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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



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Cicero, On The Nature Of The Gods, 2.33-2.39


nanAgain, if we wish to proceed from the first rudimentary orders of being to the last and most perfect, we shall necessarily arrive in the end at deity. We notice the sustaining power of nature first in the members of the vegetable kingdom, towards which her bounty was limited to providing for their preservation by means of the faculties of nurture and growth.


nanUpon the animals she bestowed sensation and motion, and an appetite or impulse to approach things wholesome and retire from things harmful. For man she amplified her gift by the addition of reason, whereby the appetites might be controlled, and alternately indulged and held in check. But the fourth and highest grade is that of beings born by nature good and wise, and endowed from the outset with the innate attributes of right reason and consistency; this must be held to be above the level of man: it is the attribute of god, that is, of the world, which must needs possess that perfect and absolute reason of which I spoke.


nanNor is it possible that it should be said with justice that there is any arrangement of things in which there cannot be something entire and perfect. For as in a vine or in beasts we see that nature, if not prevented by some superior violence, proceeds by her own appropriate path to her destined end; and as in painting, architecture, and the other arts there is a point of perfection which is attainable, and occasionally attained, so it is even much more necessary that in universal nature there must be some complete and perfect result arrived at. Many external accidents may happen to all other natures which may impede their progress to perfection, but nothing can hinder universal nature, because she is herself the ruler and governor of all other natures. That, therefore, must be the fourth and most elevated degree to which no other power can approach. But this degree is that on which the nature of all things is placed; and since she is possessed of this, and she presides over all things, and is subject to no possible impediment, the world must necessarily be an intelligent and even a wise being. But how marvellously great is the ignorance of those men who dispute the perfection of that nature which encircles all things; or who, allowing it to be infinitely perfect, yet deny it to be, in the first place, animated, then reasonable, and, lastly, prudent and wise! For how without these qualities could it be infinitely perfect? If it were like vegetables, or even like beasts, there would be no more reason for thinking it extremely good than extremely bad; and if it were possessed of reason, and had not wisdom from the beginning, the world would be in a worse condition than man; for man may grow wise, but the world, if it were destitute of wisdom through an infinite space of time past, could never acquire it. Thus it would be worse than man. But as that is absurd to imagine, the world must be esteemed wise from all eternity, and consequently a Deity:


nanAgain, it is undeniable that every organic whole must have an ultimate ideal of perfection. As in vines or cattle we see that, unless obstructed by some force, nature progresses on a certain path of her own to her goal of full development, and as in painting, architecture and the other arts and crafts there is an ideal of perfect workmanship, even so and far more in the world of nature as a whole there must be a process towards completeness and perfection. The various limited modes of being may encounter many external obstacles to hinder their perfect realization, but there can be nothing that can frustrate nature as a whole, since she embraces and contains within herself all modes of being. Hence it follows that there must exist this fourth and highest grade, unassailable by any external force.


nanNow this is the grade on which universal nature stands; and since she is of such a character as to be superior to all things and incapable of frustration by any, it follows of necessity that the world is an intelligent being, and indeed also a wise being. "Again, what can be more illogical than to deny that the being which embraces all things must be the best of all things, or, admitting this, to deny that it must be, first, possessed of life, secondly, rational and intelligent, and lastly, endowed with wisdom? How else can it be the best of all things? If it resembles plants or even animals, so far from being highest, it must be reckoned lowest in the scale of being. If again it be capable of reason yet has not been wise from the beginning, the world must be in a worse condition than mankind; for a man can become wise, but if in all the eternity of past time the world has been foolish, obviously it will never attain wisdom; and so it will be inferior to man, which is absurd. Therefore the world must be deemed to have been wise from the beginning, and divine.


nanince there is nothing existing that is not defective, except the universe, which is well provided, and fully complete and perfect in all its numbers and parts. For Chrysippus says, very acutely, that as the case is made for the buckler, and the scabbard for the sword, so all things, except the universe, were made for the sake of something else. As, for instance, all those crops and fruits which the earth produces were made for the sake of animals, and animals for man; as, the horse for carrying, the ox for the plough, the dog for hunting and for a guard. But man himself was born to contemplate and imitate the world, being in no wise perfect, but, if I may so express myself, a particle of perfection; but the world, as it comprehends all, and as nothing exists that is not contained in it, is entirely perfect. In what, therefore, can it be defective, since it is perfect? It cannot want understanding and reason, for they are the most desirable of all qualities. The same Chrysippus observes also, by the use of similitudes, that everything in its kind, when arrived at maturity and perfection, is superior to that which is not — as, a horse to a colt, a dog to a puppy, and a man to a boy — so whatever is best in the whole universe must exist in some complete and perfect being. But nothing is more perfect than the world, and nothing better than virtue. Virtue, therefore, is an attribute of the world. But human nature is not perfect, and nevertheless virtue is produced in it: with how much greater reason, then, do we conceive it to be inherent in the world! Therefore the world has virtue, and it is also wise, and consequently a Deity.


nanIn fact there is nothing else beside the world that has nothing wanting, but is fully equipped and complete and perfect in all its details and parts. For as Chrysippus cleverly puts it, just as a shield-case is made for the sake of a shield and a sheath for the sake of a sword, so everything else except the world was created for the sake of some other thing; thus the cornº and fruits produced by the earth were created for the sake of animals, and animals for the sake of man: for example the horse for riding, the ox for ploughing, the dog for hunting and keeping guard; man himself however came into existence for the purpose of contemplating and imitating the world; he is by no means perfect, but he is 'a small fragment of that which is perfect.'


nanThe world on the contrary, since it embraces all things and since nothing exists which is not within it, is entirely perfect; how then can it fail to possess that which is the best? but there is nothing better than intelligence and reason; the world therefore cannot fail to possess them. Chrysippus therefore also well shows by the aid of illustrations that in the perfect and mature specimen of its kind everything is better than in the imperfect, for instance in a horse than in a foal, in a dog than in a puppy, in a man than in a boy; and that similarly a perfect and complete being is bound to possess that which is the best thing in all the world;


nanbut no being is more perfect than the world, and nothing is better than virtue; therefore virtue is an essential attribute of the world. Again, man's nature is not perfect, yet virtue may be realized in man; how much more readily then in the world! therefore the world possesses virtue. Therefore it is wise, and consequently divine. "Having thus perceived the divinity of the world, we must also assign the same divinity to the stars, which are formed from the most mobile and the purest part of the aether, and are not compounded of any other element besides; they are of a fiery heat and translucent throughout. Hence they too have the fullest right to be pronounced to be living beings endowed with sensation and intelligence.


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1. Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, 1.36, 2.18-2.32, 2.34-2.47, 2.57-2.58 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

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. 2.18. Yet even man's intelligence must lead us to infer the existence of a mind in the universe, and that a mind of surpassing ability, and in fact divine. Otherwise, whence did man 'pick up' (as Socrates says in Xenophon) the intelligence that he possesses? If anyone asks the question, whence do we get the moisture and the heat diffused throughout the body, and the actual earthy substance of the flesh, and lastly the breath of life within us, it is manifest that we have derived the one from earth, the other from water, and the other from the air which we inhale in breathing. But where did we find, whence did we abstract, that other part of us which surpasses all of these, I mean our reason, or, if you like to employ several terms to denote it, our intelligence, deliberation, thought, wisdom? Is the world to contain each of the other elements but not this one, the most precious of them all? Yet beyond question nothing exists among all things that is superior to the world, nothing that is more excellent or more beautiful; and not merely does nothing superior to it exist, but nothing superior can even be conceived. And if there be nothing superior to reason and wisdom, these faculties must necessarily be possessed by that being which we admit to be superior to all others. 2.19. Again, consider the sympathetic agreement, interconnexion and affinity of things: whom will this not compel to approve the truth of what I say? Would it be possible for the earth at one definite time to be gay with flowers and then in turn all bare and stark, or for the spontaneous transformation of so many things about us to signal the approach and the retirement of the sun at the summer and the winter solstices, or for the tides to flow and ebb in the seas and straits with the rising and setting of the moon, or for the different courses of the stars to be maintained by the one revolution of the entire sky? These processes and this musical harmony of all the parts of the world assuredly would not go on were they not maintained in unison by a single divine and all‑pervading spirit. 2.20. When one expounds these doctrines in a fuller and more flowing style, as I propose to do, it is easier for them to evade the captious objections of the Academy; but when they are reduced to brief syllogistic form, as was the practice of Zeno, they lie more open to criticism. A running river can almost or quite entirely escape pollution, whereas an enclosed pool is easily sullied; similarly a flowing stream of eloquence sweeps aside the censures of the critic, but a closely reasoned argument defends itself with difficult. The thoughts that we expound at length Zeno used to compress into this form: 2.21. 'That which has the faculty of reason is superior to that which has not the faculty of reason; but nothing is superior to the world; therefore the world has the faculty of reason.' A similar argument can be used to prove that the world is wise, and happy, and eternal; for things possessed of each of these attributes are superior to things devoid of them, and nothing is superior to the world. From this it will follow that the world is god. Zeno also argued thus: 2.22. 'Nothing devoid of sensation can have a part of itself that is sentient; but the world has parts that are sentient; therefore the world has parts that are sentient; therefore the world is not devoid of sensation.' He also proceeds to press the argument more closely: 'Nothing,' he says, 'that is iimate and irrational can give birth to an animate and rational being; but the world gives birth to animate and rational beings; therefore the world is animate and rational.' Furthermore he proved his argument by means of one of his favourite comparisons, as follows: 'If flutes playing musical tunes grew on an olive-tree, surely you would not question that the olive-tree possessed some knowledge of the art of flute-playing; or if plane-trees bore well-tuned lutes, doubtless you would likewise infer that the plane-trees possessed the art of music; why then should we not judge the world to be animate and endowed with wisdom, when it produces animate and wise offspring? 2.23. However, having begun to treat the subject in a different way from that which I proposed at the beginning (for I said that this part required no discussion, since the existence of god was manifest to everybody), in spite of this I should like to prove even this point by means of arguments drawn from Physics or Natural Philosophy. It is a law of Nature that all things capable of nurture and growth contain within them a supply of heat, without which their nurture and growth would not be possible; for everything of a hot, fiery nature supplies its own source of motion and activity; but that which is nourished and grows possesses a definite and uniform motion; and as long as this motion remains within us, so long sensation and life remain, whereas so soon as our heat is cooled and quenched we ourselves perish and are extinguished. 2.24. This doctrine Cleanthes enforces by these further arguments, to show how great is the supply of heat in every living body: he states that there is no food so heavy that it is not digested in twenty-four hours; and even the residue of our food which nature rejects contains heat. Again, the veins and arteries never cease throbbing with a flame-like pulse, and frequent cases have been observed when the heart of an animal on being torn out of its body has continued to beat with a rapid motion resembling the flickering of fire. Every living thing therefore, whether animal or vegetable, owes its vitality to the heat contained within it. From this it must be inferred that this element of heat possesses in itself a vital force that pervades the whole world. 2.25. We shall discern the truth of this more readily from a more detailed account of this all‑permeating fiery element as a whole. All the parts of the world (I will however only specify the most important) are supported and sustained by heat. This can be perceived first of all in the element of earth. We see fire produced by striking or rubbing stones together; and when newly dug, 'the earth doth steam with warmth'; and also warm water is drawn from running springs, and this occurs most of all in the winter-time, because a great store of heat is confined in the caverns of the earth, which in winter is denser and therefore confines more closely the heat stored in the soil. 2.26. It would require a long discourse and a great many arguments to enable me to show that all the seeds that earth receives in her womb, and all the plants which she spontaneously generates and holds fixed by their roots in the ground, owe both their origin and growth to this warm temperature of the soil. That water also contains an admixture of heat is shown first of all by its liquid nature; water would neither be frozen into ice by cold nor congealed into snow and hoar-frost unless it could also become fluid when liquefied and thawed by the admixture of heat; this is why moisture both hardens when exposed to a north wind or a frost from some other quarter, and also in turn softens when warmed, and evaporates with heat. Also the sea when violently stirred by the wind becomes warm, so that it can readily be realized that this great body of fluid contains heat; for we must not suppose the warmth in question to be derived from some external source, but stirred up from the lowest depths of the sea by violent motion, just as happens to our bodies when they are restored to warmth by movement and exercise. Indeed the air itself, though by nature the coldest of the elements, is by no means entirely devoid of heat; 2.27. indeed it contains even a considerable admixture of heat, for it is itself generated by exhalation from water, since air must be deemed to be a sort of vaporized water, and this vaporization is caused by the motion of the heat contained in the water. We may see an example of the same process when water is made to boil by placing fire beneath it. — There remains the fourth element: this is itself by nature glowing hot throughout and also imparts the warmth of health and life to all other substances. 2.28. Hence from the fact that all the parts of the world are sustained by heat the inference follows that the world itself also owes its continued preservation for so long a time to the same or a similar substance, and all the more so because it must be understood that this hot and fiery principle is interfused with the whole of nature in such a way as to constitute the male and female generative principles, and so to be the necessary cause of both the birth and the growth of all living creatures, whether animals or those whose roots are planted in the earth. 2.29. There is therefore an element that holds the whole world together and preserves it, and this an element possessed of sensation and reason; since every natural object that is not a homogeneous and simple substance but a complex and composite one must contain within it some ruling principle, for example in man the intelligence, in the lower animals something resembling intelligence that is the source of appetition. With trees and plants the ruling principle is believed to be located in the roots. I use the term 'ruling principle' as the equivalent of the Greek hēgemonikon, meaning that part of anything which must and ought to have supremacy in a thing of that sort. Thus it follows that the element which contains the ruling principle of the whole of nature must also be the most excellent of all things and the most deserving of authority and sovereignty over all things. 2.30. Now we observe that the parts of the world (and nothing exists in all the world which is not a part of the whole world) possess sensation and reason. Therefore it follows that that part which contains the ruling principle of the world must necessarily possess sensation and reason, and these in a more intense and higher form. Hence it follows that the world possesses wisdom, and that the element which holds all things in its embrace is pre‑eminently and perfectly rational, and therefore that the world is god, and all the forces of the world are held together by the divine nature. "Moreover that glowing heat of the world is far purer and more brilliant and far more mobile, and therefore more stimulating to the senses, than this warmth of ours by which the things that we know are preserved and vitalized. 2.31. As therefore man and the animals are possessed by this warmth and owe to this their motion and sensation, it is absurd to say that the world is devoid of sensation, considering that it is possessed by an intense heat that is stainless, free and purpose, and also penetrating and mobile in the extreme; especially as this intense world-heat does not derive its motion from the operation of some other force from outside, but is self-moved and spontaneous in its activity: for how can there be anything more powerful than the world, to impart motion and activity in the warmth by which the world is held together? 2.32. For let us hear Plato, that divine philosopher, for so almost he is to be deemed. He holds that motion is of two sorts, one spontaneous, the other derived from without; and that that which moves of itself spontaneously is more divine than that which has motion imparted to it by some force not its own. The former kind of motion he deems to reside only in the soul, which he considers to be the only source and origin of motion. Hence, since all motion springs from the world-heat, and since that heat moves spontaneously and not by any impulse from something else, it follows that that heat is soul; which proves that the world is an animate being. "Another proof that the world possesses intelligence is supplied by the fact that the world is unquestionably better than any of its elements; for even as there is no part of our body that is not of less value than we are ourselves, so the whole universe must needs be of higher worth than any portion of the universe; and if this be so, it follows that the world must be endowed with wisdom, for, if it were not, man, although a part of the world, being possessed of reason would necessarily be of higher worth than the world as a whole. 2.34. Upon the animals she bestowed sensation and motion, and an appetite or impulse to approach things wholesome and retire from things harmful. For man she amplified her gift by the addition of reason, whereby the appetites might be controlled, and alternately indulged and held in check. But the fourth and highest grade is that of beings born by nature good and wise, and endowed from the outset with the innate attributes of right reason and consistency; this must be held to be above the level of man: it is the attribute of god, that is, of the world, which must needs possess that perfect and absolute reason of which I spoke. 2.35. Again, it is undeniable that every organic whole must have an ultimate ideal of perfection. As in vines or cattle we see that, unless obstructed by some force, nature progresses on a certain path of her own to her goal of full development, and as in painting, architecture and the other arts and crafts there is an ideal of perfect workmanship, even so and far more in the world of nature as a whole there must be a process towards completeness and perfection. The various limited modes of being may encounter many external obstacles to hinder their perfect realization, but there can be nothing that can frustrate nature as a whole, since she embraces and contains within herself all modes of being. Hence it follows that there must exist this fourth and highest grade, unassailable by any external force. 2.36. Now this is the grade on which universal nature stands; and since she is of such a character as to be superior to all things and incapable of frustration by any, it follows of necessity that the world is an intelligent being, and indeed also a wise being. "Again, what can be more illogical than to deny that the being which embraces all things must be the best of all things, or, admitting this, to deny that it must be, first, possessed of life, secondly, rational and intelligent, and lastly, endowed with wisdom? How else can it be the best of all things? If it resembles plants or even animals, so far from being highest, it must be reckoned lowest in the scale of being. If again it be capable of reason yet has not been wise from the beginning, the world must be in a worse condition than mankind; for a man can become wise, but if in all the eternity of past time the world has been foolish, obviously it will never attain wisdom; and so it will be inferior to man, which is absurd. Therefore the world must be deemed to have been wise from the beginning, and divine. 2.37. In fact there is nothing else beside the world that has nothing wanting, but is fully equipped and complete and perfect in all its details and parts. For as Chrysippus cleverly puts it, just as a shield-case is made for the sake of a shield and a sheath for the sake of a sword, so everything else except the world was created for the sake of some other thing; thus the cornº and fruits produced by the earth were created for the sake of animals, and animals for the sake of man: for example the horse for riding, the ox for ploughing, the dog for hunting and keeping guard; man himself however came into existence for the purpose of contemplating and imitating the world; he is by no means perfect, but he is 'a small fragment of that which is perfect.' 2.38. The world on the contrary, since it embraces all things and since nothing exists which is not within it, is entirely perfect; how then can it fail to possess that which is the best? but there is nothing better than intelligence and reason; the world therefore cannot fail to possess them. Chrysippus therefore also well shows by the aid of illustrations that in the perfect and mature specimen of its kind everything is better than in the imperfect, for instance in a horse than in a foal, in a dog than in a puppy, in a man than in a boy; and that similarly a perfect and complete being is bound to possess that which is the best thing in all the world; 2.39. but no being is more perfect than the world, and nothing is better than virtue; therefore virtue is an essential attribute of the world. Again, man's nature is not perfect, yet virtue may be realized in man; how much more readily then in the world! therefore the world possesses virtue. Therefore it is wise, and consequently divine. "Having thus perceived the divinity of the world, we must also assign the same divinity to the stars, which are formed from the most mobile and the purest part of the aether, and are not compounded of any other element besides; they are of a fiery heat and translucent throughout. Hence they too have the fullest right to be pronounced to be living beings endowed with sensation and intelligence. 2.40. That the stars consist entirely of fire Cleanthes holds to be established by the evidence of two of the senses, those of touch and sight. For the radiance of the sun is more brilliant than that of any fire, inasmuch as it casts its light so far and wide over the boundless universe; and the contact of its rays is so powerful that it not merely warms but often actually burns, neither of which things could it do if it were not made of fire. 'Therefore,' Cleanthes proceeds, 'since the sun is made of fire, and is nourished by the vapours exhaled from the ocean because no fire could continue to exist without sustece of some sort, it follows that it resembles either that fire which we employ in ordinary life or that which is contained in the bodies of living creatures. 2.41. Now our ordinary fire that serves the needs of daily life is a destructive agency, consuming everything, and also wherever it spreads it routs and scatters everything. On the other hand the fire of the body is the glow of life and health; it is the universal preservative, giving nourishment, fostering growth, sustaining, bestowing sensation.' He therefore maintains that there can be no doubt which of the two kinds of fire the sun resembles, for the sun also causes all things to flourish and to bring forth increase each after its kind. Hence since the sun resembles those fires which are contained in the bodies of living creatures, the sun also must be alive; and so too the other heavenly bodies, since they have their origin in the fiery heat of heaven that is entitled the aether or sky. 2.42. Since therefore some living creatures are born on the earth, others in the water and others in the air, it is absurd, so Aristotle holds, to suppose that no living animal is born in that element which is most adapted for the generation of living things. But the stars occupy the region of aether, and as this has a very rarefied substance and is always in lively motion, it follows that the animal born in this region has the keenest senses and the swiftest power of movement; hence since the stars come into existence in the aether, it is reasonable to suppose that they possess sensation and intelligence. And from this it follows that the stars are to be reckoned as gods. For it may be observed that the inhabitants of those countries in which the air is pure and rarefied have keener wits and greater powers of understanding than persons who live in a dense and heavy climate; 2.43. moreover the substance employed as food is also believed to have some influence on mental acuteness; it is therefore likely that the stars possess surpassing intelligence, since they inhabit the ethereal region of the world and also are nourished by the moist vapours of sea and earth, rarefied in their passage through the wide intervening space. Again, the consciousness and intelligence of the stars is most clearly evinced by their order and regularity; for regular and rhythmical motion is impossible without design, which contains no trace of casual or accidental variation; now the order and eternal regularity of the constellations indicates neither a process of nature, for it is highly rational, nor chance, for chance loves variation and abhors regularity; it follows therefore that the stars move of their own free-will and because of their intelligence and divinity. 2.44. Aristotle is also to be commended for his view that the motion of all living bodies is due to one of three causes, nature, force, or will; now the sun and moon and all the stars are in motion, and bodies moved by nature travel either downwards owing to their weight or upwards owing to their lightness; but neither (he argued) is the case with the heavenly bodies, because their motion is revolution in a circle; nor yet can it be said that some stronger force compels the heavenly bodies to travel in a manner contrary to their nature, for what stronger force can there be? it remains therefore that the motion of the heavenly bodies is voluntary. "Anyone who sees this truth would show not only ignorance but wickedness if he denied the existence of the gods. Nor indeed does it make much difference whether he denies their existence or deprives them entirely of providential care and of activity; since to my mind an entirely inactive being cannot be said to exist at all. Therefore the existence of the gods is so manifest that I can scarcely deem one who denies it to be of sound mind. 2.45. It remains for us to consider the qualities of the divine nature; and on this subject nothing is more difficult than to divert the eye of the mind from following the practice of bodily sight. This difficulty has caused both uneducated people generally and those philosophers who resemble the uneducated to be unable to conceive of the immortal gods without setting before themselves the form of men: a shallow mode of thought which Cotta has exposed and which therefore calls for no discussion from me. But assuming that we have a definite and preconceived idea of a deity as, first, a living being, and secondly, a being unsurpassed in excellence by anything else in the whole of nature, I can see nothing that satisfies this preconception or idea of ours more fully than, first, the judgement that this world, which must necessarily be the most excellent of all things, is itself a living being and a god. 2.46. Let Epicurus jest at this notion as he will — and he is a person who jokes with difficulty, and has but the slightest smack of his native Attic wit, — let him protest his inability to conceive of god as a round and rotating body. Nevertheless he will never dislodge me from one belief which even he himself accepts: he holds that gods exist, on the ground that there must necessarily be some mode of being of outstanding and supreme excellence; now clearly nothing can be more excellent than the world. Nor can it be doubted that a living being endowed with sensation, reason and intelligence must excel a being devoid of those attributes; 2.47. hence it follows that the world is a living being and possesses sensation, intelligence and reason; and this argument leads to the conclusion that the world is god. "But these points will appear more readily a little later merely from a consideration of the creatures that the world produces. In the meantime, pray, Velleius, do not parade your school's utter ignorance of science. You say that you think a cone, a cylinder and a pyramid more beautiful than a sphere. Why, even in matters of taste you Epicureans have a criterion of your own! However, assuming that the figures which you mention are more beautiful to the eye — though for my part I don't think them so, for what can be more beautiful than the figure that encircles and encloses in itself all other figures, and that can possess no roughness or point of collision on its defence, no indentation of the concavity, no protuberance or depression? There are two forms that excel all others, among solid bodies the globe (for so we may translate the Greek sphaera), and among plane figures the round or circle, the Greek kyklos; well then, these two forms alone possess the property of absolute uniformity in all their parts and of having every point on the circumference equidistant from the centre; and nothing can be more compact than that. 2.57. I therefore believe that I shall not be wrong if in discussing this subject I take my first principle from the prince of seekers after truth, Zeno himself. Now Zeno gives this definition of nature: 'nature (he says) is a craftsmanlike fire, proceeding methodically to the work of generation.' For he holds that the special function of an art or craft is to create and generate, and that what in the processes of our arts is done by the hand is done with far more skilful craftsmanship by nature, that is, as I said, by that 'craftsmanlike' fire which is the teacher of the other arts. And on this theory, while each department of nature is 'craftsmanlike,' in the sense of having a method or path marked out for it to follow 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. Septuagint, Wisdom of Solomon, 13.1-13.9 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

13.1. For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature;and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists,nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works; 13.2. but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air,or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water,or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world. 13.3. If through delight in the beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods,let them know how much better than these is their Lord,for the author of beauty created them. 13.4. And if men were amazed at their power and working,let them perceive from them how much more powerful is he who formed them. 13.5. For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator. 13.6. Yet these men are little to be blamed,for perhaps they go astray while seeking God and desiring to find him. 13.7. For as they live among his works they keep searching,and they trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful. 13.8. Yet again, not even they are to be excused; 13.9. for if they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world,how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?
3. New Testament, 1 Corinthians, 15 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

4. Seneca The Younger, Letters, 92.27 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

5. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of The Philosophers, 7.139 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

7.139. For through some parts it passes as a hold or containing force, as is the case with our bones and sinews; while through others it passes as intelligence, as in the ruling part of the soul. Thus, then, the whole world is a living being, endowed with soul and reason, and having aether for its ruling principle: so says Antipater of Tyre in the eighth book of his treatise On the Cosmos. Chrysippus in the first book of his work On Providence and Posidonius in his book On the Gods say that the heaven, but Cleanthes that the sun, is the ruling power of the world. Chrysippus, however, in the course of the same work gives a somewhat different account, namely, that it is the purer part of the aether; the same which they declare to be preeminently God and always to have, as it were in sensible fashion, pervaded all that is in the air, all animals and plants, and also the earth itself, as a principle of cohesion.
6. Origen, On Prayer, 6.1 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

7. Origen, On First Principles, 2.1.2-2.1.3 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

2.1.2. But God, by the ineffable skill of His wisdom, transforming and restoring all things, in whatever manner they are made, to some useful aim, and to the common advantage of all, recalls those very creatures which differed so much from each other in mental conformation to one agreement of labour and purpose; so that, although they are under the influence of different motives, they nevertheless complete the fullness and perfection of one world, and the very variety of minds tends to one end of perfection. For it is one power which grasps and holds together all the diversity of the world, and leads the different movements towards one work, lest so immense an undertaking as that of the world should be dissolved by the dissensions of souls. And for this reason we think that God, the Father of all things, in order to ensure the salvation of all His creatures through the ineffable plan of His word and wisdom, so arranged each of these, that every spirit, whether soul or rational existence, however called, should not be compelled by force, against the liberty of his own will, to any other course than that to which the motives of his own mind led him (lest by so doing the power of exercising free-will should seem to be taken away, which certainly would produce a change in the nature of the being itself); and that the varying purposes of these would be suitably and usefully adapted to the harmony of one world, by some of them requiring help, and others being able to give it, and others again being the cause of struggle and contest to those who are making progress, among whom their diligence would be deemed more worthy of approval, and the place of rank obtained after victory be held with greater certainty, which should be established by the difficulties of the contest. 2.1.3. Although the whole world is arranged into offices of different kinds, its condition, nevertheless, is not to be supposed as one of internal discrepancies and discordances; but as our one body is provided with many members, and is held together by one soul, so I am of opinion that the whole world also ought to be regarded as some huge and immense animal, which is kept together by the power and reason of God as by one soul. This also, I think, is indicated in sacred Scripture by the declaration of the prophet, Do not I fill heaven and earth? Says the Lord; and again, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool; and by the Saviour's words, when He says that we are to swear neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool. To the same effect also are the words of Paul, in his address to the Athenians, when he says, In Him we live, and move, and have our being. For how do we live, and move, and have our being in God, except by His comprehending and holding together the whole world by His power? And how is heaven the throne of God, and the earth His footstool, as the Saviour Himself declares, save by His power filling all things both in heaven and earth, according to the Lord's own words? And that God, the Father of all things, fills and holds together the world with the fullness of His power, according to those passages which we have quoted, no one, I think, will have any difficulty in admitting. And now, since the course of the preceding discussion has shown that the different movements of rational beings, and their varying opinions, have brought about the diversity that is in the world, we must see whether it may not be appropriate that this world should have a termination like its beginning. For there is no doubt that its end must be sought amid much diversity and variety; which variety, being found to exist in the termination of the world, will again furnish ground and occasion for the diversities of the other world which is to succeed the present.
8. Stoic School, Stoicor. Veter. Fragm., 2.634, 2.714, 2.836, 2.988



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
abraham Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
antisthenes Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
apology (plato) Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
apology (xenophon) Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
arria Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
body, and gender Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
chaldaeans, philos understanding of Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
change (metabolē) to wisdom Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 73
cleanthes, level in the hierarchy of cosmic nature Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 73
clouds (aristophanes) Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
comparison with plato, in physics Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 73
comparison with plato, radical Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 73
crito (plato) Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
damon of alexander Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
demetrius of byzantium Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
denouncement Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
diogenes laertius Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
exile Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
favorinus Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
gendering, of death Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
god, immaterial conception in platonism Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
god, jewish type of Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
god, stoic argument for Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
lucretia Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
middle platonism Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
nature, as level in the hierarchy of cosmic nature Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 73
pain, and virtue Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
phaedo (plato) Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
philo of alexandria, on stoic cosmology and theology Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
philo of alexandria Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
plato, and socrates Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
platonism, in philo Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
plutarch Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 73
porcia Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
prosecution of socrates (polycrates) Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 33
reason, in stoic theology Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 121
reason, perfect Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 73
reason, perfectible' Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 73
seneca Brouwer, The Stoic Sage: The Early Stoics on Wisdom, Sagehood and Socrates (2013) 73
socrates, in platos phaedo Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
stoicism, corporealism Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 121
stoicism, in philo Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
stoicism, in wisdom of solomon Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
style of writing. see stoicism, wisdom., wisdom Wynne, Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage (2019) 121
wisdom of solomon, and platonism Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
wisdom of solomon, and stoicism Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24
wisdom of solomon Engberg-Pedersen, Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (2010) 24