Titi Lucretii Cari De Rerum Natura Libri Sex: ex Editione Thomae Creech

From Wythepedia: The George Wythe Encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

by Titus Lucretius Carus

De Rerum Natura

Title page from De Rerum Natura, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Titus Lucretius Carus
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator Thomas Creech
Published Glasguae: In Aedibus Academicis : Excudebant Robertus et Andreas Foulis ...
Date 1759
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language Latin
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages xvi, 269
Desc. 8vo (17 cm.)
Location Shelf J-4
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

Titus Lucretius Carus (c.99-c.55 BCE), known simply as Lucretius, was a Roman poet who believed in Epicurean philosophy:[1] a “strictly mechanistic account of all phenoma” that atoms make up everything in the world, from physical objects to the mind to the soul.[2] Little is known about Lucretius, although various contemporary authors have written about his life.[3]

De Rerum Natura, or On the Nature of Things, the only known work of Lucretius, is a poem in six books. "The purpose of the poem is to free men from a sense of guilt and the fear of death by demonstrating that fear of the intervention of gods in this world and of punishment of the soul after death are groundless: the world and everything in it are material and governed by the mechanical laws of nature, and the soul is mortal and perishes with the body."[4] Lucretius wrote with a clear and organizational purpose; even "[the] division of the text corresponds to the Epicurean stress on the intelligibility of phenomena: everything has a systematic explanation, the world can be analysed and understood."[5] Each book has a prologue and a conclusion. The prologue in Book 1 "opens with a famous invocation of Venus, goddess of creative life, to grant to the poet inspiration and to Rome peace."[6]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Lucretius. 12mo. Foul." and given by Thomas Jefferson to his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph. The precise edition owned by Wythe is unknown. George Wythe's Library[7] on LibraryThing indicates this, adding "Probably one of the two octavo editions of Lucretius published by Foulis, in 1749 and 1759. No Foulis duodecimo edition is documented." The Brown Bibliography[8] lists the 1749 edition. Because we do not know exactly which edition Wythe owned, the Wolf Law Library purchased the 1759 edition when a copy became available.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary full brown calf. Spine features red morocco label, gilt lettering and decoration. Gilt rolls to board edges.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary online catalog.

See also


  1. "Lucrē'tius” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, ed. by M.C. Howatson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  2. "Epicū'rus” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, ed. by M.C. Howatson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  3. "Lucrē'tius” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature.
  4. Ibid.
  5. "Lucrētius" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, ed. by John Roberts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  6. "Lucrē'tius” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature.
  7. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe" accessed on February 28, 2014.
  8. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433