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Cicero's Philosophy of History$
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Matthew Fox

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199211920

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199211920.001.0001

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Divination, History, and Superstition

Divination, History, and Superstition

(p.209) 8 Divination, History, and Superstition
Cicero's Philosophy of History

Matthew Fox (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The centre of this chapter is a reading of the late philosophical dialogue on divination, De divinatione. The work divides into two books, and the chapter argues for a continuation of the approach applied in earlier chapters, so that the speakers of both books are treated as fictional characters, and their arguments evaluated for their representational function. Thus, the speaker of book 2, Cicero, must be distinguished from the author. In this way, the work presents two opposing ideological messages: either Rome is a place where events follow a predictable pattern, one that can be discerned by examining historical anecdote, or one where events show that no providential guiding force exists. History is the testing ground for these hypotheses, and the work does not draw conclusions. Cicero's own presentation of himself as a politician and poet is used to corroborate these arguments.

Keywords:   De divinatione, Quintus Cicero, Julius Caesar, ideology, Cicero's poetry, Academic philosophy, Stoicism

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