by the ancients and



There are many things in Lucretius, that are not to be found elsewhere.

Thefavte Author. So great is the beauty of the pure and simple, that is to fay, of the ancient, and almost only Latinity, that it easily prevails with intelligent readers, aud such a* are not superstitious, to contemn, in comparison of it, the borrowed charms of a gaudy and painted diction. This comes into my mind, chiefly when I read the poems of Catullus and Lucretius; for, of all the Latin poets, who h:ive survived to our days, these two deserve the preference; and, therefore, no diligence can be misemployed, no pain nor study superfluous, that may tend to the right understanding of them, or to prevent their being corrupted.


All the errors that Lucretius advances, were long before asserted by Epicurus.

Pctrut Crinitut,

T. Lucretius Carus is believed to be descended of the family of the Lueretii, which, at Home, was held ro be very ancient: and noble. He wa*a little older than Tcrentius V'arro, and Marcus Cicero, as some have written: this is the rather to be taken notice of, because in the annals which we have from the Greeks, there arc many things erroneouily related, and perversely set down, contrary to the truth of chronology. He in represented to have been a man of a vast and soaring wit, in writing of verses. He wa« wont to apply himself to the muses at several intervals of time; cot without a certain fury and rupture of mind,as the author* of antiquity deliver. Quintilian witnesses, that Æmilius Macer, and Titus Lucretius, excel in elegance of style; but that the poem of Lucretius is very difficult and obscure this was occasioned not only by the subject itself, but by reason of the poorness of the tongue, and the fewness of the doctrine he taught, as he himself testifies. He writ six books of the Nature of Things; in which he has followed the doctrine of Epicurus, and the example of the poet Enipedodes, whose wit and poetry he praises with admiration. There are some who write, that the poem tx Lucretius was corrected by Tully : it is not, therefore, improbable, that, by reason of his sudden death, he left it incorrect and imperfect. Quinctus, the brother of Cicero, held in high esteem the

poetry of Lucretius; and allows his work to have a great deal of artfulness and wit: besides, that it ought not to be woodered at, that some of his verses seem rough, and almost like prose. This vat peculiar to the age in which he writ, as Furiss Alhinus fully witnesses in Macrobius, whose words are at follows: No man ought to have the worse esteem for the ancient poets upon this account, because their verses seem to be scabrous; for chat style was then in greatest vogue; and the following age had much ado to bring themselves al length to relish this smoother diction. Therefore, even in the days of the emperors the Vespasjant, there were not wanting some, who chose to read Lucretius rather than Virgil, and Lucilius than Horace.

Framciscyi Ftoridui Sablnui.

T. Lucretius was an excellent philosopher, and often gives very satisfactory reasons of the things that seem to happen contrary to nature. Hitramjwuu Mercurialit.

Lucretius was the first who explained the Nance of Things in the Roman tongue ; and he burrowed many things from Dcmocritus, Epicurus, and Hippocrates.

'Julius Scaliger. Lucretius was a divine man, and an incomparable poet.


Lacretius is the best author of the Latin tongue.

Justut Lifsmi. There are some antiquated, and almost obsolete weoit to be sound in Lucretius, Ennius, and other ancients; but, though they are now out of use, and banished from our present way os speaking, yet, out os the respect due to antiquity, they ought to be carefully retained, and religiously preserved in the writing* of the ancients.

McLbier Junitit,

The diction of Lucretius is |ure, plain, and elegant, though he defends the opimoiis of hpicu

AUut Plui. L«cretiu«, even in the judgment of the ancients, is both a very great poet and philosopher, but full as lies; for, having followed the Epicuican sect, an opinions concerning Ood, and of the creation as things, are quite different from the doctriuc of Haio, and of the other academics; for which reafcm, some believe that he ought not to he read i-y Christians, who adore and worship the true pod. But since truth, the more it is inquired into,shines iht more bright, and appears the more venerable, Lucretius, and all that are like Lucretius, even though they be liars, as they certainly are, ought, in my opinion, to be read.

AJrianut Turnthui. LtOTtiu*, in his pleasing poem, has seasoned hisialct with a ectuiu delightful relish ol auti■jBtv.

Dion\sius Lmmkinui, in til Epistlt Dcd'icainry It Charli' IX. tie Most Christian Xing. Is among the sew remains of the writings of the ancients, which have escaped as from a shipwreck, there be any sort os learning, from whence many and great advantages have accrued to us, it is from their poems, &c. But you will fay, that Lucretius argues against the immortality of the foul, denies the providence of the gods, overthrows all religion, and places the chief good in pleasure. This is not the fault of Lucretius, but of Epicurus whose doctrines Lucretius followed. His poem, though he advances in it some opinions that arc repugnant to our religion, is, nevertheless, a poem; nay, and a beautiful noble poem too, distinguished, illustrated, and adorned with all the brightness of wit, &c.—What though Epicurus and Lucretius were impious; are we, who read them, therefore impious too? How many assertions are there in this poem, that are consentaneous to the opinions and maxims of the other philosophers I How many probable! How many excellent and almost divine! These let us lay hold on; these let us seize; these let us approve of.— Besides, are we so credulous and easy os faith as to believe, that what assertions soever all manner os writers have left recorded in their works, are aj true as if they had been pronounced from the oraclc of Apollo? And since we daily read many things that are sabulous, incredible, and fallc, either to give some respite to our minds, or to make us the more willingly acquiesce in, and the most constantly adhere to such as are uncoiitrtKvertibly ttue j what reason is there, that we should contemn or neglect Lucretius, a most elegant and beautiful poet 1 &c.—I return to our great and excellent poet Lucretius, the most polite, most ancient, and most elegant of all the Latin writers; from whom Virgil and Horace have in many placet borrowed not half, but whole verses. He, when he disputes of the indivisible corpuscles, or first principles of things; of their motion, and of their various figuration; of the void; of the images, or tenuitous membranes that fly off from the surface of all bodies; of the nature of the mind and foul; of the rising and setting of the planets, of the eclipse of the sun aid moon; of the nature os lightning; of the rainbow; of the Avcrni; of the causes of diseases, and of many other things, is learned, witty, judicious, and elegant. In the introductions to his books; in hit Comparisons; in bis examples; in his disputations against the fear of t!e^th; concerning the inconveniences and harms of love ; of sleep aid of dreams, he is copious, discreet, eloquent, know, ing.and sublime.— We not only read Homer, hue even get him by heart, because, under the veili os fables, panly obkcnc, and partly absurd, he if deemed to have included the knowledge of ail natural and human things. Shall we not then hear Lucretius, who, without the disguise os fables, and such trifles, not truly indeed, nor piously, but plainly and openly, and as an Epicurean, ingeniously, wittily, and learnedly, and in the most, correct and purest of styles, disputes of the prinY iii i

ciples and causes of thing*; of the universe ; os the parts of the world; of a happy life; and of tilings celestial ai:d terrestrial. And, though in many places lie dissent from Plato, though he advance many assertions that arc repugnant to our religion, we ought not then foie to despise and set at nought those opinions of his, in which not only the ancient philosophers, but we who proses* Christianity agree with him. How admirably docs he dispute of the restraining of pleasures, of the bridling the passions, and of the attaining tranquillity of mind! how wittily does he rebuke and confute those who affirm, that nothing can be perceived and nothing known; and who lay that the senses arc fallacious! H >w fully he defends the fenses! &c.—How beautiful are his descriptions'. How graceful, as the Greeks call them, his episodes! How fine are his disputations of colours, of mirrors, of the loadstone, and of the Averiti! How serious and awful are his exhortations to live continently, justly, temperately, and innocently'. What !hall we fay of his dicti n; than which nothing can !>e said or imagined to be more pure, more correct, more clear, or more elegant i I make no: the least scruple to affirm, that in alsthc Latin tongue, no author speaks Latin better than Lucretius; aud that the diction neither of Cicero Hor of Cæsar is mure pure.

Obertut Gifjniut in the Life of Lvcretiu:. \ have retained the common title, of the Nature of Things: fur,befide* that the ancient copies have i: so, and that Sosipathtr in the second book of hi* Cram, mentions the third bock of Lucretius, of Natural Things; our poet himself confirms it in book v. verse 381, where he says,

These truth?, this rife of things we lately know:
Great Epicurus liv'd not long ago:
By my assistance young Philosophy
In Latin words now first begins to cry.


Lucretius is in the right to fay this ofhimscls: for he was the first, who in the Latin tongue, writ of the Nature of Things; though afterwards many others followed his example; as C. Amafnuus, Catiu*, M. Cicero Varrn, and Ignatius: of the last of whom Aur. Microhms cites the third book. But the fame subject had, many ages before, been treated of in Greek by Empedoclcs, whom Lucretius held in great veneration, as appears by the following elegy, which he gives of him in his first hook, where, speaking of Sicily, he says, that that ;fland,

Though rich with tren and fruit, his rarely shown v thing more glorious than this ungjr one: His verse, compoa'd of stature's works declare '.{is wit was strong, and his invention rare; His judgment deep and found; whence some bc

And justly too, to think him more than man.

Crush, B. i, v. 748.

Him, thTefore, our poet carefully imitated: For, * \.". Aziltotle says ot Empedoci^, that he writ in

the same style as Homer, and was a great mister of his own language, as being full of metaphun, and making use of all other advantages that migU conduce to the beauty of hii poetry ; all these per. sections, I fay, though they are scarce to be found in any other of the Latin poets, manifestly discover themselves in Lucretius: sot he excels all the rest in purity of diction; and, if I may use the expression, in sublimity of eloquence: beside*, he has adorned his whole pvem with an infinite number Of excellent metaphors, as with so asany badges of distinction aud honour. Tully, who was well able to judge, calls him a very artful poet: and, would I had leifuie enough to show, not only what he has borrowed from Homer and others, but chiefly from Ennius, whom of all tie Latin poets he most admired, and studied to imitate, but what Virgil likewise has taken from Lucretius : for that would make manifest what I hue often said, that Ennius i* the grandfather, Lucretius the father, and Virgil the son, they being the most illustrious triumvirate of the epic Latin poets.

The fame Gifaniut in bit P res ate to Sambanu. Some there are, who will chiefly blame me f.r bestowing so much labour on an impious poet; for this, will they fay, is the very Lucretius, who endeavours to evince that the soul is mortal; sod thus takes away .all hope of our salvation, and ot a happy futurity; who denies the providence<k God! which is the main basis aud lupport of the Christian religi. n: and, lastly, who asserts in hit poem that most absurd doctrine os Democrltu and Epicurus, concerning the indivisible corpuscles or principles of all things. This being a grierous accusation, did indeed at first very much startle me; but having maturely weighed this objection, I was persuaded 'hat it was uot of such moment as to make us ne glect the labours ol tMi most excellent poet, or fufier them to be totally lost: For, by the fame reason, we ought to condemn many of the writings of Cicero; since if. them as well as in this poem, the fame doctrine of the providence of (Jod, of the nature of the soul; but above all of the atoms, is proposed, and often strenuously defended; nay, we must in tha: case be obliged to neglect almost all the writen of antiquity.—And, to say all in a word, almost all the authors of the preceding ages, the porti, the historians, the orators, and the philosophers, must all be laid aside, if their writings were once to be tried by the standard of our religion, and by the precepts of Christianity.—The aOcrtiors we find in Lucretius that are contrary to the Christian faith, are indeed of the greatest moment: but then they are so evidently fjlfc, that they can by no means lead a Christian itro error.—What danger can accrue to us from the ridiculous doctrine of his atoms, since it is so easy to be refuted > On the contrary, we may from thence rc3p this great advantage, that, having dis. covered the falsity of his assertions concerning the Nature of Things, we shall be the more diligent to find out the truth J and, having sound it, to retain


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