Abstract Piergiacomi (39/2015)

The scope of this essay is twofold. On the one hand, it tries to solve an apparent tension between Philodemus’ quotation of Hermarchus (De dis 3, coll. 13,20-14,14 Diels = Fr. 32 Longo Auricchio), according to which the gods converse in a language similar to Greek, and Cicero’s De natura deorum (1,33,92), where Cotta attributes to the Epicureans the view that a deity has a tongue, but does not use it to speak. The hypothetical solution consists in assuming that the Ciceronian passage expresses Epicurus’ opinion. After all, it seems as though the philosopher – unlike his disciple Hermarchus – maintained that the gods were completely inactive and had no need to communicate with others. The essay then notes that this conclusion does not rule out the possibility that Epicurus may have attributed a sort of language to the gods: the philosopher may have believed that they possessed a ‘quasi-language’ allowing them only to converse with themselves or, better, to reason about their condition as blessed living beings.