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Edward Bellamy
The Siren's call: A Roman recovered
The Siren's call: A Roman recovered

Born more than 2,000 years ago, the Roman poet Lucretius really belongs to our day. How's that? Well, when you look closely at his great work, "On the Nature of Things" (W.W. Norton: 177 pp., $15.95 paper), you find him writing about a world that sounds much like our own. There he speaks of tiny, indivisible bits called atoms ("all/are sundered into particles of matter") and something that even sounds like a description of DNA ("each thing has but one substance/marked and designed to bring it into being"). And how about this cautionary attitude to religion: "More commonly/religion has prompted vile and vicious acts." His viewpoint,...

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