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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



2300
Cicero, On The Nature Of The Gods, 1.1-1.4


nanBOOK I. There are many things in philosophy, my dear Brutus, which are not as yet fully explained to us, and particularly (as you very well know) that most obscure and difficult question concerning the Nature of the Gods, so extremely necessary both towards a knowledge of the human mind and the practice of true religion: concerning which the opinions of men are so various, and so different from each other, as to lead strongly to the inference that ignorance is the cause, or origin, of philosophy, and that the Academic philosophers have been prudent in refusing their assent to things uncertain: for what is more unbecoming to a wise man than to judge rashly? or what rashness is so unworthy of the gravity and stability of a philosopher as either to maintain false opinions, or, without the least hesitation, to support and defend what he has not thoroughly examined and does not clearly comprehend? In the question now before us, the greater part of mankind have united to acknowledge that which is most probable, and which we are all by nature led to suppose, namely, that there are Gods. Protagoras doubted whether there were any. Diagoras the Melian and Theodorus of Cyrene entirely believed there were no such beings. But they who have affirmed that there are Gods, have expressed such a variety of sentiments on the subject, and the disagreement between them is so great, that it would be tiresome to enumerate their opinions; for they give us many statements respecting the forms of the Gods, and their places of abode, and the employment of their lives. And these are matters on which the philosophers differ with the most exceeding earnestness. But the most considerable part of the dispute is, whether they are wholly inactive, totally unemployed, and free from all care and administration of affairs; or, on the contrary, whether all things were made and constituted by them from the beginning; and whether they will continue to be actuated and governed by them to eternity. This is one of the greatest points in debate; and unless this is decided, mankind must necessarily remain in the greatest of errors, and ignorant of what is most important to be known.


nanThere 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?


nanAs regards the present subject, for example, most thinkers have affirmed that the gods exist, and this is the most probable view and the one to which we are all led by nature's guidance; but Protagoras declared himself uncertain, and Diagoras of Melos and Theodorus of Cyrene held that there are no gods at all. Moreover, the upholders of the divine existence differ and disagree so widely, that it would be a troublesome task to recount their opinions. Many views are put forward about the outward form of the gods, their dwelling-places and abodes, and mode of life, and these topics are debated with the widest variety of opinion among philosophers; but as to the question upon which the whole issue of the dispute principally turns, whether the gods are entirely idle and inactive, taking no part at all in the direction and government of the world, or whether on the contrary all things both were created and ordered by them in the beginning and are controlled and kept in motion by them throughout eternity, here there is the greatest disagreement of all. And until this issue is decided, mankind must continue to labour under the profoundest uncertainty, and to be in ignorance about matters of the highest moment.


nanFor there are some philosophers, both ancient and modern, who have conceived that the Gods take not the least cognizance of human affairs. But if their doctrine be true, of what avail is piety, sanctity, or religion? for these are feelings and marks of devotion which are offered to the Gods by men with uprightness and holiness, on the ground that men are the objects of the attention of the Gods, and that many benefits are conferred by the immortal Gods on the human race. But if the Gods have neither the power nor the inclination to help us; if they take no care of us, and pay no regard to our actions; and if there is no single advantage which can possibly accrue to the life of man; then what reason can we have to pay any adoration, or any honors, or to prefer any prayers to them? Piety, like the other virtues, cannot have any connection with vain show or dissimulation; and without piety, neither sanctity nor religion can be supported; the total subversion of which must be attended with great confusion and disturbance in life. I do not even know, if we cast off piety towards the Gods, but that faith, and all the associations of human life, and that most excellent of all virtues, justice, may perish with it. There are other philosophers, and those, too, very great and illustrious men, who conceive the whole world to be directed and governed by the will and wisdom of the Gods; nor do they stop here, but conceive likewise that the Deities consult and provide for the preservation of mankind. For they think that the fruits, and the produce of the earth, and the seasons, and the variety of weather, and the change of climates, by which all the productions of the earth are brought to maturity, are designed by the immortal Gods for the use of man. They instance many other things, which shall be related in these books; and which would almost induce us to believe that the immortal Gods had made them all expressly and solely for the benefit and advantage of men. Against these opinions Carneades has advanced so much that what he has said should excite a desire in men who are not naturally slothful to search after truth; for there is no subject on which the learned as well as the unlearned differ so strenuously as in this; and since their opinions are so various, and so repugnant one to another, it is possible that none of them may be, and absolutely impossible that more than one should be, right.


nanFor there are and have been philosophers who hold that the gods exercise no control over human affairs whatever. But if their opinion is the true one, how can piety, reverence or religion exist? For all these are tributes which it is our duty to render in purity and holiness to the divine powers solely on the assumption that they take notice of them, and that some service has been rendered by the immortal gods to the race of men. But if on the contrary the gods have neither the power nor the will to aid us, if they pay no heed to us at all and take no notice of our actions, if they can exercise no possible influence upon the life of men, what ground have we for rendering any sort of worship, honour or prayer to the immortal gods? Piety however, like the rest of the virtues, cannot exist in mere outward show and pretence; and, with piety, reverence and religion must likewise disappear. And when these are gone, life soon becomes a welter of disorder and confusion;


nanand in all probability the disappearance of piety towards the gods will entail the disappearance of loyalty and social union among men as well, and of justice itself, the queen of all the virtues. There are however other philosophers, and those of eminence and note, who believe that the whole world is ruled and governed by divine intelligence and reason; and not this only, but also that the gods' providence watches over the life of men; for they think that the cornº and other fruits of the earth, and also the weather and the seasons and the changes of the atmosphere by which all the products of the soil are ripened and matured, are the gift of the immortal gods to the human race; and they adduce a number of things, which will be recounted in the books that compose the present treatise, that are of such a nature as almost to appear to have been expressly constructed by the immortal gods for the use of man. This view was controverted at great length by Carneades, in such a manner as to arouse in persons of active mind a keen desire to discover the truth.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

10 results
1. Cicero, Academica, 2.7-2.8, 2.66, 2.148 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

2. Cicero, On Divination, 1.7, 2.7, 2.15, 2.75, 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. 2.7. Quod cum accidisset nostrae rei publicae, tum pristinis orbati muneribus haec studia renovare coepimus, ut et animus molestiis hac potissimum re levaretur et prodessemus civibus nostris, qua re cumque possemus. In libris enim sententiam dicebamus, contionabamur, philosophiam nobis pro rei publicae procuratione substitutam putabamus. Nunc quoniam de re publica consuli coepti sumus, tribuenda est opera rei publicae, vel omnis potius in ea cogitatio et cura ponenda, tantum huic studio relinquendum, quantum vacabit a publico officio et munere. Sed haec alias pluribus; nunc ad institutam disputationem revertamur. 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? 2.75. Primum vide, ne in eum dixerint, qui rogator centuriae fuisset; is enim erat mortuus; id autem sine divinatione coniectura poterant dicere. Deinde fortasse casu, qui nullo modo est ex hoc genere tollendus. Quid enim scire Etrusci haruspices aut de tabernaculo recte capto aut de pomerii iure potuerunt? Equidem adsentior C. Marcello potius quam App. Claudio, qui ambo mei collegae fuerunt, existimoque ius augurum, etsi divinationis opinione principio constitutum sit, tamen postea rei publicae causa conservatum ac retentum. 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. 2.7. When the last-named fate had befallen my country, and I had been debarred from my former activities, I began to cultivate anew these present studies that by their means, rather than by any other, I might relieve my mind of its worries and at the same time serve my fellow-countrymen as best I could under the circumstances. Accordingly, it was in my books that I made my senatorial speeches and my forensic harangues; for I thought that I had permanently exchanged politics for philosophy. Now, however, since I have begun to be consulted again about public affairs, my time must be devoted to the State, or, rather, my undivided thought and care must be fixed upon it; and only so much time can be given to philosophy as will not be needed in the discharge of my duty to the commonwealth. But more of this at another time; now let us return to the discussion with which we started. [3] 2.7. Enough has been said of portents; auspices remain and so do lots — I mean lots that are drawn, and not those uttered by prophets, and more correctly styled oracles. I shall speak of oracles when I get to natural divination. In addition I must discuss the Chaldeans. But first let us consider auspices. To argue against auspices is a hard thing, you say, for an augur to do. Yes, for a Marsian, perhaps; but very easy for a Roman. For we Roman augurs are not the sort who foretell the future by observing the flights of birds and other signs. And yet, I admit that Romulus, who founded the city by the direction of auspices, believed that augury was an art useful in seeing things to come — for the ancients had erroneous views on many subjects. But we see that the art has undergone a change, due to experience, education, or the long lapse of time. However, out of respect for the opinion of the masses and because of the great service to the State we maintain the augural practices, discipline, religious rites and laws, as well as the authority of the augural college. 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. 2.75. Now, in the first place, do not understand that by the president they meant the president of the prerogative century, for he was dead; and, moreover, they could have told that by conjecture without the use of divination; or, in the second place, perhaps, they said so by accident which is no wise to be left out of account in cases of this kind. For what could the Etruscan soothsayers have known, either as to whether the tabernaculum had been properly placed, or as to whether the regulations pertaining to the pomerium had been observed? For my part, I agree with Gaius Marcellus, rather than with Appius Claudius — both of whom were my colleagues — and I think that, although in the beginning augural law was established from a belief in divination, yet later it was maintained and preserved from considerations of political expediency. [36] 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, De Domo Sua, 105 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

105. ad Volaterras in castra L. L ucii Sullae mors Sex. Rosci quadriduo quo is occisus est Chrysogono nuntiatur. quaeritur etiam nunc quis cum nuntium miserit? nonne perspicuum est eundem qui Ameriam? curat Chrysogonus ut eius bona veneant veneant χψ : veniant cett. statim; qui non norat hominem aut rem. at qui at qui atque σχ ei venit in mentem praedia concupiscere hominis ignoti quem omnino numquam viderat? Soletis, cum aliquid huiusce modi audistis audistis ς : auditis cett. , iudices, continuo dicere: ' necesse est aliquem dixisse municipem aut vicinum; ei plerumque indicant, per eos plerique produntur.' hic nihil est quod suspicione occupetis suspicione occupetis Madvig : suspicionem hoc putetis codd. : suspicionem hanc putetis Sylvius .
4. Cicero, On Laws, 1.24-1.25, 2.32-2.33 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

5. Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, 1.2-1.4, 1.6-1.7, 1.10-1.14, 1.57-1.61, 2.2, 2.5, 2.168, 3.3, 3.5, 3.95 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.2. As regards the present subject, for example, most thinkers have affirmed that the gods exist, and this is the most probable view and the one to which we are all led by nature's guidance; but Protagoras declared himself uncertain, and Diagoras of Melos and Theodorus of Cyrene held that there are no gods at all. Moreover, the upholders of the divine existence differ and disagree so widely, that it would be a troublesome task to recount their opinions. Many views are put forward about the outward form of the gods, their dwelling-places and abodes, and mode of life, and these topics are debated with the widest variety of opinion among philosophers; but as to the question upon which the whole issue of the dispute principally turns, whether the gods are entirely idle and inactive, taking no part at all in the direction and government of the world, or whether on the contrary all things both were created and ordered by them in the beginning and are controlled and kept in motion by them throughout eternity, here there is the greatest disagreement of all. And until this issue is decided, mankind must continue to labour under the profoundest uncertainty, and to be in ignorance about matters of the highest moment. 1.3. For there are and have been philosophers who hold that the gods exercise no control over human affairs whatever. But if their opinion is the true one, how can piety, reverence or religion exist? For all these are tributes which it is our duty to render in purity and holiness to the divine powers solely on the assumption that they take notice of them, and that some service has been rendered by the immortal gods to the race of men. But if on the contrary the gods have neither the power nor the will to aid us, if they pay no heed to us at all and take no notice of our actions, if they can exercise no possible influence upon the life of men, what ground have we for rendering any sort of worship, honour or prayer to the immortal gods? Piety however, like the rest of the virtues, cannot exist in mere outward show and pretence; and, with piety, reverence and religion must likewise disappear. And when these are gone, life soon becomes a welter of disorder and confusion; 1.4. and in all probability the disappearance of piety towards the gods will entail the disappearance of loyalty and social union among men as well, and of justice itself, the queen of all the virtues. There are however other philosophers, and those of eminence and note, who believe that the whole world is ruled and governed by divine intelligence and reason; and not this only, but also that the gods' providence watches over the life of men; for they think that the cornº and other fruits of the earth, and also the weather and the seasons and the changes of the atmosphere by which all the products of the soil are ripened and matured, are the gift of the immortal gods to the human race; and they adduce a number of things, which will be recounted in the books that compose the present treatise, that are of such a nature as almost to appear to have been expressly constructed by the immortal gods for the use of man. This view was controverted at great length by Carneades, in such a manner as to arouse in persons of active mind a keen desire to discover the truth. 1.6. I observe however that a great deal of talk has been current about the large number of books that I have produced within a short space of time, and that such comment has not been all of one kind; some people have been curious as to the cause of this sudden outburst of philosophical interest on my part, while others have been eager to learn what positive opinions I hold on the various questions. Many also, as I have noticed, are surprised at my choosing to espouse a philosophy that in their view robs the world of daylight and floods it with a darkness as of night; and they wonder at my coming forward so unexpectedly as the champion of a derelict system and one that has long been given up. As a matter of fact however I am no new convert to the study of philosophy. From my earliest youth I have devoted no small amount of time and energy to it, and I pursued it most keenly at the very periods when I least appeared to be doing so, witness the philosophical maxims of which my speeches are full, and my intimacy with the learned men who have always graced my household, as well as those eminent professors, Diodotus, Philo, Antiochus and Posidonius, who were my instructors. 1.7. Moreover, if it be true that all the doctrines of philosophy have a practical bearing, I may claim that in my public and private conduct alike I have practised the precepts taught by reason and by theory. If again anyone asks what motive has induced me so late in the day to commit these precepts to writing, there is nothing that I can explain more easily. I was languishing in idle retirement, and the state of public affairs was such that an autocratic form of government had become inevitable. In these circumstances, in the first place I thought that to expound philosophy to my fellow-countrymen was actually my duty in the interests of the commonwealth, since in my judgement it would greatly contribute to the honour and glory of the state to have thoughts so important and so lofty enshrined in Latin literature also; 1.10. Those however who seek to learn my personal opinion on the various questions show an unreasonable degree of curiosity. In discussion it is not so much weight of authority as force of argument that should be demanded. Indeed the authority of those who profess to teach is often a positive hindrance to those who desire to learn; they cease to employ their own judgement, and take what they perceive to be the verdict of their chosen master as settling the question. In fact I am not disposed to approve the practice traditionally ascribed to the Pythagoreans, who, when questioned as to the grounds of any assertion that they advanced in debate, are said to have been accustomed to reply 'He himself said so,' 'he himself' being Pythagoras. So potent was an opinion already decided, making authority prevail unsupported by reason. 1.11. To those again who are surprised at my choice of a system to which to give my allegiance, I think that a sufficient answer has been given in the four books of my Academica. Nor is it the case that I have come forward as the champion of a lost cause and of a position now abandoned. When men die, their doctrines do not perish with them, though perhaps they suffer from the loss of their authoritative exponent. Take for example the philosophical method referred to, that of a purely negative dialectic which refrains from pronouncing any positive judgement. This, after being originated by Socrates, revived by Arcesilas, and reinforced by Carneades, has flourished right down to our own period; though I understand that in Greece itself it is now almost bereft of adherents. But this I ascribe not to the fault of the Academy but to the dullness of mankind. If it is a considerable matter to understand any one of the systems of philosophy singly, how much harder is it to master them all! Yet this is the task that confronts those whose principle is to discover the truth by the method of arguing both for and against all the schools. 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. 1.13. However, to free myself entirely from ill‑disposed criticism, I will now lay before my readers the doctrines of the various schools on the nature of the gods. This is a topic on which it seems proper to summon all the world to sit in judgement and pronounce which of these doctrines is the true one. If it turn out that all the schools agree, or if any one philosopher be found who had discovered the truth, then but not before I will convict the Academy of captiousness. This being so, I feel disposed to cry, in the words of the Young Comrades: O ye gods and O ye mortals, townsmen, gownsmen, hear my call; I invoke, implore, adjure ye, bear ye witness one and all — not about some frivolous trifle such as that of which a character in the play complains — . . . here's a monstrous crime and outrage in the land; Here's a lady who declines a guinea from a lover's hand! 1.14. but to attend in court, try the case, and deliver their verdict as to what opinions we are to hold about religion, piety and holiness, about ritual, about honour and loyalty to oaths, about temples, shrines and solemn sacrifices, and about the very auspices over which I myself preside; for all of these matters ultimately depend upon this question of the nature of the immortal gods. Surely such wide diversity of opinion among men of the greatest learning on a matter of the highest moment must affect even those who think that they possess certain knowledge with a feeling of doubt. 1.57. Then Cotta took up the discussion. "Well, Velleius," he rejoined, with his usual suavity, "unless you had stated a case, you certainly would have had no chance of hearing anything from me. I always find it much easier to think of arguments to prove a thing false than to prove it true. This often happens to me, and did so just now while I was listening to you. Ask me what I think that the divine nature is like, and very probably I shall make no reply; but inquire whether I believe that it resembles the description of it which you have just given, and I shall say that nothing seems to me less likely. But before proceeding to examine your arguments, I will give my opinion of yourself. 1.58. I fancy I have often heard that friend of yours [Lucius Crassus] declare that of all the Roman adherents of Epicureanism he placed you unquestionably first, and that few of those from Greece could be ranked beside you; but knowing his extraordinary esteem for you, I imagined that he was speaking with the partiality of a friend. I myself however, though reluctant to praise you to your face, must nevertheless pronounce that your exposition of an obscure and difficult theme has been most illuminating, and not only exhaustive in its treatment of the subject, but also graced with a charm of style not uncommon in your school. 1.59. When at Athens, I frequently attended the discourses of Zeno, whom our friend Philo used to call the leader of the Epicurean choir; in fact it was Philo who suggested that I should go to him — no doubt in order that I might be better able to judge how completely the Epicurean doctrine may be refuted when I had heard an exposition of it from the head of the school. Now Zeno, unlike most Epicureans, had a style as clear, cogent and elegant as your own. But what often occurred to me in his case happened just now while I was listening to you: I felt annoyed that talents so considerable should have chanced to select (if you will forgive my saying it) so trivial, not to say so stupid, a set of doctrines. 1.60. Not that I propose at the moment to contribute something better of my own. As I said just now, in almost all subjects, but especially in natural philosophy, I am more ready to say what is not true than what is. Inquire of me as to the being and nature of god, and I shall follow the example of Simonides, who having the same question put to him by the great Hiero, requested a day's grace for consideration; next day, when Hiero repeated the question, he asked for two days, and so went on several times multiplying the number of days by two; and when Hiero in surprise asked why he did so, he replied, 'Because the longer I deliberate the more obscure the matter seems to me.' But Simonides is recorded to have been not only a charming poet but also a man of learning and wisdom in other fields, and I suppose that so many acute and subtle ideas came into his mind that he could not decide which of them was truest, and therefore despaired of truth altogether. 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. 2.2. For my part," rejoined Balbus, "I had rather listen to Cotta again, using the same eloquence that he employed in abolishing false gods to present a picture of the true ones. A philosopher, a pontiff and a Cotta should possess not a shifting and unsettled conception of the immortal gods, like the Academics, but a firm and definite one like our school. As for refuting Epicurus, that has been accomplished and more than achieved already. But I am eager to hear what you think yourself, Cotta." "Have you forgotten," said Cotta, "what I said at the outset, that I find it more easy, especially on such subjects as these, to say what I don't think than what I do? 2.5. how is the latter fact more evident than the former? Nothing but the presence in our minds of a firmly grasped concept of the deity could account for the stability and permanence of our belief in him, a belief which is only strengthened by the passage of the ages and grows more deeply rooted with each successive generation of mankind. In every other case we see that fictitious and unfounded opinions have dwindled away with lapse of time. Who believes that the Hippocentaur or the Chimaera ever existed? Where can you find an old wife senseless enough to be afraid of the monsters of the lower world that were once believed in? The years obliterate the inventions of the imagination, but confirm the judgements of nature. "Hence both in our own nation and among all others reverence for the gods and respect for religion grow continually stronger and more profound. 2.168. These are more or less the things that occurred to me which I thought proper to be said upon the subject of the nature of the gods. And for your part, Cotta, would you but listen to me, you would plead the same cause, and reflect that you are a leading citizen and a pontife, and you would take advantage of the liberty enjoyed by your school of arguing both pro and contra to choose to espouse my side, and preferably to devote to this purpose those powers of eloquence which your rhetorical exercises have bestowed upon you and which the Academy has fostered. For the habit of arguing in support of atheism, whether it be done from conviction or in pretence, is a wicked and impious practice. 3.3. Yes, to be sure, Velleius," replied Cotta; for "I have a very different business before me with Lucilius from what I had with you." "How so, pray?" said Velleius. "Because I think that your master Epicurus does not put up a very strong fight on the question of the immortal gods; he only does not venture to deny their existence so that he may not encounter any ill‑feeling or reproach. But when he asserts that the gods do nothing and care for nothing, and that though they possess limbs like those of men they make no use of those limbs, he seems not to be speaking seriously, and to think it enough if he affirms the existence of blessed and everlasting beings of some sort. 3.5. Very well," rejoined Cotta, "let us then proceed as the argument itself may lead us. But before we come to the subject, let me say a few words about myself. I am considerably influenced by your authority, Balbus, and by the plea that you put forward at the conclusion of your discourse, when you exhorted me to remember that I am both a Cotta and a pontife. This no doubt meant that I ought to uphold the beliefs about the immortal gods which have come down to us from our ancestors, and the rites and ceremonies and duties of religion. For my part I always shall uphold them and always have done so, and no eloquence of anybody, learned or unlearned, shall ever dislodge me from the belief as to the worship of the immortal gods which I have inherited from our forefathers. But on any question of el I am guided by the high pontifes, Titus Coruncanius, Publius Scipio and Publius Scaevola, not by Zeno or Cleanthes or Chrysippus; and I have Gaius Laelius, who was both an augur and a philosopher, to whose discourse upon religion, in his famous oration, I would rather listen than to any leader of the Stoics. The religion of the Roman people comprises ritual, auspices, and the third additional division consisting of all such prophetic warnings as the interpreters of the Sybil or the soothsayers have derived from portents and prodigies. While, I have always thought that none of these departments of religion was to be despised, and I have held the conviction that Romulus by his auspices and Numa by his establishment of our ritual laid the foundations of our state, which assuredly could never have been as great as it is had not the fullest measure of divine favour been obtained for it. 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.
6. Cicero, On Duties, 1.6 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.6. Quae quamquam ita sunt in promptu, ut res disputatione non egeat, tamen sunt a nobis alio loco disputata. Hae disciplinae igitur si sibi consentaneae velint esse, de officio nihil queant dicere, neque ulla officii praecepta firma, stabilia, coniuncta naturae tradi possunt nisi aut ab iis, qui solam, aut ab iis, qui maxime honestatem propter se dicant expetendam. Ita propria est ea praeceptio Stoicorum, Academicorum, Peripateticorum, quoniam Aristonis, Pyrrhonis, Erilli iam pridem explosa sententia est; qui tamen haberent ius suum disputandi de officio, si rerum aliquem dilectum reliquissent, ut ad officii inventionem aditus esset. Sequemur igitur hoc quidem tempore et hac in quaestione potissimum Stoicos non ut interpretes, sed, ut solemus, e fontibus eorum iudicio arbitrioque nostro, quantum quoque modo videbitur, hauriemus.
7. Cicero, In Verrem, 2.4.113, 2.4.115 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

8. Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 194 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

9. Cicero, Timaeus, 1 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

10. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, 1.8, 1.66, 1.76, 5.70 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.8. itaque dierum quinque scholas, ut Graeci appellant, in totidem libros contuli. fiebat autem ita ut, cum is his G 1 V 1 H qui audire audiri X ( corr. V 2 l e ss. K 2 ) vellet dixisset, quid quod K 1 V 2 sibi videretur, tum ego contra dicerem. haec est enim, ut scis, vetus et et om. V 1 add. 2 Socratica ratio contra alterius opinionem disserendi. nam ita facillime, quid veri simillimum esset, inveniri posse Socrates arbitrabatur. Sed quo commodius disputationes nostrae explicentur, sic eas exponam, quasi agatur res, non quasi narretur. Philosophia ... 221, 7 narretur H (27 fieri 220, 5 litteris et 220,13 adulescentes 220, 18 dicere bis ) ergo ergo et primam lit- teram verbi malum om. R 1 V 1 spatio rubicatori relicto ; ergo add. R al. m ergo et m V c ita nasce- in r. V 1 nascatur corr. V c ita nascetur exordium: Malum ergo et primam lit- teram verbi malum om. R 1 V 1 spatio rubicatori relicto ; ergo add. R al. m ergo et m V c ita nasce- in r. V 1 nascatur corr. V c mihi videtur esse mors. 1.66. 'Animorum nulla in terris origo inveniri potest; nihil nihil quid H enim est est enim Lact. in animis mixtum atque concretum aut quod ex terra natum atque fictum esse videatur, nihil ne n e V( ss. m. rec. ) aut umidum humidum GV 2 H quidem aut flabile aut igneum. his enim in naturis nihil inest, quod vim memoriae vim memoriae in r. V 2 mentis cogitationis habeat, quod et praeterita teneat et futura provideat praevident V Lact. B 2 et complecti possit praesentia. quae sola divina sunt, nec invenietur nec enim inv. Lact. umquam, unde in de G 1 R 1 V ( m 2 ) unde K Lact. ad hominem venire possint nisi a deo. sin... 20 a deo H Animorum 20 a deo Lact. ira 10, 45 (inst. 7,8, 6) singularis est igitur quaedam natura atque vis animi seiuncta ab his usitatis notisque naturis. ita, quicquid est illud, quod sentit quod sapit quod vivit quod viget, caeleste et divinum ob eamque rem aeternum sit necesse est. nec vero deus ipse, qui intellegitur a nobis, alio modo intellegi potest nisi mens soluta quaedam et libera, segregata ab omni concretione mortali, omnia sentiens et movens nec vero ... 4 movens Lact. inst. 1,5, 25 (7, 3, 4) Salv. gub. dei 1, 1, 14 ipsaque praedita motu sempiterno. nec ... 4 sempiterno mens quaedam est soluta et libera, secreta ... 4 sempiterno Aug. civ. 22,20 hoc e genere atque que V q; sed; in r. R eadem e natura est humana mens.' Ubi igitur aut qualis est ista mens? 1.76. quam cum lego, nihil malo quam has res relinquere, his vero modo auditis multo magis. Veniet tempus, et quidem et quidem V 1 celeriter, sive et sive X sed et exp. V 1 retractabis sive properabis; volat enim aetas. tantum autem abest ab eo ut malum mors sit, quod tibi dudum videbatur, ut verear verear K c ne homini nihil sit non malum aliud certius, nihil bonum aliud certius Jeep certe sed X (sed exp. V vet ) aliud, certe sit We. potius, si quidem vel di dii V 2 ipsi vel cum dis futuri sumus lac. ind. Po. ( suppl. fere: sed iam reliquorum philosophorum de hac re quaeramus sententias) cf. comm. et p.442,18 Quid refert? refers K c Adsunt enim, qui haec non probent. ego autem numquam ita te in hoc sermone dimittam, ulla uti ratione mors ratione mors V ratione ut mors GKR tibi videri malum possit. Qui potest, cum ista cognoverim? Qui possit, rogas? 5.70. haec tractanti tractanti s V 3 tractandi X (-i ex -o K 1 ) animo et noctes et dies cogitanti cogitandi KV 1 cogitanti G existit illa a a s om. X deo deo H Delphis praecepta cognitio, ut ipsa se mens agnoscat coniunctamque cum divina mente se sentiat, ex quo insatiabili gaudio compleatur. completur Bentl. ipsa enim cogitatio de vi et natura deorum studium incendit incedit GRV 1 illius aeternitatem aeternitatem Sey. aeternitatis (aeterni status Mdv. ad fin.1, 60 ) imitandi, neque se in brevitate vitae conlocatam conlocata GRV 1 collocatam H ( bis ) conlocatum s We. putat, cum rerum causas alias ex aliis aptas et necessitate nexas videt, quibus ab aeterno tempore fluentibus in aeternum ratio tamen mensque moderatur.


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
academy Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 124
agnosticism Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 57
antiochus of ascalon Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 50
appius claudius pulcher (claudius 297 re) Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 76
atheism Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 76
auctoritas Rosa and Santangelo, Cicero and Roman Religion: Eight Studies (2020) 14
augurs, augurate Rosa and Santangelo, Cicero and Roman Religion: Eight Studies (2020) 14
augury Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 76
augustine Inwood and Warren, Body and Soul in Hellenistic Philosophy (2020) 221
authority Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 268
beauty Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 50
carneades Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 124
cicero Gale, Virgil on the Nature of Things: The Georgics, Lucretius and the Didactic Tradition (2000) 271
clodius pulcher, p Rosa and Santangelo, Cicero and Roman Religion: Eight Studies (2020) 14
cole, s Rosa and Santangelo, Cicero and Roman Religion: Eight Studies (2020) 14
consensus, arguments from Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 57
contemplation Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 133
cosmos Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 124
cotta Gale, Virgil on the Nature of Things: The Georgics, Lucretius and the Didactic Tradition (2000) 271
death Inwood and Warren, Body and Soul in Hellenistic Philosophy (2020) 221
delphic maxim (know thyself) Inwood and Warren, Body and Soul in Hellenistic Philosophy (2020) 221
dialogue form Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 268
divination Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 147
epicureanism Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 124; Gale, Virgil on the Nature of Things: The Georgics, Lucretius and the Didactic Tradition (2000) 271
eternity of soul Inwood and Warren, Body and Soul in Hellenistic Philosophy (2020) 221
gildenhard, i Rosa and Santangelo, Cicero and Roman Religion: Eight Studies (2020) 14
gods Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 124, 147
happiness Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 133
impiety, in utramque partem form of dialogue Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 41
julius caesar, c Rosa and Santangelo, Cicero and Roman Religion: Eight Studies (2020) 14
knowledge Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 133
marcellus, gaius claudius (claudius 214 re) Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 76
moderation of religion Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 50, 182
myths, nigidius figulus, publius Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 76
obnuntiatio Rosa and Santangelo, Cicero and Roman Religion: Eight Studies (2020) 14
physics Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 124
pleasure Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 133
politics Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 147
pompey the great Rosa and Santangelo, Cicero and Roman Religion: Eight Studies (2020) 14
preconceptions Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 124
propositum form of dialogue Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 41
protagoras Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 57
pythagoras Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 41
pythagoreanism Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 76
reader Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 115
reason Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 147
religion Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 124, 147; Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 50
roman history Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 133
rome Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 147
scepticism Gale, Virgil on the Nature of Things: The Georgics, Lucretius and the Didactic Tradition (2000) 271
senate (roman) Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 147
sensation of self Inwood and Warren, Body and Soul in Hellenistic Philosophy (2020) 221
signs Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 147
skepticism, academic Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 268
skepticism, radical and mitigated Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 264, 268
socrates Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 133
soul' Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 50
stoicism, xi Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 115, 124
stoicism Gale, Virgil on the Nature of Things: The Georgics, Lucretius and the Didactic Tradition (2000) 271
theology Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 147
truth Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 115
varro Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 115
virgil, and scepticism Gale, Virgil on the Nature of Things: The Georgics, Lucretius and the Didactic Tradition (2000) 271