List of English translations of De rerum natura

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Titus Lucretius Carus
Lucy Hutchinson
Lucretius, Roman poet; and Hutchinson, possibly his earliest English translator.

De rerum natura (usually translated as On the Nature of Things) is a philosophical epic poem written by Lucretius in Latin around 55 BCE. The poem was lost during the Middle Ages, rediscovered in 1417, and first printed in 1473. Its earliest published translation into any language (French) did not occur until 1650; in English — although earlier partial or unpublished translations exist — the first complete translation to be published was that of Thomas Creech, in heroic couplets, in 1682. Only a few more English translations appeared over the next two centuries, but in the 20th century translations began appearing more frequently.

Only complete (or nearly complete) translations are listed. Notable translations of individual passages include the "invocation to Venus" by Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queene IV.X.44-47; and five passages in John Dryden's Sylvae (1685).


  • Year — The year of first publication (except where * indicates year of composition).
  • Translator
  • Publication — The name of the work as published; ISBNs and links to PDFs when available; other publication information.
  • Source — Some translators refer to multiple Latin editions; only the primary Latin source text (if known) is noted here.
  • Notes — "Prose" or the form of verse is always listed first, so that sorting on this column groups formally similar translations; other germane information follows.


Year Translator Publication Source Notes
1600s* Anonymous In mss: Bodl. MS. Rawl. D. 314. Gifanius (1595) Prose.
1650s* Hutchinson, Lucy In mss until Lucy Hutchinson's translation of Lucretius: De rerum natura. ed. Hugh de Quehen (1996) ISBN 0-472-10778-X Pareus (1631) Heroic couplets.
1656 Evelyn, John Book 1 only: An essay on the first book of T. Lucretius Carus De rerum natura (1656). Evelyn's complete extant translation (lacking Book 2) not published until John Evelyn's Translation of Titus Lucretius Carus: 'De rerum natura': An Old-Spelling Critical Edition ed Repetzki, (Peter Lang (2000) ISBN 978-0820443881) Lambinus (1570) Heroic couplets.
1682 Creech, Thomas First edition published pseudonymously as "Daphnis"; subsequently under Creech's own name. Second edition (1683) at Google Books, often reprinted. Heroic couplets. The first complete English translation published, and the standard translation of the 18th century.
1743 Anonymous Of the Nature of Things on the Internet Archive "Plates by Guernier." Prose. Facing Latin text.
1805 Good, John Mason The Nature of Things: A Didactic Poem: Vol 1 on the Internet Archive, Vol 2 on the Internet Archive. Reprinted in John Selby Watson's translation On the Nature of Things (1851) Wakefield (1796–97) Blank verse. Facing Latin text.
1813 Busby, Thomas The Nature of Things: A Didascalic Poem Heroic couplets.
1851 Watson, John Selby On the Nature of Things at Google Books, often reprinted. Forbiger (1828) Prose.
1864 Munro, H.A.J. Text, commentary, and translation in volumes 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Often reprinted: Vol 3 rpt. of 1900 on the Internet Archive. Munro (1860) Prose.
1872 Johnson, Charles Frederick On the Nature of Things on the Internet Archive Munro (1860) Blank verse. The first American translation.
1884 Baring, Thomas Charles The scheme of Epicurus; a rendering into English verse of the unfinished poem of Lucretius, entitled "De rerum natura", ("The Nature of things") at Google Books Fourteener couplets.
1910 Bailey, Cyril Lucretius On the Nature of Things on the Internet Archive. Often reprinted. Bailey (1898/1921) Prose.
1916 Leonard, William Ellery Of the Nature of Things on the Internet Archive. Reprinted in Everyman's Library. Guissani (1896–98) Blank verse. Facing Latin text.
1919 Allison, Sir Robert On the Nature of Things on the Internet Archive Munro (1866) Blank verse.
1924 Rouse, W. H. D. Lucretius: On the Nature of Things (Loeb revised edn. ISBN 978-0674992009) Rouse (Loeb 1924) Prose. Facing Latin text.
1925 De Ford, Miriam Allen Lucretius on The nature of things Prose.
1929 Jackson, Thomas Titus Lucretius Carus on the nature of things Bailey (1921) Rhythmic prose.
1933 Way, Arthur S. Lucretius on the problem of existence 6-beat lines.
1937 Trevelyan, R. C. De Rerum Natura. Selections published in 1920 as Translations From Lucretius on the Internet Archive. Bailey (1921) Blank verse.
1946 Bennett, Charles Ernest On the nature of things Verse.
1950 Brown, W. Hannaford Lucretius on the Nature of Things Imitative dactyllic hexameters.
1951 Latham, Ronald E. On the Nature of the Universe (Penguin Classics rev. by John Godwin (1994) ISBN 978-0140446104) Prose.
1956 Winspear, Alban Dewes De rerum natura, by Lucretius, the Roman poet of science Bailey (1921) Irregular iambics.
1963 Johnson, L. L. On the Nature of Things Imitative dactyllic hexameters.
1965 Geer, Russel Mortimer On nature Prose.
1965 Mantinband, James H. On the nature of the universe (De rerum natura) 6-beat lines.
1969 Humphries, Rolfe The Way Things Are ISBN 0-253-20125-X Rouse (Loeb 1924) Blank verse.
1969 Smith, Martin Ferguson On the Nature of Things (revised edn. (2001) ISBN 978-0872205871) Prose.
1973 Wooby, Philip F. Lucretius: about reality ISBN 978-0802221223 Imitative dactyllic hexameters.
1974 Bovie, Palmer Lucretius: On the nature of Things. De Rerum Natura. A Modern Verse Translation Leonard & Smith Verse.
1976 Sisson, C. H. The Poem on Nature ISBN 978-1857547238 6-beat lines.
1977 Copley, Frank O. The Nature of Things (Norton rpt. (2011) ISBN 978-0393341362) Bailey (1962) Loose blank verse.
1995 Esolen, Anthony On the Nature of Things ISBN 978-0801850554 Loose blank verse.
1997 Melville, Sir Ronald On the Nature of the Universe (Oxford World's Classics rpt. ISBN 978-0199555147) Rouse, rev. Smith (Loeb 1975) Blank verse.
2003 Englert, Walter On the Nature of Things ISBN 978-0941051217 "Rough five or six beat line."
2007 Stallings, Alicia The Nature of Things (Penguin Classics ISBN 978-0140447965) Rouse, rev. Smith (Loeb 1975) Fourteener couplets.
2008 Slavitt, David R. De Rerum Natura (The Nature of Things): A Poetic Translation ISBN 978-0520255937 6-beat lines.


  • Dalzell, Alexander (1973), "A Bibliography of Work on Lucretius 1945-1972 [part 1]", The Classical World, 66 (7): 389–427, JSTOR 4347878 
  • Dalzell, Alexander (1973), "A Bibliography of Work on Lucretius 1945-1972 [part 2]", The Classical World, 67 (2): 65–112, JSTOR 4347972