Lucretius Today Podcast Episode 090 – Preparation for Discussion of Magnetism (with special guest panelist)

Listen to “Episode 090 – Special Guest Panelist – Preparation for Discussion of Magnetism” on Spreaker.

Episode Ninety of the Lucretius Today podcast is now available – earlier than usual and with a special guest panelist — “Joshua.” Joshua has a great broadcasting voice and we hope to have him back regularly. He both reads this week’s text for the discussion, plus at the end of the episode gives a dramatic reading of the same passage. Swine wallowing in the mire never sounded so good! As always please leave comments below or in the special thread at EpicureanFriends:

Welcome to Episode Ninety of Lucretius Today. I am your host Cassius, and together with my panelists from the forum, we’ll walk you through the six books of Lucretius’ poem, and discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. We encourage you to study Epicurus for yourself, and we suggest the best place to start is the book, “Epicurus and His Philosophy” by Canadian professor Norman DeWitt. For anyone who is not familiar with our podcast, please visit where you will find our goals and our ground rules. If you have any questions about those, please be sure to contact us at the forum for more information.

In this Episode 90 we will read approximately Latin lines 906-998 as we prepare to discuss magnetism.

Today we have with us a guest panelist, Joshua, who is a regular member of the forum. Now let’s join Joshua reading today’s text.

Browne 1743

[906] And now I shall begin to show by what power of nature it is that the stone (which the Greeks call a magnet, from the country that produces it, for it is found in the region of the Magnetes) has the virtue to attract iron. Men are amazed at the qualities of this stone, for it will make a chain of several little rings of iron, without a link between, to hang together entirely from itself. You may sometimes see five or more hanging straight down, and play in the gentle air, as they stick close and depend at the bottom one upon another; the ring that follows feels the attraction and power of the stone from that above it. So strongly is the virtue of the magnet communicated to the several rings; it acts with so great a force.

[917] In inquiries of this nature many things are to be first proved before we can fix upon the true cause; we must trace the subject through many long and intricate difficulties; and therefore I beg you will hear me with a willing mind, and with the closest attention.

[921] And first, certain seeds must necessarily flow, be sent out, and continually dispersed abroad, from all things whatever we see, which must strike upon the eye and affect the sight. From some bodies a train of smells are always flying off. So cold is emitted from the rivers; heat from the sun; a salt vapor from the water of the sea that eats through walls along the shore, and various sounds are always flying through the air. And as we walk upon the strand, a briny taste frequently offends our mouth, and when we see a bunch of wormwood bruised, the bitterness strikes upon the palate. So plain it is that something is continually flowing off from all bodies, and is scattered about. There is no intermission, the seeds never cease to flow, because the sense is continually affected, we still continue to feel, to see, to smell and hear.

[936] Now I shall repeat what I have proved at large in the first book of this poem, that no bodies are perfectly solid, for though it is proper to know this upon many accounts, yet it is of principal use in the subject I now offer to explain. In this place it is necessary to establish this truth, that there is nothing in Nature but body mixed with void. And first, in the deep caverns of the earth, the rocks above will sweat with moisture, and weep with flowing drops; and sweat will flow from all our bodies and through every pore. The beard will grow, and hairs spread over our members and our limbs. Nature divides our food through all the veins; it feeds and nourishes the extreme parts, our very nails. We find that cold and heat will pass through brass, will make their way through gold and silver. We know, by feeling the outside of a cup, whether the juice within be hot or cold. And lastly, sounds will pierce stone walls of houses, and so will smells, and cold, and heat. The force of fire, thrown from without, will pass through iron, and scorch the soldiers limbs, though armed about with coats of mail. And tempests, rising from the earth or skies, and sent from thence, will strike through every thing before them, for nothing in nature is without some void.

[959] Besides, all seeds that are thrown off from bodies are not the same in quality and shape, nor do therefore they equally agree to things they strike or act upon; for first the sun burns up and dries the earth, but thaws and melts the snows so deep upon the mountaintops. And wax will drop when placed before the fire, and brass will run, and gold dissolve by heat, but skin and flesh it shrinks and shrivels up. Water will harden steel made weak by fire, but softens skin and flesh made hard by heat. Leaves of wild olive please the bearded goats as if they flowed with juice of nectar or ambrosia, when nothing is more bitter than that leaf to us. The swine fly every strong perfume, and fear the smell of every ointment; ’tis the sharpest poison to the bristly race, but cheers our spirits with a sweet delight. And then, to roll in the mud is the most odious filthiness to us, to them a cleanly pleasure; they are never tired of wallowing in the mire.

[979] But before I enter fully upon the subject before us it is proper first to premise that, since there are many pores of little spaces in all compound bodies, it is necessary that these passages should be of different natures, and should vary severally in their size and figure, for all creatures are formed with different organs, every one of which has an object proper and peculiar to itself. Sounds, we perceive, make their passage one way, and taste another, and smell another, according to the different nature and texture of the things that strike the sense. One thing, we find, will make its way through stones, another through wood, another will pierce through gold, another through silver, and another will fly through glass. This the images flow through, through these the heat, and some seeds will sooner pierce through the same pores than others. This is owing to the different figures of these passages which vary wonderfully in shape, as we said before.

[998] These things therefore, being fully proved and laid down, and every thing made ready and easy for the grand inquiry, we shall easily discovery the reason, and open every cause that moves and invites the iron to the stone.

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