De Natura Deorum

Dē Nātūra Deōrum
(On the Nature of the Gods)
Cicero, De natura deorum, BAV, Urb. lat. 319.jpg
15th-century manuscript, Vatican
AuthorCicero
CountryRoman Republic
LanguageClassical Latin
SubjectRoman religion, Ancient Greek religion
Genretheology, philosophy
Publication date
45 BC
292.07
Preceded byTusculanae Disputationes
Followed byDe Divinatione
Original text
Dē Nātūra Deōrum
(On the Nature of the Gods)
at Latin Wikisource

De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods) is a philosophical dialogue by Roman orator Cicero written in 45 BC. It is laid out in three books, each of which discusses the theology of different Roman and Greek philosophers. The dialogue uses a discussion of Epicurean, Stoic, and skeptical (Platonist) theories to examine fundamental questions of theology.

Writing

De Natura Deorum belongs to the group of philosophical works which Cicero wrote in the two years preceding his death in 43 BC.[1] He states near the beginning of De Natura Deorum that he wrote them both as a relief from the political inactivity to which he was reduced by the supremacy of Julius Caesar, and as a distraction from the grief caused by the death of his daughter Tullia.[1]

The dialogue is supposed to take place in Rome at the house of Gaius Aurelius Cotta.[2] In the dialogue he appears as pontiff, but not as consul.[2] He was made pontiff soon after 82 BC, and consul in 75 BC, and as Cicero, who is present at the dialogue as a listener, did not return from Athens till 77 BC, its fictional date can be set between the years 77 and 75 BC, when Cicero was about thirty years of age, and Cotta about forty-eight.[2]

The book contains various obscurities and inconsistencies which demonstrate that it was probably never revised by Cicero, nor published until after his death.[3] For the content, Cicero borrowed largely from earlier Greek sources.[3] However, the hasty arrangement by Cicero of authorities who themselves wrote independently of one another means that the work lacks cohesion,[4] and points raised by one speaker are sometimes not countered by subsequent speakers.[5]