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Encyclopedia > De Divinatione

Cicero's De Divinatione (Latin, "Concerning Divination") is a philosophical treatise in two books written in 45 BC . It takes the form of a dialogue whose interlocutors are Marcus Tullius Cicero himself (speaking primarily in Book II) and his brother Quintus Tullius Cicero. For other uses see Cicero (disambiguation) Marcus Tullius Cicero (January 3, 106 BC - December 7, 43 BC) was an orator and statesman of Ancient Rome, and is generally considered the greatest Latin prose stylist. ... This man in Rhumsiki, Cameroon, tells the future by interpreting the changes in position of various objects as caused by a fresh-water crab through nggàm[1]. Divination is the practice of ascertaining information from supernatural sources. ... Centuries: 2nd century BC - 1st century BC - 1st century Decades: 90s BC 80s BC 70s BC 60s BC 50s BC - 40s BC - 30s BC 20s BC 10s BC 0s BC 0s Years: 50 BC 49 BC 48 BC 47 BC 46 BC 45 BC 44 BC 43 BC 42 BC... The term dialogue (or dialog) expresses basically reciprocal conversation between two or more persons. ... An interlocutor (pronounced inter-lock-you-ter) describes someone who informally explains the views of a government and also can relay messages back to a government. ... Quintus Tullius Cicero was the younger brother of Marcus Tullius Cicero. ...

Cicero concerns himself in some detail with the types of divination, dividing them into the "inspired" type (Latin furens, Gk. mania, "madness"), especially dreams, and the type which occurs via some form of skill of interpretation (i.e., haruspicy, extispicy, augury, and other oracles). The bronze sheeps liver of Piacenza, with Etruscan inscriptions A haruspex was a sort of augur in the Roman religion who practiced divination, by inspecting the entrails of sacrificed animals, especially the livers of sacrificed sheep. ... Extispicy is a type of Roman divination in which the soothsayer read the entrails (Lat. ... Omens or portents are signs encountered fortuitously that are believed to foretell the future. ... An Oracle is a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic opinion; an infallible authority, usually spiritual in nature. ...

Book I deals with Quintus' apology of divination (in line with his essentially Stoic beliefs), while Book II contains Marcus' refutation of these from his Academic philosophical standpoint. The Apology is Platos version of the speech given by Socrates as he defends himself against the charges of being a man who corrupted the young, did not believe in the gods, and created new deities. ... Stoicism is a school of philosophy commonly associated with such Greek philosophers as Zeno of Citium, Cleanthes, or Chrysippus and with such later Romans as Cicero, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus. ... Plato is credited with the inception of academia: the body of knowledge, its development and transmission across generations. ...

It is notable as one of posterity's primary sources on the workings of Roman religion. It also possesses a fragment of Cicero's poem on his own consulship. Religion in ancient Rome combined several different cult practices and embraced more than a single set of beliefs. ...

A Section of De Divinatione (Book I, Section 63-64)

It is when the mind has been disassociated from the infectious alliance of the body in sleep it remembers the past, discerns the present, and foresees the future, for the body of the sleeper lies like a dead man, moreover the thrives and lives. It will also do this much more after death, when it has left the body entirely. And so when death is approaching it is more prophetic. For they see it itself, those who are affected by a serious and fatal disease, that death is pursuing. And so the shades of death meet those men frequently, then most of all they greatly worry about their reputation and these men who have lived other than they should have done repent there most of all their sins. Moreover Posidonius declares that the dying foretell in that well known case which he brings to the argument, by that example which he quotes, a certain man from Rhodes while dying he names six men and said, who would dies in order first of them, then second, then last. But in 3 ways, he believes that by the impulse of the gods men dream, the first because the mind itself makes an act of ,foreseeing, (foreseeing of its own powers). Since it is bound by affinity to the gods, the second, namely that the air is full of immortal soul, upon which the marks of truth are to be seen, as it were, clearly imprinted, the third because the gods themselves speak with the sleepers. That, as I have just said, happens more easily when death is approaching that the souls foresee the future. From which this is the origin of the statement of Homer’s Hector, who while dying announces the nearing death of Achilles.

The accompanyment to this synkrisis De Divinatione II 148-150

Let us rule out of court divination of dreams be driven out with each other. For to speak truly, superstition spreads out through mankind and has vanquished the minds of almost all men and taken possession of their weakness. That which was both said in those books, which are about the nature of the gods, and in this discussion has been my chief concern, for we would seem to be doing much good both to ourselves and our country men, if we would have lifted it up utterly. Nor indeed (for I want it to be understood carefully) with superstition being taken away religion is being taken away. For it is the mark of a Wiseman to be caring for both the custom of the ancestors and by keeping the rituals and the ceremonies, both to give the present some lasting substance both by reverence and admiration of it. The beauty of the universe and arrangement of heavenly bodies compels us to confess that there is some outstanding and eternal substance and it should be revered and admired by the races of men. Wherefore, while it must even be spread, it is an integral part of the knowledge of the universe, yet the roots of suspicion must all be uprooted. Since it is the position of the academy to put forward no position of its own to approve of those things, which seem very alike to truth, to bring together all reasons. To bring out what can be said in every conclusion and what applying its own authority to leaves the judgment of the listeners unprejudiced and free we will hold this habit being handed down from Socrates and we shall use it as often as possible amongst ourselves if it pleases you, brother Quintus.



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