|2008 translation of De Rerum Natura, by David Slavitt, described as “Lucretius's majestic elaboration of Greek Epicurean physics and psychology in an epic that unfolds over the course of six books. This sumptuous account of a secular cosmos argues that the soul is mortal, that pleasure is the object of life, and that humanity has free will.” |
“De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things) is an unusual poem as to its content. The Roman poet Lucretius (94(?)-55 BC) wrote it to convince his audience that man need not fear the whims of the Gods or punishment in the hereafter, because the universe is governed by mechanical laws.
It is therefore not surprising that his work was hardly ever read in the Middle Ages. Characteristically, the text was copied at least twice in the first half of the 9th century, when all things from Antiquity were collected as fully as possible. The two manuscripts that have come down to us from that period are now both kept in Leiden, where for the sake of distinction they have been named after their dimensions the codex quadratus (the square manuscript) and the codex oblongus (the rectangular manuscript).”
“Clothes hung above a surf-swept shore grow damp; spread in the sun they dry again.
Yet it is not apparent to us how the moisture clings to the cloth, or flees the heat. Water, then, is dispersed in particles, atoms too small to be observed.”
“For surely the atoms did not hold council, assigning order to each, flexing their keen minds with questions of place and motion and who goes where. But shuffled and jumbled in many ways, in the course of endless time they are buffeted, driven along, chancing upon all motions, combinations. At last they fall into such an arrangement as would create this universe.”
Lucretius on the origin of "being" of all "things" out of nothing; and on the "raving frenzy" idea of Heraclitus that "fire is all things". Lucretius on mind-body dualism.
See main: Epicurean swerveDeterminism, in Lucretius’ physical science theory of the universe, appears to conflict with the concept of free will. This is similar to others like-minded reductionist thinkers such as C.G. Darwin (1952) and Mehdi Bazargan (1956). Lucretius attempts to allow for free will in his physicalistic universe by postulating an indeterministic tendency for atoms to swerve randomly (Latin: clinamen) or the "swerve of the atom" as it is sometimes phrased. This indeterminacy, according to Lucretius, provides the "free will which livings things throughout the world have." 
“What law defines the power of things.”— Lucretius (55BC), On the Nature of Things (translator: Frank Copley) (pg. 2) (1:76-77)
“They do not know the nature of the soul: if it is born or at birth slipped into us; whether, destroyed by death, it dies with us, or goes to see hell’s broad and lightless pools, or by some miracle passes to other creatures [see: transmigration], as our loved Ennius sang, who first brought down from lovely Helicon garlands evergreen to grow in fame wherever Italians live.”— Lucretius (55BC), On the Nature of Things (translator: Frank Copley) (pg. 3) (1:112-19)
“All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.”― Lucretius (55BC), On the Nature of Things (Ѻ)
“None of this happens, we know, for every thing; is made of certain seeds, by certain parents; And in their growing they preserve their kinds. Of course they must; a fixed law makes it so.”— Lucretius (55BC), On the Nature of Things (pg. 77) 
“So nature makes all food to living flesh / and from that food gives birth to animal senses / in much the same way as she make dry tinder / explode in flames and turn all into fire.”— Lucretius (55BC), On the Nature of Things (pg. 82) 
“When after all our world is made by nature; Of her own, by chance, by the rush and collision of atoms; Jumbled together any which way, in the dark, to no result,
But at last tossed into combinations which; Became the origin of things, Of the earth and the sea and the sky and all that live.”— Lucretius (55BC), On the Nature of Things (pgs. 86-87)