On the Nature of Things

Oh yes! Look was turned up in my mailbox today!

I’ve been hoping for an English translation of Bede’s earliest ‘scientific’ works On the Nature of Things and On Times for quite a while. A hat tip to David O’Mahony at Chronica Minora for letting me know that its out. I’ll be having some interesting reading in the coming days. In the meantime I will leave you with the poem Bede composed for the opening of On the Nature of Things.

In brief chapters, I, Bede, the servant of God,

Have lightly touched on the nature of things,

And on the broad ages of fleeting time, You who study the stars above,

Fix your mind’s gaze, I pray, on the light of everlasting day.


8 thoughts on “On the Nature of Things

  1. Michelle,

    Would you be able to quote a few pargaphs in full? Sometimes he is most poetic. Is the coincidence of his title with Lucretius just that or would he have known Lucretius?

    1. I’m afraid that is the whole poem. Its just Bede’s way of leaving a by-line. I’ll have to get back with you on the other question after I’ve read the commentary.

    2. Appendix 4 (‘Bede and Lucretius’) of this volume makes it clear that Bede did not know Lucretius’ poem (On the Nature of Things) and therefore made no use of it. Bede took his title from Isidore of Seville. Kendall and Wallis say there is no evidence it was available anywhere in England in Bede’s time.

  2. That’s excellent news! In studying the world chronicles in the Annales Cambriae B and C texts I had to extract the Chronica Minora from the old ‘footnote’ edition at Monumenta Germaniae Historica and ended up putting it on Wikisource . It will be very good to have a proper modern edition.

  3. This is pleasingly serendipitous: I’d just hit a mention in a book of an early (708) letter of Bede’s to Bishop Wilfrid being sarcastic about a member of his retinue, which my reference says is in Jones’s edition Opera de Temporibus, pp. 134-135, 307 & 315, and since I haven’t yet pinned down a copy of Jones to check in, I don’t know if that would be in the book you’ve now got; do you?

    1. I looked and I don’t see the letter in this book. I think you are referring to the letter to Plegwine, who was a cleric of Wilfrid’s. It is translated inOn the Reckoning of Time , edited by Faith Wallis. I hope that helps.

  4. That sounds like the one, it was news to me so sorry to be so vague. Thankyou! I am plotting a Stephen vs. Bede Wilfrid source-pack for first classes on the early medieval British survey course here.

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