The Nature of the Gods: And, On Divination
In The Nature of the Gods the eminent Roman statesman and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.E.) analyzes the positions of the Stoic, Epicurean, and Academic schools on the existence and nature of the gods, and whether they act in the interests of humankind. Cotta, the Academic spokesman, criticizes his Epicurean and Stoic interlocutors for their failures, respectively, to account for human freedom and for the accidents and evils that occur in life. Lacking sure knowledge of what gods are, human beings are left to their own intelligence and natural abilities to make their way in an uncertain world. On Divination is closely related in subject-matter. In this dialogue between Cicero and his brother, Quintus, the latter upholds the truth of various sorts of divination on Stoic principles. Cicero counters that there is no such "science" of divination, and that the ambiguities and absurdities inherent in oracles, prodigies, and dreams preclude any divine agency. They are, rather, the result of natural phenomena or coincidence.
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ancient animal Apollo appear Aratus argument Aristotle assert augurs auspices Balbus beasts beautiful behold believe birds blood body Calchas called Carneades cause Chrysippus Cicero constellation consult Cotta Cratippus Deiotarus Deity Democritus deny doctrine doubt dreams earth Ennius entrails Epicureans Epicurus eternal excellent existence eyes false fate fire fortune future events give Gods Gracchus grant Greeks happen happy haruspices heat heaven Hercules honour human images imagine immortal Gods interpreters Jupiter kind of divination Latin likewise mankind manner MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO means mind moon motion nature never night observed omens opinion oracles perceive philosophers Plato poets Pompey Posidonius predicted presentiment principles prodigies prove Pythagoras Quintus reason religion Roman senate sense signs sleep soothsayers soul southern constellation speak stars Stoics suppose temple things Tiberius Gracchus tion truth understanding universe Velleius verses virtue whence wonder Zeno