In Cicero’s The Nature of the God (I. 18-42; trans. P.G. Walsh) he recounts senator Gaius Velleius’ (an Epicurean) critique of the various views of the gods that he had heard. It is an interesting section worth reading for the mere sake of learning how various thinkers did “theology” in the ancient world. I have summarized Velleius’ commentary below:

Abaxagoras: God is reason and infinite mind. (I.26)

Thales of Miletus: Water was the first principle and god is the mind that fashioned everything from water (I.25).

Alcmaeon of Croton: The sin, moon, stars, and soul are divine. (I. 27)

Anaximenes: God is air. (I.26)

Antisthenes: One god in nature. (I. 32)

Aristo: He is semi-agnostic. (I. 37)

Arist0tle: The mind is divine, the world itself, and sometimes some person (?). (I.33)

Chrysippus: He put together a massive crowd of “unknown gods”. Also, he saw the soul and mind of nature and the universe as deity. (I. 39)

Cleanthes: The universe is god. Sometimes the mind and soul of nature. Finally, the “highest band of heat” in all creation is a god. (I. 37)

Democritus: Wandering images, nature, and our perception and understanding are somehow related to the divine. (I.29)

Diogenes of Apollonia: Air is divine. (I.29)

Empedocles: The four elements from which everything derives is divine. (I. 29)

Heraclides of Pontus: The universe is divine and maybe “Mind”. (I. 34)

Pythagoras: A great soul pervades the world from which our souls have detached. (I.27)

Persaeus: He thought great men could become gods. (I. 38)

Protagoras: Agnostic. (I. 29)

Plato: In some places he says that god cannot be named, some places he seems agnostic, some places the universe is divine, some the sky, the stars, the earth, our souls, and even deities from ancestral tradition. (I. 30)

Speusippus: There is a force by which all things controlled. (I. 32)

Strato: All divine power lies within nature itself. (I. 35)

Theophrastus: Sometimes it is “Mind” that is divine, sometimes the heavens, sometimes the stars. (I. 35)

Xenocrates: There are eight gods. (I. 34)

Xenophanes: The whole world has a mind as it is a god. (I. 28)

Xenophon: Agnostic at times, at other times sees the sun and soul as divine. Sometimes he is monotheistic and sometimes pluralistic. (I. 31)

Zeno: The law of nature is divine. The “upper air” is god. (I. 36)

To all this Velleius says:

“These approximate views which I have outlined are not considered judgments by philosophers, but the dreams of madman, indeed, the utterances of poets are not much more ridiculous, though the very charm they exercise is harmful, with their portrayal of the gods as fired with anger and maddened with lust; they have set before our eyes their wars and battles, their conflicts and wounds, their hatred and divisions and disagreements, their births and deaths, their plaints and outbursts of grief, their uncontrolled lust, their adulteries and the bonds confining them, their sexual intercourse with humans, and their begetting of mortals from their immortal seed.” (I. 42)

It seems like much of what we read here is still in circulation in some form today!