Sivut kuvina

Hierocles, " de Fato tt Providentia," p. 10. fays,the Platonists imagine, it is sufficient to look abroad into the world, and see that stones and mud ire not beings of infinite perfection; for whatsoever i» «jt«««, self-existent, as Scaliger calls the Deity, can have no bounds set to its excellency: For what can hinder the utmost perfection in that being which depends only on itself? Now is he could have proved, that nothing is made of nothing, Prmidence had at once been overthrown; bit the reader will easily discern, that aster all his great labour, and the mighty bustle he makes, he in effect proves no more than what no man denies;, that is to fay, that nothing within the compass and circumference of nature is produced from nothing. And, therefore, Lactantius, 2. Inat. 10. speaking of this argument of the Epicureans, had reason to say, " Sin autem intra nature vires contineri voluerit Epicurus, non esixt cur i nobis non laudaretur. Constat enim ex nihilo fieri posse caturæ viribus." If Epicurus 'be content, that this proposition should be interpreted to extend no farther than to things within the strength of nature, we should have no reason not to approve it: For it is most certain, that nothing is made of nothing by the strength aad power of nature. There is not, therefore, any reason to fear whatever arguments can be tirought against the power of God, since those which the most penetrating wit of Lucretius has been able to advance, are lo weak; for if his impious doctrine could have been defended, he certainly was capable of defending it:

-Si pergama dextra

Defenai possent, certc hac defense fuissent.

Ver 192. Epicurus, in the epistle to Herodotus, has comprehended in a few words this first argument, which Lucretius brings to prove, that nothing is made of nothing, iihlw yltijtti ri /tit «r«f, «■«» ya-f ix rdrros iymV' «», a«f/*«r»>» )s ill* vpeiiiftttyr which is exactly what Lucretius fays more at large in these eighteen verses. If things were produced from nothing, then every thing would proceed from every thing: there would be no need of feed, but men would start up out of the earth, beasts and fish would drop out of the sky, cVc. Now since all things do not proceed from all things: but certain proper feeds *are necessary, be rightly concludes, that nothing is produced from nothing. Nor indeed can any thing be objected against this argument, inasmuch as-it extends only to things within the power of natsre; for so far it holds good, but no farther.

Ver. aio. The preceding argument, to prove that nothing is made of nothing, was brought from the first rise and beginning of things. He Bow in twelve verses proves the fame proposition by another argument, drawn from the constant and never changing effects of the seasons in which the things are brought forth. For why should roses be produced only in the spring, why fruits in summer, and grapes in autumn, and not any or all of them in winter, if matter contributed nothing to tfceir production^ since there u not

a greater disposition in one season of the year than in another, to produce any thing out of nothing? This argument likewise holds good, taking it to extend no farther than to things within the strength of natureVer, aisi. He means in the spring ; the season

When first the tender blades of grafs appear, ~l And buds, that yet the blasts of Eurus fear, f Stand at the door of life, and doubt to clothe C the year. Drjitn.y

Ver. 222. His third argument, contained in these nine verses, is brought from the natural growth of things For if things were made of nothing, what hinders them from growing bigger out of nothing likewise f And thus there would be no need of time for them to attain to the height of their perfection, and fullness of growth; at least, in a moment of time, a new-born babe might start up into a sturdy youth, &c. For things grow slowly and by degrees, because they are increased by a certain matter, and by certain principles, which in one instant of time can neither be assembled, disposed in due order, nor join; ed together. Since, therefore, all things arc nou- ■ rifhed, and grow by the help of pnper feed, they must of necessity be produced from proper feeds likewise. This argument too is valid, provided still it be not extended to things above the power of nature.

Ver. 231. These eight verses contain his fourth argument, which he has taken from the necessity of food and nourishment, and is no less cogent than the others. For since the earth can bring forth nothing without rain; and since animals, when deprived of food and nourishment, can neither propagate their kinds, nor even support their own lives; who can be so weak as to believe, that either animals, or the fruits of the earth, are produced out of nothing, it being most evident, that matter is essentially necessary for the production and nourishment of all things? Nay, we ought rather to conclude, that there are eertain feeds, of which things are composed, as words are of letters.

Ver. 239. His fifth argument, in these fourteen verses, .is taken from the fixed and determinate size and duration of things: For if men, for example, were produced of nothing, whence conies it to pass, that they are constantly so weak and little i Whence proceeds this shortness of life, and the other inconveniences and imperfections of mankind: But admit, that men proceed from certain feeds, and of a certain matter, and all those things will be easily accounted for, and even appear necessary and unavoidable.

This argument holds good with the fame restriction as the former; but not without some distinction: For nature seems to have prescribed no bounds to the size of some inanimate things. Fire, for example, if you continue to supply it with still more and more fuel, it still grows bigger and bigger: But to all things that have life, to plants as well as animals, nature has fixed certain bounds of growth and magnitude : For thing* grow by the strength of natural heat only ; which lessens by degrees, when either through failure of strength, or the opposition of contraries, it can diffuse and spread itself no farther; besides it decays and grows weak with age.

Ver. 240. Lucretius seems to allude to the fable of Polyphemus, of whom Virgil, Æn. 3. ver. j64

graditurque per aequor Jam medium, needum fluctus Ultra ardua tinxit.

Through seas he strides, And scarce the topmost billows touch'd his sides.


Ver. 143. As the giants were feigned to be; of whom, Virgil, Georg. i. ver. 288

Ter sunt conati imponere Pelio Ossam
Scilicet et Osse frondosum involvere Olympum.

Ossa on Pclion they thrice strove to call,
And on them would have heap'd Olympus too at

But this fable of the giants fight with the gods was not invented by the Greeks, but came from the eastern nations, and arose from the true story of the building of the Tower of Babel.

Ver. 1,53. The poet had observed, that corn, trees, flowers, &c. are improved and bettered by human industry; from whence he brings his sixth and last argument, to prove that nothing is made of nothing, and reasons thus in these eight verses. All this is occasioned by certain hidden feeds. For what would industry and labour avail, if those things were produced from nothing.' It would indeed be vain and useless: And whosoever should undertake to cultivate nothing, would do nothing. Nay, what can hinder plants, that are produced from nothing, from improving and growing every year more fair and fruitful of their own accord i

Ver. 261. Hitherto Lucretius has been proving, that nothing is made of nothing. But now, in these two verses, he proposes another principle which is a consequent of the former, viz. that nothing is annihilated, or reduced into nothing.

Ver. 263. In these seven verses, he brings his first argument against the annihilation of things, and reasons to this purpose, from the common resolution of compound bodies. For, fays he, if things resolved into nothing, or were mortal in all their parts, there would be no need of force or violence to dissolve any of them: But as every thing would be produced, and appear on a sudden, without the endeavour or force ot any other thing; so without the force or violence of any other thing likewise, every thing would perish, not by a dissolution of its parts; but withdrawn from our eyes, would vanish away in a moment of time, and thus resolve into nothing. For the reason why force is requisite to dissolve each thing is, because it consists of feeds that remain after its dissolution.

Ver. 370. His second argument, to prove that nothing is reduced into nothing, is contained in these fifteen versbt. Animals, fays be, which, as

I have already proved, are r.nt made mt of no. thing, arc born daily, and die daily. The soon, tains perpetually supply waters, cf which riven aud the sea consist, &c. Now whence could ail these things proceed, if there were not some immortal seeds, that remain after the dissolution of the bodies? For who is so void of fense, as pot to grant that the first matter of things, if it were sometimes subject to perish, must have been to. tally consumed in the infinite succession of yean, that has passed away since the beginning of thing:; insomuch, that nothing of it would be now left to repair and renew the things that are daily dying?

Ver. 477. For the Epicureans held, that the fun and stars ware fires, that required nourishment to feed and keep alive their flames; and that they were nourished by the vapours aud exhalations that rise from the earth and sea. Nor »ai this the opinion of Epicurus only, but of the Stoics likewise. Nay, we may trace this belief even to before the age of Zeno.

But to answer this question of Lucretius, ajii give a probable reason of the perpetual supply of waters to fountains and rivers, we may have recourse to the invention that Cowley found out :o justify his

-Eternal fountain of all waves,

Where there vast court the mother waters keep, And undisturb'd by moons in silence sleep;

And stablifh an abyss, or deep gulf of waters, into which the sea discharges itself, as rivers do into the sea , and thus there is a perpetual circulation of water, like that of the blood in human bodies; and this Lucretius himself owns in some measure, Book vi. ver. 627. For to refer the original of fountains to condensation, and aftenrardi to a dissolution of vapours under the earth, is one of the most unphilusophicil opinions in all Anltotle. Besides, such an abyss of waters is very grecable to the scriptures; for Jacob blesses Joseph with the blessings of the heavens above, and with the blessings of the depth beneath; that it, with the dew and rain of heaven, and with the fountains and rivers that arise from the deep; anJ conformably to this, Esdras asks, What habitation are in the heart of the sea, and what veins in the root of the abyss.' T hus too at the end of the deluge, Moses lays, " That God stopped the windows of heaven,and the fountains 01 the abyss."

Ver. 285. In these thirteen verses, he urges his third argument, and fays, that it is evident, that nothing is annihilated, because the same force ■ not sufficient to dissolve all things; for it is in vain for any man to object, that the fame force cannot dissolve all things, because the principles of bodies are joined together by different textures. For what would that disparity of texture avail, what even the principles themselves, as they can be reduced into nothing, are not able to resist, or hold good even against the slightest touch? Su: admitting there are certain principles, which art eternal, then indeed a reason may be given from the disumilitude os their contexture with one anottier, why the same force is not alike sufficient to dissolve all things.

Ver. 291. For the eternity of the feeds alone vould signify nothing, unless there were a difiiuiiitade of them likewise, without which there can be no union or connection os things; and, therefore, though the first bodies were eternal, yet the compounds would not, for that reason only, remain entire one moment os time.

Ver. 298- But because there are many things which, as they dissulvc, vanish both from our sight and touch, to that degree, that they seem totally to periih, he, in these eighteen verses, obviates that objection, and shows, that even the rain, which, when it falls upon the earth, dries away, and chiefly may seem to vanish, does not, nevertheless, perish, but supplies matter for the growth of all manner of plants and trees, and to enable them in bring forth their several fruits in great iboodance, for the nourishment and support os men, birds, anil beads. We cannot, therefore, believe, that the least particle of the Ihowers entirely perishes, since so many excellent things are renewed and repaired by them. Lastly, He concludes, that nothing returns to nothing, since nature produces one thing out of another, ami never any thing new; but makes use of the matter of mother thing that had been dissolved before. See the note on v. 957. B. ii.

Ver. 314. This agrees with the maxim of Arillotlc, lib. i. "de generat et corrupt." 'II Ti3i '■ z . «XXv s/nffM, n '*.> ',.! ^hoet. The

corruption of one thing is the generation of another, and the generation of one thing is the cortuption of another.

Ver. 316 But that he may not dispute to no purpose, while his Mcmmius will perhaps distrust the validity of all the arguments he has hitherto brought to establish his atom*, because those eternal principles and feeds of things, in themselves, and apart from the bodies which they compose, are imperceptible to the fense, and, by realon of their exility, too small and subtle not to escape the sight, even of the sharpest and most piercing eye, he brings several instances of corporeal fubHances, to which no man denies an existence, though they are invisible to the eye. First, of the wind, in thirty-three verses, whose force and violence, says he, whoever thoroughly considers how it tosses and disturbs the sea, with what fury it drives the (hips, &c. will acknowledge it to be corporeal, though no eye could ever discover its particle*; and this too the more readily, if he reflects, that winds ruth on in the fame manner as rapid riven do, when their waters are fwoln with rain, and bear before them whatever opposes their course; and that rivers are bodies, the fenses themselves most plainly demonstrate. Virgil seems to have imitated this description of a stormy wind, it) the first 1 J, v. 86. and Lucan, lib. v.

Ver. 313. Virgil, Ueorg. i. ver. 318. describes the force of the wind in the like manner:

Omon reatorum concurrere prxlia vidi;
tt«a gravidani late fegetem 3 radicibus imia

Sublime expulfam eruerent: ita turbine nigro Ferret hyems culmumque levem, stipulasque volantes.

Oft have I seen a sudden storm arise

From all the warring winds that sweep the fleies;

The heavy harvest from the root i- torn,

And whirl'd aloft, the lighter stubble borne:

With such a force the Hying rack is driv'n;

And such a winter wears the face of hcav'n.

Dry J.

And Gcorg. IU. ver. I96.

Qnalis, Hyperboreas aquilo cum denfus ab oria
Incubuit; fcythixque hyemes atque arida dissert
Nubilu: turn fegetes altæ campiq nutantes
l.enibus horrefeunt flabris, fummæque sonorem
Dant sylvæ, longiq. urgent ad littora fluctus:
llle volat, simul arva fuga, simul xquora verrens.

Like Boreas in his race, when rustling forth,
He sweeps the stcie«, and clears the cloudy north;
I he waving harvest bends beneath his blast,
The surest shakes, the groves their honours, cast:
He flics aloft, and with impetuous roar,
Pursues the foaming surges to the ihorc.


Ver. 333. Thus too Virgil describes the rapidity of the Po, Georg. i. v. 481.

Proluit infano contorquens vortice sylvas
Fluvtorum rex eridanus, campofque per omnes
Cum stabulii arnienta trahit—

Then rising in his might the king of floods
Rush'd through the lorests, tore the lofty woods,
And rolling onward with a sweepy sway.
Bore houses, herds, and lab'ring hinds away.


And the violence of a Torrent, Æn. II. ver, 305.

Ceu rapidus montano flumine torrent

Sternit argos, sternit fata læta, bnumque laborcs,
Prxcipitesque trahit sylvas: stupet infeius alto
Accipicns lonitum saxi dc vertice pastor.

Thus, deluges descending on the plains,
Sweep o'er the yellow car, destroy the pains
Of lab'ring oxen and the peasant's gains;
Unroot the fotest oaks, and bear away
Flocks, folds, and trees, an undistinguisti'd prey.
The ihtpherd climbs the cliff, and fees from far
The wasttful ravage of the watery war.


Ver. 349. In these eight verses, he farther teaches, that it is but reasonable to allow that there may be in nature certain corporeal principles imperceptible to the sight, since all men confess that there are such things as odours, sounds, heat, and cold, though no man ever saw any of them; and yet who doubts but that all of them are bodies, since they affect and move the fenses, and consequently touch them > for tho hpicureans held, that whatever could touch, or be touched, that, and that only, was truly a body. Thus Aristotle, lib. iv. Phys. ausc. cZ/m iloim uvat ca? 3tir"[n' They believe whatever c^.n be touched to be a body. Hence Epicurus in Laertius, lib. x. call-* the void which is opposed to body, a nature free from touch, which opinion, Lucretius follows in this verse:

Tangcre enim et tangi nisi corpus nulla potest res.

Nought but a bejy can be touch'd, or touch.

Ver 35 7. He brings another example of an invisible body, in these fix verses: Water, Dys he, is a body, and yet experience teaches, that it is sometimes divided into particles too small to be seen. Linen or woollen clothes, spread abroad near the sea, will grow damp, and the heat of the sun will dry them again; yet no man ever saw those particles of water, either rising from the sea, and fixing themselves in the clothes, or retiring from them.

Ver. 363. In these ten verses, he gives several other instances to the simc effect: Ring* grow rhin with l«ng wearing; drops of rain, by of'en falling on stones, will make them hollow; the pavement of the streets wear with treading on them; nay, we fee that even brass statues will wear with frequent touching. Now, from all these things thus worn and diminished, certain corporeal particles mult sty away, though, whoever fees them must be sharper sighted than " aut aquila, aut serpeus epidaurius :" either an eagle or a serpent.

Ver. 364. Ovid says this admirably well in lib. iv. de Pon. Epist. x.

Outta cavat lapidem, consumitur annulus usu,
Et tcritur prefsa vomer aduncus humo.

Which he most certainly took from our author1.

Ver. 367. He speaks of the images of the tutelar or guardian gods, whose right hand whoever c:tmc into the city or went out of it, was wont to kiss, " boni oniinis causa," for good luck's fake. Yet I know not one single passage in any of the ancient authors that mentions or confirms this custom; but it is so plainly described here that we have no room left to doubt of it. Why the ancients used to kiss the right hand rather than the left, Varro teaches, in Excerpt, ci Scrvio in I. Æucid.

Ver. 373. In the last place, he teaches, in the eighth verse, that certain corporeal particles are added to things that grow and increase, and taken from those that decrease and diminish; but that those particles too arc invisible even to the sharpest eye. Epicurus has expressed all this very briefly in the epistle to Herodotus: w£« T 1 /tlyiic; fth uvai wip* arcfivi; the atoms have no magnitude; and. iitTcn yZv» *'Krtfiot oiftit euaSzrw for an atom is not visible co the fense. But Democritus believed that some atoms may be ver/ big.

Ver. 381. Having thus proved that there are certain corporeal principles of things, he is now going to enter upon another subject, and in the tuth verse he teaches, that, in the universe, there

is another thing besides body,- that is, 1 void, which void he thus defines; a place untouched and empty, that is to fay, a space that neither touches, nor is touched, that can neither act not suffer. Thus in Book iii. ver. 781, he fays:

Or else because, like empty space, 'tis such
As is secure from stroke, or free from touch.

Laertius, lib. x. says, that Epicurus called the void an intangible nature,and a region. Empiticos, lib. ii. adv. Phys. says, that it is called an intangible nature, because of its being exempt from all impulse by touch; or, to use the words of Arnobius, lib. vii. adv. Gent. "quod omni tactu fit incontigua," that is to fay, because it makes no resistance to touch. Thus Epicurus and Lucretius call that only a void which is incorporeal In its nature, that is, which can act nothing, nor suffer nothing, but only yields a fiee pifige through itself to all bodies. Now, Empiricus fays, that they called this intangible nature a void, because it is destitute of body; a space, because it contains bodies; and a region, because bodies are moved in it. Thus Aristotle, 3 Phys. vii. define) the void, a place in which nothing is; that is to fay, as he himself explains it, a place in which nothing corporeal, no body is. He goes yet farther, and fays, that it is a property of the void to be full aud empty; full when it is; filled with body, empty when it is void of all body, almoft in the fame fense as we commonly fay a vessel is full when it is silled tgith any liquor, but empty when there is no liquor in it, unless in the empty vessel, the air, which is a body, supplies the place of the liquor, by which means the vessel is no; entirely empty, but would be empty if neither the air nor any o/her body came into it. This being premised, will help us to understand the following afjrumcnts of Lucretius, by which he strive* to prove, that there is a void in the universe.

Ver. 387 .The first argument to provea void, is contained in these fifteen verses, and, the better to comprehend the force of it, imagine the universe, if there be no void or empty space inter, spersed in it, to be a vast heap of matter, thronged, crowded, constipated, and Wedged in on all pat ts to such a degree, as not to be capable of receiving into its bulk the least corpuscle whatever; for, if there be nothing that is not full, then no place remains to be filled j therefore, either a new body will not be admitted, or it will be placed in the very place that is already taken up by some other body: and thus the fame place will contain two different bodies, that must be penetrating into each other on all sides, which no man will pretend is possible to he done by the force of nature. By this we fee too, whether it be possible for any one of the bodies that are seated in that immense mass of matter to he moved out of its place, and to take the place of another. Certainly, if it find a place already full, it must of necessity drive away the body that possesses .antl fills that place. And if all things are full, whither shall that body be driven r Shall that ag""" thrust, away another? The same difficulty will '-■ torn opon os, and be continued for ever; therefore, unless there were a void interspersed in all things, all things would be crowded to such a degree, that not only nothing in the whole universe could be moved from its place, but it would be even impossible to give a reason, and explain bow any thing can be generated because a local motion it absolutely necessary for the generation of all things: and without a void there can be no motion whatever: nothing could move any more ihaD do those flints and shells, that are sometimes found in the very heart of huge Hone*, and in the entrails of the hardest rocks. Aristotle, in 4 Phys. 6. offer* almost the same argument, which he had col'.rcted from Democritus and Leucippus, whole opinions Epicurus followed. Aoxei murm1 fays Laerttn* in Democritus, speaking ot that philosopher, rmk «f«i ruV elrefuls jc«2 unr He believed atoms and void to be the principles of all thing-; but Epicurus more truly held, ttiat the void affords nothing besides place and discrimination; aud, indeed, though it be mixed with all bodies, yet it is in no wise to be admitted a* any constituent part of them; and, therefore, Plutarch wittily expresses body by Tit S», and void by To /aiSit. as if he had said, body it something, void nothing, which sense we must be sore to bear in mind, and carry about with Is, in order to comprehend a right aud true meaning os our poet.

Ver. 412 In these thirteen verses is contained ti* second argument, by which he proves, that lucre is a void, because some bods, s penetrate into, ind distil through the things that seem to be aoft solid, shus water soaks through stones; r>ourrshriient conveys itself into all the members of animals; the sap riles into the trunk* and branches of trees; sounds pierce through walls; and coicl penetrates the flesh aud nerves, nay, even wito the very bones; none of which coidd ever be, werrr there 1 ot between the particles of those solid things, some small void spaces, through which those bodies work their way.

Ver. 41c. The third argument to prove a void takei up thel'- ten verses, and ■* brought from the different weight of thing: that ire of the fame buik and figure, rtjirj, indued why »f *wo bodies of a like size and inapt sh 'ilu 0 weigh more than the other, txcept because in one of them there i» more of body to which weight is t/atural, an i the other more of vuid, which has tio weight at all.

Ver. 42 c. E'it becuse some, and among them Aristotle iib. 4 Phys. 7. Cic. lib. 4. Academ, et Seneca, lib 2. Nit. Quæft. 7 mdeavoui t.> eiude lie force of these arguments, by objecting that there is no need of a vMd for the morion of bodies, since in a full, bouies may officiously give way to one another; because whatever body is reoved. leaves a s,-cc to be p. sluTed by that Body, which it thrusts out if it* place' as water gives way to the lid) that Iwim !'«•• ward, and strait Cows into the place they left. But Lucretiu? answers, that unless the water gave way. the fiih could not move forward, ucr open themselves a Ttasis. H.

passage, or leave a space behind thfrn; but the water could not give way, unless there were an empty place for it to retire to. And therefore we must allow a void mixed with bodies, or deny the possibility of all motion whatever.

Ver. 439. These fix verses contain his fourth argument; which indeed is strong and valid. For if two smooth broad bodies meet, and are parted on a sudden, a void will be caused by their dissilition. For all manner of matter must have been compressed and driven away by the meeting of those two bodies, and therefore the space that opens between them, as they part, will be void of all body : for what can silt it up? Shall the air, or any subtle matter i Impossible: for how subtle soevi r you imagine the matter to be, you nevertheless leave a void, because that air or subtle mattery whatever it be, cannot be imagined to possess and 6H up in one instant of time all the space that two such broad and flat bodies will disclose, and lay open at parting.

• Ver 445 Our translator has rendered this passage os his author a little obscurely: but the meaning os Lucretius is this. It may, lays he, be objected against my last argument, that when these two slat bodies meet, the air that is intercepted between the surfaces of them is condensed, or at least lies hid in the cavirie< of the surfaces of those bodies; for no bodies art pjrstctly smooth. Now when those bodies separate, the intercepted air is ratified, and posseslis and fills up all the space that is d'.scksed and laid open by the separation of those parting bodies. But Lucretius answers this objection thus, urging still his sermer assertion; When these two bodies arc separated, a void must of necessity b - made, (for thi* cannot be denied, since they dui, at le.ift 1.1 some places,touch one another) and that void mult be silled up again with air; and thus the foregoing argu| merit holds good, and prove* what it advances, j However, he insists yet farther; at least fays he, that int.rcepted air is not totally condensed, or even grant that it he so, yet it follows from that condensation that there is a void: because it is ausurd to pretend, that ore same heap of matter can rake up more ruom at one time than it does ar another, unlelstheir were a void. Besides,from ! such a contraction and cor di 1 sation ol the air, 1 this absurdity will follow, that what was beI siire^r -\nted 'o be full, must now be empty ; and, I vur vcrs.i, what was empty, full: And even let ; it he granted, that such a ion pression of the dis1 joined and loosened parts of the air could be efI fecti d ; yet ever' tha' would even be extremely dis, ! tressed without an in rrspersion of void; for other. wise all thing' would be full, solid, aud mere bodies, w bess pi operties ■ ro ways admitting of penetration, could not possibly suffer the least con, dcusatior. This is the of the text of Lucretins, which the English does not fully express, j Ver. 455. The poet here tells .Mcnvmu*, that he couldallege rrauy other arguments to prove a ■ void: but he leaves it to him to gather the rest I out of those he has mentioned: For, fays he, it is : with pliilolophers at with hounds; and when they 1 Aa

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