stitution of matter; the doctrine of films, which recalls Newton's corpuscular theory and the very recent discovery of the 'Becquerel rays'; the relations of waste and repair in youth and age; the inviolability of natural law.
Of special interest to us is a passage in the fifth book which sets forth the ideas of the struggle for existence and natural selection in terms of remarkable clearness for a pre-Darwinian writer. Lucretius even announces them in connection with the domestication of animals, which was the precise point from which Darwin started in his effort to account for 'the origin of species.'
In close sequence comes the most interesting portion of the entire poem, the detailed account of the evolution of human society from the rude 'life after the roving fashion of wild beasts' up to the settled security and elegancies of the highest civilization. Noteworthy in this account is the representation of childhood as the first humanizing influence, the origin and growth of language, religious beliefs and social order, the development of industries and of art, until the poet himself appears 'to consign the deeds of men to verse.' Thus, says Lucretius, "time by degrees brings each several thing forth before men's eyes, and reason raises it up into the borders of light; for things must be brought to light one after the other and in due order in the different arts, until these have reached their highest point of development."
- I. 267-328; II. 80-141, 333-477, 660-699.
- IV. 29 f.
- II. 1118-1147.
- V. 55-58.
- V. 855-877.
- Here, as elsewhere, I have used Munro's translation.