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I.57‑124

This webpage reproduces part of the
De Natura Deorum

by
Cicero

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1933

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!


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II.73‑167

(Vol. XIX) Cicero
De Natura Deorum

p123 1 1 Cotta having thus spoken, Velleius replied. "I am indeed a rash person," he said, "to attempt to join issue with a pupil of the Academy1 who is also a trained orator. An Academic unversed in rhetoric I should not have been much afraid of, nor yet an orator however eloquent who was not reinforced by that system of philosophy; for I am not disconcerted by a mere stream of empty verbiage, nor yet by subtlety of thought if expressed in a jejune style. You however, Cotta, were strong in both points; you only lacked a public audience and a jury to listen to you. But my answer to your arguments may wait until another time; let us now hear Lucilius, if he himself is agreeable."

2 "For my part," rejoined Balbus, "I had rather listen to Cotta again, using the same eloquence that he employed in abolishing false gods to present a picture of the true ones. A philosopher, a pontiff and a Cotta should possess not a shifting and unsettled conception of the immortal gods, like the Academics, but a firm and definite one like our school. As for refuting Epicurus, that has been accomplished and more than achieved already. But I am eager to hear what you think yourself, Cotta."

"Have you forgotten," said Cotta, "what I said at the outset, that I find it more easy, especially on p125such subjects as these, to say what I don't think than what I do? 3 Even if I had any clear view, I should still prefer to hear you speak in your turn, now that I have said so much myself."

"Well," replied Balbus, "I will yield to your wish; and I shall be as brief as I can, for indeed when the errors of Epicurus have been refuted, my argument is robbed of all occasion for prolixity. To take a general view, the topic of the immortal gods which you raise is divided by our school into four parts: first they prove that the gods exist; next they explain their nature; then they show that the world is governed by them; and lastly that they care for the fortunes of mankind. In our present discourse however let us take the first two of these heads; the third and fourth, being questions of greater magnitude, had better I think be put off to another time."

"No, no," cried Cotta, "we are at leisure now, and moreover the subjects which we are discussing might fitly claim precedence even of matters of business."

2 4 "The first point," resumed Lucilius, "seems not even to require arguing. For when we gaze upward to the sky and contemplate the heavenly bodies, what can be so obvious and so manifest as that there must exist some power possessing transcendent intelligence by whom these things are ruled? Were it not so, how comes it that the words of Ennius carry conviction to all readers —

Behold this dazzling vault of heaven, which all mankind as Jove invoke,

ay, and not only as Jove but as sovereign of the world, ruling all things with his nod, and as Ennius likewise says —

father of gods and men,

p127 a deity omnipresent and omnipotent? If a man doubts this, I really cannot see why he should not also be capable of doubting the existence of the sun; 5 how is the latter fact more evident than the former? Nothing but the presence in our minds of a firmly grasped concept of the deity could account for the stability and permanence of our belief in him, a belief which is only strengthened by the passage of the ages and grows more deeply rooted with each successive generation of mankind. In every other case we see that fictitious and unfounded opinions have dwindled away with lapse of time. Who believes that the Hippocentaur or the Chimaera ever existed? Where can you find an old wife senseless enough to be afraid of the monsters of the lower world that were once believed in? The years obliterate the inventions of the imagination, but confirm the judgements of nature.

"Hence both in our own nation and among all others reverence for the gods and respect for religion grow continually stronger and more profound. 6 Nor is this unaccountable or accidental; it is the result, firstly, of the fact that the gods often manifest their power in bodily presence. For instance in the Latin War, at the critical battle of Lake Regillus between the dictator Aulus Postumius and Octavius Mamilius of Tusculum, Castor and Pollux were seen fighting on horseback in our ranks. And in more modern history likewise these sons of Tyndareus brought the news of the defeat of Perses. What happened was that Publius Vatinius, the grandfather of our young contemporary, was returning to Rome by night from Reate, of which he was governor, when he was informed by two young warriors on white horses that p129King Perses had that very day been taken prisoner. When Vatinius carried the news to the Senate, at first he was flung into gaol on the charge of spreading an unfounded report on a matter of national concern; but afterwards a dispatch arrived from Paulus, and the date was found to tally, so the Senate bestowed upon Vatinius both a grant of land and exemption from military service. It is also recorded in history that when the Locrians won their great victory over the people of Crotona at the important battle of the River Sagra, news of the engagement was reported at the Olympic Games on the very same day. Often has the sound of the voices of the Fauns, often has the apparition of a divine form compelled anyone that is not either feeble-minded or impious to admit the real presence of the gods.

3 7 "Again, prophecies and premonitions of future events cannot but be taken as proofs that the future may appear or be foretold as a warning or portended or predicted to mankind — hence the very words 'apparition,' 'warning,' 'portent,' 'prodigy.' Even if we think that the stories of Mopsus, Tiresias, Amphiaraus, Calchas and Helenus are mere baseless fictions of romance (though their powers of divination would not even have been incorporated in the legends had they been entirely repugnant to fact), shall not even the instances from our own native history teach us to acknowledge the divine power? shall we be unmoved by the story of the recklessness of Publius Claudius in the first Punic War? Claudius merely in jest mocked at the gods: when the chickens on being released from their cage refused to feed, he ordered them to be thrown into the water, so that as they would not eat they might drink; but the joke p131 cost the jester himself many tears and the Roman people a great disaster, for the fleet was severely defeated. Moreover did not his colleague Junius during the same war lose his fleet in a storm after failing to comply with the auspices? In consequence of these disasters Claudius was tried and condemned for high treason and Junius committed suicide. 8 Caelius writes that Gaius Flaminius after ignoring the claims of religion fell at the battle of Trasimene, when a serious blow was inflicted on the state. The fate of these men may serve to indicate that our empire was won by those commanders who obeyed the dictates of religion. Moreover if we care to compare our national characteristics with those of foreign peoples, we shall find that, while in all other respects we are only the equals or even the inferiors of others, yet in the sense of religion, that is, in reverence for the gods, we are far superior. 9 Or are we to make light of the famous augural staff of Attus Navius, wherewith he marked out the vineyard into sections for the purpose of discovering the pig?2 I would agree that we might do so, had not King Hostilius fought great and glorious wars under the guidance of Attus's augury. But owing to the carelessness of our nobility the augural lore has been forgotten, and the reality of the auspices has fallen into contempt, only the outward show being retained; and in consequence highly important departments of public administration, and in particular the conduct of wars upon which the safety of the state depends, are carried on without any auspices at all; no taking of omens when crossing rivers, none when lights flash from the points of the javelins, none when men are called to arms (owing to which wills made on p133active service have gone out of existence, since our generals only enter on their military command when they have laid down their augural powers). 10 But among our ancestors religion was so powerful that some commanders actually offered themselves as victims to the immortal gods on behalf of the state, veiling their heads and formally vowing themselves to death. I could quote numerous passages from the Sibylline prophecies and from the oracles of soothsayers in confirmation of facts that no one really ought to question. 4 Why, in the consulship of Publius Scipio and Gaius Figulus both our Roman augural lore and that of the Etruscan soothsayers were confirmed by the evidence of actual fact. Tiberius Gracchus, then consul for the second time, was holding the election of his successors. The first returning officer in the very act of reporting the persons named as elected suddenly fell dead. Gracchus nevertheless proceeded with the election. Perceiving that the scruples of the public had been aroused by the occurrence, he referred the matter to the Senate. The Senate voted that it be referred 'to the customary officials.' Soothsayers were sent for, and pronounced that the returning officer for the elections had not been in order. 11 Thereupon Gracchus, so my father used to tell me, burst into a rage. 'How now?' he cried, 'was I not in order? I put the names to the vote as consul, as augur, and with auspices taken. Who are you, Tuscan barbarians,3 to know the Roman constitution, and to be able to lay down the law as to our elections?' And accordingly he then sent them about their business. Afterwards however he sent a dispatch from his province to the College of Augurs to say that while reading the sacred p135 books it had come to his mind that there had been an irregularity when he took Scipio's park as the site for his augural tent, for he had subsequently entered the city bounds to hold a meeting of the Senate and when crossing the bounds again on his return had forgotten to take the auspices;4 and that therefore the consuls had not been duly elected. The College of Augurs referred the matter to the senate; the Senate decided that the consuls must resign; they did so. What more striking instances can we demand? A man of the greatest wisdom and I may say unrivalled distinction of character preferred to make public confession of an offence that he might have concealed rather than that the stain of impiety should cling to the commonwealth; the consuls preferred to retire on the spot from the highest office of the state rather than hold it for one moment of time in violation of religion. 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.

p137 5 13 As to their nature there are various opinions, but their existence nobody denies. Indeed our master Cleanthes gave four reasons to account for the formation in men's minds of their ideas of the gods. He put first the argument of which I spoke just now, the one arising from our foreknowledge of future events; second, the one drawn from the magnitude of the benefits which we derive from our temperate climate, from the earth's fertility, and from a vast abundance of other blessings; 14 third, the awe inspired by lightning, storms, rain, snow, hail, floods, pestilences, earthquakes and occasionally subterranean rumblings, showers of stones and raindrops the colour of blood, also landslips and chasms suddenly opening in the ground, also unnatural monstrosities human and animal, and also the appearance of meteoric lights and what are called by the Greeks 'comets,' and in our language 'long-haired stars,' such as recently during the Octavian War5 appeared as harbingers of dire disasters,6 and the doubling of the sun, which my father told me had happened in the consulship of Tuditanus and Aquilius, the year7 in which the light was quenched of Publius Africanus, that second sun of Rome: all of which alarming portents have suggested to mankind the idea of the existence of some celestial and divine power. 15 And the fourth and most potent cause of the belief he said was the uniform motion and revolution of the heavens, and the varied groupings and ordered beauty of the sun, moon and stars, the very sight of which was in itself enough to prove that these things are not the mere effect of chance. When a man goes into a house, p139 a wrestling-school or a public assembly and observes in all that goes on arrangement, regularity and system, he cannot possibly suppose that these things come about without a cause: he realizes that there is someone who presides and controls. Far more therefore with the vast movements and phases of the heavenly bodies, and these ordered processes of a multitude of enormous masses of matter, which throughout the countless ages of the infinite past have never in the smallest degree played false, is he compelled to infer that these mighty world-motions are regulated by some Mind.

6 16 "Extremely acute of intellect as is Chrysippus, nevertheless his utterance here might well appear to have been learnt from the very lips of Nature, and not discovered by himself. 'If (he says) there be something in the world that man's mind and human reason, strength and power are incapable of producing, that which produces it must necessarily be superior to man; now the heavenly bodies and all those things that display a never-ending regularity cannot be created by man; therefore that which creates them is superior to man; yet what better name is there for this than "god"? Indeed, if gods do not exist, what can there be in the universe superior to man? for he alone possesses reason, which is the most excellent thing that can exist; but for any human being in existence to think that there is nothing in the whole world superior to himself would be an insane piece of arrogance; therefore there is something superior to man; therefore God does exist.' 17 Again, if you see a spacious and beautiful house, you could not be induced to believe, even though you could not see its master, that it was built p141 by mice and weasels; if then you were to imagine that this elaborate universe, with all the variety and beauty of the heavenly bodies and the vast quantity and extent of sea and land, were your abode and not that of the gods, would you not be thought absolutely insane? Again, do we not understand that everything in a higher position is of greater value, and that the lowest thing, and is enveloped by a layer of the densest kind of air? Hence for the same reason what we observe to be the case with certain districts and cities, I mean that their inhabitants are duller-witted than the average owing to the more compressed quality of the atmosphere, has also befallen the human race as a whole owing to its being located on the earth, that is, in the densest region of the world. 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'8 (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. 7 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, p143 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. 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.

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: 8 21 'That which has the faculty of reason is superior to that p145which 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: 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 inanimate 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?

9 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 p147them 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. 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.

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';9 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 p149in the caverns of the earth, which in winter is denser and therefore confines more closely the heat stored in the soil. 10 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; 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 p151glowing hot throughout and also imparts the warmth of health and life to all other substances. 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.

11 29 "There is therefore an element that holds10 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. 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 p153ruling 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. 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? 12 32 For let us hear Plato,11 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 p155and 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.

33 "Again, 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. 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. 13 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. 35 Again, it is undeniable p157that 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. 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; p159and 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.

37 "In fact12 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. 14 For as Chrysippus cleverly puts it,13 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.' 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; 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; p161how much more readily then in the world! therefore the world possesses virtue. Therefore it is wise, and consequently divine.

15 "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. 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 sustenance 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. 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 p163also 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. 42 Since therefore some living creatures are born on the earth, others in the water and others in the air, it is absurd, so Aristotle14 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. 16 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; 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 p165variation; 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. 44 Aristotle is also to be commended for his view15 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.

17 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 p167those 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. 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; 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. 18 In the meantime, pray, Velleius, do not parade your school's utter ignorance of science. You say that you think a cone, a cylinder p169and 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. 48 Still, if you Epicureans cannot see this, as you have never meddled with that learned dust,16 could you not have grasped even so much of natural philosophy as to understand that the uniform motion and regular disposition of the heavenly bodies could not have been maintained with any other shape? Hence nothing could be more unscientific than your favourite assertion, that it is not certain that our world itself is round, since it may possibly have some other form, and there are countless numbers of worlds, all of different shapes. 49 Had but Epicurus learnt that twice two are four he certainly would not talk like that; but while making his palate the test of the chief good, he forgets to lift up his eyes to what Ennius calls 'the palate of the sky.'

19 "For there are two kinds of heavenly p171bodies,17 some that travel from east to west in unchanging paths, without ever making the slightest deviation in their course, while the others perform two unbroken revolutions in the same paths and courses. Now both of these facts indicate at once the rotatory motion of the firmament, which is only possible with a spherical shape, and the circular revolutions of the heavenly bodies.

"Take first of all the sun, which is the chief of the celestial bodies. Its motion is such that it first fills the countries of the earth with a flood of light, and then leaves them in darkness now on one side and now on the other; for night is caused merely by the shadow of the earth, which intercepts the light of the sun. Its daily and nightly paths have the same regularity. Also the sun by at one time slightly approaching and at another time slightly receding causes a moderate variation of temperature. For the passage of about 365¼ diurnal revolutions of the sun completes the circuit of a year; and by bending its course now towards the north and now towards the south the sun causes summers and winters and the two seasons of which one follows the waning of winter and the other that of summer. Thus from the changes of the four seasons are derived the origins and causes of all those creatures which come into existence on land and in the sea.

50 "Again the moon in her monthly paths overtakes the yearly course of the sun; and her light wanes to its minimum when she approaches nearest to the sun, and waxes to its maximum each time that she recedes farthest from him. And not only is her shape and outline altered by her alternate waxing and waning or returning to her starting-point, but also her position p173in the sky, which at one time is in the north and another in the south. The moon's course also has a sort of winter and summer solstice; and she emits many streams of influence, which supply animal creatures with nourishment and stimulate their growth and which cause plants to flourish and attain maturity.a

20 51 "Most marvellous are the motions of the five stars, falsely called planets or wandering stars — for a thing cannot be said to wander if it preserves for all eternity fixed and regular motions, forward, backward and in other directions. And this regularity is all the more marvellous in the case of the stars we speak of, because at one time they are hidden and at another they are uncovered again; now they approach, now retire; now precede, now follow; now move faster, now slower, now do not move at all but remain for a time stationary. On the diverse moons of the planets the mathematicians have based what they call at Great Year,18 which is completed when the sun, moon and five planets having all finished their courses have returned to the same positions relative to one another. 52 The length of this period is hotly debated, but it must necessarily be a fixed and definite time.19 For planet called Saturn's, the Greek name of which is Phaenon (the shiner), which is the farthest away from the earth, completes its orbit in about thirty years, in the course of which period it passes through a number of remarkable phases, at one time accelerating and at another time retarding its velocity, now disappearing in the evening, then reappearing in the morning, yet without varying in the p175least degree throughout all the ages of eternity, but always doing the same things at the same times. Below this and nearer to the earth moves the star of Jupiter, called Phaëthon (the blazing star), which completes the same circuit of the twelve signs of the zodiac in twelve years, and makes the same variations during its course as the star of Saturn. 53 The orbit next below is that of Pyroeis (the fiery), which is called the star of Mars, and this covers the same orbit as the two planets above it in twenty-four months all but (I think) six days. Below this in turn is the star of Mercury, called by the Greeks Stilbōn (the gleaming), which completes the circuit of the zodiac in about the period of a year, and is never distant from the sun more than the space of a single sign, though it sometimes precedes the sun and sometimes follows it. Lowest of the five planets and nearest to the earth is the star of Venus, called in Greek Phosphoros (the light-bringer) and in Latin Lucifer when it precedes the sun, but when it follows it Hesperos; this planet completes its orbit in a year, traversing the sod with a sausage movement as do the planets above it, and never distant more than the space of two signs from the sun, though sometimes in front of it and sometimes behind it.

21 54 "This regularity therefore in the stars, this exact punctuality throughout all eternity notwithstanding the great variety of their courses, is to me incomprehensible without rational intelligence and purpose. And if we observe these attributes in the planets, we cannot fail to enrol even them among the number of the gods.

"Moreover the so‑called fixed stars also indicate the same intelligence and wisdom. Their revolutions p177recur daily with exact regularity. It is not the case that they are carried along by the aether or that their courses are fixed in the firmament, as most people ignorant of natural philosophy aver; for the aether is not of such a nature as to hold the stars and cause them to revolve by its own force, since being rare and translucent and of uniform diffused heat, the aether does not appear to be well adapted to contain the stars. 55 Therefore the fixed stars have a sphere of their own, separate from and not attached to the aether. Now the continual and unceasing revolutions of these stars, marvellously and incredibly regular as they are, clearly show that these are endowed with divine power and intelligence; so that anyone who cannot perceive that they themselves possess divinity would seem to be incapable of understanding anything at all.

56 "In the heavens therefore there is nothing of chance or hazard, no error, no frustration, but absolute order, accuracy, calculation and regularity. whatever lacks these qualities, whatever is false and spurious and full of error, belongs to the region between the earth and the moon (the last of the heavenly bodies), and to the surface of the earth. Anyone therefore who thinks that the marvellous order and incredible regularity of the heavenly bodies, which is the sole source of preservation and safety for all things, is not rational, himself cannot be deemed a rational thing.

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. 22 Now Zeno gives this definition of nature: 'nature (he says) is a craftsmanlike fire, proceeding p179methodically to the work of generation.'20 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,21 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, 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,'22 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.

23 59 "We have discussed the world as a whole, and we have also discussed the heavenly bodies; so that there now stands fairly well revealed to our view a vast company of gods who are neither idle nor yet perform their activities with irksome and laborious p181toil. For they have no framework of veins and sinews and bones; nor do they consume such kinds of food and drink as to make them contract too sharp or too sluggish a condition of the humours; nor are their bodies such as to make them fear falls or blows or apprehend disease from exhaustion of their members — dangers which led Epicurus to invent his unsubstantial, do‑nothing gods. 60 On the contrary, they are endowed with supreme beauty of form, they are situated in the purest region of the sky, and they so control their motions and courses as to seem to be conspiring together to preserve and to protect the universe.

"Many other divinities however have with good reason been recognized and named both by the wisest men of Greece and by our ancestors from the great benefits that they bestow. For it was thought that whatever confers great utility on the human race must be due to the operation of divine benevolence towards men. Thus sometimes a thing sprung from23 a god was called by the name of the god himself; as when we speak of corn as Ceres, of wine as Liber, so that Terence writes:

when Ceres and when Liber fail,

Venus is cold.

61 In other cases some exceptionally potent force is itself designated by a title of convey, for example Faith and Mind; we see the shrines on the Capitol lately dedicated to them both by Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, and Faith had previously been deified by Aulus Atilius Calatinus. You see24 the temple of Virtue, restored as the temple of Honour by Marcus p183Marcellus, but founded many years before by Quintus Maximus in the time of the Ligurian war. Again, there are the temples of Wealth, Safety, Concord, Liberty and Victory, all of which things, being so powerful as necessarily to imply divine governance, were themselves designated as gods. In the same class the names of Desire, Pleasure and Venus Lubentina have been deified — things vicious and unnatural (although Velleius thinks otherwise), yet the urge of these vices often overpowers natural instinct. 62 Those gods therefore who were the authors of various benefits owned their deification to the value of the benefits which they bestowed, and indeed the names that I just now enumerated express the various powers of the gods that bear them.

24 "Human experience moreover and general custom have made it a practice to confer the deification of renown and gratitude upon of distinguished benefactors. This is the origin of Hercules, of Castor and Pollux, of Aesculapius, and also of Liber (I mean Liber the son of Semele, not the Liber whom our ancestors solemnly and devoutly consecrated with Ceres and Libera, the import of which joint consecration may be gathered from the mysteries; but Liber and Libera were so named as Ceres' offspring, that being the meaning of our Latin word liberi — a use which has survived in the case of Libera but not of Liber) — and this is also the origin of Romulus, who is believed to be the same as Quirinus. And these benefactors were duly deemed divine, as being both supremely good and immortal, because their souls survived and enjoyed eternal life.

63 "Another theory also, and that a scientific one, has been the source of a number of deities, who clad p185in human form have furnished the poets legends and have filled man's life with superstitions of all sorts. This subject was handled by Zeno and was later explained more fully by Cleanthes and Chrysippus. For example, an ancient belief prevailed throughout Greece that Caelus25 was mutilated by his son Saturn, and Saturn himself thrown into bondage by his son Jove: 64 now these immoral fables enshrined a decidedly clever scientific theory. Their meaning was that the highest element of celestial ether or fire, which by itself generates all things, is devoid of that bodily part which requires union with another for the work of procreation. 25 By Saturn again they denoted that being who maintains the course and revolution of seasons and periods of time, et deity actually so designated in Greek, for Saturn's Greek name is Kronos, which is the same as chronos, a space of time. The Latin designation 'Saturn' on the other hand is due to the fact that he is 'saturated' or 'satiated with years' (anni); the fable is that he was in the habit of devouring his sons — meaning that Time devours the ages and gorges himself insatiably with the years that are past. Saturn was bound by Jove in order that Time's courses might not be unlimited, and that Jove might fetter him by the bonds of the stars. But Jupiter himself — the name means 'the helping father,' whom with a change of inflexion we style Jove, from iuvare 'to help'; the poets call him 'father of gods and men,' and our ancestors entitled him 'best and greatest,' putting the title 'best,' that is most beneficent, before that of 'greatest,' because universal beneficence is gate their, or at least more lovable, than the possession of great wealth — p18765 it is he then who is addressed by Ennius in the following terms, as I said before:26

Behold this dazzling vault of heaven, which all mankind as Jove invoke —

more explicitly than in another passage of the same poet:

Now by whatever pow'r it be that sheds

This light of day, I'll lay my curse upon him!

It is he also whom our augurs mean by their formula 'should Jove lighten and thunder,' meaning 'should the sky lighten and thunder.' Euripides among many fine passages has this brief invocation:

Thou seest the boundless aether's spreading vault,

Whose soft embrace encompasseth the earth:

This deem though god of gods, the supreme Jove.27

26 66 "The air, lying between the sea and sky, is according to the Stoic theory deified under the name belonging to Juno,28 sister and wife of Jove, because it resembles and is closely connected with the aether; they made it female and assigned it to Juno because of its extreme softness. (The name of Juno however I believe to be derived from iuvare 'to help'). There remained water and earth, to complete the fabled partition of the three kingdoms. Accordingly the second kingdom, the entire realm of the sea, was assigned to Neptune, Jove's brother as they hold; his name is derived from nare 'to swim,' with a slight alteration of the earlier letters and with the suffix seen in Portunus (the harbour god), derived from portus 'a harbour.' The entire bulk and substance of the earth was dedicated to father Dis (that is, Dives, 'the rich,' and so in Greek Plouton), because all things fall back into the earth and also arise from the earth. p189He is said to have married Proserpina (really a Greek name, for she is the same as the goddess called Persephone in Greek) — they think that she represents the seed of corn, and fable that she was hidden away, and sought for by her mother. 67 The mother is Ceres, a corruption of 'Geres,' from gero, because she bears the crops; the same accidental change of the first letter is also seen in her Greek name Dēmētēr, a corruption of gē mētēr ('mother earth'). Mavors again is from magna vertere, 'the overturner of the great,' while Minerva is either 'she who minishes' or 'she who is minatory.' 27 Also, as the beginning and the end are the most important parts of all affairs, they held that Janus is the leader in a sacrifice, the name being derived from ire ('to go'), hence the names jani for archways and januae for the front doors of secular buildings. Again, the name Vesta comes from the Greeks, for she is the goddess whom they call Hestia. Her power extends over altars and hearths, and therefore all prayers and all sacrifices end with this goddess, because she is the guardian of the innermost things. 68 Closely related to this function are the Penates or household gods, a name derived either from penus, which means a store of human food of any kind, or from the fact that they reside penitus, in the recesses of the house, owing to which they are also called penetrales by the poets. The name Apollo again is Greek; they say that he is the sun,29 and Diana they identify with the moon; the word sol being from solus, either because the sun 'alone' of all the heavenly bodies is of that magnitude, or because when the sun rises all the stars are dimmed and it 'alone' is visible; while the name Luna is derived p191from lucere 'to shine'; for it is the same word as Lucina, and therefore in our country Juno Lucina is invoked in childbirth, as is Diana in her manifestation as Lucifera (the light-bringer) among the Greeks. She is also called Diana Omnivaga (wide-wandering), not from her hunting, but because she is counted one of the seven planets or 'wanderers' (vagari). 69 She was called Diana because she made a sort of day in the night-time. She is invoked to assist at birth of children, because the period of gestation is either occasionally seven, or more usually nine, lunar revolutions, and these are called menses (months), because they cover measured (mensa) spaces. Timaeus in his history with his usual aptness adds to his account of the burning of the temple of Diana of Ephesus on the night on which Alexander was born the remark that this need cause no surprise, since Diana was away from home, wishing to be present when Olympias was brought to bed. Venus was so named by our countrymen as the goddess who 'comes' (venire) to all things; her name is not derived from the word venustas (beauty) but rather venustas from it.

28 70 "Do you see therefore how from a true and valuable philosophy of nature has been evolved this imaginary and fanciful pantheon? The perversion has been a fruitful source of false beliefs, crazy errors and superstitions hardly above the level of old wives' tales. We know what the gods look like and how old they are, their dress and their equipment, and also their genealogies, marriages and relationships, and all about them is distorted into the likeness of human frailty. They are actually represented as liable to passions and emotions — we hear of their being in love, sorrowful, angry; according to the myths they even p193engage in wars and battles, and that not only when as in Homer two armies and contending and the gods take sides and intervene on their behalf, but they actually fought wars of their own, for instance with the Titans and with the Giants. These stories and these beliefs are utterly foolish; they are stuffed with nonsense and absurdity of all sorts. 71 But though repudiating these myths with contempt, we shall nevertheless be able to understand the personality and the nature of the divinities pervading the substance of the several elements, Ceres permeating earth, Neptune the sea, and so on; and it is our duty to revere and worship these gods under the names which custom has bestowed upon them. But the best and also the purest, holiest and most pious way of worshipping the gods si ever to venerate them with purity, sincerity and innocence both of thought and of speech. For religion has been distinguished from superstition not only by philosophers but by our ancestors. 72 Persons who spent whole days in prayer and sacrifice to ensure that their children should outlive them were termed 'superstitious' (from superstes, a survivor), and the word later acquired a wider application. Those on the other hand who carefully reviewed and so to speak retraced all the lore of ritual were called 'religious' from relegere (to retrace or re‑read), like 'elegant' from eligere (to select), 'diligent' from diligere (to care for), 'intelligent' fromintellegere (to understand); for all these words contain the same sense of 'picking out' (legere) that is present in 'religious.'30 Hence 'superstitious' and 'religious' came to be terms of censure and approval respectively. I think that I have said enough to prove the existence of the gods and their nature.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 The Academic logic was famous.

2 Cicero's memory has played him false over suem and uvam. In Div. I.31,º II.80, he says Attus (in the reign of Tarquinius Priscus) had vowed to the Lares the largest bunch of grapes in his vineyard if he found a strayed pig. He found it, and then discovered by augury in which quarter of the vineyard to look for the largest bunch.

Thayer's Note: As will be seen, II.80, though mentioning Attus Navius, has nothing to do with the pig and the grapes.

3 The Etruscans differed from the Graeco-Italic races in customs, religion, and language.

4 The validity of the military auspices expired when the magistrates returned within the city.

5 Gn. Octavius, cos. 87 B.C., was a partisan of Sulla, who was then at war with Mithridates; the other consul Cinna supported Marius. Fighting took place between them and Octavius fell.

6 The proscriptions of Marius and Sulla.

7 129 B.C. He was found dead in his bed, but the murderer was not discovered; cf. III.80.

8 συναρπάσαι Xen. Mem. I.4.8.

9 Mayor detected here a verse-quotation from an unknown source.

10 Mayor would alter the Latin to give 'It is therefore the element of fire that . . .'

11 Timaeus 89.

12 Mayor would transfer this sentence to the end of § 37.

13 This probably comes from Aristotle's lost dialogue De Philosophia, see I.33 n.

14 Doubtless in the lost De Philosophia, see I.32 n.

15 Probably as in § 42.

16 Ancient geometricians drew their diagrams in dust sprinkled on a board, or on the ground.

17 The fixed stars are carried round the polar axis by the general celestial movement, while the planets have two simultaneous motions, (1) that of the fixed stars, (2) a movement of their own, by which they revolve (as was supposed) round the earth.

18 Perhaps from Aristotle's lost De Philosophia, see I.33 n. The Cosmic Year is attributed to the Pythagoreans and to Heraclitus: Plato, Timaeus 39, gives it as 10,000 years.

19 Herschel's figures, given by Mayor, are (omitting hours): Saturn 29 years 174 days, Jupiter 11 years 315 days, Mars 1 year 321 days, Venus 224 days, Mercury 87 days.

20 Diogenes Laertius VII.156 πῦρ τεχνικὸν ὁδῷ βαδίζον εἰς γένεσιν.

21 Aristotle, Phys. II.2 ἡ τέχνη μιμεῖται τὴν φύσιν.

22 Diogenes L. VII.86 τεχνίτης ὁ λόγος τῆς ὁρμῆς.

23 A probable correction reads 'given by,' cf. I.38 and 118.

24 The language seems to indicate that the building was visible from the exedra of Cotta's mansion, where the discussion took place (I.14). A temple near the Porta Capena was dedicated to Honos by Fabius Cunctator, and later enlarged by Marcellus and dedicated to Honos and Virtus jointly. Another temple dedicated to these two deities by Marius stood on the Capitol.

Thayer's Note: See the articles Honos et Virtus in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome; and while we're at it, the article Exedra in Smith's Dictionary will be useful to some.

25 i.e., Uranus.

26 § 4.

27 Euripides fr. 386:

ὁρᾷς τὸν ὑψοῦ τόνδ᾽ ἄπειρον αἰθέρα

καὶ γῆν πέριξ ἔχονθ᾽ ὑγραῖς ἐν ἀγκάλαις·

τοῦτον νόμιζε Ζῆνα, τόνδ᾽ ἡγοῦ θεόν.

28 Hera.

29 Euripides, Phaethon, fr. 775:

ὦ καλλιφεγγὲς Ἥλι᾽, ὥς μ᾽ ἀπώλεσας

καὶ τόνδ᾽· Ἀπόλλω δ᾽ ἐν βροτοῖς σ᾽ ὀρθῶς καλεῖ

ὅστις τὰ σιγῶντ᾽ ὀνόματ᾽ οἶδε δαιμόνων.

But Plato, Cratylus, 405 Ἀπόλλωνἅμα ποδῶν . . . τὴν ὁμοῦ πόλησιν καὶ περὶ τὸν οὐρανὸν . . . ἢ περὶ τὴν ἐν τῇ ᾠδῇ ἁρμονίαν.

30 Scholars are divided as to whether this etymology is correct or whether religio is connected with ligare, as Cicero himself suggests elsewhere by his phrases religione obstringere, impedire, solvi.


Thayer's Note:

a The reader wishing to delve into the subject will find many of the source texts collected and commented in "The Roman Farmer and the Moon" (TAPA 49:67‑82).

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