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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



10249
Seneca The Younger, Natural Questions, 2.45


nanNOR yet did these ancient sages believe that the Jupiter we worship in the Capitol and the rest of the temples ever really hurled thunderbolts from his hand. They recognised the same Jupiter as we do, the guardian and ruler of the universe, its soul and breath, the maker and lord of this earthly frame of things, to whom every name of power is appropriate. If you prefer to call him fate, you will not be wrong. He it is on whom depend all things, from whom proceed all causes of causes. If you prefer to call him providence, you will still be right; 2 for he it is by whose counsel provision is made for the world that it may pursue its orderly course and unfold the drama of its being. If you prefer to call him nature, you will make no mistake; for it is he from whom all things derive being, and by whose breath we live. If you prefer to call him the world, you will not be in error; for he is everything that you can see, he is wholly infused in all his parts, self-sustained through inherent power. The Etruscans thought so too. They said bolts were sent by Jove, just because nothing is performed except by his power.


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16 results
1. Homer, Iliad, 4.75-4.78 (8th cent. BCE - 7th cent. BCE)

4.75. /Even in such wise as the son of crooked-counselling Cronos sendeth a star to be a portent for seamen or for a wide host of warriors, a gleaming star, and therefrom the sparks fly thick; even so darted Pallas Athene to earth, and down she leapt into the midst; and amazement came upon all that beheld 4.76. /Even in such wise as the son of crooked-counselling Cronos sendeth a star to be a portent for seamen or for a wide host of warriors, a gleaming star, and therefrom the sparks fly thick; even so darted Pallas Athene to earth, and down she leapt into the midst; and amazement came upon all that beheld 4.77. /Even in such wise as the son of crooked-counselling Cronos sendeth a star to be a portent for seamen or for a wide host of warriors, a gleaming star, and therefrom the sparks fly thick; even so darted Pallas Athene to earth, and down she leapt into the midst; and amazement came upon all that beheld 4.78. /Even in such wise as the son of crooked-counselling Cronos sendeth a star to be a portent for seamen or for a wide host of warriors, a gleaming star, and therefrom the sparks fly thick; even so darted Pallas Athene to earth, and down she leapt into the midst; and amazement came upon all that beheld
2. Cicero, On Divination, 1.9, 1.13, 1.18-1.19, 1.86, 1.125, 2.8, 2.13, 2.15-2.19, 2.28, 2.40-2.41 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.9. Eius rationi non sane desidero quid respondeam; satis enim defensa religio est in secundo libro a Lucilio, cuius disputatio tibi ipsi, ut in extremo tertio scribis, ad veritatem est visa propensior. Sed, quod praetermissum est in illis libris (credo, quia commodius arbitratus es separatim id quaeri deque eo disseri), id est de divinatione, quae est earum rerum, quae fortuitae putantur, praedictio atque praesensio, id, si placet, videamus quam habeat vim et quale sit. Ego enim sic existimo, si sint ea genera dividi vera, de quibus accepimus quaeque colimus, esse deos, vicissimque, si di sint, esse qui divinent. 1.13. Mirari licet, quae sint animadversa a medicis herbarum genera, quae radicum ad morsus bestiarum, ad oculorum morbos, ad vulnera, quorum vim atque naturam ratio numquam explicavit, utilitate et ars est et inventor probatus. Age ea, quae quamquam ex alio genere sunt, tamen divinationi sunt similiora, videamus: Atque etiam ventos praemonstrat saepe futuros Inflatum mare, cum subito penitusque tumescit, Saxaque cana salis niveo spumata liquore Tristificas certant Neptuno reddere voces, Aut densus stridor cum celso e vertice montis Ortus adaugescit scopulorum saepe repulsus. Atque his rerum praesensionibus Prognostica tua referta sunt. Quis igitur elicere causas praesensionum potest? etsi video Boe+thum Stoicum esse conatum, qui hactenus aliquid egit, ut earum rationem rerum explicaret, quae in mari caelove fierent. 1.18. Nam primum astrorum volucris te consule motus Concursusque gravis stellarum ardore micantis Tu quoque, cum tumulos Albano in monte nivalis Lustrasti et laeto mactasti lacte Latinas, Vidisti et claro tremulos ardore cometas, Multaque misceri nocturna strage putasti, Quod ferme dirum in tempus cecidere Latinae, Cum claram speciem concreto lumine luna Abdidit et subito stellanti nocte perempta est. Quid vero Phoebi fax, tristis nuntia belli, Quae magnum ad columen flammato ardore volabat, Praecipitis caeli partis obitusque petessens? Aut cum terribili perculsus fulmine civis Luce sereti vitalia lumina liquit? Aut cum se gravido tremefecit corpore tellus? Iam vero variae nocturno tempore visae Terribiles formae bellum motusque monebant, Multaque per terras vates oracla furenti Pectore fundebant tristis minitantia casus 1.19. Atque ea, quae lapsu tandem cecidere vetusto, Haec fore perpetuis signis clarisque frequentans Ipse deum genitor caelo terrisque canebat. Nunc ea, Torquato quae quondam et consule Cotta Lydius ediderat Tyrrhenae gentis haruspex, Omnia fixa tuus glomerans determinat annus. Nam pater altitos stellanti nixus Olympo Ipse suos quondam tumulos ac templa petivit Et Capitolinis iniecit sedibus ignis. Tum species ex aere vetus venerataque Nattae Concidit, elapsaeque vetusto numine leges, Et divom simulacra peremit fulminis ardor. 1.86. Cur fiat quidque, quaeris. Recte omnino; sed non nunc id agitur; fiat necne fiat, id quaeritur. Ut, si magnetem lapidem esse dicam, qui ferrum ad se adliciat et attrahat, rationem, cur id fiat, adferre nequeam, fieri omnino neges. Quod idem facis in divinatione, quam et cernimus ipsi et audimus et legimus et a patribus accepimus. Neque ante philosophiam patefactam, quae nuper inventa est, hac de re communis vita dubitavit, et, posteaquam philosophia processit, nemo aliter philosophus sensit, in quo modo esset auctoritas. 1.125. Quin etiam hoc non dubitans dixerim, si unum aliquid ita sit praedictum praesensumque, ut, cum evenerit, ita cadat, ut praedictum sit, neque in eo quicquam casu et fortuito factum esse appareat, esse certe divinationem, idque esse omnibus confitendum. Quocirca primum mihi videtur, ut Posidonius facit, a deo, de quo satis dictum est, deinde a fato, deinde a natura vis omnis dividi ratioque repetenda. Fieri igitur omnia fato ratio cogit fateri. Fatum autem id appello, quod Graeci ei(marme/nhn, id est ordinem seriemque causarum, cum causae causa nexa rem ex se gignat. Ea est ex omni aeternitate fluens veritas sempiterna. Quod cum ita sit, nihil est factum, quod non futurum fuerit, eodemque modo nihil est futurum, cuius non causas id ipsum efficientes natura contineat. 2.8. Nam cum de divinatione Quintus frater ea disseruisset, quae superiore libro scripta sunt, satisque ambulatum videretur, tum in bibliotheca, quae in Lycio est, adsedimus. Atque ego: Adcurate tu quidem, inquam, Quinte, et Stoice Stoicorum sententiam defendisti, quodque me maxime delectat, plurimis nostris exemplis usus es, et iis quidem claris et inlustribus. Dicendum est mihi igitur ad ea, quae sunt a te dicta, sed ita, nihil ut adfirmem, quaeram omnia, dubitans plerumque et mihi ipse diffidens. Si enim aliquid certi haberem, quod dicerem, ego ipse divinarem, qui esse divinationem nego. 2.13. Sed animadverti, Quinte, te caute et ab iis coniecturis, quae haberent artem atque prudentiam, et ab iis rebus, quae sensibus aut artificiis perciperentur, abducere divinationem eamque ita definire: divinationem esse earum rerum praedictionem et praesensionem, quae essent fortuitae. Primum eodem revolveris. Nam et medici et gubernatoris et imperatoris praesensio est rerum fortuitarum. Num igitur aut haruspex aut augur aut vates quis aut somnians melius coniecerit aut e morbo evasurum aegrotum aut e periculo navem aut ex insidiis exercitum quam medicus, quam gubernator, quam imperator? 2.15. Potestne igitur earum rerum, quae nihil habent rationis, quare futurae sint, esse ulla praesensio? Quid est enim aliud fors, quid fortuna, quid casus, quid eventus, nisi cum sic aliquid cecidit, sic evenit, ut vel aliter cadere atque evenire potuerit? Quo modo ergo id, quod temere fit caeco casu et volubilitate fortunae, praesentiri et praedici potest? 2.16. Medicus morbum ingravescentem ratione providet, insidias imperator, tempestates gubernator; et tamen ii ipsi saepe falluntur, qui nihil sine certa ratione opitur; ut agricola, cum florem oleae videt, bacam quoque se visurum putat, non sine ratione ille quidem; sed non numquam tamen fallitur. Quodsi falluntur ii, qui nihil sine aliqua probabili coniectura ac ratione dicunt, quid existimandum est de coniectura eorum, qui extis aut avibus aut ostentis aut oraclis aut somniis futura praesentiunt? Nondum dico, quam haec signa nulla sint, fissum iecoris, corvi cantus, volatus aquilae, stellae traiectio, voces furentium, sortes, somnia; de quibus singulis dicam suo loco; nunc de universis. 2.17. Qui potest provideri quicquam futurum esse, quod neque causam habet ullam neque notam, cur futurum sit? Solis defectiones itemque lunae praedicuntur in multos annos ab iis, qui siderum motus numeris persequuntur; ea praedicunt enim, quae naturae necessitas perfectura est. Vident ex constantissimo motu lunae, quando illa e regione solis facta incurrat in umbram terrae, quae est meta noctis, ut eam obscurari necesse sit, quandoque eadem luna subiecta atque opposita soli nostris oculis eius lumen obscuret, quo in signo quaeque errantium stellarum quoque tempore futura sit, qui exortus quoque die signi alicuius aut qui occasus futurus sit. Haec qui ante dicunt, quam rationem sequantur, vides. 2.18. Qui thesaurum inventum iri aut hereditatem venturam dicunt, quid sequuntur? aut in qua rerum natura inest id futurum? Quodsi haec eaque, quae sunt eiusdem generis, habent aliquam talem necessitatem, quid est tandem, quod casu fieri aut forte fortuna putemus? Nihil enim est tam contrarium rationi et constantiae quam fortuna, ut mihi ne in deum quidem cadere videatur, ut sciat, quid casu et fortuito futurum sit. Si enim scit, certe illud eveniet; sin certe eveniet, nulla fortuna est; est autem fortuna; rerum igitur fortuitarum nulla praesensio est. 2.19. Aut si negas esse fortunam et omnia, quae fiunt quaeque futura sunt, ex omni aeternitate definita dicis esse fataliter, muta definitionem divinationis, quam dicebas praesensionem esse rerum fortuitarum. Si enim nihil fieri potest, nihil accidere, nihil evenire, nisi quod ab omni aeternitate certum fuerit esse futurum rato tempore, quae potest esse fortuna? qua sublata qui locus est divinationi? quae a te fortuitarum rerum est dicta praesensio. Quamquam dicebas omnia, quae fierent futurave essent, fato contineri. Anile sane et plenum superstitionis fati nomen ipsum; sed tamen apud Stoicos de isto fato multa dicuntur; de quo alias; nunc quod necesse est. 2.28. Ut ordiar ab haruspicina, quam ego rei publicae causa communisque religionis colendam censeo. Sed soli sumus; licet verum exquirere sine invidia, mihi praesertim de plerisque dubitanti. Inspiciamus, si placet, exta primum. Persuaderi igitur cuiquam potest ea, quae significari dicuntur extis, cognita esse ab haruspicibus observatione diuturna? Quam diuturna ista fuit? aut quam longinquo tempore observari potuit? aut quo modo est conlatum inter ipsos, quae pars inimica, quae pars familiaris esset, quod fissum periculum, quod commodum aliquod ostenderet? An haec inter se haruspices Etrusci, Elii, Aegyptii, Poeni contulerunt? At id, praeterquam quod fieri non potuit, ne fingi quidem potest; alios enim alio more videmus exta interpretari, nec esse unam omnium disciplinam. 2.40. Et quidem illi facilius facere possunt; deos enim ipsos iocandi causa induxit Epicurus perlucidos et perflabilis et habitantis tamquam inter duos lucos sic inter duos mundos propter metum ruinarum, eosque habere putat eadem membra, quae nos, nec usum ullum habere membrorum. Ergo hic circumitione quadam deos tollens recte non dubitat divinationem tollere; sed non, ut hic sibi constat, item Stoici. Illius enim deus nihil habens nec sui nec alieni negotii non potest hominibus divinationem inpertire; vester autem deus potest non inpertire, ut nihilo minus mundum regat et hominibus consulat. 2.41. Cur igitur vos induitis in eas captiones, quas numquam explicetis? Ita enim, cum magis properant, concludere solent: Si di sunt, est divinatio; sunt autem di; est ergo divinatio. Multo est probabilius: non est autem divinatio; non sunt ergo di. Vide, quam temere committant, ut, si nulla sit divinatio, nulli sint di. Divinatio enim perspicue tollitur, deos esse retinendum est. 1.9. However, I am really at no loss for a reply to his reasoning; for in the second book Lucilius has made an adequate defence of religion and his argument, as you yourself state at the end of the third book, seemed to you nearer to the truth than Cottas. But there is a question which you passed over in those books because, no doubt, you thought it more expedient to inquire into it in a separate discussion: I refer to divination, which is the foreseeing and foretelling of events considered as happening by chance. Now let us see, if you will, what efficacy it has and what its nature is. My own opinion is that, if the kinds of divination which we have inherited from our forefathers and now practise are trustworthy, then there are gods and, conversely, if there are gods then there are men who have the power of divination. [6] 1.9. Nor is the practice of divination disregarded even among uncivilized tribes, if indeed there are Druids in Gaul — and there are, for I knew one of them myself, Divitiacus, the Aeduan, your guest and eulogist. He claimed to have that knowledge of nature which the Greeks call physiologia, and he used to make predictions, sometimes by means of augury and sometimes by means of conjecture. Among the Persians the augurs and diviners are the magi, who assemble regularly in a sacred place for practice and consultation, just as formerly you augurs used to do on the Nones. 1.13. We may wonder at the variety of herbs that have been observed by physicians, of roots that are good for the bites of wild beasts, for eye affections, and for wounds, and though reason has never explained their force and nature, yet through their usefulness you have won approval for the medical art and for their discoverer.But come, let us consider instances, which although outside the category of divination, yet resemble it very closely:The heaving sea oft warns of coming storms,When suddenly its depths begin to swell;And hoary rocks, oerspread with snowy brine,To the sea, in boding tones, attempt reply;Or when from lofty mountain-peak upspringsA shrilly whistling wind, which stronger growsWith each repulse by hedge of circling cliffs.[8] Your book, Prognostics, is full of such warning signs, but who can fathom their causes? And yet I see that the Stoic Boëthus has attempted to do so and has succeeded to the extent of explaining the phenomena of sea and sky. 1.13. And while it is difficult, perhaps, to apply this principle of nature to explain that kind of divination which we call artificial, yet Posidonius, who digs into the question as deep as one can, thinks that nature gives certain signs of future events. Thus Heraclides of Pontus records that it is the custom of the people of Ceos, once each year, to make a careful observation of the rising of the Dog-star and from such observation to conjecture whether the ensuing year will be healthy or pestilential. For if the star rises dim and, as it were enveloped in a fog, this indicates a thick and heavy atmosphere, which will give off very unwholesome vapours; but if the star appears clear and brilliant, this is a sign that the atmosphere is light and pure and, as a consequence, will be conducive to good health. 1.18. You, being consul, at once did observe the swift constellations,Noting the glare of luminous stars in direful conjunction:Then you beheld the tremulous sheen of the Northern aurora,When, on ascending the mountainous heights of snowy Albanus,You offered joyful libations of milk at the Feast of the Latins;Ominous surely the time wherein fell that Feast of the Latins;Many a warning was given, it seemed, of slaughter nocturnal;Then, of a sudden, the moon at her full was blotted from heaven —Hidden her features resplendent, though night was bejewelled with planets;Then did that dolorous herald of War, the torch of Apollo,Mount all aflame to the dome of the sky, where the sun has its setting;Then did a Roman depart from these radiant abodes of the living,Stricken by terrible lightning from heavens serene and unclouded.Then through the fruit-laden body of earth ran the shock of an earthquake;Spectres at night were observed, appalling and changeful of figure,Giving their warning that war was at hand, and internal commotion;Over all lands there outpoured, from the frenzied bosoms of prophets,Dreadful predictions, gloomy forecasts of impending disaster. 1.19. And the misfortunes which happened at last and were long in their passing —These were foretold by the Father of Gods, in earth and in heaven,Through unmistakable signs that he gave and often repeated.[12] Now, of those prophecies made when Torquatus and Cotta were consuls, —Made by a Lydian diviner, by one of Etruscan extraction —All, in the round of your crowded twelve months, were brought to fulfilment.For high-thundering Jove, as he stood on starry Olympus,Hurled forth his blows at the temples and monuments raised in his honour,And on the Capitols site he unloosed the bolts of his lightning.Then fell the brazen image of Natta, ancient and honoured:Vanished the tablets of laws long ago divinely enacted;Wholly destroyed were the statues of gods by the heat of the lightning. 1.86. You ask why everything happens. You have a perfect right to ask, but that is not the point at issue now. The question is, Does it happen, or does it not? For example, if I were to say that the magnet attracted iron and drew it to itself, and I could not tell you why, then I suppose you would utterly deny that the magnet had any such power. At least that is the course you pursue in regard to the existence of the power of divination, although it is established by our reading and by the traditions of our forefathers. Why, even before the dawn of philosophy, which is a recent discovery, the average man had no doubt about divination, and, since its development, no philosopher of any sort of reputation has had any different view. 1.125. Nay, if even one such instance is found and the agreement between the prediction and the thing predicted is so close as to exclude every semblance of chance or of accident, I should not hesitate to say in such a case, that divination undoubtedly exists and that everybody should admit its existence.Wherefore, it seems to me that we must do as Posidonius does and trace the vital principle of divination in its entirety to three sources: first, to God, whose connexion with the subject has been sufficiently discussed; secondly to Fate; and lastly, to Nature. Reason compels us to admit that all things happen by Fate. Now by Fate I mean the same that the Greeks call εἱμαρμένη, that is, an orderly succession of causes wherein cause is linked to cause and each cause of itself produces an effect. That is an immortal truth having its source in all eternity. Therefore nothing has happened which was not bound to happen, and, likewise, nothing is going to happen which will not find in nature every efficient cause of its happening. 2.8. After my brother Quintus had delivered his views on divination, as set out in the preceding volume, and we had walked as much as we wished, we took our seats in the library in my Lyceum, and I remarked:Really, my dear Quintus, you have defended the Stoic doctrine with accuracy and like a Stoic. But the thing that delights me most is the fact that you illustrated your argument with many incidents taken from Roman sources — incidents, too, of a distinguished and noble type. I must now reply to what you said, but I must do so with great diffidence and with many misgivings, and in such a way as to affirm nothing and question everything. For if I should assume anything that I said to be certain I should myself be playing the diviner while saying that no such thing as divination exists! 2.8. Then dismiss Romuluss augural staff, which you say the hottest of fires was powerless to burn, and attach slight importance to the whetstone of Attus Navius. Myths would have no place in philosophy. It would have been more in keeping with your rôle as a philosopher to consider, first, the nature of divination generally, second, its origin, and third, its consistency. What, then, is the nature of an art which makes prophets out of birds that wander aimlessly about — now here, now there — and makes the action or inaction of men depend upon the song or flight of birds? and why was the power granted to some birds to give a favourable omen when on the left side and to others when on the right? Again, however, when, and by whom, shall we say that the system was invented? The Etruscans, it is true, find the author of their system in the boy who was ploughed up out of the ground; but whom have we? Attus Navius? But Romulus and Remus, both of whom, by tradition, were augurs, lived many years earlier. Are we to say that it was invented by the Pisidians, Cilicians, or Phrygians? It is your judgement, then, that those devoid of human learning are the authors of a divine science! [39] 2.13. But I observed, Quintus, that you prudently withdrew divination from conjectures based upon skill and experience in public affairs, from those drawn from the use of the senses and from those made by persons in their own callings. I observed, also, that you defined divination to be the foreknowledge and foretelling of things which happen by chance. In the first place, that is a contradiction of what you have admitted. For the foreknowledge possessed by a physician, a pilot, and a general is of things which happen by chance. Then can any soothsayer, augur, prophet, or dreamer conjecture better than a physician, a pilot, or a general that an invalid will come safely out of his sickness, or that a ship will escape from danger, or that an army will avoid an ambuscade? 2.13. Chrysippus, indeed, defines divination in these words: The power to see, understand, and explain premonitory signs given to men by the gods. Its duty, he goes on to say, is to know in advance the disposition of the gods towards men, the manner in which that disposition is shown and by what means the gods may be propitiated and their threatened ills averted. And this same philosopher defines the interpretation of dreams thus: It is the power to understand and explain the visions sent by the gods to men in sleep. Then, if that be true, will just ordinary shrewdness meet these requirements, or rather is there not need of surpassing intelligence and absolutely perfect learning? But I have never seen such a man. [64] 2.15. Can there, then, be any foreknowledge of things for whose happening no reason exists? For we do not apply the words chance, luck, accident, or casualty except to an event which has so occurred or happened that it either might not have occurred at all, or might have occurred in any other way. How, then, is it possible to foresee and to predict an event that happens at random, as the result of blind accident, or of unstable chance? 2.15. Sleep is regarded as a refuge from every toil and care; but it is actually made the fruitful source of worry and fear. In fact dreams would be less regarded on their own account and would be viewed with greater indifference had they not been taken under the guardianship of philosophers — not philosophers of the meaner sort, but those of the keenest wit, competent to see what follows logically and what does not — men who are considered well-nigh perfect and infallible. Indeed, if their arrogance had not been resisted by Carneades, it is probable that by this time they would have adjudged the only philosophers. While most of my war of words has been with these men, it is not because I hold them in especial contempt, but on the contrary, it is because they seem to me to defend their own views with the greatest acuteness and skill. Moreover, it is characteristic of the Academy to put forward no conclusions of its own, but to approve those which seem to approach nearest to the truth; to compare arguments; to draw forth all that may be said in behalf of any opinion; and, without asserting any authority of its own, to leave the judgement of the inquirer wholly free. That same method, which by the way we inherited from Socrates, I shall, if agreeable to you, my dear Quintus, follow as often as possible in our future discussions.Nothing could please me better, Quintus replied.When this was said, we arose. 2.16. By the use of reason the physician foresees the progress of a disease, the general anticipates the enemys plans and the pilot forecasts the approach of bad weather. And yet even those who base their conclusions on accurate reasoning are often mistaken: for example, when the farmer sees his olive-tree in bloom he expects also, and not unreasonably, to see it bear fruit, but occasionally he is disappointed. If then mistakes are made by those who make no forecasts not based upon some reasonable and probable conjecture, what must we think of the conjectures of men who foretell the future by means of entrails, birds, portents, oracles, or dreams? I am not ready yet to take up one by one the various kinds of divination and show that the cleft in the liver, the croak of a raven, the flight of an eagle, the fall of a star, the utterances of persons in a frenzy, lots, and dreams have no prophetic value whatever; I shall discuss each of them in its turn — now I am discussing the subject as a whole. 2.17. How can anything be foreseen that has no cause and no distinguishing mark of its coming? Eclipses of the sun and also of the moon are predicted for many years in advance by men who employ mathematics in studying the courses and movements of the heavenly bodies; and the unvarying laws of nature will bring their predictions to pass. Because of the perfectly regular movements of the moon the astronomers calculate when it will be opposite the sun and in the earths shadow — which is the cone of night — and when, necessarily, it will become invisible. For the same reason they know when the moon will be directly between the earth and the sun and thus will hide the light of the sun from our eyes. They know in what sign each planet will be at any given time and at what time each day any constellation will rise and set. You see the course of reasoning followed in arriving at these predictions. [7] 2.18. But what course of reasoning is followed by men who predict the finding of a treasure or the inheritance of an estate? On what law of nature do such prophecies depend? But, on the other hand, if the prophecies just mentioned and others of the same class are controlled by some natural and immutable law such as regulates the movements of the stars, pray, can we conceive of anything happening by accident, or chance? Surely nothing is so at variance with reason and stability as chance? Hence it seems to me that it is not in the power even of God himself to know what event is going to happen accidentally and by chance. For if He knows, then the event is certain to happen; but if it is certain to happen, chance does not exist. And yet chance does exist, therefore there is no foreknowledge of things that happen by chance. 2.19. But if you deny the existence of chance and assert that the course of everything present or future has been inevitably determined from all eternity, then you must change your definition of divination, which you said was the foreknowledge of things that happen by chance. For if nothing can happen, nothing befall, nothing come to pass, except what has been determined from all eternity as bound to happen at a fixed time, how can there be such a thing as chance? And if there is no such thing as chance, what room is there for that divination, which you termed a foreknowledge of things that happen by chance? And you were inconsistent enough, too, to say that everything that is or will be is controlled by Fate! Why, the very word Fate is full of superstition and old womens credulity, and yet the Stoics have much to say of this Fate of yours. A discussion on Fate is reserved for another occasion; at present I shall speak of it only in so far as it is necessary. [8] 2.28. In discussing separately the various methods of divination, I shall begin with soothsaying, which, according to my deliberate judgement, should be cultivated from reasons of political expediency and in order that we may have a state religion. But we are alone and for that reason we may, without causing ill-will, make an earnest inquiry into the truth of soothsaying — certainly I can do so, since in most things my philosophy is that of doubt. In the first place, then, if you please, let us make an inspection of entrails! Now can anybody be induced to believe that the things said to be predicted by means of entrails were learned by the soothsayers through long-continued observation? How long, pray, did the observations last? How could the observations have continued for a long time? How did the soothsayers manage to agree among themselves what part of the entrails was unfavourable, and what part favourable; or what cleft in the liver indicated danger and what promised some advantage? Are the soothsayers of Etruria, Elis, Egypt, and of Carthage in accord on these matters? Apart from such an agreement being impossible in fact, it is impossible even to imagine; and, moreover, we see some nations interpreting entrails in one way and some in another; hence there is no uniformity of practice. 2.41. Why then do you Stoics involve yourselves in these sophistries, which you can never explain? Members of your school, when they are more hurried than usual, generally give us this syllogism: If there are gods, there is divination; but there are gods, therefore there is divination. A more logical one would be this: There is no divination, therefore there are no gods. Observe how rashly they commit themselves to the proposition, if there is no divination, there are no gods. I say rashly, for it is evident that divination has been destroyed and yet we must hold on to the gods. [18]
3. Cicero, On Laws, 2.32 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

4. Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, 1.14-1.15 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.14. but to attend in court, try the case, and deliver their verdict as to what opinions we are to hold about religion, piety and holiness, about ritual, about honour and loyalty to oaths, about temples, shrines and solemn sacrifices, and about the very auspices over which I myself preside; for all of these matters ultimately depend upon this question of the nature of the immortal gods. Surely such wide diversity of opinion among men of the greatest learning on a matter of the highest moment must affect even those who think that they possess certain knowledge with a feeling of doubt. 1.15. This has often struck me, but it did so with especial force on one occasion, when the topic of the immortal gods was made the subject of a very searching and thorough discussion at the house of my friend Gaius Cotta. It was the Latin Festival, and I had come at Cotta's express invitation to pay him a visit. I found him sitting in an alcove, engaged in debate with Gaius Velleius, a Member of the Senate, accounted by the Epicureans as their chief Roman adherent at the time. With them was Quintus Lucilius Balbus, who was so accomplished a student of Stoicism as to rank with the leading Greek exponents of that system. When Cotta saw me, he greeted me with the words: "You come exactly at the right moment, for I am just engaging in a dispute with Velleius on an important topic, in which you with your tastes will be interested to take part.
5. Lucretius Carus, On The Nature of Things, 6.225-6.238, 6.423-6.450 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

6. Epictetus, Discourses, 1.1.12 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

7. Pliny The Elder, Natural History, 18.211-18.212 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

8. Seneca The Younger, Natural Questions, 2.32-2.44, 2.46-2.51 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

9. Suetonius, Augustus, 92, 14 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

10. Suetonius, Iulius, 6.1 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

11. Tacitus, Annals, 6.21-6.22 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

6.21.  For all consultations on such business he used the highest part of his villa and the confidential services of one freedman. Along the pathless and broken heights (for the house overlooks a cliff) this illiterate and robust guide led the way in front of the astrologer whose art Tiberius had resolved to investigate, and on his return, had any suspicion arisen of incompetence or of fraud, hurled him into the sea below, lest he should turn betrayer of the secret. Thrasyllus, then, introduced by the same rocky path, after he had impressed his questioner by adroit revelations of his empire to be and of the course of the future, was asked if he had ascertained his own horoscope — what was the character of that year — what the complexion of that day. A diagram which he drew up of the positions and distances of the stars at first gave him pause; then he showed signs of fear: the more careful his scrutiny, the greater his trepidation between surprise and alarm; and at last he exclaimed that a doubtful, almost a final, crisis was hard upon him. He was promptly embraced by Tiberius, who, congratulating him on the fact that he had divined, and was about to escape, his perils, accepted as oracular truth, the predictions he had made, and retained him among his closest friends. 6.22.  For myself, when I listen to this and similar narratives, my judgement wavers. Is the revolution of human things governed by fate and changeless necessity, or by accident? You will find the wisest of the ancients, and the disciplines attached to their tenets, at complete variance; in many of them a fixed belief that Heaven concerns itself neither with our origins, nor with our ending, nor, in fine, with mankind, and that so adversity continually assails the good, while prosperity dwells among the evil. Others hold, on the contrary, that, though there is certainly a fate in harmony with events, it does not emanate from wandering stars, but must be sought in the principles and processes of natural causation. Still, they leave us free to choose our life: that choice made, however, the order of the future is certain. Nor, they maintain, are evil and good what the crowd imagines: many who appear to be the sport of adverse circumstances are happy; numbers are wholly wretched though in the midst of great possessions — provided only that the former endure the strokes of fortune with firmness, while the latter employ her favours with unwisdom. With most men, however, the faith is ineradicable that the future of an individual is ordained at the moment of his entry into life; but at times a prophecy is falsified by the event, through the dishonesty of the prophet who speaks he knows not what; and thus is debased the credit of an art, of which the most striking evidences have been furnished both in the ancient world and in our own. For the forecast of Nero's reign, made by the son of this very Thrasyllus, shall be related at its fitting place: at present I do not care to stray too far from my theme.
12. Valerius Flaccus Gaius, Argonautica, 1.563, 2.381, 3.183, 4.43 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

13. Athenagoras, Apology Or Embassy For The Christians, 24, 10 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

10. That we are not atheists, therefore, seeing that we acknowledge one God, uncreated, eternal, invisible, impassible, incomprehensible, illimitable, who is apprehended by the understanding only and the reason, who is encompassed by light, and beauty, and spirit, and power ineffable, by whom the universe has been created through His Logos, and set in order, and is kept in being - I have sufficiently demonstrated. [I say His Logos], for we acknowledge also a Son of God. Nor let any one think it ridiculous that God should have a Son. For though the poets, in their fictions, represent the gods as no better than men, our mode of thinking is not the same as theirs, concerning either God the Father or the Son. But the Son of God is the Logos of the Father, in idea and in operation; for after the pattern of Him and by Him were all things made, the Father and the Son being one. And, the Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son, in oneness and power of spirit, the understanding and reason (νοῦς καὶ λόγος) of the Father is the Son of God. But if, in your surpassing intelligence, it occurs to you to inquire what is meant by the Son, I will state briefly that He is the first product of the Father, not as having been brought into existence (for from the beginning, God, who is the eternal mind [νοῦς], had the Logos in Himself, being from eternity instinct with Logos [λογικός]); but inasmuch as He came forth to be the idea and energizing power of all material things, which lay like a nature without attributes, and an inactive earth, the grosser particles being mixed up with the lighter. The prophetic Spirit also agrees with our statements. The Lord, it says, made me, the beginning of His ways to His works. Proverbs 8:22 The Holy Spirit Himself also, which operates in the prophets, we assert to be an effluence of God, flowing from Him, and returning back again like a beam of the sun. Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, called atheists? Nor is our teaching in what relates to the divine nature confined to these points; but we recognise also a multitude of angels and ministers, whom God the Maker and Framer of the world distributed and appointed to their several posts by His Logos, to occupy themselves about the elements, and the heavens, and the world, and the things in it, and the goodly ordering of them all.
14. Justin, First Apology, 22, 32-51, 21 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

21. And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribed to Jupiter: Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all; Æsculapius, who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt, and so ascended to heaven; and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his toils; and the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus. For what shall I say of Ariadne, and those who, like her, have been declared to be set among the stars? And what of the emperors who die among yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you produce some one who swears he has seen the burning C sar rise to heaven from the funeral pyre? And what kind of deeds are recorded of each of these reputed sons of Jupiter, it is needless to tell to those who already know. This only shall be said, that they are written for the advantage and encouragement of youthful scholars; for all reckon it an honourable thing to imitate the gods. But far be such a thought concerning the gods from every well-conditioned soul, as to believe that Jupiter himself, the governor and creator of all things, was both a parricide and the son of a parricide, and that being overcome by the love of base and shameful pleasures, he came in to Ganymede and those many women whom he had violated and that his sons did like actions. But, as we said above, wicked devils perpetrated these things. And we have learned that those only are deified who have lived near to God in holiness and virtue; and we believe that those who live wickedly and do not repent are punished in everlasting fire.
15. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of The Philosophers, 7.1 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

7.1. BOOK 7: 1. ZENOZeno, the son of Mnaseas (or Demeas), was a native of Citium in Cyprus, a Greek city which had received Phoenician settlers. He had a wry neck, says Timotheus of Athens in his book On Lives. Moreover, Apollonius of Tyre says he was lean, fairly tall, and swarthy – hence some one called him an Egyptian vine-branch, according to Chrysippus in the first book of his Proverbs. He had thick legs; he was flabby and delicate. Hence Persaeus in his Convivial Reminiscences relates that he declined most invitations to dinner. They say he was fond of eating green figs and of basking in the sun.
16. Stoic School, Stoicor. Veter. Fragm., 1.162, 1.509



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
allen, james Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 319
antipater of tarsus Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 316
apennines Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
argonauts Agri, Reading Fear in Flavian Epic: Emotion, Power, and Stoicism (2022) 101
astrology Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 41
athena Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 41
athenagoras Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 865
attalus, seneca's teacher" Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 327, 331
attalus, seneca's teacher, and caecina" Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 330, 331, 332
augustus (emperor), and natural phenomena Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40, 41
aulon Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
babylon, babylonia, babylonians, writers on Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
beard, mary Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 296, 318, 319
belief/s, role in emotion Agri, Reading Fear in Flavian Epic: Emotion, Power, and Stoicism (2022) 101
bobzien, susanne Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 320, 321, 322, 323
caecina, aulus, and attalus Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 330, 331, 332
caecina, aulus, thirteen lightning-types Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 330, 331
caecina, aulus Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 324, 325, 326, 327, 328
carneades Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 316, 319
chaldeans Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 313
cicero, discourse on theology in de diuinatione Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 318
cicero, m. tullius Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
cicero, shift to academic skepticism Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 315, 316
cicero, volte-face on divination? Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 314, 315
cicero Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca's 'Natural Questions' (2012) 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 332
columna, meterological phenomenon Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
contingency in fate Agri, Reading Fear in Flavian Epic: Emotion, Power, and Stoicism (2022) 101
cosmos Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40
divinity Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40, 41
dodona Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 15
egypt Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
eidinow, e. Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 15
etrusca disciplina Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
etruscans Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
fear, and hope ( spes ) Agri, Reading Fear in Flavian Epic: Emotion, Power, and Stoicism (2022) 101
fire, as meterological phenomenon Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
fortuna Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40
fulmina Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
gallia Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40
grace; christ the master of Sider, Christian and Pagan in the Roman Empire: The Witness of Tertullian (2001) 42
haruspicy Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 15
herennius, m. Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
italy (italia), weather and Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
jews Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40
julius caesar, c. Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
jupiter, arg. Agri, Reading Fear in Flavian Epic: Emotion, Power, and Stoicism (2022) 101
jupiter, similarities and contradictions Agri, Reading Fear in Flavian Epic: Emotion, Power, and Stoicism (2022) 101
jupiter (god) Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 41
lightning Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40
logos; stoic Sider, Christian and Pagan in the Roman Empire: The Witness of Tertullian (2001) 42
lucretius Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
manilius, m. Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40
marcia Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
mary; a virgin Sider, Christian and Pagan in the Roman Empire: The Witness of Tertullian (2001) 42
mesopotamia, astronomy and astrology of Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40
olympus, mt., in northern greece Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 41
omens Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40, 41
perusia (perugia) Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 41
philosopher Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 865
plato Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 865
pompeii Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
prester, meterological term Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
private divination Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 15
reason; as logos' Sider, Christian and Pagan in the Roman Empire: The Witness of Tertullian (2001) 42
rector Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 41
scythia, scythae (scythians) Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
seneca the younger Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 41
sergius catilina, q. Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
servius tullius Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40
sortes astrampsychi Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 15
stoicism, fate Agri, Reading Fear in Flavian Epic: Emotion, Power, and Stoicism (2022) 101
stoicism, fate and contingency Agri, Reading Fear in Flavian Epic: Emotion, Power, and Stoicism (2022) 101
stoicism, providence Agri, Reading Fear in Flavian Epic: Emotion, Power, and Stoicism (2022) 101
stoicism Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40
stoics; doctrine of logos Sider, Christian and Pagan in the Roman Empire: The Witness of Tertullian (2001) 42
teaching, platonic Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 865
thunderbolts Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
tiberius (emperor) Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40
tullius cicero, m., de diuinatione Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 15
turbo, celestial phenomenon Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
universe Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40
weather Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 40, 67
wine Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 67
zeno, of citium Agri, Reading Fear in Flavian Epic: Emotion, Power, and Stoicism (2022) 101
zeno; defined god as logos Sider, Christian and Pagan in the Roman Empire: The Witness of Tertullian (2001) 42
zeus Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 865
zodiac Roller, A Guide to the Geography of Pliny the Elder (2022) 41