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M. Tulli Ciceronis Scripta quae manserunt omnia. Fasc. 45, De natura deorum

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  517 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Written primarily in Latin, 1933/1980/1999 edition.
240 pages
Published June 1st 1980 by B.G. Teubner (first published -44)
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My goal to read this in the original Latin has emerged partially intact: I read big chunks of each book untranslated, but not quite all of it. I read the intervening sections in translation. It was a fascinating way to read a piece of history and piece of philosophy. The slowness (and, mostly, the fact that I was reading it for a class) allowed for a good bit of outside reading, which enriched the experience. It also allowed for an appreciation of Cicero's language, which is really pretty wonder ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
I devoured this book. Behe you fool! You can come up with no greater argument than Cicero's own watchmaker hypothesis? Idiot. The same so called "Reasons" for the gods are still the best we can do with all of our technological advances since Rome? Bastards. In praise of Cicero who for his time was highly critical in his critique of not only the existence of gods but what their inherent nature must be. Good for you Cicero and shame to all those who have done no better since him, prattling the sam ...more
Je suis encore sous le ravissement de cette lecture. C'est un des plus beaux textes philosophique sur la religion que j'ai pu lire jusqu'à présent. Celui envers lequel Quintilien ne tarit pas d'éloge en est l'auteur. Cicéron, cet avocat, connu pour son implication politique à la veille de la fin de la République, était aussi un philosophe, tout comme Brutus à qui le livre est adressé. Il relate un dialogue entre trois amis romains auquel Cicéron a assisté. Cotta, l'académicien, Véléius, l'épicur ...more
Evan Leach
On the Nature of the Gods is a philosophical dialogue by the Roman orator Cicero written in 45 BC. It is laid out in three "books", each of which discusses the theology of different Roman and Greek philosophers. The dialogue uses Stoic, Epicurean, and skeptical theories to examine fundamental questions of theology.

The dialogue is on the whole narrated by Cicero himself, though he doesn't play an active part in the discussion. Gaius Velleius represents the Epicurean school, Quintius Lucilius Balb
David Withun
This is a magnificent book from beginning to end. Cicero, a generation before Christ, takes on the eternal question of the existence and nature of the divine. To do so, he presents us with a dialogue between representatives of the three greatest traditions of early Roman philosophy: Epicureanism, Stoicism, and the Academy of Athens. The three participants discuss whether there are gods or is a God, what their or his nature might be, what their or his relationship(s) to men might be, and many mor ...more
A. J. McMahon
The format of the book is that of a group discussion between the representatives of the three major religious philosophies of the day. Each representative puts forward his viewpoint, and there are question-and-answer sessions. What I found most interesting was the lack of theological sophistication present in the debate. The Epicurean, for example, goes as close to atheism as he dares, while the State-sanctioned commentary on the gods was merely empty pious talk. It seems clear that by this time ...more
The direct antecedent to Hume's altogether superior Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, this book is, however, a treasure-trove for information about the various ancient philosophies: Epicurean, Stoic, Academic, Skeptic, Cynic, and Peripatetic as they stood in the 1st century BCE. It is a thought-provoking dialogue and, as always with Cicero, possesses that unctuous yet enjoyable prose, even though, in our age of disbelief, the work's immediacy is quite lost; that is, it is not exciting, as i ...more
It's rare to find a book that presents the arguments it opposes in the best possible terms (Rapaport's rules) before annihilating them. Cicero's attempt at neutrality is a marvel today as much as it was in his own time.

The arguments for the god/s have not changed since Cicero even though the arguments against have become better and better, so it is amusing to watch a pseudo-science and mysticism attack each other with hammers made of feathers. Some of the arguments in this boo I haven't heard a
Interesting discussion/critique of Hellenistic (in particular, epicurean and stoic) philosophy of religion. Cicero clearly relishes criticizing these views. In doing so, he anticipates many of Hume's themes in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, most clearly aspects of the design argument and the problem of evil. This isn't really surprising, of course, given the extremely high regard given Cicero by Hume and his contemporaries (not to mention the preceding 18 centuries--it's only with th ...more
Felix Purat
Having recently recognized a lack of knowledge of Ancient Greek and Roman philosophies – a field that many today seem proud to brag about knowing, but who most likely cannot differentiate Anaxarchus from Anaximander – I started reading this book by the eminent Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero. In it, he reflects on a conversation that may or may not be fictional with people who sound like they were real, but maybe were not (can’t say that I know: but given the context of the argument, it matte ...more
Charles Dalrymple-Fraser
A gift from my studied grandfather, I was warned "Be careful to avoid the introduction, and you will find this a most modern read". Indeed, Cicero's work, of a generation before Christ, penetrates through to contemporary matters of theology and theism in a cursory but thorough manner. I have not been one with interest in the philosophies of religion and the metaphysics of god, but here I found an amply concise history of ancients' beliefs about god, the arguments forwarded by the Stoic, Epicurea ...more
Jacob Stubbs
So, this is the second Cicero book I've read for my seminar in Augustine and Neo-Platonism (Note that our interpretation of Cicero put forth in the class has been pretty broad--Is he a closet Platonist, an Aristotlean, or an Academic?) Nevertheless, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Cicero presents the theologies of the Epicureans and the Stoics and then shows the shortcomings of each. He, as N.T. Wright recommends, does an excellent job showing the view of the gods around the time Jesus was born. C ...more
cicero has seen it from both sides now and still some how. he is clearly not an enthusiasticly devote of the roman gods. he respects them as part of his ancestral inheritance. to him only jupiter would be sufficient to sent him a dream. it's daring to read how someone reexamines his believes. if he was putting words to the general feeling it is no wonder that a century later in the vacuum place was created for a new concept of religion.
An interesting albeit inconclusive discussion of the nature of the Gods. Written in the form of a discussion between a stoic and an epicurean, it attempts to establish if the Gods exists and their characteristics and nature.
I have a soft spot for Cicero, he being a lawyer of great note. His Murder Trial speeches could give a few tips to modern lawyers even after over two millenia. This volume sets out, mostly in dialogue form, the three predominant philosophies of his day with respect to the title. They were, Stoicism, the Academy view and the Epicurean view.

The language used is easy to follow and the arguments put forward are effectively done. The Academy prevails on most of the issues, but there are few answers h
Sebastián Quiroga
it's a very interesting book wherein is shown the three most important point of views on religion: the epicurean, the stoicism and the official religious system. The book it's equilibrate showing the different argument, although cicero is very critic whit Epicuro's ideas. It's a shame that the book is incomplete because the sources are so. This is a good book to know a little about the way of view the religion in elder time.
Opera onesta ed estremamente affascinante. Meravigliosi ragionamenti e ricostruzioni sul dubbio religioso di oltre 2000 anni fa. Sorprendentemente attuale.
Creo que leer este libro es una de las maneras más divertidas de conocer algo de la teología antigua. Las intervenciones de Cotta están cargadas de ironía y comicidad (de verdad que reí mucho) pero sumamente sabias, mientas que los argumentos de los otros dos participantes, Balbo y Villeio, son un gran aporte a la comprensión filosófica y teológica tanto del estoicismo como del epicureísmo
If you think Richard Dawkins started the debate, think again.
Paul Pellicci
Cicero is one of my favorite ancient authors. This book, although quite a chore to read at times, is a fascinating look into the ancient mind. I am always amazed at how the Roman pagan religion seemed to hold a republic together until the civil war and Octavian's postscriptions erased Cicero and others, many others from the scene.
It definitely suffers from its lack of editing. But I do believe every issue that could be raised was raised. Very thoughtful arguments incorporated, though it might have done it better to follow a dialectic model of argumentation, rather than follow the model of extended accounts followed by various out of place refutations.
This ancient book is surprisingly current in its subject-matter and logic. Here lie the arguments of the creationists, the skeptics, the atheists, and the Christians. Cicero does a remarkably good job of summarizing each position and making them interact. Best read in conjunction with Pilgirm's Regress.
Cicero is a little bit quiet and the authorial intention is very ambiguous, but the debate is still quite fascinating. The Stoic view of the cosmos was at times quite beautiful; yes, as insufferably self-righteous as they could be, the Stoics come off with a better cosmos than many moderns.
For a long time, I was wondering about the past Gods (not the mythological ones), what was their purpose etc. And as I was searching for the right book to understand the Gods better, I picked up Cicero's book. Oh what a good decision I've made! This book was a real eye-opener for my belief-system!
James Violand
A convoluted dialogue that poorly mimics Plato. The author tries to establish conclusions by reciting myth and using poorly constructed arguments (say it ain't so, Cicero!). Some portions of this book are no longer extant, but these could hardly have redeemed such an uninteresting work.
Maurice Halton
Written about two-thousand years ago, The Nature of the Gods urges thought and reason. Not completely atheistic, it is nevertheless less than agnostic. I good insight into the educated Roman's pantheistic ideas.
Quoted in my Latin textbook. I decided to read it on my own. Probably wasn't in the right mood for it -- didn't end up finishing it.
An interesting outlook on what are the gods and their relationship to humans from one of the most notable Roman writers.
Gwen Burrow
Quite fascinating. Really wish I had time to read every word.
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  • Natural History: A Selection
  • Essays
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  • Carmina
  • Pharsalia: The Civil War
  • Heroides
  • Philebus
  • Epigrams
  • The Odes
  • The Poems
  • The Enneads
  • The Comedies
  • The Athenian Constitution
  • Idylls
  • Guide to Greece: Central Greece (Guide to Greece, #1)
  • The Eclogues: Dual Language Edition
  • The Sixteen Satires
  • The Jugurthine War and the Conspiracy of Catiline
January 3, 106 BCE – December 7, 43 BCE

Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. Cicero is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.
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