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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



10243
Seneca The Younger, Letters, 117.6


nanI myself do not hold the same view, and I judge that our philosophers[3] have come down to this argument because they are already bound by the first link in the chain and for that reason may not alter their definition. People are wont to concede much to the things which all men take for granted; in our eyes the fact that all men agree upon something is a proof of its truth. For instance, we infer that the gods exist, for this reason, among others – that there is implanted in everyone an idea concerning deity, and there is no people so far beyond the reach of laws and customs that it does not believe at least in gods of some sort. And when we discuss the immortality of the soul, we are influenced in no small degree by the general opinion of mankind, who either fear or worship the spirits of the lower world. I make the most of this general belief: you can find no one who does not hold that wisdom is a Good, and being wise also.


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

12 results
1. Cicero, On Divination, 1.1, 1.105, 2.14 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.1. Vetus opinio est iam usque ab heroicis ducta temporibus, eaque et populi Romani et omnium gentium firmata consensu, versari quandam inter homines divinationem, quam Graeci mantikh/n appellant, id est praesensionem et scientiam rerum futurarum. Magnifica quaedam res et salutaris, si modo est ulla, quaque proxime ad deorum vim natura mortalis possit accedere. Itaque ut alia nos melius multa quam Graeci, sic huic praestantissimae rei nomen nostri a divis, Graeci, ut Plato interpretatur, a furore duxerunt. 1.105. Quid de auguribus loquar? Tuae partes sunt, tuum inquam, auspiciorum patrocinium debet esse. Tibi App. Claudius augur consuli nuntiavit addubitato Salutis augurio bellum domesticum triste ac turbulentum fore; quod paucis post mensibus exortum paucioribus a te est diebus oppressum. Cui quidem auguri vehementer adsentior; solus enim multorum annorum memoria non decantandi augurii, sed dividi tenuit disciplinam. Quem inridebant collegae tui eumque tum Pisidam, tum Soranum augurem esse dicebant; quibus nulla videbatur in auguriis aut praesensio aut scientia veritatis futurae; sapienter aiebant ad opinionem imperitorum esse fictas religiones. Quod longe secus est; neque enim in pastoribus illis, quibus Romulus praefuit, nec in ipso Romulo haec calliditas esse potuit, ut ad errorem multitudinis religionis simulacra fingerent. Sed difficultas laborque discendi disertam neglegentiam reddidit; malunt enim disserere nihil esse in auspiciis quam, quid sit, ediscere. 2.14. Atqui ne illa quidem divitis esse dicebas, ventos aut imbres inpendentes quibusdam praesentire signis (in quo nostra quaedam Aratea memoriter a te pronuntiata sunt), etsi haec ipsa fortuita sunt; plerumque enim, non semper eveniunt. Quae est igitur aut ubi versatur fortuitarum rerum praesensio, quam divinationem vocas? Quae enim praesentiri aut arte aut ratione aut usu aut coniectura possunt, ea non divinis tribuenda putas, sed peritis. Ita relinquitur, ut ea fortuita divinari possint, quae nulla nec arte nec sapientia provideri possunt; ut, si quis M. Marcellum illum, qui ter consul fuit, multis annis ante dixisset naufragio esse periturum, divinasset profecto; nulla enim arte alia id nec sapientia scire potuisset. Talium ergo rerum, quae in fortuna positae sunt, praesensio divinatio est. 1.1. Book I[1] There is an ancient belief, handed down to us even from mythical times and firmly established by the general agreement of the Roman people and of all nations, that divination of some kind exists among men; this the Greeks call μαντική — that is, the foresight and knowledge of future events. A really splendid and helpful thing it is — if only such a faculty exists — since by its means men may approach very near to the power of gods. And, just as we Romans have done many other things better than the Greeks, so have we excelled them in giving to this most extraordinary gift a name, which we have derived from divi, a word meaning gods, whereas, according to Platos interpretation, they have derived it from furor, a word meaning frenzy. 1.1. Why, my dear Quintus, said I, you are defending the very citadel of the Stoics in asserting the interdependence of these two propositions: if there is divination there are gods, and, if there are gods there is divination. But neither is granted as readily as you think. For it is possible that nature gives signs of future events without the intervention of a god, and it may be that there are gods without their having conferred any power of divination upon men.To this he replied, I, at any rate, find sufficient proof to satisfy me of the existence of the gods and of their concern in human affairs in my conviction that there are some kinds of divination which are clear and manifest. With your permission I will set forth my views on this subject, provided you are at leisure and have nothing else which you think should be preferred to such a discussion. 1.1. And what do you say of the following story which we find in our annals? During the Veientian War, when Lake Albanus had overflowed its banks, a certain nobleman of Veii deserted to us and said that, according to the prophecies of the Veientian books, their city could not be taken while the lake was at flood, and that if its waters were permitted to overflow and take their own course to the sea the result would be disastrous to the Roman people; on the other hand, if the waters were drained off in such a way that they did not reach the sea the result would be to our advantage. In consequence of this announcement our forefathers dug that marvellous canal to drain off the waters from the Alban lake. Later when the Veientians had grown weary of war and had sent ambassadors to the Senate to treat for peace, one of them is reported to have said that the deserter had not dared to tell the whole of the prophecy contained in the Veientian books, for those books, he said, also foretold the early capture of Rome by the Gauls. And this, as we know, did occur six years after the fall of Veii. [45] 1.105. Why need I speak of augurs? That is your rôle; the duty to defend auspices, I maintain, is yours. For it was to you, while you were consul, that the augur Appius Claudius declared that because the augury of safety was unpropitious a grievous and violent civil war was at hand. That war began few months later, but you brought it to an end in still fewer days. Appius is one augur of whom I heartily approve, for not content merely with the sing-song ritual of augury, he, alone, according to the record of many years, has maintained a real system of divination. I know that your colleagues used to laugh at him and call him the one time a Pisidian and at another a Soran. They did not concede to augury any power of prevision or real knowledge of the future, and used to say that it was a superstitious practice shrewdly invented to gull the ignorant. But the truth is far otherwise, for neither those herdsmen whom Romulus governed, nor Romulus himself, could have had cunning enough to invent miracles with which to mislead the people. It is the trouble and hard work involved in mastering the art that has induced this eloquent contempt; for men prefer to say glibly that there is nothing in auspices rather than to learn what auspices are. 2.14. And you went on to say that even the foreknowledge of impending storms and rains by means of certain signs was not divination, and, in that connexion, you quoted a number of verses from my translation of Aratus. Yet such coincidences happen by chance, for though they happen frequently they do not happen always. What, then, is this thing you call divination — this foreknowledge of things that happen by chance — and where is it employed? You think that whatever can be foreknown by means of science, reason, experience, or conjecture is to be referred, not to diviners, but to experts. It follows, therefore, that divination of things that happen by chance is possible only of things which cannot be foreseen by means of skill or wisdom. Hence, if someone had declared many years in advance that the famous Marcus Marcellus, who was consul three times, would perish in a shipwreck, this, by your definition, undoubtedly would have been a case of divination, since that calamity could not have been foreseen by means of any other skill or by wisdom. That is why you say that divination is the foreknowledge of such things as depend upon chance. [6] 2.14. When the soul itself is weakened and relaxed many such sights and sounds, you may be sure, are seen and heard in all manner of confusion and diversity. Then especially do the remts of our waking thoughts and deeds move and stir within the soul. For example, in the time of my banishment Marius was often in my mind as I recalled with what great fortitude and courage he had borne his own heavy misfortunes, and this I think is the reason why I dreamed about him.[68] As for your dream, it occurred while you were thinking and worrying about me and then you had the vision of me as I suddenly arose from the river. For in the souls of us both were traces of our waking thoughts, but with some added features, of course: as, for example, my dreaming of Mariuss monument and your dreaming that the horse on which I rode sank with me and then reappeared.
2. Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, 1.10, 2.12, 2.45 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.10. Those however who seek to learn my personal opinion on the various questions show an unreasonable degree of curiosity. In discussion it is not so much weight of authority as force of argument that should be demanded. Indeed the authority of those who profess to teach is often a positive hindrance to those who desire to learn; they cease to employ their own judgement, and take what they perceive to be the verdict of their chosen master as settling the question. In fact I am not disposed to approve the practice traditionally ascribed to the Pythagoreans, who, when questioned as to the grounds of any assertion that they advanced in debate, are said to have been accustomed to reply 'He himself said so,' 'he himself' being Pythagoras. So potent was an opinion already decided, making authority prevail unsupported by reason. 2.12. The augur's office is one of high dignity; surely the soothsayer's art also is divinely inspired. Is not one who considers these and countless similar facts compelled to admit that the gods exist? If there be persons who interpret the will of certain beings, it follows that those beings must themselves exist; but there are persons who interpret the will of the gods; therefore we must admit that the gods exist. But perhaps it may be argued that not all prophecies come true. Nor do all sick persons get well, but that does not prove that there is no art of medicine. Signs of future events are manifested by the gods; men may have mistaken these signs, but the fault lay with man's powers of inference, not with the divine nature. "Hence the main issue is agreed among all men of all nations, inasmuch as all have engraved in their minds an innate belief that the gods exist. 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.
3. Cornutus, De Natura Deorum, 35 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

4. Dio Chrysostom, Orations, 12.34 (1st cent. CE

5. Plutarch, On Common Conceptions Against The Stoics, None (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

6. Plutarch, On Stoic Self-Contradictions, None (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

7. Plutarch, Numa Pompilius, 8.8 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

8.8. but while for the first hundred and seventy years they were continually building temples and establishing sacred shrines, they made no statues in bodily form for them, convinced that it was impious to liken higher things to lower, and that it was impossible to apprehend Deity except by the intellect. Their sacrifices, too, were altogether appropriate to the Pythagorean worship; for most of them involved no bloodshed, but were made with flour, drink-offerings, and the least costly gifts.
8. Plutarch, Placita Philosophorum (874D-911C), 4.11 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

9. Plutarch, Whether Land Or Sea Animals Are More Clever, None (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

10. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of The Philosophers, 10.31, 10.33-10.34 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

10.31. They reject dialectic as superfluous; holding that in their inquiries the physicists should be content to employ the ordinary terms for things. Now in The Canon Epicurus affirms that our sensations and preconceptions and our feelings are the standards of truth; the Epicureans generally make perceptions of mental presentations to be also standards. His own statements are also to be found in the Summary addressed to Herodotus and in the Sovran Maxims. Every sensation, he says, is devoid of reason and incapable of memory; for neither is it self-caused nor, regarded as having an external cause, can it add anything thereto or take anything therefrom. 10.33. By preconception they mean a sort of apprehension or a right opinion or notion, or universal idea stored in the mind; that is, a recollection of an external object often presented, e.g. Such and such a thing is a man: for no sooner is the word man uttered than we think of his shape by an act of preconception, in which the senses take the lead. Thus the object primarily denoted by every term is then plain and clear. And we should never have started an investigation, unless we had known what it was that we were in search of. For example: The object standing yonder is a horse or a cow. Before making this judgement, we must at some time or other have known by preconception the shape of a horse or a cow. We should not have given anything a name, if we had not first learnt its form by way of preconception. It follows, then, that preconceptions are clear. The object of a judgement is derived from something previously clear, by reference to which we frame the proposition, e.g. How do we know that this is a man? 10.34. Opinion they also call conception or assumption, and declare it to be true and false; for it is true if it is subsequently confirmed or if it is not contradicted by evidence, and false if it is not subsequently confirmed or is contradicted by evidence. Hence the introduction of the phrase, that which awaits confirmation, e.g. to wait and get close to the tower and then learn what it looks like at close quarters.They affirm that there are two states of feeling, pleasure and pain, which arise in every animate being, and that the one is favourable and the other hostile to that being, and by their means choice and avoidance are determined; and that there are two kinds of inquiry, the one concerned with things, the other with nothing but words. So much, then, for his division and criterion in their main outline.But we must return to the letter.Epicurus to Herodotus, greeting.
11. Porphyry, On Abstinence, 3.22.2 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

12. Stoic School, Stoicor. Veter. Fragm., 2.83, 3.69



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
affections, of the soul Leão and Lanzillotta, A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic (2019) 146
antiokhos of askalon Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
atheism Leão and Lanzillotta, A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic (2019) 146
atom / atomism Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 145
conjecture / presupposition / coniectura / ὑπόληψις Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 145
cornutus, l. annaeus Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
democritus Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 14
determination / apprehension / cognitio / ἐπιβολή Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 145
divination / divinatio Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 145
future Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 145
hermetic writers Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
intellect, intelligence of beasts Leão and Lanzillotta, A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic (2019) 146
iosephos (josephus) Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
jews Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
khairemon Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
logos' Leão and Lanzillotta, A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic (2019) 146
lusimakhos Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
manethon Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
mankind Leão and Lanzillotta, A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic (2019) 146
middle platonism Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
neo-academics Leão and Lanzillotta, A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic (2019) 146
notion / notitia / ἔννοια Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 145
odysseus Leão and Lanzillotta, A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic (2019) 146
perception / comprehensio / κατάληψις Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 145
philosophical traditions, merging of Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
pliny the elder Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 14
plutarch Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
plutarchs lives, life of alexander Leão and Lanzillotta, A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic (2019) 146
praesensio / praenotio / anticipatio / πρόληψις Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 145
rationality, bestial Leão and Lanzillotta, A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic (2019) 146
reason Leão and Lanzillotta, A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic (2019) 146
seneca Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
seneca l. anneus Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 145
sextus empiricus Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
stoic thought Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 253
stoics Leão and Lanzillotta, A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic (2019) 146
theophrastus Leão and Lanzillotta, A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic (2019) 146
truth Edelmann-Singer et al., Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions (2020) 14