[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Clicca hic ad Latinam paginam legendam.]
Latine

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

[image ALT: link to previous section]
II.1‑72

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!


[image ALT: link to next section]
III.1‑nnn

(Vol. XIX) Cicero
De Natura Deorum

p195 29 73 "Next I have to show that the world is governed by divine providence. This is of course a vast topic; the doctrine is hotly contested by your school, Cotta, and it is they no doubt that are my chief adversaries here. As for you and your friends, Velleius, you scarcely understand the vocabulary of the subject; for you only read your own writings, and are so enamoured of them that you pass judgement against all the other schools without giving them a hearing. For instance, you yourself told us yesterday31 that the Stoics present Pronoia or providence in the guise of an old hag of a fortune-teller; this was due to your mistaken notion that they imagine providence as a kind of special deity who rules and governs the universe. But as a matter of fact 'providence' is an elliptical expression; 74 when one says 'the Athenian state is ruled by the council,' the words 'of the Areopagus' are omitted: so when we speak of the world as governed by providence, you must understand the words 'of the gods' zzz conceive that the full and complete statement would be 'the world is governed by the providence of the gods.' So do not you and your friends waste your wit on making fun of us, — your tribe is none too well off for that commodity. Indeed if your school would take my advice you would give up all attempts at humour; it sits ill upon you, for it is not your forte and you can't bring it off. This does not, it is true, apply to you in particular, — you have the polished manners of your family and the urbanity of a Roman; but it does apply to all the rest of you, and especially to the parent of the system, an uncultivated, illiterate person, who tilts at everybody and is entirely devoid of penetration, authority or charm. 30 75 I therefore declare that p197the world and all its parts were set in order at the beginning and have been governed for all time by converse providence: a thesis which our school usually divides into three sections. The first is based on the argument proving that the gods exist; if this be granted, it must be admitted that the world is governed by their wisdom. The second proves that all things are under the sway of sentient nature, and that by it the universe is carried on in the most beautiful manner; and this proved, it follows that the universe was generated from living first causes. The third topic is the argument from the wonder that we feel at the marvel of creation, celestial and terrestrial.

76 "In the first place therefore one must either deny the existence of the gods, which in a manner is done by Democritus when he represents them as 'apparitions' and by Epicurus with his 'images'; or anybody who admits that the gods exist must allow them activity, and activity of the most distinguished sort; now nothing can be more distinguished than the government of the world; therefore the world is governed by the wisdom of the gods. If this is not so, there must clearly be something better and more powerful than god, be it what it may, whether inanimate nature or necessity speeding on with mighty force to create the supremely beautiful objects that we see; 77 in that case the nature of the gods is not superior to all else in power, inasmuch as it is subject to a necessity or nature that rules the sky, sea and land. But as a matter of fact nothing exists that is superior to god; it follows therefore that the world is ruled by him; therefore god is not obedient or subject to any form of nature, and therefore he himself rules all nature. In fact if we concede divine intelligence, p199we concede also divine providence, and providence exercised in things of the highest moment. Are then the gods ignorant what things are of the highest moment and how these are to be directed and upheld, or do they lack the strength to undertake and to perform duties so vast? But ignorance is foreign the time of divine nature, and weakness, with a consequent incapacity to perform one's office, in no way suits with the divine majesty. This proves our thesis that the world is governed by divine providence. 31 78 And yet from the fact of the gods' existence (assuming that they exist, as they certainly do) it necessarily follows that they are animate beings, and not only animate but possessed of reason and united together in a sort of social community or fellowship, ruling the one world as a united commonwealth or state. 79 It follows that they possess the same faculty of reason as the human race, and that both have the same apprehension of truth and the same law enjoining what is right and rejecting what is wrong. Hence we see that wisdom and intelligence also have been derived by men from the gods; and this explains why it was the practice of our ancestors to deify Mind, Faith, virtue and Concord, and to set up temples to them at the public charge, and how can we consistently deny that they exist with the gods, when we worship their majestic and holy images? And if mankind possesses intelligence, faith, virtue and concord, whence can these things have flowed down upon the earth if not from the powers above? Also since we possess wisdom, reason and prudence, the gods must needs possess them too in greater perfection, and not possess them merely but also exercise them upon matters of the p201greatest magnitude and value; 80 but nothing is of greater magnitude and value than the universe; it follows therefore that the universe is governed by the wisdom and providence of the gods. Finally, since we have conclusively proved the divinity of those beings whose glorious might and shining aspect we behold, I mean the sun and moon and the planets and fixed stars, and the sky and the world itself, and all that mighty multitude of objects contained in all the world which are of great service and benefit to the human race, the conclusion is that all things are ruled by divine intelligence and wisdom. So much for the first division of my subject.

32 81 "Next I have to show that all things are under the sway of nature and are carried on by her in the most excellent manner. But first I must briefly explain the meaning of the term 'nature' itself, to make our doctrine more easily intelligible. Some persons define nature as a non‑rational force that causes necessary motions in material bodies; others as a rational and ordered force, proceeding by method and plainly displaying the means that she takes to produce each result and the end at which she aims, and possessed of a skill that no handiwork of artist or craftsman can rival or reproduce. For a seed, they point out, has such potency that, tiny though it is in size, nevertheless if it falls into some substance that conceives and enfolds it, and obtains suitable material to foster its nurture and growth, it fashions and produces the various creatures after their kinds, some designed merely to absorb nourishment through their roots, and others capable of motion, sensation, appetition and reproduction of their species. 82 Some thinkers again denote by the term 'nature' the whole p203of existence — for example Epicurus, who divides the nature of all existing things into atoms, void, and the attributes of these. When we on the other hand speak of nature as the sustaining and governing principle of the world, we do not mean that the world is like a clod of earth or lump of stone or something else of that sort, which possesses only32 the natural principle of cohesion, but like a tree or an animal, displaying no haphazard structure, to be order and a certain semblance of design.

33 83 "But if the plants fixed and rooted in the rather owe their life and vigour to nature's art, surely the earth herself must be sustained by the same power, inasmuch as when impregnated with seeds she brings forth from her womb all things in profusion, nourishes their roots in her bosom and causes them to grow, and herself in turn is nourished by the upper and outer elements. Her exhalations moreover give nourishment to the air, the ether and all the heavenly bodies. Thus if earth is upheld and invigorated by nature, the same principle must hold good of the rest of the world, for plants are rooted in the earth, animals are sustained by breathing air, and the air itself is our partner in seeing, hearing and uttering sounds, since none of these actions can be performed without its aid; nay, it even moves as we move, for wherever we go or move our limbs, it seems as it were to give place and retire before us. 84 And those things which travel towards the centre of the earth which is its lowest point, those which move from the centre upwards, and those which rotate in circles round the centre, constitute the one continuous nature of the world. Again the continuum of the world's nature is constituted by the cyclic transmutations of the four p205kinds of matter. For earth turns into water, water into air, air into aether, and then the process is reversed, and aether becomes air, air water, and water earth, the lowest of the four. Thus the parts of the world are held in union by the constant passage up and down, thenceforth, of these four elements of which all things are composed. 85 And this world-structure must either be everlasting in this same form in which we see it or at all events extremely durable, and destined to endure for an almost immeasurably protracted period of time. Whichever alternative be true, the inference follows that the world is governed by nature. For consider the navigation of a fleet, the marshalling of an army, or (to return to instances from the processes of nature) the budding of a vien or of a tree, or even the shape and structure of the limbs of an animal — when do these ever evidence such a degree of skill in nature as the world itself? Either therefore there is nothing that is ruled by a sentient nature, or we must admit that the world is so ruled. 86 Indeed, how is it possible that the universe, which contains within itself all the other natures and their seeds, should not itself be governed by nature? Thus if anyone declared that a man's teeth and the hair on his body are a natural growth but that the man himself to whom they belong is not a natural organism, he would fail to see that things which produce something from within them must have more perfect natures than the things which are produced from them. 34 But the sower and planter and begetter, so to speak, of all the things that nature governs, their trainer and nourisher, is the world; the world gives nutriment and sustenance to all its limbs as it were, or parts. But if the parts p207of the world are governed by nature, the world itself must needs be governed by nature. Now the government of the world contains nothing that could possibly be censured; given the existing elements, the best that could be produced from them has been produced. 87 Let someone therefore prove that it could have been better. But no one will ever prove this, and anyone who essays to improve some detail will either make it worse or will be demanding an improvement impossible in the nature of things.

"But if the structure of the world in all its parts is such that it could not have been better whether in point of utility or beauty, let us consider js is the result of chance, or whether on the contrary the parts of the world are in such a condition that they could not possibly have cohered together if they were not controlled by intelligence and by divine providence. If then that produces of nature are better than those of art, and if art produces nothing without reason, nature too cannot be deemed to be without reason. When you see a statue or a painting, you recognize the exercise of art; when you observe from a distance the course of a ship, you do not hesitate to assume that its motion is guided by reason and by art; when you look at a sun‑dial or a water-clock, you infer that it tells the time by art and not by chance; how then can it be consistent to suppose that the world, which includes both the works of art in question, the craftsmen who made them, and everything else besides, can be devoid of purpose and of reason? 88 Suppose a traveller to carry into Scythia or Britain the orrery recently constructed by our friend Posidonius, which at each revolution reproduces the same motions of the tun, the moon and the p209five planets that take place in the heavens every twenty-four hundred, would any single native doubt that this orrery was the work of a rational being? 35 This thinkers however raise doubts about the world itself from which all things arise and have their being, and debate whether it is the produce of chance or necessity of some sort, or of divine reason and intelligence; they think more highly of the achievement of Archimedes in making a model of the revolutions of the firmament than of that of nature in creating them, although the perfection of the original shows a craftsmanship many times as great as does the counterfeit. 89 Just as the shield in Accius33 who had never seen a ship before, on descrying in the distance from his mountain‑top the strange vessel of the Argonauts, built by the gods, in his first amazement and alarm cries out:

so huge a bulk

Glides from the deep with the roar of a whistling wind:

Waves roll before, and eddies surge and swirl;

Hurtling headlong, it snort and sprays the foam.

Now might one deem a bursting storm-cloud rolled,

Now that a rock flew skyward, flung aloft

By wind and storm, or whirling waterspout

Rose from the clash of wave with warring wave;

Save 'twere land-havoc wrought by ocean-flood,

Or Triton's trident, heaving up the roots

Of cavernous vaults beneath the billowy sea,

Hurled from the depth heaven-high a assembly crag.

At first he wonders what the unknown creature that he beholds may be. Then when he sees the warriors and hears the singing of the sailors, he goes on:

the sportive dolphins swift

Forge snorting through the foam —

and so on and so on —

p211 Brings to my ears and hearing such a tune

As old Silvanus piped.

90 Well then, even as the shepherd at the first sight thinks he sees some lifeless and inanimate object, but afterwards is led by clearer indications to begin to suspect the true nature of the thing about which he had previously been uncertain, so it would have been the proper course for the philosophers, if it so happened that the first sight of the world perplexed them, afterwards when they had seen its definite and regular motions, and all its phenomena controlled by fixed system and unchanging uniformity, to infer the presence not merely of an inhabitant of this celestial and divine abode, but also of a ruler and governor, the architect as it were of this mighty and monumental structure.

36 "But as it is they appear to me to have no suspicion even of the marvels of the celestial and terrestrial creation. 91 For in the first place the earth, which is situated in the centre of the world, is surrounded on all sides by this living and respirable substance named the air. 'Air' is a Greek word, but yet it has by this time been accepted in use by our race, and in fact passes current as Latin. The air in turn is embraced by the immeasurable aether, which consists of the most elevated portions of fire. The term 'aether' also we may borrow, and employ it like 'air' as a Latin word, though Pacuvius provides his readers with a translation:

What I speak of, we call heaven, but the Greeks it 'aether' call —

just as though the man who says this were not a Greek! 'Well, he is talking Latin,' you may say. p213Just so, if we won't suppose we are hearing him talk Greek; in another passage Pacuvius tells us:

A Grecian born: my speech discloses that.

92 But let us return to more important matters. From aether then arise the innumerable fires of the heavenly bodies, chief of which is the sun, who illumines all things with most brilliant light, and is many times greater and vaster than the whole earth; and after him the other stars of unmeasured magnitudes. And these vast and numerous fires not merely do no harm to the earth and to terrestrial things, but are actually beneficial, though with the qualification that were their positions altered, the earth would inevitably be burnt up by such enormous volumes of heat when uncontrolled and untempered.

37 93 "At this point must I not marvel that there should be anyone who can persuade himself that there are certain solid and indivisible particles of matter borne along by the force of gravity, and that the fortuitous collision of those particles produces this elaborate and beautiful world? I cannot understand why he who considers it possible for this to have occurred should not all think that, if a counts number of copies of the one-and‑twenty letters of alphabet, made of gold or what you will, were thrown together into some receptacle and then shaken out on the ground, it would be possible that they should produce the Annals of Ennius, all ready for the reader. I doubt whether chance could possibly succeed in producing even a single verse! 94 Yet according to the assertion of your friends, that out of particles of matter not endowed with heat, nor with any 'quality' (the Greek term poiotes), nor with sense, but colliding p215together at haphazard and by chance, the world has emerged complete, or rather a countless number of worlds are some of them being born and some perishing at every moment of time — yet if the clash of atoms can create a world, why can it not produce a colonnade, a temple, a house, a city, which are less and indeed much less difficult things to make? The fact is, they indulge in such random babbling about the world that for my part I cannot think that they have ever looked up at this marvellously beautiful sky — which is my next topic. 95 So Aristotle says34 brilliantly: 'If there were beings who had always lived beneath the earth, in comfortable, well‑lit dwellings, decorated with statues and pictures and furnished with all the luxuries enjoyed by persons thought to be supremely happy, and who though they had never come forth above the ground had learnt by report and by hearsay of the existence of certain deities or divine powers; and then if at some time the jaws of the earth were opened and they were able to escape from their hidden abode and to come forth into the regions which we inhabit; when they suddenly had sight of the earth and the seas and the sky, and came to know of the vast clouds and mighty winds, and beheld the sun, and realized not only its size and beauty but also its Ptolemaic in causing the day by shedding light over all the sky, and, after night had darkened the earth, they then saw the whole sky spangled and adorned with stars, and the changing phases of the moon's light, now waxing and now waning, and the risings and settings of all these heavenly bodies and their courses fixed and changeless throughout all eternity, — when they saw these things, surely they would think that the gods exist p217and that these mighty marvels are their handiwork.' 38 96 Thus far Aristotle; let us for our part imagine a darkness as dense as that which is said to have once covered the neighbouring districts on the occasion of an eruption of the volcano Etna, so that for two days no man could recognize his fellow, and when on the third day the sun shone upon them, they felt as if they had come to life again: well, suppose that after darkness had prevailed from the beginning of time, it similarly happened to ourselves suddenly to behold the light of day, what should we think of the splendour of the heavens? But daily recurrence and habit familiarize our indicates with the sight, and we feel no surprise or curiosity as to the reasons for things that we see always; just as if it were the novelty and not rather the importance of phenomena that ought to arouse us to inquire into their causes. 97 Who would not deny the name of human being to a man who, on seeing the regular motions of the heaven and the fixed order of the stars and the accurate interconnexion and interrelation of all things, can deny that these things possess any rational design, and can maintain that phenomena, the wisdom of whose ordering transcends the capacity of our wisdom to understand it, take place by chance? When we see something moved by machinery, like an orrery or clock or many other such things, we do not doubt that these contrivances are the work of reason; when therefore we behold the whole compass of the heaven moving with revolutions of marvellous velocity and executing with perfect regularity the annual changes of the seasons with absolute safety and security for all things, how can we doubt that all this is effected p219not merely by reason, but by a reason that is transcendent and divine?

98 "For we may now put aside elaborate argument and gaze as it were with our eyes upon the beauty of the creations of divine providence, as we declare them to be. 39 And first let us behold the whole earth, situated in the centre of the world, a solid spherical mass gathered into a globe by the natural gravitation of all its parts, clothed with flowers and grass and trees and corn, forms of vegetation all of them incredibly numerous and inexhaustibly varied and diverse. Add to these cool fountains ever flowing, transparent streams and rivers, their banks clad in brightest verdure, deep vaulted caverns, craggy rocks, sheer mountain heights and plains of immeasurable extent; add also the hidden veins of gold and silver, and marble in unlimited quantity. 99 Think of all the various species of animals, both tame and wild! think of the flights and songs of birds! of the pastures filled with cattle, and the teeming life of the woodlands! Then why need I speak of the race of men? who are as it were the appointed tillers of the soil, and who suffer it not to become a savage haunt of monstrous beasts of prey nor a barren waste of thickets and brambles, and whose industry diversifies and adorns the lands and islands and coasts with houses and cities. Could we but behold these things with our eyes as we can picture them in our minds, no one taking in the whole earth at one view could doubt the divine reason. 100 Then how great is the beauty of the sea! how glorious the aspect of its vast expanse! him many and how diverse its islands! how lovely the scenery of its coasts and shores! how numerous and how different the species of marine animals, some dwelling in p221the depths, some floating and swimming on the surface, some clinging in their own shells to the rocks! And the sea itself, yearning for the earth, sports against her shores in such a fashion that the two elements appear to be fused into one. 101 Next the air bordering on the sea undergoes the alternates of day and night, and now rises upward melt down rarefied, now is condensed and compressed into clouds and gathering mixture enriches the earth with rain, now flows forth in currents thenceforth and produces winds. Likewise it causes the yearly variations of cold and heat, and it also both supports the flight of birds and inhaled by breathing nourishes and sustains the animal race. 40 There remains the element that is most distant and highest removed from our abodes, the all‑engirdling, all‑confining circuit of the sky, also named the aether, the farthest coast and frontier of the world, wherein those fiery shapes most marvellously trace out their ordered courses. 102 Of these the sun, which many times surpasses the earth in magnitude, revolves about her, and by his rising and setting causes day and night, and now approaching, then again retiring, twice each year makes returns in opposite directions from his farthest point, and in the period of those returns at one time causes the face of the earth as it were to contract with a gloomy frown, and at another restores her to gladness til she seems to smile in sympathy with the sky. 103 Again the moon, which is, as the mathematicians prove, more than half the size of the earth, roams in the same courses as the sun, but at one time converging with the sun and at another diverging from it, both bestows upon the light that it has borrowed from the sun and itself undergoes divers p223changes of its light, and also at one time is in conjunction and hides the sun, darken ut light of its rays, at another itself comes into the shadow of the earth, being opposite to the sun, and owing to the interpose and interference of the earth is suddenly extinguished. And the so‑called wandering stars (planets) travel in the same courses round the earth, and rise and set in the same way, with motions now accelerated, now retarded, and sometimes even ceasing altogether. 104 Nothing can be more marvellous or more beautiful than this spectacle. Next comes the vast multitude of the fixed stars, grouped in constellations so clearly defined that they have received names derived from their resemblance to familiar objects." 41 Here he looked at me and said, "I will make use of the poems of Aratus,35 as translated by yourself when quite a young man, which because of their Latin dress give me such pleasure that I retain many of them in memory. Well then, as we continually see with our own eyes, without any change or variation

Swiftly the other heavenly bodies glide,

All day and night travelling with the sky,

105 and no one who loves to contemplate the uniformity of nature can ever be tired of gazing at them.

The furthest tip of either axle‑end

Is called the pole.

Round the poel circle the two Bears, which never set;

One of these twain the Greeks call Cynosure,36

The other Helicē37 is named;

p225 and the latter's extremely bright stars, visible to us all night long,

Our countrymen the Seven Triones38 call;

106 and the little Cynosure consists of an equal number of stars similarly grouped, and revolves round the same pole:

Phoenician sailors place in this their trust

To guide their course by night; albeit the other

Shines out before and with more radiant stars

At earliest night-fall far and wide is seen,

Yet small though this one is, the mariner

On this relies, since it revolves upon

An inner circle and a shorter path.

42 Also the further to enhance the beauty of those constellations,

Between them, like a river flowing swift,

The fierce-eyed Serpent winds; in sinuous coils

Over and under twines his snaky frame.

107 His whole appearance is very remarkable, but the most striking part of him is the shape of his head and the brilliance of his eyes:

No single hindering star his head adorns,

His brows are by a double radiance marked,

And from his cruel eyes two lights flash out,

The while his chin gleams with one flashing star;

His graceful neck is bent, his head reclined,

As if at gaze upon the Great Bear's tail.

108 And while the rest of the Serpent's body is visible all night long,

This head a moment sinks beneath the sea,

Where meet its setting and its rise in one.

Next to its head however

The weary figure of a man in sorrow

Revolts,

p227 which the Greeks

Engónasin call, as travelling "on his knees."

Here is the Crown, of radiance supreme.

This is in the rear of the Serpent, while at its head is the Serpent-holder,

109 By Greeks called Ophiúchus, famous name!

Firm between both his hands he "holds the Snake,"

Himself in bondage by its body held,

For serpent round the waist engirdles men,

Yet treads he firm and presses all his weight,

Trampling upon the Scorpion's eyes and breast.

After the Septentriones comes

The Bear-ward, commonly Boötes called,

Because he drives the Bear yoked to a pole.

110 And then the following lines: for with this Boötes

beneath his bosom fixed appears

A glittering star, Arcturus, famous name,

and below his feet moves

The Virgin bright, holding her ear of corn39

Resplendent.

43 And the constellations are so accurately spaced out that their vast and ordered array clearly displays the skill of a divine creator:

By the Bear's head you will descry the Twins,

Beneath its belly the Crab, and in its claws

The Lion's bulk emits a twinkling ray.

The Charioteer

Hidden beneath the Twins' left flank will glide;

Him Helicē confronts with aspect fierce;

At his left shoulder the bright She‑goat stands.

[And then the following:]

A constellation vast and brilliant she,

Whereas the Kids emit a scanty light

Upon mankind.

p229 Beneath her feet

Crouches the hornéd Bull, a mighty frame.

111 His head is bespangled with a multitude of stars:

The Greeks were wont to call them Hyades,

from their bringing rain, the Greek for which is hyein, while our nation stupidly names them the Sucking-pigs, as though the name Hyades were derived from the word for 'pig' and not from 'rain.' Behind the Lesser Septentrio follows Cepheus, with open hands outstretched;

For close behind the Bear, the Cynosure,40

He wheels.

Before him comes

Cassiepia with her darkling stars,

And next to her roams a bright shape, the sad

Andromeda, shunning her mother's sight.

The belly of the Horse touches her head,

Proudly he tosses high his glittering mane;

One common star holds their twin shapes conjoint

And constellations linked indissolubly.

Close by them stands the Ram with wreathéd horns:

and next to him

The Fishes gliding, one some space in front

And nearer to the North Wind's shuddering breath.

44 112 At the feet of Andromeda Perseus is outlined,

Assailed by all the zenith's northern blasts;

and by him

at his left knee placed on every side

The tiny Pleiads dim you will descry.

And, slightly sloping, next the Lyre is seen,

Next the winged Bird 'neath heaven's wide canopy.

Close to the Horse's head is the right hand Aquarius, and then his whole figure.

p231 Next in the mighty zone comes capricorn,

Half-brute, half‑man; his mighty bosom breathes

An icy chill; and when the Titans sun

Arrayeth him with never-ceasing light,

He turns his car to climb the wintry sky.

113 Here we behold

How there appears the Scorpion rising high,

His mighty tail trailing the bended Bow;

Near which on soaring pinions wheels the Bird

And near to this the burning Eagle flies.

Then the Dolphin,

And then Orion slopes his stooping frame.

114 Following him

The glowing Dog‑star radiantly shines.

After this follows the Hare,

What never resteth weary from her race;

At the Dog's tail meandering Argo glides.

Her the Ram covers, and the scaly Fishes,

And her bright breast touches the River's41 banks.

Its long winding current you will observe,

And in the zenith you will see the Chains

That bind the Fishes, hanging at their tails. . . .

Then you'll descry, near the bright Scorpion's sting,

The Altar, fanned by Auster's gentle breath.

And by it the Centaur

Proceeds, in haste to join the Horse's parts

Unto the Claws; extending his right hand,

That grasps the mighty beast, he marches on

And grimly strides towards the Altar bright.

Here Hydra rises from the nether realms,

her body widely outstretched;

And in her midmost coil the Wine-bowl gleams,

While pressing at her tail the feathered Crow

Pecks with his beak; and here, hard by the Twins,

The Hound's Forerunner, in Greek named Prokyon.

p233 115 Can any sane person believe that all this array of stars and this vast celestial adornment could have been created out of atoms rushing thenceforth fortuitously and at random? or could any other being devoid of intelligence and reason have created them? Not merely did their creation postulate intelligence, but it is impossible to understand their nature without intelligence of a high order.

45 "but not only are these things marvellous, but nothing is more remarkable than the stability and coherence of the world, which is such that it is impossible even to imagine anything better adapted to endure. For all its parts in every direction gravitate with a uniform pressure towards the centre. Moreover busy conjoined maintain their union most permanently when they have some bond encompassing them to bind them together; and this function is fulfilled by that rational and intelligent substance which pervades the whole world as the efficient cause of all things and which draws and collects the outermost particles towards the centre. 116 Hence if the world is round and therefore all its parts are held together by and with each other in universal equilibrium, the same must be the case with the earth, so that all its parts must converge towards the centre (which in a sphere is the lowest point) without anything to break the continuity and so threaten its Bast complex of gravitational forces and masses with dissolution. And on the same principle the sea, although above the earth, nevertheless seeks the earth's centre and so is massed into a sphere uniform on all sides, and never floods its bounds and overflows. 117 Its neighbour the air travels upward it is true in virtue of its lightness, but at the same time spreads horizontally in all p235directions; and thus while contiguous and conjoined with the sea it has a natural tendency to rise to the sky, and by receiving an admixture of the sky's tenuity and heat furnishes to living creatures the breath of life and health. The air is enfolded by the highest part of the sky, termed the ethereal part; this both retains its own tenuous warmth uncongealed by any admixture and unites with the outer surface of the air. 46 In the aether the stars revolve in their courses; these maintain their spherical form by their own install gravitation, and also sustain their motions by virtue of their very shape and conformation; for they are round, and this is the shape, as I believe I remarked before,42 that is least capable of receiving injury. 118 But the stars are of a fiery substance, and for this reason they are nourished by the vapours of the earth, the sea and the waters, which are raised up by the sun out of the fields which it warms and out of the waters; and when nourished and renewed by these vapours the stars and the whole aether shed them back again, and then once more draw them up from the same source, with the loss of none of their matter, or only of an extremely small part which is consumed by the fire of the stars and the flame of the aether. As a consequence of this, so our school believe, though it used to be said that Panaetius questioned the doctrine, there will ultimately occur a conflagration of the whole while, because when the moisture has been used up neither can the earth be nourished nor will the air continue to flow, being unable to rise upward after it has drunk up all the water; thus nothing will remain but fire, by which, as a living being and a god, once again a new world may be created and the ordered universe p237be restored as before. 119 I would not have you think that I with too long upon astronomy, and particularly upon the system of the stars called planets; these with the most diverse movements work in such mutual harmony that the uppermost, that of Saturn, has a cooling influence, the middle planet, that of Mars, imparts heat, the one between them, that of Jove, gives light and a moderate warmth, while two beneath Mars obey the sun, and the sun itself fills all the world with light, and also illuminates the moon, which is the source of conception and birth and of growth and maturity. If any man is not impressed by this co‑ordination of things and this harmonious combination of nature to secure the preservation of the world, I know for certain that he has never given any consideration to these matters.

47 120 "To come now from things celestial to things terrestrial, which is there among these latter which does not clearly display the rational design of an intelligent being? In the first place, with the vegetation that springs from the earth, the stocks both give stability to the parts which they sustain and draw from the ground the sap to nourish the parts upheld by the roots; and the trunks are covered with bark or rind, the better to protect them against cold and heat. Again the vines cling to their props with their tendrils as with hands, and thus raise themselves erect like animals. Nay more, it is said that if planted near cabbages they shun them like pestle and noxious things, and will not touch them at any point. 121 Again what a variety tio animals, and what capacity they possess of persisting true to their various kinds! Some of them are protected by hides, others are clothed with fleeces, others bristle p239with spines; some we see covered with feathers, some with scales, some armed with horns, some equipped with wings to escape their foes. Nature, however, has provided with bounteous plenty for each species of animal that food which is suited to it. I might show in detail what provision has been made in the forms of the animals for appropriating and assimilating this food, how skilful and exact is the disposition of the various parts, how marvellous the structure of the limbs. For all the organs, at least those contained within the body, are so formed and so placed that none of them is superfluous or not necessary for the preservation of life. 122 But nature has also bestowed upon the beasts both sensation and desire, the one to arouse in them the impulse to appropriate their natural foods, the other to enable them to distinguish things harmful from things wholesome. Again, some animals approach their food by walking, some by crawling, some by flying, some by swimming; and some seize their nutriment with their gaping mouth and with the teeth themselves, others snatch it in the grasp of their claws, others with their curved beaks, some suck, others graze, some swallow it whole, others chew it. Also some are of such lately stature that they easily reach their food upon the ground with their jaws; 123 whereas the taller species, such as geese, swans, cranes and camels, are aided by the length of their necks; the elephant is even provided with a hand, because his body is so large that it was difficult for him to reach his food. 48 Those beasts on the other hand whose mode of sustenance was to feed on animals of another species received from nature the gift either of strength or swiftness. Upon certain creatures p241there was bestowed even a sort of craft or cunning: for instance, one species of the spider tribe weaves a kind of net, in order to dispatch anything that is caught in it; another in order to . . . steadily corps watch, and, snatching anything that falls into it, devours it. The mussel, or pina as it is called in Greek, is a large bivalve which enters into a sort of Penelope with the tiny shrimp to procure food, and so, when little fishes swim into the gaping shell, the shrimp draws the attention of the mussel and the mussel shuts up its shells with a snap;43 thus two very dissimilar creatures obtain their food in common. 124 In this case we are curious to know whether their association is due to a sort of mutual compact, or whether it was brought about by nature herself and goes back to the moment of their birth. Our wonder is also considerably excited by those aquatic animals which are born on land — crocodiles, for instance, and water-tortoises and certain snakes, which are born on dry land but as soon as they can first crawl make for the water. Again we often place ducks' eggs beneath hens, and the chicks that spring from the eggs are at first fed and mothered by the hens that hatched and reared them, but later on they leave their foster-mothers, and run away when they put up them, as soon as they have had the opportunity of seeing the water, their natural home. So powerful an instinct of self-preservation has nature implanted in living creatures. 49 I have even read in a book44 that there is a bird called the spoonbill, which porticus its food by flying after those birds which dive in the sea, and upon their coming to the surface with a fish that they have caught, pressing their heads down with its beak until they drop their prey, which p243it pounces on for itself. It is also recorded of this bird that it is in the habit of gorging itself with shell-fish, which it digests by means of the heat of its stomach and then brings up again, and so picks out from them the parts that are good to eat. 125 Sea‑frogs again are said to be in the habit of covering themselves with sand and creeping along at the water's edge, and then when fishes approach them thinking they are something to eat, these are killed and devoured by the frogs. The kite and the crow live in a state of natural war as it were with one another, and therefore each destroys the other's eggs wherever it finds them. Another fact (observed by Aristotle, from whom most of these cases are cited) cannot but awaken our supper, namely that cranes when crossing the seas on the way to warmer climates fly in a triangular formation. With the apex of the triangle they force aside the air in front of them, and then gradually on either side45 by means of their wings acting as oars the birds' on which flight is sustained, with the base of the triangle formed by the cranes gets the assistance of the wind when it is so to speak astern. The birds rest their necks and heads on the backs of those flying in front of them; and the leader, being himself unable to do this as he has no one to lean on, flies to the rear that he himself also may have a rest, while one of those already rested takes his place, and so they keep turns throughout the journey. 126 I could adduce a number of similar instances, but you see the general idea. Another even better known classes of story illustrates the precautions taken by animals for their security, the watch they keep while feeding, their skill in hiding in their lairs. 50 Other remarkable facts are that dogs cure themselves by p245vomiting and ibises in Egypt by purging — modes of treatment only recently, that is, a few generations ago, discovered by the talent of the medical profession. It has been reported that panthers, which in foreign countries are caught by means of poisoned meat, have a remedy which they employ to save themselves from dying; and that wild goats in Crete, when pierced with poisoned arrows, seek a herb called dittany, and on their swallowing this the arrows, it is said, drop out of their busy. 127 Does, shortly before giving birth to their young, thoroughly purge themselves with a herb called hartwort. Again we observe how various species defend themselves against violence and danger with their own weapons, bulls with their horns, boars with their tusks, lions with their bite; some species protect themselves by flight, some by hiding, the cuttle-fish by emitting an inky fluid, the sting‑ray by causing cramp, and also a number of creatures drive away their pursuers by their insufferably disgusting odour.

51 "In order to secure the everlasting duration of the world-order, divine providence has made most careful provision to ensure the perpetuation of the families of animals and of trees and all the vegetable species. The latter all contain within them seed possessing the proprietor of multiplying the species; this seed is enclosed in the innermost part of the fruits that grow from each plant; and the same seeds supply mankind with an abundance of food, besides replenishing the earth with a fresh stock of plants of the same kind. 128 Why should I speak of the amount of rational design displayed in animals to secure the perpetual preservation of their kind? To begin with some are male and some female, a device of nature p247to perpetuate the species. Then parts of their busy are most skilfully contrived to serve the purposes of procreation and of conception, and both male and female possess marvellous desires for copulation. And when the seed has settled in its place, it draws almost all the nutriment to itself and hedged within it fashions a living creature;46 when this has been dropped from the womb and has emerged, in the mammalian species almost all the nourishment received by the mother turns to milk, and the young just born, untaught and by nature's guidance, seek for the teats and satisfy their cravings with their bounty. And to show to us that none of these things merely happens by chance and that all are the work of nature's providence and skill, species that produce large litters of offspring, such as swine and dogs, have bestowed upon them a large number of teats, while those animals which bear only a few young have only a few teats. 129 Why should I describe the affection shown by animals in rearing and protecting the offspring to which they have given birth, up to the point when they are able to defend themselves? although fishes, it is said, abandon their eggs when they have laid them, since these easily float and hatch out in the water. 52 Turtles and crocodiles are said to lay their eggs on land and bury them and then go away, leaving their young to hatch and rear themselves. Hens and other birds find a quiet place in which to lay, and build themselves nests to sit on, covering these with the softest possible bedding in order to preserve the eggs most easily; and when they have hatched out their chicks they protect them by cherishing them with their wings so that they may not be injured by cold, and by shading them p249against the heat of the sun. When the young birds are able to use their sprouting wings, their mothers escort them in their flights, but are released from any further tendance upon them. 130 Moreover the skill and industry of man also contribute to the preservation and security of certain animals and plants. For there are many species of both which could not survive without man's care.

"Also a plentiful variety of conveniences is found in different regions for the productive cultivation of the soil by man. Egypt is watered by the Nile, which corps the land completely flooded all the summer and afterwards retires leaving the soil soft and covered with mud, in readiness for sowing. Mesopotamia is fertilized by the Euphrates, which as it were imports into it new fields every year. The Indus, the largest river in the world, not only manures and softens the soil but actually sows it with seed, for it is said to bring down with it a great quantity of seeds resembling corn. 131 And I could produce a number of other remarkable examples in a variety of places, and instance a variety of lands each prolific in a different kind of produce. 53 But how great is the benevolence of nature, in giving birth to such an abundance and variety of delicious articles of food, and that not at one season only of the year, so that we have continually the delights of both novelty and plenty! How seasonable moreover and how some not for the human race alone but also for the animal and the various vegetable species is her gift of the Etesian winds!47 their breath moderates the excessive heat of summer, entirely also guide our ships across the sea upon a swift and steady course. Many instances must be passed over [and yet many are p251given].48 132 For it is impossible to recount the conveniences afforded by rivers, the ebb and flow49 . . . of the tides of the sea, the mountains clothed with forests, the salt-beds lying far inland from the sea‑coast, the copious stores of health-giving medicines that the earth contains, and all the countless arts necessary for livelihood and for life. Again the alternation of day and night contributes to the preservation of living creatures by affording one time for activity and another for repose. Thus every line of reasoning goes to prove that all things in this world of ours are marvellously governed by divine intelligence and wisdom for the safety and preservation of all.

133 "Here somebody will ask, for whose sake was all this vast system contrived? For the sake of the trees and plants, for these, though without sensation, have their sustenance from nature? But this at any rate is absurd. Then for the sake of the animals? It is no more likely that the gods took all this trouble for the sake of dumb, irrational creatures/ For whose sake then shall one pronounce the world to have been created? Doubtless for the sake of those living beings which have the use of reason; these are the gods and mankind, who assuredly surpass all other things in excellence, since the most excellent of all things is reason. Thus we are led to believe that the world and all the things that it contains were made for the sake of gods and men.

54 "And that man has been cared for by divine providence will be more readily understood if we survey the whole structure of man and all the conformation and perfection of human nature. 134 There are p253three things requisite for the maintenance of animal life, food, drink and breath; and for the reception of all of these the mouth is most consummately adapted, receiving as it does an abundant supply of breath through the nostrils which communicate with it. The structure of the teeth within the mouth serves to chew the food, and it is divided up and softened by them.50 The front teeth are sharp, and bite our viands into pieces; the back teeth, called molars, masticate them, the process of mastication apparently being assisted also by the tongue. 135 Next to the tongue comes the gullet, which is attached to its roots, and into which in the first place pass that substances that have been received in the mouth. The gullet is adjacent to the tonsils on either side of it, and reaches as far as the back or innermost part of the palate. The action and movements of the tongue drive and thrust the food down into the gullet, which receives it and drives it further down, the parts of the gullet below the food that is being swallowed dilating and the parts above it contracting. 136 The windpipe, or trachea51 as it is termed by physicians, has an orifice attached to the roots of the tongue a little above the point where the tongue is joined to the gullet; it reaches to the lungs, and receives the air inhaled by breathing, and also exhales it and passes it out from the lungs; it is covered by a sort of lid, provided for the purpose of preventing a morsel of food from accidentally falling into it and impeding the breath. Below the gullet lies the stomach, which is constructed as the receptacle of food and drink, whereas breath is inhaled by the lungs and heart. The stomach performs a number of remarkable operations; its structure consists principally of muscular fibres, and it is p255manifold and twisted; it compresses and contains the dry or moist nutriment that it receives, enabling it to be assimilated and digested; at one moment is astricted and at another relaxed, thus pressing and mixing together all that is passed into it, so that by means of the abundant heat which it possesses, and by its crushing the food, and also by the op of the breath, everything is digested and worked up so as to be easily distributed throughout the rest of the body. 55 The lungs on the contrary are soft and of a loose and spongy consistency, well adapted to absorb the breath; which they inhale and exhale by alternately contracting and expanding, to provide frequent draughts of that aerial nutriment which is the chief support of animal life. 137 The alimentary juice secreted from the rest of the food by the stomach flows from the bowels to the liver through certain ducts or channels reaching to the liver, to which they are attached, and connecting up what are called the doorways of the liver with the middle intestine. From the liver different channels pass in different directions, and through these falls the food passed down from the liver. From this food is secreted bile, and the liquids excreted by the kidneys; the residue turns into blood be flows to the aforesaid doorways of the liver, to which all its channels lead. Flowing through these doorways the food at this very point pours into the so‑called vena cava or hollow vein,52 and through this, being now completely worked up and digested, flows to the heart, and from the heart is distributed all over the body through a rather large number of veins that reach to every part of the frame. 138 It would not be difficult to indicate the way in which the residue of the food is excreted by the alternate p257astriction and relaxation of the bowels; however this topic must be passed over lest my discourse should be somewhat offensive. Rather let me unfold the following instance of the incredible skilfulness of nature's handiwork. The air drawn into the lungs by breathing is warmed in the first instance by the breath itself and then by contact with the lungs; part of it is returned by the act of respiration, and part is received by a certain part of the heart called the cardiac ventricle, adjacent to which is a second similar vessel into which the blood flows from the liver three the vena cava mentioned above; and in this manner from these organs both the blood is diffused through the veins and the breath through the arteries all over the body. Both of these sets of vessels are very numerous and are closely interwoven with the tissues of the entire body; they testify to an extraordinary degree of skilful and divine craftsmanship. 139 Why need I speak about the bones, which are the framework of the body? their marvellous cartilages are nicely adapted to secure stability, and fitted to end off the joints and to allow of movement and bodily activity of every sort. Add thereto the nerves or sinews53 which hold the joints together and whose ramifications pervade the entire body; like the veins and arteries these lead from the heart as their starting-point and pass to all parts of the body.

56 140 "Many further illustrations could be given of this wise and careful providence of nature, to illustrate the lavishness and splendour of the gifts bestowed by the gods on men. First, she has raised them from the ground to stand tall and upright, so that they might be able to behold the sky and so gain a knowledge of the gods. For men are sprung from p259the earth not as its inhabitants and denizens, but to be as it were the spectators of things supernal and heavenly, in the contemplation whereof no other species of animal participates. Next, the senses, posted in the citadel of the head as the reporters and messengers of the outer world, both in structure and position are marvellously adapted to their necessary services. The eyes as the watchmen have the highest station, to give them the widest outlook for the performance of their function. 141 The ears also, having the duty of perceiving sound, the nature of which is to rise, are rightly placed in the upper part of the body. The nostrils likewise are rightly placed high inasmuch as all smells travel upwards, but also, because they have much to do with discriminating food and drink, they have with good reason been brought into the neighbourhood of the mouth. Taste, which has the function of distinguishing the flavors of our various viands, is situated in that part of the face where nature has made an aperture for the passage of food and drink. The sense of touch is evenly diffused over all the body, to enable us to perceive all sorts of contacts and even the minutest impacts of both cold and heat. And just as architects relegate the drains of houses to the rear, away from the eyes and nose of the masters, since otherwise they would inevitably be somewhat offensive, so nature has banished the corresponding organs of the body far away from the neighbourhood of the senses.

57 142 "Again what artificer but nature, who is unsurpassed in her cunning, could have attained such skilfulness in the construction of the senses? First, she has clothed and walled the eyes with membranes of the finest texture, which she has made on the one p261hand transparent so that we may be able to see through them, and on the other hand firm of substance, to serve as the outer cover of the eye. The eyes she has made mobile and smoothly turning, so as both to avoid any threatened injury and to direct their gaze easily in any direction they desire. The actually organ of vision, called the pupil or 'little doll,'54 is so small as easily to avoid objects that might injure it; and the lids, which are the covers of the eyes, are very soft to the touch so as not to hurt the pupil, and very neatly constructed as to be able both to shut the eyes in order that nothing may impinge upon them and to open them; and nature has provided that this process can be repeated again and again with extreme rapidity. 143 The eyelids are furnished with a palisade of hairs, whereby to ward off any impinging object while the eyes are open, and so that while they are closed in sleep, when we do not need the eyes for seeing, they may be as it were tucked up for repose. Moreover the eyes are in advantageously retired position, and shielded on all sides by surrounding prominences; for first the parts above them are covered by the eyebrows which prevent sweat from flowing down from the scalp and forehead; then the cheeks, which are placed beneath them and which slightly project, protect them from below; and the hose is so placed as to seem to be a wall separating the eyes from one another. 144 The organ of hearing on the other hand is always open, since we require this sense even when asleep, and when it receives a sound, we are aroused even from sleep. The auditory passage is winding, to prevent anything from being able to enter, as it might if the passage were clear and straight; it has further been p263provided that even the tiniest insect that may attempt to intrude may be caught in the sticky was of the ears. On the outside project the organs which we call ears, which are constructed both to cover and protect the sense-organ and to prevent the sounds that reach them from sliding past and being lost before they strike the sense. The apertures of the ears are hard and gristly, and much convoluted, because things with these qualities reflect and amplify sound; this is why tortoise-shell or horn gives resonance to a lyre, and always why winding passages and enclosures have an echo which is louder than the original sound. 145 Similarly the nostrils, which to serve the purposes required of them have to be always open, have narrower apertures, to prevent the entrance of anything that may harm them; and they are always moist, which is useful to guard them against dust and many other things. The sense of taste is admirably shielded, being enclosed in the mouth in a manner well suited for the performance of its function and for its protection against harm.

58 "And all the senses of man far excel those of the lower animals. In the first place our eyes have a finer perception of many things in the arts which appeal to the sense of sight, painting, modelling and sculpture, and also in bodily movements and gestures; since the eyes judge beauty and arrangement and so to speak propriety of colour and shape; and also other more important matters, for they also recognize virtues and vices, the angry and the friendly, the joyful and the sad, the brave man and the coward, the bold and the craven. 146 The ears are likewise marvellously skilful organs of discrimination; they p265judge differences of tone, of pitch and of key55 in the music of the voice and of wind and stringed instruments, and many different qualities of voice, sonorous and dull, smooth and rough, bass and treble, flexible and hard, distinctions discriminated by the human ear alone. Likewise the nostrils, the taste and in some measure the touch have highly sensitive faculties of discrimination. And the arts invented to appeal to and indulge these senses are even more numerous than I could wish. The developments of perfumery and of the meretricious adornment of the person are obvious examples.

59 147 "Coming now to the actual mind and intellect of man, his reason, wisdom and foresight, one who cannot see that these owe their perfection to divine providence must in my view himself be devoid of these very faculties. While discussing this topic I could wish, Cotta, that I had the gift of your eloquence. How could not you describe first our powers of understanding, and then our faculty of conjoining premisses and consequences in a single act of apprehension, the faculty I mean that enables us to judge what conclusion follows from any given propositions and to put the inference in syllogistic form, and also to delimit particular terms in a succinct definition; whence we arrive at an understanding of the potency and the nature of knowledge, which is the most excellent part even of the divine nature. Again, how remarkable are the faculties which you Academics invalidate and abolish, our sensory and intellectual perception and comprehension of external objects; 148 it is by collating and comparing our precepts that we also p267create the arts that serve either practical necessities or the purpose of amusement. Then take the gift of speech, the queen of arts as you are fond of calling it — what a glorious, what a divine faculty it is! In the first place it enables us both to learn things we do not know and to teach things we do know to others; secondly it is our instrument for exhortation and persuasion, for consoling the afflicted and assuaging the fears of the terrified, for curbing passion and quenching appetite and anger; it is this that has united us in the bonds of justice, law and civil order, this that has sped us from savagery and barbarism. 149 Now careful consideration will show that the mechanism of speech displays a skill on nature's part that surpasses belief. In the first place there is an artery passing from the lugns to the back of the mouth, which is the channel by which the voice, originating from the mind, is caught and uttered. Next, the tongue is placed in the mouth and confined by the teeth; it modulates and defines the inarticulate flow of the voice and renders its sounds district and clear by striking the teeth and other parts of the mouth. Accordingly my school is fond of comparing the tongue to the quill of a lyre, the teeth to the strings, and the nostrils to the horns which echo56 the notes of the strings when the instrument is played.

60 150 "Then what clever servants for a great variety of arts are the hands which nature has bestowed on man! The flexibility of the joints enables the fingers to close and open with equal ease, and to perform every motion without difficulty. Thus by the manipulation of the fingers the hand is enabled to paint, to model, to carve, and to draw forth the notes of the lyre and of the flute. And beside these p269arts of recreation there are those of utility, I mean agriculture and building, the weaving and stitching of garments, and the various modes of working bronze and iron; hence we realize that it was you applying the hand of the artificer to the discoveries of thought and observations of the senses that all our conveniences were attained, and we were enabled to have shelter, clothing and protection, and possessed cities, fortifications, houses and temples. 151 Moreover men's industry, that is to say the work of their hands, porticus us also our food in variety and abundance. It is the hand that gathers the divers products of the fields, whether to be consumed immediately or to be stored in repositories for the days tom come; and our diet also includes flesh, fish and fowl, obtained partly by the chase and partly by breeding. We also tame the four-footed animals to carry us on their backs, their swiftness and strength bestowing strength and swiftness upon ourselves. We cause certain beasts to bear our burdens or to carry a yoke, we divert to our service the marvellously acute senses of elephants and the keen scent of hounds; we collect from the caves of the earth the iron which we need for tilling the land, we discover the deeply hidden veins of copper, silver and gold which serve us both for use and for adornment; we cut up a multitude of trees both wild and cultivated for timber which we employ partly by setting fire to it to warm our busy and cook our food, partly for building so as to shelter ourselves with houses and banish heat and cold. 152 Timber moreover is of great value for constructing ships, whose voyages supply an abundance of sustenance of all sorts from all parts of the earth; and we alone have the power of controlling the most violent of nature's p271offspring, the sea and the winds, thanks to the science of navigation, and we use and enjoy many products of the sea. Likewise the entire command of the commodities produced on land is vested in mankind. We enjoy the fruits of the plains and of the mountains, the rivers and the lakes are ours, we sow corn, we plant trees, we fertilize the soil by irrigation, we confine the rivers and straighten or divert their courses. In fine, by means of our hands we essay to create as it were a second world within the world of nature.

61 153 "Then moreover hasn't man's reason penetrated even to the sky? We alone of living creatures know the risings and settings and the courses of the stars, the human race has set limits to the day, the month and the year, and has learnt the eclipses of the sun and moon and foretold for all future time their occurrence, their extent and their dates. And contemplating the heavenly bodies the mind arrives at a knowledge of the gods, from which arises piety, with its comrades justice and the rest of the virtues, the sources of a life of happiness that vies with and resembles the divine existence and leaves us inferior to the celestial beings in nothing else save immortality, which is immaterial for happiness. I think that my exposition of these matters has been sufficient to prove how widely man's nature surpasses all other living creatures; and this should make it clear that neither such a conformation and arrangement of the members nor such power of mind and intellect can possibly have been created by chance.

154 "It remains for me to show, in coming finally to a conclusion, that all the things in this world which men employ have been created and provided for the sake of men.

p273 62 "In the first place the world itself was created for the sake of gods and men, and the things that it contains were provided and contrived for the enjoyment of men. For the world is as it were the common dwelling-place of gods and men, or the city that belongs to both; for they alone have the use of reason and live by justice and by law. As therefore Athens and Sparta must be deemed to have been founded for the sake of the Athenians and the Spartans, and all the things contained in those cities are rightly said to belong to those peoples, so whatever things are contained in all the world must be deemed to belong to the gods and to men. 155 Again the revolutions of the sun and moon no other heavenly bodies, although also contributing to the maintenance of the structure of the world, nevertheless also afford a spectacle for man to behold; for there is no sight of which it is more impossible to grow weary, none more beautiful nor displaying a more surpassing wisdom and skill; for by measuring the courses of the stars we know when the seasons will come round, and when their variations and changes will occur; and if these things are known to men alone, they must be judged to have been created for the sake of men. 156 Then the earth, teeming with grain and vegetables of various kinds, which she pours forth in lavish abundance — does she appear to give birth to this produce for the sake of the wild beasts or for the sake of men? What shall I say of the vines and olives, whose bounteous and delightful fruits do not concern the lower animals at all? In fact the beasts of the field are entirely ignorant of the arts of sowing and cultivating, and of reaping and gathering the fruits of the earth in due season and storing them p275in garners; all these products are both enjoyed and tended by men. 63 157 Just as therefore we are bound to say that lyres and flutes were made for the sake of those who can use them, so it must be agreed that the things of which I have spoken have been provided for those only who make use of them, and even if some portion of them is filched or plundered by some of the lower animals, we shall not admit that they were created for the sake of these animals also. Men do not store up corn for the sake of mice and ants but for their wives and children and households; so the animals share these fruits of the earth only by stealth as I have said, whereas the masters enjoy them openly and freely. 158 It must therefore be admitted that all this abundance was provided for the sake of men, unless perchance the bounteous plenty and variety of our orchard fruit and the delightfulness not only of its flavour but also of its scent and appearance lead us to doubt whether nature intended this gift for man alone! So far is it from being true that the furs of the earth were provided for the sake of animals as well as men, that the animals themselves, as we may see, were created for the benefit of men. What other use have sheep save that their fleeces are dressed and woven into clothing for men? and in fact they could not have been reared nor sustained nor have produced anything of value without man's care and tendance. Then think of the dog, with its trusty watchfulness, its fawning affection for its master and hatred of strangers, its incredible keenness of scent in following a trail and its eagerness in hunting — what do these qualities imply except that they were created to serve the conveniences of men? 159 Why should I speak of oxen? the very shape of their backs makes p277it clear that they were not destined to carry burdens, whereas their necks were born for the yoke and their broad powerful shoulders for drawing the plough. And as it was by their means that the earth was brought under tillage by breaking up its clods, no violence was ever used towards them, so the poets say, by the men of that Golden Age;

But then the iron race sprang into being,

And first did dare to forge the deadly sword,

And taste the ox its hand had tamed to bondage.57

So valuable was deemed the service that man received from oxen that to eat their flesh was held a crime.

64 "It would be a long story to tell of the services rendered by mules and asses, which were undoubtedly created for the use of men. 160 As for the pig, it can only furnish food; indeed Chrysippus58 actually says that its soul was given it to serve as salt and keep it from putrefaction; and because this animal was fitted for the food of man, nature made it the most prolific of all her offspring. Why should I speak of the teeming swarms of delicious fish? or of birds, which afford us so much pleasure that our Stoic Providence appears to have been at times a disciple of Epicurus? and they could not even be caught save by man's intelligence and cunning; — although some birds, birds of flight and birds of utterance as our augurs call them, we believe to have been created for the purpose of giving omens. 161 The great beasts of the forest again we take by hunting, both for food and in order to exercise ourselves in the mimic warfare of the p279chase, and also, as in the case of elephants, to train and discipline them for our employment, and to procure from their busy a variety of medicines for diseases and wounds, as also we do from certain roots and herbs whose values we have learnt by long-continued use and trial. Let the mind's eye survey the whole earth and all the seas, and you will behold now fruitful plains of measureless extent and mountains thickly clad with forests and pastures filled with flocks, now vessels sailing with marvellous swiftness across the sea. 162 Nor only on the surface of the earth, but also in its darkest recesses there lurks an abundance of commodities which were created for men's use and which men alone discover.

65 "The next subject is one which each of you perhaps will seize upon for censure, Cotta because Carneades used to enjoy tilting at the Stoics, Velleius because nothing provokes the ridicule of Epicurus so much as the art of prophecy; but in my view it affords the very strongest proof that man's welfare is studied by divine providence. I refer of course to Divination, which we see practised in many regions and upon various matters and occasions both private and more especially public. 163 Many observations are made by those who inspect the victims at sacrifices, many events are foreseen by augurs or revealed in oracles and prophecies, dreams and portents, a knowledge of which has often led to the acquisition of many things gratifying men's wishes and requirements, and also to the avoidance of many dangers. This power or art or instinct therefore has clearly been bestowed by the immortal gods on man, and on no other creature, for the ascertainment of future events.

p281 "And if perchance these arguments separately fail to convince you, nevertheless in combination their collective weight will be bound to do so.

164 "Nor is the care and providence of the immortal gods bestowed only upon the human race in its entirety, but it is also wont to be extended to individuals. We may narrow down the entirety of the human race and bring it gradually down to smaller and smaller groups, and finally to single individuals. 66 For if we believe, for the reasons that we have spoken of before, that the gods care for all human beings everywhere in every coast and region of the lands remote from this continent in which we dwell, then they care also for the men who inhabit with us these lands between the sunrise and the sunset. 165 But if they care for these who inhabit that sort of vast island which we call the round earth, they also care for those who occupy continue divisions of that island, Europe, Asia and Africa. Therefore they also cherish the divisions of those divisions, for instance Rome, Athens, Sparta and Rhodes; and they cherish the individual citizens of those cities regarded separately from the whole body collectively, for example, Curius, Fabricius and Coruncanius in the war with Pyrrhus, Calatinus, Duellius, Metellus and Lutatius in the First Punic War, and Maximus, Marcellus and Africanus in the Second, and at a later date Paulus, Gracchus and Cato, or in our fathers' time Scipio and Laelius; and many remarkable men besides both our own country and Greece have given birth to, none of whom would conceivably have been what he was save by god's aid. 166 It was this reason which drove the poets, and especially Homer, to attach to their chief heroes, Ulysses, Diomede, p283Agamemnon or Achilles, certain gods as the companions of their perils and adventures; moreover the gods have often appeared to men in person, as in the cases which I have mentioned above, so testifying that they care both for communities and for individuals.59 And the same is proved by the portents of future occurrences that are vouchsafed to men sometimes when they are asleep and sometimes when they are awake. Moreover we receive a number of warnings by means of signs and of the entrails of victims, and by many other things that long-continued usage has noted in such a manner as to create the art of divination. 167 Therefore no great man ever existed who did not enjoy some portion of divine inspiration. Nor yet is this argument to be deprived by pointing to cases where a man's cornfields or vineyards have been damaged by a storm, or an accident has robbed him of some commodity of value, and inferring that the victim of one of these misfortunes is the object of god's hatred or neglect. The gods attend to great matters; they neglect small ones. Now great men always prosper in all their affairs, assuming that the teachers of our school and Socrates, the prince of philosophy, have satisfactorily discoursed upon the bounteous abundance of wealth that virtue bestows.

67 168 "These are more or less the things that occurred to me which I thought proper to be said upon the subject of the nature of the gods. And for your part, Cotta, would you but listen to me, you would plead the same cause, and reflect that you are a leading citizen and a pontife, and you would take advantage of the liberty enjoyed by your school of arguing both pro and contra to choose to espouse my side, p285and preferably to devote to this purpose those powers of eloquence which your rhetorical exercises have bestowed upon you and which the Academy has fostered. For the habit of arguing in support of atheism, whether it be done from conviction or in pretence, is a wicked and impious practice."


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

31 See I.18, 20, 22. The language here and at III.18 implies that the work was planned to fall into three separate conversations held on three successive days: an indication that it lacks the author's final revision.

32 The MSS. give "which possesses no natural principle of cohesion."

33 Born 170 B.C. The lines came from his Medea.

34 In the lost dialogue De Philosophia, see I.33 n.

35 Aratus of Soli in Cilicia, fl. late 3rd cent. B.C. at the Macedonian court, versified the astronomy of Plato's pupil Eudoxus, and weather-forecasts, in two poems, Phaenomena and Diosemeia. Of Cicero's translate of the former two‑thirds, of the latter (Prognostica) a few lines survive.

36 'Dog's tail,' perhaps the curve of the three stars.

37 'The spiral,' perhaps of its motion round the pole.

38 Said to mean 'threshing-oxen.'

39 Perhaps the harvest began under this sign.

40 See above, § 105.

41 Called Eridanus, and identified with the Po or the Nile.

42 See § 47.

43 A variant gives "the shrimp draws the attention of the marshal by giving it a nip, and the marshal shuts up its shells."

44 Aristotle, Hist. An. IX.10.

45 Cicero seems to have omitted or misunderstood something in Aristotle; the passage quoted is not in his extant works. Pliny, N. H. X.63, tells the same thing of wild geese and swans, saying a tergo sensim dilatante se cuneo porrigitur agmen, 'the column widens out at the rear with the gradual broadening of the wedge.'

46 Perhaps the text should be emended to give, 'and fashions a living creature conceived therefrom.'

47 Trade-winds blowing periodically (ἔτος, 'year') from N.‑W. and other quarters.

48 Probably an interpolated note.

49 The text may have been corrupted, and may have run 'ebb and flow with the moon.'

50 A plausible emendation of the text gives 'Within the mouth is the structure of the teeth, to which the food is handed over (mandatur) and by which it is divided up and softened.'

51 The Greek Tracheia arteria, 'rough artery' (air‑ducts and blood-vessels not being distinguished).

52 The phleps koilé, the great trunk vein.

53 The Greeks used the same word neuroi both, and did not clearly distinguish them.

54 Pupa, κόρη, so called from its reflecting a small image of a person who looks into it.

55 It is quite possible that the three words varietas, intervalla, distinctio are merely a periphrasis for the single term διαστήματα, 'differences of pitch,' in contrast with differences of quality which follow.

56 The vibration of the hollow horns no doubt intensified the sound of the strings.

57 Cicero's translation of Aratus' Phaenomena, 129 ff.

58 Clement of Alexandria, Strom. VII.34 Κλεάνθης φησιν ἀνθ᾽ ἀλῶν αὐτοὺς (τοὺς ὗς) ἔχειν τὴν ψυχήν, ἵνα μὴ σαπῇ τὰ κρέα; but Cicero is probably right in giving it to Chrysippus.

59 In De Divinatione Cicero's brother Quintus sets out in Book I these two kinds of divination, natural, by means of dreams and ecstasies, and artificial, through the observation of entrails of victims, birds' flight, lightning no other portents; in Book II Cicero replies, denying divination altogether.

Page updated: 1 Mar 14