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Cicero's Sketch and Lactantius's Plan

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the way Lactantius uses Cicero in his theology and concentrates on those passages where Lactantius actually mentions Cicero by name. Lactantius's ambiguous attitude towards Cicero is quite coherent with the evidence that can be found in writers as diverse as Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and Jerome. At one level Lactantius includes Cicero in what looks like the usual apologetic appeal to pagan writers. In much the same way that Justin Martyr can appeal to Plato to demonstrate that in some respects pagans say the same things as Christians, so also Lactantius can cite Cicero. In a general sense the "sketch" that Lactantius discerns in Cicero revolves around two simple axes, the relationship of humanity to God and a cosmopolitan ideal of a universal human society.

Keywords: Cicero; Clement of Alexandria; Justin Martyr; Lactantius; Plato; universal human society

10.1163/9789004267367_012
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