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Views & Reviews Medical Classics

De Rerum Natura (The Nature of Things)

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b4562 (Published 04 November 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4562
  1. Birte Twisselmann, web editor, bmj.com
  1. btwisselmann{at}bmj.com

    De Rerum Natura is science, including medical science, in verse. The Roman aristocrat Lucretius (99-55 bc) was a follower of the Greek philosopher Epicurus of Samos (341-27 bc). His narrative poem in six books was an attempt to publicise the Epicurean view of the universe in Rome. The underlying concept is that everything in the world, including human beings, consists of clusters of an infinite number of atoms (άτομον, or that which cannot be divided) that move around in an infinite void and in an unpredictable manner. Determinism is not a concept in this philosophy, and neither is immortality. These atoms vary in size, density, shape, speed, and concentration. Ambitious …

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