Here you will find the Long Poem Book V - Part 07 - Beginnings Of Civilization of poet Lucretius

Book V - Part 07 - Beginnings Of Civilization

When huts they had procured and pelts and fire, 
And when the woman, joined unto the man, 
Withdrew with him into one dwelling place, 

Were known; and when they saw an offspring born 
From out themselves, then first the human race 
Began to soften. For 'twas now that fire 
Rendered their shivering frames less staunch to bear, 
Under the canopy of the sky, the cold; 
And Love reduced their shaggy hardiness; 
And children, with the prattle and the kiss, 
Soon broke the parents' haughty temper down. 
Then, too, did neighbours 'gin to league as friends, 
Eager to wrong no more or suffer wrong, 
And urged for children and the womankind 
Mercy, of fathers, whilst with cries and gestures 
They stammered hints how meet it was that all 
Should have compassion on the weak. And still, 
Though concord not in every wise could then 
Begotten be, a good, a goodly part 
Kept faith inviolate- or else mankind 
Long since had been unutterably cut off, 
And propagation never could have brought 
The species down the ages. 
Lest, perchance, 
Concerning these affairs thou ponderest 
In silent meditation, let me say 
'Twas lightning brought primevally to earth 
The fire for mortals, and from thence hath spread 
O'er all the lands the flames of heat. For thus 
Even now we see so many objects, touched 
By the celestial flames, to flash aglow, 
When thunderbolt has dowered them with heat. 
Yet also when a many-branched tree, 
Beaten by winds, writhes swaying to and fro, 
Pressing 'gainst branches of a neighbour tree, 
There by the power of mighty rub and rub 
Is fire engendered; and at times out-flares 
The scorching heat of flame, when boughs do chafe 
Against the trunks. And of these causes, either 
May well have given to mortal men the fire. 
Next, food to cook and soften in the flame 
The sun instructed, since so oft they saw 
How objects mellowed, when subdued by warmth
And by the raining blows of fiery beams,
Through all the fields.
 And more and more each day
Would men more strong in sense, more wise in heart,
Teach them to change their earlier mode and life
By fire and new devices. Kings began
Cities to found and citadels to set,
As strongholds and asylums for themselves,
And flocks and fields to portion for each man
After the beauty, strength, and sense of each-
For beauty then imported much, and strength
Had its own rights supreme. Thereafter, wealth
Discovered was, and gold was brought to light,
Which soon of honour stripped both strong and fair;
For men, however beautiful in form
Or valorous, will follow in the main
The rich man's party. Yet were man to steer
His life by sounder reasoning, he'd own
Abounding riches, if with mind content
He lived by thrift; for never, as I guess,
Is there a lack of little in the world.
But men wished glory for themselves and power
Even that their fortunes on foundations firm
Might rest forever, and that they themselves,
The opulent, might pass a quiet life-
In vain, in vain; since, in the strife to climb
On to the heights of honour, men do make
Their pathway terrible; and even when once
They reach them, envy like the thunderbolt
At times will smite, O hurling headlong down
To murkiest Tartarus, in scorn; for, lo,
All summits, all regions loftier than the rest,
Smoke, blasted as by envy's thunderbolts;
So better far in quiet to obey,
Than to desire chief mastery of affairs
And ownership of empires. Be it so;
And let the weary sweat their life-blood out
All to no end, battling in hate along
The narrow path of man's ambition;
Since all their wisdom is from others' lips,
And all they seek is known from what they've heard
And less from what they've thought. Nor is this folly
Greater to-day, nor greater soon to be,
Than' twas of old.
 And therefore kings were slain,
And pristine majesty of golden thrones
And haughty sceptres lay o'erturned in dust;
And crowns, so splendid on the sovereign heads,
Soon bloody under the proletarian feet,
Groaned for their glories gone- for erst o'er-much
Dreaded, thereafter with more greedy zest
Trampled beneath the rabble heel. Thus things
Down to the vilest lees of brawling mobs
Succumbed, whilst each man sought unto himself
Dominion and supremacy. So next
Some wiser heads instructed men to found
The magisterial office, and did frame
Codes that they might consent to follow laws.
For humankind, o'er wearied with a life
Fostered by force, was ailing from its feuds;
And so the sooner of its own free will
Yielded to laws and strictest codes. For since
Each hand made ready in its wrath to take
A vengeance fiercer than by man's fair laws
Is now conceded, men on this account
Loathed the old life fostered by force. 'Tis thence