By way of a footnote to my write-up of Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve I want to report that I did indeed read The Nature of Things by Lucretius, specifically a verse translation by A.E. Stallings (Penguin Classics). The original book is itself written in poetic form, so the effort to render it as poetry to English-speaking readers is extremely praiseworthy, and so far as I can tell (having no knowledge of Latin) is brilliantly executed.
Lucretius makes clear that he is using poetry to lure the reader in to his revolutionary theories, just as he makes frequent references to the gods and their stories as helpful metaphors and nothing more. For it is his belief that if the gods exist at all they have no interest in what humanity is doing and no capacity to influence human behavior. In the book Lucretius presents a theory borrowed from the Greek philosopher Epicurus: that all life is made up of atoms in ceaseless motion, combining and recombining, and, yes, with progress and change coming from the "swerve" of Greenblatt's title.
This is by no means a dry or academic work of philosophy: Lucretius set out to persuade the reader of his theories by all available means, sometimes comic, sometimes strident, sometimes purely poetic. One is quite frankly awed to find such a vivid reading experience in a book that is more than two thousand years old.
— Jeremy Nussbaum