Stoics, Epicureans, and the New Academy

in How Philosophers Saved Myths

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780226075358
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226075389 | DOI:
Stoics, Epicureans, and the New Academy

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This chapter analyses the De natura deorum (DND), in which Cicero systematically covered what the three predominant philosophical currents of the time had to say on the various gods and on the interpretations that each of these figures generated. Only fragments of the works of the Stoics, the Epicureans, and the philosophers of the New Academy have survived. Balbus, the representative of Stoicism, wonders about the origins of the gods of the popular religion, in the second book of DND. The doctrine against which the attacks of the Epicureans and the Academicians converge is that of the Stoics, which is characterized by two traits, that is, the acceptance of the existence of all the traditional divinities, and the allegorical justification of their nature. Hence, the allegorical interpretation advocated by the Stoics remained predominant for centuries despite of all the attacks.

Keywords: De natura deorum; DND; Cicero; gods; Stoics; Epicureans; New Academy

Chapter.  6387 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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