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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces part of the
De Natura Deorum


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

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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(Vol. XIX) Cicero
De Natura Deorum


 p385  Fragments of Book III

11 Lactantius, Divine Institutions II.32. Cicero was aware that the objects of men's worship were false. For after saying a number of things tending to subvert religion, he adds nevertheless that these matters ought not to be discussed in public, lest such discussion destroy the established religion of the nation.

2 Ib. II.8.10. Cicero in discussing the nature of the gods says thus: First therefore it is not probable that the material substance from which all things are derived was created by divine providence, but that it has and has had a force and nature of its. As therefore the carpenter when about to build a house does not himself make timber but employs that which has been prepared, and the same with the modeller and his wax, so your divine providence ought to have been supplied with matter not made by itself but given to it ready-made. But if matter was not made by god, earth, water, air and fire also were not made by god.

3 Maius' Ancient Interpreters of Virgil, p45, ed. Milan. In Cicero's de Natura Deorum bk. III, where speaking of Cleomenes of Sparta . . .

4 Diomedes I p313.10 Keil. Cicero de Natura Deorum bk. III. Men surpass all the lower animals.

 p387  Fragments of uncertain Origin

5 Servius on Virgil Aen. III.284. Tully in his book on the nature of the gods said that the Great Year contains three thousand years.2

6 Id. on Aen. III.600. 'Spirabile' . . . is in the style of Cicero, although he said 'spiritabile'​3 in his books on the nature of the gods.

7 Id. on Aen. VI.894. By 'the gate of horn' the eyes are meant, which are both horny and harder than the other parts of the body, for they do not feel cold, as Cicero also said in his books on the nature of the gods.4

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 This and the three following fragments Plasberg inserts in Book III § 65.

2 See II.51 f., where, however, the length of the Great Year is stated to be uncertain. In Hortensius, fr. 26, Cicero gave it as 12954 years.

3 One MS. of Servius has spiritale, which is probably correct. In N. D. II.18 we find spiritalem, with a less well attested variant spiritabilem, presumably a mere error. The usual form is spiritualis.

4 There is nothing like this about the eyes in Cicero, though in II.144 he says "the ears have hard and so to speak horny entrances."

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Page updated: 9 Feb 22