Accepting something merely because it has always been that way – whether in a religious sense or any other – has always been the easiest thing a person can do. Discussion, on the other hand, is difficult, especially when the discussion takes place between people of different opinions, different beliefs, different cultural backgrounds.
To understand much of the present day arguments about religion it is necessary to go back through time and see how some of these beliefs began, where they have their roots, what makes people follow one specific belief over another. It is necessary to look critically at what is propounded by modern-day religions, and where they stem from, how they came to be in the present form, what appeals to people who follow these religions, this form of faith.
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Cicero’s book, written in the final years of his life, takes three differing aspects of the subjects ‘gods’ and ‘belief’ and allows his characters to explain why they follow a certain train of thought, why their own belief is based within a specific area. His characters discuss three differing schools of thought during the pre-Christian era, thoughts which have influenced us whether we know it or not.
His carefully constructed discussion is a masterpiece of poetic language as much as a revelation about our past. How the philosophical schools of his time came to terms with the idea of a god, or many gods, or even the lack of a supreme being. How daily life was governed by their perceived rule, by their actions or inaction, by the messages they are purported to have passed down to mortal man. On the Nature of the Gods gives us a valuable insight into the thinking of his times and the first constructs which would, in coming centuries, be adapted and forced into the belief in one single god. Coupled with many other writings, both from Cicero and other great thinkers of the past, it casts a light into the depths of a subject few are able to discuss without acrimony and hate, and where few are capable of proving that one system or another is the right path to follow.
Published by Loeb Classical Library (Harvard). ISBN 978 0 674 99296 2
- Viktoria Michaelis.