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Atheists In Aëtius: Text, Translation And Comments On De Placitis 1.7.1–10

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Chapter Summary

There was a very long tradition of criticism of religion and religious traditions by philosophers in the ancient world, beginning with Xenophanes. This chapter focuses on a small segment of this tradition of ancient atheism as it is preserved in later reports. It concentrates on a text in the doxographer Aëtius, in which a number of these atheists are mentioned. A closer look of the text, however, reveals numerous difficulties, relating to (1) the philosophical doctrines described, (2) the argument that the author wishes to present, and (3) the sources drawn upon for his material. The passage of Aëtius that is examined in the chapter is Compendium de placitis 1.7.110. The translation given is the first to be made into English. The commentary that follows the text and translation seeks to guide the reader along in his or her reading of this difficult text.

Keywords: Aëtius; atheists; Compendium de placitis



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