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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



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Cicero, Academica, 2.66
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1. Cicero, Academica, 2.67, 2.77-2.78, 2.98-2.99, 2.102-2.105 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

2. Cicero, On Divination, 1.7, 2.8, 2.15, 2.148-2.150 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.7. Sed haec quidem laus Academiae praestantissumi philosophi iudicio et testimonio conprobata est. Etenim nobismet ipsis quaerentibus, quid sit de divinatione iudicandum, quod a Carneade multa acute et copiose contra Stoicos disputata sint, verentibusque, ne temere vel falsae rei vel non satis cognitae adsentiamur, faciendum videtur, ut diligenter etiam atque etiam argumenta cum argumentis comparemus, ut fecimus in iis tribus libris, quos de natura deorum scripsimus. Nam cum omnibus in rebus temeritas in adsentiendo errorque turpis est, tum in eo loco maxime, in quo iudicandum est, quantum auspiciis rebusque divinis religionique tribuamus; est enim periculum, ne aut neglectis iis impia fraude aut susceptis anili superstitione obligemur. 2.8. Nam cum de divinatione Quintus frater ea disseruisset, quae superiore libro scripta sunt, satisque ambulatum videretur, tum in bibliotheca, quae in Lycio est, adsedimus. Atque ego: Adcurate tu quidem, inquam, Quinte, et Stoice Stoicorum sententiam defendisti, quodque me maxime delectat, plurimis nostris exemplis usus es, et iis quidem claris et inlustribus. Dicendum est mihi igitur ad ea, quae sunt a te dicta, sed ita, nihil ut adfirmem, quaeram omnia, dubitans plerumque et mihi ipse diffidens. Si enim aliquid certi haberem, quod dicerem, ego ipse divinarem, qui esse divinationem nego. 2.15. Potestne igitur earum rerum, quae nihil habent rationis, quare futurae sint, esse ulla praesensio? Quid est enim aliud fors, quid fortuna, quid casus, quid eventus, nisi cum sic aliquid cecidit, sic evenit, ut vel aliter cadere atque evenire potuerit? Quo modo ergo id, quod temere fit caeco casu et volubilitate fortunae, praesentiri et praedici potest? 2.148. Explodatur igitur haec quoque somniorum divinatio pariter cum ceteris. Nam, ut vere loquamur, superstitio fusa per gentis oppressit omnium fere animos atque hominum inbecillitatem occupavit. Quod et in iis libris dictum est, qui sunt de natura deorum, et hac disputatione id maxume egimus. Multum enim et nobismet ipsis et nostris profuturi videbamur, si eam funditus sustulissemus. Nec vero (id enim diligenter intellegi volo) superstitione tollenda religio tollitur. Nam et maiorum instituta tueri sacris caerimoniisque retinendis sapientis est, et esse praestantem aliquam aeternamque naturam, et eam suspiciendam admirandamque hominum generi pulchritudo mundi ordoque rerum caelestium cogit confiteri. 2.149. Quam ob rem, ut religio propaganda etiam est, quae est iuncta cum cognitione naturae, sic superstitionis stirpes omnes eligendae. Instat enim et urget et, quo te cumque verteris, persequitur, sive tu vatem sive tu omen audieris, sive immolaris sive avem aspexeris, si Chaldaeum, si haruspicem videris, si fulserit, si tonuerit, si tactum aliquid erit de caelo, si ostenti simile natum factumve quippiam; quorum necesse est plerumque aliquid eveniat, ut numquam liceat quieta mente consistere. 2.150. Perfugium videtur omnium laborum et sollicitudinum esse somnus. At ex eo ipso plurumae curae metusque nascuntur; qui quidem ipsi per se minus valerent et magis contemnerentur, nisi somniorum patrocinium philosophi suscepissent, nec ii quidem contemptissimi, sed in primis acuti et consequentia et repugtia videntes, qui prope iam absoluti et perfecti putantur. Quorum licentiae nisi Carneades restitisset, haud scio an soli iam philosophi iudicarentur. Cum quibus omnis fere nobis disceptatio contentioque est, non quod eos maxume contemnamus, sed quod videntur acutissime sententias suas prudentissimeque defendere. Cum autem proprium sit Academiae iudicium suum nullum interponere, ea probare, quae simillima veri videantur, conferre causas et, quid in quamque sententiam dici possit, expromere, nulla adhibita sua auctoritate iudicium audientium relinquere integrum ac liberum, tenebimus hanc consuetudinem a Socrate traditam eaque inter nos, si tibi, Quinte frater, placebit, quam saepissime utemur. Mihi vero, inquit ille, nihil potest esse iucundius. Quae cum essent dicta, surreximus. 1.7. At any rate, this praiseworthy tendency of the Academy to doubt has been approved by the solemn judgement of a most eminent philosopher. [4] Accordingly, since I, too, am in doubt as to the proper judgement to be rendered in regard to divination because of the many pointed and exhaustive arguments urged by Carneades against the Stoic view, and since I am afraid of giving a too hasty assent to a proposition which may turn out either false or insufficiently established, I have determined carefully and persistently to compare argument with argument just as I did in my three books On the Nature of the Gods. For a hasty acceptance of an erroneous opinion is discreditable in any case, and especially so in an inquiry as to how much weight should be given to auspices, to sacred rites, and to religious observances; for we run the risk of committing a crime against the gods if we disregard them, or of becoming involved in old womens superstition if we approve them. [5] 1.7. As briefly as I could, I have discussed divination by means of dreams and frenzy, which, as I said, are devoid of art. Both depend on the same reasoning, which is that habitually employed by our friend Cratippus: The human soul is in some degree derived and drawn from a source exterior to itself. Hence we understand that outside the human soul there is a divine soul from which the human soul is sprung. Moreover, that portion of the human soul which is endowed with sensation, motion, and carnal desire is inseparable from bodily influence; while that portion which thinks and reasons is most vigorous when it is most distant from the body. 2.8. After my brother Quintus had delivered his views on divination, as set out in the preceding volume, and we had walked as much as we wished, we took our seats in the library in my Lyceum, and I remarked:Really, my dear Quintus, you have defended the Stoic doctrine with accuracy and like a Stoic. But the thing that delights me most is the fact that you illustrated your argument with many incidents taken from Roman sources — incidents, too, of a distinguished and noble type. I must now reply to what you said, but I must do so with great diffidence and with many misgivings, and in such a way as to affirm nothing and question everything. For if I should assume anything that I said to be certain I should myself be playing the diviner while saying that no such thing as divination exists! 2.8. Then dismiss Romuluss augural staff, which you say the hottest of fires was powerless to burn, and attach slight importance to the whetstone of Attus Navius. Myths would have no place in philosophy. It would have been more in keeping with your rôle as a philosopher to consider, first, the nature of divination generally, second, its origin, and third, its consistency. What, then, is the nature of an art which makes prophets out of birds that wander aimlessly about — now here, now there — and makes the action or inaction of men depend upon the song or flight of birds? and why was the power granted to some birds to give a favourable omen when on the left side and to others when on the right? Again, however, when, and by whom, shall we say that the system was invented? The Etruscans, it is true, find the author of their system in the boy who was ploughed up out of the ground; but whom have we? Attus Navius? But Romulus and Remus, both of whom, by tradition, were augurs, lived many years earlier. Are we to say that it was invented by the Pisidians, Cilicians, or Phrygians? It is your judgement, then, that those devoid of human learning are the authors of a divine science! [39] 2.15. Can there, then, be any foreknowledge of things for whose happening no reason exists? For we do not apply the words chance, luck, accident, or casualty except to an event which has so occurred or happened that it either might not have occurred at all, or might have occurred in any other way. How, then, is it possible to foresee and to predict an event that happens at random, as the result of blind accident, or of unstable chance? 2.15. Sleep is regarded as a refuge from every toil and care; but it is actually made the fruitful source of worry and fear. In fact dreams would be less regarded on their own account and would be viewed with greater indifference had they not been taken under the guardianship of philosophers — not philosophers of the meaner sort, but those of the keenest wit, competent to see what follows logically and what does not — men who are considered well-nigh perfect and infallible. Indeed, if their arrogance had not been resisted by Carneades, it is probable that by this time they would have adjudged the only philosophers. While most of my war of words has been with these men, it is not because I hold them in especial contempt, but on the contrary, it is because they seem to me to defend their own views with the greatest acuteness and skill. Moreover, it is characteristic of the Academy to put forward no conclusions of its own, but to approve those which seem to approach nearest to the truth; to compare arguments; to draw forth all that may be said in behalf of any opinion; and, without asserting any authority of its own, to leave the judgement of the inquirer wholly free. That same method, which by the way we inherited from Socrates, I shall, if agreeable to you, my dear Quintus, follow as often as possible in our future discussions.Nothing could please me better, Quintus replied.When this was said, we arose. 2.148. Then let dreams, as a means of divination, be rejected along with the rest. Speaking frankly, superstition, which is widespread among the nations, has taken advantage of human weakness to cast its spell over the mind of almost every man. This same view was stated in my treatise On the Nature of the Gods; and to prove the correctness of that view has been the chief aim of the present discussion. For I thought that I should be rendering a great service both to myself and to my countrymen if I could tear this superstition up by the roots. But I want it distinctly understood that the destruction of superstition does not mean the destruction of religion. For I consider it the part of wisdom to preserve the institutions of our forefathers by retaining their sacred rites and ceremonies. Furthermore, the celestial order and the beauty of the universe compel me to confess that there is some excellent and eternal Being, who deserves the respect and homage of men. 2.149. Wherefore, just as it is a duty to extend the influence of true religion, which is closely associated with the knowledge of nature, so it is a duty to weed out every root of superstition. For superstition is ever at your heels to urge you on; it follows you at every turn. It is with you when you listen to a prophet, or an omen; when you offer sacrifices or watch the flight of birds; when you consult an astrologer or a soothsayer; when it thunders or lightens or there is a bolt from on high; or when some so‑called prodigy is born or is made. And since necessarily some of these signs are nearly always being given, no one who believes in them can ever remain in a tranquil state of mind.
3. Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, 1.1, 1.12, 1.61-1.62 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.1. There are a number of branches of philosophy that have not as yet been by any means adequately explored; but the inquiry into the nature of the gods, which is both highly interesting in relation to the theory of the soul, and fundamentally important for the regulation of religion, is one of special difficulty and obscurity, as you, Brutus, are well aware. The multiplicity and variety of the opinions held upon this subject by eminent scholars are bound to constitute a strong argument for the view that philosophy has its origin and starting-point in ignorance, and that the Academic School were well-advised in "withholding assent" from beliefs that are uncertain: for what is more unbecoming than ill‑considered haste? and what is so ill‑considered or so unworthy of the dignity and seriousness proper to a philosopher as to hold an opinion that is not true, or to maintain with unhesitating certainty a proposition not based on adequate examination, comprehension and knowledge? 1.12. In an undertaking so extensive and so arduous, I do not profess to have attained success, though I do claim to have attempted it. At the same time it would be impossible for the adherents of this method to dispense altogether with any standard of guidance. This matter it is true I have discussed elsewhere more thoroughly; but some people are so dull and slow of apprehension that they appear to require repeated explanations. Our position is not that we hold that nothing is true, but that we assert that all true sensations are associated with false ones so closely resembling them that they contain no infallible mark to guide our judgement and assent. From this followed the corollary, that many sensations are probable, that is, though not amounting to a full perception they are yet possessed of a certain distinctness and clearness, and so can serve to direct the conduct of the wise man. 1.61. But as for your master Epicurus (for I prefer to join issue with him rather than with yourself), which of his utterances is, I do not say worthy of philosophy, but compatible with ordinary common sense? "In an inquiry as to the nature of the gods, the first question that we ask is, do the gods exist or do they not? 'It is difficult to deny their existence.' No doubt it would be if the question were to be asked in a public assembly, but in private conversation and in a company like the present it is perfectly easy. This being so, I, who am a high priest, and who hold it to be a duty most solemnly to maintain the rights and doctrines of the established religion, should be glad to be convinced of this fundamental tenet of the divine existence, not as an article of faith merely but as an ascertained fact. For many disturbing reflections occur to my mind, which sometimes make me think that there are no gods at all. 1.62. But mark how generously I deal with you. I will not attack those tenets which are shared by your school with all other philosophers — for example the one in question, since almost all men, and I myself no less than any other, believe that the gods exist, and this accordingly I do not challenge. At the same time I doubt the adequacy of the argument which you adduce to prove it. You said that a sufficient reason for our admitting that the gods exist was the fact that all the nations and races of mankind believe it. But argument is both inconclusive and untrue. In the first place, how do you know what foreign races believe? For my part I think that there are many nations so uncivilized and barbarous as to have no notion of any gods at all.
4. Plutarch, Against Colotes, None (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

5. Sextus, Against The Mathematicians, 7.151-7.157, 9.49 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
academics, the academy Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
academy Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 114
aenesidemus Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
antiochus of ascalon Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 39; Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
arcesilaus Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 114
assent Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 114
athens, athenians Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
augustine Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 109, 114
authority Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 268
belief (doxa) Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
carneades Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 114; Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
cataleptic impression Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 114
cicero, marcus tullius, academica Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 39
cicero, marcus tullius, plato and platonism of Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 39
cicero, marcus tullius, scepticisms of Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 39
cicero, on academic sceptics Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
determinism, dialectic Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
dialogue form Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 268
epoche Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
görler, w. Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 39
impressions Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 114
latin Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 109
menedemus Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
philo of larisa Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
philo of larissa Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 39
plutarch Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
problem of evil, the Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 167
protreptic Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 109
sage Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 109
scepticism, academic Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
scepticism, ciceros carnadean Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 39
scepticism, pyrrhonean Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
sextus empiricus Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
skepticism, academic Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 227, 268
skepticism, and religion' Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 167
skepticism, pyrrhonist Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 167
skepticism, radical and mitigated Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 38, 268
socrates Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 96
stoicism, xi Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 114
suspension of assent Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 114
truth Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 114