The translator of Lucretius
faces a number of editorial choices because the poem was evidently never finally
revised and prepared, so that there are a number of repetitions of passages,
awkward transitions, and alternative readings for particular words. In many
places the best order for the lines is a matter of debate. In addition, the gaps
in the manuscript call for the missing material to be supplied as best one can.
Hence, there is considerable variety from one possibility to another.
This translation is based
primarily upon the Latin text of H. A. J. Munro, Fourth Revised Edition (London
1900). However, I have not followed all of Munro’s editorial decisions,
especially where the removal and rearrangement of lines are concerned, and often
I have made use of the suggestions of other editors about particular words, the
arrangement of lines, and missing lines. Hence, I have frequently departed from
Munro’s text, especially in response to alternatives offered by Bailey,
Leonard, and Watson.
For the convenience of the
reader who wishes to consult the Latin text, I have included the line numbers of
the Latin text of William Ellery Leonard, because that is the most readily
accessible version on the internet (at Perseus), even though there are some
discrepancies between the line numbers in his text and in Munro’s. In the text
of this translation, the numbers in square brackets refer to the line numbers in
Leonard’s Latin text; the numbers without brackets refer to this English text.
In the reckoning, successive partial lines count as one line.
I have supplied endnotes for
two reasons: first, to inform the reader of a few details of my editorial
decisions about the Latin text and, second, to provide a general commentary of
some help to the reader encountering Lucretius for the first time. The
commentary is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis but merely an
occasionally useful supplement.
A list of references mentioned
in the endnotes is provided at the end, in section headed Acknowledgments.
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