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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



2300
Cicero, On The Nature Of The Gods, 1.18-1.63


nanAfter this, Velleius, with the confidence peculiar to his sect, dreading nothing so much as to seem to doubt of anything, began as if he had just then descended from the council of the Gods, and Epicurus's intervals of worlds. Do not attend, says he, to these idle and imaginary tales; nor to the operator and builder of the World, the God of Plato's Timaeus; nor to the old prophetic dame, the Πρόνοια of the Stoics, which the Latins call Providence; nor to that round, that burning, revolving deity, the World, endowed with sense and understanding; the prodigies and wonders, not of inquisitive philosophers, but of dreamers! For with what eyes of the mind was your Plato able to see that workhouse of such stupendous toil, in which he makes the world to be modelled and built by God? What materials, what tools, what bars, what machines, what servants, were employed in so vast a work? How could the air, fire, water, and earth pay obedience and submit to the will of the architect? From whence arose those five forms, of which the rest were composed, so aptly contributing to frame the mind and produce the senses? It is tedious to go through all, as they are of such a sort that they look more like things to be desired than to be discovered. But, what is more remarkable, he gives us a world which has been not only created, but, if I may so say, in a manner formed with hands, and yet he says it is eternal. Do you conceive him to have the least skill in natural philosophy who is capable of thinking anything to be everlasting that had a beginning? For what can possibly ever have been put together which cannot be dissolved again? Or what is there that had a beginning which will not have an end? If your Providence, Lucilius, is the same as Plato's God, I ask you, as before, who were the assistants, what were the engines, what was the plan and preparation of the whole work? If it is not the same, then why did she make the world mortal, and not everlasting, like Plato's God?


nanHereupon Velleius began, in the confident manner (I need not say) that is customary with Epicureans, afraid of nothing so much as lest he should appear to have doubts about anything. One would have supposed he had just come down from the assembly of the gods in the intermundane spaces of Epicurus! "I am not going to expound to you doctrines that are mere baseless figments of the imagination, such as the artisan deity and world-builder of Plato's Timaeus, or that old hag of a fortune-teller, the Pronoia (which we may render 'Providence') of the Stoics; nor yet a world endowed with a mind and senses of its own, a spherical, rotatory god of burning fire; these are the marvels and monstrosities of philosophers who do not reason but dream.


nanWhat power of mental vision enabled your master Plato to descry the vast and elaborate architectural process which, as he makes out, the deity adopted in building the structure of the universe? What method of engineering was employed? What tools and levers and derricks? What agents carried out so vast an undertaking? And how were air, fire, water and earth enabled to obey and execute the will of the architect? How did the five regular solids, which are the basis of all other forms of matter, come into existence so nicely adapted to make impressions on our minds and produce sensations? It would be a lengthy task to advert upon every detail of a system that is such as to seem the result of idle theorizing rather than of real research;


nanbut the prize example is that the thinker who represented the world not merely as having had an origin but even as almost made by hand, also declared that it will exist for ever. Can you suppose that a man can have even dipped into natural philosophy if he imagines that anything that has come into being can be eternal? What composite whole is not capable of dissolution? What thing is there that has a beginning but not an end? While as for your Stoic Providence, Lucilius, if it is the same thing as Plato's creator, I repeat my previous questions, what were its agents and instruments, and how was the entire undertaking planned out and carried though? If on the contrary it is something different, I ask why it made the world mortal, and not everlasting as did Plato's divine creator?


nanBut I would demand of you both, why these world-builders started up so suddenly, and lay dormant for so many ages? For we are not to conclude that, if there was no world, there were therefore no ages. I do not now speak of such ages as are finished by a certain number of days and nights in annual courses; for I acknowledge that those could not be without the revolution of the world; but there was a certain eternity from infinite time, not measured by any circumscription of seasons; but how that was in space we cannot understand, because we cannot possibly have even the slightest idea of time before time was. I desire, therefore, to know, Balbus, why this Providence of yours was idle for such an immense space of time? Did she avoid labor? But that could have no effect on the Deity; nor could there be any labor, since all nature, air, fire, earth, and water would obey the divine essence. What was it that incited the Deity to act the part of an aedile, to illuminate and decorate the world? If it was in order that God might be the better accommodated in his habitation, then he must have been dwelling an infinite length of time before in darkness as in a dungeon. But do we imagine that he was afterward delighted with that variety with which we see the heaven and earth adorned? What entertainment could that be to the Deity? If it was any, he would not have been without it so long. Or were these things made, as you almost assert, by God for the sake of men? Was it for the wise? If so, then this great design was adopted for the sake of a very small number. Or for the sake of fools? First of all, there was no reason why God should consult the advantage of the wicked; and, further, what could be his object in doing so, since all fools are, without doubt, the most miserable of men, chiefly because they are fools? For what can we pronounce more deplorable than folly? Besides, there are many inconveniences in life which the wise can learn to think lightly of by dwelling rather on the advantages which they receive; but which fools are unable to avoid when they are coming, or to bear when they are come. They who affirm the world to be an animated and intelligent being have by no means discovered the nature of the mind, nor are able to conceive in what form that essence can exist; but of that I shall speak more hereafter.


nanMoreover I would put to both of you the question, why did these deities suddenly awake into activity as world-builders after countless ages of slumber? for though the world did not exist, it does not follow that ages did not exist — meaning by ages, not periods made up of a number of days and nights in annual courses, for ages in this sense I admit could not have been produced without the circular motion of the firmament; but from the infinite past there has existed an eternity not measured by limited divisions of time, but of a nature intelligible in terms of extension; since it is inconceivable that there was ever a time when time did not exist.


nanWell then, Balbus, what I ask is, why did your Providence remain idle all through that extent of time of which you speak? Was it in order to avoid fatigue? But god cannot know fatigue; and also there was no fatigue in question, since all the elements, sky, fire, earth and sea, were obedient to the divine will. Also, why should god take a fancy to decorate the firmament with figures and illuminations, like an aedile? If it was to embellish his own abode, then it seems that he had previously between dwelling for an infinite time in a dark and gloomy hovel! And are we to suppose that thenceforward the varied beauties which we see adorning earth and sky have afforded him pleasure? How can a god take pleasure in things of this sort? And if he did, he could not have dispensed with it so long.


nanOr were these beauties designed for the sake of men, as your school usually maintains? For the sake of wise men? If so, all this vast effort of construction took place on account of a handful of people. For the sake of fools then? But in the first place there was no reason for god to do a service to the wicked and secondly, what good did he do? inasmuch as all fools are beyond question extremely miserable, precisely because they are fools (for what can be mentioned more miserable than folly?), and in the second place because there are so many troubles in life that, though wise men can assuage them by balancing against them life's advantages, fools can neither avoid their approach nor endure their presence. Those on the other hand who said that the world is itself endowed with life and with wisdom, failed entirely to discern what shape the nature of an intelligent living being could conceivably possess. I will touch on this a little later;


nanAt present I must express my surprise at the weakness of those who endeavor to make it out to be not only animated and immortal, but likewise happy, and round, because Plato says that is the most beautiful form; whereas I think a cylinder, a square, a cone, or a pyramid more beautiful. But what life do they attribute to that round Deity? Truly it is a being whirled about with a celerity to which nothing can be even conceived by the imagination as equal; nor can I imagine how a settled mind and happy life can consist in such motion, the least degree of which would be troublesome to us. Why, therefore, should it not be considered troublesome also to the Deity? For the earth itself, as it is part of the world, is part also of the Deity. We see vast tracts of land barren and uninhabitable; some, because they are scorched by the too near approach of the sun; others, because they are bound up with frost and snow, through the great distance which the sun is from them. Therefore, if the world is a Deity, as these are parts of the world, some of the Deity's limbs must be said to be scorched, and some frozen. These are your doctrines, Lucilius; but what those of others are I will endeavor to ascertain by tracing them back from the earliest of ancient philosophers. Thales the Milesian, who first inquired after such subjects, asserted water to be the origin of things, and that God was that mind which formed all things from water. If the Gods can exist without corporeal sense, and if there can be a mind without a body, why did he annex a mind to water? It was Anaximander's opinion that the Gods were born; that after a great length of time they died; and that they are innumerable worlds. But what conception can we possibly have of a Deity who is not eternal?


nanfor the present I will confine myself to expressing my surprise at their stupidity in holding that a being who is immortal and also blessed is of a spherical shape, merely on the ground that Plato pronounces a sphere to be the most beautiful of all figures. For my own part, on the score of appearance I prefer either a cylinder or a cube or a cone or a pyramid. Then, what mode of existence is assigned to their spherical deity? Why, he is in a state of rotation, spinning round with a velocity that surpasses all powers of conception. But what room there can be in such an existence for steadfastness of mind and for happiness, I cannot see. Also, why should a condition that is painful in the human body, if even the smallest part of it is affected, be supposed to be painless in the deity? Now clearly the earth, being a part of the world, is also a part of god. Yet we see that vast portions of the earth's surface are uninhabitable deserts, being either scorched by the sun's proximity, or frost-bound and covered with snow owing to its extreme remoteness. But if the world is god, these, being parts of the world, must be regarded as limbs of god, undergoing the extremes of heat and cold respectively.


nanSo much, Lucilius, for the doctrines of your school. To show what the older systems are like, I will trace their history from the remotest of your predecessors. Thales of Miletus, who was the first person to investigate these matters, said that water was the first principle of things, but that god was the mind that moulded all things out of water — supposing that gods can exist without sensation; and why did he make mind an adjunct of water, if mind can exist by itself, devoid of body? The view of Anaximander is that the gods are not everlasting but are born and perish at long intervals of time, and that they are worlds, countless in number. But how we conceive of god save as living for ever?


nanAnaximenes, after him, taught that the air is God, and that he was generated, and that he is immense, infinite, and always in motion; as if air, which has no form, could possibly be God; for the Deity must necessarily be not only of some form or other, but of the most beautiful form. Besides, is not everything that had a beginning subject to mortality? Anaxagoras, who received his learning from Anaximenes, was the first who affirmed the system and disposition of all things to be contrived and perfected by the power and reason of an infinite mind; in which infinity he did not perceive that there could be no conjunction of sense and motion, nor any sense in the least degree, where nature herself could feel no impulse. If he would have this mind to be a sort of animal, then there must be some more internal principle from whence that animal should receive its appellation. But what can be more internal than the mind? Let it, therefore, be clothed with an external body. But this is not agreeable to his doctrine; but we are utterly unable to conceive how a pure simple mind can exist without any substance annexed to it. Alcmaeon of Crotona, in attributing a divinity to the sun, the moon, and the rest of the stars, and also to the mind, did not perceive that he was ascribing immortality to mortal beings. Pythagoras, who supposed the Deity to be one soul, mixing with and pervading all nature, from which our souls are taken, did not consider that the Deity himself must, in consequence of this doctrine, be maimed and torn with the rending every human soul from it; nor that, when the human mind is afflicted (as is the case in many instances), that part of the Deity must likewise be afflicted, which cannot be. If the human mind were a Deity, how could it be ignorant of any thing? Besides, how could that Deity, if it is nothing but soul, be mixed with, or infused into, the world? Then Xenophanes, who said that everything in the world which had any existence, with the addition of intellect, was God, is as liable to exception as the rest, especially in relation to the infinity of it, in which there can be nothing sentient, nothing composite. Parmenides formed a conceit to himself of something circular like a crown. (He names it Stephane.) It is an orb of constant light and heat around the heavens; this he calls God; in which there is no room to imagine any divine form or sense. And he uttered many other absurdities on the same subject; for he ascribed a divinity to war, to discord, to lust, and other passions of the same kind, which are destroyed by disease, or sleep, or oblivion, or age. The same honor he gives to the stars; but I shall forbear making any objections to his system here, having already done it in another place.


nanNext, Anaximenes held that air is god, and that it has a beginning in time, and is immeasurable and infinite in extent, and is always in motion; just as if formless air could be god, especially seeing that it is proper to god to possess not merely some shape but the most beautiful shape; or as if anything that has had a beginning must not necessarily be mortal. Then there is Anaxagoras, the successor of Anaximenes; he was the first thinker to hold that the orderly disposition of the universe is designed and perfected by the rational power of an infinite mind. But in saying this he failed to see that there can be no such thing as sentient and continuous activity in that which is infinite, and that sensation in general can only occur when the subject itself becomes sentient by the impact of a sensation. Further, if he intended his infinite mind to be a definite living creature, it must have some inner principle of life to justify the name. But mind is itself the innermost principle. Mind therefore will have an outer integument of body.


nanBut this Anaxagoras will not allow; yet mind naked and simple, without any material adjunct to serve as an organ of sensation, seems to elude the capacity of our understanding. Alcmaeon of Croton, who attributed divinity to the sun, moon and other heavenly bodies, and also to the soul, did not perceive that he was bestowing immortality on things that are mortal. As for Pythagoras, who believed that the entire substance of the universe is penetrated and pervaded by a soul of which our souls are fragments, he failed to notice that this severance of the souls of men from the world-soul means the dismemberment and rending asunder of god; and that when their souls are unhappy, as happens to most men, then a portion of god is unhappy; which is impossible.


nanAgain, if the soul of man is divine, why is it not omniscient? Moreover, if the Pythagorean god is pure soul, how is he implanted in, or diffused throughout, the world? Next, Xenophanes endowed the universe with mind, and held that, as being infinite, it was god. His view of mind is as open to objection as that of the rest; but on the subject of infinity he incurs still severer criticism, for the infinite can have no sensation and no contact with anything outside. As for Parmenides, he invents a purely fanciful something resembling a crown — stephanè is his name for it —, an unbroken ring of glowing lights, encircling the sky, which he entitles god; but no one can imagine this to possess divine form, or sensation. He also has many other portentous notions; he deifies war, strife, lust and the like, things which can be destroyed by disease or sleep or forgetfulness or lapse of time; and he also deifies the stars, but this has been criticized in another philosopher and need not be dealt with now in the case of Parmenides.


nanEmpedocles, who erred in many things, is most grossly mistaken in his notion of the Gods. He lays down four natures as divine, from which he thinks that all things were made. Yet it is evident that they have a beginning, that they decay, and that they are void of all sense. Protagoras did not seem to have any idea of the real nature of the Gods; for he acknowledged that he was altogether ignorant whether there are or are not any, or what they are. What shall I say of Democritus, who classes our images of objects, and their orbs, in the number of the Gods; as he does that principle through which those images appear and have their influence? He deifies likewise our knowledge and understanding. Is he not involved in a very great error? And because nothing continues always in the same state, he denies that anything is everlasting, does he not thereby entirely destroy the Deity, and make it impossible to form any opinion of him? Diogenes of Apollonia looks upon the air to be a Deity. But what sense can the air have? or what divine form can be attributed to it?


nanEmpedocles again among many other blunders comes to grief most disgracefully in his theology. He assigns divinity to the four substances which in his system are the constituent elements of the universe, although manifestly these substances both come into and pass out of existence, and are entirely devoid of sensation. Protagoras also, who declares he has no clear views whatever about the gods, whether they exist or do not exist, or what they are like, seems to have no notion at all of the divine nature. Then in what a maze of error is Democritus involved, who at one moment ranks as gods his roving 'images,' at another the substance that emits and radiates these images, and at another again the scientific intelligence of man! At the same time his denial of immutability and therefore of eternity, to everything whatsoever surely involves a repudiation of deity so absolute as to leave no conception of a divine be remaining! Diogenes of Apollonia makes air a god; but how can air have sensation, or divinity in any shape?


nanIt would be tedious to show the uncertainty of Plato's opinion; for, in his Timaeus, he denies the propriety of asserting that there is one great father or creator of the world; and, in his book of Laws, he thinks we ought not to make too strict an inquiry into the nature of the Deity. And as for his statement when he asserts that God is a being without any body — what the Greeks call ἀσώματος — it is certainly quite unintelligible how that theory can possibly be true; for such a God must then necessarily be destitute of sense, prudence, and pleasure; all which things are comprehended in our notion of the Gods. He likewise asserts in his Timaeus, and in his Laws, that the world, the heavens, the stars, the mind, and those Gods which are delivered down to us from our ancestors, constitute the Deity. These opinions, taken separately, are apparently false; and, together, are directly inconsistent with each other. Xenophon has committed almost the same mistakes, but in fewer words. In those sayings which he has related of Socrates, he introduces him disputing the lawfulness of inquiring into the form of the Deity, and makes him assert the sun and the mind to be Deities: he represents him likewise as affirming the being of one God only, and at another time of many; which are errors of almost the same kind which I before took notice of in Plato. Antisthenes, in his book called the Natural Philosopher, says that there are many national and one natural Deity; but by this saying he destroys the power and nature of the Gods. Speusippus is not much less in the wrong; who, following his uncle Plato, says that a certain incorporeal power governs everything; by which he endeavors to root out of our minds the knowledge of the Gods.


nanThe inconsistencies of Plato are a long story. In the Timaeus he says that it is impossible to name the father of this universe; and in the Laws he deprecates all inquiry into the nature of the deity. Again, he holds that god is entirely incorporeal (in Greek, asomatos); but divine incorporeity is inconceivable, for an incorporeal deity would necessarily be incapable of sensation, and also of practical wisdom, and of pleasure, all of which are attributes essential to our conception of deity. Yet both in the Timaeus and the Laws he says that the world, the sky, the stars, the earth and our souls are gods, in addition to those in whom we have been taught to believe; but it is obvious that these propositions are both inherently false and mutually destructive.


nanXenophon also commits almost the same errors, though in fewer words; for in his memoir of the sayings of Socrates he represents Socrates as arguing that it is wrong to inquire about the form of god, but also as saying that both the sun and the soul are god, and as speaking at one moment of a single god and at another of several: utterances that involve almost the same mistakes as do those which we quoted from Plato.


nanAntisthenes also, in his book entitled The Natural Philosopher, says that while there are many gods of popular belief, there is one god in nature, so depriving divinity of all meaning or substance. Very similarly Speusippus, following his uncle Plato, and speaking of a certain force that governs all things and is endowed with life, does his best to root out the notion of deity from our minds altogether.


nanAristotle, in his third book of Philosophy, confounds many things together, as the rest have done; but he does not differ from his master Plato. At one time he attributes all divinity to the mind, at another he asserts that the world is God. Soon afterward he makes some other essence preside over the world, and gives it those faculties by which, with certain revolutions, he may govern and preserve the motion of it. Then he asserts the heat of the firmament to be God; not perceiving the firmament to be part of the world, which in another place he had described as God. How can that divine sense of the firmament be preserved in so rapid a motion? And where do the multitude of Gods dwell, if heaven itself is a Deity? But when this philosopher says that God is without a body, he makes him an irrational and insensible being. Besides, how can the world move itself, if it wants a body? Or how, if it is in perpetual self-motion, can it be easy and happy? Xenocrates, his fellow-pupil, does not appear much wiser on this head, for in his books concerning the nature of the Gods no divine form is described; but he says the number of them is eight. Five are moving planets; the sixth is contained in all the fixed stars; which, dispersed, are so many several members, but, considered together, are one single Deity; the seventh is the sun; and the eighth the moon. But in what sense they can possibly be happy is not easy to be understood. From the same school of Plato, Heraclides of Pontus stuffed his books with puerile tales. Sometimes he thinks the world a Deity, at other times the mind. He attributes divinity likewise to the wandering stars. He deprives the Deity of sense, and makes his form mutable; and, in the same book again, he makes earth and heaven Deities. The unsteadiness of Theophrastus is equally intolerable. At one time he attributes a divine prerogative to the mind; at another, to the firmament; at another, to the stars and celestial constellations. Nor is his disciple Strato, who is called the naturalist, any more worthy to be regarded; for he thinks that the divine power is diffused through nature, which is the cause of birth, increase, and diminution, but that it has no sense nor form.


nanAnd Aristotle in the Third Book of his Philosophy has a great many confused notions, not disagreeing with the doctrines of his master Plato; at one moment he assigns divinity exclusively to the intellect, at another he says that the world is itself a god, then again he puts some other being over the world, and assigns to this being the rôle of regulating and sustaining the world-motion by means of a sort of inverse rotation; then he says that the celestial heat is god — not realizing that the heavens are a part of that world which elsewhere he himself has entitled god. But how could the divine consciousness which he assigns to the heavens persist in a state of such rapid motion? Where moreover are all the gods of accepted belief, if we count the heavens also as a god? Again, in maintaining that god is incorporeal, he robs him entirely of sensation, and also of wisdom. Moreover, how is motion possible for an incorporeal being, and how, if he is always in motion, can he enjoy tranquillity and bliss?


nanNor was his fellow-pupil Xenocrates any wiser on this subject. His volumes On the Nature of the Gods give no intelligible account of the divine form; for he states that there are eight gods: five inhabiting the planets, and in a state of motion; one consisting of all the fixed stars, which are to be regarded as separate members constituting a single deity; seventh he adds the sun, and eighth the moon. But what sensation of bliss these things can enjoy it is impossible to conceive. Another member of the school of Plato, Heracleides of Pontus, filled volume after volume with childish fictions; at one moment he deems the world divine, at another the intellect; he also assigns divinity to the planets, and holds that the deity is devoid of sensation and mutable of form; and again in the same volume he reckons earth and sky as gods.


nanTheophrastus also is intolerably inconsistent; at one moment he assigns divine pre‑eminence to mind, at another to the heavens, and then again to the constellations and stars in the heavens. Nor is his pupil, Strato, surnamed the Natural Philosopher, worthy of attention; in his view the sole repository of divine power is nature, which contains in itself the causes of birth, growth and decay, but is entirely devoid of sensation and of form.


nanZeno (to come to your sect, Balbus) thinks the law of nature to be the divinity, and that it has the power to force us to what is right, and to restrain us from what is wrong. How this law can be an animated being I cannot conceive; but that God is so we would certainly maintain. The same person says, in another place, that the sky is God; but can we possibly conceive that God is a being insensible, deaf to our prayers, our wishes, and our vows, and wholly unconnected with us? In other books he thinks there is a certain rational essence pervading all nature, indued with divine efficacy. He attributes the same power to the stars, to the years, to the months, and to the seasons. In his interpretation of Hesiod's Theogony, he entirely destroys the established notions of the Gods; for he excludes Jupiter, Juno, and Vesta, and those esteemed divine, from the number of them; but his doctrine is that these are names which by some kind of allusion are given to mute and inanimate beings. The sentiments of his disciple Aristo are not less erroneous. He thought it impossible to conceive the form of the Deity, and asserts that the Gods are destitute of sense; and he is entirely dubious whether the Deity is an animated being or not. Cleanthes, who next comes under my notice, a disciple of Zeno at the same time with Aristo, in one place says that the world is God; in another, he attributes divinity to the mind and spirit of universal nature; then he asserts that the most remote, the highest, the all-surrounding, the all-enclosing and embracing heat, which is called the sky, is most certainly the Deity. In the books he wrote against pleasure, in which he seems to be raving, he imagines the Gods to have a certain form and shape; then he ascribes all divinity to the stars; and, lastly, he thinks nothing more divine than reason. So that this God, whom we know mentally and in the speculations of our minds, from which traces we receive our impression, has at last actually no visible form at all. Persaeus, another disciple of Zeno, says that they who have made discoveries advantageous to the life of man should be esteemed as Gods; and the very things, he says, which are healthful and beneficial have derived their names from those of the Gods; so that he thinks it not sufficient to call them the discoveries of Gods, but he urges that they themselves should be deemed divine.


nanLastly, Balbus, I come to your Stoic school. Zeno's view is that the law of nature is divine, and that its function is to command what is right and to forbid the opposite. How he makes out this law to be alive passes our comprehension; yet we undoubtedly expect god to be a living being. In another passage however Zeno declares that the aether is god — if there is any meaning in a god without sensation, a form of deity that never presents itself to us when we offer up our prayers and supplications and make our vows. And in other books again he holds the view that a 'reason' which pervades all nature is possessed of divine power. He likewise attributes the same powers to the stars, or at another time to the years, the months and the seasons. Again, in his interpretation of Hesiod's Theogony (or Origin of the Gods) he does away with the customary and received ideas of the gods altogether, for he does not reckon either Jupiter, Juno or Vesta as gods, or any being that bears a personal name, but teaches that these names have been assigned allegorically to dumb and lifeless things.


nanZeno's pupil Aristo holds equally mistaken views. He thinks that the form of the deity cannot be comprehended, and he denies the gods sensation, and in fact is uncertain whether god is a living being at all. Cleanthes, who attended Zeno's lectures at the same time as the last-named, at one moment says that the world itself is god, at another gives this name to the mind and soul of the universe, and at another decides that the most unquestionable deity is that remote all‑surrounding fiery atmosphere called the aether, which encircles and embraces the universe on its outer side at an exceedingly lofty altitude; while in the books that he wrote to combat hedonism he babbles like one demented, now imagining gods of some definite shape and form, now assigning full divinity to the stars, now pronouncing that nothing is more divine than reason. The result is that the god whom we apprehend by our intelligence, and desire to make to correspond with a mental concept as a seal tallies with its impression, has utterly and entirely vanished.


nanWhat can be more absurd than to ascribe divine honors to sordid and deformed things; or to place among the Gods men who are dead and mixed with the dust, to whose memory all the respect that could be paid would be but mourning for their loss? Chrysippus, who is looked upon as the most subtle interpreter of the dreams of the Stoics, has mustered up a numerous band of unknown Gods; and so unknown that we are not able to form any idea about them, though our mind seems capable of framing any image to itself in its thoughts. For he says that the divine power is placed in reason, and in the spirit and mind of universal nature; that the world, with a universal effusion of its spirit, is God; that the superior part of that spirit, which is the mind and reason, is the great principle of nature, containing and preserving the chain of all things; that the divinity is the power of fate, and the necessity of future events. He deifies fire also, and what I before called the ethereal spirit, and those elements which naturally proceed from it — water, earth, and air. He attributes divinity to the sun, moon, stars, and universal space, the grand container of all things, and to those men likewise who have obtained immortality. He maintains the sky to be what men call Jupiter; the air, which pervades the sea, to be Neptune; and the earth, Ceres. In like manner he goes through the names of the other Deities. He says that Jupiter is that immutable and eternal law which guides and directs us in our manners; and this he calls fatal necessity, the everlasting verity of future events. But none of these are of such a nature as to seem to carry any indication of divine virtue in them. These are the doctrines contained in his first book of the Nature of the Gods. In the second, he endeavors to accommodate the fables of Orpheus, Musaeus, Hesiod, and Homer to what he has advanced in the first, in order that the most ancient poets, who never dreamed of these things, may seem to have been Stoics. Diogenes the Babylonian was a follower of the doctrine of Chrysippus; and in that book which he wrote, entitled "A Treatise concerning Minerva," he separates the account of Jupiter's bringing-forth, and the birth of that virgin, from the fabulous, and reduces it to a natural construction.


nanPersaeus, another pupil of Zeno, says that men have deified those persons who have made some discovery of special utility for civilization, and that useful and health-giving things have themselves been called by divine names; he did not even say that they were discoveries of the gods, but speaks of them as actually divine. But what could be more ridiculous than to award divine honours to things mean and ugly, or to give the rank of gods to men now dead and gone, whose worship could only take the form of lamentation?


nanChrysippus, who is deemed to be the most skilful interpreter of the Stoic dreams, musters an enormous mob of unknown gods — so utterly unknown that even imagination cannot guess at their form and nature, although our mind appears capable of visualizing anything; for he says that divine power resides in reason, and in the soul and mind of the universe; he calls the world itself a god, and also the all‑pervading world-soul, and again the guiding principle of that soul, which operates in the intellect and reason, and the common and all‑embracing nature of things; beside this, the fire that I previously termed aether; and also the power of Fate, and the Necessity that governs future events; and also all fluid and soluble substances, such as water, earth, air, the sun, moon and stars, and the all‑embracing unity of things; and even those human beings who have attained immortality.


nanHe also argues that the god whom men call Jupiter is the aether, and that Neptune is the air which permeates the sea, and the goddess called Ceres the earth; and he deals in the same way with the whole series of the names of the other gods. He also identifies Jupiter with the mighty Law, everlasting and eternal, which is our guide of life and instructress in duty, and which he entitles Necessity or Fate, and the Everlasting Truth of future events; none of which conceptions is of such a nature as to be deemed to possess divinity.


nanThis is what is contained in his Nature of the Gods, Book I. In Book II he aims at reconciling the myths of Orpheus, Musaeus, Hesiod and Homer with his own theology as enunciated in Book I, and so makes out that even the earliest poets of antiquity, who had no notion of these doctrines, were really Stoics. In this he is followed by Diogenes of Babylon, who in his book entitled Minerva rationalizes the myth of the birth of the virgin goddess from Jove by explaining it as an allegory of the processes of nature.


nanThus far have I been rather exposing the dreams of dotards than giving the opinions of philosophers. Not much more absurd than these are the fables of the poets, who owe all their power of doing harm to the sweetness of their language; who have represented the Gods as enraged with anger and inflamed with lust; who have brought before our eyes their wars, battles, combats, wounds; their hatreds, dissensions, discords, births, deaths, complaints, and lamentations; their indulgences in all kinds of intemperance; their adulteries; their chains; their amours with mortals, and mortals begotten by immortals. To these idle and ridiculous flights of the poets we may add the prodigious stories invented by the Magi, and by the Egyptians also, which were of the same nature, together with the extravagant notions of the multitude at all times, who, from total ignorance of the truth, are always fluctuating in uncertainty. Now, whoever reflects on the rashness and absurdity of these tenets must inevitably entertain the highest respect and veneration for Epicurus, and perhaps even rank him in the number of those beings who are the subject of this dispute; for he alone first founded the idea of the existence of the Gods on the impression which nature herself hath made on the minds of all men. For what nation, what people are there, who have not, without any learning, a natural idea, or prenotion, of a Deity? Epicurus calls this πρόληψις; that is, an antecedent conception of the fact in the mind, without which nothing can be understood, inquired after, or discoursed on; the force and advantage of which reasoning we receive from that celestial volume of Epicurus concerning the Rule and Judgment of Things.


nanI have given a rough account of what are more like the dreams of madmen than the considered opinions of philosophers. For they are little less absurd than the outpourings of the poets, harmful as these have been owing to the mere charm of their style. The poets have represented the gods as inflamed by anger and maddened by lust, and have displayed to our gaze their wars and battles, their fights and wounds, their hatreds, enmities and quarrels, their births and deaths, their complaints and lamentations, the utter and unbridled licence of their passions, their adulteries and imprisonments, their unions with human beings and the birth of mortal progeny from an immortal parent.


nanWith the errors of the poets may be classed the monstrous doctrines of the magi and the insane mythology of Egypt, and also the popular beliefs, which are a mere mass of inconsistencies sprung from ignorance. "Anyone pondering on the baseless and irrational character of these doctrines ought to regard Epicurus with reverence, and to rank him as one of the very gods about whom we are inquiring. For he alone perceived, first, that the gods exist, because nature herself has imprinted a conception of them on the minds of all mankind. For what nation or what tribe is there but possesses untaught some 'preconception' of the gods? Such notions Epicurus designates by the word prolepsis, that is, a sort of preconceived mental picture of a thing, without which nothing can be understood or investigated or discussed. The force and value of this argument we learn in that work of genius, Epicurus's Rule or Standard of Judgement.


nanHere, then, you see the foundation of this question clearly laid; for since it is the constant and universal opinion of mankind, independent of education, custom, or law, that there are Gods, it must necessarily follow that this knowledge is implanted in our minds, or, rather, innate in us. That opinion respecting which there is a general agreement in universal nature must infallibly be true; therefore it must be allowed that there are Gods; for in this we have the concurrence, not only of almost all philosophers, but likewise of the ignorant and illiterate. It must be also confessed that the point is established that we have naturally this idea, as I said before, or prenotion, of the existence of the Gods. As new things require new names, so that prenotion was called πρόληψις by Epicurus; an appellation never used before. On the same principle of reasoning, we think that the Gods are happy and immortal; for that nature which hath assured us that there are Gods has likewise imprinted in our minds the knowledge of their immortality and felicity; and if so, what Epicurus hath declared in these words is true: "That which is eternally happy cannot be burdened with any labor itself, nor can it impose any labor on another; nor can it be influenced by resentment or favor: because things which are liable to such feelings must be weak and frail." We have said enough to prove that we should worship the Gods with piety, and without superstition, if that were the only question. For the superior and excellent nature of the Gods requires a pious adoration from men, because it is possessed of immortality and the most exalted felicity; for whatever excels has a right to veneration, and all fear of the power and anger of the Gods should be banished; for we must understand that anger and affection are inconsistent with the nature of a happy and immortal being. These apprehensions being removed, no dread of the superior powers remains. To confirm this opinion, our curiosity leads us to inquire into the form and life and action of the intellect and spirit of the Deity.


nanYou see therefore that the foundation (for such it is) of our inquiry has been well and truly laid. For the belief in the gods has not been established by authority, custom or law, but rests on the unanimous and abiding consensus of mankind; their existence is therefore a necessary inference, since we possess an instinctive or rather an innate concept of them; but a belief which all men by nature share must necessarily be true; therefore it must be admitted that the gods exist. And since this truth is almost universally accepted not only among philosophers but also among the unlearned, we must admit it as also being an accepted truth that we possess a 'preconception,' as I called it above, or 'prior notion,' of the gods. (For we are bound to employ novel terms to denote novel ideas, just as Epicurus himself employed the word prolepsis in a sense in which no one had ever used it before.)


nanWe have then a preconception of such a nature that we believe the gods to be blessed and immortal. For nature, which bestowed upon us an idea of the gods themselves, also engraved on our minds the belief that they are eternal and blessed. If this is so, the famous maxim of Epicurus truthfully enunciates that 'that which is blessed and eternal can neither know trouble itself nor cause trouble to another, and accordingly cannot feel either anger or favour, since all such things belong only to the weak.' "If we sought to attain nothing else beside piety in worshipping the gods and freedom from superstition, what has been said had sufficed; since the exalted nature of the gods, being both eternal and supremely blessed, would receive man's pious worship (for what is highest commands the reverence that is its due); and furthermore all fear of the divine power or divine anger would have been banished (since it is understood that anger and favour alike are excluded from the nature of a being at once blessed and immortal, and that these being eliminated we are menaced by no fears in regard to the powers above). But the mind strives to strengthen this belief by trying to discover the form of god, the mode of his activity, and the operation of his intelligence.


nanFor the divine form we have the hints of nature supplemented by the teachings of reason. From nature all men of all races derive the notion of gods as having human shape and none other; for in what other shape do they ever appear to anyone, awake or asleep? But not to make primary concepts the sole test of all things, reason itself delivers the same pronouncement.


nanWith regard to his form, we are directed partly by nature and partly by reason. All men are told by nature that none but a human form can be ascribed to the Gods; for under what other image did it ever appear to any one either sleeping or waking? and, without having recourse to our first notions, reason itself declares the same; for as it is easy to conceive that the most excellent nature, either because of its happiness or immortality, should be the most beautiful, what composition of limbs, what conformation of lineaments, what form, what aspect, can be more beautiful than the human? Your sect, Lucilius (not like my friend Cotta, who sometimes says one thing and sometimes another), when they represent the divine art and workmanship in the human body, are used to describe how very completely each member is formed, not only for convenience, but also for beauty. Therefore, if the human form excels that of all other animal beings, as God himself is an animated being, he must surely be of that form which is the most beautiful. Besides, the Gods are granted to be perfectly happy; and nobody can be happy without virtue, nor can virtue exist where reason is not; and reason can reside in none but the human form; the Gods, therefore, must be acknowledged to be of human form; yet that form is not body, but something like body; nor does it contain any blood, but something like blood. Though these distinctions were more acutely devised and more artfully expressed by Epicurus than any common capacity can comprehend; yet, depending on your understanding, I shall be more brief on the subject than otherwise I should be. Epicurus, who not only discovered and understood the occult and almost hidden secrets of nature, but explained them with ease, teaches that the power and nature of the Gods is not to be discerned by the senses, but by the mind; nor are they to be considered as bodies of any solidity, or reducible to number, like those things which, because of their firmness, he calls Στερέμνια; but as images, perceived by similitude and transition. As infinite kinds of those images result from innumerable individuals, and centre in the Gods, our minds and understanding are directed towards and fixed with the greatest delight on them, in order to comprehend what that happy and eternal essence is.


nanFor it seems appropriate that the being who is the most exalted, whether by reason of his happiness or his eternity, should also be the most beautiful; but what disposition of the limbs, what cast of features, what shape or outline can be more beautiful than the human form? You Stoics at least, Lucilius, (for my friend Cotta says one thing at one time and another at another) are wont to portray the skill of the divine creator by enlarging on the beauty as well as the utility of design displayed in all parts of the human figure.


nanBut if the human figure surpasses the form of all other living beings, and god is a living being, god must possess the shape which is the most beautiful of all; and since it is agreed that the gods are supremely happy, and no one can be happy without virtue, and virtue cannot exist without reason, and reason is only found in the human shape, it follows that the gods possess the form of man.


nanYet their form is not corporeal, but only resembles bodily substance; it does not contain blood, but the semblance of blood. "These discoveries of Epicurus are so acute in themselves and so subtly expressed that not everyone would be capable of appreciating them. Still I may rely on your intelligence, and make my exposition briefer than the subject demands. Epicurus then, as he not merely discerns abstruse and recondite things with his mind's eye, but handles them as tangible realities, teaches that the substance and nature of the gods is such that, in the first place, it is perceived not by the senses but by the mind, and not materially or individually, like the solid objects which Epicurus in virtue of their substantiality entitles steremnia; but by our perceiving images owing to their similarity and succession, because an endless train of precisely similar images arises from the innumerable atoms and streams towards the gods, our minds with the keenest feelings of pleasure fixes its gaze on these images, and so attains an understanding of the nature of a being both blessed and eternal.


nanSurely the mighty power of the Infinite Being is most worthy our great and earnest contemplation; the nature of which we must necessarily understand to be such that everything in it is made to correspond completely to some other answering part. This is called by Epicurus ἰσονομία; that is to say, an equal distribution or even disposition of things. From hence he draws this inference, that, as there is such a vast multitude of mortals, there cannot be a less number of immortals; and if those which perish are innumerable, those which are preserved ought also to be countless. Your sect, Balbus, frequently ask us how the Gods live, and how they pass their time? Their life is the most happy, and the most abounding with all kinds of blessings, which can be conceived. They do nothing. They are embarrassed with no business; nor do they perform any work. They rejoice in the possession of their own wisdom and virtue. They are satisfied that they shall ever enjoy the fulness of eternal pleasures.


nanMoreover there is the supremely potent principle of infinity, which claims the closest and most careful study; we must understand that it has the following property, that in the sum of things everything has its exact match and counterpart. This property is termed by Epicurus isonomia, or the principle of uniform distribution. From this principle it follows that if the whole number of mortals be so many, there must exist no less a number of immortals, and if the causes of destruction are beyond count, the causes of conservation also are bound to be infinite. "You Stoics are also fond of asking us, Balbus, what is the mode of life of the gods and how they pass their days.


nanThe answer is, their life is the happiest conceivable, and the one most bountifully furnished with all good things. God is entirely inactive and free from all ties of occupation; he toils not neither does he labour, but he takes delight in his own wisdom and virtue, and knows with absolute certainty that he will always enjoy pleasures at once consummate and everlasting.


nanSuch a Deity may properly be called happy; but yours is a most laborious God. For let us suppose the world a Deity — what can be a more uneasy state than, without the least cessation, to be whirled about the axle-tree of heaven with a surprising celerity? But nothing can be happy that is not at ease. Or let us suppose a Deity residing in the world, who directs and governs it, who preserves the courses of the stars, the changes of the seasons, and the vicissitudes and orders of things, surveying the earth and the sea, and accommodating them to the advantage and necessities of man. Truly this Deity is embarrassed with a very troublesome and laborious office. We make a happy life to consist in a tranquillity of mind, a perfect freedom from care, and an exemption from all employment. The philosopher from whom we received all our knowledge has taught us that the world was made by nature; that there was no occasion for a workhouse to frame it in; and that, though you deny the possibility of such a work without divine skill, it is so easy to her, that she has made, does make, and will make innumerable worlds. But, because you do not conceive that nature is able to produce such effects without some rational aid, you are forced, like the tragic poets, when you cannot wind up your argument in any other way, to have recourse to a Deity, whose assistance you would not seek, if you could view that vast and unbounded magnitude of regions in all parts; where the mind, extending and spreading itself, travels so far and wide that it can find no end, no extremity to stop at. In this immensity of breadth, length, and height, a most boundless company of innumerable atoms are fluttering about, which, notwithstanding the interposition of a void space, meet and cohere, and continue clinging to one another; and by this union these modifications and forms of things arise, which, in your opinions, could not possibly be made without the help of bellows and anvils. Thus you have imposed on us an eternal master, whom we must dread day and night. For who can be free from fear of a Deity who foresees, regards, and takes notice of everything; one who thinks all things his own; a curious, ever-busy God? Hence first arose your Εἱμαρμένη, as you call it, your fatal necessity; so that, whatever happens, you affirm that it flows from an eternal chain and continuance of causes. Of what value is this philosophy, which, like old women and illiterate men, attributes everything to fate? Then follows your μαντικὴ, in Latin called divinatio, divination; which, if we would listen to you, would plunge us into such superstition that we should fall down and worship your inspectors into sacrifices, your augurs, your soothsayers, your prophets, and your fortune-tellers. Epicurus having freed us from these terrors and restored us to liberty, we have no dread of those beings whom we have reason to think entirely free from all trouble themselves, and who do not impose any on others. We pay our adoration, indeed, with piety and reverence to that essence which is above all excellence and perfection. But I fear my zeal for this doctrine has made me too prolix. However, I could not easily leave so eminent and important a subject unfinished, though I must confess I should rather endeavor to hear than speak so long.


nanThis is the god whom we should call happy in the proper sense of the term; your Stoic god seems to us to be grievously overworked. If the world itself is god, what can be less restful than to revolve at incredible speed round the axis of the heavens without a single moment of respite? but repose is an essential condition of happiness. If on the other hand some god resides within the world as its governor and pilot, maintaining the courses of the stars, the changes of the seasons and all the ordered process of creation, and keeping a watch on land and sea to guard the interests and lives of men, why, what a bondage of irksome and laborious business is his!


nanWe for our part deem happiness to consist in tranquillity of mind and entire exemption from all duties. For he who taught us all the rest has also taught us that the world was made by nature, without needing an artificer to construct it, and that the act of creation, which according to you cannot be performed without divine skill, is so easy, that nature will create, is creating and has created worlds without number. You on the contrary cannot see how nature can achieve all this without the aid of some intelligence, and so, like the tragic poets, being unable to bring the plot of your drama to a dénouement, you have recourse to a god;


nanwhose intervention you assuredly would not require if you would but contemplate the measureless and boundless extent of space that stretches in every direction, into which when the mind projects and propels itself, it journeys onward far and wide without ever sighting any margin or ultimate point where it can stop. Well then, in this immensity of length and breadth and height there flits an infinite quantity of atoms innumerable, which though separated by void yet cohere together, and taking hold each of another form unions wherefrom are created those shapes and forms of things which you think cannot be created without the aid of bellows and anvils, and so have saddled us with an eternal master, whom day and night we are to fear; for who would not fear a prying busybody of a god, who foresees and thinks of and notices all things, and deems that everything is his concern?


nanAn outcome of this theology was first of all your doctrine of Necessity or Fate, heimarmenē, as you termed it, the theory that every event is the result of an eternal truth and an unbroken sequence of causation. But what value can be assigned to a philosophy which thinks that everything happens by fate? it is a belief for old women, and ignorant old women at that. And next follows your doctrine of mantikē, or Divination, which would so steep us in superstition, if we consented to listen to you, that we should be the devotees of soothsayers, augurs, oracle-mongers, seers and interpreters of dreams.


nanBut Epicurus has set us free from superstitious terrors and delivered us out of captivity, so that we have no fear of beings who, we know, create no trouble for themselves and seek to cause none to others, while we worship with pious reverence the transcendent majesty of nature. "But I fear that enthusiasm for my subject has made me prolix. It was difficult however to leave so vast and splendid a theme unfinished, although really it was not my business to be a speaker so much as a listener.


nanCotta, with his usual courtesy, then began. Velleius, says he, were it not for something which you have advanced, I should have remained silent; for I have often observed, as I did just now upon hearing you, that I cannot so easily conceive why a proposition is true as why it is false. Should you ask me what I take the nature of the Gods to be, I should perhaps make no answer. But if you should ask whether I think it to be of that nature which you have described, I should answer that I was as far as possible from agreeing with you. However, before I enter on the subject of your discourse and what you have advanced upon it, I will give you my opinion of yourself. Your intimate friend, L. Crassus, has been often heard by me to say that you were beyond all question superior to all our learned Romans; and that few Epicureans in Greece were to be compared to you. But as I knew what a wonderful esteem he had for you, I imagined that might make him the more lavish in commendation of you. Now, however, though I do not choose to praise any one when present, yet I must confess that I think you have delivered your thoughts clearly on an obscure and very intricate subject; that you are not only copious in your sentiments, but more elegant in your language than your sect generally are. When I was at Athens, I went often to hear Zeno, by the advice of Philo, who used to call him the chief of the Epicureans; partly, probably, in order to judge more easily how completely those principles could be refuted after I had heard them stated by the most learned of the Epicureans. And, indeed, he did not speak in any ordinary manner; but, like you, with clearness, gravity, and elegance; yet what frequently gave me great uneasiness when I heard him, as it did while I attended to you, was to see so excellent a genius falling into such frivolous (excuse my freedom), not to say foolish, doctrines. However, I shall not at present offer anything better; for, as I said before, we can in most subjects, especially in physics, sooner discover what is not true than what is.


nanThen 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.


nanI 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.


nanWhen 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.


nanIf you should ask me what God is, or what his character and nature are, I should follow the example of Simonides, who, when Hiero the tyrant proposed the same question to him, desired a day to consider of it. When he required his answer the next day, Simonides begged two days more; and as he kept constantly desiring double the number which he had required before instead of giving his answer, Hiero, with surprise, asked him his meaning in doing so: "Because," says he, "the longer I meditate on it, the more obscure it appears to me." Simonides, who was not only a delightful poet, but reputed a wise and learned man in other branches of knowledge, found, I suppose, so many acute and refined arguments occurring to him, that he was doubtful which was the truest, and therefore despaired of discovering any truth. But does your Epicurus (for I had rather contend with him than with you) say anything that is worthy the name of philosophy, or even of common-sense? In the question concerning the nature of the Gods, his first inquiry is, whether there are Gods or not. It would be dangerous, I believe, to take the negative side before a public auditory; but it is very safe in a discourse of this kind, and in this company. I, who am a priest, and who think that religions and ceremonies ought sacredly to be maintained, am certainly desirous to have the existence of the Gods, which is the principal point in debate, not only fixed in opinion, but proved to a demonstration; for many notions flow into and disturb the mind which sometimes seem to convince us that there are none. But see how candidly I will behave to you: as I shall not touch upon those tenets you hold in common with other philosophers, consequently I shall not dispute the existence of the Gods, for that doctrine is agreeable to almost all men, and to myself in particular; but I am still at liberty to find fault with the reasons you give for it, which I think are very insufficient.


nanNot 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.


nanBut 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.


nanYou have said that the general assent of men of all nations and all degrees is an argument strong enough to induce us to acknowledge the being of the Gods. This is not only a weak, but a false, argument; for, first of all, how do you know the opinions of all nations? I really believe there are many people so savage that they have no thoughts of a Deity. What think you of Diagoras, who was called the atheist; and of Theodorus after him? Did not they plainly deny the very essence of a Deity? Protagoras of Abdera, whom you just now mentioned, the greatest sophist of his age, was banished by order of the Athenians from their city and territories, and his books were publicly burned, because these words were in the beginning of his treatise concerning the Gods: "I am unable to arrive at any knowledge whether there are, or are not, any Gods." This treatment of him, I imagine, restrained many from professing their disbelief of a Deity, since the doubt of it only could not escape punishment. What shall we say of the sacrilegious, the impious, and the perjured? If Tubulus Lucius, Lupus, or Carbo the son of Neptune, as Lucilius says, had believed that there were Gods, would either of them have carried his perjuries and impieties to such excess? Your reasoning, therefore, to confirm your assertion is not so conclusive as you think it is. But as this is the manner in which other philosophers have argued on the same subject, I will take no further notice of it at present; I rather choose to proceed to what is properly your own. I allow that there are Gods. Instruct me, then, concerning their origin; inform me where they are, what sort of body, what mind, they have, and what is their course of life; for these I am desirous of knowing. You attribute the most absolute power and efficacy to atoms. Out of them you pretend that everything is made. But there are no atoms, for there is nothing without body; every place is occupied by body, therefore there can be no such thing as a vacuum or an atom.


nanBut mark how generously I deal with you. I will not attack those tenets which are shared by your school with all other philosophers — for example the one in question, since almost all men, and I myself no less than any other, believe that the gods exist, and this accordingly I do not challenge. At the same time I doubt the adequacy of the argument which you adduce to prove it. You said that a sufficient reason for our admitting that the gods exist was the fact that all the nations and races of mankind believe it. But argument is both inconclusive and untrue. In the first place, how do you know what foreign races believe? For my part I think that there are many nations so uncivilized and barbarous as to have no notion of any gods at all.


nanAgain, did not Diagoras, called the Atheist, and later Theodorus openly deny the divine existence? Since as for Protagoras of Abdera, the greatest sophist of that age, to whom you just now alluded, for beginning a book with the words 'About the gods I am unable to affirm either how they exist or how they do not exist,' he was sentenced by a decree of the Athenian assembly to be banished from the city and from the country, and to have his books burnt in the market-place: an example that I can well believe has discouraged many people since from professing atheism, since the mere expression of doubt did not succeed in escaping punishment. What are we to say about the men guilty of sacrilege or impiety or perjury? Suppose that ever Lucius Tubulus, Lupus or Carbo, or some son of Neptune, as Lucilius has it, had believed in the gods, would he have been such a perjurer and scoundrel?


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

26 results
1. Empedocles, Fragments, 4 (5th cent. BCE - 5th cent. BCE)

2. Plato, Gorgias, None (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

493a. and we really, it may be, are dead; in fact I once heard sages say that we are now dead, and the body is our tomb, and the part of the soul in which we have desires is liable to be over-persuaded and to vacillate to and fro, and so some smart fellow, a Sicilian, I daresay, or Italian, made a fable in which—by a play of words—he named this part, as being so impressionable and persuadable, a jar, and the thoughtless he called uninitiate:
3. Plato, Sophist, None (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

234b. Str. And is there any more artistic or charming kind of joke than the imitative kind? Theaet. Certainly not; for it is of very frequent occurrence and, if I may say so, most diverse. Your expression is very comprehensive. Str. And so we recognize that he who professes to be able by virtue of a single art to make all things will be able by virtue of the painter’s art, to make imitations which have the same names as the real things, and by showing the pictures at a distance will be able to deceive the duller ones among young children into the belief that he is perfectly able to accomplish in fact whatever he wishes to do.
4. Plato, Timaeus, None (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

27c. Tim. Nay, as to that, Socrates, all men who possess even a small share of good sense call upon God always at the outset of every undertaking, be it small or great; we therefore who are purposing to deliver a discourse concerning the Universe, how it was created or haply is uncreate, must needs invoke Gods and Goddesses (if so be that we are not utterly demented), praying that all we say may be approved by them in the first place, and secondly by ourselves. Grant, then, that we have thus duly invoked the deities;
5. Aristotle, Heavens, None (4th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

6. Cicero, Academica, 1.30-1.33, 2.119 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.30. Tertia deinde philosophiae pars, quae erat in ratione et in disserendo, sic tractabatur ab utrisque. Quamquam oriretur a sensibus tamen non non om. *g ; tamen non in ras. p esse iudicium veritatis in sensibus. mentem volebant rerum esse esse ereum ngf iudicem, solam censebant idoneam cui crederetur, quia sola cerneret id quod semper esset simplex et unius modi et tale quale esset (hanc illi i)de/an appellabant, appellabant *gw -labantur m 1 -lant pg iam a Platone ita nominatam, nos recte speciem possumus dicere). 1.31. sensus autem omnis hebetes et tardos esse arbitrabantur nec percipere ullo modo res eas quae subiectae sensibus viderentur, quod quod *g quae *d essent aut ita parvae ut sub sensum cadere non possent, aut ita mobiles et concitatae ut nihil umquam unum esset et add. Ha. aut Reid constans, ne idem ne idem Man. eidem *g*d quidem, quia continenter laberentur et fluerent omnia. itaque hanc omnem partem artem Non. rerum opinabilem opinabilium Goer. appellabant; itaque ... appellabant Non. p. 148 (opinabile) appellabat Non. ? 1.32. scientiam autem nusquam esse censebant nisi in animi notionibus notionibus s ? Lb. mot- *g*d atque rationibus. qua de causa definitiones rerum probabant et has ad omnia de quibus disceptabatur adhibebant; verborum etiam explicatio explicari *g probabatur, probatur *g id est qua de causa quaeque essent esset m p px ita nominata, quam e)tumologi/an appellabant; post argumentis quibusdam quibusdam om. *d et quasi rerum notis ducibus et rer. not. quasi duc. Dav. utebantur ad probandum ad prob. rursus accedit s et ad concludendum id quod explanari volebant. in qua in quo Man. denique Mue. tradebatur omnis dialecticae dialectica w disciplina id est orationis ratione conclusae; conclusa rw huic quasi ex altera parte oratoria vis dicendi adhibebatur, explicatrix orationis perpetuae ad persuadendum accommodatae. 1.33. Haec forma forma om. *d erat illis prima, a Platone tradita; cuius quas acceperim dissupationes dissupationes Bai. disputat- *g*d si vultis exponam.' Nos vero volumus inquam, ut pro Attico etiam respondeam. ATT. Et recte quidem quidem om. *d inquit respondes; praeclare enim explicatur Peripateticorum et Academiae veteris auctoritas. VA. “Aristoteles igitur igitur om. *d primus species quas paulo ante dixi labefactavit, quas mirifice Plato erat amplexatus, quas ... erat amplexatus pars codicum Non. p. 470 ut in iis quiddam divinum esse diceret. Theophrastus autem, vir et oratione suavis et ita moratus ut prae se probitatem quandam et ingenuitatem ferat, ferret Ern. vehementius etiam fregit quodam modo auctoritatem veteris disciplinae; spoliavit enim virtutem suo decore imbecillamque reddidit, quod negavit in ea sola positum esse beate vivere.
7. Cicero, On Divination, 2.120 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

2.120. Utrum igitur censemus dormientium animos per sene ipsos in somniando moveri an, ut Democritus censet, externa et adventicia visione pulsari? Sive enim sic est sive illo modo, videri possunt permulta somniantibus falsa pro veris. Nam et navigantibus moveri videntur ea, quae stant, et quodam obtutu oculorum duo pro uno lucernae lumina. Quid dicam, insanis, quid ebriis quam multa falsa videantur? Quodsi eius modi visis credendum non est, cur somniis credatur, nescio. Nam tam licet de his erroribus, si velis, quam de somniis disputare, ut ea, quae stant, si moveri videantur, terrae motum significare dicas aut repentinam aliquam fugam, gemino autem lucernae lumine declarari dissensionem ac seditionem moveri . Iam ex insanorum aut ebriorum visis innumerabilia coniectura trahi possunt
8. Cicero, On The Ends of Good And Evil, 1.47-1.54, 2.75 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.47. Eademque ratione ne temperantiam quidem propter se expetendam esse dicemus, sed quia pacem animis afferat et eos quasi concordia quadam placet ac leniat. temperantia est enim, quae in rebus aut expetendis aut fugiendis ut rationem sequamur monet. nec enim satis est iudicare quid faciendum non faciendumve sit, sed stare etiam oportet in eo, quod sit iudicatum. plerique autem, quod tenere atque servare id, quod ipsi statuerunt, non possunt, victi et debilitati obiecta specie voluptatis tradunt se libidinibus constringendos nec quid eventurum proventurum R sit provident ob eamque causam propter voluptatem et parvam et non non om. A 1 RN 1 necessariam et quae vel aliter pararetur et qua etiam carere possent sine dolore tum in morbos gravis, tum in damna, tum in dedecora incurrunt, saepe etiam legum iudiciorumque poenis obligantur. 1.48. Qui autem ita frui volunt voluptatibus, ut nulli propter eas consequantur dolores, et qui suum iudicium retinent, ne voluptate victi faciant id, quod sentiant non esse faciendum, ii ii A 1 V in BE hi A 2 hii RN voluptatem maximam adipiscuntur praetermittenda voluptate. idem etiam dolorem saepe perpetiuntur, ne, si id non faciant, incidant in maiorem. ex quo intellegitur nec intemperantiam propter se esse fugiendam temperantiamque expetendam, non quia voluptates fugiat, sed quia maiores consequatur. 1.49. Eadem fortitudinis ratio reperietur. nam neque laborum perfunctio neque perpessio dolorum per se ipsa allicit nec patientia nec assiduitas assiduitates ANV nec vigiliae nec ea ea om. BE ipsa, quae laudatur, industria, ne fortitudo quidem, sed ista sequimur, ut sine cura metuque vivamus animumque et corpus, quantum efficere possimus, possimus AEN possumus molestia liberemus. ut enim mortis metu omnis quietae vitae status perturbatur, et ut succumbere doloribus eosque humili animo inbecilloque ferre miserum est, ob eamque debilitatem animi multi parentes, parentis R multi amicos, non nulli patriam, plerique autem se ipsos penitus perdiderunt, sic robustus animus et excelsus omni est liber cura et angore, cum et mortem contemnit, qua qui qui quia A 1 BE affecti sunt in eadem causa sunt, qua ante quam nati, et ad dolores ita paratus est, ut meminerit maximos morte finiri, parvos multa habere intervalla requietis, mediocrium nos esse dominos, ut, si tolerabiles sint, feramus, si minus, animo aequo e vita, cum ea non placeat, tamquam e theatro exeamus. quibus rebus intellegitur nec timiditatem ignaviamque vituperari nec fortitudinem patientiamque laudari suo nomine, sed illas reici, quia dolorem pariant, has optari, quia voluptatem. 1.50. Iustitia restat, ut de omni virtute sit dictum. sed similia fere dici possunt. ut enim sapientiam, temperantiam, fortitudinem copulatas esse docui cum voluptate, ut ab ea nullo modo nec divelli nec distrahi possint, sic de iustitia iudicandum est, quae non modo numquam nocet cuiquam, sed contra semper afficit afficit ( cf. Tusc. 3,11 qui contra affecti sint) Se. aliquid ( in N ante aliquid ab alt. m. superscr. est alit) cum vi sua vi sua V, N (vi ab alt. m. in ras. scr. ); in sua BER sua vi A atque natura, quod tranquillat tranquillat Se. tranquillet animos, tum spe nihil earum rerum defuturum, quas natura non non om. RNV depravata desiderat. desiderat R 1 V desideret Et add. Lamb. quem ad modum temeritas et libido et ignavia semper animum excruciant et semper sollicitant turbulentaeque sunt, sic inprobitas si add. Mdv. cuius in mente consedit, hoc ipso, quod adest, turbulenta est est: si Grut. et si ABE turbulenta non potest fieri Et si RN turbulenta non potest fieri Si V ; si vero molita quippiam est, quamvis occulte fecerit, numquam tamen id confidet fore semper occultum. plerumque improborum facta primo suspicio insequitur, dein deinde NV sermo atque fama, tum accusator, tum iudex; index A multi etiam, ut te consule, ipsi se indicaverunt. indicaverunt A 2 RN indicaverat A 1 iudicaverunt BEV 1.51. quodsi qui satis sibi contra hominum sibi contra hominum ibi contra hominum V hominum sibi contra R conscientiam conscientiam t n scientiam R cumscientiam A 1 saepti esse et et om. E muniti et muniti om. R videntur, deorum tamen horrent easque ipsas sollicitudines, quibus eorum animi noctesque diesque noctes diesque R diesque noctesque B exeduntur, a diis inmortalibus supplicii causa importari inport. N putant. quae autem tanta ex improbis factis ad minuendas vitae molestias accessio potest fieri, quanta ad augendas, cum conscientia factorum, tum poena legum odioque civium? et tamen in quibusdam neque pecuniae modus est neque honoris neque imperii nec libidinum nec epularum nec reliquarum cupiditatum, quas nulla praeda umquam improbe parta minuit, minuit imminit BE sed add. dett. (sed auget potius atque inflammat) potius inflammat, ut coe+rcendi magis quam dedocendi esse videantur. 1.52. Invitat igitur vera ratio bene sanos ad iustitiam, aequitatem, fidem, neque homini infanti aut inpotenti iniuste facta conducunt, qui nec facile efficere possit, quod conetur, nec optinere, si effecerit, et opes vel fortunae fortuna E vel ingenii ingenii edd. ingenia liberalitati magis conveniunt, qua qui utuntur, utantur ARNV benivolentiam sibi conciliant et, quod aptissimum est ad quiete vivendum, caritatem, praesertim cum omnino nulla sit causa peccandi. 1.53. quae enim cupiditates a natura proficiscuntur, facile explentur sine ulla iniuria, iniuria ulla BE quae autem ies sunt, iis parendum non est. nihil enim desiderabile concupiscunt, plusque in ipsa iniuria detrimenti est quam in iis rebus emolumenti, quae pariuntur iniuria. Itaque ne iustitiam quidem recte quis dixerit per se ipsam optabilem, sed quia iucunditatis vel plurimum afferat. nam diligi et carum esse iucundum est propterea, quia tutiorem vitam et voluptatem pleniorem pleniorem voluptatem BE efficit. itaque non ob ea solum incommoda, quae eveniunt eveniunt et veniunt ARN inprobis, fugiendam inprobitatem putamus, sed multo etiam magis, quod, cuius in animo versatur, numquam sinit eum respirare, numquam adquiescere. 1.54. Quodsi ne ipsarum quidem virtutum laus, in qua maxime ceterorum philosophorum exultat oratio, reperire exitum potest, nisi derigatur ad voluptatem, voluptas autem est sola, quae nos vocet ad se et alliciat suapte natura, non potest esse dubium, quin id sit summum atque extremum bonorum omnium, beateque vivere nihil aliud sit nisi cum voluptate vivere. 2.75. Verum esto: verbum ipsum voluptatis non habet dignitatem, nec nos fortasse intellegimus. hoc enim identidem dicitis, non intellegere nos quam dicatis voluptatem. rem videlicet videlicet P. Man. vides difficilem et obscuram! individua cum dicitis et intermundia, quae nec sunt ulla nec possunt esse, intellegimus, voluptas, quae passeribus omnibus nota est, nota est omnibus A a nobis intellegi non potest? quid, si efficio ut fateare me non modo quid sit voluptas scire—est enim iucundus motus in sensu—, sed etiam quid eam tu velis velis tu eam BE esse? tum enim eam ipsam vis, quam modo ego dixi, dixi ego BE et nomen inponis, in motu ut sit et faciat aliquam varietatem, tum aliam quandam summam voluptatem, quo quo ARN qua BE cui V Mdv. ('quo et qua orta puto ex quoi') addi nihil possit; eam tum adesse, cum dolor omnis absit; eam stabilem appellas. 2.75.  "But let us grant your position. The actual word 'pleasure' has not a lofty sound; and perhaps we do not understand its significance: you are always repeating that we do not understand what you mean by pleasure. As though it were a difficult or recondite notion! If we understand you when you talk of 'indivisible atoms' and 'cosmic interspaces,' things that don't exist and never can exist, is our intelligence incapable of grasping the meaning of pleasure, a feeling known to every sparrow? What if I force you to admit that I do know not only what pleasure really is (it is an agreeable activity of the sense), but also what you mean by it? For at one moment you mean by it the feeling that I have just defined, and this you entitle 'kinetic' pleasure, as producing a definite change of feeling, but at another moment you say it is quite a different feeling, which is the acme and climax of pleasure, but yet consists merely in the complete absence of pain; this you call 'static' pleasure.
9. Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, 1.19-1.63, 1.65, 1.69, 1.71-1.74, 1.76-1.88, 1.92-1.97, 1.100-1.101, 1.104-1.105, 1.107, 1.109, 1.111-1.112, 1.114, 1.116-1.121, 1.123, 2.3, 2.58, 2.148, 3.26, 3.68 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.19. What power of mental vision enabled your master Plato to descry the vast and elaborate architectural process which, as he makes out, the deity adopted in building the structure of the universe? What method of engineering was employed? What tools and levers and derricks? What agents carried out so vast an undertaking? And how were air, fire, water and earth enabled to obey and execute the will of the architect? How did the five regular solids, which are the basis of all other forms of matter, come into existence so nicely adapted to make impressions on our minds and produce sensations? It would be a lengthy task to advert upon every detail of a system that is such as to seem the result of idle theorizing rather than of real research; 1.20. but the prize example is that the thinker who represented the world not merely as having had an origin but even as almost made by hand, also declared that it will exist for ever. Can you suppose that a man can have even dipped into natural philosophy if he imagines that anything that has come into being can be eternal? What composite whole is not capable of dissolution? What thing is there that has a beginning but not an end? While as for your Stoic Providence, Lucilius, if it is the same thing as Plato's creator, I repeat my previous questions, what were its agents and instruments, and how was the entire undertaking planned out and carried though? If on the contrary it is something different, I ask why it made the world mortal, and not everlasting as did Plato's divine creator? 1.21. Moreover I would put to both of you the question, why did these deities suddenly awake into activity as world-builders after countless ages of slumber? for though the world did not exist, it does not follow that ages did not exist — meaning by ages, not periods made up of a number of days and nights in annual courses, for ages in this sense I admit could not have been produced without the circular motion of the firmament; but from the infinite past there has existed an eternity not measured by limited divisions of time, but of a nature intelligible in terms of extension; since it is inconceivable that there was ever a time when time did not exist. 1.22. Well then, Balbus, what I ask is, why did your Providence remain idle all through that extent of time of which you speak? Was it in order to avoid fatigue? But god cannot know fatigue; and also there was no fatigue in question, since all the elements, sky, fire, earth and sea, were obedient to the divine will. Also, why should god take a fancy to decorate the firmament with figures and illuminations, like an aedile? If it was to embellish his own abode, then it seems that he had previously between dwelling for an infinite time in a dark and gloomy hovel! And are we to suppose that thenceforward the varied beauties which we see adorning earth and sky have afforded him pleasure? How can a god take pleasure in things of this sort? And if he did, he could not have dispensed with it so long. 1.23. Or were these beauties designed for the sake of men, as your school usually maintains? For the sake of wise men? If so, all this vast effort of construction took place on account of a handful of people. For the sake of fools then? But in the first place there was no reason for god to do a service to the wicked and secondly, what good did he do? inasmuch as all fools are beyond question extremely miserable, precisely because they are fools (for what can be mentioned more miserable than folly?), and in the second place because there are so many troubles in life that, though wise men can assuage them by balancing against them life's advantages, fools can neither avoid their approach nor endure their presence. Those on the other hand who said that the world is itself endowed with life and with wisdom, failed entirely to discern what shape the nature of an intelligent living being could conceivably possess. I will touch on this a little later; 1.24. for the present I will confine myself to expressing my surprise at their stupidity in holding that a being who is immortal and also blessed is of a spherical shape, merely on the ground that Plato pronounces a sphere to be the most beautiful of all figures. For my own part, on the score of appearance I prefer either a cylinder or a cube or a cone or a pyramid. Then, what mode of existence is assigned to their spherical deity? Why, he is in a state of rotation, spinning round with a velocity that surpasses all powers of conception. But what room there can be in such an existence for steadfastness of mind and for happiness, I cannot see. Also, why should a condition that is painful in the human body, if even the smallest part of it is affected, be supposed to be painless in the deity? Now clearly the earth, being a part of the world, is also a part of god. Yet we see that vast portions of the earth's surface are uninhabitable deserts, being either scorched by the sun's proximity, or frost-bound and covered with snow owing to its extreme remoteness. But if the world is god, these, being parts of the world, must be regarded as limbs of god, undergoing the extremes of heat and cold respectively. 1.25. So much, Lucilius, for the doctrines of your school. To show what the older systems are like, I will trace their history from the remotest of your predecessors. Thales of Miletus, who was the first person to investigate these matters, said that water was the first principle of things, but that god was the mind that moulded all things out of water — supposing that gods can exist without sensation; and why did he make mind an adjunct of water, if mind can exist by itself, devoid of body? The view of Anaximander is that the gods are not everlasting but are born and perish at long intervals of time, and that they are worlds, countless in number. But how we conceive of god save as living for ever? 1.26. Next, Anaximenes held that air is god, and that it has a beginning in time, and is immeasurable and infinite in extent, and is always in motion; just as if formless air could be god, especially seeing that it is proper to god to possess not merely some shape but the most beautiful shape; or as if anything that has had a beginning must not necessarily be mortal. Then there is Anaxagoras, the successor of Anaximenes; he was the first thinker to hold that the orderly disposition of the universe is designed and perfected by the rational power of an infinite mind. But in saying this he failed to see that there can be no such thing as sentient and continuous activity in that which is infinite, and that sensation in general can only occur when the subject itself becomes sentient by the impact of a sensation. Further, if he intended his infinite mind to be a definite living creature, it must have some inner principle of life to justify the name. But mind is itself the innermost principle. Mind therefore will have an outer integument of body. 1.27. But this Anaxagoras will not allow; yet mind naked and simple, without any material adjunct to serve as an organ of sensation, seems to elude the capacity of our understanding. Alcmaeon of Croton, who attributed divinity to the sun, moon and other heavenly bodies, and also to the soul, did not perceive that he was bestowing immortality on things that are mortal. As for Pythagoras, who believed that the entire substance of the universe is penetrated and pervaded by a soul of which our souls are fragments, he failed to notice that this severance of the souls of men from the world-soul means the dismemberment and rending asunder of god; and that when their souls are unhappy, as happens to most men, then a portion of god is unhappy; which is impossible. 1.28. Again, if the soul of man is divine, why is it not omniscient? Moreover, if the Pythagorean god is pure soul, how is he implanted in, or diffused throughout, the world? Next, Xenophanes endowed the universe with mind, and held that, as being infinite, it was god. His view of mind is as open to objection as that of the rest; but on the subject of infinity he incurs still severer criticism, for the infinite can have no sensation and no contact with anything outside. As for Parmenides, he invents a purely fanciful something resembling a crown — stephanè is his name for it —, an unbroken ring of glowing lights, encircling the sky, which he entitles god; but no one can imagine this to possess divine form, or sensation. He also has many other portentous notions; he deifies war, strife, lust and the like, things which can be destroyed by disease or sleep or forgetfulness or lapse of time; and he also deifies the stars, but this has been criticized in another philosopher and need not be dealt with now in the case of Parmenides. 1.29. Empedocles again among many other blunders comes to grief most disgracefully in his theology. He assigns divinity to the four substances which in his system are the constituent elements of the universe, although manifestly these substances both come into and pass out of existence, and are entirely devoid of sensation. Protagoras also, who declares he has no clear views whatever about the gods, whether they exist or do not exist, or what they are like, seems to have no notion at all of the divine nature. Then in what a maze of error is Democritus involved, who at one moment ranks as gods his roving 'images,' at another the substance that emits and radiates these images, and at another again the scientific intelligence of man! At the same time his denial of immutability and therefore of eternity, to everything whatsoever surely involves a repudiation of deity so absolute as to leave no conception of a divine be remaining! Diogenes of Apollonia makes air a god; but how can air have sensation, or divinity in any shape? 1.30. The inconsistencies of Plato are a long story. In the Timaeus he says that it is impossible to name the father of this universe; and in the Laws he deprecates all inquiry into the nature of the deity. Again, he holds that god is entirely incorporeal (in Greek, asomatos); but divine incorporeity is inconceivable, for an incorporeal deity would necessarily be incapable of sensation, and also of practical wisdom, and of pleasure, all of which are attributes essential to our conception of deity. Yet both in the Timaeus and the Laws he says that the world, the sky, the stars, the earth and our souls are gods, in addition to those in whom we have been taught to believe; but it is obvious that these propositions are both inherently false and mutually destructive. 1.31. Xenophon also commits almost the same errors, though in fewer words; for in his memoir of the sayings of Socrates he represents Socrates as arguing that it is wrong to inquire about the form of god, but also as saying that both the sun and the soul are god, and as speaking at one moment of a single god and at another of several: utterances that involve almost the same mistakes as do those which we quoted from Plato. 1.32. Antisthenes also, in his book entitled The Natural Philosopher, says that while there are many gods of popular belief, there is one god in nature, so depriving divinity of all meaning or substance. Very similarly Speusippus, following his uncle Plato, and speaking of a certain force that governs all things and is endowed with life, does his best to root out the notion of deity from our minds altogether. 1.33. And Aristotle in the Third Book of his Philosophy has a great many confused notions, not disagreeing with the doctrines of his master Plato; at one moment he assigns divinity exclusively to the intellect, at another he says that the world is itself a god, then again he puts some other being over the world, and assigns to this being the rôle of regulating and sustaining the world-motion by means of a sort of inverse rotation; then he says that the celestial heat is god — not realizing that the heavens are a part of that world which elsewhere he himself has entitled god. But how could the divine consciousness which he assigns to the heavens persist in a state of such rapid motion? Where moreover are all the gods of accepted belief, if we count the heavens also as a god? Again, in maintaining that god is incorporeal, he robs him entirely of sensation, and also of wisdom. Moreover, how is motion possible for an incorporeal being, and how, if he is always in motion, can he enjoy tranquillity and bliss? 1.34. Nor was his fellow-pupil Xenocrates any wiser on this subject. His volumes On the Nature of the Gods give no intelligible account of the divine form; for he states that there are eight gods: five inhabiting the planets, and in a state of motion; one consisting of all the fixed stars, which are to be regarded as separate members constituting a single deity; seventh he adds the sun, and eighth the moon. But what sensation of bliss these things can enjoy it is impossible to conceive. Another member of the school of Plato, Heracleides of Pontus, filled volume after volume with childish fictions; at one moment he deems the world divine, at another the intellect; he also assigns divinity to the planets, and holds that the deity is devoid of sensation and mutable of form; and again in the same volume he reckons earth and sky as gods. 1.35. Theophrastus also is intolerably inconsistent; at one moment he assigns divine pre‑eminence to mind, at another to the heavens, and then again to the constellations and stars in the heavens. Nor is his pupil, Strato, surnamed the Natural Philosopher, worthy of attention; in his view the sole repository of divine power is nature, which contains in itself the causes of birth, growth and decay, but is entirely devoid of sensation and of form. 1.36. Lastly, Balbus, I come to your Stoic school. Zeno's view is that the law of nature is divine, and that its function is to command what is right and to forbid the opposite. How he makes out this law to be alive passes our comprehension; yet we undoubtedly expect god to be a living being. In another passage however Zeno declares that the aether is god — if there is any meaning in a god without sensation, a form of deity that never presents itself to us when we offer up our prayers and supplications and make our vows. And in other books again he holds the view that a 'reason' which pervades all nature is possessed of divine power. He likewise attributes the same powers to the stars, or at another time to the years, the months and the seasons. Again, in his interpretation of Hesiod's Theogony (or Origin of the Gods) he does away with the customary and received ideas of the gods altogether, for he does not reckon either Jupiter, Juno or Vesta as gods, or any being that bears a personal name, but teaches that these names have been assigned allegorically to dumb and lifeless things. 1.37. Zeno's pupil Aristo holds equally mistaken views. He thinks that the form of the deity cannot be comprehended, and he denies the gods sensation, and in fact is uncertain whether god is a living being at all. Cleanthes, who attended Zeno's lectures at the same time as the last-named, at one moment says that the world itself is god, at another gives this name to the mind and soul of the universe, and at another decides that the most unquestionable deity is that remote all‑surrounding fiery atmosphere called the aether, which encircles and embraces the universe on its outer side at an exceedingly lofty altitude; while in the books that he wrote to combat hedonism he babbles like one demented, now imagining gods of some definite shape and form, now assigning full divinity to the stars, now pronouncing that nothing is more divine than reason. The result is that the god whom we apprehend by our intelligence, and desire to make to correspond with a mental concept as a seal tallies with its impression, has utterly and entirely vanished. 1.38. Persaeus, another pupil of Zeno, says that men have deified those persons who have made some discovery of special utility for civilization, and that useful and health-giving things have themselves been called by divine names; he did not even say that they were discoveries of the gods, but speaks of them as actually divine. But what could be more ridiculous than to award divine honours to things mean and ugly, or to give the rank of gods to men now dead and gone, whose worship could only take the form of lamentation? 1.39. Chrysippus, who is deemed to be the most skilful interpreter of the Stoic dreams, musters an enormous mob of unknown gods — so utterly unknown that even imagination cannot guess at their form and nature, although our mind appears capable of visualizing anything; for he says that divine power resides in reason, and in the soul and mind of the universe; he calls the world itself a god, and also the all‑pervading world-soul, and again the guiding principle of that soul, which operates in the intellect and reason, and the common and all‑embracing nature of things; beside this, the fire that I previously termed aether; and also the power of Fate, and the Necessity that governs future events; and also all fluid and soluble substances, such as water, earth, air, the sun, moon and stars, and the all‑embracing unity of things; and even those human beings who have attained immortality. 1.40. He also argues that the god whom men call Jupiter is the aether, and that Neptune is the air which permeates the sea, and the goddess called Ceres the earth; and he deals in the same way with the whole series of the names of the other gods. He also identifies Jupiter with the mighty Law, everlasting and eternal, which is our guide of life and instructress in duty, and which he entitles Necessity or Fate, and the Everlasting Truth of future events; none of which conceptions is of such a nature as to be deemed to possess divinity. 1.41. This is what is contained in his Nature of the Gods, Book I. In Book II he aims at reconciling the myths of Orpheus, Musaeus, Hesiod and Homer with his own theology as enunciated in Book I, and so makes out that even the earliest poets of antiquity, who had no notion of these doctrines, were really Stoics. In this he is followed by Diogenes of Babylon, who in his book entitled Minerva rationalizes the myth of the birth of the virgin goddess from Jove by explaining it as an allegory of the processes of nature. 1.42. I have given a rough account of what are more like the dreams of madmen than the considered opinions of philosophers. For they are little less absurd than the outpourings of the poets, harmful as these have been owing to the mere charm of their style. The poets have represented the gods as inflamed by anger and maddened by lust, and have displayed to our gaze their wars and battles, their fights and wounds, their hatreds, enmities and quarrels, their births and deaths, their complaints and lamentations, the utter and unbridled licence of their passions, their adulteries and imprisonments, their unions with human beings and the birth of mortal progeny from an immortal parent. 1.43. With the errors of the poets may be classed the monstrous doctrines of the magi and the insane mythology of Egypt, and also the popular beliefs, which are a mere mass of inconsistencies sprung from ignorance. "Anyone pondering on the baseless and irrational character of these doctrines ought to regard Epicurus with reverence, and to rank him as one of the very gods about whom we are inquiring. For he alone perceived, first, that the gods exist, because nature herself has imprinted a conception of them on the minds of all mankind. For what nation or what tribe is there but possesses untaught some 'preconception' of the gods? Such notions Epicurus designates by the word prolepsis, that is, a sort of preconceived mental picture of a thing, without which nothing can be understood or investigated or discussed. The force and value of this argument we learn in that work of genius, Epicurus's Rule or Standard of Judgement. 1.44. You see therefore that the foundation (for such it is) of our inquiry has been well and truly laid. For the belief in the gods has not been established by authority, custom or law, but rests on the uimous and abiding consensus of mankind; their existence is therefore a necessary inference, since we possess an instinctive or rather an innate concept of them; but a belief which all men by nature share must necessarily be true; therefore it must be admitted that the gods exist. And since this truth is almost universally accepted not only among philosophers but also among the unlearned, we must admit it as also being an accepted truth that we possess a 'preconception,' as I called it above, or 'prior notion,' of the gods. (For we are bound to employ novel terms to denote novel ideas, just as Epicurus himself employed the word prolepsis in a sense in which no one had ever used it before.) 1.45. We have then a preconception of such a nature that we believe the gods to be blessed and immortal. For nature, which bestowed upon us an idea of the gods themselves, also engraved on our minds the belief that they are eternal and blessed. If this is so, the famous maxim of Epicurus truthfully enunciates that 'that which is blessed and eternal can neither know trouble itself nor cause trouble to another, and accordingly cannot feel either anger or favour, since all such things belong only to the weak.' "If we sought to attain nothing else beside piety in worshipping the gods and freedom from superstition, what has been said had sufficed; since the exalted nature of the gods, being both eternal and supremely blessed, would receive man's pious worship (for what is highest commands the reverence that is its due); and furthermore all fear of the divine power or divine anger would have been banished (since it is understood that anger and favour alike are excluded from the nature of a being at once blessed and immortal, and that these being eliminated we are menaced by no fears in regard to the powers above). But the mind strives to strengthen this belief by trying to discover the form of god, the mode of his activity, and the operation of his intelligence. 1.46. For the divine form we have the hints of nature supplemented by the teachings of reason. From nature all men of all races derive the notion of gods as having human shape and none other; for in what other shape do they ever appear to anyone, awake or asleep? But not to make primary concepts the sole test of all things, reason itself delivers the same pronouncement. 1.47. For it seems appropriate that the being who is the most exalted, whether by reason of his happiness or his eternity, should also be the most beautiful; but what disposition of the limbs, what cast of features, what shape or outline can be more beautiful than the human form? You Stoics at least, Lucilius, (for my friend Cotta says one thing at one time and another at another) are wont to portray the skill of the divine creator by enlarging on the beauty as well as the utility of design displayed in all parts of the human figure. 1.48. But if the human figure surpasses the form of all other living beings, and god is a living being, god must possess the shape which is the most beautiful of all; and since it is agreed that the gods are supremely happy, and no one can be happy without virtue, and virtue cannot exist without reason, and reason is only found in the human shape, it follows that the gods possess the form of man. 1.49. Yet their form is not corporeal, but only resembles bodily substance; it does not contain blood, but the semblance of blood. "These discoveries of Epicurus are so acute in themselves and so subtly expressed that not everyone would be capable of appreciating them. Still I may rely on your intelligence, and make my exposition briefer than the subject demands. Epicurus then, as he not merely discerns abstruse and recondite things with his mind's eye, but handles them as tangible realities, teaches that the substance and nature of the gods is such that, in the first place, it is perceived not by the senses but by the mind, and not materially or individually, like the solid objects which Epicurus in virtue of their substantiality entitles steremnia; but by our perceiving images owing to their similarity and succession, because an endless train of precisely similar images arises from the innumerable atoms and streams towards the gods, our minds with the keenest feelings of pleasure fixes its gaze on these images, and so attains an understanding of the nature of a being both blessed and eternal. 1.50. Moreover there is the supremely potent principle of infinity, which claims the closest and most careful study; we must understand that it has the following property, that in the sum of things everything has its exact match and counterpart. This property is termed by Epicurus isonomia, or the principle of uniform distribution. From this principle it follows that if the whole number of mortals be so many, there must exist no less a number of immortals, and if the causes of destruction are beyond count, the causes of conservation also are bound to be infinite. "You Stoics are also fond of asking us, Balbus, what is the mode of life of the gods and how they pass their days. 1.51. The answer is, their life is the happiest conceivable, and the one most bountifully furnished with all good things. God is entirely inactive and free from all ties of occupation; he toils not neither does he labour, but he takes delight in his own wisdom and virtue, and knows with absolute certainty that he will always enjoy pleasures at once consummate and everlasting. 1.52. This is the god whom we should call happy in the proper sense of the term; your Stoic god seems to us to be grievously overworked. If the world itself is god, what can be less restful than to revolve at incredible speed round the axis of the heavens without a single moment of respite? but repose is an essential condition of happiness. If on the other hand some god resides within the world as its governor and pilot, maintaining the courses of the stars, the changes of the seasons and all the ordered process of creation, and keeping a watch on land and sea to guard the interests and lives of men, why, what a bondage of irksome and laborious business is his! 1.53. We for our part deem happiness to consist in tranquillity of mind and entire exemption from all duties. For he who taught us all the rest has also taught us that the world was made by nature, without needing an artificer to construct it, and that the act of creation, which according to you cannot be performed without divine skill, is so easy, that nature will create, is creating and has created worlds without number. You on the contrary cannot see how nature can achieve all this without the aid of some intelligence, and so, like the tragic poets, being unable to bring the plot of your drama to a dénouement, you have recourse to a god; 1.54. whose intervention you assuredly would not require if you would but contemplate the measureless and boundless extent of space that stretches in every direction, into which when the mind projects and propels itself, it journeys onward far and wide without ever sighting any margin or ultimate point where it can stop. Well then, in this immensity of length and breadth and height there flits an infinite quantity of atoms innumerable, which though separated by void yet cohere together, and taking hold each of another form unions wherefrom are created those shapes and forms of things which you think cannot be created without the aid of bellows and anvils, and so have saddled us with an eternal master, whom day and night we are to fear; for who would not fear a prying busybody of a god, who foresees and thinks of and notices all things, and deems that everything is his concern? 1.55. An outcome of this theology was first of all your doctrine of Necessity or Fate, heimarmenē, as you termed it, the theory that every event is the result of an eternal truth and an unbroken sequence of causation. But what value can be assigned to a philosophy which thinks that everything happens by fate? it is a belief for old women, and ignorant old women at that. And next follows your doctrine of mantikē, or Divination, which would so steep us in superstition, if we consented to listen to you, that we should be the devotees of soothsayers, augurs, oracle-mongers, seers and interpreters of dreams. 1.56. But Epicurus has set us free from superstitious terrors and delivered us out of captivity, so that we have no fear of beings who, we know, create no trouble for themselves and seek to cause none to others, while we worship with pious reverence the transcendent majesty of nature. "But I fear that enthusiasm for my subject has made me prolix. It was difficult however to leave so vast and splendid a theme unfinished, although really it was not my business to be a speaker so much as a listener. 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. 1.62. But mark how generously I deal with you. I will not attack those tenets which are shared by your school with all other philosophers — for example the one in question, since almost all men, and I myself no less than any other, believe that the gods exist, and this accordingly I do not challenge. At the same time I doubt the adequacy of the argument which you adduce to prove it. You said that a sufficient reason for our admitting that the gods exist was the fact that all the nations and races of mankind believe it. But argument is both inconclusive and untrue. In the first place, how do you know what foreign races believe? For my part I think that there are many nations so uncivilized and barbarous as to have no notion of any gods at all. 1.63. Again, did not Diagoras, called the Atheist, and later Theodorus openly deny the divine existence? Since as for Protagoras of Abdera, the greatest sophist of that age, to whom you just now alluded, for beginning a book with the words 'About the gods I am unable to affirm either how they exist or how they do not exist,' he was sentenced by a decree of the Athenian assembly to be banished from the city and from the country, and to have his books burnt in the market-place: an example that I can well believe has discouraged many people since from professing atheism, since the mere expression of doubt did not succeed in escaping punishment. What are we to say about the men guilty of sacrilege or impiety or perjury? Suppose that ever Lucius Tubulus, Lupus or Carbo, or some son of Neptune, as Lucilius has it, had believed in the gods, would he have been such a perjurer and scoundrel? 1.65. I grant the existence of the gods: do you then teach me their origin, their dwelling-place, their bodily and spiritual nature, their mode of life; for these are the things which I want to know. In regard to all of them you make great play with the lawless domination of the atoms; from these you construct and create everything that comes upon the ground, as he says. Now in the first place, there are no such things as atoms. For there is nothing . . . incorporeal, but all space is filled with material bodies; hence there can be no such thing as void, and no such thing as an indivisible body. 1.69. This is a very common practice with your school. You advance a paradox, and then, when you want to escape censure, you adduce in support of it some absolute impossibility; so that you would have done better to abandon the point in dispute rather than to offer so shameless a defence. For instance, Epicurus saw that if the atoms travelled downwards by their own weight, we should have no freedom of the will, since the motion of the atoms would be determined by necessity. He therefore invented a device to escape from determinism (the point had apparently escaped the notice of Democritus): he said that the atom while travelling vertically downward by the force of gravity makes a very slight swerve to the side. 1.71. He does the same as regards the nature of the gods. In his desire to avoid the assumption of a dense cluster of atoms, which would involve the possibility of destruction and dissipation, he says that the gods have not a body but a semblance of body, and not blood but a semblance of blood. It is thought surprising that an augur can see an augur without smiling; but it is more surprising that you Epicureans keep a grave face when by yourselves. 'It is not body but a semblance of body.' I could understand what this supposition meant if it related to waxen images or figures of earthenware, but what 'a semblance of body' or 'a semblance of blood' may mean in the case of god, I cannot understand; nor can you either, Velleius, only you won't admit it. 1.72. The fact is that you people merely repeat by rote the idle vapourings that Epicurus uttered when half asleep; for, as we read in his writings, he boasted that he had never had a teacher. This I for my part could well believe, even if he did not proclaim it, just as I believe the owner of an ill‑built house when he boasts that he did not employ an architect! He shows not the faintest trace of the Academy or the Lyceum, or even of the ordinary schoolboy studies. He might have heard Xenocrates — by heaven, what a master! — and some people think that he did, but he himself denies it, and he ought to know! He states that he heard a certain Pamphilus, a pupil of Plato, at Samos (where he resided in his youth with his father and brother — his father Neocles had gone there to take up land, but failing to make a living out of his farm, I believe kept a school). 1.73. However Epicurus pours endless scorn on this Platonist, so afraid is he of appearing ever to have learnt anything from a teacher. He stands convicted in the case of Nausiphanes, a follower of Democritus, whom he does not deny he heard lecture, but whom nevertheless he assails with every sort of abuse. Yet if he had not heard from him these doctrines of Democritus, what had he heard? for what is there in Epicurus's natural philosophy that does not come from Democritus? Since even if he introduced some alterations, for instance the swerve of the atoms, of which I spoke just now, yet most of his system is the same, the atoms, the void, the images, the infinity of space, and the countless number of worlds, their births and their destructions, in fact almost everything that is comprised in natural science. 1.74. As to your formula 'a semblance of body' and 'a semblance of blood,' what meaning do you attach to it? That you have a better knowledge of the matter than I have I freely admit, and what is more, am quite content that this should be so; but once it is expressed in words, why should one of us be able to understand it and not the other? Well then, I do understand what body is and what blood is, but what 'a semblance of body' and 'a semblance of blood' are I don't understand in the very least. You are not trying to hide the truth from me, as Pythagoras used to hide it from strangers, nor yet are you speaking obscurely on purpose like Heraclitus, but (to speak candidly between ourselves) you don't understand it yourself any more than I do. 1.76. On this topic you are at no loss for arguments designed to prove that the gods have the form of men: first because our minds possess a preconceived notion of such a character that, when a man thinks of god, it is the human form that presents itself to him; secondly, because inasmuch as the divine nature surpasses all other things, the divine form also must needs be the most beautiful, and no form is more beautiful than that of man. The third reason you advance is that no other shape is capable of being the abode of intelligence. 1.77. Well then, take these arguments one by one and consider what they amount to; for in my view they based on an arbitrary and quite inadmissible assumption on your part. First of all, was there ever any student so blind as not to see that human shape has been thus assigned to the gods either by the deliberate contrivance of philosophers, the better to enable them to turn the hearts of the ignorant from vicious practices to the observance of religion, or by superstition, to supply images for men to worship in the belief that in so doing they had direct access to the divine presence? These notions moreover have been fostered by poets, painters and artificers, who found it difficult to represent living and active deities in the likeness of any other shape than that of man. Perhaps also man's belief in his own superior beauty, to which you referred, may have contributed to the result. But surely you as a natural philosopher are aware what an insinuating go‑between and pander of her own charms nature is! Do you suppose that there is a single creature on land or in the sea which does not prefer an animal of its own specie to any other? If this were not so, why should not a bull desire to couple with a mare, or a horse with a cow? Do you imagine that an eagle or lion or dolphin thinks any shape more beautiful than its own? Is it then surprising if nature has likewise taught man to think his own species the most beautiful . . . that this was a reason why we should think the gods resemble man? 1.78. Suppose animals possessed reason, do you not think that they would each assign pre‑eminence to their own species? For my part I protest (if I am to say what I think) that although I am not lacking in self-esteem yet I don't presume to call myself more beautiful than the famous bull on which Europa rode; for the question is not here of our intellectual and oratorical powers but of our outward form and aspect. Indeed if we choose to make imaginary combinations of shapes, would you not like to resemble the merman Triton who is depicted riding upon swimming monsters attached to his man's body? I am on ticklish ground here, for natural instinct is so strong that every man wishes to be like a man and nothing else. 1.79. Yes, and every ant like an ant! Still, the question is, like what man? How small a percentage of handsome people there are! When I was at Athens, there was scarcely one to be found in each platoon of the training-corps — I see why you smile, but the fact is all the same. Another point: we, who with the sanction of the philosophers of old are fond of the society of young men, often find even their defects agreeable. Alcaeus 'admires a mole upon his favourite's wrist'; of course a mole is a blemish, but Alcaeus thought it a beauty. Quintus Catulus, the father of our colleague and friend to‑day, was warmly attached to your fellow-townsman Roscius, and actually wrote the following verses in his honour: By chance abroad at dawn, I stood to pray To the uprising deity of day; When lo! upon my left — propitious sight — Suddenly Roscius dawned in radiance bright. Forgive me, heavenly pow'rs, if I declare, Meseem'd the mortal than the god more fair. To Catulus, Roscius was fairer than a god. As a matter of fact he had, as he has to‑day, a pronounced squint; but no matter — in the eyes of Catulus this in itself gave him piquancy and charm. 1.80. I return to the gods. Can we imagine any gods, I do not say as cross-eyed as Roscius, but with a slight cast? Can we picture any of them with a mole, a snub nose, protruding ears, prominent brows and too large a head — defects not unknown among us men —, or are they entirely free from personal blemishes? Suppose we grant you that, are we also to say that they are all exactly alike? If not, there will be degrees of beauty among them, and therefore a god can fall short of supreme beauty. If on the other hand they are all alike, then the Academic school must have a large following in heaven, since if there is no difference between one god and another, among the gods knowledge and perception must be impossible. 1.81. Furthermore, Velleius, what if your assumption, that when we think of god the only form that presents itself to us is that of a man, be entirely untrue? will you nevertheless continue to maintain your absurdities? Very likely we Romans do imagine god as you say, because from our childhood Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Neptune, Vulcan and Apollo have been known to us with the aspect with which painters and sculptors have chosen to represent them, and not with that aspect only, but having that equipment, age and dress. But they are not so known to the Egyptians or Syrians, or any almost of the uncivilized races. Among these you will find a belief in certain animals more firmly established than is reverence for the holiest sanctuaries and images of the gods with us. 1.82. For we have often seen temples robbed and images of gods carried off from the holiest shrines by our fellow-countrymen, but no one ever even heard of an Egyptian laying profane hands on a crocodile or ibis or cat. What therefore do you infer? that the Egyptians do not believe their sacred bull Apis to be a god? Precisely as much as you believe the Saviour Juno of your native place to be a goddess. You never see her even in your dreams unless equipped with goat-skin, spear, buckler and slippers turned up at the toe. Yet that is not the aspect of the Argive Juno, nor of the Roman. It follows that Juno has one form for the Argives, another for the people of Lanuvium, and another for us. And indeed our Jupiter of the Capitol is not the same as the Africans' Juppiter Ammon. 1.83. Should not the physical philosopher therefore, that is, the explorer and tracker-out of nature, be ashamed to go to minds besotted with habit for evidence of truth? On your principle it will be legitimate to assert that Jupiter always wears a beard and Apollo never, and that Minerva has grey eyes and Neptune blue. Yes, and at Athens there is a much-praised statue of Vulcan made by Alcamenes, a standing figure, draped, which displays a slight lameness, though not enough to be unsightly. We shall therefore deem god to be lame, since tradition represents Vulcan so. Tell me now, do we also make out the gods to have the same names as those by which they are known to us? 1.84. But in the first place the gods have as many names as mankind has languages. You are Velleius wherever you travel, but Vulcan has a different name in Italy, in Africa and in Spain. Again, the total number of names even in our pontifical books is not great, but there are gods innumerable. Are they without names? You Epicureans at all events are forced to say so, since what is the point of more names when they are all exactly alike? How delightful it would be, Velleius, if when you did not know a thing you would admit your ignorance, instead of uttering this drivel, which must make even your own gorge rise with disgust? Do you really believe that god resembles me, or yourself? of course you do not. "What then? Am I to say that the sun is a god, or the moon, or the sky? If so, we must also say that it is happy; but what forms of enjoyment constitute its happiness? and wise; but how can wisdom reside in a senseless bulk like that? These are arguments employed by your own school. 1.85. Well then, if the gods do not possess the appearance of men, as I have proved, nor some such form as that of the heavenly bodies, as you are convinced, why do you hesitate to deny their existence? You do not dare to. Well, that is no doubt wise — although in this matter it is not the public that you fear, but the gods themselves: I personally am acquainted with Epicureans who worship every paltry image, albeit I am aware that according to some people's view Epicurus really abolished the gods, but nominally retained them in order not to offend the people of Athens. Thus the first of his selected aphorisms or maxims, which you call the Kyriai Doxai, runs, I believe, thus: That which is blessed and immortal neither experiences trouble nor causes it to anyone. Now there are people who think that the wording of this maxim was intentional, though really it was due to the author's inability to express himself clearly; their suspicion does an injustice to the most guileless of mankind. 1.86. It is in fact doubtful whether he means that there is a blessed and immortal being, or that, if there is, that being is such as he describes. They fail to notice that although his language is ambiguous here, yet in many other places both he and Metrodorus speak as plainly as you yourself did just now. Epicurus however does actually think that the gods exist, nor have I ever met anybody more afraid than he was of those things which he says are not terrible at all, I mean death and the gods. Terrors that do not very seriously alarm ordinary people, according to Epicurus haunt the minds of all mortal men: so many thousands commit brigandage, for which the penalty is death, and other men rob temples whenever they have the chance; I suppose the former are haunted by the fear of death and the latter by the terrors of religion! 1.87. But as you have not the courage (for I will now address myself to Epicurus in person) to deny that the gods exist, what should hinder you from reckoning as divine the sun, or the world, or some form of ever-living intelligence? 'I have never seen a mind endowed with reason and with purpose,' he replies, 'that was embodied in any but a human form.' Well, but have you ever seen anything like the sun or the moon or the five planets? The sun, limiting his motion by the two extreme points of one orbit, completes his courses yearly. The moon, lit by the sun's rays, achieves this solar path in the space of a month. The five planets, holding the same orbit, but some nearer to and others farther from the earth, from the same starting-points complete the same distances in different periods of time. 1.88. Now, Epicurus, have you ever seen anything like this? Well, then, let us deny the existence of the sun, moon and planets, inasmuch as nothing can exist save that which we have touched or seen. And what of god himself? You have never seen him, have you? Why then do you believe in his existence? On this principle we must sweep aside everything unusual of which history or science informs us. The next thing would be for inland races to refuse to believe in the existence of the sea. How can such narrowness of mind be possible? It follows that, if you had been born in Seriphus and had never left the island, where you had been used to seeing nothing larger than hares and foxes, when lions and panthers were described to you, you would refuse to believe in their existence; and if somebody told you about an elephant, you would actually think that he was making fun of you! 1.92. Did you think they were all out of their minds because they pronounced that god can exist without hands or feet? Does not even a consideration of the adaptation of man's limbs to their functions convince you that the gods do not require human limbs? What need is there for feet without walking, or for hands if nothing has to be grasped, or for the rest of the list of the various parts of the body, in which nothing is useless, nothing without a reason, nothing superfluous, so that no art can imitate the cunning of nature's handiwork? It seems then that god will have a tongue, and will not speak; teeth, a palate, a throat, for no use; the organs that nature has attached to the body for the purpose of procreation — these god will possess, but to no purpose; and not only the external but also the internal organs, the heart, lungs, liver and the rest, which if they are not useful are assuredly not beautiful — since your school holds that god possesses bodily parts because of their beauty. 1.93. Was it dreams like these that not only encouraged Epicurus and Metrodorus and Hermarchus to contradict Pythagoras, Plato and Empedocles, but actually emboldened a loose woman like Leontium to write a book refuting Theophrastus? Her style no doubt is the neatest of Attic, but all the same! — such was the licence that prevailed in the Garden of Epicurus. And yet you are touchy yourselves, indeed Zeno actually used to invoke the law. I need not mention Albucius. As for Phaedrus, though he was the most refined and courteous of old gentlemen, he used to lose his temper if I spoke too harshly; although Epicurus attacked Aristotle in the most insulting manner, abused Socrates' pupil Phaedo quite outrageously, devoted whole volumes to an onslaught on Timocrates, the brother of his own associate Metrodorus, for differing from him on some point or other of philosophy, showed no gratitude toward Democritus himself, whose system he adopted, and treated so badly his own master Nausiphanes, from whom he had learnt a considerable amount. As for Zeno, he aimed the shafts of his abuse not only at his contemporaries, Apollodorus, Silus and the rest, but Socrates himself, the father of philosophy, he declared to have been the Attic equivalent of our Roman buffoons; and he always alluded to Chrysippus in the feminine gender. 1.94. You yourself just now, when reeling off the list of philosophers like the censor calling the roll of the Senate, said that all those eminent men were fools, idiots and madmen. But if none of these discerned the truth about the divine nature, it is to be feared that the divine nature is entirely non‑existent. "For as for your school's account of the matter, it is the merest fairy-story, hardly worthy of old wives at work by lamplight. You don't perceive what a number of things you are let in for, if we consent to admit that men and gods have the same form. You will have to assign to god exactly the same physical exercises and care of the person as are proper to men: he will walk, run, recline, bend, sit, hold things in the hand, and lastly even converse and make speeches. 1.95. As for your saying that the gods are male and female, well, you must see what the consequence of that will be. For my part, I am at a loss to imagine how your great founder arrived at such notions. All the same you never cease vociferating that we must on no account relinquish the divine happiness and immortality. But what prevents god from being happy without having two legs? and why cannot your 'beatitude' or 'beatity,' whichever form we are to use — and either is certainly a hard mouthful, but words have to be softened by use — but whatever it is, why can it not apply to the sun yonder, or to this world of ours, or to some eternal intelligence devoid of bodily shape and members? 1.96. Your only answer is: 'I have never seen a happy sun or world.' Well, but have you ever seen any other world but this one? No, you will reply. Then why did you venture to assert the existence of, not thousands and thousands, but a countless number of worlds? 'That is what reason teaches.' Then will not reason teach you that when we seek to find a being who shall be supremely excellent, and happy and eternal as well — and nothing else constitutes divinity —, even as that being will surpass us in immortality, so also will it surpass us in mental excellence, and even as in mental excellence, so also in bodily. Why then, if we are inferior to god in all else, are we his equals in form? for man came nearer to the divine image in virtue than in outward aspect. 1.97. [Can you mention anything so childish (to press the same point still further) as to deny the existence of the various species of huge animals that grow in the Red Sea or in India? Yet not even the most diligent investigators could possibly collect information about all the vast multitude of creatures that exist on land and in the sea, the marshes and the rivers: the existence of which we are to deny, because we have never seen them!] "Then take your favourite argument from resemblance: how utterly pointless it really is! Why, does not a dog resemble a wolf? — and, to quote Ennius, How like us is that ugly brute, the ape! — but the two differ in habits. The elephant is the wisest of beasts, but the most ungainly in shape. 1.100. Then you censured those who argued from the splendour and the beauty of creation, and who, observing the world itself, and the parts of the world, the sky and earth and sea, and the sun, moon and stars that adorn them, and discovering the laws of the seasons and their periodic successions, conjectured that there must exist some supreme and transcendent being who had created these things, and who imparted motion to them and guided and governed them. Though this guess may be wide of the mark, I can see what they are after; but as for you, what mighty masterpiece pray do you adduce as apparently the creation of divine intelligence, leading you to conjecture that gods exist? 'We have an idea of god implanted in our minds,' you say. Yes, and an idea of Jupiter with a beard, and Minerva in a helmet; but do you therefore believe that those deities are really like that? 1.101. The unlearned multitude are surely wiser here — they assign to god not only a man's limbs, but the use of those limbs. For they give him bow, arrows, spear, shield, trident, thunderbolt; and if they cannot see what actions the gods perform, yet they cannot conceive of god as entirely inactive. Even the Egyptians, whom we laugh at, deified animals solely on the score of some utility which they derived from them; for instance, the ibis, being a tall bird with stiff legs and a long horny beak, destroys a great quantity of snakes: it protects Egypt from plague, by killing and eating the flying serpents that are brought from the Libyan desert by the south-west wind, and so preventing them from harming the natives by their bite while alive and their stench when dead. I might describe the utility of the ichneumon, the crocodile and the cat, but I do not wish to be tedious. I will make my point thus: these animals are at all events deified by the barbarians for the benefits which they confer, but your gods not only do no service you can point to, but they don't do anything at all. 1.104. About your deity therefore I want to know, first, where he dwells; secondly, what motive he has for moving in space, that is, if he ever does so move; thirdly, it being a special characteristic of animate beings to desire some end that is appropriate their nature, what is the thing that god desires; fourthly, upon what subject does he employ his mental activity and reason; and lastly, how is he happy, and how eternal? For whichever of these questions you raise, you touch a tender spot. An argument based on such insecure premisses can come to no valid conclusion. 1.105. Your assertion was that the form of god is perceived by thought and not by the senses, that it has no solidity nor numerical persistence, and that our perception of it is such that it is seen owing to similarity and succession, a never-ceasing stream of similar forms arriving continually from the infinite number of atoms, and that thus it results that our mind, when its attention is fixed on these forms, conceives the divine nature to be happy and eternal. Now in the name of the very gods about whom we are talking, what can possibly be the meaning of this? If the gods only appeal to the faculty of thought, and have no solidity or definite outline, what difference does it make whether we think of a god or of a hippocentaur? Such mental pictures are called by all other philosophers mere empty imaginations, but you say they are the arrival and entrance into our minds of certain images. 1.107. Suppose that there are such images constantly impinging on our minds: but that is only the presentation of a certain form — surely not also of a reason for supposing that this form is happy and eternal? "But what is the nature of these images of yours, and whence do they arise? This extravagance, it is true, is borrowed from Democritus; but he has been widely criticized, nor can you find a satisfactory explanation, and the whole affair is a lame and impotent business. For how can be more improbable than that images of Homer, Archilochus, Romulus, Numa, Pythagoras and Plato should impinge on me at all — much less that they should do so in the actual shape that those men really bore? How then do these images arise? and of whom are they the images? Aristotle tells us that the poet Orpheus never existed, and the Pythagoreans say that the Orphic poem which we possess was the work of a certain Cecrops; yet Orpheus, that is, according to you, the image of him, often comes into my mind. 1.109. And how extravagantly! There is a constant passage or stream of visual presentations which collectively produce a single visual impression. I should be ashamed to say that I do not understand the doctrine, if you who maintain it understood it yourselves! How can you prove that the stream of images is continuous, or if it is, how are the images eternal? You say that there is an innumerable supply of atoms. Are you going to argue then that everything is eternal, for the same reason? You take refuge in the principle of 'equilibrium' (for so with your consent we will translate isonomia), and you say that because there is mortal substance there must also be immortal substance. On that showing, because there are mortal men, there are also some that are immortal, and because there are men born on land, there are men born in the water. 'And because there are forces of destruction, there are also forces of preservation.' Suppose there were, they would only preserve things that already exist; but I am not aware that your gods do exist. 1.111. In what then does his life consist? 'In a constant succession of things good,' you reply, 'without any admixture of evils.' Things good — what things? Pleasures, I suppose — that is, of course, pleasures of the body, for your school recognizes no pleasures of the mind that do not arise from and come back to the body. I don't suppose that you, Velleius, are like the rest of the Epicureans, who are ashamed of certain utterances of Epicurus, in which he protests that he cannot conceive any good that is unconnected with the pleasures of the voluptuary and the sensualist, pleasures which in fact he proceeds without a blush to enumerate by name. 1.112. Well then, what viands and beverages, what harmonies of music and flowers of various hue, what delights of touch and smell will you assign to the gods, so as to keep them steeped in pleasure? The poets array banquets of nectar and ambrosia, with Hebe or Ganymede in attendance as cup‑bearer; but what will you do, Epicurean? I don't see either where your god is to procure these delights or how he is to enjoy them. It appears then that mankind is more bountifully equipped for happiness than is the deity, since man can experience a wider range of pleasures. 1.114. 'But they are free from pain.' Does that satisfy the ideal of perfect bliss, overflowing with good things? 'God is engaged (they say) in ceaseless contemplation of his own happiness, for he has no other object for his thoughts.' I beg of you to realize in your imagination a vivid picture of a deity solely occupied for all eternity in reflecting 'What a good time I am having! How happy I am!' And yet I can't see how this happy god of yours is not to fear destruction, since he is subjected without a moment's respite to the buffeting and jostling of a horde of atoms that eternally assail him, while from his own person a ceaseless stream of images is given off. Your god is therefore neither happy nor eternal. 1.116. 'But deity possesses an excellence and pre‑eminence which must of its own nature attract the worship of the wise.' Now how can there be any excellence in a being so engrossed in the delights of his own pleasure that he always has been, is, and will continue to be entirely idle and inactive? Furthermore how can you owe piety to a person who has bestowed nothing upon you? or how can you owe anything at all to one who has done you no service? Piety is justice towards the gods; but how can any claims of justice exist between us and them, if god and man have nothing in common? Holiness is the science of divine worship; but I fail to see why the gods should be worshipped if we neither have received nor hope to receive benefit from them. 1.117. On the other hand what reason is there for adoring the gods on the ground of our admiration for the divine nature, if we cannot see that that nature possesses any special excellence? "As for freedom from superstition, which is the favourite boast of your school, that is easy to attain when you have deprived the gods of all power; unless perchance you think that it was possible for Diagoras or Theodorus to be superstitious, who denied the existence of the gods altogether. For my part, I don't see how it was possible even for Protagoras, who was not certain either that the gods exist or that they do not. For the doctrines of all these thinkers abolish not only superstition, which implies a groundless fear of the gods, but also religion, which consists in piously worshipping them. 1.118. Take again those who have asserted that the entire notion of the immortal gods is a fiction invented by wise men in the interest of the state, to the end that those whom reason was powerless to control might be led in the path of duty by religion; surely this view was absolutely and entirely destructive of religion. Or Prodicus of Ceos,',WIDTH,)" onmouseout="nd();"º who said that the gods were personifications of things beneficial to the life of man — pray what religion was left by his theory? 1.119. Or those who teach that brave or famous or powerful men have been deified after death, and that it is these who are the real objects of the worship, prayers and adoration which we are accustomed to offer — are not they entirely devoid of all sense of religion? This theory was chiefly developed by Euhemerus, who was translated and imitated especially by our poet Ennius. Yet Euhemerus describes the death and burial of certain gods; are we then to think of him as upholding religion, or rather as utterly and entirely destroying it? I say nothing of the holy and awe‑inspiring sanctuary of Eleusis, Where tribes from earth's remotest confines seek Initiation, and I pass over Samothrace and those occult mysteries Which throngs of worshippers at dead of night In forest coverts deep do celebrate at Lemnos, since such mysteries when interpreted and rationalized prove to have more to do with natural science than with theology. 1.120. For my own part I believe that even that very eminent man Democritus, the fountain-head from which Epicurus derived the streams that watered his little garden, has no fixed opinion about the nature of the gods. At one moment he holds the view that the universe includes images endowed with divinity; at another he says that there exist in this same universe the elements from which the mind is compounded, and that these are gods; at another, that they are animate images, which are wont to exercise a beneficent or harmful influence over us; and again that they are certain vast images of such a size as to envelop and enfold the entire world. All these fancies are more worthy of Democritus's native city than of himself; 1.121. for who could form a mental picture of such images? who could adore them and deem them worthy of worship or reverence? "Epicurus however, in abolishing divine beneficence and divine benevolence, uprooted and exterminated all religion from the human heart. For while asserting the supreme goodness and excellence of the divine nature, he yet denies to god the attribute of benevolence — that is to say, he does away with that which is the most essential element of supreme goodness and excellence. For what can be better or more excellent than kindness and beneficence? Make out god to be devoid of either, and you make him devoid of all love, affection or esteem for any other being, human or divine. It follows not merely that the gods do not care for mankind, but that they have no care for one another. How much more truth there is in the Stoics, whom you censure! They hold that all wise men are friends, even when strangers to each other, since nothing is more lovable than virtue, and he that attains to it will have our esteem in whatever country he dwells. 1.123. Epicurus is making fun of us, though he is not so much a humorist as a loose and careless writer. For how can holiness exist if the gods pay no heed to man's affairs? Yet what is the meaning of an animate being that pays no heed to anything? "It is doubtless therefore truer to say, as the good friend of us all, Posidonius, argued in the fifth book of his On the Nature of the Gods, that Epicurus does not really believe in the gods at all, and that he said what he did about the immortal gods only for the sake of deprecating popular odium. Indeed he could not have been so senseless as really to imagine god to be like a feeble human being, but resembling him only in outline and surface, not in solid substance, and possessing all man's limbs but entirely incapable of using them, an emaciated and transparent being, showing no kindness or beneficence to anybody, caring for nothing and doing nothing at all. In the first place, a being of this nature is an absolute impossibility, and Epicurus was aware of this, and so actually abolishes the gods, although professedly retaining them. 2.3. Even if I had any clear view, I should still prefer to hear you speak in your turn, now that I have said so much myself." "Well," replied Balbus, "I will yield to your wish; and I shall be as brief as I can, for indeed when the errors of Epicurus have been refuted, my argument is robbed of all occasion for prolixity. To take a general view, the topic of the immortal gods which you raise is divided by our school into four parts: first they prove that the gods exist; next they explain their nature; then they show that the world is governed by them; and lastly that they care for the fortunes of mankind. In our present discourse however let us take the first two of these heads; the third and fourth, being questions of greater magnitude, had better I think be put off to another time." "No, no," cried Cotta, "we are at leisure now, and moreover the subjects which we are discussing might fitly claim precedence even of matters of business. 2.58. the nature of the world itself, which encloses and contains all things in its embrace, is styled by Zeno not merely 'craftsmanlike' but actually 'a craftsman,' whose foresight plans out the work to serve its use and purpose in every detail. And as the other natural substances are generated, reared and sustained each by its own seeds, so the world-nature experiences all those motions of the will, those impulses of conation and desire, that the Greeks call hormae, and follows these up with the appropriate actions in the same way as do we ourselves, who experience emotions and sensations. Such being the nature of the world-mind, it can therefore correctly be designated as prudence or providence (for in Greek it is termed pronoia); and this providence is chiefly directed and concentrated upon three objects, namely to secure for the world, first, the structure best fitted for survival; next, absolute completeness; but chiefly, consummate beauty and embellishment of every kind. 2.148. it is by collating and comparing our precepts that we also create the arts that serve either practical necessities or the purpose of amusement. Then take the gift of speech, the queen of arts as you are fond of calling it — what a glorious, what a divine faculty it is! In the first place it enables us both to learn things we do not know and to teach things we do know to others; secondly it is our instrument for exhortation and persuasion, for consoling the afflicted and assuaging the fears of the terrified, for curbing passion and quenching appetite and anger; it is this that has united us in the bonds of justice, law and civil order, this that has sped us from savagery and barbarism. 3.26. no definition is given of the meaning of 'superior' and 'more excellent,' or of the distinction between nature and reason. Chrysippus furthermore declares that, if there be no gods, the natural universe contains nothing superior to man; but for any man to think that there is nothing superior to man he deems to be the height of arrogance. Let us grant that it is a mark of arrogance to value oneself more highly than the world; but not merely is it not a mark of arrogance, rather is it a mark of wisdom, to realize that one is a conscious and rational being, and that Orion and Canicula are not. Again, he says 'If we saw a handsome mansion, we should infer that it was built for its masters and not for mice; so therefore we must deem the world to be the mansion of the gods.' Assuredly I should so deem it if I thought it had been built like a house, and not constructed by nature, as I shall show that it was. 3.68. Medea was criminal, but also she was perfectly rational. Again, does not the hero plotting the direful banquet for his brother turn the design this way and that in his thoughts? More must I moil and bigger bale must brew, Whereby to quell and crush his cruel heart. Nor must we pass over Thyestes himself, who Was not content to tempt my wife to sin — an offence of which Atreus speaks correctly and with perfect truth — the which I deem the height of peril In matters of high state, if royal mothers Shall be debauched, the royal blood corrupted, The lineage mixed. But how craftily this very crime is plotted by his brother, employing adultery as a means to gain the throne: Thereto withal (says Atreus) the heavenly sire did send me A warning portent, to confirm my reign — A lamb, conspicuous among the flock With fleece of gold, Thyestes once did dare To steal from out my palace, and in this deed My consort did suborn as his accomplice.
10. Cicero, On Duties, 1.15, 1.47-1.54, 3.69 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.15. Formam quidem ipsam, Marce fili, et tamquam faciem honesti vides, quae si oculis cerneretur, mirabiles amores, ut ait Plato, excitaret sapientiae. Sed omne, quod est honestum, id quattuor partium oritur ex aliqua: aut enim in perspicientia veri sollertiaque versatur aut in hominum societate tuenda tribuendoque suum cuique et rerum contractarum fide aut in animi excelsi atque invicti magnitudine ac robore aut in omnium, quae fiunt quaeque dicuntur, ordine et modo, in quo inest modestia et temperantia. Quae quattuor quamquam inter se colligata atque implicata sunt, tamen ex singulis certa officiorum genera nascuntur, velut ex ea parte, quae prima discripta est, in qua sapientiam et prudentiam ponimus, inest indagatio atque inventio veri, eiusque virtutis hoc munus est proprium. 1.47. De benivolentia autem, quam quisque habeat erga nos, primum illud est in officio, ut ei plurimum tribuamus, a quo plurimum diligamur, sed benivolentiam non adulescentulorum more ardore quodam amoris, sed stabilitate potius et constantia iudicemus. Sin erunt merita, ut non ineunda, sed referenda sit gratia, maior quaedam cura adhibenda est; nullum enim officium referenda gratia magis necessarium est. 1.48. Quodsi ea, quae utenda acceperis, maiore mensura, si modo possis, iubet reddere Hesiodus, quidnam beneficio provocati facere debemus? an imitari agros fertiles, qui multo plus efferunt quam acceperunt? Etenim si in eos, quos speramus nobis profuturos, non dubitamus officia conferre, quales in eos esse debemus, qui iam profuerunt? Nam cum duo genera liberalitatis sint, unum dandi beneficii, alterum reddendi, demus necne, in nostra potestate est, non reddere viro bono non licet, modo id facere possit sine iniuria. 1.49. Acceptorum autem beneficiorum sunt dilectus habendi, nec dubium, quin maximo cuique plurimum debeatur. In quo tamen in primis, quo quisque animo, studio, benivolentia fecerit, ponderandum est. Multi enim faciunt multa temeritate quadam sine iudicio vel morbo in omnes vel repentino quodam quasi vento impetu animi incitati; quae beneficia aeque magna non sunt habenda atque ea, quae iudicio, considerate constanterque delata sunt. Sed in collocando beneficio et in referenda gratia, si cetera paria sunt, hoc maxime officii est, ut quisque maxime opis indigeat, ita ei potissimum opitulari; quod contra fit a plerisque; a quo enim plurimum sperant, etiamsi ille iis non eget, tamen ei potissimum inserviunt. 1.50. Optime autem societas hominum coniunctioque servabitur, si, ut quisque erit coniunctissimus, ita in eum benignitatis plurimum conferetur. Sed, quae naturae principia sint communitatis et societatis humanae, repetendum videtur altius; est enim primum, quod cernitur in universi generis humani societate. Eius autem vinculum est ratio et oratio, quae docendo, discendo, communicando, disceptando, iudicando conciliat inter se homines coniungitque naturali quadam societate; neque ulla re longius absumus a natura ferarum, in quibus inesse fortitudinem saepe dicimus, ut in equis, in leonibus, iustitiam, aequitatem, bonitatem non dicimus; sunt enim rationis et orationis expertes. 1.51. Ac latissime quidem patens hominibus inter ipsos, omnibus inter omnes societas haec est; in qua omnium rerum, quas ad communem hominum usum natura genuit, est servanda communitas, ut, quae discripta sunt legibus et iure civili, haec ita teneantur, ut sit constitutum legibus ipsis, cetera sic observentur, ut in Graecorum proverbio est, amicorum esse communia omnia. Omnium autem communia hominum videntur ea, quae sunt generis eius, quod ab Ennio positum in una re transferri in permultas potest: Homó, qui erranti cómiter monstrát viam, Quasi lúmen de suo lúmine accendát, facit. Nihiló minus ipsi lúcet, cum illi accénderit. Una ex re satis praecipit, ut, quicquid sine detrimento commodari possit, id tribuatur vel ignoto; 1.52. ex quo sunt illa communia: non prohibere aqua profluente, pati ab igne ignem capere, si qui velit, consilium fidele deliberanti dare, quae sunt iis utilia, qui accipiunt, danti non molesta. Quare et his utendum est et semper aliquid ad communem utilitatem afferendum. Sed quoniam copiae parvae singulorum sunt, eorum autem, qui his egeant, infinita est multitudo, vulgaris liberalitas referenda est ad illum Ennii finem: Nihilo minus ipsi lucet, ut facultas sit, qua in nostros simus liberales. 1.53. Gradus autem plures sunt societatis hominum. Ut enim ab illa infinita discedatur, propior est eiusdem gentis, nationis, linguae, qua maxime homines coniunguntur; interius etiam est eiusdem esse civitatis; multa enim sunt civibus inter se communia, forum, fana, porticus, viae, leges, iura: iudicia, suffragia, consuetudines praeterea et familiaritates multisque cum multis res rationesque contractae. Artior vero colligatio est societatis propinquorum; ab illa enim immensa societate humani generis in exiguum angustumque concluditur. 1.54. Nam cum sit hoc natura commune animantium, ut habeant libidinem procreandi, prima societas in ipso coniugio est, proxima in liberis, deinde una domus, communia omnia; id autem est principium urbis et quasi seminarium rei publicae. Sequuntur fratrum coniunctiones, post consobrinorum sobrinorumque, qui cum una domo iam capi non possint, in alias domos tamquam in colonias exeunt. Sequuntur conubia et affinitates, ex quibus etiam plures propinqui; quae propagatio et suboles origo est rerum publicarum. Sanguinis autem coniunctio et benivolentia devincit homines et caritate; 3.69. Hoc quamquam video propter depravationem consuetudinis neque more turpe haberi neque aut lege sanciri aut iure civili, tamen naturae lege sanctum est. Societas est enim (quod etsi saepe dictum est, dicendum est tamen saepius), latissime quidem quae pateat, omnium inter omnes, interior eorum, qui eiusdem gentis sint, propior eorum, qui eiusdem civitatis. Itaque maiores aliud ius gentium, aliud ius civile esse voluerunt; quod civile, non idem continuo gentium, quod autem gentium, idem civile esse debet. Sed nos veri iuris germanaeque iustitiae solidam et expressam effigiem nullam tenemus, umbra et imaginibus utimur. Eas ipsas utinam sequeremur! feruntur enim ex optimis naturae et veritatis exemplis. 1.47.  But as to the affection which anyone may have for us, it is the first demand of duty that we do most for him who loves us most; but we should measure affection, not like youngsters, by the ardour of its passion, but rather by its strength and constancy. But if there shall be obligations already incurred, so that kindness is not to begin with us, but to be requited, still greater diligence, it seems, is called for; for no duty is more imperative that that of proving one's gratitude. 1.48.  But if, as Hesiod bids, one is to repay with interest, if possible, what one has borrowed in time of need, what, pray, ought we to do when challenged by an unsought kindness? Shall we not imitate the fruitful fields, which return more than they receive? For if we do not hesitate to confer favours upon those who we hope will be of help to us, how ought we to deal with those who have already helped us? For generosity is of two kinds: doing a kindness and requiting one. Whether we do the kindness or not is optional; but to fail to requite one is not allowable to a good man, provided he can make the requital without violating the rights of others. 1.49.  Furthermore, we must make some discrimination between favours received; for, as a matter of course the greater the favour, the greater is the obligation. But in deciding this we must above all give due weight to the spirit, the devotion, the affection that prompted the favour. For many people often do favours impulsively for everybody without discrimination, prompted by a morbid sort of benevolence or by a sudden impulse of the heart, shifting the wind. Such acts of generosity are not to be so highly esteemed as those which are performed with judgment, deliberation, and mature consideration. But in bestowing a kindness, as well as in making a requital, the first rule of duty requires us — other things being equal — to lend assistance preferably to people in proportion to their individual need. Most people adopt the contrary course: they put themselves most eagerly at the service of the one from whom they hope to receive the greatest favours even though he has no need of their help. 1.50.  The interests of society, however, and its common bonds will be best conserved, if kindness be shown to each individual in proportion to the closeness of his relationship. But it seems we must trace back to their ultimate sources the principles of fellowship and society that Nature has established among men. The first principle is that which is found in the connection subsisting between all the members of the human race; and that bond of connection is reason and speech, which by the processes of teaching and learning, of communicating, discussing, and reasoning associate men together and unite them in a sort of natural fraternity. In no other particular are we farther removed from the nature of beasts; for we admit that they may have courage (horses and lions, for example); but we do not admit that they have justice, equity, and goodness; for they are not endowed with reason or speech. 1.51.  This, then, is the most comprehensive bond that unites together men as men and all to all; and under it the common right to all things that Nature has produced for the common use of man is to be maintained, with the understanding that, while everything assigned as private property by the statutes and by civil law shall be so held as prescribed by those same laws, everything else shall be regarded in the light indicated by the Greek proverb: "Amongst friends all things in common." Furthermore, we find the common property of all men in things of the sort defined by Ennius; and, though restricted by him to one instance, the principle may be applied very generally: "Who kindly sets a wand'rer on his way Does e'en as if he lit another's lamp by his: No less shines his, when he his friend's hath lit." In this example he effectively teaches us all to bestow even upon a stranger what it costs us nothing to give. 1.52.  On this principle we have the following maxims:"Deny no one the water that flows by;" "Let anyone who will take fire from our fire;" "Honest counsel give to one who is in doubt;" for such acts are useful to the recipient and cause the giver no loss. We should, therefore, adopt these principles and always be contributing something to the common weal. But since the resources of individuals are limited and the number of the needy is infinite, this spirit of universal liberality must be regulated according to that test of Ennius — "No less shines his" — in order that we may continue to have the means for being generous to our friends. 1.53.  Then, too, there are a great many degrees of closeness or remoteness in human society. To proceed beyond the universal bond of our common humanity, there is the closer one of belonging to the same people, tribe, and tongue, by which men are very closely bound together; it is a still closer relation to be citizens of the same city-state; for fellow-citizens have much in common — forum, temples colonnades, streets, statutes, laws, courts, rights of suffrage, to say nothing of social and friendly circles and diverse business relations with many. But a still closer social union exists between kindred. Starting with that infinite bond of union of the human race in general, the conception is now confined to a small and narrow circle. 1.54.  For since the reproductive instinct is by Nature's gift the common possession of all living creatures, the first bond of union is that between husband and wife; the next, that between parents and children; then we find one home, with everything in common. And this is the foundation of civil government, the nursery, as it were, of the state. Then follow the bonds between brothers and sisters, and next those of first and then of second cousins; and when they can no longer be sheltered under one roof, they go out into other homes, as into colonies. Then follow between these in turn, marriages and connections by marriage, and from these again a new stock of relations; and from this propagation and after-growth states have their beginnings. The bonds of common blood hold men fast through good-will and affection; 3.69.  Owing to the low ebb of public sentiment, such a method of procedure, I find, is neither by custom accounted morally wrong nor forbidden either by statute or by civil law; nevertheless it is forbidden by the moral law. For there is a bond of fellowship — although I have often made this statement, I must still repeat it again and again — which has the very widest application, uniting all men together and each to each. This bond of union is closer between those who belong to the same nation, and more intimate still between those who are citizens of the same city-state. It is for this reason that our forefathers chose to understand one thing by the universal law and another by the civil law. The civil law is not necessarily also the universal law; but the universal law ought to be also the civil law. But we possess no substantial, life-like image of true Law and genuine Justice; a mere outline sketch is all that we enjoy. I only wish that we were true even to this; for, even as it is, it is drawn from the excellent models which Nature and Truth afford.
11. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, 1.57-1.58 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.57. Habet primum memoriam, et eam infinitam rerum innumerabilium. quam Men. 81 e sqq. quidem Plato Quam quidem Plato cf. 247, 4 Ego autem recordationem esse volt vitae superioris. nam in illo libro, qui inscribitur Menon, meñ K 1 (ñ erasum, non in mg. add. 2 ) me non V 1 pusionem quendam Socrates interrogat quaedam geometrica de dimensione quadrati. ad ea sic ille respondet respondet s respondit X Boeth. ut puer, et tamen ita faciles interrogationes sunt, ut gradatim gradatum RV 1 respondens eodem perveniat, quo si quo si quasi Boeth. K 1 V 1 ( corr. K c V c geometrica didicisset. ex quo effici volt Socrates, ut discere nihil aliud sit nisi recordari. quem locum multo etiam accuratius explicat in eo sermone, quem habuit eo ipso die, quo excessit e Phaed. 72e sqq. vita; docet enim quemvis, qui omnium rerum rudis esse videatur, bene interroganti interrogati V 1 respondentem respondem X ( corr. K 2 V c ) declarare se non tum cf. Lact. inst. 7, 22,19 illa discere, sed reminiscendo recognoscere, nec vero fieri ullo modo posse, ut a pueris tot rerum atque tantarum insitas et quasi consignatas consignata V 1 (s add. c ) cognitgnatas primo R in animis notiones, quas quas add. K c e)nnoi/as ennoias X (i in e corr. V 1 ) ENNOUAC Boeth. vocant, haberemus, nisi animus, ante quam in corpus intravisset, in rerum cognitione viguisset. 1.58. cumque nihil esset , lac. ind. Po. (suppl. fere : eorum quae sensibus perciperentur cl. div.2,9 Tim.28A) ut omnibus locis a Platone disseritur—nihil enim ille post enim hab. VBP s putat esse, quod oriatur et intereat, idque solum esse, esse s esset quod semper tale sit quale quale EIDEAN corr. Sey. est ( i)de/an appellat ille, nos speciem)—, non potuit animus haec in corpore inclusus c lusus V (ss ) adgnoscere, ad gn. G 1 a gn. V cognita attulit; ex quo tam multarum rerum rerum om. V cognitionis admiratio tollitur. neque ea plane videt animus, cum repente in in om. Boeth. tam insolitum tamque perturbatum domicilium inmigravit, sed cum se collegit collegit s recollegit Boeth. colligit X (col V) atque recreavit, tum adgnoscit ad gn. R 1 agn. V Boeth. illa reminiscendo. in illo libro... 11 vita et 14 aiunt enim nullo modo fieri pos- se ut ... 247, 3 reminiscendo ( om. 18 cumque... 24 tollitur) libere reddit Boethius in Cic. top. 76 V p. 391, 7 Bai. (Stangl, Jahrb. 127 S. 290. 299)
12. Lucretius Carus, On The Nature of Things, 2.67-2.70, 2.1122-2.1143, 3.23-3.24, 5.1177-5.1187, 5.1194-5.1195 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

13. Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15.675, 15.730-15.731 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

14. Philo of Alexandria, On The Creation of The World, 145, 171, 46, 74-75, 84, 89, 9, 143 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

143. But since every city in which laws are properly established, has a regular constitution, it became necessary for this citizen of the world to adopt the same constitution as that which prevailed in the universal world. And this constitution is the right reason of nature, which in more appropriate language is denominated law, being a divine arrangement in accordance with which everything suitable and appropriate is assigned to every individual. But of this city and constitution there must have been some citizens before man, who might be justly called citizens of a mighty city, having received the greatest imaginable circumference to dwell in; and having been enrolled in the largest and most perfect commonwealth.
15. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, 7.3.5 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

7.3.5.  For the man who denies that god is a spirit permeating all things, assuredly asserts that the epithet "divine" is falsely applied to his nature, like Epicurus, who gives him a human form and makes him reside in the intermundane space. While both use the same term god, both have to employ conjecture to decide which of the two meanings is consistent with fact.
16. Seneca The Younger, De Beneficiis, 4.4.19, 7.31.3 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

17. Alexander of Aphrodisias, On Fate, 203.11 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

18. Apuleius, On Plato, 1.8 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

19. Sextus, Against The Mathematicians, 9.149, 9.165-9.166, 9.178-9.179, 9.181 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

20. Plotinus, Enneads, (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

21. Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum Commentarii, 2.302 (5th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

22. Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum Commentarii, 2.302 (5th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

23. Epicurus, Letter To Herodotus, 81, 48

24. Epicurus, Letters, 97, 89

25. Epicurus, Letters, 97, 89

26. Stoic School, Stoicor. Veter. Fragm., 3.229



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
academics, the academy Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
accomodation/ sunoikeiosis Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 193
alexander of aphrodisias Corrigan and Rasimus, Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (2013) 480
anaxagoras Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
anticosmism, the world, other-worldliness, worldrejection Corrigan and Rasimus, Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (2013) 480
antiochus of ascalon Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 66; Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
arcesilaus Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
aristotle, cicero on Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
aristotle, cosmology of Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 88
aristotle, plotinus and Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 233
atticus, on interpreting plato Marmodoro and Prince, Causation and Creation in Late Antiquity (2015) 37
balbus Del Lucchese, Monstrosity and Philosophy: Radical Otherness in Greek and Latin Culture (2019) 241
beauty, beautiful Corrigan and Rasimus, Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (2013) 480
besnier, b. Del Lucchese, Monstrosity and Philosophy: Radical Otherness in Greek and Latin Culture (2019) 241
calcidius on platos, sceptical perspective on Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 88
carneades Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117, 293
children Kazantzidis, Lucretius on Disease: The Poetics of Morbidity in "De rerum natura" (2021) 15
chrysippus Del Lucchese, Monstrosity and Philosophy: Radical Otherness in Greek and Latin Culture (2019) 241
cicero, marcus tullius, and creation of cosmos Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 88, 90
cicero, marcus tullius, and timaeus translation Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 88
cicero, marcus tullius, de natura deorum Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 88
cicero, marcus tullius, philosophical treatises of Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 88, 90
cicero, on academic sceptics Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
cicero, on philosophy Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
cicero, on plato and aristotle Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
cicero Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 193; Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 79; Kazantzidis, Lucretius on Disease: The Poetics of Morbidity in "De rerum natura" (2021) 15; Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
classification of philosophies Corrigan and Rasimus, Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (2013) 480
community Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 97
concepts Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
cosmos, cicero on Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 88, 90
creation, cicero on Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 88, 90
creation, velleius criticizes Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 90
criterion (of truth) Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
cyrenaics Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 79
design, imparted through the function of disease as fabricator leti Kazantzidis, Lucretius on Disease: The Poetics of Morbidity in "De rerum natura" (2021) 15
determinism, dialectic Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
determinism Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 96
dialogues Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 79
dio chrysostom (of prusa) Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 79
diogenes of babylon Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
disease, as a force of (re)creation Kazantzidis, Lucretius on Disease: The Poetics of Morbidity in "De rerum natura" (2021) 15
disease, as a force of destruction Kazantzidis, Lucretius on Disease: The Poetics of Morbidity in "De rerum natura" (2021) 15
doxography Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 96, 193
empedocles Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
epicurean philosophers, on plato's timaeus" Marmodoro and Prince, Causation and Creation in Late Antiquity (2015) 37
epicureanism Corrigan and Rasimus, Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (2013) 480; Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
epicureans, cosmology of Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 90
epicureans Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 96; Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 79
epicurus, authority in the de rerum natura Bryan, Authors and Authorities in Ancient Philosophy (2018) 229; Wardy and Warren, Authors and Authorities in Ancient Philosophy (2018) 229
epicurus, on nature and the self Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
epicurus, theology Bryan, Authors and Authorities in Ancient Philosophy (2018) 229; Wardy and Warren, Authors and Authorities in Ancient Philosophy (2018) 229
epicurus/epicureans/epicureanism, on providence (πρόνοια) Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 66
epicurus Corrigan and Rasimus, Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (2013) 480; Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 193; Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 79
fate/ heimarmene' "256.0_96.0@god's governance" Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 96
gnosis Corrigan and Rasimus, Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (2013) 480
gnostic, gnosticism Corrigan and Rasimus, Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (2013) 480
gnostics/gnosticism, plotinus and Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 233
gods, existence Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 96
gods, location in epicureanism Wardy and Warren, Authors and Authorities in Ancient Philosophy (2018) 229
gods, philo of alexandria on Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 66
gods, plotinus on Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 233
gods, scepticism about Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
good Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 96
indestructibility of the world Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 66
infinity Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
law (νομός, θεσμός), philo of alexandria on Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 66
lucretius, devotion to epicurus Wardy and Warren, Authors and Authorities in Ancient Philosophy (2018) 229
lucretius, theology Wardy and Warren, Authors and Authorities in Ancient Philosophy (2018) 229
lévy, c. Del Lucchese, Monstrosity and Philosophy: Radical Otherness in Greek and Latin Culture (2019) 241
medea Del Lucchese, Monstrosity and Philosophy: Radical Otherness in Greek and Latin Culture (2019) 241
necessity Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 96
ovid, and plato Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 210
pantheism Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 96
peripatetics Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
phaedrus, timaeus Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 96
philo of alexandria, on god Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 66
philo of alexandria, on law (θεσμός) Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 66
philo of alexandria, on providence (πρόνοια) Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 66
philo of alexandria, plotinus and Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 233
philo of alexandria Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 66
philodemus Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 193; Wardy and Warren, Authors and Authorities in Ancient Philosophy (2018) 229
physical elements Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
plato, cicero on Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
plato, theory of forms Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
plato, timaeus, creation account in Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 88
plato/platonism, and myth Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 210
plato/platonism Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 210
plato Del Lucchese, Monstrosity and Philosophy: Radical Otherness in Greek and Latin Culture (2019) 241; Kazantzidis, Lucretius on Disease: The Poetics of Morbidity in "De rerum natura" (2021) 15; Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
pleasure Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
plotinus, and (middle-)platonism Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 233
plotinus, and aristotle Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 233
plotinus, and epicurus Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 233
plotinus, and gnosticism Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 233
plotinus, on demiurge's creativity" '85.0_37@nature, as craftsman' Marmodoro and Prince, Causation and Creation in Late Antiquity (2015) 37
plotinus, on god Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 233
plotinus Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 233; Corrigan and Rasimus, Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (2013) 480
politics Corrigan and Rasimus, Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (2013) 480
predestination (προόρισις), epicurus on Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 66
predestination (προόρισις), philo on Brouwer and Vimercati, Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age (2020) 66
protagoras, timaeus Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 210
providence Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 96
providence (divine), in plato and the stoics Kazantzidis, Lucretius on Disease: The Poetics of Morbidity in "De rerum natura" (2021) 15
pythagoras, pythagoreans Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
reason Del Lucchese, Monstrosity and Philosophy: Radical Otherness in Greek and Latin Culture (2019) 241
robin, l. Del Lucchese, Monstrosity and Philosophy: Radical Otherness in Greek and Latin Culture (2019) 241
sedley, david Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 210
sensation Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 96
sextus empiricus Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
sincerity (conviction, credulity, religiosity) Mueller, Roman Religion in Valerius Maximus (2002) 200
sophists, sophistry Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 79
soul Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 96
stoic, stoicism Corrigan and Rasimus, Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (2013) 480
stoicism, stoics, epistemology of Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 293
stoicism, stoics, theology of Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
superstition/religio Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 96
teleology Del Lucchese, Monstrosity and Philosophy: Radical Otherness in Greek and Latin Culture (2019) 241
theology, platonic and stoic (velleius) Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 90
theology Frede and Laks, Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, its Background and Aftermath (2001) 96; Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
time, before time (velleius) Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 90
torquatus, lucius manlius Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 79
universe, created vs. uncreated Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 88
velleius, gaius Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 79
velleius Del Lucchese, Monstrosity and Philosophy: Radical Otherness in Greek and Latin Culture (2019) 241
velleius (epicurean) Hoenig, Plato's Timaeus and the Latin Tradition (2018) 88, 90
vessel, the human body as a Kazantzidis, Lucretius on Disease: The Poetics of Morbidity in "De rerum natura" (2021) 15
virtue Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
virtues Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 79
xenophanes Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 117
zeno of citium Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 210