Cicero: De Natura Deorum, Book 1

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Cambridge University Press, Jul 31, 2003 - Literary Collections - 236 pages
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Book 1 of De Natura Deorum exhibits in a nutshell Cicero's philosophical method, with the prior part stating the case for Epicurean theology, the latter (rather longer) part refuting it. Thus the reader observes Cicero at work in both constructive and skeptical modes as well as his art of characterizing speakers. Prefaced to the Book is Cicero's most elaborate justification of his philosophical writing. The Book thus makes an ideal starting point for the study of Cicero's philosophica or indeed of any philosophical writing in Latin, since it delineates the problems such a project raised in the minds of Roman readers and shows how Cicero thought they could be met. There is also a systematic and detailed doxography of ancient views about the deity, an important document in itself, presented from an Epicurean perspective. The volume's Introduction situates this text within Cicero's intellectual development and ancient reflection about the gods.

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Composition date change of plan
The scene characters and fictive date
The sources
Language and style
Influence through the centuries
The text
Prose rhythm
Abbreviations and References
2 Greek Words
3 General Index

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About the author (2003)

Born in Arpinum on January 3, 106 B.C., Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman orator, writer, and politician. In Rome, Cicero studied law, oratory, philosophy, and literature, before embarking on a political career. Banished from Rome in 59 B.C. for the execution of some members of the Catiline group, Cicero devoted himself to literature. Cicero was pardoned by Julius Caesar in 47 B.C., and returned to Rome to deliver his famous speeches, known as the "Philippics," urging the senate to declare war on Marc Antony. Cicero's chief works, written between 46 and 44 B.C., can be classified in the categories of philosophical works, letters, and speeches. The letters, edited by his secretary Tiro, showcase a unique writing style and charm. The most popular work of the period was De Officiis, a manual of ethics, in which Cicero espoused fundamental Christian values half a century before Christ. Cicero was murdered in Formiae, Italy, on December 4, 43 B.C., by Antony's soldiers after the triumvirate of Antony, Lepidus, and Octavius was formed.

Andrew R. Dyck is Professor of Classics at UCLA. He is the author of numerous books, including A Commentary on Cicero, De Officiis (1996; ISBN 0472107194).