Versions of the Text of Lucretius - 1743 Daniel Browne Edition - Unknown Translator

  • I have been looking for a long time for a side-by-side Latin-English translation of Lucretius, and searching today I see for the first time one that I have never seen before. Does anyone know anything about this version? I can't even be sure who the translator is, but the introduction says that the Creech version was "many years ago" and this one is supposed to be more literal. Unfortunately it has the old "f" for "s" font style, but the eye adjusts to that pretty quickly, and the arrangement of the text does a pretty good job lining up the respective Latin and translated English. I've downloaded the PDF and I expect screen shots of this version will be helpful in the future. This provides the Latin and at least a starting point for translation, and then other translators (such as Smith) can be used to fill out the meaning. Thanks to Eoghan or I would not have found this!

    Note: We really need the best public domian side-by-side Lucretius we can find for teasing out the meaning. I continue to look for an out-of-copyright version of the LOEB side by side edition from the 1920s, but I've not been able to find one on or anywhere else. I watch this site ( but they can't seem to find one either. If anyone has access to a library with an old collection of Loebs from which a PDF can be made of a public domain edition (not the more recent one which is copyrighted) then please post about it!…so00lucr#page/n9/mode/2up

  • Here is the original entry page at, but it doesn't seem to list an author, so I don't even now how to cite this edition -

    To me this is very impressive. It is essentially a line-by-line version, with an effort apparently made to translate each sentence - and even each word in each sentence, to a degree - from Latin into English, and at least somewhat literally. With this arrangement it is much easier to check the Latin to see if the translator has added or omitted or massaged the original words. This is exactly the way I would set up a reference edition myself. It's not clear to me whether the original text had clear sentence breaks, so maybe we are relying on someone's interpretation of where they break, but as long as the original latin words are left in order, that also can be crosschecked.

    I am thinking that Daniel Browne must be the publisher rather than the translator?

    I have never seen these assertions that Lucretius was educated in Athens, or those who were his teachers, or the reference to Cornelius Nepos talking about him. Is this correct or speculation?

    Ah this is good too, that Lucretius did not commit suicide, but was given the "filtre" by his wife or his mistress to make him more passionate! 1f609.png;) Presumably more speculation, but maybe no less well grounded than the accusation of suicide?

    Here is at least one instance in which I find this version superior to Bailey. Given the tension between Epicurus and dialectical logic, I have always thought Bailey's version of the following passage is misleading when he says that "all such power belongs to reason alone." "Reason alone" being a dangerous formulation. Whoever this translator is, he didn't go that way, and simply says "all this stuff is want of sense..." I think this version is much more accurate to the general tone of the philosophy. Here are the two versions - First Bailey

    Then the "anonymous" translator, which I think is better for not implying a false estimation of "reason alone" -

  • Poster: we are looking at “rationis egestas.” Egestas is “poverty, lack, need.” Ratio is what the brain does... so “poverty of thinking... lack of thought.. in need of reason.” I agree “Reason alone” is bad philosophically, and happily that is not what the Latin says. So Bailey added “alone” from his head, and the “sense” in the second translation is “mental sense/thinking” not the sensations/senses.

    Cassius: I think someone in tune with Epicurean philosophy would likely have the same reservation about "all such power belongs to reason alone" (Bailey) or "Why do you hesitate, why doubt that reason Alone has absolute power? " (Humphries) so that implies that our anonymous author (1) understands Epicurus very well, (2) is very good with Latin and his doing his best to be literal, or (3) both of the above. I am hoping this translation is going to be very valuable for another good perspective in English.

    I've continued to Google and found nothing as to the translator - even in WORLDCAT there is no reference to the author, as it seems highly unlikely that Daniel Browne is the author. I have a friend near London who may be able to find something - this is something that needs to be corrected. Scanning through it so far, it seems to me the work is very high quality and the author deserves recognition. Probably there is mention of this by Bailey or Munro in their discussion of prior editions, and it will just be a matter of slewthing around to figure it out.

    Explanation for the Temple Bar reference:

    OK - according to John Mason Good in 1805, the TRANSLATOR (with colleagues) IS Guernier! Unless Good too is confused by the title page, but that would seem to be unlikely. SO WHO WAS GUERNIER!??

    Next page ..... with the insufferable Good claiming that it is impossible to do justice to Lucretius except in poem form. Maybe so, but Good's version is now consigned to the dustbin it deserves, along with his footnotes that overwhelm the text itself. The prose edition by Guernier is worth 100 times Good's attempt at poetry.

    Maybe Good IS wrong? In the 1871 Dictionary of Biographical Reference there is only one Guernier, and he is Renee, a French Engraver

  • Opening of Lucretius Book 1, from 1743 Edition of unknown author. Everyone has their own taste in writing style, but I've always found this opening one of the most difficult-to-read passages. If the rest of the book lives up to the standard set here, this might be one of the most understandable English versions available. Two takeaways: (1) If this translator is correct, "Venus" is pretty clearly not identical with "Nature." Whatever we conclude Lucretius considered Venus to be, whether it is "pleasure" or some other "force," it probably isn't a simple personification of Nature. (2) There's still significant interpretation going on, for example in the last sentence quoted here, does "Caelo" mean "sky," or "heavens," or can it mean "Gods"?

    MOTHER of Rome, Delight of Men and Gods, Sweet Venus; who with vital Power dost fill the Sea bearing the Ships, the fruitful Earth, all Things beneath the rolling Signs of Heaven; for ‘tis by Thee Creatures of every kind conceive, rise into Life, and view the Sun’s bright Beams. Thee Goddess, Thee the Winds avoid; the Clouds fly Thee, and thy Approach; with various Art the Earth for Thee affords her sweetest Flowers; for Thee the Sea’s rough Waves put on their Smiles, and the smooth Sky shines with diffused Light. For when the buxom Spring leads on the Year, and genial Gales of Western Winds blow fresh, unlock’d from Winter’s Cold, the airy Birds first feel Thee Goddess, and express thy Power; thy active Flame strikes though their very Souls. And then the savage Beasts, with wanton Play, frisk o’er the cheerful Fields, and swim the rapid Streams. So pleased with thy Sweetness, so transported by thy soft Charms, all living Nature strives, with sharp Desire, to follow thee her Guide, where Thou art pleas’d to lead. In short, thy Power inspiring every Breast with tender Love, drives every Creature on with eager Heat, in Seas, in Mountains, and in swiftest Floods, in leafy Forests, and in verdant Plains, to propagate their Kind from Age to Age.

    Since Thou alone dost govern Nature’s Laws, and nothing without Thee can rise to Light, without Thee nothing can look gay or lovely; I beg Thee a Companion to my Lays, which, now I sing of Nature, I devote to my dear Memmius, whom Thou art ever pleased, sweet Goddess, to adorn with every Grace; for him, kind Deity, inspire my song, and give immortal Beauty to my Verse. Mean time, the bloody Tumults of the War by Sea and Land compose, and lay asleep. For Thou alone Mankind with quiet Peace canst bless; because ‘tis Mars Armipotent that rules the bloody Tumults of the War, and He by everlasting Pains of Love bound fast, tastes in thy Lap most sweet Repose, turns back his smooth long Neck, and views thy Charms, and greedily sucks Love at both his Eyes. Supinely as he rests his very Soul hangs on thy Lips; this God dissolv’d in Ease, in the soft Moments when thy heavenly Limbs cling round him, melting with Eloquence caress, great Goddess, and implore a Peace for Rome.

    For neither can I write with chearful Strains, in Times so sad, nor can the noble House of Memmius desert the common Good in such Distress of Things. The Hours you spare apply with close Attention to my Verse, and free from Care receive true Reason’s Rules; nor these my Gifts, prepared with faithful Pains, reject with Scorn before they are understood. For I begin to write of lofty Themes, of Gods, and of the Motions of the Sky, the Rise of Things, how all Things Nature forms, and how they grow, and to Perfection rise, and into what, by the same Nature’s Laws, those Things resolve and die; which as I write I call by various Names; sometimes ‘tis Matter, or the first Principles or Seeds of Things, or first of Bodies, whence all else proceed.

    For the whole Nature of the Gods must spend an Immortality in softest Peace, removed from our Affairs, and separated by Distance infinite; from Sorrow free; secure from Danger; in its own Happiness sufficient, and nought of ours can want, is neither pleased with Good, nor vexed with Ill.

    Indeed Mankind, in wretched Bondage held, lay groveling on the ground, galled with the Yoke of what is called Religion; from the Sky this Tyrant shewed her Head, and with grim Looks hung over us poor Mortals here below; until a Man of Greece with steady Eyes dared look her in the Face, and first opposed her Power. Him not the Fame of Gods nor Thunder’s Roar kept back, nor threatening Tumults of the Sky; but still the more they roused the active Virtue of his aspiring Soul, as he pressed forward first to break thro’ Natures scanty Bounds. His Mind’s quick Force prevailed; and so he passed by far the flaming Limits of this World, and wander’d with his comprehensive Soul o’er all the mighty Space; from thence returned triumphant; told us what Things may have a Being, and what cannot; and how a finite Power is fixed to each; a Bound it cannot break; and so Religion, which we feared before, by him subdued, we tread upon in turn; his Conquest makes us equal to the Gods.

  • Poster: Lucretius uses “Venus” usually to refer to sexual desire, by which “nothing can rise to light” etc. The more literal occurrence when Venus kisses Mars may be an illusion to a statue, well known at the time but lost now. I’d say the same play is occurring with caelum, “heavens” as in the sky... ...unless the godly imagery is just too tempting. We are talking about a poet, after all! He let himself play here more than usual.

    Cassius: Nocks, as you glance through this edition you know I am interested in any comment you have, as I know Lucretius is one of your favorite topics. The Latin text should not be anything new, but the choice of a translator is always interesting (at least to me) because I think the degree someone has immersed himself in Latin will tell the tale on how well the translation follows the meaning. This author is fast becoming one of my favorites, as I see from later in book one that he pushes away from using "accidents" to describe the non-essential attributes of bodies, and instead calls them "events" -- a choice dear to my heart 1f609.png;)

    (As you know I've always considered "accidents" to be misleading, as implying "randomness," which I don't think is acceptable at all - "event" in my view is much better, implying only that it is a happening that occurs due to the particular context, but not at "random.")

  • Even THIS one seems more clear to me - the Trojan War - or any action, does not have an independent existence like a body does - an event, no matter how stupendous, is just something that occurs to the bodies in the space where the event is carried on. The continuing mystery to me is "Who says that events DO have a separate existence?" Did the Platonists or Pythagoreans give some mystical significance to certain events? Were they asserting something like the later Christians assert about the crucifixion, that it was some supernatural mystical event for the ages? Or were they somehow just saying that events have a "third nature" that is neither body nor space?

  • And is here is one of what I would contend is one of the most important sections of Lucretius - from Book 4 - "So the Reason of Things must of necessity be wrong and false, which is founded upon false Representation of the Senses." Maybe not quite clear as a bell, but superior to many versions of this I have seen.

  • The remainder of this thread will be used to coordinate the transcription of the 1743 edition so that it is more accessible to new readers.

    The transcription will be posted here: At present all of the Munro and Bailey versions are complete (though they need proofreading) and Book 1 of the Browne translation is complete.

    The next step to be undertaken is to complete the remaining books of the Browne translation, and then cross-reference all books against the Latin text line numbers (taken from the Browne side-by-side Latin/English edition.

    Anyone who is so inclined to contribute, please let me know and paste your suggested text here in the thread.

    The transcription should be kept as close to the original as possible, but with certain necessary changes, especially in Browne, to modify archaic spellings, the font style in which "f" is used for "s", and mid-sentence capitalization.

    Once we have all three editions cross-referenced by passage, it will then be possible to prepare a "plain English" version against which the three original translations can serve as a check.

  • thank you Martin! What I am doing so far is working directly on the wiki pages. I have book 1 finished and have opened pages for the other 5, and I am working as I can to transcribe them. Typing new sections or just proofing what is typed already would be helpful. Probably the best way to communicate for the time being is that anyone who has contributions can just post it to this thread.

  • For the time being I am using this thread to mark progress on organizing the three English public-domain translations of Lucretius (Browne, Munro, and Bailey).

    I have today completed the reformatting and numbering of the three versions of book one, which means that line numbers are now available in each of the three versions of book one by which it is easier to find the corresponding line in the other two translations. At some point it will probably be desirable to either hyperlink these or set them up in a side-by-side table of three columns, but now at least the fundamental work of setting out each corresponding passage from each translation is complete (for book one). There were a few sections where it appears the Latin text used by the translators differed and sections were left out, but that did not occur frequently.

    The next step is to move forward and transcribe the next five books as we've done for book one.

  • This question isn't chargeable to Epicurus or Lucretius, certainly, because the engraving in this photo is only a couple of hundred years old. But I wonder why, in this portrayal made for the opening of Lucretius Book One, the artist decided to feature a map of CYPRUS at the bottom left of the drawing. And specifically - it says Cyprus - in case anyone didn't recognize the shape. Is Cyprus a particularly delightful place, or something? Or thought to be so in old England? Or is there in fact a connection I am missing?


  • Elli: Because according to Myth Cyprus is the birthplace of Venus/Aphrodite. :)

    Cassius: I never knew that! Venus was born in Cyprus? Why Cyprus? Is there some mountain or temple or some other feature that connected her or her parents with Cyprus? Birthplace of Aphrodite | World Heritage Journeys of Europe

    Birthplace of Aphrodite | World Heritage Journeys of Europe
    Birthplace of Aphrodite | World Heritage Journeys of Europe 3d view! Is one of these rocks the important one? The birthplace of Venus, Cyprus 360 Panorama | 360Cities

    The birthplace of Venus, Cyprus 360 Panorama | 360Cities

  • I've gotten curious about this anonymous translator again. Let me summarize (randomly) what I think I know.

    • The edition was published in 1743
    • by Daniel Brown II, Publisher, print/bookseller, stationer, in London ‘near Temple Bar’, 1704-1762. Son of Daniel Browne.
    • There may have been a Daniel Browne III in the same business;
      • "BROWNE, Daniel, bookseller, Catherine Street 1779L. Bankrupt May 1779. Poss. the Daniel Browne listed by Plomer."
    • The copy of the 1743 edition on was donated with the personal library of John Adams to the Boston Public Library (he also owned the Creech translation, and a copy with his signature survives. He despised Lucretius, as he reports in a letter to his son)
    • The engraver was not Renee Guernier, but probably Louis du Guernier II. He was not the translator (and how John Mason Good managed to screw that up is beyond me; he quotes the translator himself saying "Our language" etc.--it would be strange for a Frenchman to describe English as "Our language")
      • Draughtsman, etcher, engraver, book illustrator, possibly a goldsmith; born Paris son or nephew of Louis du Guernier, miniaturist of of same name, (1614-1659); studied under Louis de Chatillon; moved to London in 1708 and worked as 'a good designer, etcher and engraver, especially (of) small historical subjects for books or plays'

    That letter by John Adams;


    Dear Sir

    I have been confined, with a cold for three weeks and the family have been generally affected in the same way: We have not heard from yours for some time. I long to see you all: but the Weather and the roads will keep us, at a distance I fear for some days if not weeks. I have read Seven Volumes of De la Harpe in course, and the last Seven I have run through and searched but cannot find what I chiefly wanted, His Philosophy of the 18 Century from the Beginning to the End—that revival of the ineffable Nonsense of Epicurus as related by Lucretius not as explained by himself in his Letter in Diogenes Laertius. I am in love with La Harpe. I knew not there was such a man left.—If I had read this work at 20 years of Age, it would have had, I know not what effect.—If it had not made me a Poet or Philosopher it certainly would not have permitted me, to be a public Man. I never read any Writer in my Life, with whom I so universally agreed in Poetry, Oratory History, Philosophy, Morality and Religion. I find him too perfectly persuaded as I have been for forty years, that Greece & Italy are our Masters in all Things and that Greek & Italian are the most important Languages to study—My Love to L. & G. your / affectionate and respectful Father

  • Yes I would love to know more about this edition. It's so much better than Creech that it seems likely that whoever translated it probably had much of interest to say about Lucretius and Epicurus. Even though it is probably now lost, it's very interesting to work on fleshing out a picture of the type of people who made themselves part of the Epicurean transmission chain.