Lucretius was born in 99 BC, and On the Nature of Things is his only surviving work. His aim was to free the Roman world from its two great terrors – the gods and death. Lucretius argues that the gods are not actively involved in life, so need not be appeased; and that death is the end of everything human – body and soul – and therefore should not be feared. But On the Nature of Things is also a poem of striking imagery, intimate natural observation and touching pathos. It is one of the most influential writings in Western thought.