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The Nature of the Gods (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 12 Jun 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (12 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199540063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199540068
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 1 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 249,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The translation is both lively and accurate; the introduction is judicious and informative. The notes are especially strong on the identification of the many historical references in the work. (Phronesis)

About the Author

is Emeritus Professor of Humanity at the University of Glasgow. His translation of Petronius's

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lark TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Nov 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book on the topic of philosophy and spirituality, I had thought that perhaps this would be a description of polytheism or the state religion of rome but its much better than that.

The book has a Contents (Abbreviations; Introduction; Summary of Text; Note on the Text and Translation; Select Bibliography; The Nature of The Gods; Explanatory Notes; Index and Glossary of Names), end notes and index. The Summary of Text is a form of contents itself, describing the structure of the book with Introduction; The Epicurean case; Cotta's criticism; The Stoic case in four parts; Cotta's criticisms of the Stoic thesis; Conclusion of the debate.

The introduction to the book is great, contextualising Cicero's writing and providing some information about Cicero himself and the schools of thought he features in the book (the Epicureans, the stoics and the academic school). It was interesting to read about the problems of presenting philosophical investigations and philosophy-spiritual cross overs in a time when state, society, private and public life where interwoven with religious beliefs and norms. For me that calls to mind Voltaire's saying about if God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.

The content of chapters or books deal with questions of do Gods exist? What are they like? What do they do? What is the nature of divinity? Questions about divination, prophecy, human reason and cosmic harmony.

The Epicureans professing a belief in Gods as perfect beings living apart from human kind and not interacting with it, to be revered for their perfection. The Stoics professing a more cosmic view of existence and humankind within it. The academic school providing a critical appraisal of each.
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By Jo Armani on 22 Oct 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
in most cases in order to broaden one's horizons it helps to view the world from another perspective, and you can't hardly go any further out in space and time than classical history before the societies and religions of our day and age even began to take shape. This little book is brilliantly written, well translated, easy to read and understand and well worth the time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
"A Creative-Classic" 31 Dec 2001
By Johannes Platonicus - Published on
Format: Paperback
Cicero's "De Natura Deorum" is a work the great orator used to present his own position towards philosophy, the gods, and how they work in the universe and in the lives of individuals. Cicero presents his thesis by opening a dialogue between three distinguished philosophers from the major schools of the first century BC: namely the Stoics, Epicureans, and Academics. Velleius, in book one, expounds upon the general tenets of the Epicureans; in book two, Balbus the Stoic in turn attempts to refute the claims made by Velleius; and finally, in book three, Cotta takes the position of the Academics, which should be understood as Cicero's opinions himself. If judged correctly, Cicero's opinions are quite clear, but they should be left for the reader to discover on his own. As pure philosophy, this book obviously lacks merit; but as for creativity and sheer eloquence Cicero's work will make for an entertaining and insightful read, especially as an introductory to the philosophical maxims during the decay of the Roman Republic. Despite the works lack of philosophical ingenuity, its influence may possibly be greater than what is customarily maintained, since it is likely that "De Naturae Deorum" impacted Boethius in writing his "Consolation of Philosophy." First of all, both works address many of the same issues, and secondly in their literary style they both use prose and verse to convey meaning. Overall, this work will make for a comforting, and at times insightful read; this will be an essential addition to the classical library.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
worth a read and a reread. 22 Jun 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up on a whim and read it in it's entirety in one evening, and promptly started over from the beginning. Not only is Cicero an elegant writer, but unlike many of his contemporaries his arguments are logically thought out and easy to follow. Anyone who has ever wondered if God or the gods would be encompassed in a physical or ethereal form and anyone who has ever wondered just how much involvement any god could have in the day to day lives of human beings will find this book surprisingly modern in its thoughts and conclusions.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Thought provoking work, good translation 17 Nov 2010
By Christopher R. Travers - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a review of the translation published by Oxford World's Classics.

In this work, Cicero tackles the question of theology from the perspective of the schools of thought in Rome in the first century BCE. The theories of the Epicurians, the Academics, and the Stoics are given a lot of space, but the history of philosophical theology is touched on in some detail too. Many of the theories are ones that seem quite contemporary. We see the same arguments for the existence of God today.

The book is wide ranging, discussing everything from epistemology to theology. Moreover the introduction discusses the historical importance of this work in early Christianity (which may be one reason why the theories seem contemporary) as well as the context in which it was written.

This is a book that will make you think, and will make you see current theology debates with new eyes. Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Important witness to ancient theological views 4 Dec 2010
By hypatiaa - Published on
Format: Paperback
Cicero's famous work, De Natura Deorum - on the Nature of the Gods, is important evidence of the theological beliefs of the major philosophical schools during the Late Republic of Rome. It is an important work - and still relevant today in philosophical studies as it is the major text that underlies David Hume's great treatise, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion. It is also important evidence of two fragmentary works of the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus - in parts following closely - On Signs and On Piety. I go back to this work often as an important witness to understand the thoughts of other major philosophers both ancient and modern.
Typically OXFORD 5 Feb 2013
By Dr. Ralph Quane, Writer of Illuminated Manuscripts - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
OXFORD has shifted gears to accessible translators/translations. The additional information provided by the translators in the OXFORD series make they very much "alive" again.
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