The ancient world was an innately visual culture. Thus, colour and light imagery were often used in literary descriptions of Roman religion and ritual. This is evident in Cicero’s philosophical treatises On the Nature of the Gods and On Divination. These works were produced as part of Cicero’s wider philosophical encyclopaedia and were published around 45 BC. Cicero aimed to provide a systematic treatment of Greek philosophy in the Latin language. However, it is evident that other cultural and political influences were at play. For example, Cicero references the tumultuous political climate of Caesar’s dictatorship and assassination throughout both works. Moreover, the two works are written in dialogue and present the arguments of the Stoics, Academics, and Epicureans, on divine form, divine existence and divination. Cicero includes numerous quotations from prominent Greek and Latin authors, such as Homer, Ennius and Accius. This results in an interesting treatment of colour and religion through multiple viewpoints, genres, authors and time-periods. This paper will explore the use of colour and light imagery in Cicero’s On the Nature of the Gods and On Divination, addressing the context of the work’s genre, aim, and historical setting.

About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

Event details

  • The seminars take place at 4pm, in the Michie Building (09), Room 536
  • Seminars are also on Zoom. Send an email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( for the link.
  • Upcoming seminars can be found here.
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The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for can be found at