Classics 24, Section 1

Turning Physics into Poetry: Lucretius' On the Nature of the Universe (1 unit, P/NP)

Professor Anthony Long
Tuesday 1:00-2:00, 122 Wheeler Hall, Class number: 40964

In this class we will read and discuss the epic poem of the Roman poet and Epicurean philosopher Lucretius. In the words of its English translator, "this book is intended to change your life." Lucretius tells a dramatic story of how the universe is constituted by the interplay of atoms moving in space. They dance, do battle, build infinite worlds, and create the conditions for a tranquil life. Lucretius's goal is to use the resources of poetry (visual imagery, sound effects, personification, metaphor) so as to conquer superstition with science.

Instructor Bio

Anthony Long has been teaching classics at Berkeley for several decades. His main area of interest is Greek and Roman philosophy. He has written many books that include treatments of Epicureanism and Lucretius including Hellenistic Philosophy and From Epicurus to Epictetus.


The following textbook is required: Penguin Classics: Lucretius On the Nature of the Universe, translated by R.E. Latham.