God, Good and Evil

2567 Words11 Pages
Four Romans—Lucretius, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Plotinus—were all advocates of various models of earlier Greek philosophy. The philosophical tradition is that of asking and answering questions: what are reality, being, the soul, and how do we know and gain understanding about these concepts? Such critical inquiries in turn lead to the metaphysical: the essence of God or the Supreme Being, the nature of man and the world, and is it even possible for man to ever know the scope and complexities of God or the Supreme? Although none of the philosophers was described as Jew or Christian, many passages and ideas have striking parallel concepts derived from the Old and New Testaments. Arguably, the most significant of the four philosophers was Plotinus, because his foundational instruction and writing were based on Plato, whose philosophy formed the cornerstone of subsequent western inquiries in the nature of man, soul, God, good and evil.

Lucretius was an Epicurean who, in his poetic form, expounded on the nature of the material world as well as his thoughts on a god, the soul, man’s will and good and evil. The Epicureans, including Lucretius, taught materialism based on atomic movement; they disdained divine intervention as superstitious. Lucretius was such an admirer of Epicurus that he praised the philosopher in his poem, albeit without directly naming him:

You, father, found the truth; you gave to us

A father’s wisdom, and from every page,

O most illustrious in renown, we take,

As bees do from the flower banks of summer,

The benefit of all your golden words. (30)

Near the beginning of his poem, Lucretius describes how and why religion can be evil and misused: “Too many times Religion mothers crime and wickedness” (2)....

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... Good, however they each defined it.

Works Cited

Epictetus. “The Discourse of Epictetus.” Great Books of the Western World. Trans. George Long. Ed. Mortimer J. Adler. 2nd ed. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1990. 95-231.

KJV-NKJV Parallel Reference Bible. 1611. Ed. and trans. Arthur L. Farstad. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991.

Lucretius. “The Way Things Are.” Great Books of the Western World. Trans. Rolfe Humphries. Ed. Mortimer J. Adler. 2nd ed. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1990. ix-91.

Marcus Aurelius. “The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.” Great Books of the Western World. Trans. George Long. Ed. Mortimer J. Adler. 2nd ed. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1990. 235-294.

Plotinus. “The Six Enneads.” Great Books of the Western World. Trans. Stephen MacKenna and B.S. Page. Ed. Mortimer J. Adler. 2nd ed. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1990. 297-678
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