|C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the Worlds Best Literature.|
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.
|The End of All|
|By Titus Lucretius Carus (c. 99c. 55 B.C.)|
From On the Nature of Things, Book Fourth: Translation of Hugh Andrew Johnstone Munro
|IF, just as they are seen to feel that a load is on their mind which wears them out with its pressure, men might apprehend from what causes too it is produced, and whence such a pile, if I may say so, of ill lies on their breast,they would not spend their life as we see them now for the most part do, not knowing any one of them what he wishes, and wanting ever change of place as though he might lay his burden down. The man who is sick of home often issues forth from his large mansion, and as suddenly comes back to it, finding as he does that he is no better off abroad. He races to his country-house, driving his jennets in headlong haste, as if hurrying to bring help to a house on fire: he yawns the moment he has reached the door of his house, or sinks heavily into sleep and seeks forgetfulness, or even in haste goes back again to town. In this way each man flies from himself (but self, from whom, as you may be sure is commonly the case, he cannot escape, clings to him in his own despite); hates too himself, because he is sick and knows not the cause of the malady;for if he could rightly see into this, relinquishing all else, each man would study to learn the nature of things; since the point at stake is the condition for eternity,not for one hour,in which mortals have to pass all the time which remains for them to expect after death.|| 1|
| Once more, what evil lust of life is this which constrains us with such force to be so mightily troubled in doubts and dangers? A sure term of life is fixed for mortals, and death cannot be shunned, but meet it we must. Moreover, we are ever engaged, ever involved in the same pursuits, and no new pleasure is struck out by living on: but whilst what we crave is wanting, it seems to transcend all the rest; then, when it has been gotten, we crave something else, and ever does the same thirst of life possess us, as we gape for it open-mouthed. Quite doubtful it is what fortune the future will carry with it, or what chance will bring us, or what end is at hand. Nor, by prolonging life, do we take one tittle from the time passed in death, nor can we fret anything away, whereby we may haply be a less long time in the condition of the dead. Therefore you may complete as many generations as you please during your life: none the less, however, will that everlasting death await you; and for no less long a time will he be no more in being, who, beginning with to-day, has ended his life, than the man who has died many months and years ago.|| 2|