Donatus states in his life of Virgil, a work also based on the lost work of Suetonius, that Lucretius died on the same day on which Virgil assumed the toga virilis, that is, in the seventeenth year of Virgil's life, and on the very day on which he was born, and adds that the consuls were the same, that is Cn.
But the chief value of Lucretius as a thinker lies in his firm grasp of speculative ideas, and in his application of them to the interpretation of human life and nature.
The inference that Lucretius belonged to this class is confirmed by the tone in which he addresses Gaius Memmius, a man of an eminent senatorian family, to whom the poem is dedicated.
Physical science remains dialectical, and a physical experiment is as rare in the age of Lucretius as in that of Empedocles.
But the insistence with which Lucretius returns to the subject, and the horror with which he recalls the effects of such abnormal phenomena, suggest that he himself may have been liable to such hallucinations, which are said to be consistent with perfect sanity, though they may be the precursors either of madness or of a state of despair and melancholy.
In the case of Epicureanism we can happily judge of the tyranny of the literal tradition by a comparison of Lucretius with the recorded doctrine of the master.
Cicero, by his professed antagonism to the doctrines of Epicurus, by his inadequate appreciation of Lucretius himself and by the indifference which he shows to other contemporary poets, seems to have been neither fitted for the task of correcting the unfinished work of a writer whose genius was so distinct from his own, nor likely to have cordially undertaken such a task.
The Latin hexameter, which in Ennius and Lucretius was the organ of the more dignified and majestic emotions, became in his hands the most perfect measure in which the softer and more luxurious sentiment of nature has been expressed.
It has been doubted whether Cicero,' in his short criticism in the letter already referred to, concedes to Lucretius both the gifts of genius and the accomplishment of art or only one of them.
The preface treats of Greek sciences, geometry, the discovery of specific gravity by Archimedes, and other discoveries of the Greeks, and of Romans of his time who have vied with the Greeks -- Lucretius in his poem De Rerum Natura, Cicero in rhetoric, and Varro in philology, as shown by his De Lingua Latina.