Jesse's Reviews > The Nature of the Gods

The Nature of the Gods by Marcus Tullius Cicero
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's review
Aug 31, 2010

really liked it
Read from August 31 to September 03, 2010

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 it perhaps would've been centuries ago, to read, again and again, "But I really want to get at the nature of the gods now, and so to gain insight into this myster..." The ties between theology and philosophy were once like that between astrology and astronomy; let us not dwell on these facts like Rousseau in the Essay on the Arts and Sciences! Let us move on! A new atheistic day dawns! Tomorrow! OK, the next day! C'mon! Next week, then! Nevertheless, the atheist Voltaire considered this the best work of antiquity.
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message 1: by Yann (new)

Yann ... the atheist Voltaire ...

He was not atheist but deist.

Jesse You are, of course, correct. It is a debatable point, however, whether deism is a branch of atheism.

message 3: by Yann (new)

Yann Yes, you're right to point that definition of atheism may vary, since christians were considered by pagans as atheists. Generaly, all kind of heretics were considered as atheists, even if they believed in God. And Voltaire was certainely closer to atheists than most of catholics.

Jesse Interesting. Were Christians indeed considered by pagans to be atheists? Do you have a source, by chance?

message 5: by Yann (last edited Aug 26, 2013 08:32AM) (new)

Yann Have a look to what what wrote emperor Julian (Libri tres contra Galileos), Lucian ( The Passing of Peregrinus), but the most we know about this is from patristic books, where the fathers of the church respond to pagan's attacks (Apologetic by Tertulian, St Justin's Apologia, Eusebius Ecclesiastic story, and so many more...)

[edit+: Libanios seems to have things about that, but i haven't read yet...]

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