Nil Posse Creari De Nilo! / Nothing Can Be Created From Nothing!

Parallel De Rerum Natura – Book I

Promoting the Study of the Philosophy of Epicurus

Lucretius From Munco Overleaf

This page was first published in full on July 31, 2010, for the purpose of making it easier to research shades of meaning within the poem by comparing the original Latin against two of the leading translations. Paragraph numbers have been correlated to the Loeb edition. Please be advised that the text has not been freed of all typos, especially in the Latin column. Feel free to report them!

Cyril Bailey H.A.J. Munro Lucretius
[1]Mother of Aeneas’ sons, joy of men and gods, Venus the life-giver, who beneath the gliding stars of heaven fillest with life the sea that carries the ships and the land that bears the crops; for thanks to thee every tribe of living things is conceived, and comes forth to look upon the light of the sun. Thou, goddess, thou dost turn to flight the winds and the clouds of heaven, thou at thy coming; for thee earth, the quaint artificer, puts forth her sweet-scented flowers; for thee the levels of ocean smile, and the sky, its anger past, gleams with spreading light. For when once the face of the spring day is revealed and the teeming breeze of the west wind is loosed from prison and blows strong, first the birds in high heaven herald thee, goddess, and thine approach, their hearts thrilled with thy might. Then the tame beasts grow wild and bound over the fat pastures, and swim the racing rivers; so surely enchained by thy charm each follows thee in hot desire whither thou goest before to lead him on. Yea, through seas and mountains and tearing rivers and the leafy haunts of birds and verdant plains thou dost strike fond love into the hearts of all, and makest them in hot desire to renew the stock of their races, each after his own kind. And since thou alone art pilot to the nature of things, and nothing without thine aid comes forth into the bright coasts of light, nor waxes glad nor lovely. I long that thou shouldest be my helper in writing these verses, which I essay to trace on the nature of things for the son of the Memmii, my friend, whom thou, goddess, through all his life hast willed to be bright with every grace beyond his fellows. Therefore the more, goddess, grant a lasting loveliness to my words. Bring it to pass that meantime the wild works of warfare may be lulled to sleep over all seas and lands. For thou only canst bless mortal men with quiet peace, since tis Mars, the lord of hosts, who guides the wild works of war, and he upon thy lap oft flings himself back, conquered by the eternal wound of love; and then pillowing his shapely neck upon thee and looking up he feeds with love his greedy eyes, gazing wistfully towards thee, while, as he lies back, his breath hangs upon thy lips. Do thou, goddess, as he leans resting on thy sacred limbs, bend to embrace him and pour forth sweet petition from thy lips, seeking, great lady, gentle peace for the Romans. For neither can we in our country’s time of trouble set to our task with mind undistressed, nor amid such doings can Memmius’ noble son fail the fortunes of the state. [1] MOTHER of the Aeneadae, darling of men and gods, increase-giving Venus, who beneath the gliding signs of heaven fillest with thy presence the ship-carrying sea, the corn-bearing lands, since through thee every kind of living things is conceived, rises up and beholds the light of the sun. Before thee, goddess, flee the winds, the clouds of heaven ; before thee and thy advent ; for thee earth manifold in works, puts forth sweet-smelling flowers; for thee the levels of the sea do laugh and heaven propitiated shines with outspread light. For soon as the vernal aspect of day is disclosed, and the birth-favouring breeze of favonius unbarred is blowing fresh, first the fowls of the air, o lady, shew signs of thee and thy entering in, tbroughly smitten in heart by thy power. Next the wild herds bound over the glad pastures and swim the rapid rivers : in such wise each made prisoner by thy charms follows thee with desire, whither thou goest to lead it on. Yes, throughout seas and mountains and sweeping rivers and leafy homes of birds and grassy plains, striking fond love into the breasts of all thou constrainest them each after its kind to continue their races with desire. Since thou then art sole mistress of the nature of things and without thee nothing rises up into the divine borders of light, nothing grows to be glad or lovely, fain would I have thee for a helpmate in writing the verses which I essay to pen on the nature of things for our own son of the Memmii, whom thou, goddess, hast willed to have no peer, rich as he ever is in every grace. Wherefore all the more, o lady, lend my lays an everliving charm. Cause meanwhile the savage works of war to be lulled to rest throughout all seas and lands; for thou alone canst bless mankind with calm peace, seeing that Mars lord of battle controls the savage works of war, Mars who often flings himself into thy lap quite vanquished by the never-healing wound of love; and then with upturned face and shapely neck thrown back feeds with love his greedy sight gazing, goddess, open-mouthed on thee; and as backward he reclines, his breath stays hanging on thy lips While then, lady, he is reposing on thy holy body, shed thyself about him and above, and pour from thy lips sweet discourse, asking, glorious dame, gentle peace for the Romans. For neither can we in our country’s day of trouble with untroubled mind think only of our work, nor can the illustrious offset of Memmius in times like these be wanting to the general weal. [1] Aeneadum genetrix, hominum divomque voluptas, alma Venus, caeli subter labentia signa quae mare navigerum, quae terras frugiferentis concelebras, per te quoniam genus omne animantum concipitur visitque exortum lumina solis: te, dea, te fugiunt venti, te nubila caeli adventumque tuum, tibi suavis daedala tellus summittit flores, tibi rident aequora ponti placatumque nitet diffuso lumine caelum. nam simul ac species patefactast verna diei et reserata viget genitabilis aura favoni, aeriae primum volucris te, diva, tuumque significant initum perculsae corda tua vi. inde ferae pecudes persultant pabula laeta et rapidos tranant amnis: ita capta lepore te sequitur cupide quo quamque inducere pergis. denique per maria ac montis fluviosque rapacis frondiferasque domos avium camposque virentis omnibus incutiens blandum per pectora amorem efficis ut cupide generatim saecla propagent. Quae quoniam rerum naturam sola gubernas nec sine te quicquam dias in luminis oras exoritur neque fit laetum neque amabile quicquam, te sociam studeo scribendis versibus esse, quos ego de rerum natura pangere conor Memmiadae nostro, quem tu, dea, tempore in omni omnibus ornatum voluisti excellere rebus. quo magis aeternum da dictis, diva, leporem. Effice ut interea fera moenera militiai per maria ac terras omnis sopita quiescant; nam tu sola potes tranquilla pace iuvare mortalis, quoniam belli fera moenera Mavors armipotens regit, in gremium qui saepe tuum se reiicit aeterno devictus vulnere amoris, atque ita suspiciens tereti cervice reposta pascit amore avidos inhians in te, dea, visus eque tuo pendet resupini spiritus ore. hunc tu, diva, tuo recubantem corpore sancto circum fusa super, suavis ex ore loquellas funde petens placidam Romanis, incluta, pacem; nam neque nos agere hoc patriai tempore iniquo possumus aequo animo nec Memmi clara propago talibus in rebus communi desse saluti.
[50] For the rest, do thou (Memmius), lend empty ears and a keen mind, severed from cares, to true philosophy, lest, before they are understood, you should leave aside in disdain my gifts set forth for you with unflagging zeal. For of the most high law of the heaven and the gods I will set out to tell you, and I will reveal the first-beginnings of things, from which nature creates all things, and increases and fosters them, and into which nature too dissolves them again at their perishing: these in rendering our account it is our wont to call matter or the creative bodies of things, and to name them the seeds of things, and again to term them the first-bodies, since from them first all things have their being. [50] For what remains to tell, apply to true reason unbusied ears and a keen mind withdrawn from cares, lest my gifts set out for you with steadfast zeal you abandon with disdain, before they are understood. For I will essay to discourse to you of the most high system of heaven and the gods and will open up the first beginnings of things, out of which nature gives birth to all things and increase and nourishment, and into which nature likewise dissolves them back after their destruction. These we are accustomed in explaining their reason to call matter and begetting bodies of things and to name seeds of things and also to tern first bodies, because from them as first elements all things are. [50] Quod super est, vacuas auris animumque sagacem semotum a curis adhibe veram ad rationem, ne mea dona tibi studio disposta fideli, intellecta prius quam sint, contempta relinquas. nam tibi de summa caeli ratione deumque disserere incipiam et rerum primordia pandam, unde omnis natura creet res, auctet alatque, quove eadem rursum natura perempta resolvat, quae nos materiem et genitalia corpora rebus reddunda in ratione vocare et semina rerum appellare suemus et haec eadem usurpare corpora prima, quod ex illis sunt omnia primis.
[62] When the life of man lay foul to see and groveling upon the earth, crushed by the weight of religion, which showed her face from the realms of heaven, lowering upon mortals with dreadful mien, ’twas a man of Greece who dared first to raise his mortal eyes to meet her, and first to stand forth to meet her: him neither the stories of the gods nor thunderbolts checked, nor the sky with its revengeful roar, but all the more spurred the eager daring of his mind to yearn to be the first to burst through the close-set bolts upon the doors of nature. And so it was that the lively force of his mind won its way, and he passed on far beyond the fiery walls of the world, and in mind and spirit traversed the boundless whole; whence in victory he brings us tidings what can come to be and what cannot, yea and in what way each thing has its power limited, and its deepset boundary-stone. And so religion in revenge is cast beneath men’s feet and trampled, and victory raises us to heaven. [62] When human life to view lay foully prostrate upon earth crushed down under the weight of religion, who showed her head from the quarters of heaven with hideous aspect lowering upon mortals, a man of Greece ventured first to lift up his mortal eyes to her face and first to withstand her to her face. Him neither story of gods nor thunderbolts nor heaven with threatening roar could quell: they only chafed the more the eager courage of his soul, filling him with desire to be the first to burst the fast bars of nature’s portals. Therefore the living force of his soul gained the day : on he passed far beyond the flaming walls of the world and traversed through- out in mind and spirit the immeasurable universe; whence he returns a conqueror to tell us what can, what cannot come into being; in short on what principle each thing has its powers defined, its deep-set boundary mark. Therefore religion is put under foot and trampled upon in turn; us his victory brings level with heaven. [62] Humana ante oculos foede cum vita iaceret in terris oppressa gravi sub religione, quae caput a caeli regionibus ostendebat horribili super aspectu mortalibus instans, primum Graius homo mortalis tollere contra est oculos ausus primusque obsistere contra; quem neque fama deum nec fulmina nec minitanti murmure compressit caelum, sed eo magis acrem inritat animi virtutem, effringere ut arta naturae primus portarum claustra cupiret. ergo vivida vis animi pervicit et extra processit longe flammantia moenia mundi atque omne immensum peragravit mente animoque, unde refert nobis victor quid possit oriri, quid nequeat, finita potestas denique cuique qua nam sit ratione atque alte terminus haerens. quare religio pedibus subiecta vicissim opteritur, nos exaequat victoria caelo.
[80] Herein I have one fear, lest perchance you think that you are starting on the principles of some unholy reasoning, and setting foot upon the path of sin. Nay, but on the other hand, again and again our foe, religion, has given birth to deeds sinful and unholy. Sacrifice of Iphigenia. Even as at Aulisn the chosen chieftains of the Danai, the first of all the host, foully stained with the blood of Iphianassa the altar of the Virgin of the Cross-Roads. For as soon as the band braided about her virgin locks streamed from her either cheek in equal lengths, as soon as she saw her sorrowing sire stand at the altar’s side, and near him the attendants hiding their knives, and her countrymen shedding tears at the sight of her, tongue-tied with terror, sinking on her knees she fell to earth. Nor could it avail the luckless maid at such a time that she first had given the name of father to the king. For seized by men’s hands,n all trembling was she led to the altars, not that, when the ancient rite of sacrifice was fulfilled, she might be escorted by the clear cry of ‘Hymen’, but in the very moment of marriage, a pure victim she might foully fall, sorrowing beneath a father’s slaughtering stroke, that a happy and hallowed starting might be granted to the fleet. Such evil deeds could religion prompt. [80] This is what I fear herein, lest haply you should fancy that you are entering on unholy grounds of reason and treading the path of sin; whereas on the contrary often and often that very religion has given birth to sinful and unholy deeds. Thus in Aulis the chosen chieftains of the Danai, foremost of men, foully polluted with Iphianassa’s blood the altar of the Trivian maid. Soon as the fillet encircling her maiden tresses shed itself in equal lengths adown each cheek, and soon as she saw her father standing sorrowful before the altars and beside him the ministering priests hiding the knife and her country- men at sight of her shedding tears, speechless in terror she dropped down on her knees and sank to the ground. Nor aught in such a moment could it avail the luckless girl that she had first bestowed the name of father on the king. For lifted up in the hands of the men she was carried shivering to the altars, not after due performance of the customary rites to be escorted by the clear-ringing bridal song, I I but in the very season of marriage, stainless maid ~ mid the stain of blood, to fall a sad victim by the sacrificing stroke of a father, that thus a happy and prosperous departure might be granted to the fleet. So great the evils to which religion could prompt! [80] Illud in his rebus vereor, ne forte rearis impia te rationis inire elementa viamque indugredi sceleris. quod contra saepius illa religio peperit scelerosa atque impia facta. Aulide quo pacto Triviai virginis aram Iphianassai turparunt sanguine foede ductores Danaum delecti, prima virorum. cui simul infula virgineos circum data comptus ex utraque pari malarum parte profusast, et maestum simul ante aras adstare parentem sensit et hunc propter ferrum celare ministros aspectuque suo lacrimas effundere civis, muta metu terram genibus summissa petebat. nec miserae prodesse in tali tempore quibat, quod patrio princeps donarat nomine regem; nam sublata virum manibus tremibundaque ad aras deductast, non ut sollemni more sacrorum perfecto posset claro comitari Hymenaeo, sed casta inceste nubendi tempore in ipso hostia concideret mactatu maesta parentis, exitus ut classi felix faustusque daretur. tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.
[102] You yourself sometime vanquished by the fearsome threats of the seer’s sayings, will seek to desert from us. Nay indeed, how many a dream may they even now conjure up before you, which might avail to overthrow your schemes of life, and confound in fear all your fortunes. And justly so: for if men could see that there is a fixed limit to their sorrows, then with some reason they might have the strength to stand against the scruples of religion, and the threats of seers. As it is there is no means, no power to withstand, since everlasting is the punishment they must fear in death. For they know not what is the nature of the soul, whether it is born or else finds its way into them at their birth, and again whether it is torn apart by death and perishes with us, or goes to see the shades of Orcus and his waste pools, or by the gods’ will implants itself in other breasts, as our own Ennius sang, who first bore down from pleasant Helicon the wreath of deathless leaves, to win bright fame among the tribes of Italian peoples. And yet despite this, Ennius sets forth in the discourse of his immortal verse that there is besides a realm of Acheron, where neither our souls nor bodies endure, but as it were images pale in wondrous wise; and thence he tells that the form of Homer, ever green and fresh, rose to him, and began to shed salt tears, and in converse to reveal the nature of things. Therefore we must both give good account of the things on high, in what way the courses of sun and moon come to be, and by what force all things are governed on earth, and also before all else we must see by keen reasoning, whence comes the soul and the nature of the mind, and what thing it is that meets us and affrights our minds in waking life, when we are touched with disease, or again when buried in sleep, so that we seem to see and hear hard by us those who have met death, and whose bones are held in the embrace of earth. [102] You yourself some time or other overcome by the terror-speaking tales of the seers will seek to fall I away from us. Ay indeed for how many dreams may they now imagine for you, enough to upset the 1 calculations of life and trouble all your fortunes with fear! And with good cause; for if men saw that there was a fixed limit to their woes, they would be able in some way to withstand the religious scruples and threatenings of the seers. As it is, there is no way, no means of resisting, since they must fear after death everlasting pains. For they cannot tell what is the nature of the soul, whether it be born or on the contrary find its way into men at their birth, and whether it perish together with us when severed from us by death or visit the gloom of Orcus and wasteful pools or by divine decree find its way into brutes in our stead, as sang our Ennius who first brought down from delightful Helicon a crown of unfading leaf, destined’ to bright renown throughout Italian clans of men. And yet with all this Ennius sets forth that there are Acherusian quarters, publishing it in immortal verses; though in our passage thither neither our souls nor bodies hold together, but only certain idols pale in wondrous wise. From these places he tells us the ghost of everliving Homer uprose before him and began to shed salt tears and to unfold in words the nature of things. Wherefore we must well grasp the principle of things above, the principle by which the courses of the sun and moon go on, the force by which every thing on earth proceeds, but above all we must find out by keen reason what the . soul and the nature of the mind consist of, and what thing it is-which meets us when awake and frightens our minds, if we are under the influence of disease ; meets and frightens us too when we are buried in sleep ; so that we seem to ‘see and hear speaking to us face to face them who are dead, whose bones earth holds in its embrace. [102] Tutemet a nobis iam quovis tempore vatum terriloquis victus dictis desciscere quaeres. quippe etenim quam multa tibi iam fingere possunt somnia, quae vitae rationes vertere possint fortunasque tuas omnis turbare timore! et merito; nam si certam finem esse viderent aerumnarum homines, aliqua ratione valerent religionibus atque minis obsistere vatum. nunc ratio nulla est restandi, nulla facultas, aeternas quoniam poenas in morte timendum. ignoratur enim quae sit natura animai, nata sit an contra nascentibus insinuetur et simul intereat nobiscum morte dirempta an tenebras Orci visat vastasque lacunas an pecudes alias divinitus insinuet se, Ennius ut noster cecinit, qui primus amoeno detulit ex Helicone perenni fronde coronam, per gentis Italas hominum quae clara clueret; etsi praeterea tamen esse Acherusia templa Ennius aeternis exponit versibus edens, quo neque permaneant animae neque corpora nostra, sed quaedam simulacra modis pallentia miris; unde sibi exortam semper florentis Homeri commemorat speciem lacrimas effundere salsas coepisse et rerum naturam expandere dictis. Qua propter bene cum superis de rebus habenda nobis est ratio, solis lunaeque meatus qua fiant ratione, et qua vi quaeque gerantur in terris, tunc cum primis ratione sagaci unde anima atque animi constet natura videndum, et quae res nobis vigilantibus obvia mentes terrificet morbo adfectis somnoque sepultis, cernere uti videamur eos audireque coram, morte obita quorum tellus amplectitur ossa.
[136]Nor does it pass unnoticed of my mind that it is a hard task in Latin verses to set clearly in the light the dark discoveries of the Greeks, above all when many things must be treated in new words, because of the poverty of our tongue and the newness of the themes; yet your merit and the pleasure of your sweet friendship, for which I hope, urge me to bear the burden of any toil, and lead me on to watch through the calm nights, searching by what words, yea and in what measures, I may avail to spread before your mind a bright light, whereby you may see to the heart of hidden things. [136] Nor does my mind fail to perceive how hard it is to make clear in Latin verses the dark discoveries of the Greeks, especially as many points must be dealt with in new terms on account of the poverty of the language and the novelty of the questions. But yet your worth and the looked-for pleasure of sweet friendship prompt me to undergo any labour and lead me on to watch the clear nights through, seeking by what words and in, what verse I may be able in the end to shed on your mind so clear a light that you can thoroughly scan hidden things. [136] Nec me animi fallit Graiorum obscura reperta difficile inlustrare Latinis versibus esse, multa novis verbis praesertim cum sit agendum propter egestatem linguae et rerum novitatem; sed tua me virtus tamen et sperata voluptas suavis amicitiae quemvis efferre laborem suadet et inducit noctes vigilare serenas quaerentem dictis quibus et quo carmine demum clara tuae possim praepandere lumina menti, res quibus occultas penitus convisere possis.
[146] This terror then, this darkness of the mind, must needs be scattered not by the rays of the sun and the gleaming shafts of day, but by the outer view and the inner law of nature; whose first rule shall take its start for us from this, that nothing is ever begotten of nothing by divine will. Fear forsooth so constrains all mortal men, because they behold many things come to pass on earth and in the sky, the cause of whose working they can by no means see, and think that a divine power brings them about. Therefore, when we have seen that nothing can be created out of nothing, then more rightly after that shall we discern that for which we search, both whence each thing can be created, and in what way all things come to be without the aid of gods. [146] This terror then and darkness of mind must be dispelled not by the rays of the sun and glittering shafts of day, but by the aspect and the law of nature; the warp of whose design we shall begin with this first principle, nothing is ever gotten out of nothing by divine power. Fear in sooth holds so in check all mortals, because they see many operations go on in earth and heaven, the causes of which they can in no way understand, believing them therefore to be done by power divine. For these reasons when we shall have seen that nothing can be produced from nothing, we shall then more correctly ascertain that which we are seeking, both the elements out of which every ~ thing can be produced and the manner in which all I things are done without the hand of the gods. [146] Hunc igitur terrorem animi tenebrasque necessest non radii solis neque lucida tela diei discutiant, sed naturae species ratioque. Principium cuius hinc nobis exordia sumet, nullam rem e nihilo gigni divinitus umquam. quippe ita formido mortalis continet omnis, quod multa in terris fieri caeloque tuentur, quorum operum causas nulla ratione videre possunt ac fieri divino numine rentur. quas ob res ubi viderimus nil posse creari de nihilo, tum quod sequimur iam rectius inde perspiciemus, et unde queat res quaeque creari et quo quaeque modo fiant opera sine divom.
[159] For if things came to being from nothing, every kind might be born from all things, nought would need a seed. First men might arise from the sea, and from the land the race of scaly creatures, and birds burst forth from the sky; cattle and other herds, and all the tribe of wild beasts, with no fixed law of birth, would haunt tilth and desert. Nor would the same fruits stay constant to the trees, but all would change: all trees might avail to bear all fruits. Why, were there not bodies to bring each thing to birth, how could things have a fixed unchanging mother? But as it is, since all things are produced from fixed seeds, each thing is born and comes forth into the coasts of light, out of that which has in it the substance and first-bodies of each; and ’tis for this cause that all things cannot be begotten of all, because in fixed things there dwells a power set apart. [159] If things came from nothing, any kind might be I born of any thing, nothing would require seed. Men for instance might rise out of the sea, the scaly race out of the earth, and birds might burst out of the sky; horned and other herds, every kind of wild I beasts would haunt with changing broad tilth and wilderness alike. Nor would the same fruits keep constant to trees, but would change ; any tree might bear any fruit. Tor if there were not begetting bodies for each, how could things have a fixed unvarying mother? But in fact because things are all produced from fixed seeds, each thing is born and goes forth into the borders of light out of that in which resides its matter and first bodies; and for this reason all things cannot be gotten out of all things, because in particular things resides a distinct power. [159] Nam si de nihilo fierent, ex omnibus rebus omne genus nasci posset, nil semine egeret. e mare primum homines, e terra posset oriri squamigerum genus et volucres erumpere caelo; armenta atque aliae pecudes, genus omne ferarum, incerto partu culta ac deserta tenerent. nec fructus idem arboribus constare solerent, sed mutarentur, ferre omnes omnia possent. quippe ubi non essent genitalia corpora cuique, qui posset mater rebus consistere certa? at nunc seminibus quia certis quaeque creantur, inde enascitur atque oras in luminis exit, materies ubi inest cuiusque et corpora prima; atque hac re nequeunt ex omnibus omnia gigni, quod certis in rebus inest secreta facultas.
[174] Or again, why do we see the roses in spring, and the corn in summer’s heat, and the vines bursting out when autumn summons them, if it be not that when, in their own time, the fixed seeds of things have flowed together, then is disclosed each thing that comes to birth, while the season is at hand, and the lively earth in safety brings forth the fragile things into the coasts of light? But if they sprang from nothing, suddenly would they arise at uncertain intervals and in hostile times of year, since indeed there would be no first-beginnings which might be kept apart from creative union at an ill-starred season. [174] Again why do we see the rose put forth in spring, corn in the season of heat, vines yielding at the call of autumn, if not because, when the fixed seeds of things have streamed together at the proper time, whatever is born discloses itself, while the due seasons are there and the quickened earth brings its weakly pro- ducts in safety forth into the borders of light? But if they came from nothing, they would rise up suddenly at uncertain periods and unsuitable times of year, inasmuch as there would be no first-beginnings to be kept from a begetting union by the unpropitious season. [174] Praeterea cur vere rosam, frumenta calore, vites autumno fundi suadente videmus, si non, certa suo quia tempore semina rerum cum confluxerunt, patefit quod cumque creatur, dum tempestates adsunt et vivida tellus tuto res teneras effert in luminis oras? quod si de nihilo fierent, subito exorerentur incerto spatio atque alienis partibus anni, quippe ubi nulla forent primordia, quae genitali concilio possent arceri tempore iniquo.
[184] Nay more, there would be no need for lapse of time for the increase of things upon the meeting of the seed, if they could grow from nothing. For little children would grow suddenly to youths, and at once trees would come forth, leaping from the earth. But of this it is well seen that nothing comes to pass, since all things grow slowly, as is natural, from a fixed seed, and as they grow preserve their kind: so that you can know that each thing grows great, and is fostered out of its own substance. [184] No nor would time be required for the growth of things after the meeting of the seed, if they could increase out of nothing. Little babies would at once grow into men and trees in a moment would rise and spring out of the ground. But none of these events it is plain ever comes to pass, since all things grow step by step [at a fixed time], as is natural, [since they all grow] from a fixed seed and in growing preserve their kind ; so that you may be sure that all things increase in size and are fed out of their own matter. [184] Nec porro augendis rebus spatio foret usus seminis ad coitum, si e nilo crescere possent; nam fierent iuvenes subito ex infantibus parvis e terraque exorta repente arbusta salirent. quorum nil fieri manifestum est, omnia quando paulatim crescunt, ut par est semine certo, crescentesque genus servant; ut noscere possis quicque sua de materia grandescere alique.
[192]There is this too, that without fixed rain-showers in the year the earth could not put forth its gladdening produce, nor again held apart from food could the nature of living things renew its kind or preserve its life; so that rather you may think that many bodies are common to many things, as we see letters are to words, than that without first-beginnings anything can come to being. [192] Furthermore without fixed seasons of rain the earth is unable to put forth its gladdening produce, nor again if kept from food could the nature of living things continue its kind and sustain life; so that you may hold with greater truth that many bodies are common to many things, as we see letters common to different words, than that any thing could come into being without first-beginnings. [192] Huc accedit uti sine certis imbribus anni laetificos nequeat fetus submittere tellus nec porro secreta cibo natura animantum propagare genus possit vitamque tueri; ut potius multis communia corpora rebus multa putes esse, ut verbis elementa videmus, quam sine principiis ullam rem existere posse.
[199] Once more, why could not nature produce men so large that on their feet they might wade through the waters of ocean or rend asunder mighty mountains with their hands, or live to overpass many generations of living men, if it be not because fixed substance has been appointed for the begetting of things, from which it is ordained what can arise? [199] Again why could not nature have produced men of such a size and strength as to be able to wade on foot across the sea and rend great mountains with their hands and outlive many generations of living men, if not because an unchanging matter has been assigned for begetting things and what can arise out of this matter is fixed? [199] Denique cur homines tantos natura parare >non potuit, pedibus qui pontum per vada possent transire et magnos manibus divellere montis multaque vivendo vitalia vincere saecla, si non, materies quia rebus reddita certast gignundis, e qua constat quid possit oriri? nil igitur fieri de nilo posse fatendumst, semine quando opus est rebus, quo quaeque creatae aeris in teneras possint proferrier auras.
[208 Therefore, we must confess that nothing can be brought to being out of nothing, inasmuch as it needs a seed for things, from which each may be produced and brought forth into the gentle breezes of the air. Lastly, inasmuch as we see that tilled grounds are better than the untilled, and when worked by hands yield better produce, we must know that there are in the earth first-beginnings of things, which we call forth to birth by turning the teeming sods with the ploughshare and drilling the soil of the earth. But if there were none such, you would see all things without toil of ours of their own will come to be far better. [208] We must admit therefore that nothing can come from nothing, since things, require seed before they can severally be born and 1 be brought out into the buxom fields of air. Lastly since we see that tilled grounds surpass untilled and yield a better produce by the labour of hands, we may infer that there are in the earth first-beginnings of things which by turning up the fruitful clods with the share and labouring the soil of the earth we stimulate to rise. But if there were not such, you would see all things without any labour of ours spontaneously come forth in much greater perfection. [208] Postremo quoniam incultis praestare videmus culta loca et manibus melioris reddere fetus, esse videlicet in terris primordia rerum quae nos fecundas vertentes vomere glebas terraique solum subigentes cimus ad ortus; quod si nulla forent, nostro sine quaeque labore sponte sua multo fieri meliora videres.
[215]Then follows this, that nature breaks up each thing again into its own first-bodies, nor does she destroy ought into nothing.n For if anything were mortal in all its parts, each thing would on a sudden be snatched from our eyes, and pass away. For there would be no need of any force, such as might cause disunion in its parts and unloose its fastenings. But as it is, because all things are put together of everlasting seeds, until some force has met them to batter things asunder with its blow, or to make its way inward through the empty voids and break things up, nature suffers not the destruction of anything to be seen. [215] Moreover nature dissolves every thing back into its first bodies and does not annihilate things. For if aught were mortal in all its parts alike, the thing in a moment would be snatched away to destruction from before our eyes ; since no force would be needed to produce disruption among its parts and undo their fastenings. Whereas in fact, as all things consist of an imperishable seed, nature suffers the destruction of nothing to be seen, until a force has encountered it sufficient to dash things to pieces by a blow or to pierce through the void places within them and break them up. [215] Huc accedit uti quicque in sua corpora rursum dissoluat natura neque ad nihilum interemat res. nam siquid mortale e cunctis partibus esset, ex oculis res quaeque repente erepta periret; nulla vi foret usus enim, quae partibus eius discidium parere et nexus exsolvere posset. quod nunc, aeterno quia constant semine quaeque, donec vis obiit, quae res diverberet ictu aut intus penetret per inania dissoluatque, nullius exitium patitur natura videri.
[225] Moreover, if time utterly destroys whatsoever through age it takes from sight, and devours all its substance, how is it that Venus brings back the race of living things after their kind into the light of life, or when she has, how does earth, the quaint artificer, nurse and increase them, furnishing food for them after their kind? how is it that its native springs and the rivers from without, coming from afar, keep the sea full? how is it that the sky feeds the stars? For infinite time and the days that are gone by must needs have devoured all things that are of mortal body. But if in all that while, in the ages that are gone by, those things have existed, of which this sum of things consists and is replenished, assuredly they are blessed with an immortal nature; all things cannot then be turned to nought. [225] Again if time, whenever it makes away with things through age, utterly destroys them eating up all their matter, out of what does Venus bring back into the light of life the race of living things each after its kind, or, when they are brought back, out of what does earth manifold in works give them nourishment and increase, furnishing them with food each after its kind? Out of what do its own native fountains and extraneous rivers from far and wide keep full the sea ? Out of what does ether feed the stars ? For infinite time gone by and lapse of days must have eaten up all things which are of mortal body. Now if in that period of time gone by those things have existed, of which this sum of things is composed and recruited, they are possessed no doubt of an imperishable body, and cannot therefore any of them return to nothing. [225]Praeterea quae cumque vetustate amovet aetas, si penitus peremit consumens materiem omnem, unde animale genus generatim in lumina vitae redducit Venus, aut redductum daedala tellus unde alit atque auget generatim pabula praebens? unde mare ingenuei fontes externaque longe flumina suppeditant? unde aether sidera pascit? omnia enim debet, mortali corpore quae sunt, infinita aetas consumpse ante acta diesque. quod si in eo spatio atque ante acta aetate fuere e quibus haec rerum consistit summa refecta, inmortali sunt natura praedita certe. haud igitur possunt ad nilum quaeque reverti.
[238] And again, the same force and cause would destroy all things alike, unless an eternal substance held them together, part with part interwoven closely or loosely by its fastenings. For in truth a touch would be cause enough of death, seeing that none of these things would be of everlasting body, whose texture any kind of force would be bound to break asunder. But as it is, because the fastenings of the first elements are variously put together, and their substance is everlasting, things endure with body unharmed, until there meets them a force proved strong enough to overcome the texture of each. No single thing then passes back to nothing, but all by dissolution pass back into the first-bodies of matter. [239] Again the same force and cause would destroy all things without distinction, unless everlasting matter held them together, matter more or less closely linked in mutual entanglement: a touch in sooth would be sufficient cause of death, inasmuch as any amount of force must of course undo the texture of things in which no parts at all were of an everlasting body. But in fact, because the fastenings of first-beginnings one with the other are unlike and matter is everlasting, things continue with body uninjured, until a force is found to encounter them strong enough to overpower the texture of each. A thing therefore never returns to nothing, but all things after disruption go back into the first bodies of matter. [238] Denique res omnis eadem vis causaque volgo conficeret, nisi materies aeterna teneret, inter se nexus minus aut magis indupedita; tactus enim leti satis esset causa profecto, quippe ubi nulla forent aeterno corpore, quorum contextum vis deberet dissolvere quaeque. at nunc, inter se quia nexus principiorum dissimiles constant aeternaque materies est, incolumi remanent res corpore, dum satis acris vis obeat pro textura cuiusque reperta. haud igitur redit ad nihilum res ulla, sed omnes discidio redeunt in corpora materiai.
[250] Lastly, the rains pass away, when the sky, our father, has cast them headlong into the lap of earth, our mother; but the bright crops spring up, and the branches grow green upon the trees, the trees too grow and are laden with fruit; by them next our race and the race of beasts is nourished, through them we see glad towns alive with children, and leafy woods on every side ring with the young birds’ cry; through them the cattle wearied with fatness lay their limbs to rest over the glad pastures, and the white milky stream trickles from their swollen udders; through them a new brood with tottering legs sports wanton among the soft grass, their baby hearts thrilling with the pure milk. Not utterly then perish all things that are seen, since nature renews one thing from out another, nor suffers anything to be begotten, unless she be requited by another’s death. [250] Lastly, rains die, when father ether has tumbled them into the lap of mother earth; but then goodly crops spring up and boughs are green with leaves upon the trees, trees themselves grow and are laden with fruit; by them in turn our race and the race of wild beasts are fed, by them we see glad towns teem with children and the leafy forests ring on all sides with the song of new birds; through them cattle wearied with their load of fat lay their bodies down about the glad pastures and the white milky stream pours from the distended udders; through them a new brood with weakly limbs frisks and gambols over the soft grass, rapt in their young hearts with the pure new milk. None of the things therefore which seem to be lost is utterly lost, since nature replenishes one thing out of another and does not suffer any thing to be begotten before she has been recruited by the death of some other. [250] Postremo pereunt imbres, ubi eos pater aether in gremium matris terrai praecipitavit; at nitidae surgunt fruges ramique virescunt arboribus, crescunt ipsae fetuque gravantur. hinc alitur porro nostrum genus atque ferarum, hinc laetas urbes pueris florere videmus frondiferasque novis avibus canere undique silvas, hinc fessae pecudes pinguis per pabula laeta corpora deponunt et candens lacteus umor uberibus manat distentis, hinc nova proles artubus infirmis teneras lasciva per herbas ludit lacte mero mentes perculsa novellas. haud igitur penitus pereunt quaecumque videntur, quando alit ex alio reficit natura nec ullam rem gigni patitur nisi morte adiuta aliena.
[265] Come now, since I have taught you that things cannot be created of nought nor likewise when begotten be called back to nothing, lest by any chance you should begin nevertheless to distrust my words, because the first-beginnings of things cannot be descried with the eyes, let me tell you besides of other bodies, which you must needs confess yourself are among things and yet cannot be seen. First of all the might of the awakened wind lashes the ocean and o’erwhelms vast ships and scatters the clouds, and anon scouring the plains with tearing hurricane it strews them with great trees, and harries the mountain-tops with blasts that rend the woods: with such fierce whistling the wind rages and ravens with angry roar. There are therefore, we may be sure, unseen bodies of wind, which sweep sea and land, yea, and the clouds of heaven, and tear and harry them with sudden hurricane; they stream on and spread havoc in no other way than when the soft nature of water is borne on in a flood overflowing in a moment, swollen by a great rush of water dashing down from the high mountains after bounteous rains and hurling together broken branches from the woods, and whole trees too; nor can the strong bridges bear up against the sudden force of the advancing flood. In such wise, turbid with much rain, the river rushes with might and main against the piles: roaring aloud it spreads ruin, and rolls1 and dashes beneath its waves huge rocks and all that bars its flood. Thus then the blasts of wind too must needs be borne on; and when like some strong stream they have swooped towards any side, they push things and dash them on with constant assault; sometimes in eddying whirl they seize them up and bear them away in swiftly swirling hurricane. Wherefore again and again there are unseen bodies of wind, inasmuch as in their deeds and ways they are found to rival mighty streams, whose body all may see. [265] Now mark me: since I have taught that things cannot be born from nothing, cannot when begotten be brought back to nothing, that you may not haply yet begin in any shape to mistrust my words, because the first-beginnings of things cannot be seen by the eyes, take moreover this list of bodies which you must yourself admit are in the number of things and cannot be seen. First of all the force of the wind when aroused beats on the harbours and whelms huge ships and scatters clouds ; sometimes in swift whirling eddy it scours the plains and straws them with large trees and scourges the mountain summits with forest-rending blasts : so fiercely does the wind rave with a shrill howling and rage with threatening roar. Winds therefore sure enough are unseen bodies which sweep the seas, the lands, and the clouds of heaven, tormenting them and catching them up in sudden whirls. On they stream and spread destruction abroad in just the same way as the soft liquid nature of water, when all at once it is borne along in an overflowing stream, and a great downfall of water from the high hills augments it with copious rains, flinging together fragments of forests and entire trees; nor can the strong bridges sustain the sudden force of coming water: in such wise turbid with much rain the river dashes upon the piers with mighty force: makes havoc with loud noise and rolls under its eddies huge stones: wherever aught opposes its waves, down it dashes it. In this way then must the blasts of wind as well move on, and when they like a mighty stream have borne down in any direction, they push things before them and throw them down with repeated assaults, sometimes catch them up in curling eddy and carry them away in swift-circling whirl. Wherefore once and again I say winds are unseen bodies, since in their works and ways they are found to rival great rivers which are of a visible body. [265]Nunc age, res quoniam docui non posse creari de nihilo neque item genitas ad nil revocari, ne qua forte tamen coeptes diffidere dictis, quod nequeunt oculis rerum primordia cerni, accipe praeterea quae corpora tute necessest confiteare esse in rebus nec posse videri. Principio venti vis verberat incita corpus ingentisque ruit navis et nubila differt, inter dum rapido percurrens turbine campos arboribus magnis sternit montisque supremos silvifragis vexat flabris: ita perfurit acri cum fremitu saevitque minaci murmure pontus. sunt igitur venti ni mirum corpora caeca, quae mare, quae terras, quae denique nubila caeli verrunt ac subito vexantia turbine raptant, nec ratione fluunt alia stragemque propagant et cum mollis aquae fertur natura repente flumine abundanti, quam largis imbribus auget montibus ex altis magnus decursus aquai fragmina coniciens silvarum arbustaque tota, nec validi possunt pontes venientis aquai vim subitam tolerare: ita magno turbidus imbri molibus incurrit validis cum viribus amnis, dat sonitu magno stragem volvitque sub undis grandia saxa, ruit qua quidquid fluctibus obstat. sic igitur debent venti quoque flamina ferri, quae vel uti validum cum flumen procubuere quam libet in partem, trudunt res ante ruuntque impetibus crebris, inter dum vertice torto corripiunt rapidique rotanti turbine portant. quare etiam atque etiam sunt venti corpora caeca, quandoquidem factis et moribus aemula magnis amnibus inveniuntur, aperto corpore qui sunt.
[298] Then again we smell the manifold scents of things, and yet we do not ever descry them coming to the nostrils, nor do we behold warm heat, nor can we grasp cold with the eyes, nor is it ours to descry voices; yet all these things must needs consist of bodily nature, inasmuch as they can make impact on our senses. For, if it be not body, nothing can touch and be touched. [298] Then again we perceive the different smells of things, yet never see them coming to our nostrils; nor do we behold heats nor can we observe cold with the eyes nor are we used to see voices. Yet all these things must consist of a bodily nature, since they are able to move the senses; for nothing but body can touch and be touched. [298] Tum porro varios rerum sentimus odores nec tamen ad naris venientis cernimus umquam nec calidos aestus tuimur nec frigora quimus usurpare oculis nec voces cernere suemus; quae tamen omnia corporea constare necessest natura, quoniam sensus inpellere possunt; tangere enim et tangi, nisi corpus, nulla potest res.
[305] Once more, garments hung up upon the shore, where the waves break, grow damp, and again spread in the sun they dry. Yet never has it been seen in what way the moisture of the water has sunk into them, nor again in what way it has fled before the heat. Therefore the moisture is dispersed into tiny particles, which the eyes can in no way see. [305] Again clothes hung up on a shore which waves break upon become moist, and then get dry if spread out in the sun. Yet it has not been seen in what way the moisture of water has sunk into them nor again in what way this has been dispelled by heat. The moisture therefore is dispersed into small particles which the eyes are quite unable to see. [305] Denique fluctifrago suspensae in litore vestis uvescunt, eaedem dispansae in sole serescunt. at neque quo pacto persederit umor aquai visumst nec rursum quo pacto fugerit aestu. in parvas igitur partis dispergitur umor, quas oculi nulla possunt ratione videre.
[311] Nay more, as the sun’s year rolls round again and again, the ring on the finger becomes thin beneath by wearing, the fall of dripping water hollows the stone, the bent iron ploughshare secretly grows smaller in the fields, and we see the paved stone streets worn away by the feet of the multitude; again, by the city-gates the brazen statues reveal that their right hands are wearing thin through the touch of those who greet them ever and again as they pass upon their way. All these things then we see grow less, as they are rubbed away: yet what particles leave them at each moment, the envious nature of our sight has shut us out from seeing. [311] Again after the revolution of many of the sun’s years a ring on the finger is thinned on the under side by wearing, the dripping from the eaves hollows a stone, the bent ploughshare of iron imperceptibly decreases in the fields, and we behold the stone-paved streets worn down by the feet of the multitude; the brass statues too at the gates shew their right hands to be wasted by the touch of the numerous passers by who greet them. These things then we see are lessened, since they have been thus worn down; but what bodies depart at any given time the nature of vision has jealously shut out our seeing. [311] Quin etiam multis solis redeuntibus annis anulus in digito subter tenuatur habendo, stilicidi casus lapidem cavat, uncus aratri ferreus occulte decrescit vomer in arvis, strataque iam volgi pedibus detrita viarum saxea conspicimus; tum portas propter aena signa manus dextras ostendunt adtenuari saepe salutantum tactu praeterque meantum. haec igitur minui, cum sint detrita, videmus. sed quae corpora decedant in tempore quoque, invida praeclusit speciem natura videndi.
[322] Lastly, whatever time and nature adds little by little to things, impelling them to grow in due proportion, the straining sight of the eye can never behold, nor again wherever things grow old through time and decay. Nor where rocks overhang the sea, devoured by the thin salt spray, could you see what they lose at each moment. ’Tis then by bodies unseen that nature works her will. [322] Lastly the bodies which time and nature add to things by little and little, constraining them to grow in due measure, no exertion of the eyesight can behold; and so too wherever things grow old by age and decay, and when rocks hanging over the sea are eaten away by the gnawing salt spray, you cannot see what they lose at any given moment Nature therefore works by unseen bodies. [322] Postremo quae cumque dies naturaque rebus paulatim tribuit moderatim crescere cogens, nulla potest oculorum acies contenta tueri, nec porro quae cumque aevo macieque senescunt, nec, mare quae impendent, vesco sale saxa peresa quid quoque amittant in tempore cernere possis. corporibus caecis igitur natura gerit res.
[329] And yet all things are not held close pressed on every side by the nature of body; for there is void in things. To have learnt this will be of profit to you in dealing with many things; it will save you from wandering in doubt and always questioning about the sum of things, and distrusting my words. There is then a void, mere space untouchable and empty. For if there were not, by no means could things move; for that which is the office of body, to offend and hinder, would at every moment be present to all things; nothing, therefore, could advance, since nothing could give the example of yielding place. But as it is, through seas and lands and the high tracts of heaven, we descry many things by many means moving in diverse ways before our eyes, which, if there were not void, would not so much be robbed and baulked of restless motion, but rather could in no way have been born at all, since matter would on every side be in close-packed stillness. [329] And yet all things are not on all sides jammed together and kept in by body: there is also void in things. To have learned this will be good for you on many accounts; it will not suffer you to wander in doubt and be to seek in the sum of things and, distrustful of our words. If there were not void, things could not move at all; for that which is the property of body, to let and hinder, would be present to all things at all times; nothing therefore could go on, since no other thing would be the first to give way. But in fact throughout seas and lands and the heights of heaven we see before our eyes many things move in many ways for various reasons, which things, if there were no void, I need not say would lack and want restless motion: they never would have been begotten at all, since matter jammed on all sides would have been at rest [329] Nec tamen undique corporea stipata tenentur omnia natura; namque est in rebus inane. quod tibi cognosse in multis erit utile rebus nec sinet errantem dubitare et quaerere semper de summa rerum et nostris diffidere dictis. qua propter locus est intactus inane vacansque. quod si non esset, nulla ratione moveri res possent; namque officium quod corporis exstat, officere atque obstare, id in omni tempore adesset omnibus; haud igitur quicquam procedere posset, principium quoniam cedendi nulla daret res. at nunc per maria ac terras sublimaque caeli multa modis multis varia ratione moveri cernimus ante oculos, quae, si non esset inane, non tam sollicito motu privata carerent quam genita omnino nulla ratione fuissent, undique materies quoniam stipata quiesset.
[346] Again, however solid things may be thought to be, yet from this you can discern that they are of rare body. In rocky caverns the liquid moisture of water trickles through, and all weeps with copious dripping: food spreads itself this way and that into the body of every living thing: trees grow and thrust forth their fruit in due season, because the food is dispersed into every part of them from the lowest roots through the stems and all the branches. Noises creep through walls and fly through the shut places in the house, stiffening cold works its way to the bones: but were there no empty spaces, along which each of these bodies might pass, you would not see this come to pass by any means. [346] Again however solid things are thought to be, you may yet learn from this that they are of rare body: in rocks and caverns the moisture of water oozes through and all things weep with abundant drops; food distributes itself through the whole body of living things; trees grow and yield fruit in season, because food is diffused through the whole from the very roots over the stem and all the boughs. Voices pass through walls and fly through houses shut, stiffening frost pierces to the bones. Now if there are no void parts, by what way can the bodies severally pass? You would see it to be quite impossible. [346] Praeterea quamvis solidae res esse putentur, hinc tamen esse licet raro cum corpore cernas. in saxis ac speluncis permanat aquarum liquidus umor et uberibus flent omnia guttis. dissipat in corpus sese cibus omne animantum; crescunt arbusta et fetus in tempore fundunt, quod cibus in totas usque ab radicibus imis per truncos ac per ramos diffunditur omnis. inter saepta meant voces et clausa domorum transvolitant, rigidum permanat frigus ad ossa. Quod nisi inania sint, qua possent corpora quaeque transire, haud ulla fieri ratione videres.
[358] Again, why do we see one thing surpass another in weight, when its size is no whit bigger? For if there is as much body in a bale of wool as in lead, it is natural it should weigh as much, since ’tis the office of body to press all things downwards, but on the other hand the nature of void remains without weight. So because it is just as big, yet seems lighter, it tells us, we may be sure, that it has more void; but on the other hand the heavier thing avows that there is more body in it and that it contains far less empty space within. Therefore, we may be sure, that which we are seeking with keen reasoning, does exist mingled in things—that which we call void. [358] Once more, why do we see one thing surpass another in weight though not larger in size? For if there is just as much body in a ball of wool as there is in a lump of lead, it is natural it 1 should weigh the same, since the property of body is to weigh all things downwards, while on the contrary the nature of void is ever without weight. Therefore when a thing is just as large, yet is found to be void in it; while on the other hand that which is I lighter, it proves sure enough that it has more of heavier shews that there is in it more of body and that it contains within it much less of void. Therefore that which we are seeking with keen reason exists sure enough, mixed up in things ; and we call it void. [358] Denique cur alias aliis praestare videmus pondere res rebus nihilo maiore figura? Nam si tantundemst in lanae glomere quantum corporis in plumbo est, tantundem pendere par est, corporis officiumst quoniam premere omnia deorsum, contra autem natura manet sine pondere inanis. ergo quod magnumst aeque leviusque videtur, ni mirum plus esse sibi declarat inanis; at contra gravius plus in se corporis esse dedicat et multo vacui minus intus habere. est igitur ni mirum id quod ratione sagaci quaerimus, admixtum rebus, quod inane vocamus.
[370] Herein lest that which some vainly imagine should avail to lead you astray from the truth, I am constrained to forestall it. They say that the waters give place to the scaly creatures as they press forward and open up a liquid path, because the fishes leave places behind, to which the waters may flow together as they yield: and that even so other things too can move among themselves and change place, albeit the whole is solid. In very truth this is all believed on false reasoning. For whither, I ask, will the scaly creatures be able to move forward, unless the waters have left an empty space? again, whither will the waters be able to give place, when the fishes cannot go forward? either then we must deny motion to every body, or we must say that void is mixed with things, from which each thing can receive the first start of movement. [370] And herein I am obliged to forestall this point which some raise, lest it draw you away from the truth. The waters they say make way for the scaly creatures as they press on, and open liquid paths, because the fish leave room behind them, into which the yielding waters may stream; thus other things too may move and change place among themselves, although the whole sum be full. This you are to know has been taken up on grounds wholly false. For on what side I ask can the scaly creatures move forwards, unless the waters have first made room? Again, on what side can the waters give place, so long as the fish are unable to go on? Therefore you must either strip all bodies of motion or admit that in things void is mixed up from which every thing gets its first start in moving. [370] Illud in his rebus ne te deducere vero possit, quod quidam fingunt, praecurrere cogor. cedere squamigeris latices nitentibus aiunt et liquidas aperire vias, quia post loca pisces linquant, quo possint cedentes confluere undae; sic alias quoque res inter se posse moveri et mutare locum, quamvis sint omnia plena. scilicet id falsa totum ratione receptumst. nam quo squamigeri poterunt procedere tandem, ni spatium dederint latices? concedere porro quo poterunt undae, cum pisces ire nequibunt? Aut igitur motu privandumst corpora quaeque aut esse admixtum dicundumst rebus inane, unde initum primum capiat res quaeque movendi.
[384] Lastly, if two broad bodies leap asunder quickly from a meeting, surely it must needs be that air seizes upon all the void, which comes to be between the bodies. Still, however rapid the rush with which it streams together as its currents hasten round, yet in one instant the whole empty space cannot be filled: for it must needs be that it fills each place as it comes, and then at last all the room is taken up. But if by chance any one thinks that when bodies have leapt apart, then this comes to be because the air condenses, he goes astray; for in that case that becomes empty which was not so before, and again that is filled which was empty before, nor can air condense in such a way, nor, if indeed it could, could it, I trow, without void draw into itself and gather into one all its parts. [384] Lastly if two broad bodies after contact quickly spring asunder, the air must surely fill all the void which is formed between the , bodies. Well however rapidly it stream together with swift-circling currents, yet the whole space will not be able to be filled up in one moment for it must occupy first one spot and then another, until the whole is taken up. But if haply any one supposes that, when the bodies have started asunder, that result follows because the air condenses, he is mistaken; for a void is then formed which was not before, and a void also is filled which existed before; nor can the air condense in such a way, nor supposing it could, could it methinks without void draw into itself and bring its parts together. [384] Postremo duo de concursu corpora lata si cita dissiliant, nempe aer omne necessest, inter corpora quod fiat, possidat inane. is porro quamvis circum celerantibus auris confluat, haud poterit tamen uno tempore totum compleri spatium; nam primum quemque necessest occupet ille locum, deinde omnia possideantur. quod si forte aliquis, cum corpora dissiluere, tum putat id fieri quia se condenseat aer, errat; nam vacuum tum fit quod non fuit ante et repletur item vacuum quod constitit ante, nec tali ratione potest denserier aer nec, si iam posset, sine inani posset, opinor, ipse in se trahere et partis conducere in unum.
[398] Wherefore, however long you hang back with much objection, you must needs confess at last that there is void in things. And besides by telling you many an instance, I can heap up proof for my words. But these light footprints are enough for a keen mind: by them you may detect the rest for yourself. For as dogs ranging over mountains often find by scent the lairs of wild beasts shrouded under leafage, when once they are set on sure traces of their track, so for yourself you will be able in such themes as this to see one thing after another, to win your way to all the secret places and draw out the truth thence. But if you are slack or shrink a little from my theme, this I can promise you, Memmius, on my own word: so surely will my sweet tongue pour forth to you bounteous draughts from the deep well-springs out of the treasures of my heart, that I fear lest sluggish age creep over our limbs and loosen within us the fastenings of life, before that the whole store of proofs on one single theme be launched in my verses into your ears. [398] Wherefore however long you hold out by urging many objections, you must needs in the end admit that there is a void in things. And many more arguments I may state to you in order to accumulate proof on my words; but these slight footprints are enough for a keen-searching mind to enable you by yourself to find out all the rest. For as dogs often discover by smell the lair of a mountain-ranging wild beast though covered over with leaves, when once they have got on the sure tracks, thus you in cases like this will be able by yourself alone to see one thing after another and find your way into all dark corners and draw forth the truth. But if you lag or swerve a jot from the reality, this I can promise you, Memmius, without more ado: such plenteous draughts from abundant wellsprings my sweet tongue shall pour from my richly furnished breast, that I fear slow age will steal over our limbs and break open in us the fastnesses of life, ere the whole store of reasons on any one question has by my verses been dropped into your ears. [398] Qua propter, quamvis causando multa moreris, esse in rebus inane tamen fateare necessest. Multaque praeterea tibi possum commemorando argumenta fidem dictis conradere nostris. Verum animo satis haec vestigia parva sagaci sunt, per quae possis cognoscere cetera tute. namque canes ut montivagae persaepe ferai naribus inveniunt intectas fronde quietes, cum semel institerunt vestigia certa viai, sic alid ex alio per te tute ipse videre talibus in rebus poteris caecasque latebras insinuare omnis et verum protrahere inde. Quod si pigraris paulumve recesseris ab re, hoc tibi de plano possum promittere, Memmi: usque adeo largos haustus e fontibus magnis lingua meo suavis diti de pectore fundet, ut verear ne tarda prius per membra senectus serpat et in nobis vitai claustra resolvat, quam tibi de quavis una re versibus omnis argumentorum sit copia missa per auris.
[418] But now, to weave again at the web, which is the task of my discourse, all nature then, as it is of itself, is built of these two things: for there are bodies and the void, in which they are placed and where they move hither and thither. For that body exists is declared by the feeling which all share alike; and unless faith in this feeling be firmly grounded at once and prevail, there will be naught to which we can make appeal about things hidden, so as to prove aught by the reasoning of the mind. And next, were there not room and empty space, which we call void, nowhere could bodies be placed, nor could they wander at all hither and thither in any direction; and this I have above shown to you but a little while beore. [418] But now to resume the thread of the design which I am weaving in verse: all nature then, as it exists by itself, is founded on two things: there are bodies and there is void in which these bodies are placed and through which they move about. For that body exists by itself the general feeling of mankind declares; and unless at the very first belief in this be firmly grounded, there will be nothing to which we can appeal on hidden things in order to prove anything by reasoning of mind. Then again, if room and space which we call void did not exist, bodies could not be placed anywhere nor move about at all to any side; as we have demonstrated to you a little before. [418] Sed nunc ut repetam coeptum pertexere dictis, omnis ut est igitur per se natura duabus constitit in rebus; nam corpora sunt et inane, haec in quo sita sunt et qua diversa moventur. Corpus enim per se communis dedicat esse sensus; cui nisi prima fides fundata valebit, haut erit occultis de rebus quo referentes confirmare animi quicquam ratione queamus. Tum porro locus ac spatium, quod inane vocamus, si nullum foret, haut usquam sita corpora possent esse neque omnino quoquam diversa meare; id quod iam supera tibi paulo ostendimus ante.
[430] Besides these there is nothing which you could say is parted from all body and sundered from void, which could be discovered, as it were a third nature in the list. For whatever shall exist, must needs be something in itself; and if it suffer touch, however small and light, it will increase the count of body by a bulk great or maybe small, if it exists at all, and be added to its sum. But if it is not to be touched, inasmuch as it cannot on any side check anything from wandering through it and passing on its way, in truth it will be that which we call empty void. Or again, whatsoever exists by itself, will either do something or suffer itself while other things act upon it, or it will be such that things may exist and go on in it. But nothing can do or suffer without body, nor afford room again, unless it be void and empty space. And so besides void and bodies no third nature by itself can be left in the list of things, which might either at any time fall within the purview of our senses, or be grasped by any one through reasoning of the mind. [430] Moreover there is nothing which you can affirm to be at once separate from all body and quite distinct from void, which would so to say count as the discovery of a third nature. For whatever shall exist, this of itself must be something or other. Now if it shall admit of touch in however slight and small a measure, it will, be it with a large or be it with a little addition, provided it do exist, increase the amount of body and join the sum. But if it shall be intangible and unable to hinder any thing from passing through it on any side, this you are to know will be that which we call empty void. Again whatever shall exist by itself, will either do something or will itself suffer by the action of other things, or will be of such a nature as things are able to exist and go on in. But no thing can do and suffer without body, nor aught furnish room except void and vacancy. Therefore beside void and bodies no third nature taken by itself can be left in the number of things, either such as to fall at any time under the ken of our senses or such as any one can grasp by the reason of his mind. [430] Praeterea nihil est quod possis dicere ab omni corpore seiunctum secretumque esse ab inani, quod quasi tertia sit numero natura reperta. nam quod cumque erit, esse aliquid debebit id ipsum augmine vel grandi vel parvo denique, dum sit; cui si tactus erit quamvis levis exiguusque, corporis augebit numerum summamque sequetur; sin intactile erit, nulla de parte quod ullam rem prohibere queat per se transire meantem, scilicet hoc id erit, vacuum quod inane vocamus. Praeterea per se quod cumque erit, aut faciet quid aut aliis fungi debebit agentibus ipsum aut erit ut possint in eo res esse gerique. at facere et fungi sine corpore nulla potest res nec praebere locum porro nisi inane vacansque. Ergo praeter inane et corpora tertia per se nulla potest rerum in numero natura relinqui, nec quae sub sensus cadat ullo tempore nostros nec ratione animi quam quisquam possit apisci.
[449] For all things that have a name, you will find either properties linked to these two things or you will see them to be their accidents. That is a property which in no case can be sundered or separated without the fatal disunion of the thing, as is weight to rocks, heat to fire, moisture to water, touch to all bodies, intangibility to the void. On the other hand, slavery, poverty, riches, liberty, war, concord, and other things by whose coming and going the nature of things abides untouched, these we are used,as is natural, to call accidents. Even so time exists not by itself, but from actual things comes a feeling, what was brought to a close in time past, then what is present now, and further what is going to be hereafter. And it must be avowed that no man feels time by itself apart from the motion or quiet rest of things. [449] For whatever things are named, you will either find to be properties linked to these two things or you will see to be accidents of these things. That is a property which can in no case be disjoined and separated without utter destruction accompanying the severance, such as the weight of a stone, the heat of fire, the fluidity of water. Slavery on the other hand, poverty and riches, liberty war concord and all other things which may come and go while the nature of the thing remains unharmed, these we are wont, as it is right we should, to call accidents. Time also exists not by itself, but simply from the things which happen the sense apprehends what has been done in time past, as well as what is present and what is to follow after. And we must admit that no one feels time by itself abstracted from the motion and calm rest of things. [449] Nam quae cumque cluent, aut his coniuncta duabus rebus ea invenies aut horum eventa videbis. coniunctum est id quod nusquam sine permitiali discidio potis est seiungi seque gregari, pondus uti saxis, calor ignis, liquor aquai, tactus corporibus cunctis, intactus inani. Servitium contra paupertas divitiaeque, libertas bellum concordia cetera quorum adventu manet incolumis natura abituque, haec soliti sumus, ut par est, eventa vocare. tempus item per se non est, sed rebus ab ipsis consequitur sensus, transactum quid sit in aevo, tum quae res instet, quid porro deinde sequatur; nec per se quemquam tempus sentire fatendumst semotum ab rerum motu placidaque quiete.
[464] Then again, when men say that ‘the rape of Tyndarus’s daughter’, or ‘the vanquishing of the Trojan tribes in war’ are things, beware that they do not perchance constrain us to avow that these things exist in themselves, just because the past ages have carried off beyond recall those races of men, of whom, in truth, these were the accidents. For firstly, we might well say that whatsoever has happened is an accident in one case of the countries, in another even of the regions of space. Or again, if there had been no substance of things nor place and space, in which all things are carried on, never would the flame of love have been fired by the beauty of Tyndaris, nor swelling deep in the Phrygian heart of Alexander have kindled the burning battles of savage war, nor unknown of the Trojans would the timber horse have set Pergama aflame at dead of night, when the sons of the Greeks issued from its womb. So that you may see clearly that all events from first to last do not exist, and are not by themselves like body, nor can they be spoken of in the same way as the being of the void, but rather so that you might justly call them the accidents of body and place, in which they are carried on, one and all. [464] So when they say that the daughter of Tyndarus was ravished and the Trojan nations were subdued in war, we must mind that they do not force us to admit that these things are by themselves, since those generations of men, of whom these things were accidents, time now gone by has irrevocably swept away. For whatever shall have been done may be termed an accident in one case of the Teucran people, in another of the countries simply. Yes for if there had been no matter of things and no room and space in which things severally go on, never had the fire, kindled by love of the beauty of Tyndarus’ daughter, blazed beneath the Phrygian breast of Alexander and lighted up the famous struggles of cruel war, nor had the timber horse unknown to the Trojans wrapt Pergama in flames by its night-issuing brood of sons of the Greeks; so that you may clearly perceive that all actions from first to last exist not by themselves and are not by themselves in the way that body is, nor are terms of the same kind as void is, but are rather of such a kind that you may fairly call them accidents of body and of the room in which they severally go on. [464] Denique Tyndaridem raptam belloque subactas Troiiugenas gentis cum dicunt esse, videndumst ne forte haec per se cogant nos esse fateri, quando ea saecla hominum, quorum haec eventa fuerunt, inrevocabilis abstulerit iam praeterita aetas; namque aliud terris, aliud regionibus ipsis eventum dici poterit quod cumque erit actum. Denique materies si rerum nulla fuisset nec locus ac spatium, res in quo quaeque geruntur, numquam Tyndaridis forma conflatus amore ignis Alexandri Phrygio sub pectore gliscens clara accendisset saevi certamina belli nec clam durateus Troiianis Pergama partu inflammasset equos nocturno Graiiugenarum; perspicere ut possis res gestas funditus omnis non ita uti corpus per se constare neque esse nec ratione cluere eadem qua constet inane, sed magis ut merito possis eventa vocare corporis atque loci, res in quo quaeque gerantur.
[483] Bodies, moreover, are in part the first-beginnings of things, in part those which are created by the union of first-beginnings. Now the true first-beginnings of things, no force can quench; for they by their solid body prevail in the end. Albeit it seems hard to believe that there can be found among things anything of solid body. For the thunderbolt of heaven passes through walled houses, as do shouts and cries; iron grows white hot in the flame, and stones seethe in fierce fire and leap asunder; then too the hardness of gold is relaxed and softened by heat, and the ice of brass yields beneath the flame and melts; warmth and piercing cold ooze through silver, since when we have held cups duly in our hands we have felt both alike, when the dewy moisture of water was poured in from above. So true is it that in things there is seen to be nothing solid. But yet because true reasoning and the nature of things constrains us, give heed, until in a few verses we set forth that there are things which exist with solid and everlasting body, which we show to be the seeds of things and their first-beginnings, out of which the whole sum of things now stands created. [483] Bodies again are partly first-beginnings of things, partly those which are formed of a union of first-beginnings. But those which are first-beginnings of things no force can quench: they are sure to have the better by their solid body. Although it seems difficult to believe that aught can be found among things with a solid body. For the lightning of heaven passes through the walls of houses, as well as noise and voices; iron grows red-hot in the fire and stones burn with fierce heat and burst asunder; the hardness of gold is broken up and dissolved by heat; the ice of brass melts vanquished by the flame; warmth and piercing cold ooze through silver, since we have felt both, as we held cups with the hand in due fashion and the water was poured down into them. So universally there is found to be nothing solid in things. But yet because true reason and the nature of things constrains, attend until we make clear in a few verses that there are such things as consist of solid and everlasting body, which we teach are seeds of things and first-beginnings, out of which the whole sum of things which now exists has been produced. [483] Corpora sunt porro partim primordia rerum, partim concilio quae constant principiorum. Sed quae sunt rerum primordia, nulla potest vis stinguere; nam solido vincunt ea corpore demum. etsi difficile esse videtur credere quicquam in rebus solido reperiri corpore posse. transit enim fulmen caeli per saepta domorum clamor ut ac voces, ferrum candescit in igni dissiliuntque fero ferventi saxa vapore; cum labefactatus rigor auri solvitur aestu, tum glacies aeris flamma devicta liquescit; permanat calor argentum penetraleque frigus, quando utrumque manu retinentes pocula rite sensimus infuso lympharum rore superne. usque adeo in rebus solidi nihil esse videtur. sed quia vera tamen ratio naturaque rerum cogit, ades, paucis dum versibus expediamus esse ea quae solido atque aeterno corpore constent, semina quae rerum primordiaque esse docemus, unde omnis rerum nunc constet summa creata.
[503] First, since we have found existing a twofold nature of things far differing, the nature of body and of space, in which all things take place, it must needs be that each exists alone by itself and unmixed. For wherever space lies empty, which we call the void, body is not there; moreover, wherever body has its station, there is by no means empty void. Therefore the first bodies are solid and free from void. [503] First of all then since there has been found to exist a two-fold and widely dissimilar nature of two things, that is to say of body and of place in which things severally go on, each of the two must exist for and by itself and quite unmixed. For wherever there is empty space which we call void, there body is not; wherever again body maintains itself, there empty void no wise exists. First bodies therefore are solid and without void. [503] Principio quoniam duplex natura duarum dissimilis rerum longe constare repertast, corporis atque loci, res in quo quaeque geruntur, esse utramque sibi per se puramque necessest. nam qua cumque vacat spatium, quod inane vocamus, corpus ea non est; qua porro cumque tenet se corpus, ea vacuum nequaquam constat inane. Sunt igitur solida ac sine inani corpora prima.
[511] Moreover, since there is void in things created, solid matter must needs stand all round, nor can anything by true reasoning be shown to hide void in its body and hold it within, except you grant that what keeps it in is solid. Now it can be nothing but a union of matter, which could keep in the void in things. Matter then, which exists with solid body, can be everlasting, when all else is dissolved. [511] Again since there is void in things begotten, solid matter must exist about this void, and no thing can be proved by true reason to conceal in its body and have within it void, unless you choose to allow that that which holds it in is solid. Again that can be nothing but a union of matter which can keep in the void of things. Matter therefore, which consists of a solid body, may be everlasting, though all things else are dissolved. [511] Praeterea quoniam genitis in rebus inanest, materiem circum solidam constare necessest; nec res ulla potest vera ratione probari corpore inane suo celare atque intus habere, si non, quod cohibet, solidum constare relinquas. Id porro nihil esse potest nisi materiai concilium, quod inane queat rerum cohibere. materies igitur, solido quae corpore constat, esse aeterna potest, cum cetera dissoluantur.
[520] Next, if there were nothing which was empty and void, the whole would be solid; unless on the other hand there were bodies determined, to fill all the places that they held, the whole universe would be but empty void space. Body, then, we may be sure, is marked off from void turn and turn about, since there is neither a world utterly full nor yet quite empty. There are therefore bodies determined, such as can mark off void space from what is full. These cannot be broken up when hit by blows from without, nor again can they be pierced to the heart and undone, nor by any other way can they be assailed and made to totter; all of which I have above shown to you but a little while before. For it is clear that nothing could be crushed in without void, or broken or cleft in twain by cutting, nor admit moisture nor likewise spreading cold or piercing flame, whereby all things are brought to their end. And the more each thing keeps void within it, the more is it assailed to the heart by these things and begins to totter. Therefore, if the first bodies are solid and free from void, as I have shown, they must be everlasting. [520] Again, were naught of empty and inane, The world were then a solid; as, without Some certain bodies to fill the places held, The world that is were but a vacant void. And so, infallibly, alternate-wise Body and void are still distinguished, Since nature knows no wholly full nor void. There are, then, certain bodies, possessed of power To vary forever the empty and the full; And these can nor be sundered from without By beats and blows, nor from within be torn By penetration, nor be overthrown By any assault soever through the world- For without void, naught can be crushed, it seems, Nor broken, nor severed by a cut in twain, Nor can it take the damp, or seeping cold Or piercing fire, those old destroyers three; But the more void within a thing, the more Entirely it totters at their sure assault. Thus if first bodies be, as I have taught, Solid, without a void, they must be then Eternal; [520] Tum porro si nil esset quod inane vocaret, omne foret solidum; nisi contra corpora certa essent quae loca complerent quae cumque tenerent omne quod est spatium, vacuum constaret inane. alternis igitur ni mirum corpus inani distinctum, quoniam nec plenum naviter extat nec porro vacuum; sunt ergo corpora certa, quae spatium pleno possint distinguere inane. Haec neque dissolui plagis extrinsecus icta possunt nec porro penitus penetrata retexi nec ratione queunt alia temptata labare; id quod iam supra tibi paulo ostendimus ante. nam neque conlidi sine inani posse videtur quicquam nec frangi nec findi in bina secando nec capere umorem neque item manabile frigus nec penetralem ignem, quibus omnia conficiuntur. Et quo quaeque magis cohibet res intus inane, tam magis his rebus penitus temptata labascit. Ergo si solida ac sine inani corpora prima sunt ita uti docui, sint haec aeterna necessest.
[540] Moreover, if matter had not been everlasting, ere this all things had wholly passed away to nothing, and all that we see had been born again from nothing. But since I have shown above that nothing can be created from nothing, nor can what has been begotten be summoned back to nothing, the first-beginnings must needs be of immortal body, into which at their last day all things can be dissolved, that there may be matter enough for renewing things. Therefore the first-beginnings are of solid singleness, nor in any other way can they be preserved through the ages from infinite time now gone and renew things. [540] And, if matter ne’er had been Eternal, long ere now had all things gone Back into nothing utterly, and all We see around from nothing had been born- But since I taught above that naught can be From naught created, nor the once begotten To naught be summoned back, these primal germs Must have an immortality of frame. And into these must each thing be resolved, When comes its supreme hour, that thus there be At hand the stuff for plenishing the world. So primal germs have solid singleness Nor otherwise could they have been conserved Through aeons and infinity of time For the replenishment of wasted worlds. [540] Praeterea nisi materies aeterna fuisset, antehac ad nihilum penitus res quaeque redissent de nihiloque renata forent quae cumque videmus. at quoniam supra docui nil posse creari de nihilo neque quod genitumst ad nil revocari, esse inmortali primordia corpore debent, dissolui quo quaeque supremo tempore possint, materies ut subpeditet rebus reparandis. sunt igitur solida primordia simplicitate nec ratione queunt alia servata per aevom ex infinito iam tempore res reparare.
[551] Again, if nature had ordained no limit to the breaking of things, by now the bodies of matter would have been so far brought low by the breaking of ages past, that nothing could be conceived out of them within a fixed time, and pass on to the full measure of its life; for we see that anything you will is more easily broken up than put together again. Wherefore what the long limitless age of days, the age of all time that is gone by, had broken ere now, disordering and dissolving, could never be renewed in all time that remains. But as it is, a set limit to breaking has, we may be sure, been appointed, since we see each thing put together again, and at the same time fixed seasons ordained for all things after their kind, in the which they may be able to reach the flower of their life. [551] Once more, if nature had not given a limit to the breaking up of things, By now the bodies of matter would have been So far reduced by breakings in old days That from them nothing could, at season fixed, Be born, and arrive its prime and top of life.  For, lo, each thing is quicker marred than made; And so whate’er the long infinitude Of days and all fore-passed time would now By this have broken and ruined and dissolved, That same could ne’er in all remaining time Be builded up for plenishing the world.  But mark: infallibly a fixed bound Remaineth stablished ‘gainst their breaking down; Since we behold each thing soever  renewed, And unto all, their seasons, after their kind, Wherein they arrive the flower of their age. [551] Denique si nullam finem natura parasset frangendis rebus, iam corpora materiai usque redacta forent aevo frangente priore, ut nihil ex illis a certo tempore posset conceptum summum aetatis pervadere finem. Nam quidvis citius dissolvi posse videmus quam rursus refici; qua propter longa diei infinita aetas ante acti temporis omnis quod fregisset adhuc disturbans dissoluensque, numquam relicuo reparari tempore posset.  at nunc ni mirum frangendi reddita finis certa manet, quoniam refici rem quamque videmus et finita simul generatim tempora rebus stare, quibus possint aevi contingere florem.
[565] There is this too that, though the first-bodies of matter are quite solid, yet we can give account of all the soft things that come to be, air, water, earth, fires, by what means they come to being, and by what force each goes on its way, when once void has been mingled in things. But on the other hand, if the first-beginnings of things were to be soft, it will not be possible to give account whence hard flints and iron can be created; for from the first all nature will lack a first-beginning of foundation. There are then bodies that prevail in their solid singleness, by whose more close-packed union all things can be riveted and reveal their stalwart strength. [565] So in our programme of creation, mark How ’tis that, though the bodies of all stuff Are solid to the core, we yet explain The ways whereby some things are fashioned soft- Air, water, earth, and fiery exhalations- And by what force they function and go on: The fact is founded in the void of things. But if the primal germs themselves be soft, Reason cannot be brought to bear to show The ways whereby may be created these Great crags of basalt and the during iron; For their whole nature will profoundly lack The first foundations of a solid frame. But powerful in old simplicity, Abide the solid, the primeval germs; And by their combinations more condensed, All objects can be tightly knit and bound And made to show unconquerable strength. [565] Huc accedit uti, solidissima materiai corpora cum constant, possint tamen omnia reddi, mollia quae fiunt, aer aqua terra vapores, quo pacto fiant et qua vi quaeque gerantur, admixtum quoniam semel est in rebus inane. at contra si mollia sint primordia rerum, unde queant validi silices ferrumque creari, non poterit ratio reddi; nam funditus omnis principio fundamenti natura carebit. sunt igitur solida pollentia simplicitate, quorum condenso magis omnia conciliatu artari possunt validasque ostendere viris.
[577] Moreover, if no limit has been appointed to the breaking of things, still it must needs be that all the bodies of things survive even now from time everlasting, such that they cannot yet have been assailed by any danger. But since they exist endowed with a frail nature, it is not in harmony with this that they have been able to abide for everlasting time harried through all the ages by countless blows. [577] Again, if bounds have not been set against The breaking down of this corporeal world, Yet must all bodies of whatever things Have still endured from everlasting time Unto this present, as not yet assailed By shocks of peril. But because the same Are, to thy thinking, of a nature frail, It ill accords that thus they could remain (As thus they do) through everlasting time, Vexed through the ages (as indeed they are) By the innumerable blows of chance. [577] Porro si nullast frangendis reddita finis corporibus, tamen ex aeterno tempore quaeque nunc etiam superare necessest corpora rebus, quae non dum clueant ullo temptata periclo. at quoniam fragili natura praedita constant, discrepat aeternum tempus potuisse manere innumerabilibus plagis vexata per aevom.
[584] Once again, since there has been appointed for all things after their kind a limit of growing and of maintaining life, and inasmuch as it stands ordained what all things severally can do by the laws of nature, and what too they cannot, nor is anything so changed, but that all things stand so fast that the diverse birds all in their due order show that the marks of their kind are on their body, they must also, we may be sure, have a body of unchanging substance. For if the first-beginnings of things could be vanquished in any way and changed, then, too, would it be doubtful what might come to being, what might not, yea, in what way each thing has its power limited and its deepset boundary-stone, nor could the tribes each after their kind so often recall the nature, habits, manner of life and movements of the parents. [584] Again, since all things kind by kind obtain Fixed bounds of growing and conserving life; Since Nature hath inviolably decreed What each can do, what each can never do; Since naught is changed, but all things so abide That ever the variegated birds reveal The spots or stripes peculiar to their kind, Spring after spring: thus surely all that is Must be composed of matter immutable. For if the primal germs in any wise Were open to conquest and to change, ‘twould be Uncertain also what could come to birth And what could not, and by what law to each Its scope prescribed, its boundary stone that clings So deep in Time. Nor could the generations Kind after kind so often reproduce The nature, habits, motions, ways of life, Of their progenitors. [584] Denique iam quoniam generatim reddita finis crescendi rebus constat vitamque  tenendi, et quid quaeque queant per foedera naturai, quid porro nequeant, sancitum quando quidem extat, nec commutatur quicquam, quin omnia constant usque adeo, variae volucres ut in ordine cunctae ostendant maculas generalis corpore inesse, inmutabilis materiae quoque corpus habere debent ni mirum; nam si primordia rerum commutari aliqua possent ratione revicta, incertum quoque iam constet quid possit oriri, quid nequeat, finita potestas denique cuique qua nam sit ratione atque alte terminus haerens, nec totiens possent generatim saecla referre naturam mores victum motusque parentum.
[599] Then, further, since there are extreme points, one after another <on bodies, which are the least things we can see, likewise, too, there must be a least point> on that body, which our senses can no longer descry; that point, we may be sure, exists without parts and is endowed with the least nature, nor was it ever sundered apart by itself nor can it so be hereafter, since it is itself but a part of another and that the first single part: then other like parts and again others in order in close array make up the nature of the first body, and since they cannot exist by themselves, it must needs be that they stay fast there whence they cannot by any means be torn away. The first-beginnings then are of solid singleness; for they are a close dense mass of least parts, never put together out of a union of those parts, but rather prevailing in everlasting singleness; from them nature, keeping safe the seeds of things, suffers not anything to be torn away, nor ever to be removed. [599] And then again, since there is ever an extreme bounding point Of that first body which our senses now Cannot perceive: That bounding point indeed Exists without all parts, a minimum Of nature, nor was e’er a thing apart, As of itself,- nor shall hereafter be, Since ’tis itself still parcel of another, A first and single part, whence other parts And others similar in order lie In a packed phalanx, filling to the full The nature of first body: being thus Not self-existent, they must cleave to that From which in nowise they can sundered be. So primal germs have solid singleness, Which tightly packed and closely joined cohere By virtue of their minim particles- No compound by mere union of the same; But strong in their eternal singleness, Nature, reserving them as seeds for things, Permitteth naught of rupture or decrease. [599] Tum porro quoniam est extremum quodque cacumen corporis illius, quod nostri cernere sensus iam nequeunt, id ni mirum sine partibus extat et minima constat natura nec fuit umquam per se secretum neque post hac esse valebit, alterius quoniamst ipsum pars primaque et una, inde aliae atque aliae similes ex ordine partes agmine condenso naturam corporis explent; quae quoniam per se nequeunt constare, necessest haerere unde queant nulla ratione revelli. sunt igitur solida primordia simplicitate, quae minimis stipata cohaerent partibus arte. non ex illorum conventu conciliata, sed magis aeterna pollentia simplicitate, unde neque avelli quicquam neque deminui iam concedit natura reservans semina rebus.
[615] Moreover, if there be not a least thing, all the tiniest bodies will be composed of infinite parts, since indeed the half of a half will always have a half, nor will anything set a limit. What difference then will there be between the sum of things and the least of things? There will be no difference; for however completely the whole sum be infinite, yet things that are tiniest will be composed of infinite parts just the same. And since true reasoning cries out against this, and denies that the mind can believe it, you must be vanquished and confess that there are those things which consist of no parts at all and are of the least nature. [615] Moreover, were there not a minimum, The smallest bodies would have infinites, Since then a half-of-half could still be halved, With limitless division less and less. Then what the difference ‘twixt the sum and least? None: for however infinite the sum, Yet even the smallest would consist the same Of infinite parts. But since true reason here Protests, denying that the mind can think it, Convinced thou must confess such things there are As have no parts, the minimums of nature. And since these are, likewise confess thou must That primal bodies are solid and eterne. [615] Praeterea nisi erit minimum, parvissima quaeque corpora constabunt ex partibus infinitis, quippe ubi dimidiae partis pars semper habebit dimidiam partem nec res praefiniet ulla. ergo rerum inter summam minimamque quod escit, nil erit ut distet; nam quamvis funditus omnis summa sit infinita, tamen, parvissima quae sunt, ex infinitis constabunt partibus aeque. quod quoniam ratio reclamat vera negatque credere posse animum, victus fateare necessest esse ea quae nullis iam praedita partibus extent et minima constent natura. quae quoniam sunt, illa quoque esse tibi solida atque aeterna fatendum.
[628] And since these exist, those first-beginnings too you must needs own are solid and everlasting. And again, if nature, the creatress, had been used to constrain all things to be dissolved into their least parts, then she could not again renew aught of them, for the reason that things which are not enlarged by any parts, have not those powers which must belong to creative matter, the diverse fastenings, weights, blows, meetings, movements, by which all things are carried on. [628] Again, if Nature, creatress of all things, Were wont to force all things to be resolved Unto least parts, then would she not avail To reproduce from out them anything; Because whate’er is not endowed with parts Cannot possess those properties required Of generative stuff- divers connections, Weights, blows, encounters, motions, whereby things Forevermore have being and go on. [628] Denique si minimas in partis cuncta resolvi cogere consuesset rerum natura creatrix, iam nihil ex illis eadem reparare valeret propterea quia, quae nullis sunt partibus aucta, non possunt ea quae debet genitalis habere materies, varios conexus pondera plagas concursus motus, per quae res quaeque geruntur.
[635] Wherefore those who have thought that fire is the substance of things, and that the whole sum is composed of fire alone, are seen to fall very far from true reasoning. Heraclitus is their leader who first enters the fray, of bright fame for his dark sayings, yet rather among the empty-headed than among the Greeks of weight, who seek after the truth. For fools laud and love all things more which they can descry hidden beneath twisted sayings, and they set up for true what can tickle the ear with a pretty sound and is tricked out with a smart ring. [635] And on such grounds it is that those who held The stuff of things is fire, and out of fire Alone the cosmic sum is formed, are seen Mightily from true reason to have lapsed. Of whom, chief leader to do battle, comes That Heraclitus, famous for dark speech Among the silly, not the serious Greeks Who search for truth. For dolts are ever prone That to bewonder and adore which hides Beneath distorted words, holding that true Which sweetly tickles in their stupid ears, Or which is rouged in finely finished phrase. [635] Quapropter qui materiem rerum esse putarunt ignem atque ex igni summam consistere solo, magno opere a vera lapsi ratione videntur. Heraclitus init quorum dux proelia primus, clarus ob obscuram linguam magis inter inanis quamde gravis inter Graios, qui vera requirunt; omnia enim stolidi magis admirantur amantque, inversis quae sub verbis latitantia cernunt, veraque constituunt quae belle tangere possunt auris et lepido quae sunt fucata sonore.
[645]For I am eager to know how things could be so diverse, if they are created of fire alone and unmixed. For it would be of no avail that hot fire should condense or grow rare, if the parts of fire had the same nature which the whole sum of fire has as well. For fiercer would be the flame, if the parts were drawn together, and weaker again, were they sundered and scattered. But further than this there is nothing which you can think might come to pass from such a cause, far less might the great diversity of things come from fires condensed and rare. This too there is: if they were to hold that void is mingled in things, the fires will be able to condense or be left rare. [645] For how, I ask, can things so varied be, If formed of fire, single and pure? No whit ‘Twould help for fire to be condensed or thinned, If all the parts of fire did still preserve But fire’s own nature, seen before in gross. The heat were keener with the parts compressed, Milder, again, when severed or dispersed- And more than this thou canst conceive of naught That from such causes could become; much less Might earth’s variety of things be born From any fires soever, dense or rare. [645] Nam cur tam variae res possent esse, requiro, ex uno si sunt igni puroque creatae. Nil prodesset enim calidum denserier ignem nec rare fieri, si partes ignis eandem naturam quam totus habet super ignis haberent. acrior ardor enim conductis partibus esset, languidior porro disiectis disque supatis. amplius hoc fieri nihil est quod posse rearis talibus in causis, ne dum variantia rerum tanta queat densis rarisque ex ignibus esse.
[655] But because they see many things to thwart them, they hold their peace and shrink from allowing void unmixed among things; while they fear the heights, they lose the true track, nor again do they perceive that, if void be removed from things, all things must condense and be made one body out of many, such as could not send out anything from it in hot haste; even as fire that brings warmth casts abroad light and heat, so that you may see that it has not parts close-packed. [655] This too: if they suppose a void in things, Then fires can be condensed and still left rare; But since they see such opposites of thought Rising against them, and are loath to leave An unmixed void in things, they fear the steep And lose the road of truth. Nor do they see, That, if from things we take away the void, All things are then condensed, and out of all One body made, which has no power to dart Swiftly from out itself not anything- As throws the fire its light and warmth around, Giving thee proof its parts are not compact. [655] Id quoque: si faciant admixtum rebus inane, denseri poterunt ignes rarique relinqui; sed quia multa sibi cernunt contraria quae sint et fugitant in rebus inane relinquere purum, ardua dum metuunt, amittunt vera viai nec rursum cernunt exempto rebus inane omnia denseri fierique ex omnibus unum corpus, nil ab se quod possit mittere raptim, aestifer ignis uti lumen iacit atque vaporem, ut videas non e stipatis partibus esse.
[665] But if perchance they believe that in some other way fires may be quenched in union and alter their substance, in very truth if they do not spare to do this at any point, then, we may be sure, all heat will perish utterly to nothing, and all things created will come to be out of nothing. For whenever a thing changes and passes out of its own limits, straightway this is the death of that which was before. Indeed something must needs be left untouched to those fires, lest you find all things returning utterly to nothing, and the store of things born again and growing strong out of nothing. As it is then, since there are certain bodies most determined which keep nature safe ever the same, through whose coming and going and shifting order things change their nature and bodies are altered, you can be sure that these first-bodies of things are not of fire. For it would be no matter that some should give place and pass away, and others be added, and some changed in order, if despite this all retained the nature of heat; for whatever they might create would be in every way fire. But, I trow, the truth is this; there are certain bodies, whose meetings, movements, order, position, and shapes make fires, and when their order changes, they change their nature, and they are not made like to fire nor to any other thing either, which is able to send off bodies to our senses and touch by collision our sense of touch. [665] But if perhaps they think, in other wise, Fires through their combinations can be quenched And change their substance, very well: behold, If fire shall spare to do so in no part, Then heat will perish utterly and all, And out of nothing would the world be formed. For change in anything from out its bounds Means instant death of that which was before; And thus a somewhat must persist unharmed Amid the world, lest all return to naught, And, born from naught, abundance thrive anew. Now since indeed there are those surest bodies Which keep their nature evermore the same, Upon whose going out and coming in And changed order things their nature change, And all corporeal substances transformed, ‘Tis thine to know those primal bodies, then, Are not of fire. For ’twere of no avail Should some depart and go away, and some Be added new, and some be changed in order, If still all kept their nature of old heat: For whatsoever they created then Would still in any case be only fire. The truth, I fancy, this: bodies there are Whose clashings, motions, order, posture, shapes Produce the fire and which, by order changed, Do change the nature of the thing produced, And are thereafter nothing like to fire Nor whatso else has power to send its bodies With impact touching on the senses’ touch. [665] Quod si forte alia credunt ratione potesse ignis in coetu stingui mutareque corpus, scilicet ex nulla facere id si parte reparcent, occidet ad nihilum ni mirum funditus ardor omnis et e nihilo fient quae cumque creantur; nam quod cumque suis mutatum finibus exit, continuo hoc mors est illius quod fuit ante. proinde aliquid superare necesse est incolume ollis, ne tibi res redeant ad nilum funditus omnes de nihiloque renata vigescat copia rerum. Nunc igitur quoniam certissima corpora quaedam sunt, quae conservant naturam semper eandem, quorum abitu aut aditu mutatoque ordine mutant naturam res et convertunt corpora sese, scire licet non esse haec ignea corpora rerum. nil referret enim quaedam decedere, abire atque alia adtribui mutarique ordine quaedam, si tamen ardoris naturam cuncta tenerent; ignis enim foret omnimodis quod cumque crearet. verum, ut opinor, itast: sunt quaedam corpora, quorum concursus motus ordo positura figurae efficiunt ignis mutatoque ordine mutant naturam neque sunt igni simulata neque ulli praeterea rei quae corpora mittere possit sensibus et nostros adiectu tangere tactus.
[690]Moreover, to say that fire is all things, and that there is no other real thing in the whole count of things, but only fire, as this same Heraclitus does, seems to be raving frenzy. For on behalf of the senses he fights himself against the senses, and undermines those on which all that he believes must hang, whereby he himself has come to know that which he names fire. For he believes that the senses can know fire aright, but not all other things, which are no whit less bright to see. And this seems to me alike idle and frenzied. For to what shall we appeal? What can be surer for us than the senses themselves, whereby we may mark off things true and false? [690] Again, to say that all things are but fire And no true thing in number of all things Exists but fire, as this same fellow says, Seems crazed folly. For the man himself Against the senses by the senses fights, And hews at that through which is all belief, Through which indeed unto himself is known The thing he calls the fire. For, though he thinks The senses truly can perceive the fire, He thinks they cannot as regards all else, Which still are palpably as clear to sense- To me a thought inept and crazy too. For whither shall we make appeal? for what More certain than our senses can there be Whereby to mark asunder error and truth? [690] Dicere porro ignem res omnis esse neque ullam rem veram in numero rerum constare nisi ignem, quod facit hic idem, perdelirum esse videtur. nam contra sensus ab sensibus ipse repugnat et labefactat eos, unde omnia credita pendent, unde hic cognitus est ipsi quem nominat ignem; credit enim sensus ignem cognoscere vere, cetera non credit, quae nilo clara minus sunt. quod mihi cum vanum tum delirum esse videtur; quo referemus enim? quid nobis certius ipsis sensibus esse potest, qui vera ac falsa notemus?
[701] Besides, why should any one rather annul all things, and wish to leave only the nature of heat, than deny that fire exists, and grant in its stead that another nature exists? For it seems equal madness to say the one or the other. [701] Besides, why rather do away with all, And wish to allow heat only, then deny The fire and still allow all else to be?- Alike the madness either way it seems. [701] Praeterea quare quisquam magis omnia tollat et velit ardoris naturam linquere solam, quam neget esse ignis, &lt;aliam&gt; tamen esse relinquat? Aequa videtur enim dementia dicere utrumque.
[705] Wherefore those who have thought that fire is the substance of things, and that the whole sum may be built of fire, and those who have set up air as the first-beginning for the begetting of things, or again all who have thought that moisture fashions things alone by itself, or that earth creates all and passes into all the natures of things, seem to have strayed very far away from the truth. Add to them too those who make the first-beginnings of things twofold, linking air to fire or earth to water, and those who think that all can grow up out of four things, fire, earth, wind, and rain. Of them in the forefront comes Empedocles of Acragas; him that island bore within the three-cornered coasts of its lands, around which flows the Ionian ocean, with many a winding inlet, splashing salt foam from its green waves, while with narrow strait a tearing sea sunders with its waves the coasts of Italy’s lands from the island-borders. Here is devastating Charybdis, and here the rumblings of Aetna threaten to gather once more the flames of its wrath, that again in its might it may belch forth the fires bursting from its throat, and once more dash to the sky its flashing flames. And though this mighty country seems in many ways marvelous to the tribes of men, and is said to deserve seeing, rich in goodly things, and strengthened with a mighty wealth of men, yet it is seen to have held nothing in it more glorious than this man, nothing more holy, more marvelous and loved. Nay, the songs of his godlike heart lift up their voice and set forth his glorious discoveries, so that he seems scarce born of human stock. [705] Thus whosoe’er have held the stuff of things To be but fire, and out of fire the sum, And whosoever have constituted air As first beginning of begotten things, And all whoever have held that of itself Water alone contrives things, or that earth Createth all and changes things anew To divers natures, mightily they seem A long way to have wandered from the truth. Add, too, whoever make the primal stuff Twofold, by joining air to fire, and earth To water; add who deem that things can grow Out of the four- fire, earth, and breath, and rain; As first Empedocles of Acragas, Whom that three-cornered isle of all the lands Bore on her coasts, around which flows and flows In mighty bend and bay the Ionic seas, Splashing the brine from off their gray-green waves. Here, billowing onward through the narrow straits, Swift ocean cuts her boundaries from the shores Of the Italic mainland. Here the waste Charybdis; and here Aetna rumbles threats To gather anew such furies of its flames As with its force anew to vomit fires, Belched from its throat, and skyward bear anew Its lightnings’ flash. And though for much she seem The mighty and the wondrous isle to men, Most rich in all good things, and fortified With generous strength of heroes, she hath ne’er Possessed within her aught of more renown, Nor aught more holy, wonderful, and dear Than this true man. Nay, ever so far and pure The lofty music of his breast divine Lifts up its voice and tells of glories found, That scarce he seems of human stock create. [705] Quapropter qui materiem rerum esse putarunt ignem atque ex igni summam consistere posse, et qui principium gignundis aera rebus constituere aut umorem qui cumque putarunt fingere res ipsum per se terramve creare omnia et in rerum naturas vertier omnis, magno opere a vero longe derrasse videntur. adde etiam qui conduplicant primordia rerum aera iungentes igni terramque liquori, et qui quattuor ex rebus posse omnia rentur ex igni terra atque anima procrescere et imbri. Quorum Acragantinus cum primis Empedocles est, insula quem triquetris terrarum gessit in oris, quam fluitans circum magnis anfractibus aequor Ionium glaucis aspargit virus ab undis angustoque fretu rapidum mare dividit undis Aeoliae terrarum oras a finibus eius. hic est vasta Charybdis et hic Aetnaea minantur murmura flammarum rursum se colligere iras, faucibus eruptos iterum vis ut vomat ignis ad caelumque ferat flammai fulgura rursum. quae cum magna modis multis miranda videtur gentibus humanis regio visendaque fertur rebus opima bonis, multa munita virum vi, nil tamen hoc habuisse viro praeclarius in se nec sanctum magis et mirum carumque videtur. Carmina quin etiam divini pectoris eius vociferantur et exponunt praeclara reperta, ut vix humana videatur stirpe creatus.
[734] Yet he and those whom I named before, weaker than he by exceeding many degrees, and far beneath him, though they discovered much in good, nay godlike fashion, and gave answers as from the shrine of their hearts in more holy wise and with reasoning far more sure than the Pythian priestess who speaks out from the tripod and laurel of Phoebus, yet in the first-beginnings of things they came to grief: great were they, and great and heavy their fall therein. First because they take away the void from things, but suppose movement, and leave things soft and rare, air, sunlight, fire, earth, beasts, and crops, and yet mingle no void in their body. Then because they hold that there is no limit at all to the cutting of bodies, that no halting-place is set to their breaking, nor again is there any least among things. And that when we see that there is that extreme point in each thing, which is seen to be the least to our senses, so that you can infer from this that the extreme point in things which you cannot see is the least in them. Then follows this that since they suppose the first-beginnings of things soft, things which we see come to birth and endowed throughout with a mortal body, the whole sum of things must then return to naught, and the store of things be born again, and grow strong out of nothing. And how far both this and that are from the truth, you will know by now. Then again, these things are in many ways hostile, nay poison, the one to the other; therefore either when they meet they will pass away, or they will so fly apart, as when a storm gathers we see the thunderbolts and rain and wind fly asunder. [734] Yet he and those forementioned (known to be So far beneath him, less than he in all), Though, as discoverers of much goodly truth, They gave, as ’twere from out of the heart’s own shrine, Responses holier and soundlier based Than ever the Pythia pronounced for men From out the triped and the Delphian laurel, Have still in matter of first-elements Made ruin of themselves, and, great men, great Indeed and heavy there for them the fall: First, because, banishing the void from things, They yet assign them motion, and allow Things soft and loosely textured to exist, As air, dew, fire, earth, animals, and grains, Without admixture of void amid their frame. Next, because, thinking there can be no end In cutting bodies down to less and less Nor pause established to their breaking up, They hold there is no minimum in things; Albeit we see the boundary point of aught Is that which to our senses seems its least, Whereby thou mayst conjecture, that, because The things thou canst not mark have boundary points, They surely have their minimums. Then, too, Since these philosophers ascribe to things Soft primal germs, which we behold to be Of birth and body mortal, thus, throughout, The sum of things must be returned to naught, And, born from naught, abundance thrive anew- Thou seest how far each doctrine stands from truth. And, next, these bodies are among themselves In many ways poisons and foes to each, Wherefore their congress will destroy them quite Or drive asunder as we see in storms Rains, winds, and lightnings all asunder fly. [734] Hic tamen et supra quos diximus inferiores partibus egregie multis multoque minores, quamquam multa bene ac divinitus invenientes ex adyto tam quam cordis responsa dedere sanctius et multo certa ratione magis quam Pythia quae tripodi a Phoebi lauroque profatur, principiis tamen in rerum fecere ruinas et graviter magni magno cecidere ibi casu. Primum quod motus exempto rebus inani constituunt et res mollis rarasque relinquunt aera solem ignem terras animalia frugis nec tamen admiscent in eorum corpus inane; deinde quod omnino finem non esse secandis corporibus facient neque pausam stare fragori nec prorsum in rebus minimum consistere quicquam, cum videamus id extremum cuiusque cacumen esse quod ad sensus nostros minimum esse videtur, conicere ut possis ex hoc, quae cernere non quis extremum quod habent, minimum consistere in illis. Huc accedit item, quoniam primordia rerum mollia constituunt, quae nos nativa videmus esse et mortali cum corpore, funditus ut qui debeat ad nihilum iam rerum summa reverti de nihiloque renata vigescere copia rerum; quorum utrumque quid a vero iam distet habebis. Deinde inimica modis multis sunt atque veneno ipsa sibi inter se; quare aut congressa peribunt aut ita diffugient, ut tempestate coacta fulmina diffugere atque imbris ventosque videmus.
[763] Again, if from four things all are created and all again are dissolved into those things, how can they be called the first-beginnings of things any more than things the first-beginnings of them, with our thought reversed? For they are begotten turn by turn, and change their colour and all their nature one with the other from all time onward. But if perchance you think that the body of fire and the body of earth and the breezes of the air and the dewy moisture so unite, that in union no one of them changes its nature, you will see that nothing can be created out of them, no, not a living thing, nor one with lifeless body, like a tree. Indeed in the mingling of this diverse mass each thing will reveal its own nature, and air will be seen to be mixed together with earth, and heat to cleave to moisture. But first-beginnings ought in the begetting of things to bring to bear a secret and unseen nature, that nothing may stand out which might bar and thwart whatever is created from existing with its own true being. [763 Thus too, if all things are create of four, And all again dissolved into the four, How can the four be called the primal germs Of things, more than all things themselves be thought, By retroversion, primal germs of them? For ever alternately are both begot, With interchange of nature and aspect From immemorial time. But if percase Thou think'st the frame of fire and earth, the air, The dew of water can in such wise meet As not by mingling to resign their nature, From them for thee no world can be create- No thing of breath, no stock or stalk of tree: In the wild congress of this varied heap Each thing its proper nature will display, And air will palpably be seen mixed up With earth together, unquenched heat with water. But primal germs in bringing things to birth Must have a latent, unseen quality, Lest some outstanding alien element Confuse and minish in the thing create its proper being. [763] Denique quattuor ex rebus si cuncta creantur atque in eas rursum res omnia dissoluuntur, qui magis illa queunt rerum primordia dici quam contra res illorum retroque putari? Alternis gignuntur enim mutantque colorem et totam inter se naturam tempore ab omni. [fulmina diffugere atque imbris ventosque videmus.] sin ita forte putas ignis terraeque coire corpus et aerias auras roremque liquoris, nil in concilio naturam ut mutet eorum, nulla tibi ex illis poterit res esse creata, non animans, non exanimo cum corpore, ut arbos; quippe suam quicque in coetu variantis acervi naturam ostendet mixtusque videbitur aer cum terra simul et quodam cum rore manere. at primordia gignundis in rebus oportet naturam clandestinam caecamque adhibere, emineat ne quid, quod contra pugnet et obstet quo minus esse queat proprie quodcumque creatur.
[782] But indeed they trace it back to heaven and heaven’s fires, and hold that fire first turns itself into the breezes of the sky, that thence is begotten rain, and of rain is created earth, and then all things pass back again from earth, first moisture, next air, then heat, and that these things never cease their mutual changes, in their path from heaven to earth, from earth to the stars of the firmament. But the first-beginnings ought in no wise to do this. For it must needs be that something abides unchangeable, that all things be not altogether brought to naught. For whenever a thing changes and passes out of its own limits, straightway this is the death of that which was before. Wherefore since the things we have named a little before pass into a state of interchange, they must needs be made of other things, which cannot in any case be altered, lest you find all things returning altogether to naught. Why not rather suppose that there are certain bodies endowed with such a nature, and that, if by chance they have created fire, they can too, when a few are removed and a few added, and their order and movement is changed, make the breezes of the sky, and that thus all things are changed one into another? [782] But these men begin From heaven, and from its fires; and first they feign That fire will turn into the winds of air, Next, that from air the rain begotten is, And earth created out of rain, and then That all, reversely, are returned from earth- The moisture first, then air thereafter heat- And that these same ne’er cease in interchange, To go their ways from heaven to earth, from earth Unto the stars of the aethereal world- Which in no wise at all the germs can do. Since an immutable somewhat still must be, Lest all things utterly be sped to naught; For change in anything from out its bounds Means instant death of that which was before. Wherefore, since those things, mentioned heretofore, Suffer a changed state, they must derive From others ever unconvertible, Lest an things utterly return to naught. Then why not rather presuppose there be Bodies with such a nature furnished forth That, if perchance they have created fire, Can still (by virtue of a few withdrawn, Or added few, and motion and order changed) Fashion the winds of air, and thus all things Forevermore be interchanged with all? [782] Quin etiam repetunt a caelo atque ignibus eius et primum faciunt ignem se vertere in auras aeris, hinc imbrem gigni terramque creari ex imbri retroque a terra cuncta reverti, umorem primum, post aera, deinde calorem, nec cessare haec inter se mutare, meare a caelo ad terram, de terra ad sidera mundi. quod facere haud ullo debent primordia pacto. immutabile enim quiddam superare necessest, ne res ad nihilum redigantur funditus omnes; nam quod cumque suis mutatum finibus exit, continuo hoc mors est illius quod fuit ante. quapropter quoniam quae paulo diximus ante in commutatum veniunt, constare necessest ex aliis ea, quae nequeant convertier usquam, ne tibi res redeant ad nilum funditus omnis; quin potius tali natura praedita quaedam corpora constituas, ignem si forte crearint, posse eadem demptis paucis paucisque tributis, ordine mutato et motu, facere aeris auras, sic alias aliis rebus mutarier omnis?
[803] But,’ you say, ‘the facts show clearly that all things are nourished and grow from the earth up into the breezes of the sky; and unless the season at a propitious time fosters them with rain, so that the trees rock beneath the outpouring of the storm-clouds, and the sun for its part cherishes them, and bestows its heat on them, crops, trees, living creatures, none could grow.’ Yes, in very truth, unless we too were nurtured by dry food and soft moisture, we should lose our flesh, and all the life too would be loosened from all our sinews and bones. For beyond all doubt we are nurtured and nourished upon things determined, and other things again, each in their turn, on things determined. Yea, we may be sure, it is because many first-beginnings common in many ways to many things are mingled among things, that so diverse things are nourished on diverse food. And often it is of great matter with what others those first-beginnings are bound up, and in what position, and what movements they mutually give and receive; for the same build up sky, sea, earth, rivers, sun, the same too crops, trees, living creatures, but only when mingled with different things and moving in different ways. Indeed scattered abroad in my verses you see many letters common to many words, and yet you must needs grant that verses and words are unlike both in sense and in the ring of their sound. So great is the power of letters by a mere change of order. But the first-beginnings of things can bring more means to bear, by which all diverse things may be created. [803] “But facts in proof are manifest,” thou sayest, “That all things grow into the winds of air And forth from earth are nourished, and unless The season favour at propitious hour With rains enough to set the trees a-reel Under the soak of bulking thunderheads, And sun, for its share, foster and give heat, No grains, nor trees, nor breathing things can grow.” True- and unless hard food and moisture soft Recruited man, his frame would waste away, And life dissolve from out his thews and bones; For out of doubt recruited and fed are we By certain things, as other things by others. Because in many ways the many germs Common to many things are mixed in things, No wonder ’tis that therefore divers things By divers things are nourished. And, again, Often it matters vastly with what others, In what positions the primordial germs Are bound together, and what motions, too, They give and get among themselves; for these Same germs do put together sky, sea, lands, Rivers, and sun, grains, trees, and breathing things, But yet commixed they are in divers modes With divers things, forever as they move. Nay, thou beholdest in our verses here Elements many, common to many worlds, Albeit thou must confess each verse, each word From one another differs both in sense And ring of sound- so much the elements Can bring about by change of order alone. But those which are the primal germs of things Have power to work more combinations still, Whence divers things can be produced in turn. [803] ‘At manifesta palam res indicat’ inquis ‘in auras aeris e terra res omnis crescere alique; et nisi tempestas indulget tempore fausto imbribus, ut tabe nimborum arbusta vacillent, solque sua pro parte fovet tribuitque calorem, crescere non possint fruges arbusta animantis.’ scilicet et nisi nos cibus aridus et tener umor adiuvet, amisso iam corpore vita quoque omnis omnibus e nervis atque ossibus exsoluatur; adiutamur enim dubio procul atque alimur nos certis ab rebus, certis aliae atque aliae res. ni mirum quia multa modis communia multis multarum rerum in rebus primordia mixta sunt, ideo variis variae res rebus aluntur. atque eadem magni refert primordia saepe cum quibus et quali positura contineantur et quos inter se dent motus accipiantque; namque eadem caelum mare terras flumina solem constituunt, eadem fruges arbusta animantis, verum aliis alioque modo commixta moventur. quin etiam passim nostris in versibus ipsis multa elementa vides multis communia verbis, cum tamen inter se versus ac verba necessest confiteare et re et sonitu distare sonanti. tantum elementa queunt permutato ordine solo; at rerum quae sunt primordia, plura adhibere possunt unde queant variae res quaeque creari.
[830] Now let us also search into the homoeomeria of Anaxagoras,n as the Greeks term it, though the poverty of our country’s speech does not suffer us to name it in our own tongue; nevertheless the thing itself it is easy to set forth in words. [830] Now let us also take for scrutiny The homeomeria of Anaxagoras, So called by Greeks, for which our pauper-speech yieldeth no name in the Italian tongue,Although the thing itself is not o’erhard for explanation. [830] Nunc et Anaxagorae scrutemur homoeomerian quam Grai memorant nec nostra dicere lingua concedit nobis patrii sermonis egestas, sed tamen ipsam rem facilest exponere verbis.
[834] First—what he calls the homoeomeria of things—you must know that he thinks that bones are made of very small and tiny bones, and flesh of small and tiny pieces of flesh, and blood is created of many drops of blood coming together in union, and that gold again can be built up of grains of gold, and the earth grow together out of little earths, that fire is made of fires, and water of water-drops, and all the rest he pictures and imagines in the same way. And yet he does not allow that there is void in things on any side, nor that there is a limit to the cutting up of bodies. Therefore in this point and that he seems to me to go astray just as they did, of whom I told above. [834] First, then, when he speaks Of this homeomeria of things, he thinks bones to be sprung from littlest bones minute, And from minute and littlest flesh all flesh, And blood created out of drops of blood, Conceiving gold compact of grains of gold, And earth concreted out of bits of earth, Fire made of fires, and water out of waters, Feigning the like with all the rest of stuff. Yet he concedes not any void in things, Nor any limit to cutting bodies down. Wherefore to me he seems on both accounts To err no less than those we named before. [834] Principio, rerum quam dicit homoeomerian, ossa videlicet e pauxillis atque minutis ossibus hic et de pauxillis atque minutis visceribus viscus gigni sanguenque creari sanguinis inter se multis coeuntibus guttis ex aurique putat micis consistere posse aurum et de terris terram concrescere parvis, ignibus ex ignis, umorem umoribus esse, cetera consimili fingit ratione putatque. nec tamen esse ulla de parte in rebus inane concedit neque corporibus finem esse secandis. quare in utraque mihi pariter ratione videtur errare atque illi, supra quos diximus ante.
[847] Add too to this that he pictures his first-beginnings too weak: if indeed those are first-beginnings, which exist endowed with a nature like things themselves, which suffer none the less, and pass away, nor does anything rein them back from their destruction.3. his first particles are soft; For which of them all will hold out beneath strong pressure, so as to escape death in the very jaws of destruction? fire or moisture or breeze? which of these? blood or bones? Not one, I trow, when everything alike will be altogether as mortal as the things we see clearly before our eyes vanquished by some violence and passing away. But that things cannot fall away into nothing, nor again grow from nothing, I call to witness what I have before now proved. [847] Add too: these germs he feigns are far too frail- If they be germs primordial furnished forth With but same nature as the things themselves, And travail and perish equally with those, And no rein curbs them from annihilation. For which will last against the grip and crush Under the teeth of death? the fire? the moist? Or else the air? which then? the blood? the bones? No one, methinks, when every thing will be At bottom as mortal as whate’er we mark To perish by force before our gazing eyes. But my appeal is to the proofs above That things cannot fall back to naught, nor yet From naught increase. [847] Adde quod inbecilla nimis primordia fingit; si primordia sunt, simili quae praedita constant natura atque ipsae res sunt aequeque laborant et pereunt, neque ab exitio res ulla refrenat. nam quid in oppressu valido durabit eorum, ut mortem effugiat, leti sub dentibus ipsis? ignis an umor an aura? quid horum? sanguen an ossa? nil ut opinor, ubi ex aequo res funditus omnis tam mortalis erit quam quae manifesta videmus ex oculis nostris aliqua vi victa perire. at neque reccidere ad nihilum res posse neque autem crescere de nihilo testor res ante probatas.
[859] Moreover, since ’tis food that increases and nourishes the body, you may know that our veins and blood and bones <and sinews are created of parts alien in kind> or if they say that all foods are of mingled substance, and have in them little bodies of sinews, and bones and indeed veins and portions of gore, then it will be that all food, both dry, yes and liquid too, must be thought to consist of things alien in kind, of bones and sinews and matter and blood mingled together. Moreover, if all bodies that grow from out the earth are in the earth, the earth must be composed of things alien in kind, which rise up out of the earth. Shift this to another field, you may use the same words again. If in logs flame lurks hidden, and smoke and ash, it must needs be that the logs are composed of things alien in kind. Moreover, all the bodies which the earth nourishes, it increases <from things alien in kind, which rise up out of the earth. So too the bodies which logs emit, are nourished> upon things alien in kind, which rise up out of the logs. [859] And now again, since food augments and nourishes the human frame, ‘Tis thine to know our veins and blood and bones And thews are formed of particles unlike To them in kind; or if they say all foods Are of mixed substance having in themselves Small bodies of thews, and bones, and also veins And particles of blood, then every food, Solid or liquid, must itself be thought As made and mixed of things unlike in kind- Of bones, of thews, of ichor and of blood. Again, if all the bodies which upgrow From earth, are first within the earth, then earth Must be compound of alien substances. Which spring and bloom abroad from out the earth. Transfer the argument, and thou may’st use The selfsame words: if flame and smoke and ash Still lurk unseen within the wood, the wood Must be compound of alien substances Which spring from out the wood. [859] Praeterea quoniam cibus auget corpus alitque, scire licet nobis venas et sanguen et ossa ……. sive cibos omnis commixto corpore dicent esse et habere in se nervorum corpora parva ossaque et omnino venas partisque cruoris, fiet uti cibus omnis et aridus et liquor ipse ex alienigenis rebus constare putetur, ossibus et nervis sanieque et sanguine mixto. Praeterea quae cumque e terra corpora crescunt, si sunt in terris, terram constare necessest ex alienigenis, quae terris exoriuntur. transfer item, totidem verbis utare licebit: in lignis si flamma latet fumusque cinisque, ex alienigenis consistant ligna necessest, [praeterea tellus quae corpora cumque alit auget]
[875] Herein there is left a slight chance of hiding from justice, which Anaxagoras grasps for himself, to hold that all things are mingled, though in hiding, in all things, but that that one thing comes out clear, whereof there are most parts mingled in, stationed more ready to view and in the forefront. But this is very far banished from true reasoning. For it were right then that corn also, when crushed by the threatening strength of rock, should often give out some sign of blood, or one of those things which are nourished in our body, and that when we rub it with stone on stone, gore should ooze forth. In the same way it were fitting that blades of grass too and pools of water should often give out sweet drops with a savour like the richness of the milk of fleecy beasts, and that often when sods of earth are crumbled, kinds of grasses and corn and leaves should be seen, hiding in tiny form, scattered about among the earth, lastly that ash and smoke should be seen in logs, when they were broken off, and tiny flames in hiding. But since facts clearly show that none of these things comes to pass, you may be sure that things are not so mingled in other things, but that seeds common to many things lie mingled and hidden in things in many ways. [875] Right here remains A certain slender means to skulk from truth, Which Anaxagoras takes unto himself, Who holds that all things lurk commixed with all While that one only comes to view, of which The bodies exceed in number all the rest, And lie more close to hand and at the fore- A notion banished from true reason far. For then ’twere meet that kernels of the grains Should oft, when crunched between the might of stones, Give forth a sign of blood, or of aught else Which in our human frame is fed; and that Rock rubbed on rock should yield a gory ooze. Likewise the herbs ought oft to give forth drops Of sweet milk, flavoured like the uddered sheep’s; Indeed we ought to find, when crumbling up The earthy clods, there herbs, and grains, and leaves, All sorts dispersed minutely in the soil; Lastly we ought to find in cloven wood Ashes and smoke and bits of fire there hid. But since fact teaches this is not the case, ‘Tis thine to know things are not mixed with things Thuswise; but seeds, common to many things, Commixed in many ways, must lurk in things. [875] Linquitur hic quaedam latitandi copia tenvis, id quod Anaxagoras sibi sumit, ut omnibus omnis res putet inmixtas rebus latitare, sed illud apparere unum, cuius sint plurima mixta et magis in promptu primaque in fronte locata. quod tamen a vera longe ratione repulsumst; conveniebat enim fruges quoque saepe, minaci robore cum in saxi franguntur, mittere signum sanguinis aut aliquid, nostro quae corpore aluntur. cum lapidi in lapidem terimus, manare cruorem consimili ratione herbis quoque saepe decebat, et latices dulcis guttas similique sapore mittere, lanigerae quali sunt ubere lactis, scilicet et glebis terrarum saepe friatis herbarum genera et fruges frondesque videri dispertita inter terram latitare minute, postremo in lignis cinerem fumumque videri, cum praefracta forent, ignisque latere minutos. quorum nil fieri quoniam manifesta docet res, scire licet non esse in rebus res ita mixtas, verum semina multimodis inmixta latere multarum rerum in rebus communia debent.
[897] ‘But often on mighty mountains it comes to pass,’ you say, ‘that the neighbouring tops of tall trees rub together, when the strong south winds constrain them to it, until at last a flowery flame gathers, and they blaze with fire.’ And yet you must know that fire is not implanted in their wood, but there are many seeds of heat, which when they have flowed together through the rubbing, create fires in the forests. But if the flame had been hidden away ready-made in the forests, the fires could not have been concealed for any time, they would consume the forests one and all, and burn the trees to ashes. Do you not then see now, what I said but a little while ago, that it is of very great matter often with what others those same first-beginnings are bound up, and in what position, and what movements they mutually give and receive, and that the same a little changed with one another can create bearns or flames? Even as the words themselves have their letters but little changed, when with sound distinct we signify beams or flames. [897] “But often it happens on skiey hills” thou sayest, “That neighbouring tops of lofty trees are rubbed One against other, smote by the blustering south, Till all ablaze with bursting flower of flame.” Good sooth- yet fire is not ingraft in wood, But many are the seeds of heat, and when Rubbing together they together flow, They start the conflagrations in the forests. Whereas if flame, already fashioned, lay Stored up within the forests, then the fires Could not for any time be kept unseen, But would be laying all the wildwood waste And burning all the boscage. Now dost see (Even as we said a little space above) How mightily it matters with what others, In what positions these same primal germs Are bound together? And what motions, too, They give and get among themselves? how, hence, The same, if altered ‘mongst themselves, can body Both igneous and ligneous objects forth- Precisely as these words themselves are made By somewhat altering their elements, Although we mark with name indeed distinct The igneous from the ligneous. [897] ‘At saepe in magnis fit montibus’ inquis ‘ut altis arboribus vicina cacumina summa terantur inter se validis facere id cogentibus austris, donec flammai fulserunt flore coorto.’ scilicet et non est lignis tamen insitus ignis, verum semina sunt ardoris multa, terendo quae cum confluxere, creant incendia silvis. quod si facta foret silvis abscondita flamma, non possent ullum tempus celarier ignes, conficerent volgo silvas, arbusta cremarent. iamne vides igitur, paulo quod diximus ante, permagni referre eadem primordia saepe cum quibus et quali positura contineantur et quos inter se dent motus accipiantque, atque eadem paulo inter se mutata creare ignes et lignum? quo pacto verba quoque ipsa inter se paulo mutatis sunt elementis, cum ligna atque ignes distincta voce notemus.
[915] Once again, if you think that all that you can descry in things clear to be seen cannot come to being, but that you must suppose first-bodies of matter endowed with a nature like the whole, by this reasoning you see the first-beginnings of things pass away. Nay, it will come to be that they will be shaken with quivering mirth and laugh aloud, and wet face and cheeks with salt tears. [915] Once again, If thou suppose whatever thou beholdest, Among all visible objects, cannot be, Unless thou feign bodies of matter endowed With a like nature,- by thy vain device For thee will perish all the germs of things: ‘Twill come to pass they’ll laugh aloud, like men, Shaken asunder by a spasm of mirth, Or moisten with salty tear-drops cheeks and chins. [915] Denique iam quae cumque in rebus cernis apertis si fieri non posse putas, quin materiai corpora consimili natura praedita fingas, hac ratione tibi pereunt primordia rerum: fiet uti risu tremulo concussa cachinnent et lacrimis salsis umectent ora genasque.
[921] Come now, learn what remains, and listen to clearer words. Nor do I fail to see in mind how dark are the ways; but a great hope has smitten my heart with the sharp spur of fame, and at once has struck into my breast the sweet love of the muses, whereby now inspired with strong mind I traverse the distant haunts of the Pierides, never trodden before by the foot of man. ’Tis my joy to approach those untasted springs and drink my fill, ’tis my joy to pluck new flowers and gather a glorious coronal for my head from sports whence before the muses have never wreathed the forehead of any man. First because I teach about great things, and hasten to free the mind from the close bondage of religion, then because on a dark theme I trace verses so full of light, touching all with the muses’ charm. For that too is seen to be not without good reason; but even as healers, when they essay to give loathsome wormwood to children, first touch the rim all round the cup with the sweet golden moisture of honey, so that the unwitting age of children may be beguiled as far as the lips, and meanwhile may drink the bitter draught of wormowood, and though charmed may not be harmed, but rather by such means may be restored and come to health; so now, since this philosophy full often seems too bitter to those who have not tasted it, and the multitude shrinks back away from it, I have desired to set forth to you my reasoning in the sweet-tongued song of the muses, and as though to touch it with the pleasant honey of poetry, if perchance I might avail by such means to keep your mind set upon my verses, while you come to see the whole nature of things, what is its shape and figure. [921] Now learn of what remains! More keenly hear! And for myself, my mind is not deceived How dark it is: But the large hope of praise Hath strook with pointed thyrsus through my heart; On the same hour hath strook into my breast Sweet love of the Muses, wherewith now instinct, I wander afield, thriving in sturdy thought, Through unpathed haunts of the Pierides, Trodden by step of none before. I joy To come on undefiled fountains there, To drain them deep; I joy to pluck new flowers, To seek for this my head a signal crown From regions where the Muses never yet Have garlanded the temples of a man: First, since I teach concerning mighty things, And go right on to loose from round the mind The tightened coils of dread religion; Next, since, concerning themes so dark, I frame Songs so pellucid, touching all throughout Even with the Muses’ charm- which, as ‘twould seem, Is not without a reasonable ground: But as physicians, when they seek to give Young boys the nauseous wormwood, first do touch The brim around the cup with the sweet juice And yellow of the honey, in order that The thoughtless age of boyhood be cajoled As far as the lips, and meanwhile swallow down The wormwood’s bitter draught, and, though befooled, Be yet not merely duped, but rather thus Grow strong again with recreated health: So now I too (since this my doctrine seems In general somewhat woeful unto those Who’ve had it not in hand, and since the crowd Starts back from it in horror) have desired To expound our doctrine unto thee in song Soft-speaking and Pierian, and, as ’twere, To touch it with sweet honey of the Muse- If by such method haply I might hold The mind of thee upon these lines of ours, Till thou see through the nature of all things, And how exists the interwoven frame. [921] Nunc age, quod super est, cognosce et clarius audi. nec me animi fallit quam sint obscura; sed acri percussit thyrso laudis spes magna meum cor et simul incussit suavem mi in pectus amorem Musarum, quo nunc instinctus mente vigenti avia Pieridum peragro loca nullius ante trita solo. iuvat integros accedere fontis atque haurire iuvatque novos decerpere flores insignemque meo capiti petere inde coronam, unde prius nulli velarint tempora Musae; primum quod magnis doceo de rebus et artis religionum animum nodis exsolvere pergo, deinde quod obscura de re tam lucida pango carmina musaeo contingens cuncta lepore. id quoque enim non ab nulla ratione videtur; sed vel uti pueris absinthia taetra medentes cum dare conantur, prius oras pocula circum contingunt mellis dulci flavoque liquore, ut puerorum aetas inprovida ludificetur labrorum tenus, interea perpotet amarum absinthi laticem deceptaque non capiatur, sed potius tali facto recreata valescat, sic ego nunc, quoniam haec ratio plerumque videtur tristior esse quibus non est tractata, retroque volgus abhorret ab hac, volui tibi suaviloquenti carmine Pierio rationem exponere nostram et quasi musaeo dulci contingere melle, si tibi forte animum tali ratione tenere versibus in nostris possem, dum perspicis omnem naturam rerum, qua constet compta figura.
[951] But since I have taught that the most solid bodies of matter fly about for ever unvanquished through the ages, come now, let us unfold, whether there be a certain limit to their full sum or not; and likewise the void that we have discovered, or room or space, in which all things are carried on, let us see clearly whether it is all altogether bounded or spreads out limitless and immeasurably deep. [951] But since I’ve taught that bodies of matter, made Completely solid, hither and thither fly Forevermore unconquered through all time, Now come, and whether to the sum of them There be a limit or be none, for thee Let us unfold; likewise what has been found To be the wide inane, or room, or space Wherein all things soever do go on, Let us examine if it finite be all and entire, or reach unmeasured round And downward an illimitable profound. [951] Sed quoniam docui solidissima materiai corpora perpetuo volitare invicta per aevom, nunc age, summai quaedam sit finis eorum ……………. evolvamus; item quod inane repertumst seu locus ac spatium, res in quo quaeque gerantur, pervideamus utrum finitum funditus omne constet an immensum pateat vasteque profundum.
[958] The whole universe then is bounded in no direction of its ways; for then it would be bound to have an extreme point. Now it is seen that nothing can have an extreme point, unless there be something beyond to bound it, so that there is seen to be a spot further than which the nature of our sense cannot follow it. As it is, since we must admit that there is nothing outside the whole sum, it has not an extreme point, it lacks therefore bound and limit. Nor does it matter in which quarter of it you take your stand; so true is it that, whatever place every man takes up, he leaves the whole boundless just as much on every side. [958] Thus, then, the All that is is limited In no one region of its onward paths, For then ‘tmust have forever its beyond. And a beyond ’tis seen can never be For aught, unless still further on there be A somewhat somewhere that may bound the same- So that the thing be seen still on to where The nature of sensation of that thing Can follow it no longer. Now because Confess we must there’s naught beside the sum, There’s no beyond, and so it lacks all end. It matters nothing where thou post thyself, In whatsoever regions of the same; Even any place a man has set him down Still leaves about him the unbounded all Outward in all directions; [958] Omne quod est igitur nulla regione viarum finitumst; namque extremum debebat habere. extremum porro nullius posse videtur esse, nisi ultra sit quod finiat, ut videatur quo non longius haec sensus natura sequatur. nunc extra summam quoniam nihil esse fatendum, non habet extremum, caret ergo fine modoque. nec refert quibus adsistas regionibus eius; usque adeo, quem quisque locum possedit, in omnis tantundem partis infinitum omne relinquit.
[968] Moreover, suppose now that all space were created finite, if one were to run on to the end, to its furthest coasts, and throw a flying dart, would you have it that that dart, hurled with might and main, goes on whither it is sped and flies afar, or do you think that something can check and bar its way? For one or the other you must needs admit and choose. Yet both shut off your escape and constrain you to grant that the universe spreads out free from limit. For whether there is something to check it and bring it about that it arrives not whither it was sped, nor plants itself in the goal, or whether it fares forward, it set not forth from the end. In this way I will press on, and wherever you shall set the furthest coasts, I shall ask what then becomes of the dart. It will come to pass that nowhere can a bound be set and room for flight ever prolongs the chance of flight. [968] Or, supposing A moment the all of space finite to be, If some one farthest traveller runs forth Unto the extreme coasts and throws ahead A flying spear, is’t then thy wish to think It goes, hurled off amain, to where ’twas sent And shoots afar, or that some object there Can thwart and stop it? For the one or other Thou must admit and take. Either of which Shuts off escape for thee, and does compel That thou concede the all spreads everywhere, Owning no confines. Since whether there be Aught that may block and check it so it comes Not where ’twas sent, nor lodges in its goal, Or whether borne along, in either view ‘Thas started not from any end. And so I’ll follow on, and whereso’er thou set The extreme coasts, I’ll query, “what becomes Thereafter of thy spear?” ‘Twill come to pass That nowhere can a world’s-end be, and that The chance for further flight prolongs forever The flight itself. [968] Praeterea si iam finitum constituatur omne quod est spatium, si quis procurrat ad oras ultimus extremas iaciatque volatile telum, id validis utrum contortum viribus ire quo fuerit missum mavis longeque volare, an prohibere aliquid censes obstareque posse? alterutrum fatearis enim sumasque necessest. quorum utrumque tibi effugium praecludit et omne cogit ut exempta concedas fine patere. nam sive est aliquid quod probeat efficiatque quo minus quo missum est veniat finique locet se, sive foras fertur, non est a fine profectum. hoc pacto sequar atque, oras ubi cumque locaris extremas, quaeram: quid telo denique fiet? fiet uti nusquam possit consistere finis effugiumque fugae prolatet copia semper.
[984] Moreover, if all the space in the whole universe were shut in on all sides, and were created with borders determined, and had been bounded, then the store of matter would have flowed together with solid weight from all sides to the bottom, nor could anything be carried on beneath the canopy of the sky, nor would there be sky at all, nor the light of the sun, since in truth all matter would lie idle piled together by sinking down from limitless time. But as it is, no rest, we may be sure, has been granted to the bodies of the first-beginnings, because there is no bottom at all, whither they may, as it were, flow together, and make their resting-place. All things are for ever carried on in ceaseless movement from all sides, and bodies of matter are even stirred up and supplied from beneath out of limitless space. [984] Besides, were all the space Of the totality and sum shut in With fixed coasts, and bounded everywhere, then would the abundance of world’s matter flow Together by solid weight from everywhere Still downward to the bottom of the world, Nor aught could happen under cope of sky, Nor could there be a sky at all or sun- Indeed, where matter all one heap would lie, By having settled during infinite time. But in reality, repose is given Unto no bodies ‘mongst the elements, Because there is no bottom whereunto They might, as ’twere, together flow, and where They might take up their undisturbed abodes. In endless motion everything goes on Forevermore; out of all regions, even Out of the pit below, from forth the vast, Are hurtled bodies evermore supplied. [984] Praeterea spatium summai totius omne undique si inclusum certis consisteret oris finitumque foret, iam copia materiai undique ponderibus solidis confluxet ad imum nec res ulla geri sub caeli tegmine posset nec foret omnino caelum neque lumina solis, quippe ubi materies omnis cumulata iaceret ex infinito iam tempore subsidendo. at nunc ni mirum requies data principiorum corporibus nullast, quia nil est funditus imum, quo quasi confluere et sedes ubi ponere possint. semper in adsiduo motu res quaeque geruntur partibus e eunctis infernaque suppeditantur ex infinito cita corpora materiai.
[998] Lastly, before our eyes one thing is seen to bound another; air is as a wall between the hills, and mountains between tracts of air, land bounds the sea, and again sea bounds all lands; yet the universe in truth there is nothing to limit outside. [998] Lastly, before our very eyes is seen Thing to bound thing: air hedges hill from hill, And mountain walls hedge air; land ends the sea, And sea in turn all lands; but for the All Truly is nothing which outside may bound. [998] Postremo ante oculos res rem finire videtur; aer dissaepit collis atque aera montes, terra mare et contra mare terras terminat omnis; omne quidem vero nihil est quod finiat extra.
[1002] The nature of room then and the space of the deep is such that neither could the bright thunderbolts course through it in their career, gliding on through the everlasting tract of time, nor bring it about that there remain a whit less to traverse as they travel; so far on every side spreads out huge room for things, free from limit in all directions everywhere. [1002] The nature of room, the space of the abyss Is such that even the flashing thunderbolts Can neither speed upon their courses through, Gliding across eternal tracts of time, Nor, further, bring to pass, as on they run, That they may bate their journeying one whit: Such huge abundance spreads for things around- Room off to every quarter, without end. [1002] Est igitur natura loci spatiumque profundi, quod neque clara suo percurrere fulmina cursu perpetuo possint aevi labentia tractu nec prorsum facere ut restet minus ire meando; usque adeo passim patet ingens copia rebus finibus exemptis in cunctas undique partis.
[1008] Nay more, nature ordains that the sum of things may not have power to set a limit to itself, since she constrains body to be bounded by void, and all that is void to be bounded by body, so that thus she makes the universe infinite by their interchange, or else at least one of the two, if the other of them bound it not, yet spreads out immeasurable with nature unmixed. <But space I have taught above spreads out without limit. If then the sum of matter were bounded,> neither sea nor earth nor the gleaming quarters of heaven nor the race of mortal men, nor the hallowed bodies of the gods could exist for the short space of an hour. For driven apart from its unions the store of matter would be carried all dissolved through the great void, or rather in truth it could never have grown together and given birth to anything, since scattered abroad it could not have been brought to meet [1008] That, too, the sum of things itself may not Have power to fix a measure of its own, Great nature guards, she who compels the void To bound all body, as body all the void, Thus rendering by these alternates the whole An infinite; or else the one or other, Being unbounded by the other, spreads, Even by its single nature, ne’ertheless Immeasurably forth …. Nor sea, nor earth, nor shining vaults of sky, Nor breed of mortals, nor holy limbs of gods Could keep their place least portion of an hour: For, driven apart from out its meetings fit, The stock of stuff, dissolved, would be borne Along the illimitable inane afar, Or rather, in fact, would ne’er have once combined And given a birth to aught, since, scattered wide, It could not be united. [1008] Ipsa modum porro sibi rerum summa parare ne possit, natura tenet, quae corpus inane et quod inane autem est finiri corpore cogit, ut sic alternis infinita omnia reddat, aut etiam alterutrum, nisi terminet alterum eorum, simplice natura pateat tamen inmoderatum …. nec mare nec tellus neque caeli lucida templa nec mortale genus nec divum corpora sancta exiguum possent horai sistere tempus; nam dispulsa suo de coetu materiai copia ferretur magnum per inane soluta, sive adeo potius numquam concreta creasset ullam rem, quoniam cogi disiecta nequisset.
[1021] For in very truth, not by design did the first-beginnings of things place themselves each in their order with foreseeing mind, nor indeed did they make compact what movements each should start, but because many of them shifting in many ways throughout the world are harried and buffeted by blows from limitless time, by trying movements and unions of every kind, at last they fall into such dispositions as those whereby our world of things is created and holds together. And it too, preserved from harm through many a mighty cycle of years, when once it has been cast into the movements suited to its being, brings it about that the rivers replenish the greedy sea with the bounteous waters of their streams, and the earth, fostered by the sun’s heat, renews its increase, and the race of living things flourishes, sent up from her womb, and the gliding fires of heaven are alive; all this they would in no wise do, unless store of matter might rise up from limitless space out of which they are used to renew all their losses in due season. For even as the nature of living things, robbed of food, loses its flesh and pines away, so all things must needs be dissolved, when once matter has ceased to come for their supply, turned aside in any way from its due course. Nor can blows from without on all sides keep together the whole of each world which has come together in union. For they can smite on it once and again, and keep a part in place, until others come, and the sum may be supplied. Yet sometimes they are constrained to rebound and at once afford space and time for flight to the first-beginnings of things, so that they can pass away freed from union.Therefore, again and again, it must be that many things rise up, yea, and in order that even the blows too may not fail, there must needs be limitless mass of matter on all sides. [1021] For of truth neither by counsel did the primal germs establish themselves, as by keen act of mind, each in its proper place; nor did they make, forsooth, a compact how each germ should move. But since, being many and changed in many modes along the all, they’re driven abroad and vexed by blow on blow, even from all time of old, They thus at last, after attempting all the kinds of motion and conjoining, come into those great arrangements out of which this sum of things established is created, by which, moreover, through the mighty years, it is preserved, when once it has been thrown into the proper motions, bringing to pass that ever the streams refresh the greedy main with river-waves abounding, and that earth, lapped in warm exhalations of the sun, renews her broods, and that the lusty race of breathing creatures bears and blooms, and that the gliding fires of ether are alive. [All of] what still the primal germs nowise could do, unless from out the infinite of space could come supply of matter, whence in season They’re wont whatever losses to repair. For as the nature of breathing creatures wastes, losing its body, when deprived of food, so all things have to be dissolved as soon as matter, diverted by what means soever from off its course, shall fail to be on hand. Nor can the blows from outward still conserve, on every side, whatever sum of a world has been united in a whole. They can indeed, by frequent beating, check a part, till others arriving may fulfil the sum. But meanwhile often are they forced to spring rebounding back, and, as they spring, to yield unto those elements whence a world derives, room and a time for flight, permitting them to be from off the massy union borne free and afar. Wherefore, again, again: needs must there come a many for supply; and also, that the blows themselves shall be unfailing ever, must there ever be an infinite force of matter all sides round. [1021] Nam certe neque consilio primordia rerum ordine se suo quaeque sagaci mente locarunt nec quos quaeque darent motus pepigere profecto; sed quia multa modis multis mutata per omne ex infinito vexantur percita plagis, omne genus motus et coetus experiundo tandem deveniunt in talis disposituras, qualibus haec rerum consistit summa creata, et multos etiam magnos servata per annos ut semel in motus coniectast convenientis, efficit ut largis avidum mare fluminis undis integrent amnes et solis terra vapore fota novet fetus summissaque gens animantum floreat et vivant labentis aetheris ignes. quod nullo facerent pacto, nisi materiai ex infinito suboriri copia posset, unde amissa solent reparare in tempore quaeque. nam vel uti privata cibo natura animantum diffluit amittens corpus, sic omnia debent dissolui simul ac defecit suppeditare materies aliqua ratione aversa viai. nec plagae possunt extrinsecus undique summam conservare omnem, quae cumque est conciliata. cudere enim crebro possunt partemque morari, dum veniant aliae ac suppleri summa queatur; inter dum resilire tamen coguntur et una principiis rerum spatium tempusque fugai largiri, ut possint a coetu libera ferri. quare etiam atque etiam suboriri multa necessest, et tamen ut plagae quoque possint suppetere ipsae, infinita opus est vis undique materiai.
[1052] Herein shrink far from believing, Memmius, what some say: that all things press towards the centre of a sum, and that ’tis for this cause that the nature of the world stands fast without any blows from outside, and that top and bottom cannot part asunder in any direction, because all things are pressing upon the centre (if indeed you can believe that anything can stand upon itself): and that all heavy things which are beneath the earth press upwards, and rest placed upside down upon the earth, like the images of things which we see, as it is, through water. And in the same way they maintain that living things walk head downwards, and cannot fall off the earth into the spaces of heaven beneath them any more than our bodies can of their free will fly up into the quarters of heaven: that when they see the sun, we are descrying the stars of night, and that they share with us turn by turn the seasons of the sky, and pass nights equal to our days. But empty error has commended these false ideas to fools, because they embrace and hold a theory with twisted reasoning. For there can be no centre, since the universe is created infinite. Nor, if indeed there were a centre, could anything at all rest there any more for that, rather than be driven away for some far different reason: for all room and space, which we call void, must through centre or not-centre give place alike to heavy bodies, wherever their motions tend. Nor is there any place, to which when bodies have come, they can lose the force of their weight and stand still in the void; nor must aught that is void support anything, but rather hasten to give place, as its own nature desires. It cannot be then that things can be held together in union in such a way, constrained by a yearning for the centre. [1052] And in these problems, shrink, my Memmius, far From yielding faith to that notorious talk: That all things inward to the centre press; And thus the nature of the world stands firm With never blows from outward, nor can be Nowhere disparted – since all height and depth Have always inward to the centre pressed (If thou art ready to believe that aught Itself can rest upon itself ); or that The ponderous bodies which be under earth Do all press upwards and do come to rest Upon the earth, in some way upside down, Like to those images of things we see At present through the waters. They contend, With like procedure, that all breathing things Head downward roam about, and yet cannot Tumble from earth to realms of sky below, No more than these our bodies wing away Spontaneously to vaults of sky above; That, when those creatures look upon the sun, We view the constellations of the night; And that with us the seasons of the sky They thus alternately divide, and thus Do pass the night coequal to our days, But a vain error has given these dreams to fools, Which they’ve embraced with reasoning perverse For centre none can be where world is still Boundless, nor yet, if now a centre were, Could aught take there a fixed position more Than for some other cause ‘tmight be dislodged. For all of room and space we call the void Must both through centre and non-centre yield Alike to weights where’er their motions tend. Nor is there any place, where, when they’ve come, Bodies can be at standstill in the void, Deprived of force of weight; nor yet may void Furnish support to any,- nay, it must, True to its bent of nature, still give way. Thus in such manner not at all can things Be held in union, as if overcome By craving for a centre. [1052] Illud in his rebus longe fuge credere, Memmi, in medium summae quod dicunt omnia niti atque ideo mundi naturam stare sine ullis ictibus externis neque quoquam posse resolvi summa atque ima, quod in medium sint omnia nixa, ipsum si quicquam posse in se sistere credis, et quae pondera sunt sub terris omnia sursum nitier in terraque retro requiescere posta, ut per aquas quae nunc rerum simulacra videmus; et simili ratione animalia suppa vagari contendunt neque posse e terris in loca caeli reccidere inferiora magis quam corpora nostra sponte sua possint in caeli templa volare; illi cum videant solem, nos sidera noctis cernere et alternis nobiscum tempora caeli dividere et noctes parilis agitare diebus. sed vanus stolidis haec * * * amplexi quod habent perv * * * nam medium nihil esse potest * * * infinita; neque omnino, si iam medium sit, possit ibi quicquam consistere * * * quam quavis alia longe ratione * * * omnis enim locus ac spatium, quod in&lt;ane vocamus, per medium, per non medium, concedere debet; aeque ponderibus, motus qua cumque feruntur. nec quisquam locus est, quo corpora cum venerunt, ponderis amissa vi possint stare &lt;in&gt; inani; nec quod inane autem est ulli subsistere debet, quin, sua quod natura petit, concedere pergat. Haud igitur possunt tali ratione teneri res in concilium medii cuppedine victae.
[1083] Moreover, since they do not pretend that all bodies press towards the centre, but only those of earth and liquid, the moisture of the sea and mighty waters from the mountains, and those things which are, as it were, enclosed in an earthy frame; but on the other hand, they teach that the thin breezes of air and hot fires at the same time are carried away from the centre, and that for this cause all the sky around is twinkling with stars, and the flame of the sun is fed through the blue tracts of heaven, because all the heat fleeing from the centre gathers itself together there; nor again can the topmost branches grow leafy upon trees, unless from the earth little by little each has food <supplied by nature, their thoughts are not at harmony with themselves. There must then be an infinite store of matter> lest after the winged way of flames the walls of the world suddenly fly apart, dissolved through the great void, and lest all else follow them in like manner, or the thundering quarters of the sky fall down from above, and the earth in hot haste withdraw itself from beneath our feet, and amid all the mingled ruin of things on earth and of the sky, whereby the frames of bodies are loosed, it pass away through the deep void, so that in an instant of time not a wrack be left behind, except emptied space and unseen first-beginnings. For on whatever side you maintain that the bodies fail first, this side will be the gate of death for things, by this path will all the throng of matter cast itself abroad. [1083] But besides, Seeing they feign that not all bodies press To centre inward, rather only those Of earth and water (liquid of the sea, And the big billows from the mountain slopes, And whatsoever are encased, as ’twere, In earthen body), contrariwise, they teach How the thin air, and with it the hot fire, Is borne asunder from the centre, and how, For this all ether quivers with bright stars, And the sun’s flame along the blue is fed (Because the heat, from out the centre flying, All gathers there), and how, again, the boughs Upon the tree-tops could not sprout their leaves, Unless, little by little, from out the earth For each were nutriment… . . . . . . Lest, after the manner of the winged flames, The ramparts of the world should flee away, Dissolved amain throughout the mighty void, And lest all else should likewise follow after, Aye, lest the thundering vaults of heaven should burst And splinter upward, and the earth forthwith Withdraw from under our feet, and all its bulk, Among its mingled wrecks and those of heaven, With slipping asunder of the primal seeds, Should pass, along the immeasurable inane, Away forever, and, that instant, naught Of wrack and remnant would be left, beside The desolate space, and germs invisible. For on whatever side thou deemest first The primal bodies lacking, lo, that side Will be for things the very door of death: Wherethrough the throng of matter all will dash, Out and abroad. [1083] Praeterea quoniam non omnia corpora fingunt in medium niti, sed terrarum atque liquoris umorem ponti magnasque e montibus undas, et quasi terreno quae corpore contineantur, at contra tenuis exponunt aeris auras et calidos simul a medio differrier ignis, atque ideo totum circum tremere aethera signis et solis flammam per caeli caerula pasci, quod calor a medio fugiens se ibi conligat omnis, nec prorsum arboribus summos frondescere ramos posse, nisi a terris paulatim cuique cibatum * * * ne volucri ritu flammarum moenia mundi diffugiant subito magnum per inane soluta et ne cetera consimili ratione sequantur neve ruant caeli tonitralia templa superne terraque se pedibus raptim subducat et omnis inter permixtas rerum caelique ruinas corpora solventes abeat per inane profundum, temporis ut puncto nihil extet reliquiarum desertum praeter spatium et primordia caeca. Nam qua cumque prius de parti corpora desse constitues, haec rebus erit pars ianua leti, hac se turba foras dabit omnis materiai.
[1114] These things you will learn thus, led on with little trouble; for one thing after another shall grow clear, nor will blind night snatch away your path from you, but that you shall see all the utmost truths of nature: so shall things kindle a light for others. [1114] These points, if thou wilt ponder, Then, with but paltry trouble led along… . . . . . . For one thing after other will grow clear, Nor shall the blind night rob thee of the road, To hinder thy gaze on nature’s Farthest-forth. Thus things for things shall kindle torches new. [1114] Haec sic pernosces parva perductus opella; namque alid ex alio clarescet nec tibi caeca nox iter eripiet, quin ultima naturai pervideas: ita res accendent lumina rebus.