Divinity - Primary Citations on Divinity

  • Divinity - Primary Citations on Divinity

    Epicurus held that gods are totally natural. They are in no way supernatural, in no way omnipotent, in no way omnipresent. They are totally incapable of creating something from nothing. This is very different from modern use of the term. This is a very complex subject so please see additional discussion here and throughout this website.


    1 Nature of the Gods

    1.1
    U386 Philodemus, On Piety, Vol. Herc. 2, II.76.1 (p. 106 Gomperz; Obbink I.27.754)


    … he says that as being both the greatest thing, and that which as it were excels in sovereignty, it possesses everything: for every wise man holds pure and holy beliefs about the divine and has understood that this nature is great and august. And it is particularly at festivals that he, progressing to an understand of it, through having its name the whole time on his lips, embraces with conviction more seriously ……


    2
    Attitude of Humans Toward The Gods

    2.1 From Philodemus "On Piety" 126 Gomperz (387 U, 114 A)


    "Again: 'let us sacrifice to the gods,' he says, 'piously and well, as is appropriate, and let us do everything according to the laws, but [let us do so] not disturbing them at all with our opinions on the topic of those who are best and most majestic; again, we say that it is even right [to do this] on the basis of the opinion which I was discussing. For in this way, by Zeus, it is possible for a mortal nature to live like Zeus, as it appears.'"

    2.2
    From Philodemus "On Piety" 105 Gomperz (157 U, 86 A)


    "Moreover, in his letter to Polyaenus he says that one should join in the celebration of the festival of the Anthesteria. For one must remember the gods as being the causes of many good things."


    2.3 Philodemus, On the Life of the Gods, Vol. Herc. 1, VI col. 1


    ... to the gods, and he admires their nature and their condition and tries to approach them and, so to speak, yearns to touch them and to be together with them; and he calls Sages "friends of the gods" and the gods "friends of Sages."

    2.4
    Philodemus, On Music, Vol. Herc. 1, I c.4,6:


    Now, these very important things may still be said at the present: that the divine does not need any honor; for us, nevertheless, it’s natural to honor it, above all, with pious convictions, even through the rites of national tradition, each according to his proper part.


    2.5
    Philodemus, On the Life of the Gods, Vol. Herc. 1, VI col. 1:


    ... to the gods, and he admires their nature and their condition and tries to approach them and, so to speak, yearns to touch them and to be together with them; and he calls Sages "friends of the gods" and the gods "friends of Sages."



    3 Attitude of the Gods Toward Humans


    3.1 From Philodemus "On Piety", referring to Epicurus' "On Nature", Bk. 13. Translation from "The Epicurus Reader" by Brad Inwood


    "In book 13 [he mentions] the congeniality which god feels for some and the alienation [for others]."

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Comments 5

  • Godfrey your comment also reminds me that maybe there is a parallel or cross-feeding in regard to the comment that I think is made about "chance" -- somewhere there is the comment that "chance" though looked down upon can be the cause of great good, which is sort of an echo of "many good things", how about the letter to Menoeceus! "As to chance, he does not regard it as a god as most men do (for in a god’s acts there is no disorder), nor as an uncertain cause (of all things) for he does not believe that good and evil are given by chance to man for the framing of a blessed life, but that opportunities for great good and great evil are afforded by it."

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  • Citation 2.2, 105 Gomperz, seems peculiar in saying that the gods are the "causes of many good things." This seems to contradict the fundamental doctrine that the gods don't trouble themselves with meddling in our lives.


    Citation 3.1 is quite strange in referring to "god" instead of "the gods."


    It would be consistent with the philosophy as I understand it if 2.2 said that worshipping the gods causes many good things. Referring to "god" in 3.1 makes no sense at all to me. These seem to be examples where it's necessary to see not only the original Greek, but the state and extent of the fragments as well.

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  • @Susan Hill - I reorganized this entry topically now that I understand better how the "Table of Contents" works. Basically all you have to do is enter headings and tag them as Header 1(top level) and Header 2, etc. The formatting is still just a little wonky but getting better.

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  • @Susan Hill I think I created the above page by pasting in one of your other posts. If you are so inclined please feel free to edit the main text - I think I have added write access for you and our regular users.

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    • Thank you, Cassius. I have been working on collecting useful quotes from attalus.org. The majority of the entries there are from people slandering Epicurus, so I do not include them unless they actually add to the information we have about “the gods”, etc. Do you think this is alright to use as a source? Do I need to cite the webpage with every entry?