Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Lucretius, fully Titus Lucretius Carus NULL

Roman Poet and Natural Philosopher

"Even drops of water falling upon a stone in the long run wears a way through the stone."

"Fly no opinion because it is new, but strictly search, and after careful view, reject it if false, embrace it if 'tis true."

"For it is unknown what is the real nature of the soul, whether it be born with the bodily frame or be infused at the moment of birth, whether it perishes along with us, when death separates the soul and body, or whether it visits the shades of Pluto and bottomless pits, or enters by divine appointment into other animals."

"Habit causes love."

"Life is given to none as a disposable property, but to all for use."

"Life is one long struggle in the dark."

"Often for fear of death men are seized by a hatred of life, forgetting that this fear is the fountain of all care."

"Nothing can be created out of nothing."

"The greatest wealth is to live content with little, for there is never want where the mind is satisfied... but no pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage ground of truth."

"The sum total of all sums total is eternal."

"True piety is this: to be able to survey all things with a mind of peace."

"The mind has more to do with holding the fastnesses of life and has more sovereign sway over it than the power of the soul. For without the understanding and the mind no part of the soul can maintain itself in the frame the smallest fraction of time."

"Were a man to order his life by the rules of true reason, a frugal substance joined to contented mind is for him great riches; for never is there any lack of a little."

"What can give us surer knowledge than our senses? With what else can we better distinguish the true from the false?"

"What to one man is food to another is rank poison."

"Watch a man in times of ... adversity to discover what kind of man he is; for then at last words of truth are drawn from the depths of his heart, and the mask is torn off."

"Religion can lead to such evil."

"And yet it is hard to believe that anything in nature could stand revealed as solid matter. The lightning of heaven goes through the walls of houses, like shouts and speech; iron glows white in fire; red-hot rocks are shattered by savage steam; hard gold is softened and melted down by heat; chilly brass, defeated by heat, turns liquid; heat seeps through silver, so does piercing cold; by custom raising the cup, we feel them both as water is poured in, drop by drop, above."

"What once sprung from the earth sinks back into the earth."

"All things must needs be borne on through the calm void, moving at equal rate with unequal rates."

"Thus the sum of things is ever being renewed, and mortals live dependent one upon another. Some nations increase, others diminish, and in a short space the generations of living creatures are changed and like runners pass on the torch of life."

"Why dost thou not retire like a guest sated with the banquet of life, and with calm mind embrace, thou fool, a rest that knows no care?"

"Therefore death is nothing to us, it matters not one jot, since the nature of the mind is understood to be mortal."

"So it is more useful to watch a man in times of peril, and in adversity to discern what kind of man he is; for then at last words of truth are drawn from the depths of his heart, and the mask is torn off, reality remains."

"By protracting life, we do not deduct one jot from the duration of death."

"Men are eager to tread underfoot what they have once too much feared."

"For as children tremble and fear everything in the blind darkness, so we in the light sometimes fear what is no more to be feared than the things children in the dark hold in terror and imagine will come true."

"But if one should guide his life by true principles, man's greatest wealth is to live on a little with contented mind; for a little is never lacking."

"So potent was religion in persuading to evil deeds."

"We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another."

"It is great wealth to a soul to live frugally with a contented mind."

"Fear was the first thing on earth to make gods."

"How many evils have flowed from religion?"

"What is food to one man is bitter poison to others."

"Deprived of pain, and also deprived of danger, able to do what it wants, (Nature) does not need us, nor understands our deserts, and it cannot be angry."

"Nature ever upbuilds one thing from other, suffering naught To come to birth but through some other's death."

"All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher."

"Though the dungeon, the scourge, and the executioner be absent, the guilty mind can apply the goad and scorch with blows."

"All things keep on in everlasting motion, out of the infinite come the particles, speeding above, below, in endless dance."

"A man leaves his great house because he's bored with life at home, and suddenly returns, finding himself no happier abroad. He rushes off to his villa driving like mad, you'ld think he's going to a house on fire, and yawns before he's put his foot inside, or falls asleep and seeks oblivion, Or even rushes back to town again. So each man flies from himself (vain hope, because it clings to him the more closely against his will) and hates himself because he is sick in mind and does not know the cause of his disease."

"Pleasant it is, when over a great sea the winds trouble the waters, to gaze from shore upon another's great tribulation; not because any man's troubles are a delectable joy, but because to perceive you are free of them yourself is pleasant."

"At this stage you must admit that whatever is seen to be sentient is nevertheless composed of atoms that are insentient. The phenomena open to our observation do not contradict this conclusion or conflict with it. Rather they lead us by the hand and compel us to believe that the animate is born, as I maintain, of the insentient."

"Man's greatest wealth is to live on a little with contented mind; for little is never lacking."

"There is not anything which returns to nothing, but all things return dissolved into their elements. "

"Whenever a thing changes and quits its proper limits, this change is at once the death of that which was before."