Cicero on Zeno’s Idea of God

‘I come now, Balbus, to the philosophers of your school.* Zeno* proposes that the law of nature is divine, with the power of enjoining what is right and of forbidding the opposite. How he lends life to this law—and we certainly require a god to be a living creature—we fail to understand. He also says elsewhere that the upper air is god; but can we fathom a god which is without feeling, a god which never confronts us in our prayers, aspirations, or vows? 36 ‘In other books he states his belief that there is a kind of reason which pervades the whole of nature and is endowed with divine power. This same power he assigns also to the stars, and to the years and months and changing complexion of the years. In interpreting Hesiod’s Theogony* (which means ‘The Birth of the Gods’), he dispenses totally with customary notions of the gods. He does not regard Jupiter, Juno, Vesta, or deities similarly named as among the company of the gods, but teaches that these names by a sort of symbolism have been pinned on things without life and speech.

Cicero. The Nature of the Gods (Oxford World’s Classics) (p. 16). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.

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