Chapter

Nature, Gods, and Governance

in What Did the Romans Know?

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780226471143
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226471150 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226471150.003.0002
Nature, Gods, and Governance

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This chapter selects Cicero as the starting point, arguing that the engagement with nature in his thinking is very closely related to his concerns in politics and law. It discusses how the Roman ideas about nature interact in unique ways with Roman ideas about theology and politics. The main textual focus is placed on a group of dialogues by Cicero, most centrally his great theologico-philosophical trilogy On the Nature of the Gods, On Divination, and On Fate. Along with its theological and political commitments, divination provided a significant window into Roman understandings of nature and the natural world. Cicero's De divinatione was the great philosophical critique of divination in antiquity. It showed that Cicero attempts to observe a foundation in nature for the Roman political system, and for an ideal of Roman virtue that would justify this system as a whole.

Keywords: nature; Cicero; politics; law; theology; On the Nature of the Gods; On Divination; On Fate; divination; Roman political system

Chapter.  10809 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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