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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



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Cicero, On Fate, 11-16
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1. Cicero, On Divination, 1.9, 1.13, 1.16, 1.24, 1.71, 1.111-1.112, 1.127, 2.14-2.19, 2.47-2.48, 2.66, 2.90-2.91 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.9. Eius rationi non sane desidero quid respondeam; satis enim defensa religio est in secundo libro a Lucilio, cuius disputatio tibi ipsi, ut in extremo tertio scribis, ad veritatem est visa propensior. Sed, quod praetermissum est in illis libris (credo, quia commodius arbitratus es separatim id quaeri deque eo disseri), id est de divinatione, quae est earum rerum, quae fortuitae putantur, praedictio atque praesensio, id, si placet, videamus quam habeat vim et quale sit. Ego enim sic existimo, si sint ea genera dividi vera, de quibus accepimus quaeque colimus, esse deos, vicissimque, si di sint, esse qui divinent. 1.13. Mirari licet, quae sint animadversa a medicis herbarum genera, quae radicum ad morsus bestiarum, ad oculorum morbos, ad vulnera, quorum vim atque naturam ratio numquam explicavit, utilitate et ars est et inventor probatus. Age ea, quae quamquam ex alio genere sunt, tamen divinationi sunt similiora, videamus: Atque etiam ventos praemonstrat saepe futuros Inflatum mare, cum subito penitusque tumescit, Saxaque cana salis niveo spumata liquore Tristificas certant Neptuno reddere voces, Aut densus stridor cum celso e vertice montis Ortus adaugescit scopulorum saepe repulsus. Atque his rerum praesensionibus Prognostica tua referta sunt. Quis igitur elicere causas praesensionum potest? etsi video Boe+thum Stoicum esse conatum, qui hactenus aliquid egit, ut earum rationem rerum explicaret, quae in mari caelove fierent. 1.16. hoc sum contentus, quod, etiamsi, cur quidque fiat, ignorem, quid fiat, intellego. Pro omni igitur divinatione idem, quod pro rebus iis, quas commemoravi, respondebo. Quid scammoneae radix ad purgandum, quid aristolochia ad morsus serpentium possit, quae nomen ex inventore repperit, rem ipsam inventor ex somnio, video, quod satis est; cur possit, nescio. Sic ventorum et imbrium signa, quae dixi, rationem quam habeant, non satis perspicio; vim et eventum agnosco, scio, adprobo. Similiter, quid fissum in extis, quid fibra valeat, accipio; quae causa sit, nescio. Atque horum quidem plena vita est; extis enim omnes fere utuntur. Quid? de fulgurum vi dubitare num possumus? Nonne cum multa alia mirabilia, tum illud in primis: Cum Summanus in fastigio Iovis optumi maxumi, qui tum erat fictilis, e caelo ictus esset nec usquam eius simulacri caput inveniretur, haruspices in Tiberim id depulsum esse dixerunt, idque inventum est eo loco, qui est ab haruspicibus demonstratus. 1.24. At non numquam ea, quae praedicta sunt, minus eveniunt. Quae tandem id ars non habet? earum dico artium, quae coniectura continentur et sunt opinabiles. An medicina ars non putanda est? quam tamen multa fallunt. Quid? gubernatores nonne falluntur? An Achivorum exercitus et tot navium rectores non ita profecti sunt ab Ilio, ut profectione laeti piscium lasciviam intuerentur, ut ait Pacuvius, nec tuendi satietas capere posset? Ínterea prope iam óccidente sóle inhorrescít mare, Ténebrae conduplicántur noctisque ét nimbum occaecát nigror. Num igitur tot clarissimorum ducum regumque naufragium sustulit artem guberdi? aut num imperatorum scientia nihil est, quia summus imperator nuper fugit amisso exercitu? aut num propterea nulla est rei publicae gerendae ratio atque prudentia, quia multa Cn. Pompeium, quaedam M. Catonem, non nulla etiam te ipsum fefellerunt? Similis est haruspicum responsio omnisque opinabilis divinatio; coniectura enim nititur, ultra quam progredi non potest. 1.71. Itaque expositis exemplis verarum vaticinationum et somniorum Cratippus solet rationem concludere hoc modo: Si sine oculis non potest exstare officium et munus oculorum, possunt autem aliquando oculi non fungi suo munere, qui vel semel ita est usus oculis, ut vera cerneret, is habet sensum oculorum vera cernentium. Item igitur, si sine divinatione non potest officium et munus divinationis exstare, potest autem quis, cum divinationem habeat, errare aliquando nec vera cernere, satis est ad confirmandam divinationem semel aliquid esse ita divinatum, ut nihil fortuito cecidisse videatur. Sunt autem eius generis innumerabilia; esse igitur divinationem confitendum est. Quae vero aut coniectura explicantur aut eventis animadversa ac notata sunt, ea genera dividi, ut supra dixi, non naturalia, sed artificiosa dicuntur; 1.111. Rarum est quoddam genus eorum, qui se a corpore avocent et ad divinarum rerum cognitionem cura omni studioque rapiantur. Horum sunt auguria non divini impetus, sed rationis humanae; nam et natura futura praesentiunt, ut aquarum eluviones et deflagrationem futuram aliquando caeli atque terrarum; alii autem in re publica exercitati, ut de Atheniensi Solone accepimus, orientem tyrannidem multo ante prospiciunt; quos prudentes possumus dicere, id est providentes, divinos nullo modo possumus, non plus quam Milesium Thalem, qui, ut obiurgatores suos convinceret ostenderetque etiam philosophum, si ei commodum esset, pecuniam facere posse, omnem oleam, ante quam florere coepisset, in agro Milesio coe+misse dicitur. 1.112. Animadverterat fortasse quadam scientia olearum ubertatem fore. Et quidem idem primus defectionem solis, quae Astyage regte facta est, praedixisse fertur. Multa medici, multa gubernatores, agricolae etiam multa praesentiunt, sed nullam eorum divinationem voco, ne illam quidem, qua ab Anaximandro physico moniti Lacedaemonii sunt, ut urbem et tecta linquerent armatique in agro excubarent, quod terrae motus instaret, tum cum et urbs tota corruit et e monte Taygeto extrema montis quasi puppis avolsa est. Ne Pherecydes quidem, ille Pythagorae magister, potius divinus habebitur quam physicus, quod, cum vidisset haustam aquam de iugi puteo, terrae motus dixit instare. 1.127. Praeterea cum fato omnia fiant, id quod alio loco ostendetur, si quis mortalis possit esse, qui conligationem causarum omnium perspiciat animo, nihil eum profecto fallat. Qui enim teneat causas rerum futurarum, idem necesse est omnia teneat, quae futura sint. Quod cum nemo facere nisi deus possit, relinquendum est homini, ut signis quibusdam consequentia declarantibus futura praesentiat. Non enim illa, quae futura sunt, subito exsistunt, sed est quasi rudentis explicatio sic traductio temporis nihil novi efficientis et primum quidque replicantis. Quod et ii vident, quibus naturalis divinatio data est, et ii, quibus cursus rerum observando notatus est. Qui etsi causas ipsas non cernunt, signa tamen causarum et notas cernunt; ad quas adhibita memoria et diligentia et monumentis superiorum efficitur ea divinatio, quae artificiosa dicitur, extorum, fulgorum, ostentorum signorumque caelestium. 2.14. Atqui ne illa quidem divitis esse dicebas, ventos aut imbres inpendentes quibusdam praesentire signis (in quo nostra quaedam Aratea memoriter a te pronuntiata sunt), etsi haec ipsa fortuita sunt; plerumque enim, non semper eveniunt. Quae est igitur aut ubi versatur fortuitarum rerum praesensio, quam divinationem vocas? Quae enim praesentiri aut arte aut ratione aut usu aut coniectura possunt, ea non divinis tribuenda putas, sed peritis. Ita relinquitur, ut ea fortuita divinari possint, quae nulla nec arte nec sapientia provideri possunt; ut, si quis M. Marcellum illum, qui ter consul fuit, multis annis ante dixisset naufragio esse periturum, divinasset profecto; nulla enim arte alia id nec sapientia scire potuisset. Talium ergo rerum, quae in fortuna positae sunt, praesensio divinatio est. 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? 2.16. Medicus morbum ingravescentem ratione providet, insidias imperator, tempestates gubernator; et tamen ii ipsi saepe falluntur, qui nihil sine certa ratione opitur; ut agricola, cum florem oleae videt, bacam quoque se visurum putat, non sine ratione ille quidem; sed non numquam tamen fallitur. Quodsi falluntur ii, qui nihil sine aliqua probabili coniectura ac ratione dicunt, quid existimandum est de coniectura eorum, qui extis aut avibus aut ostentis aut oraclis aut somniis futura praesentiunt? Nondum dico, quam haec signa nulla sint, fissum iecoris, corvi cantus, volatus aquilae, stellae traiectio, voces furentium, sortes, somnia; de quibus singulis dicam suo loco; nunc de universis. 2.17. Qui potest provideri quicquam futurum esse, quod neque causam habet ullam neque notam, cur futurum sit? Solis defectiones itemque lunae praedicuntur in multos annos ab iis, qui siderum motus numeris persequuntur; ea praedicunt enim, quae naturae necessitas perfectura est. Vident ex constantissimo motu lunae, quando illa e regione solis facta incurrat in umbram terrae, quae est meta noctis, ut eam obscurari necesse sit, quandoque eadem luna subiecta atque opposita soli nostris oculis eius lumen obscuret, quo in signo quaeque errantium stellarum quoque tempore futura sit, qui exortus quoque die signi alicuius aut qui occasus futurus sit. Haec qui ante dicunt, quam rationem sequantur, vides. 2.18. Qui thesaurum inventum iri aut hereditatem venturam dicunt, quid sequuntur? aut in qua rerum natura inest id futurum? Quodsi haec eaque, quae sunt eiusdem generis, habent aliquam talem necessitatem, quid est tandem, quod casu fieri aut forte fortuna putemus? Nihil enim est tam contrarium rationi et constantiae quam fortuna, ut mihi ne in deum quidem cadere videatur, ut sciat, quid casu et fortuito futurum sit. Si enim scit, certe illud eveniet; sin certe eveniet, nulla fortuna est; est autem fortuna; rerum igitur fortuitarum nulla praesensio est. 2.19. Aut si negas esse fortunam et omnia, quae fiunt quaeque futura sunt, ex omni aeternitate definita dicis esse fataliter, muta definitionem divinationis, quam dicebas praesensionem esse rerum fortuitarum. Si enim nihil fieri potest, nihil accidere, nihil evenire, nisi quod ab omni aeternitate certum fuerit esse futurum rato tempore, quae potest esse fortuna? qua sublata qui locus est divinationi? quae a te fortuitarum rerum est dicta praesensio. Quamquam dicebas omnia, quae fierent futurave essent, fato contineri. Anile sane et plenum superstitionis fati nomen ipsum; sed tamen apud Stoicos de isto fato multa dicuntur; de quo alias; nunc quod necesse est. 2.47. cur quidque fieret, non quaerere! Et eo quidem loco et Prognostica nostra pronuntiabas et genera herbarum, scammoniam aristolochiamque radicem, quarum causam ignorares, vim et effectum videres. Dissimile totum; nam et prognosticorum causas persecuti sunt et Boëthus Stoicus, qui est a te nominatus, et noster etiam Posidonius, et, si causae non reperiantur istarum rerum, res tamen ipsae observari animadvertique potuerunt. Nattae vero statua aut aera legum de caelo tacta quid habent observatum ac vetustum? Pinarii Nattae nobiles; a nobilitate igitur periculum. Hoc tam callide Iuppiter ex cogitavit! Romulus lactens fulmine ictus; urbi igitur periculum ostenditur, ei quam ille condidit. Quam scite per notas nos certiores facit Iuppiter! At eodem tempore signum Iovis conlocabatur, quo coniuratio indicabatur. Et tu scilicet mavis numine deorum id factum quam casu arbitrari, et redemptor, qui columnam illam de Cotta et de Torquato conduxerat faciendam, non inertia aut inopia tardior fuit, sed a deis inmortalibus ad istam horam reservatus est. 2.48. Non equidem plane despero ista esse vera, sed nescio et discere a te volo. Nam cum mihi quaedam casu viderentur sic evenire, ut praedicta essent a divitibus, dixisti multa de casu, ut Venerium iaci posse casu quattuor talis iactis, sed quadringentis centum Venerios non posse casu consistere. Primum nescio, cur non possint, sed non pugno; abundas enim similibus. Habes et respersionem pigmentorum et rostrum suis et alia permulta. Idem Carneadem fingere dicis de capite Panisci; quasi non potuerit id evenire casu et non in omni marmore necesse sit inesse vel Praxitelia capita! Illa enim ipsa efficiuntur detractione, neque quicquam illuc adfertur a Praxitele; sed cum multa sunt detracta et ad liniamenta oris perventum est, tum intellegas illud, quod iam expolitum sit, intus fuisse. 2.66. Atque haec ostentorum genera mirabile nihil habent; quae cum facta sunt, tum ad coniecturam aliqua interpretatione revocantur, ut illa tritici grana in os pueri Midae congesta aut apes, quas dixisti in labris Platonis consedisse pueri, non tam mirabilia sint quam coniecta belle; quae tamen vel ipsa falsa esse vel ea, quae praedicta sunt, fortuito cecidisse potuerunt. De ipso Roscio potest illud quidem esse falsum, ut circumligatus fuerit angui, sed ut in cunis fuerit anguis, non tam est mirum, in Solonio praesertim, ubi ad focum angues nundinari solent. Nam quod haruspices responderint nihil illo clarius, nihil nobilius fore, miror deos immortales histrioni futuro claritatem ostendisse, nullam ostendisse Africano. 2.90. O delirationem incredibilem! non enim omnis error stultitia dicenda est. Quibus etiam Diogenes Stoicus concedit aliquid, ut praedicere possint dumtaxat, qualis quisque natura et ad quam quisque maxume rem aptus futurus sit; cetera, quae profiteantur, negat ullo modo posse sciri; etenim geminorum formas esse similis, vitam atque fortunam plerumque disparem. Procles et Eurysthenes, Lacedaemoniorum reges, gemini fratres fuerunt. 2.91. At ii nec totidem annos vixerunt; anno enim Procli vita brevior fuit, multumque is fratri rerum gestarum gloria praestitit. At ego id ipsum, quod vir optumus, Diogenes, Chaldaeis quasi quadam praevaricatione concedit, nego posse intellegi. Etenim cum, ut ipsi dicunt, ortus nascentium luna moderetur, eaque animadvertant et notent sidera natalicia Chaldaei, quaecumque lunae iuncta videantur, oculorum fallacissimo sensu iudicant ea, quae ratione atque animo videre debebant. Docet enim ratio mathematicorum, quam istis notam esse oportebat, quanta humilitate luna feratur terram paene contingens, quantum absit a proxuma Mercurii stella, multo autem longius a Veneris, deinde alio intervallo distet a sole, cuius lumine conlustrari putatur; reliqua vero tria intervalla infinita et inmensa, a sole ad Martis, inde ad Iovis, ab eo ad Saturni stellam, inde ad caelum ipsum, quod extremum atque ultumum mundi est. 1.9. However, I am really at no loss for a reply to his reasoning; for in the second book Lucilius has made an adequate defence of religion and his argument, as you yourself state at the end of the third book, seemed to you nearer to the truth than Cottas. But there is a question which you passed over in those books because, no doubt, you thought it more expedient to inquire into it in a separate discussion: I refer to divination, which is the foreseeing and foretelling of events considered as happening by chance. Now let us see, if you will, what efficacy it has and what its nature is. My own opinion is that, if the kinds of divination which we have inherited from our forefathers and now practise are trustworthy, then there are gods and, conversely, if there are gods then there are men who have the power of divination. [6] 1.9. Nor is the practice of divination disregarded even among uncivilized tribes, if indeed there are Druids in Gaul — and there are, for I knew one of them myself, Divitiacus, the Aeduan, your guest and eulogist. He claimed to have that knowledge of nature which the Greeks call physiologia, and he used to make predictions, sometimes by means of augury and sometimes by means of conjecture. Among the Persians the augurs and diviners are the magi, who assemble regularly in a sacred place for practice and consultation, just as formerly you augurs used to do on the Nones. 1.13. We may wonder at the variety of herbs that have been observed by physicians, of roots that are good for the bites of wild beasts, for eye affections, and for wounds, and though reason has never explained their force and nature, yet through their usefulness you have won approval for the medical art and for their discoverer.But come, let us consider instances, which although outside the category of divination, yet resemble it very closely:The heaving sea oft warns of coming storms,When suddenly its depths begin to swell;And hoary rocks, oerspread with snowy brine,To the sea, in boding tones, attempt reply;Or when from lofty mountain-peak upspringsA shrilly whistling wind, which stronger growsWith each repulse by hedge of circling cliffs.[8] Your book, Prognostics, is full of such warning signs, but who can fathom their causes? And yet I see that the Stoic Boëthus has attempted to do so and has succeeded to the extent of explaining the phenomena of sea and sky. 1.13. And while it is difficult, perhaps, to apply this principle of nature to explain that kind of divination which we call artificial, yet Posidonius, who digs into the question as deep as one can, thinks that nature gives certain signs of future events. Thus Heraclides of Pontus records that it is the custom of the people of Ceos, once each year, to make a careful observation of the rising of the Dog-star and from such observation to conjecture whether the ensuing year will be healthy or pestilential. For if the star rises dim and, as it were enveloped in a fog, this indicates a thick and heavy atmosphere, which will give off very unwholesome vapours; but if the star appears clear and brilliant, this is a sign that the atmosphere is light and pure and, as a consequence, will be conducive to good health. 1.16. Nor do I ever inquire why this tree alone blooms three times, or why it makes the appearance of its blossoms accord with the proper time for ploughing. I am content with my knowledge that it does, although I may not know why. Therefore, as regards all kinds of divination I will give the same answer that I gave in the cases just mentioned. [10] I see the purgative effect of the scammony root and I see an antidote for snake-bite in the aristolochia plant — which, by the way, derives its name from its discoverer who learned of it in a dream — I see their power and that is enough; why they have it I do not know. Thus as to the cause of those premonitory signs of winds and rains already mentioned I am not quite clear, but their force and effect I recognize, understand, and vouch for. Likewise as to the cleft or thread in the entrails: I accept their meaning; I do not know their cause. And life is full of individuals in just the same situation that I am in, for nearly everybody employs entrails in divining. Again: is it possible for us to doubt the prophetic value of lightning? Have we not many instances of its marvels? and is not the following one especially remarkable? When the statue of Summanus which stood on the top of the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus — his statue was then made of clay — was struck by a thunderbolt and its head could not be found anywhere, the soothsayers declared that it had been hurled into the Tiber; and it was discovered in the very spot which they had pointed out. [11] 1.24. But, it is objected, sometimes predictions are made which do not come true. And pray what art — and by art I mean the kind that is dependent on conjecture and deduction — what art, I say, does not have the same fault? Surely the practice of medicine is an art, yet how many mistakes it makes! And pilots — do they not make mistakes at times? For example, when the armies of the Greeks and the captains of their mighty fleet set sail from Troy, they, as Pacuvius says,Glad at leaving Troy behind them, gazed upon the fish at play,Nor could get their fill of gazing — thus they whiled the time away.Meantime, as the sun was setting, high uprose the angry main:Thick and thicker fell the shadows; night grew black with blinding rain.Then, did the fact that so many illustrious captains and kings suffered shipwreck deprive navigation of its right to be called an art? And is military science of no effect because a general of the highest renown recently lost his army and took to flight? Again, is statecraft devoid of method or skill because political mistakes were made many times by Gnaeus Pompey, occasionally by Marcus Cato, and once or twice even by yourself? So it is with the responses of soothsayers, and, indeed, with every sort of divination whose deductions are merely probable; for divination of that kind depends on inference and beyond inference it cannot go. 1.71. And so, after giving examples of true prophecies through frenzy and dreams, Cratippus usually concludes his argument in this way:Though without eyes it is impossible to perform the act and function of sight, and though the eyes sometimes cannot perform their appointed function, yet when a person has even once so employed his eyes as to see things as they are, he has a realization of what correct vision is. Likewise, therefore, although without the power of divination it is impossible for the act and function of divining to exist, and though one with that power may sometimes be mistaken and may make erroneous prophecies, yet it is enough to establish the existence of divination that a single event has been so clearly foretold as to exclude the hypothesis of chance. But there are many such instances; therefore, the existence of divination must be conceded. [33] 1.111. However, there is a certain class of men, though small in number, who withdraw themselves from carnal influences and are wholly possessed by an ardent concern for the contemplation of things divine. Some of these men make predictions, not as the result of direct heavenly inspiration, but by the use of their own reason. For example, by means of natural law, they foretell certain events, such as a flood, or the future destruction of heaven and earth by fire. Others, who are engaged in public life, like Solon of Athens, as history describes him, discover the rise of tyranny long in advance. Such men we may call foresighted — that is, able to foresee the future; but we can no more apply the term divine to them than we can apply it to Thales of Miletus, who, as the story goes, in order to confound his critics and thereby show that even a philosopher, if he sees fit, can make money, bought up the entire olive crop in the district of Miletus before it had begun to bloom. 1.112. Perhaps he had observed, from some personal knowledge he had on the subject, that the crop would be abundant. And, by the way, he is said to have been the first man to predict the solar eclipse which took place in the reign of Astyages.[50] There are many things foreseen by physicians, pilots, and also by farmers, but I do not call the predictions of any of them divination. I do not even call that a case of divination when Anaximander, the natural philosopher, warned the Spartans to leave the city and their homes and to sleep in the fields under arms, because an earthquake was at hand. Then the whole city fell down in ruins and the extremity of Mount Taygetus was torn away like the stern of a ship in a storm. Not even Pherecydes, the famous teacher of Pythagoras, will be considered a prophet because he predicted an earthquake from the appearance of some water drawn from an unfailing well. 1.127. Moreover, since, as will be shown elsewhere, all things happen by Fate, if there were a man whose soul could discern the links that join each cause with every other cause, then surely he would never be mistaken in any prediction he might make. For he who knows the causes of future events necessarily knows what every future event will be. But since such knowledge is possible only to a god, it is left to man to presage the future by means of certain signs which indicate what will follow them. Things which are to be do not suddenly spring into existence, but the evolution of time is like the unwinding of a cable: it creates nothing new and only unfolds each event in its order. This connexion between cause and effect is obvious to two classes of diviners: those who are endowed with natural divination and those who know the course of events by the observation of signs. They may not discern the causes themselves, yet they do discern the signs and tokens of those causes. The careful study and recollection of those signs, aided by the records of former times, has evolved that sort of divination, known as artificial, which is divination by means of entrails, lightnings, portents, and celestial phenomena. 2.14. And you went on to say that even the foreknowledge of impending storms and rains by means of certain signs was not divination, and, in that connexion, you quoted a number of verses from my translation of Aratus. Yet such coincidences happen by chance, for though they happen frequently they do not happen always. What, then, is this thing you call divination — this foreknowledge of things that happen by chance — and where is it employed? You think that whatever can be foreknown by means of science, reason, experience, or conjecture is to be referred, not to diviners, but to experts. It follows, therefore, that divination of things that happen by chance is possible only of things which cannot be foreseen by means of skill or wisdom. Hence, if someone had declared many years in advance that the famous Marcus Marcellus, who was consul three times, would perish in a shipwreck, this, by your definition, undoubtedly would have been a case of divination, since that calamity could not have been foreseen by means of any other skill or by wisdom. That is why you say that divination is the foreknowledge of such things as depend upon chance. [6] 2.14. When the soul itself is weakened and relaxed many such sights and sounds, you may be sure, are seen and heard in all manner of confusion and diversity. Then especially do the remts of our waking thoughts and deeds move and stir within the soul. For example, in the time of my banishment Marius was often in my mind as I recalled with what great fortitude and courage he had borne his own heavy misfortunes, and this I think is the reason why I dreamed about him.[68] As for your dream, it occurred while you were thinking and worrying about me and then you had the vision of me as I suddenly arose from the river. For in the souls of us both were traces of our waking thoughts, but with some added features, of course: as, for example, my dreaming of Mariuss monument and your dreaming that the horse on which I rode sank with me and then reappeared. 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. 2.16. By the use of reason the physician foresees the progress of a disease, the general anticipates the enemys plans and the pilot forecasts the approach of bad weather. And yet even those who base their conclusions on accurate reasoning are often mistaken: for example, when the farmer sees his olive-tree in bloom he expects also, and not unreasonably, to see it bear fruit, but occasionally he is disappointed. If then mistakes are made by those who make no forecasts not based upon some reasonable and probable conjecture, what must we think of the conjectures of men who foretell the future by means of entrails, birds, portents, oracles, or dreams? I am not ready yet to take up one by one the various kinds of divination and show that the cleft in the liver, the croak of a raven, the flight of an eagle, the fall of a star, the utterances of persons in a frenzy, lots, and dreams have no prophetic value whatever; I shall discuss each of them in its turn — now I am discussing the subject as a whole. 2.17. How can anything be foreseen that has no cause and no distinguishing mark of its coming? Eclipses of the sun and also of the moon are predicted for many years in advance by men who employ mathematics in studying the courses and movements of the heavenly bodies; and the unvarying laws of nature will bring their predictions to pass. Because of the perfectly regular movements of the moon the astronomers calculate when it will be opposite the sun and in the earths shadow — which is the cone of night — and when, necessarily, it will become invisible. For the same reason they know when the moon will be directly between the earth and the sun and thus will hide the light of the sun from our eyes. They know in what sign each planet will be at any given time and at what time each day any constellation will rise and set. You see the course of reasoning followed in arriving at these predictions. [7] 2.18. But what course of reasoning is followed by men who predict the finding of a treasure or the inheritance of an estate? On what law of nature do such prophecies depend? But, on the other hand, if the prophecies just mentioned and others of the same class are controlled by some natural and immutable law such as regulates the movements of the stars, pray, can we conceive of anything happening by accident, or chance? Surely nothing is so at variance with reason and stability as chance? Hence it seems to me that it is not in the power even of God himself to know what event is going to happen accidentally and by chance. For if He knows, then the event is certain to happen; but if it is certain to happen, chance does not exist. And yet chance does exist, therefore there is no foreknowledge of things that happen by chance. 2.19. But if you deny the existence of chance and assert that the course of everything present or future has been inevitably determined from all eternity, then you must change your definition of divination, which you said was the foreknowledge of things that happen by chance. For if nothing can happen, nothing befall, nothing come to pass, except what has been determined from all eternity as bound to happen at a fixed time, how can there be such a thing as chance? And if there is no such thing as chance, what room is there for that divination, which you termed a foreknowledge of things that happen by chance? And you were inconsistent enough, too, to say that everything that is or will be is controlled by Fate! Why, the very word Fate is full of superstition and old womens credulity, and yet the Stoics have much to say of this Fate of yours. A discussion on Fate is reserved for another occasion; at present I shall speak of it only in so far as it is necessary. [8] 2.47. It was in that same connexion that you brought force my Prognostics and some samples of herbs — the scammony and aristolochia root — saying that you could see their virtue and effect but did not know the cause.[21] But your illustrations are not pertinent at all. For example, the causes of meteorological phenomena have been investigated by Boëthus the Stoic, whom you mentioned, and by our friend Posidonius; and even if the causes are not discovered by them, yet the phenomena themselves are capable of observation and study. But what opportunity was there for long-continued observation in the case where Nattas statue and the brazen tablets of laws were struck by lightning? The Nattas, you say, were of the Pinarian gens and of noble birth, therefore danger was to be expected from the nobility. So clever of Jupiter to devise such a means to warn us of danger! The statue of the infant Romulus, you observe, was struck by a thunderbolt; hence danger was thereby predicted to the city which he founded. How wise of Jupiter to use signs in conveying information to us! Again, you say, Jupiter statue was being set up at the very time the conspiracy was being exposed. You, of course, prefer to attribute this coincidence to a divine decree rather than to chance. The man to whom Cotta and Torquatus let the contract for the statue did not, I presume, delay the completion of his work either from lack of energy or from lack of funds, but his hand was stayed till the appointed hour by the immortal gods! 2.48. I am not a hopeless sceptic on the subject of such warnings really being sent by the gods; however, I do not know that they are and I want to learn the actual facts from you. Again, when certain other events occurred as they had been foretold by diviners and I attributed the coincidence to chance, you talked a long time about chance. You said, for example, For the Venus-throw to result from one cast of the four dice might be due to chance; but if a hundred Venus-throws resulted from one hundred casts this could not be due to chance. In the first place I do not know why it could not; but I do not contest the point, for you are full of the same sort of examples — like that about the scattering of the paints and that one about the hogs snout, and you had very many other examples besides. You also mentioned that myth from Carneades about the head of Pan — as if the likeness could not have been the result of chance! and as if every block of marble did not necessarily have within it heads worthy of Praxiteles! For his masterpieces were made by chipping away the marble, not by adding anything to it; and when, after much chipping, the lineaments of a face were reached, one then realized that the work now polished and complete had always been inside the block. 2.66. There is nothing remarkable about the so‑called portents of the kind just mentioned; but after they have happened they are brought within the field of prophecy by some interpretation Take, for example, your stories of the grains of wheat heaped into the mouth of Midas when a boy, and of the bees which settled on the lips of Plato, when he was a child — they are more remarkable as guesses than as real prophecies. Besides, the incidents may have been fictitious; if not, then the fulfilment of the prophecy may have been accidental. As to that incident about Roscius it may, of course, be untrue that a snake coiled itself around him; but it is not so surprising that a snake was in his cradle — especially in Solonium where snakes are attracted in large numbers by the heat of the fireplaces. As to your statement that the soothsayers prophesied a career of unrivalled brilliancy for Roscius, it is a strange thing to me that the immortal gods foretold the glory of a future actor and did not foretell that of Africanus! 2.91. But they did not live the same number of years, for the life of Procles was shorter by a year than that of his brother and his deeds were far more glorious. But for my part I say that even this concession which our excellent friend Diogenes makes to the Chaldeans in a sort of collusive way, is in itself unintelligible. For the Chaldeans, according to their own statements, believe that a persons destiny is affected by the condition of the moon at the time of his birth, and hence they make and record their observations of the stars which anything in conjunction with the moon on his birthday. As a result, in forming their judgements, they depend on the sense of sight, which is the least trustworthy of the senses, whereas they should employ reason and intelligence. For the science of mathematics which the Chaldeans ought to know, teaches us how close the moon comes to the earth, which indeed it almost touches; how far it is from Mercury, the nearest star; how much further yet it is from Venus; and what a great interval separates it from the sun, which is supposed to give it light. The three remaining distances are beyond computation: from the Sun to Mars, from Mars to Jupiter, from Jupiter to Saturn. Then there is the distance from Saturn to the limits of heaven — the ultimate bounds of space.
2. Cicero, On Fate, 12-16, 20-23, 25-29, 3, 30-34, 36, 39-45, 47-48, 5-10 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

3. Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, 3.95 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

3.95. I on my side," replied Cotta, "only desire to be refuted. My purpose was rather to discuss the doctrines I have expounded than to pronounce judgement upon them, and I am confident that you can easily defeat me." "Oh, no doubt," interposed Velleius; "why, he thinks that even our dreams are sent to us by Jupiter — though dreams themselves are not so unsubstantial as a Stoic disquisition on the nature of the gods." Here the conversation ended, and we parted, Velleius thinking Cotta's discourse to be the truer, while I felt that that of Balbus approximated more nearly to a semblance of the truth.
4. Plutarch, On Fate, None (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

574e. But the "indolent argument," that of the "reaper," and that termed "contrary to fate" turn out on this view to be sophisms indeed. The order of points in the Stoic argument According to the opposing argument the chief and first point would appear to be that nothing occurs without cause, and that instead everything occurs in conformity with antecedent causes; the second, that this universe, at one with itself in spirit and in affections, is governed by nature; and in the third place comes what would rather seem to be evidence added to these points in contention: the good repute in which the art of divination is held by all mankind, in the belief that its existence and that of God are in fact involved in one another;
5. Plutarch, On Stoic Self-Contradictions, None (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

6. Seneca The Younger, Letters, 66.7 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

7. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of The Philosophers, 7.125, 7.195 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

7.125. Furthermore, the wise man does all things well, just as we say that Ismenias plays all airs on the flute well. Also everything belongs to the wise. For the law, they say, has conferred upon them a perfect right to all things. It is true that certain things are said to belong to the bad, just as what has been dishonestly acquired may be said, in one sense, to belong to the state, in another sense to those who are enjoying it.They hold that the virtues involve one another, and that the possessor of one is the possessor of all, inasmuch as they have common principles, as Chrysippus says in the first book of his work On Virtues, Apollodorus in his Physics according to the Early School, and Hecato in the third book of his treatise On Virtues. 7.195. Second series:On Conclusive Arguments, addressed to Zeno, one book.On the Primary Indemonstrable Syllogisms, addressed to Zeno, one book.On the Analysis of Syllogisms, one book.of Redundant Arguments, addressed to Pasylus, two books.of the Rules for Syllogisms, one book.of Introductory or Elementary Syllogisms, addressed to Zeno, one book.of the Introductory Moods, addressed to Zeno, three books.of the Syllogisms under False Figures, five books.Syllogistic Arguments by Resolution in Indemonstrable Arguments, one book.Inquiries into the Moods: addressed to Zeno and Philomathes, one book. (This appears to be spurious.)Third series:On Variable Arguments, addressed to Athenades, one book. (This also is spurious.)
8. Stobaeus, Anthology, 2.67.13 (5th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

9. Favorinus, In Aulus Gellius Noctes Atticae, 14.1.1-14.1.2, 14.1.4, 14.1.7-14.1.12, 14.1.14-14.1.19, 14.1.23, 14.1.26

10. Stoic School, Stoicor. Veter. Fragm., 2.223, 2.393, 2.939, 2.943, 2.954, 2.1008



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
alexander of aphrodisias Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 252
astrology, chaldean Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616
astrology Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616; Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 239, 252
astrometeorology, (changing) relationship with roman religion Green, Carthage in Virgil's Aeneid: Staging the Enemy under Augustus (2014) 89
astrometeorology, hard / strongly deterministic form of Green, Carthage in Virgil's Aeneid: Staging the Enemy under Augustus (2014) 89
astrometeorology, soft / non-deterministic form of Green, Carthage in Virgil's Aeneid: Staging the Enemy under Augustus (2014) 89
bardaisan of edessa Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 175
caesars comet Green, Carthage in Virgil's Aeneid: Staging the Enemy under Augustus (2014) 89
calcidius Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 252
carneades Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616
causes Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 146
chaldeans Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 239, 252
chrysippus, on lives Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 31
chrysippus, on the principles of syllogisms, in one book Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 31
chrysippus Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616; Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 239, 252
cicero Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616; Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 239
cicero (m. tullius cicero) Green, Carthage in Virgil's Aeneid: Staging the Enemy under Augustus (2014) 89
conditional statement Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616
consensus Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 146
de fato (cicero) Green, Carthage in Virgil's Aeneid: Staging the Enemy under Augustus (2014) 89
de jato Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 239
demons, gnostics on Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 175
determinism Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 146
diogenes of babylon Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616
diogenianus Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 252
divination Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 146; Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616
doubt Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 146
epicureanism Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 17
fate/ heimarmene Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 252
fate Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 146; Struck, Divination and Human Nature: A Cognitive History of Intuition in Classical Antiquity (2016) 198
favorinus Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 239
gnostics/gnosticism Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 175
horoscopes Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616
knowledge (epistēmē), as cognition Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 31
knowledge (epistēmē), as tenor Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 31
marcus (character of div.) Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 17
mathematics Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616
omens Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616
panaetius Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616
parts of philosophy, interrelatedness and knowledge Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 31
parts of philosophy Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 31
politics Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 146
posidonius Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616
prediction Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 146
quintus (character of div.) Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 17
religion Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 146
res publica Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 146
stoicism Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 17
stoics, stoicism Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 252
stoics Struck, Divination and Human Nature: A Cognitive History of Intuition in Classical Antiquity (2016) 198
superstition Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 146
truth Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 146
tullius cicero, m., de diuinatione Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 17
tullius cicero, q. Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 17
tychê (luck, fortune) Struck, Divination and Human Nature: A Cognitive History of Intuition in Classical Antiquity (2016) 198
voluntary (ἑκών, ἑκούσιος, voluntarius), gnostics on Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 175
will (βούλησις, voluntas) Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 175
wisdom (sophia), as knowledge of human and divine matters' Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 31
zeno of citium Bowen and Rochberg, Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts (2020) 616