Part I – The Fear of Death
On my office bookshelf, I have a 54-volume set of the Great Books of the Western World. Most of these books now are available on the internet. But in the days before the internet this set of books was a valuable resource to have on hand.
It’s easy to see why some of the authors were included. Books by Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Milton certainly belong in the set. But I often wondered about the inclusion of other authors. For example, why have a book by this Lucretius fellow? Who in the world was he? What is the importance of his little book On the Nature of Things?
These questions displayed my ignorance at the time. This obscure, almost forgotten author from the late Roman Republic wrote a book that is transforming our world. His book On the Nature of Things was the inspiration for much of the Renaissance and Enlightenment as well as the liberal establishment today. But first his book was lost for more than a thousand years.