ON THE NATURE OF THE UNIVERSE
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TITUS LUCRETIUS CARUS must have been born soon after 100 BC and was probably already dead when his poem was given to the world in 11 BC. Almost nothing is known about his life. He was a Roman citizen and a friend of Gaius Memmius, an eminent Roman statesman, and his poem was read and admired by Cicero. It is doubtful if there is any truth in the story preserved by St Jerome and immortalized by Tennyson that he died at his own hand after being driven mad by a love philtre.
RONALD LATHAM also translated The Travels of Marco Polo for the Penguin Classics. Born in Northumberland in 19o7, he graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, being appointed Lecturer in Latin at Queen's University, Belfast. From 1934 until 1967, with the exception of the war years, he was an Assistant Keeper of Public Records. Ronald Latham was an OBE and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. His other publications include In Quest of Civilization, Finding out About the Normans, and he edited the Revised Medieval Latin Word List from British and Irish Sources, in the British Academy Series. He was also the original editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources. He died in I992.
JOHN GODWIN is Head of the Classics Faculty at Shrewsbury School. He was born in 1911 and educated at St Bede's College, Manchester, University College, Oxford, and the University of Kent at Canterbury. He wrote his Ph.D. thesis on 'Aesthetic Ethics in the de rerum natura of Lucretius' and has published separate editions of books four and six of the poems, as well as a full edition, translation and commentary on all the surviving poetry of Catullus.