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Title: The City of God, Volume I
Author: Augustine, Aurelius
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The City of God, Volume I" ***


                               THE WORKS


                          AURELIUS AUGUSTINE,

                           BISHOP OF HIPPO.

                         _A NEW TRANSLATION._

                            =Edited by the=

                        REV. MARCUS DODS, M.A.

                                VOL. I.

                           THE CITY OF GOD,

                               VOLUME I.

                   T. & T. CLARK, 38, GEORGE STREET.


                      PRINTED BY MURRAY AND GIBB,


                       T. & T. CLARK, EDINBURGH.

                LONDON,         HAMILTON, ADAMS, AND CO.
                DUBLIN,         JOHN ROBERTSON AND CO.
                NEW YORK,       C. SCRIBNER AND CO.


                             CITY OF GOD.

                          =Translated by the=

                        REV. MARCUS DODS, M.A.

                               VOLUME I.

                   T. & T. CLARK, 38, GEORGE STREET.


Of the following Work, Books IV. XVII. and XVIII. have been
translated by the Rev. GEORGE WILSON, Glenluce; Books V. VI. VII. and
VIII. by the Rev. J. J. SMITH.


                                BOOK I.


  Augustine censures the pagans, who attributed the calamities of the
      world, and especially the sack of Rome by the Goths, to the
      Christian religion and its prohibition of the worship of the
      gods,                                                       1

                               BOOK II.

  A review of the calamities suffered by the Romans before the time
      of Christ, showing that their gods had plunged them into
      corruption and vice,                                       48

                               BOOK III.

  The external calamities of Rome,                               91

                               BOOK IV.

  That empire was given to Rome not by the gods, but by the One True
      God,                                                      135

                                BOOK V.

  Of fate, freewill, and God's prescience, and of the source of the
      virtues of the ancient Romans,                            177

                               BOOK VI.

  Of Varro's threefold division of theology, and of the inability of
      the gods to contribute anything to the happiness of the future
      life,                                                     228

                               BOOK VII.

  Of the "select gods" of the civil theology, and that eternal life
      is not obtained by worshipping them,                      258

                              BOOK VIII.

  Some account of the Socratic and Platonic philosophy, and a
      refutation of the doctrine of Apuleius that the demons should
      be worshipped as mediators between gods and men,          305

                               BOOK IX.

  Of those who allege a distinction among demons, some being good
      and others evil,                                          353

                                BOOK X.

  Porphyry's doctrine of redemption,                            382

                               BOOK XI.

  Augustine passes to the second part of the work, in which the
      origin, progress, and destinies of the earthly and heavenly
      cities are discussed.--Speculations regarding the creation of
      the world,                                                436

                               BOOK XII.

  Of the creation of angels and men, and of the origin of evil, 481

                              BOOK XIII.

  That death is penal, and had its origin in Adam's sin,        521

                           EDITOR'S PREFACE.

"Rome having been stormed and sacked by the Goths under Alaric
their king,[1] the worshippers of false gods, or pagans, as we
commonly call them, made an attempt to attribute this calamity to
the Christian religion, and began to blaspheme the true God with
even more than their wonted bitterness and acerbity. It was this
which kindled my zeal for the house of God, and prompted me to
undertake the defence of the city of God against the charges and
misrepresentations of its assailants. This work was in my hands for
several years, owing to the interruptions occasioned by many other
affairs which had a prior claim on my attention, and which I could
not defer. However, this great undertaking was at last completed in
twenty-two books. Of these, the first five refute those who fancy
that the polytheistic worship is necessary in order to secure worldly
prosperity, and that all these overwhelming calamities have befallen
us in consequence of its prohibition. In the following five books I
address myself to those who admit that such calamities have at all
times attended, and will at all times attend, the human race, and
that they constantly recur in forms more or less disastrous, varying
only in the scenes, occasions, and persons on whom they light, but,
while admitting this, maintain that the worship of the gods is
advantageous for the life to come. In these ten books, then, I refute
these two opinions, which are as groundless as they are antagonistic
to the Christian religion.

"But that no one might have occasion to say, that though I had
refuted the tenets of other men, I had omitted to establish my
own, I devote to this object the second part of this work, which
comprises twelve books, although I have not scrupled, as occasion
offered, either to advance my own opinions in the first ten books,
or to demolish the arguments of my opponents in the last twelve. Of
these twelve books, the first four contain an account of the origin
of these two cities--the city of God, and the city of the world.
The second four treat of their history or progress; the third and
last four, of their deserved destinies. And so, though all these
twenty-two books refer to both cities, yet I have named them after
the better city, and called them The City of God."

Such is the account given by Augustine himself[2] of the occasion
and plan of this his greatest work. But in addition to this explicit
information, we learn from the correspondence[3] of Augustine, that
it was due to the importunity of his friend Marcellinus that this
defence of Christianity extended beyond the limits of a few letters.
Shortly before the fall of Rome, Marcellinus had been sent to Africa
by the Emperor Honorius to arrange a settlement of the differences
between the Donatists and the Catholics. This brought him into
contact not only with Augustine, but with Volusian, the proconsul
of Africa, and a man of rare intelligence and candour. Finding that
Volusian, though as yet a pagan, took an interest in the Christian
religion, Marcellinus set his heart on converting him to the true
faith. The details of the subsequent significant intercourse between
the learned and courtly bishop and the two imperial statesmen,
are unfortunately almost entirely lost to us; but the impression
conveyed by the extant correspondence is, that Marcellinus was
the means of bringing his two friends into communication with one
another. The first overture was on Augustine's part, in the shape of
a simple and manly request that Volusian would carefully peruse the
Scriptures, accompanied by a frank offer to do his best to solve any
difficulties that might arise in such a course of inquiry. Volusian
accordingly enters into correspondence with Augustine; and in order
to illustrate the kind of difficulties experienced by men in his
position, he gives some graphic notes of a conversation in which
he had recently taken part at a gathering of some of his friends.
The difficulty to which most weight is attached in this letter, is
the apparent impossibility of believing in the Incarnation. But a
letter which Marcellinus immediately despatched to Augustine, urging
him to reply to Volusian at large, brought the intelligence that
the difficulties and objections to Christianity were thus limited
merely out of a courteous regard to the preciousness of the bishop's
time, and the vast number of his engagements. This letter, in short,
brought out the important fact, that a removal of speculative doubts
would not suffice for the conversion of such men as Volusian, whose
life was one with the life of the empire. Their difficulties were
rather political, historical, and social. They could not see how
the reception of the Christian rule of life was compatible with
the interests of Rome as the mistress of the world.[4] And thus
Augustine was led to take a more distinct and wider view of the whole
relation which Christianity bore to the old state of things,--moral,
political, philosophical, and religious,--and was gradually drawn on
to undertake the elaborate work now presented to the English reader,
and which may more appropriately than any other of his writings be
called his masterpiece[5] or life-work. It was begun the very year
of Marcellinus' death, A.D. 413, and was issued in detached portions
from time to time, until its completion in the year 426. It thus
occupied the maturest years of Augustine's life--from his fifty-ninth
to his seventy-second year.[6]

From this brief sketch, it will be seen that though the accompanying
work is essentially an Apology, the Apologetic of Augustine can be
no mere rehabilitation of the somewhat threadbare, if not effete,
arguments of Justin and Tertullian.[7] In fact, as Augustine
considered what was required of him,--to expound the Christian faith,
and justify it to enlightened men; to distinguish it from, and
show its superiority to, all those forms of truth, philosophical or
popular, which were then striving for the mastery, or at least for
standing-room; to set before the world's eye a vision of glory that
might win the regard even of men who were dazzled by the fascinating
splendour of a world-wide empire,--he recognised that a task was laid
before him to which even his powers might prove unequal,--a task
certainly which would afford ample scope for his learning, dialectic,
philosophical grasp and acumen, eloquence, and faculty of exposition.

But it is the occasion of this great Apology which invests it at once
with grandeur and vitality. After more than eleven hundred years
of steady and triumphant progress, Rome had been taken and sacked.
It is difficult for us to appreciate, impossible to overestimate,
the shock which was thus communicated from centre to circumference
of the whole known world. It was generally believed, not only by
the heathen, but also by many of the most liberal-minded of the
Christians, that the destruction of Rome would be the prelude to
the destruction of the world.[8] Even Jerome, who might have been
supposed to be embittered against the proud mistress of the world by
her inhospitality to himself, cannot conceal his profound emotion
on hearing of her fall. "A terrible rumour," he says, "reaches me
from the West, telling of Rome besieged, bought for gold, besieged
again, life and property perishing together. My voice falters, sobs
stifle the words I dictate; for she is a captive, that city which
enthralled the world."[9] Augustine is never so theatrical as Jerome
in the expression of his feeling, but he is equally explicit in
lamenting the fall of Rome as a great calamity; and while he does not
scruple to ascribe her recent disgrace to the profligate manners,
the effeminacy, and the pride of her citizens, he is not without hope
that, by a return to the simple, hardy, and honourable mode of life
which characterized the early Romans, she may still be restored to
much of her former prosperity.[10] But as Augustine contemplates the
ruins of Rome's greatness, and feels, in common with all the world
at this crisis, the instability of the strongest governments, the
insufficiency of the most authoritative statesmanship, there hovers
over these ruins the splendid vision of the city of God "coming down
out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband." The old social
system is crumbling away on all sides, but in its place he seems to
see a pure Christendom arising. He sees that human history and human
destiny are not wholly identified with the history of any earthly
power--not though it be as cosmopolitan as the empire of Rome.[11]
He directs the attention of men to the fact that there is another
kingdom on earth,--a city which hath foundations, whose builder and
maker is God. He teaches men to take profounder views of history,
and shows them how from the first the city of God, or community of
God's people, has lived alongside of the kingdoms of this world and
their glory, and has been silently increasing, "crescit occulto velut
arbor ævo." He demonstrates that the superior morality, the true
doctrine, the heavenly origin of this city, ensure its success; and
over against this, he depicts the silly or contradictory theorizings
of the pagan philosophers, and the unhinged morals of the people,
and puts it to all candid men to say, whether in the presence of
so manifestly sufficient a cause for Rome's downfall, there is
room for imputing it to the spread of Christianity. He traces the
antagonism of these two grand communities of rational creatures,
back to their first divergence in the fall of the angels, and down
to the consummation of all things in the last judgment and eternal
destination of the good and evil. In other words, the city of God is
"the first real effort to produce a philosophy of history,"[12] to
exhibit historical events in connection with their true causes, and
in their real sequence. This plan of the work is not only a great
conception, but it is accompanied with many practical advantages;
the chief of which is, that it admits, and even requires, a full
treatment of those doctrines of our faith that are more directly
historical,--the doctrines of creation, the fall, the incarnation,
the connection between the Old and New Testaments, and the doctrine
of "the last things."[13]

The effect produced by this great work it is impossible to determine
with accuracy. Beugnot, with an absoluteness which we should condemn
as presumption in any less competent authority, declares that its
effect can only have been very slight.[14] Probably its effect
would be silent and slow; telling first upon cultivated minds, and
only indirectly upon the people. Certainly its effect must have
been weakened by the interrupted manner of its publication. It is
an easier task to estimate its intrinsic value. But on this also
patristic and literary authorities widely differ. Dupin admits that
it is very pleasant reading, owing to the surprising variety of
matters which are introduced to illustrate and forward the argument,
but censures the author for discussing very useless questions, and
for adducing reasons which could satisfy no one who was not already
convinced.[15] Huet also speaks of the book as "un amas confus
d'excellents materiaux; c'est de l'or en barre et en lingots."[16]
L'Abbé Flottes censures these opinions as unjust, and cites with
approbation the unqualified eulogy of Pressensé.[17] But probably the
popularity of the book is its best justification. This popularity
may be measured by the circumstance that, between the year 1467 and
the end of the fifteenth century, no fewer than twenty editions
were called for, that is to say, a fresh edition every eighteen
months.[18] And in the interesting series of letters that passed
between Ludovicus Vives and Erasmus, who had engaged him to write a
commentary on the _City of God_ for his edition of Augustine's works,
we find Vives pleading for a separate edition of this work, on the
plea that, of all the writings of Augustine, it was almost the only
one read by patristic students, and might therefore naturally be
expected to have a much wider circulation.[19]

If it were asked to what this popularity is due, we should be
disposed to attribute it mainly to the great variety of ideas,
opinions, and facts that are here brought before the reader's mind.
Its importance as a contribution to the history of opinion cannot be
overrated. We find in it not only indications or explicit enouncement
of the author's own views upon almost every important topic which
occupied his thoughts, but also a compendious exhibition of the
ideas which most powerfully influenced the life of that age. It
thus becomes, as Poujoulat says, "comme l'encyclopédie du cinquième
siècle." All that is valuable, together with much indeed that is
not so, in the religion and philosophy of the classical nations of
antiquity, is reviewed. And on some branches of these subjects it
has, in the judgment of one well qualified to judge, "preserved
more than the whole surviving Latin literature." It is true we
are sometimes wearied by the too elaborate refutation of opinions
which to a modern mind seem self-evident absurdities; but if these
opinions were actually prevalent in the fifth century, the historical
inquirer will not quarrel with the form in which his information is
conveyed, nor will commit the absurdity of attributing to Augustine
the foolishness of these opinions, but rather the credit of exploding
them. That Augustine is a well-informed and impartial critic,
is evinced by the courteousness and candour which he uniformly
displays to his opponents, by the respect he won from the heathen
themselves, and by his own early life. The most rigorous criticism
has found him at fault regarding matters of fact only in some very
rare instances, which can be easily accounted for. His learning
would not indeed stand comparison with what is accounted such in our
day: his life was too busy, and too devoted to the poor and to the
spiritually necessitous, to admit of any extraordinary acquisition.
He had access to no literature but the Latin; or at least he had only
sufficient Greek to enable him to refer to Greek authors on points of
importance, and not enough to enable him to read their writings with
ease and pleasure.[20] But he had a profound knowledge of his own
time, and a familiar acquaintance not only with the Latin poets, but
with many other authors, some of whose writings are now lost to us,
save the fragments preserved through his quotations.

But the interest attaching to the _City of God_ is not merely
historical. It is the earnestness and ability with which he developes
his own philosophical and theological views which gradually fascinate
the reader, and make him see why the world has set this among the few
greatest books of all time. The fundamental lines of the Augustinian
theology are here laid down in a comprehensive and interesting form.
Never was thought so abstract expressed in language so popular.
He handles metaphysical problems with the unembarrassed ease of
Plato, with all Cicero's accuracy and acuteness, and more than
Cicero's profundity. He is never more at home than when exposing
the incompetency of Neoplatonism, or demonstrating the harmony of
Christian doctrine and true philosophy. And though there are in
the _City of God_, as in all ancient books, things that seem to us
childish and barren, there are also the most surprising anticipations
of modern speculation. There is an earnest grappling with those
problems which are continually re-opened because they underlie man's
relation to God and the spiritual world,--the problems which are not
peculiar to any one century. As we read these animated discussions,

          "The fourteen centuries fall away
                 Between us and the Afric saint,
           And at his side we urge, to-day,
           The immemorial quest and old complaint.

           No outward sign to us is given,
                 From sea or earth comes no reply;
           Hushed as the warm Numidian heaven
           He vainly questioned bends our frozen sky."

It is true, the style of the book is not all that could be desired:
there are passages which can possess an interest only to the
antiquarian; there are others with nothing to redeem them but
the glow of their eloquence; there are many repetitions; there
is an occasional use of arguments "plus ingenieux que solides,"
as M. Saisset says. Augustine's great admirer, Erasmus, does not
scruple to call him a writer "obscuræ subtilitatis et parum amœnæ
prolixitatis;"[21] but "the toil of penetrating the apparent
obscurities will be rewarded by finding a real wealth of insight and
enlightenment." Some who have read the opening chapters of the _City
of God_, may have considered it would be a waste of time to proceed;
but no one, we are persuaded, ever regretted reading it all. The
book has its faults; but it effectually introduces us to the most
influential of theologians, and the greatest popular teacher; to a
genius that cannot nod for many lines together; to a reasoner whose
dialectic is more formidable, more keen and sifting, than that of
Socrates or Aquinas; to a saint whose ardent and genuine devotional
feeling bursts up through the severest argumentation; to a man whose
kindliness and wit, universal sympathies and breadth of intelligence,
lend piquancy and vitality to the most abstract dissertation.

The propriety of publishing a translation of so choice a specimen
of ancient literature needs no defence. As Poujoulat very sensibly
remarks, there are not a great many men now-a-days who will read a
work in Latin of twenty-two books. Perhaps there are fewer still who
ought to do so. With our busy neighbours in France, this work has
been a prime favourite for 400 years. There may be said to be eight
independent translations of it into the French tongue, though some
of these are _in part_ merely revisions. One of these translations
has gone through as many as four editions. The most recent is that
which forms part of the Nisard series; but the best, so far as we
have seen, is that of the accomplished Professor of Philosophy in the
College of France, Emile Saisset. This translation is indeed all that
can be desired: here and there an omission occurs, and about one or
two renderings a difference of opinion may exist; but the exceeding
felicity and spirit of the whole show it to have been a labour of
love, the fond homage of a disciple proud of his master. The preface
of M. Saisset is one of the most valuable contributions ever made to
the understanding of Augustine's philosophy.[22]

Of English translations there has been an unaccountable poverty. Only
one exists,[23] and this so exceptionally bad, so unlike the racy
translations of the seventeenth century in general, so inaccurate,
and so frequently unintelligible, that it is not impossible it may
have done something towards giving the English public a distaste for
the book itself. That the present translation also might be improved,
we know; that many men were fitter for the task, on the score of
scholarship, we are very sensible; but that any one would have executed
it with intenser affection and veneration for the author, we are not
prepared to admit. A few notes have been added where it appeared to be
necessary. Some are original, some from the Benedictine Augustine, and
the rest from the elaborate commentary of Vives.[24]

                                                   THE EDITOR.

GLASGOW, 1871.


[1] A.D. 410.

[2] _Retractations_, ii. 43.

[3] _Letters_ 132-8.

[4] See some admirable remarks on this subject in the useful work of
Beugnot, _Histoire de la Destruction du Paganisme_, ii. 83 et sqq.

[5] As Waterland (iv. 760) does call it, adding that it is "his most
learned, most correct, and most elaborate work."

[6] For proof, see the Benedictine Preface.

[7] "Hitherto the Apologies had been framed to meet particular
exigencies: they were either brief and pregnant statements of the
Christian doctrines; refutations of prevalent calumnies; invectives
against the follies and crimes of Paganism; or confutations of
anti-Christian works like those of Celsus, Porphyry, or Julian,
closely following their course of argument, and rarely expanding into
general and comprehensive views of the great conflict."--MILMAN,
_History of Christianity_, iii. c. 10. We are not acquainted with any
more complete preface to the _City of God_ than is contained in the
two or three pages which Milman has devoted to this subject.

[8] See the interesting remarks of Lactantius, _Instit._ vii. 25.

[9] "Hæret vox et singultus intercipiunt verba dictantis. Capitur
urbs quæ totum cepit orbem."--JEROME, iv. 783.

[10] See below, iv. 7.

[11] This is well brought out by Merivale, _Conversion of the Roman
Empire_, p. 145, etc.

[12] Ozanam, _History of Civilisation in the Fifth Century_ (Eng.
trans.), ii. 160.

[13] Abstracts of the work at greater or less length are given by
Dupin, Bindemann, Böhringer, Poujoulat, Ozanam, and others.

[14] His words are: "Plus on examine la Cité de Dieu, plus on reste
convaincu que cet ouvrage dût exercea tres-peu d'influence sur
l'esprit des païens" (ii. 122); and this though he thinks one cannot
but be struck with the grandeur of the ideas it contains.

[15] _History of Ecclesiastical Writers_, i. 406.

[16] _Huetiana_, p. 24.

[17] Flottes, _Etudes sur S. Augustin_ (Paris, 1861), pp. 154-6, one
of the most accurate and interesting even of French monographs on
theological writers.

[18] These editions will be found detailed in the second volume of
Schoenemann's _Bibliotheca Pat._

[19] His words (in Ep. vi.) are quite worth quoting: "Cura rogo te,
ut excudantur aliquot centena exemplarium istius operis a reliquo
Augustini corpore separata; nam multi erunt studiosi qui Augustinum
totum emere vel nollent, vel non poterunt, quia non egebunt, seu
quia tantum pecuniæ non habebunt. Scio enim fere a deditis studiis
istis elegantioribus præter hoc Augustini opus nullum fere aliud legi
ejusdem autoris."

[20] The fullest and fairest discussion of the very simple yet
never settled question of Augustine's learning will be found in
Nourrisson's _Philosophie de S. Augustin_, ii. 92-100.

[21] Erasmi _Epistolæ_ xx. 2.

[22] A large part of it has been translated in Saisset's _Pantheism_
(Clark, Edin.).

[23] By J. H., published in 1610, and again in 1620, with Vives'

[24] As the letters of Vives are not in every library, we give his
comico-pathetic account of the result of his Augustinian labours on
his health: "Ex quo Augustinum perfeci, nunquam valui ex sententia;
proximâ vero hebdomade et hac, fracto corpore cuncto, et nervis
lassitudine quadam et debilitate dejectis, in caput decem turres
incumbere mihi videntur incidendo pondere, ac mole intolerabili; isti
sunt fructus studiorum, et merces pulcherrimi laboris; quid labor et
benefacta juvant?"

                           THE CITY OF GOD.

                              BOOK FIRST.



                              THIS WORK.

The glorious city of God is my theme in this work, which you, my
dearest son Marcellinus,[25] suggested, and which is due to you by
my promise. I have undertaken its defence against those who prefer
their own gods to the Founder of this city,--a city surpassingly
glorious, whether we view it as it still lives by faith in this
fleeting course of time, and sojourns as a stranger in the midst
of the ungodly, or as it shall dwell in the fixed stability of its
eternal seat, which it now with patience waits for, expecting until
"righteousness shall return unto judgment,"[26] and it obtain, by
virtue of its excellence, final victory and perfect peace. A great
work this, and an arduous; but God is my helper. For I am aware what
ability is requisite to persuade the proud how great is the virtue
of humility, which raises us, not by a quite human arrogance, but
by a divine grace, above all earthly dignities that totter on this
shifting scene. For the King and Founder of this city of which we
speak, has in Scripture uttered to His people a dictum of the divine
law in these words: "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto
the humble."[27] But this, which is God's prerogative, the inflated
ambition of a proud spirit also affects, and dearly loves that this
be numbered among its attributes, to

          "Show pity to the humbled soul,
           And crush the sons of pride."[28]

And therefore, as the plan of this work we have undertaken requires,
and as occasion offers, we must speak also of the earthly city,
which, though it be mistress of the nations, is itself ruled by its
lust of rule.

 1. _Of the adversaries of the name of Christ, whom the barbarians for
           Christ's sake spared when they stormed the city._

For to this earthly city belong the enemies against whom I have to
defend the city of God. Many of them, indeed, being reclaimed from
their ungodly error, have become sufficiently creditable citizens
of this city; but many are so inflamed with hatred against it, and
are so ungrateful to its Redeemer for His signal benefits, as to
forget that they would now be unable to utter a single word to its
prejudice, had they not found in its sacred places, as they fled from
the enemy's steel, that life in which they now boast themselves. Are
not those very Romans, who were spared by the barbarians through
their respect for Christ, become enemies to the name of Christ? The
reliquaries of the martyrs and the churches of the apostles bear
witness to this; for in the sack of the city they were open sanctuary
for all who fled to them, whether Christian or Pagan. To their very
threshold the bloodthirsty enemy raged; there his murderous fury
owned a limit. Thither did such of the enemy as had any pity convey
those to whom they had given quarter, lest any less mercifully
disposed might fall upon them. And, indeed, when even those murderers
who everywhere else showed themselves pitiless came to these spots
where that was forbidden which the licence of war permitted in every
other place, their furious rage for slaughter was bridled, and their
eagerness to take prisoners was quenched. Thus escaped multitudes
who now reproach the Christian religion, and impute to Christ the
ills that have befallen their city; but the preservation of their own
life--a boon which they owe to the respect entertained for Christ
by the barbarians--they attribute not to our Christ, but to their
own good luck. They ought rather, had they any right perceptions, to
attribute the severities and hardships inflicted by their enemies, to
that divine providence which is wont to reform the depraved manners
of men by chastisement, and which exercises with similar afflictions
the righteous and praiseworthy,--either translating them, when they
have passed through the trial, to a better world, or detaining them
still on earth for ulterior purposes. And they ought to attribute
it to the spirit of these Christian times, that, contrary to the
custom of war, these bloodthirsty barbarians spared them, and
spared them for Christ's sake, whether this mercy was actually
shown in promiscuous places, or in those places specially dedicated
to Christ's name, and of which the very largest were selected as
sanctuaries, that full scope might thus be given to the expansive
compassion which desired that a large multitude might find shelter
there. Therefore ought they to give God thanks, and with sincere
confession flee for refuge to His name, that so they may escape
the punishment of eternal fire--they who with lying lips took upon
them this name, that they might escape the punishment of present
destruction. For of those whom you see insolently and shamelessly
insulting the servants of Christ, there are numbers who would not
have escaped that destruction and slaughter had they not pretended
that they themselves were Christ's servants. Yet now, in ungrateful
pride and most impious madness, and at the risk of being punished in
everlasting darkness, they perversely oppose that name under which
they fraudulently protected themselves for the sake of enjoying the
light of this brief life.

  2. _That it is quite contrary to the usage of war, that the victors
       should spare the vanquished for the sake of their gods._

There are histories of numberless wars, both before the building of
Rome and since its rise and the extension of its dominion: let these
be read, and let one instance be cited in which, when a city had been
taken by foreigners, the victors spared those who were found to have
fled for sanctuary to the temples of their gods;[29] or one instance
in which a barbarian general gave orders that none should be put to
the sword who had been found in this or that temple. Did not Æneas see

                 "Dying Priam at the shrine,
          Staining the hearth he made divine?"[30]

Did not Diomede and Ulysses

          "Drag with red hands, the sentry slain,
           Her fateful image from your fane,
           Her chaste locks touch, and stain with gore
           The virgin coronal she wore?"[31]

Neither is that true which follows, that

          "Thenceforth the tide of fortune changed,
           And Greece grew weak."[32]

For after this they conquered and destroyed Troy with fire and sword;
after this they beheaded Priam as he fled to the altars. Neither did
Troy perish because it lost Minerva. For what had Minerva herself
first lost, that she should perish? Her guards perhaps? No doubt;
just her guards. For as soon as they were slain, she could be stolen.
It was not, in fact, the men who were preserved by the image, but the
image by the men. How, then, was she invoked to defend the city and
the citizens, she who could not defend her own defenders?

  3. _That the Romans did not show their usual sagacity when they
      trusted that they would be benefited by the gods who had been
      unable to defend Troy._

And these be the gods to whose protecting care the Romans were
delighted to entrust their city! O too, too piteous mistake! And
they are enraged at us when we speak thus about their gods, though,
so far from being enraged at their own writers, they part with money
to learn what they say; and, indeed, the very teachers of these
authors are reckoned worthy of a salary from the public purse, and of
other honours. There is Virgil, who is read by boys, in order that
this great poet, this most famous and approved of all poets, may
impregnate their virgin minds, and may not readily be forgotten by
them, according to that saying of Horace,

          "The fresh cask long keeps its first tang."[33]

Well, in this Virgil, I say, Juno is introduced as hostile to the
Trojans, and stirring up Æolus, the king of the winds, against them
in the words,

          "A race I hate now ploughs the sea,
           Transporting Troy to Italy,
           And home-gods conquered. "[34]...

And ought prudent men to have entrusted the defence of Rome to these
conquered gods? But it will be said, this was only the saying of
Juno, who, like an angry woman, did not know what she was saying.
What, then, says Æneas himself,--Æneas who is so often designated
"pious?" Does he not say,

          "Lo! Panthus, 'scaped from death by flight,
           Priest of Apollo on the height,
           His conquered gods with trembling hands
           He bears, and shelter swift demands?"[35]

Is it not clear that the gods (whom he does not scruple to call
"conquered") were rather entrusted to Æneas than he to them, when it
is said to him,

          "The gods of her domestic shrines
           Your country to your care consigns?"[36]

If, then, Virgil says that the gods were such as these, and were
conquered, and that when conquered they could not escape except under
the protection of a man, what madness is it to suppose that Rome had
been wisely entrusted to these guardians, and could not have been
taken unless it had lost them! Indeed, to worship conquered gods
as protectors and champions, what is this but to worship, not good
divinities, but evil omens?[37] Would it not be wiser to believe,
not that Rome would never have fallen into so great a calamity had
not they first perished, but rather that they would have perished
long since had not Rome preserved them as long as she could? For who
does not see, when he thinks of it, what a foolish assumption it is
that they could not be vanquished under vanquished defenders, and
that they only perished because they had lost their guardian gods,
when, indeed, the only cause of their perishing was that they chose
for their protectors gods condemned to perish? The poets, therefore,
when they composed and sang these things about the conquered gods,
had no intention to invent falsehoods, but uttered, as honest men,
what the truth extorted from them. This, however, will be carefully
and copiously discussed in another and more fitting place. Meanwhile
I will briefly, and to the best of my ability, explain what I meant
to say about these ungrateful men who blasphemously impute to Christ
the calamities which they deservedly suffer in consequence of their
own wicked ways, while that which is for Christ's sake spared them
in spite of their wickedness they do not even take the trouble to
notice; and in their mad and blasphemous insolence, they use against
His name those very lips wherewith they falsely claimed that same
name that their lives might be spared. In the places consecrated
to Christ, where for His sake no enemy would injure them, they
restrained their tongues that they might be safe and protected; but
no sooner do they emerge from these sanctuaries, than they unbridle
these tongues to hurl against Him curses full of hate.

  4. _Of the asylum of Juno in Troy, which saved no one from the
      Greeks; and of the churches of the apostles, which protected
      from the barbarians all who fled to them._

Troy itself, the mother of the Roman people, was not able, as I have
said, to protect its own citizens in the sacred places of their gods
from the fire and sword of the Greeks, though the Greeks worshipped
the same gods. Not only so, but

                   "Phœnix and Ulysses fell
          In the void courts by Juno's cell
            Were set the spoil to keep;
          Snatched from the burning shrines away,
          There Ilium's mighty treasure lay,
          Rich altars, bowls of massy gold,
          And captive raiment, rudely rolled
            In one promiscuous heap;
          While boys and matrons, wild with fear,
          In long array were standing near."[38]

In other words, the place consecrated to so great a goddess was
chosen, not that from it none might be led out a captive, but that in
it all the captives might be immured. Compare now this "asylum"--the
asylum not of an ordinary god, not of one of the rank and file
of gods, but of Jove's own sister and wife, the queen of all the
gods--with the churches built in memory of the apostles. Into it were
collected the spoils rescued from the blazing temples and snatched
from the gods, not that they might be restored to the vanquished, but
divided among the victors; while into these was carried back, with
the most religious observance and respect, everything which belonged
to them, even though found elsewhere. There liberty was lost; here
preserved. There bondage was strict; here strictly excluded. Into
that temple men were driven to become the chattels of their enemies,
now lording it over them; into these churches men were led by
their relenting foes, that they might be at liberty. In fine, the
gentle[39] Greeks appropriated that temple of Juno to the purposes
of their own avarice and pride; while these churches of Christ were
chosen even by the savage barbarians as the fit scenes for humility
and mercy. But perhaps, after all, the Greeks did in that victory
of theirs spare the temples of those gods whom they worshipped in
common with the Trojans, and did not dare to put to the sword or
make captive the wretched and vanquished Trojans who fled thither;
and perhaps Virgil, in the manner of poets, has depicted what never
really happened? But there is no question that he depicted the usual
custom of an enemy when sacking a city.

 5. _Cæsar's statement regarding the universal custom of an enemy when
                           sacking a city._

Even Cæsar himself gives us positive testimony regarding this custom;
for, in his deliverance in the senate about the conspirators, he
says (as Sallust, a historian of distinguished veracity, writes[40])
"that virgins and boys are violated, children torn from the embrace
of their parents, matrons subjected to whatever should be the
pleasure of the conquerors, temples and houses plundered, slaughter
and burning rife; in fine, all things filled with arms, corpses,
blood, and wailing." If he had not mentioned temples here, we might
suppose that enemies were in the habit of sparing the dwellings of
the gods. And the Roman temples were in danger of these disasters,
not from foreign foes, but from Catiline and his associates, the most
noble senators and citizens of Rome. But these, it may be said, were
abandoned men, and the parricides of their fatherland.

    6. _That not even the Romans, when they took cities, spared the
                     conquered in their temples._

Why, then, need our argument take note of the many nations who have
waged wars with one another, and have nowhere spared the conquered
in the temples of their gods? Let us look at the practice of the
Romans themselves: let us, I say, recall and review the Romans,
whose chief praise it has been "to spare the vanquished and subdue
the proud," and that they preferred "rather to forgive than to
revenge an injury;"[41] and among so many and great cities which
they have stormed, taken, and overthrown for the extension of their
dominion, let us be told what temples they were accustomed to exempt,
so that whoever took refuge in them was free. Or have they really
done this, and has the fact been suppressed by the historians of
these events? Is it to be believed, that men who sought out with
the greatest eagerness points they could praise, would omit those
which, in their own estimation, are the most signal proofs of piety?
Marcus Marcellus, a distinguished Roman, who took Syracuse, a most
splendidly adorned city, is reported to have bewailed its coming
ruin, and to have shed his own tears over it before he spilt its
blood. He took steps also to preserve the chastity even of his enemy.
For before he gave orders for the storming of the city, he issued
an edict forbidding the violation of any free person. Yet the city
was sacked according to the custom of war; nor do we anywhere read,
that even by so chaste and gentle a commander orders were given that
no one should be injured who had fled to this or that temple. And
this certainly would by no means have been omitted, when neither
his weeping nor his edict preservative of chastity could be passed
in silence. Fabius, the conqueror of the city of Tarentum, is
praised for abstaining from making booty of the images. For when his
secretary proposed the question to him, what he wished done with the
statues of the gods, which had been taken in large numbers, he veiled
his moderation under a joke. For he asked of what sort they were;
and when they reported to him that there were not only many large
images, but some of them armed, "Oh," says he, "let us leave with
the Tarentines their angry gods." Seeing, then, that the writers of
Roman history could not pass in silence, neither the weeping of the
one general nor the laughing of the other, neither the chaste pity of
the one nor the facetious moderation of the other, on what occasion
would it be omitted, if, for the honour of any of their enemy's gods,
they had shown this particular form of leniency, that in any temple
slaughter or captivity was prohibited?

  7. _That the cruelties which occurred in the sack of Rome were in
      accordance with the custom of war, whereas the acts of clemency
      resulted from the influence of Christ's name._

All the spoiling, then, which Rome was exposed to in the recent
calamity--all the slaughter, plundering, burning, and misery--was
the result of the custom of war. But what was novel, was that savage
barbarians showed themselves in so gentle a guise, that the largest
churches were chosen and set apart for the purpose of being filled with
the people to whom quarter was given, and that in them none were slain,
from them none forcibly dragged; that into them many were led by their
relenting enemies to be set at liberty, and that from them none were
led into slavery by merciless foes. Whoever does not see that this is
to be attributed to the name of Christ, and to the Christian temper, is
blind; whoever sees this, and gives no praise, is ungrateful; whoever
hinders any one from praising it, is mad. Far be it from any prudent
man to impute this clemency to the barbarians. Their fierce and bloody
minds were awed, and bridled, and marvellously tempered by Him who so
long before said by His prophet, "I will visit their transgression
with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes; nevertheless my
loving-kindness will I not utterly take from them."[42]

 8. _Of the advantages and disadvantages which often indiscriminately
                    accrue to good and wicked men._

Will some one say, Why, then, was this divine compassion extended
even to the ungodly and ungrateful? Why, but because it was the mercy
of Him who daily "maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."[43] For though some
of these men, taking thought of this, repent of their wickedness
and reform, some, as the apostle says, "despising the riches of His
goodness and long-suffering, after their hardness and impenitent
heart, treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath
and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to
every man according to his deeds:"[44] nevertheless does the patience
of God still invite the wicked to repentance, even as the scourge of
God educates the good to patience. And so, too, does the mercy of God
embrace the good that it may cherish them, as the severity of God
arrests the wicked to punish them. To the divine providence it has
seemed good to prepare in the world to come for the righteous good
things, which the unrighteous shall not enjoy; and for the wicked
evil things, by which the good shall not be tormented. But as for the
good things of this life, and its ills, God has willed that these
should be common to both; that we might not too eagerly covet the
things which wicked men are seen equally to enjoy, nor shrink with an
unseemly fear from the ills which even good men often suffer.

There is, too, a very great difference in the purpose served both
by those events which we call adverse and those called prosperous.
For the good man is neither uplifted with the good things of
time, nor broken by its ills; but the wicked man, because he is
corrupted by this world's happiness, feels himself punished by its
unhappiness.[45] Yet often, even in the present distribution of
temporal things, does God plainly evince His own interference. For if
every sin were now visited with manifest punishment, nothing would
seem to be reserved for the final judgment; on the other hand, if no
sin received now a plainly divine punishment, it would be concluded
that there is no divine providence at all. And so of the good things
of this life: if God did not by a very visible liberality confer
these on some of those persons who ask for them, we should say that
these good things were not at His disposal; and if He gave them
to all who sought them, we should suppose that such were the only
rewards of His service; and such a service would make us not godly,
but greedy rather, and covetous. Wherefore, though good and bad men
suffer alike, we must not suppose that there is no difference between
the men themselves, because there is no difference in what they both
suffer. For even in the likeness of the sufferings, there remains an
unlikeness in the sufferers; and though exposed to the same anguish,
virtue and vice are not the same thing. For as the same fire causes
gold to glow brightly, and chaff to smoke; and under the same flail
the straw is beaten small, while the grain is cleansed; and as the
lees are not mixed with the oil, though squeezed out of the vat by
the same pressure, so the same violence of affliction proves, purges,
clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked. And
thus it is that in the same affliction the wicked detest God and
blaspheme, while the good pray and praise. So material a difference
does it make, not what ills are suffered, but what kind of man
suffers them. For, stirred up with the same movement, mud exhales a
horrible stench, and ointment emits a fragrant odour.

    9. _Of the reasons for administering correction to bad and good

What, then, have the Christians suffered in that calamitous period,
which would not profit every one who duly and faithfully considered
the following circumstances? First of all, they must humbly consider
those very sins which have provoked God to fill the world with such
terrible disasters; for although they be far from the excesses of
wicked, immoral, and ungodly men, yet they do not judge themselves so
clean removed from all faults as to be too good to suffer for these
even temporal ills. For every man, however laudably he lives, yet
yields in some points to the lust of the flesh. Though he do not fall
into gross enormity of wickedness, and abandoned viciousness, and
abominable profanity, yet he slips into some sins, either rarely or
so much the more frequently as the sins seem of less account. But not
to mention this, where can we readily find a man who holds in fit and
just estimation those persons on account of whose revolting pride,
luxury, and avarice, and cursed iniquities and impiety, God now smites
the earth as His predictions threatened? Where is the man who lives
with them in the style in which it becomes us to live with them? For
often we wickedly blind ourselves to the occasions of teaching and
admonishing them, sometimes even of reprimanding and chiding them,
either because we shrink from the labour or are ashamed to offend them,
or because we fear to lose good friendships, lest this should stand in
the way of our advancement, or injure us in some worldly matter, which
either our covetous disposition desires to obtain, or our weakness
shrinks from losing. So that, although the conduct of wicked men is
distasteful to the good, and therefore they do not fall with them into
that damnation which in the next life awaits such persons, yet, because
they spare their damnable sins through fear, therefore, even though
their own sins be slight and venial, they are justly scourged with the
wicked in this world, though in eternity they quite escape punishment.
Justly, when God afflicts them in common with the wicked, do they find
this life bitter, through love of whose sweetness they declined to be
bitter to these sinners.

If any one forbears to reprove and find fault with those who are
doing wrong, because he seeks a more seasonable opportunity, or
because he fears they may be made worse by his rebuke, or that other
weak persons may be disheartened from endeavouring to lead a good and
pious life, and may be driven from the faith; this man's omission
seems to be occasioned not by covetousness, but by a charitable
consideration. But what is blameworthy is, that they who themselves
revolt from the conduct of the wicked, and live in quite another
fashion, yet spare those faults in other men which they ought to
reprehend and wean them from; and spare them because they fear to
give offence, lest they should injure their interests in those things
which good men may innocently and legitimately use,--though they use
them more greedily than becomes persons who are strangers in this
world, and profess the hope of a heavenly country. For not only the
weaker brethren, who enjoy married life, and have children (or desire
to have them), and own houses and establishments, whom the apostle
addresses in the churches, warning and instructing them how they
should live, both the wives with their husbands, and the husbands
with their wives, the children with their parents, and parents with
their children, and servants with their masters, and masters with
their servants,--not only do these weaker brethren gladly obtain
and grudgingly lose many earthly and temporal things on account of
which they dare not offend men whose polluted and wicked life greatly
displeases them; but those also who live at a higher level, who are
not entangled in the meshes of married life, but use meagre food and
raiment, do often take thought of their own safety and good name,
and abstain from finding fault with the wicked, because they fear
their wiles and violence. And although they do not fear them to such
an extent as to be drawn to the commission of like iniquities, nay,
not by any threats or violence soever; yet those very deeds which
they refuse to share in the commission of, they often decline to find
fault with, when possibly they might by finding fault prevent their
commission. They abstain from interference, because they fear that,
if it fail of good effect, their own safety or reputation may be
damaged or destroyed; not because they see that their preservation
and good name are needful, that they may be able to influence those
who need their instruction, but rather because they weakly relish
the flattery and respect of men, and fear the judgments of the
people, and the pain or death of the body; that is to say, their
non-intervention is the result of selfishness, and not of love.

Accordingly, this seems to me to be one principal reason why the good
are chastised along with the wicked, when God is pleased to visit
with temporal punishments the profligate manners of a community.
They are punished together, not because they have spent an equally
corrupt life, but because the good as well as the wicked, though
not equally with them, love this present life; while they ought to
hold it cheap, that the wicked, being admonished and reformed by
their example, might lay hold of life eternal. And if they will not
be the companions of the good in seeking life everlasting, they
should be loved as enemies, and be dealt with patiently. For so long
as they live, it remains uncertain whether they may not come to a
better mind. These selfish persons have more cause to fear than
those to whom it was said through the prophet, "He is taken away
in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at the watchman's
hand."[46] For watchmen or overseers of the people are appointed
in churches, that they may unsparingly rebuke sin. Nor is that man
guiltless of the sin we speak of, who, though he be not a watchman,
yet sees in the conduct of those with whom the relationships of this
life bring him into contact, many things that should be blamed,
and yet overlooks them, fearing to give offence, and lose such
worldly blessings as may legitimately be desired, but which he too
eagerly grasps. Then, lastly, there is another reason why the good
are afflicted with temporal calamities--the reason which Job's
case exemplifies: that the human spirit may be proved, and that it
may be manifested with what fortitude of pious trust, and with how
unmercenary a love, it cleaves to God.[47]

     10. _That the saints lose nothing in losing temporal goods._

These are the considerations which one must keep in view, that he may
answer the question whether any evil happens to the faithful and godly
which cannot be turned to profit. Or shall we say that the question is
needless, and that the apostle is vapouring when he says, "We know that
all things work together for good to them that love God?"[48]

They lost all they had. Their faith? Their godliness? The possessions
of the hidden man of the heart, which in the sight of God are of great
price?[49] Did they lose these? For these are the wealth of Christians,
to whom the wealthy apostle said, "Godliness with contentment is great
gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can
carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith
content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare,
and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction
and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which,
while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced
themselves through with many sorrows."[50]

They, then, who lost their worldly all in the sack of Rome, if they
owned their possessions as they had been taught by the apostle, who
himself was poor without, but rich within,--that is to say, if they
used the world as not using it,--could say in the words of Job,
heavily tried, but not overcome: "Naked came I out of my mother's
womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord
hath taken away; as it pleased the Lord, so has it come to pass:
blessed be the name of the Lord."[51] Like a good servant, Job
counted the will of his Lord his great possession, by obedience to
which his soul was enriched; nor did it grieve him to lose, while
yet living, those goods which he must shortly leave at his death.
But as to those feebler spirits who, though they cannot be said to
prefer earthly possessions to Christ, do yet cleave to them with a
somewhat immoderate attachment, they have discovered by the pain
of losing these things how much they were sinning in loving them.
For their grief is of their own making; in the words of the apostle
quoted above, "they have pierced themselves through with many
sorrows." For it was well that they who had so long despised these
verbal admonitions should receive the teaching of experience. For
when the apostle says, "They that will be rich fall into temptation,"
and so on, what he blames in riches is not the possession of them,
but the desire of them. For elsewhere he says, "Charge them that
are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in
uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all
things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works,
ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for
themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may
lay hold on eternal life."[52] They who were making such a use of
their property have been consoled for light losses by great gains,
and have had more pleasure in those possessions which they have
securely laid past, by freely giving them away, than grief in those
which they entirely lost by an anxious and selfish hoarding of them.
For nothing could perish on earth save what they would be ashamed to
carry away from earth. Our Lord's injunction runs, "Lay not up for
yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt,
and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves
treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and
where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure
is, there will your heart be also."[53] And they who have listened
to this injunction have proved in the time of tribulation how well
they were advised in not despising this most trustworthy teacher,
and most faithful and mighty guardian of their treasure. For if
many were glad that their treasure was stored in places which the
enemy chanced not to light upon, how much better founded was the
joy of those who, by the counsel of their God, had fled with their
treasure to a citadel which no enemy can possibly reach! Thus our
Paulinus, bishop of Nola,[54] who voluntarily abandoned vast wealth
and became quite poor, though abundantly rich in holiness, when the
barbarians sacked Nola, and took him prisoner, used silently to pray,
as he afterwards told me, "O Lord, let me not be troubled for gold
and silver, for where all my treasure is Thou knowest." For all his
treasure was where he had been taught to hide and store it by Him who
had also foretold that these calamities would happen in the world.
Consequently those persons who obeyed their Lord when He warned them
where and how to lay up treasure, did not lose even their earthly
possessions in the invasion of the barbarians; while those who are
now repenting that they did not obey Him have learnt the right use
of earthly goods, if not by the wisdom which would have prevented
their loss, at least by the experience which follows it.

But some good and Christian men have been put to the torture, that
they might be forced to deliver up their goods to the enemy. They
could indeed neither deliver nor lose that good which made themselves
good. If, however, they preferred torture to the surrender of the
mammon of iniquity, then I say they were not good men. Rather they
should have been reminded that, if they suffered so severely for
the sake of money, they should endure all torment, if need be, for
Christ's sake; that they might be taught to love Him rather who
enriches with eternal felicity all who suffer for Him, and not
silver and gold, for which it was pitiable to suffer, whether they
preserved it by telling a lie, or lost it by telling the truth. For
under these tortures no one lost Christ by confessing Him, no one
preserved wealth save by denying its existence. So that possibly
the torture which taught them that they should set their affections
on a possession they could not lose, was more useful than those
possessions which, without any useful fruit at all, disquieted
and tormented their anxious owners. But then we are reminded that
some were tortured who had no wealth to surrender, but who were
not believed when they said so. These too, however, had perhaps
some craving for wealth, and were not willingly poor with a holy
resignation; and to such it had to be made plain, that not the actual
possession alone, but also the desire of wealth, deserved such
excruciating pains. And even if they were destitute of any hidden
stores of gold and silver, because they were living in hopes of a
better life,--I know not indeed if any such person was tortured on
the supposition that he had wealth; but if so, then certainly in
confessing, when put to the question, a holy poverty, he confessed
Christ. And though it was scarcely to be expected that the barbarians
should believe him, yet no confessor of a holy poverty could be
tortured without receiving a heavenly reward.

Again, they say that the long famine laid many a Christian low. But
this, too, the faithful turned to good uses by a pious endurance of
it. For those whom famine killed outright it rescued from the ills
of this life, as a kindly disease would have done; and those who were
only hunger-bitten were taught to live more sparingly, and inured to
longer fasts.

 11. _Of the end of this life, whether it is material that it be long

But, it is added, many Christians were slaughtered, and were put to
death in a hideous variety of cruel ways. Well, if this be hard to
bear, it is assuredly the common lot of all who are born into this
life. Of this at least I am certain, that no one has ever died who
was not destined to die some time. Now the end of life puts the
longest life on a par with the shortest. For of two things which
have alike ceased to be, the one is not better, the other worse--the
one greater, the other less.[55] And of what consequence is it what
kind of death puts an end to life, since he who has died once is
not forced to go through the same ordeal a second time? And as in
the daily casualties of life every man is, as it were, threatened
with numberless deaths, so long as it remains uncertain which of
them is his fate, I would ask whether it is not better to suffer
one and die, than to live in fear of all? I am not unaware of the
poor-spirited fear which prompts us to choose rather to live long in
fear of so many deaths, than to die once and so escape them all; but
the weak and cowardly shrinking of the flesh is one thing, and the
well-considered and reasonable persuasion of the soul quite another.
That death is not to be judged an evil which is the end of a good
life; for death becomes evil only by the retribution which follows
it. They, then, who are destined to die, need not be careful to
inquire what death they are to die, but into what place death will
usher them. And since Christians are well aware that the death of the
godly pauper whose sores the dogs licked was far better than of the
wicked rich man who lay in purple and fine linen, what harm could
these terrific deaths do to the dead who had lived well?

  12. _Of the burial of the dead: that the denial of it to Christians
                       does them no injury._[56]

Further still, we are reminded that in such a carnage as then
occurred, the bodies could not even be buried. But godly confidence
is not appalled by so ill-omened a circumstance; for the faithful
bear in mind that assurance has been given that not a hair of their
head shall perish, and that, therefore, though they even be devoured
by beasts, their blessed resurrection will not hereby be hindered.
The Truth would nowise have said, "Fear not them which kill the body,
but are not able to kill the soul,"[57] if anything whatever that
an enemy could do to the body of the slain could be detrimental to
the future life. Or will some one perhaps take so absurd a position
as to contend that those who kill the body are not to be feared
before death, and lest they kill the body, but after death, lest they
deprive it of burial? If this be so, then that is false which Christ
says, "Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have
no more that they can do;"[58] for it seems they can do great injury
to the dead body. Far be it from us to suppose that the Truth can
be thus false. They who kill the body are said "to do something,"
because the death-blow is felt, the body still having sensation; but
after that, they have no more that they can do, for in the slain
body there is no sensation. And so there are indeed many bodies
of Christians lying unburied; but no one has separated them from
heaven, nor from that earth which is all filled with the presence
of Him who knows whence He will raise again what He created. It is
said, indeed, in the Psalm: "The dead bodies of Thy servants have
they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of Thy
saints unto the beasts of the earth. Their blood have they shed like
water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them."[59]
But this was said rather to exhibit the cruelty of those who did
these things, than the misery of those who suffered them. To the eyes
of men this appears a harsh and doleful lot, yet "precious in the
sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."[60] Wherefore all
these last offices and ceremonies that concern the dead, the careful
funeral arrangements, and the equipment of the tomb, and the pomp of
obsequies, are rather the solace of the living than the comfort of
the dead. If a costly burial does any good to a wicked man, a squalid
burial, or none at all, may harm the godly. His crowd of domestics
furnished the purple-clad Dives with a funeral gorgeous in the eye of
man; but in the sight of God that was a more sumptuous funeral which
the ulcerous pauper received at the hands of the angels, who did not
carry him out to a marble tomb, but bore him aloft to Abraham's bosom.

The men against whom I have undertaken to defend the city of God
laugh at all this. But even their own philosophers[61] have despised
a careful burial; and often whole armies have fought and fallen for
their earthly country without caring to inquire whether they would
be left exposed on the field of battle, or become the food of wild
beasts. Of this noble disregard of sepulture poetry has well said:
"He who has no tomb has the sky for his vault."[62] How much less
ought they to insult over the unburied bodies of Christians, to whom
it has been promised that the flesh itself shall be restored, and
the body formed anew, all the members of it being gathered not only
from the earth, but from the most secret recesses of any other of the
elements in which the dead bodies of men have lain hid!

          13. _Reasons for burying the bodies of the saints._

Nevertheless the bodies of the dead are not on this account to be
despised and left unburied; least of all the bodies of the righteous
and faithful, which have been used by the Holy Ghost as His organs
and instruments for all good works. For if the dress of a father,
or his ring, or anything he wore, be precious to his children, in
proportion to the love they bore him, with how much more reason
ought we to care for the bodies of those we love, which they wore
far more closely and intimately than any clothing! For the body
is not an extraneous ornament or aid, but a part of man's very
nature. And therefore to the righteous of ancient times the last
offices were piously rendered, and sepulchres provided for them, and
obsequies celebrated;[63] and they themselves, while yet alive, gave
commandment to their sons about the burial, and, on occasion, even
about the removal of their bodies to some favourite place.[64] And
Tobit, according to the angel's testimony, is commended, and is said
to have pleased God by burying the dead.[65] Our Lord Himself, too,
though He was to rise again the third day, applauds, and commends
to our applause, the good work of the religious woman who poured
precious ointment over His limbs, and did it against His burial.[66]
And the Gospel speaks with commendation of those who were careful to
take down His body from the cross, and wrap it lovingly in costly
cerements, and see to its burial.[67] These instances certainly
do not prove that corpses have any feeling; but they show that
God's providence extends even to the bodies of the dead, and that
such pious offices are pleasing to Him, as cherishing faith in the
resurrection. And we may also draw from them this wholesome lesson,
that if God does not forget even any kind office which loving care
pays to the unconscious dead, much more does He reward the charity
we exercise towards the living. Other things, indeed, which the holy
patriarchs said of the burial and removal of their bodies, they meant
to be taken in a prophetic sense; but of these we need not here speak
at large, what we have already said being sufficient. But if the want
of those things which are necessary for the support of the living,
as food and clothing, though painful and trying, does not break down
the fortitude and virtuous endurance of good men, nor eradicate piety
from their souls, but rather renders it more fruitful, how much less
can the absence of the funeral, and of the other customary attentions
paid to the dead, render those wretched who are already reposing in
the hidden abodes of the blessed! Consequently, though in the sack
of Rome and of other towns the dead bodies of the Christians were
deprived of these last offices, this is neither the fault of the
living, for they could not render them; nor an infliction to the
dead, for they cannot feel the loss.

   14. _Of the captivity of the saints, and that divine consolation
                      never failed them therein._

But, say they, many Christians were even led away captive. This
indeed were a most pitiable fate, if they could be led away to any
place where they could not find their God. But for this calamity also
sacred Scripture affords great consolation. The three youths[68] were
captives; Daniel was a captive; so were other prophets: and God, the
comforter, did not fail them. And in like manner He has not failed
His own people in the power of a nation which, though barbarous, is
yet human,--He who did not abandon the prophet[69] in the belly of
a monster. These things, indeed, are turned to ridicule rather than
credited by those with whom we are debating; though they believe
what they read in their own books, that Arion of Methymna, the
famous lyrist,[70] when he was thrown overboard, was received on a
dolphin's back and carried to land. But that story of ours about the
prophet Jonah is far more incredible,--more incredible because more
marvellous, and more marvellous because a greater exhibition of power.

  15. _Of Regulus, in whom we have an example of the voluntary
      endurance of captivity for the sake of religion; which yet did
      not profit him, though he was a worshipper of the gods._

But among their own famous men they have a very noble example of the
voluntary endurance of captivity in obedience to a religious scruple.
Marcus Attilius Regulus, a Roman general, was a prisoner in the
hands of the Carthaginians. But they, being more anxious to exchange
their prisoners with the Romans than to keep them, sent Regulus as a
special envoy with their own ambassadors to negotiate this exchange,
but bound him first with an oath, that if he failed to accomplish
their wish, he would return to Carthage. He went, and persuaded the
senate to the opposite course, because he believed it was not for
the advantage of the Roman republic to make an exchange of prisoners.
After he had thus exerted his influence, the Romans did not compel
him to return to the enemy; but what he had sworn he voluntarily
performed. But the Carthaginians put him to death with refined,
elaborate, and horrible tortures. They shut him up in a narrow box,
in which he was compelled to stand, and in which finely sharpened
nails were fixed all round about him, so that he could not lean
upon any part of it without intense pain; and so they killed him by
depriving him of sleep.[71] With justice, indeed, do they applaud the
virtue which rose superior to so frightful a fate. However, the gods
he swore by were those who are now supposed to avenge the prohibition
of their worship, by inflicting these present calamities on the
human race. But if these gods, who were worshipped specially in this
behalf, that they might confer happiness in this life, either willed
or permitted these punishments to be inflicted on one who kept his
oath to them, what more cruel punishment could they in their anger
have inflicted on a perjured person? But why may I not draw from my
reasoning a double inference? Regulus certainly had such reverence
for the gods, that for his oath's sake he would neither remain in
his own land, nor go elsewhere, but without hesitation returned
to his bitterest enemies. If he thought that this course would be
advantageous with respect to this present life, he was certainly
much deceived, for it brought his life to a frightful termination.
By his own example, in fact, he taught that the gods do not secure
the temporal happiness of their worshippers; since he himself, who
was devoted to their worship, was both conquered in battle and taken
prisoner, and then, because he refused to act in violation of the
oath he had sworn by them, was tortured and put to death by a new,
and hitherto unheard of, and all too horrible kind of punishment.
And on the supposition that the worshippers of the gods are rewarded
by felicity in the life to come, why, then, do they calumniate the
influence of Christianity? why do they assert that this disaster has
overtaken the city because it has ceased to worship its gods, since,
worship them as assiduously as it may, it may yet be as unfortunate
as Regulus was? Or will some one carry so wonderful a blindness to
the extent of wildly attempting, in the face of the evident truth, to
contend that though one man might be unfortunate, though a worshipper
of the gods, yet a whole city could not be so? That is to say, the
power of their gods is better adapted to preserve multitudes than
individuals,--as if a multitude were not composed of individuals.

But if they say that M. Regulus, even while a prisoner and enduring
these bodily torments, might yet enjoy the blessedness of a virtuous
soul,[72] then let them recognise that true virtue by which a city
also may be blessed. For the blessedness of a community and of an
individual flow from the same source; for a community is nothing
else than a harmonious collection of individuals. So that I am not
concerned meantime to discuss what kind of virtue Regulus possessed:
enough, that by his very noble example they are forced to own that
the gods are to be worshipped not for the sake of bodily comforts or
external advantages; for he preferred to lose all such things rather
than offend the gods by whom he had sworn. But what can we make of
men who glory in having such a citizen, but dread having a city
like him? If they do not dread this, then let them acknowledge that
some such calamity as befell Regulus may also befall a community,
though they be worshipping their gods as diligently as he; and let
them no longer throw the blame of their misfortunes on Christianity.
But as our present concern is with those Christians who were taken
prisoners, let those who take occasion from this calamity to revile
our most wholesome religion in a fashion not less imprudent than
impudent, consider this and hold their peace; for if it was no
reproach to their gods that a most punctilious worshipper of theirs
should, for the sake of keeping his oath to them, be deprived of his
native land without hope of finding another, and fall into the hands
of his enemies, and be put to death by a long-drawn and exquisite
torture, much less ought the Christian name to be charged with the
captivity of those who believe in its power, since they, in confident
expectation of a heavenly country, know that they are pilgrims even
in their own homes.

  16. _Of the violation of the consecrated and other Christian
      virgins to which they were subjected in captivity, and to which
      their own will gave no consent; and whether this contaminated
      their souls._

But they fancy they bring a conclusive charge against Christianity,
when they aggravate the horror of captivity by adding that not only
wives and unmarried maidens, but even consecrated virgins, were
violated. But truly, with respect to this, it is not Christian faith,
nor piety, nor even the virtue of chastity, which is hemmed into any
difficulty: the only difficulty is so to treat the subject as to
satisfy at once modesty and reason. And in discussing it we shall not
be so careful to reply to our accusers as to comfort our friends. Let
this, therefore, in the first place, be laid down as an unassailable
position, that the virtue which makes the life good has its throne
in the soul, and thence rules the members of the body, which becomes
holy in virtue of the holiness of the will; and that while the will
remains firm and unshaken, nothing that another person does with the
body, or upon the body, is any fault of the person who suffers it,
so long as he cannot escape it without sin. But as not only pain may
be inflicted, but lust gratified on the body of another, whenever
anything of this latter kind takes place, shame invades even a
thoroughly pure spirit from which modesty has not departed,--shame,
lest that act which could not be suffered without some sensual
pleasure, should be believed to have been committed also with some
assent of the will.

  17. _Of suicide committed through fear of punishment or dishonour._

And consequently, even if some of these virgins killed themselves
to avoid such disgrace, who that has any human feeling would refuse
to forgive them? And as for those who would not put an end to their
lives, lest they might seem to escape the crime of another by a sin
of their own, he who lays this to their charge as a great wickedness
is himself not guiltless of the fault of folly. For if it is not
lawful to take the law into our own hands, and slay even a guilty
person, whose death no public sentence has warranted, then certainly
he who kills himself is a homicide, and so much the guiltier of
his own death, as he was more innocent of that offence for which
he doomed himself to die. Do we justly execrate the deed of Judas,
and does truth itself pronounce that by hanging himself he rather
aggravated than expiated the guilt of that most iniquitous betrayal,
since, by despairing of God's mercy in his sorrow that wrought death,
he left to himself no place for a healing penitence? How much more
ought he to abstain from laying violent hands on himself who has
done nothing worthy of such a punishment! For Judas, when he killed
himself, killed a wicked man; but he passed from this life chargeable
not only with the death of Christ, but with his own: for though he
killed himself on account of his crime, his killing himself was
another crime. Why, then, should a man who has done no ill do ill to
himself, and by killing himself kill the innocent to escape another's
guilty act, and perpetrate upon himself a sin of his own, that the
sin of another may not be perpetrated on him?

    18. _Of the violence which may be done to the body by another's
               lust, while the mind remains inviolate._

But is there a fear that even another's lust may pollute the
violated? It will not pollute, if it be another's: if it pollute,
it is not another's, but is shared also by the polluted. But since
purity is a virtue of the soul, and has for its companion virtue
the fortitude which will rather endure all ills than consent to
evil; and since no one, however magnanimous and pure, has always
the disposal of his own body, but can control only the consent and
refusal of his will, what sane man can suppose that, if his body be
seized and forcibly made use of to satisfy the lust of another, he
thereby loses his purity? For if purity can be thus destroyed, then
assuredly purity is no virtue of the soul; nor can it be numbered
among those good things by which the life is made good, but among the
good things of the body, in the same category as strength, beauty,
sound and unbroken health, and, in short, all such good things as may
be diminished without at all diminishing the goodness and rectitude
of our life. But if purity be nothing better than these, why should
the body be perilled that it may be preserved? If, on the other hand,
it belongs to the soul, then not even when the body is violated is it
lost. Nay more, the virtue of holy continence, when it resists the
uncleanness of carnal lust, sanctifies even the body, and therefore
when this continence remains unsubdued, even the sanctity of the body
is preserved, because the will to use it holily remains, and, so far
as lies in the body itself, the power also.

For the sanctity of the body does not consist in the integrity of
its members, nor in their exemption from all touch; for they are
exposed to various accidents which do violence to and wound them,
and the surgeons who administer relief often perform operations that
sicken the spectator. A midwife, suppose, has (whether maliciously or
accidentally, or through unskilfulness) destroyed the virginity of
some girl, while endeavouring to ascertain it: I suppose no one is so
foolish as to believe that, by this destruction of the integrity of
one organ, the virgin has lost anything even of her bodily sanctity.
And thus, so long as the soul keeps this firmness of purpose which
sanctifies even the body, the violence done by another's lust makes
no impression on this bodily sanctity, which is preserved intact by
one's own persistent continence. Suppose a virgin violates the oath
she has sworn to God, and goes to meet her seducer with the intention
of yielding to him, shall we say that as she goes she is possessed
even of bodily sanctity, when already she has lost and destroyed
that sanctity of soul which sanctifies the body? Far be it from us
to so misapply words. Let us rather draw this conclusion, that while
the sanctity of the soul remains even when the body is violated,
the sanctity of the body is not lost; and that, in like manner,
the sanctity of the body is lost when the sanctity of the soul is
violated, though the body itself remain intact. And therefore a woman
who has been violated by the sin of another, and without any consent
of her own, has no cause to put herself to death; much less has she
cause to commit suicide in order to avoid such violation, for in
that case she commits certain homicide to prevent a crime which is
uncertain as yet, and not her own.

  19. _Of Lucretia, who put an end to her life because of the outrage
                              done her._

This, then, is our position, and it seems sufficiently lucid. We
maintain that when a woman is violated while her soul admits no
consent to the iniquity, but remains inviolably chaste, the sin is
not hers, but his who violates her. But do they against whom we have
to defend not only the souls, but the sacred bodies too of these
outraged Christian captives,--do they, perhaps, dare to dispute
our position? But all know how loudly they extol the purity of
Lucretia, that noble matron of ancient Rome. When King Tarquin's son
had violated her body, she made known the wickedness of this young
profligate to her husband Collatinus, and to Brutus her kinsman,
men of high rank and full of courage, and bound them by an oath to
avenge it. Then, heart-sick, and unable to bear the shame, she put an
end to her life. What shall we call her? An adulteress, or chaste?
There is no question which she was. Not more happily than truly did
a declaimer say of this sad occurrence: "Here was a marvel: there
were two, and only one committed adultery." Most forcibly and truly
spoken. For this declaimer, seeing in the union of the two bodies
the foul lust of the one, and the chaste will of the other, and
giving heed not to the contact of the bodily members, but to the wide
diversity of their souls, says: "There were two, but the adultery was
committed only by one."

But how is it, that she who was no partner to the crime bears the
heavier punishment of the two? For the adulterer was only banished
along with his father; she suffered the extreme penalty. If that was
not impurity by which she was unwillingly ravished, then this is not
justice by which she, being chaste, is punished. To you I appeal,
ye laws and judges of Rome. Even after the perpetration of great
enormities, you do not suffer the criminal to be slain untried. If,
then, one were to bring to your bar this case, and were to prove
to you that a woman not only untried, but chaste and innocent,
had been killed, would you not visit the murderer with punishment
proportionably severe? This crime was committed by Lucretia; that
Lucretia so celebrated and lauded slew the innocent, chaste, outraged
Lucretia. Pronounce sentence. But if you cannot, because there does
not compear any one whom you can punish, why do you extol with such
unmeasured laudation her who slew an innocent and chaste woman?
Assuredly you will find it impossible to defend her before the judges
of the realms below, if they be such as your poets are fond of
representing them; for she is among those

          "Who guiltless sent themselves to doom,
           And all for loathing of the day,
           In madness threw their lives away."

And if she with the others wishes to return,

          "Fate bars the way: around their keep
           The slow unlovely waters creep,
             And bind with ninefold chain."[73]

Or perhaps she is not there, because she slew herself conscious of
guilt, not of innocence? She herself alone knows her reason; but what
if she was betrayed by the pleasure of the act, and gave some consent
to Sextus, though so violently abusing her, and then was so affected
with remorse, that she thought death alone could expiate her sin?
Even though this were the case, she ought still to have held her hand
from suicide, if she could with her false gods have accomplished a
fruitful repentance. However, if such were the state of the case,
and if it were false that there were two, but one only committed
adultery; if the truth were that both were involved in it, one by
open assault, the other by secret consent, then she did not kill an
innocent woman; and therefore her erudite defenders may maintain that
she is not among that class of the dwellers below "who guiltless sent
themselves to doom." But this case of Lucretia is in such a dilemma,
that if you extenuate the homicide, you confirm the adultery: if you
acquit her of adultery, you make the charge of homicide heavier;
and there is no way out of the dilemma, when one asks, If she was
adulterous, why praise her? if chaste, why slay her?

Nevertheless, for our purpose of refuting those who are unable to
comprehend what true sanctity is, and who therefore insult over our
outraged Christian women, it is enough that in the instance of this
noble Roman matron it was said in her praise, "There were two, but
the adultery was the crime of only one." For Lucretia was confidently
believed to be superior to the contamination of any consenting
thought to the adultery. And accordingly, since she killed herself
for being subjected to an outrage in which she had no guilty part,
it is obvious that this act of hers was prompted not by the love of
purity, but by the overwhelming burden of her shame. She was ashamed
that so foul a crime had been perpetrated upon her, though without
her abetting; and this matron, with the Roman love of glory in her
veins, was seized with a proud dread that, if she continued to live,
it would be supposed she willingly did not resent the wrong that had
been done her. She could not exhibit to men her conscience, but she
judged that her self-inflicted punishment would testify her state
of mind; and she burned with shame at the thought that her patient
endurance of the foul affront that another had done her, should be
construed into complicity with him. Not such was the decision of
the Christian women who suffered as she did, and yet survive. They
declined to avenge upon themselves the guilt of others, and so add
crimes of their own to those crimes in which they had no share. For
this they would have done had their shame driven them to homicide, as
the lust of their enemies had driven them to adultery. Within their
own souls, in the witness of their own conscience, they enjoy the
glory of chastity. In the sight of God, too, they are esteemed pure,
and this contents them; they ask no more: it suffices them to have
opportunity of doing good, and they decline to evade the distress of
human suspicion, lest they thereby deviate from the divine law.

 20. _That Christians have no authority for committing suicide in any
                       circumstances whatever._

It is not without significance, that in no passage of the holy
canonical books there can be found either divine precept or
permission to take away our own life, whether for the sake of
entering on the enjoyment of immortality, or of shunning, or ridding
ourselves of anything whatever. Nay, the law, rightly interpreted,
even prohibits suicide, where it says, "Thou shalt not kill." This
is proved specially by the omission of the words "thy neighbour,"
which are inserted when false witness is forbidden: "Thou shalt not
bear false witness against thy neighbour." Nor yet should any one
on this account suppose he has not broken this commandment if he
has borne false witness only against himself. For the love of our
neighbour is regulated by the love of ourselves, as it is written,
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." If, then, he who makes
false statements about himself is not less guilty of bearing false
witness than if he had made them to the injury of his neighbour;
although in the commandment prohibiting false witness only his
neighbour is mentioned, and persons taking no pains to understand
it might suppose that a man was allowed to be a false witness to
his own hurt; how much greater reason have we to understand that a
man may not kill himself, since in the commandment, "Thou shalt not
kill," there is no limitation added nor any exception made in favour
of any one, and least of all in favour of him on whom the command is
laid! And so some attempt to extend this command even to beasts and
cattle, as if it forbade us to take life from any creature. But if
so, why not extend it also to the plants, and all that is rooted in
and nourished by the earth? For though this class of creatures have
no sensation, yet they also are said to live, and consequently they
can die; and therefore, if violence be done them, can be killed.
So, too, the apostle, when speaking of the seeds of such things
as these, says, "That which thou sowest is not quickened except
it die;" and in the Psalm it is said, "He killed their vines with
hail." Must we therefore reckon it a breaking of this commandment,
"Thou shalt not kill," to pull a flower? Are we thus insanely to
countenance the foolish error of the Manichæans? Putting aside,
then, these ravings, if, when we say, Thou shalt not kill, we do not
understand this of the plants, since they have no sensation, nor of
the irrational animals that fly, swim, walk, or creep, since they are
dissociated from us by their want of reason, and are therefore by
the just appointment of the Creator subjected to us to kill or keep
alive for our own uses; if so, then it remains that we understand
that commandment simply of man. The commandment is, "Thou shalt not
kill man;" therefore neither another nor yourself, for he who kills
himself still kills nothing else than man.

 21. _Of the cases in which we may put men to death without incurring
                         the guilt of murder._

However, there are some exceptions made by the divine authority to
its own law, that men may not be put to death. These exceptions
are of two kinds, being justified either by a general law, or by a
special commission granted for a time to some individual. And in
this latter case, he to whom authority is delegated, and who is but
the sword in the hand of him who uses it, is not himself responsible
for the death he deals. And, accordingly, they who have waged war
in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with His laws
have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of
government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such
persons have by no means violated the commandment, "Thou shalt not
kill." Abraham indeed was not merely deemed guiltless of cruelty, but
was even applauded for his piety, because he was ready to slay his
son in obedience to God, not to his own passion. And it is reasonably
enough made a question, whether we are to esteem it to have been in
compliance with a command of God that Jephthah killed his daughter,
because she met him when he had vowed that he would sacrifice to God
whatever first met him as he returned victorious from battle. Samson,
too, who drew down the house on himself and his foes together, is
justified only on this ground, that the Spirit who wrought wonders by
him had given him secret instructions to do this. With the exception,
then, of these two classes of cases, which are justified either by a
just law that applies generally, or by a special intimation from God
Himself, the fountain of all justice, whoever kills a man, either
himself or another, is implicated in the guilt of murder.

       22. _That suicide can never be prompted by magnanimity._

But they who have laid violent hands on themselves are perhaps to be
admired for their greatness of soul, though they cannot be applauded
for the soundness of their judgment. However, if you look at the
matter more closely, you will scarcely call it greatness of soul,
which prompts a man to kill himself rather than bear up against some
hardships of fortune, or sins in which he is not implicated. Is it not
rather proof of a feeble mind, to be unable to bear either the pains
of bodily servitude or the foolish opinion of the vulgar? And is not
that to be pronounced the greater mind, which rather faces than flees
the ills of life, and which, in comparison of the light and purity of
conscience, holds in small esteem the judgment of men, and specially
of the vulgar, which is frequently involved in a mist of error? And,
therefore, if suicide is to be esteemed a magnanimous act, none can
take higher rank for magnanimity than that Cleombrotus, who (as the
story goes), when he had read Plato's book in which he treats of the
immortality of the soul, threw himself from a wall, and so passed
from this life to that which he believed to be better. For he was
not hard pressed by calamity, nor by any accusation, false or true,
which he could not very well have lived down: there was, in short,
no motive but only magnanimity urging him to seek death, and break
away from the sweet detention of this life. And yet that this was a
magnanimous rather than a justifiable action, Plato himself, whom he
had read, would have told him; for he would certainly have been forward
to commit, or at least to recommend suicide, had not the same bright
intellect which saw that the soul was immortal, discerned also that to
seek immortality by suicide was to be prohibited rather than encouraged.

Again, it is said many have killed themselves to prevent an enemy
doing so. But we are not inquiring whether it has been done, but
whether it ought to have been done. Sound judgment is to be preferred
even to examples, and indeed examples harmonize with the voice of
reason; but not all examples, but those only which are distinguished
by their piety, and are proportionately worthy of imitation. For
suicide we cannot cite the example of patriarchs, prophets, or
apostles; though our Lord Jesus Christ, when He admonished them to
flee from city to city if they were persecuted, might very well
have taken that occasion to advise them to lay violent hands on
themselves, and so escape their persecutors. But seeing He did not
do this, nor proposed this mode of departing this life, though
He were addressing His own friends for whom He had promised to
prepare everlasting mansions, it is obvious that such examples as
are produced from the "nations that forget God," give no warrant of
imitation to the worshippers of the one true God.

  23. _What we are to think of the example of Cato, who slew himself
              because unable to endure Cæsar's victory._

Besides Lucretia, of whom enough has already been said, our advocates
of suicide have some difficulty in finding any other prescriptive
example, unless it be that of Cato, who killed himself at Utica. His
example is appealed to, not because he was the only man who did so,
but because he was so esteemed as a learned and excellent man, that
it could plausibly be maintained that what he did was and is a good
thing to do. But of this action of his, what can I say but that his
own friends, enlightened men as he, prudently dissuaded him, and
therefore judged his act to be that of a feeble rather than a strong
spirit, and dictated not by honourable feeling forestalling shame,
but by weakness shrinking from hardships? Indeed, Cato condemns
himself by the advice he gave to his dearly loved son. For if it
was a disgrace to live under Cæsar's rule, why did the father urge
the son to this disgrace, by encouraging him to trust absolutely to
Cæsar's generosity? Why did he not persuade him to die along with
himself? If Torquatus was applauded for putting his son to death,
when contrary to orders he had engaged, and engaged successfully,
with the enemy, why did conquered Cato spare his conquered son,
though he did not spare himself? Was it more disgraceful to be a
victor contrary to orders, than to submit to a victor contrary to the
received ideas of honour? Cato, then, cannot have deemed it to be
shameful to live under Cæsar's rule, for had he done so, the father's
sword would have delivered his son from this disgrace. The truth
is, that his son, whom he both hoped and desired would be spared by
Cæsar, was not more loved by him than Cæsar was envied the glory of
pardoning him (as indeed Cæsar himself is reported to have said[74]);
or if envy is too strong a word, let us say he was _ashamed_ that
this glory should be his.

   24. _That in that virtue in which Regulus excels Cato, Christians
                   are pre-eminently distinguished._

Our opponents are offended at our preferring to Cato the saintly
Job, who endured dreadful evils in his body rather than deliver
himself from all torment by self-inflicted death; or other saints, of
whom it is recorded in our authoritative and trustworthy books that
they bore captivity and the oppression of their enemies rather than
commit suicide. But their own books authorize us to prefer to Marcus
Cato, Marcus Regulus. For Cato had never conquered Cæsar; and when
conquered by him, disdained to submit himself to him, and that he
might escape this submission put himself to death. Regulus, on the
contrary, had formerly conquered the Carthaginians, and in command of
the army of Rome had won for the Roman republic a victory which no
citizen could bewail, and which the enemy himself was constrained to
admire; yet afterwards, when he in his turn was defeated by them, he
preferred to be their captive rather than to put himself beyond their
reach by suicide. Patient under the domination of the Carthaginians,
and constant in his love of the Romans, he neither deprived the one
of his conquered body, nor the other of his unconquered spirit.
Neither was it love of life that prevented him from killing himself.
This was plainly enough indicated by his unhesitatingly returning,
on account of his promise and oath, to the same enemies whom he had
more grievously provoked by his words in the senate than even by his
arms in battle. Having such a contempt of life, and preferring to
end it by whatever torments excited enemies might contrive, rather
than terminate it by his own hand, he could not more distinctly have
declared how great a crime he judged suicide to be. Among all their
famous and remarkable citizens, the Romans have no better man to
boast of than this, who was neither corrupted by prosperity, for he
remained a very poor man after winning such victories; nor broken
by adversity, for he returned intrepidly to the most miserable end.
But if the bravest and most renowned heroes, who had but an earthly
country to defend, and who, though they had but false gods, yet
rendered them a true worship, and carefully kept their oath to them;
if these men, who by the custom and right of war put conquered
enemies to the sword, yet shrank from putting an end to their own
lives even when conquered by their enemies; if, though they had no
fear at all of death, they would yet rather suffer slavery than
commit suicide, how much rather must Christians, the worshippers
of the true God, the aspirants to a heavenly citizenship, shrink
from this act, if in God's providence they have been for a season
delivered into the hands of their enemies to prove or to correct
them! And, certainly, Christians subjected to this humiliating
condition will not be deserted by the Most High, who for their sakes
humbled Himself. Neither should they forget that they are bound by
no laws of war, nor military orders, to put even a conquered enemy
to the sword; and if a man may not put to death the enemy who has
sinned, or may yet sin against him, who is so infatuated as to
maintain that he may kill himself because an enemy has sinned, or is
going to sin, against him?

       25. _That we should not endeavour by sin to obviate sin._

But, we are told, there is ground to fear that, when the body is
subjected to the enemy's lust, the insidious pleasure of sense may
entice the soul to consent to the sin, and steps must be taken to
prevent so disastrous a result. And is not suicide the proper mode of
preventing not only the enemy's sin, but the sin of the Christian so
allured? Now, in the first place, the soul which is led by God and
His wisdom, rather than by bodily concupiscence, will certainly never
consent to the desire aroused in its own flesh by another's lust.
And, at all events, if it be true, as the truth plainly declares,
that suicide is a detestable and damnable wickedness, who is such a
fool as to say, Let us sin now, that we may obviate a possible future
sin; let us now commit murder, lest we perhaps afterwards should
commit adultery? If we are so controlled by iniquity that innocence
is out of the question, and we can at best but make a choice of
sins, is not a future and uncertain adultery preferable to a present
and certain murder? Is it not better to commit a wickedness which
penitence may heal, than a crime which leaves no place for healing
contrition? I say this for the sake of those men or women who fear
they may be enticed into consenting to their violator's lust, and
think they should lay violent hands on themselves, and so prevent,
not another's sin, but their own. But far be it from the mind of
a Christian confiding in God, and resting in the hope of His aid;
far be it, I say, from such a mind to yield a shameful consent to
pleasures of the flesh, howsoever presented. And if that lustful
disobedience, which still dwells in our mortal members, follows its
own law irrespective of our will, surely its motions in the body of
one who rebels against them are as blameless as its motions in the
body of one who sleeps.

  26. _That in certain peculiar cases the examples of the saints are
                         not to be followed._

But, they say, in the time of persecution some holy women escaped
those who menaced them with outrage, by casting themselves into
rivers which they knew would drown them; and having died in this
manner, they are venerated in the church catholic as martyrs.
Of such persons I do not presume to speak rashly. I cannot tell
whether there may not have been vouchsafed to the church some divine
authority, proved by trustworthy evidences, for so honouring their
memory: it may be that it is so. It may be they were not deceived
by human judgment, but prompted by divine wisdom, to their act of
self-destruction. We know that this was the case with Samson. And
when God enjoins any act, and intimates by plain evidence that He
has enjoined it, who will call obedience criminal? Who will accuse
so religious a submission? But then every man is not justified in
sacrificing his son to God, because Abraham was commendable in so
doing. The soldier who has slain a man in obedience to the authority
under which he is lawfully commissioned, is not accused of murder by
any law of his state; nay, if he has not slain him, it is then he is
accused of treason to the state, and of despising the law. But if he
has been acting on his own authority, and at his own impulse, he has
in this case incurred the crime of shedding human blood. And thus he
is punished for doing without orders the very thing he is punished
for neglecting to do when he has been ordered. If the commands of
a general make so great a difference, shall the commands of God
make none? He, then, who knows it is unlawful to kill himself,
may nevertheless do so if he is ordered by Him whose commands we
may not neglect. Only let him be very sure that the divine command
has been signified. As for us, we can become privy to the secrets
of conscience only in so far as these are disclosed to us, and so
far only do we judge: "No one knoweth the things of a man, save the
spirit of man which is in him."[75] But this we affirm, this we
maintain, this we every way pronounce to be right, that no man ought
to inflict on himself voluntary death, for this is to escape the ills
of time by plunging into those of eternity; that no man ought to do
so on account of another man's sins, for this were to escape a guilt
which could not pollute him, by incurring great guilt of his own;
that no man ought to do so on account of his own past sins, for he
has all the more need of this life that these sins may be healed by
repentance; that no man should put an end to this life to obtain that
better life we look for after death, for those who die by their own
hand have no better life after death.

 27. _Whether voluntary death should be sought in order to avoid sin._

There remains one reason for suicide which I mentioned before, and
which is thought a sound one,--namely, to prevent one's falling into
sin either through the blandishments of pleasure or the violence of
pain. If this reason were a good one, then we should be impelled
to exhort men at once to destroy themselves, as soon as they have
been washed in the laver of regeneration, and have received the
forgiveness of all sin. Then is the time to escape all future sin,
when all past sin is blotted out. And if this escape be lawfully
secured by suicide, why not then specially? Why does any baptized
person hold his hand from taking his own life? Why does any person
who is freed from the hazards of this life again expose himself to
them, when he has power so easily to rid himself of them all, and
when it is written, "He who loveth danger shall fall into it?"[76]
Why does he love, or at least face, so many serious dangers, by
remaining in this life from which he may legitimately depart? But is
any one so blinded and twisted in his moral nature, and so far astray
from the truth, as to think that, though a man ought to make away
with himself for fear of being led into sin by the oppression of one
man, his master, he ought yet to live, and so expose himself to the
hourly temptations of this world, both to all those evils which the
oppression of one master involves, and to numberless other miseries
in which this life inevitably implicates us? What reason, then, is
there for our consuming time in those exhortations by which we seek
to animate the baptized, either to virginal chastity, or vidual
continence, or matrimonial fidelity, when we have so much more simple
and compendious a method of deliverance from sin, by persuading those
who are fresh from baptism to put an end to their lives, and so pass
to their Lord pure and well-conditioned? If any one thinks that such
persuasion should be attempted, I say not he is foolish, but mad.
With what face, then, can he say to any man, "Kill yourself, lest
to your small sins you add a heinous sin, while you live under an
unchaste master, whose conduct is that of a barbarian?" How can he
say this, if he cannot without wickedness say, "Kill yourself, now
that you are washed from all your sins, lest you fall again into
similar or even aggravated sins, while you live in a world which has
such power to allure by its unclean pleasures, to torment by its
horrible cruelties, to overcome by its errors and terrors?" It is
wicked to say this; it is therefore wicked to kill oneself. For if
there could be any just cause of suicide, this were so. And since not
even this is so, there is none.

    28. _By what judgment of God the enemy was permitted to indulge
           his lust on the bodies of continent Christians._

Let not your life, then, be a burden to you, ye faithful servants of
Christ, though your chastity was made the sport of your enemies. You
have a grand and true consolation, if you maintain a good conscience,
and know that you did not consent to the sins of those who were
permitted to commit sinful outrage upon you. And if you should ask
why this permission was granted, indeed it is a deep providence
of the Creator and Governor of the world; and "unsearchable are
His judgments, and His ways past finding out."[77] Nevertheless,
faithfully interrogate your own souls, whether ye have not been
unduly puffed up by your integrity, and continence, and chastity;
and whether ye have not been so desirous of the human praise that is
accorded to these virtues, that ye have envied some who possessed
them. I, for my part, do not know your hearts, and therefore I make
no accusation; I do not even hear what your hearts answer when you
question them. And yet, if they answer that it is as I have supposed
it might be, do not marvel that you have lost that by which you can
win men's praise, and retain that which cannot be exhibited to men.
If you did not consent to sin, it was because God added His aid
to His grace that it might not be lost, and because shame before
men succeeded to human glory that it might not be loved. But in
both respects even the fainthearted among you have a consolation,
approved by the one experience, chastened by the other; justified
by the one, corrected by the other. As to those whose hearts, when
interrogated, reply that they have never been proud of the virtue of
virginity, widowhood, or matrimonial chastity, but, condescending
to those of low estate, rejoiced with trembling in these gifts of
God, and that they have never envied any one the like excellences
of sanctity and purity, but rose superior to human applause, which
is wont to be abundant in proportion to the rarity of the virtue
applauded, and rather desired that their own number be increased,
than that by the smallness of their numbers each of them should be
conspicuous;--even such faithful women, I say, must not complain
that permission was given to the barbarians so grossly to outrage
them; nor must they allow themselves to believe that God overlooked
their character when He permitted acts which no one with impunity
commits. For some most flagrant and wicked desires are allowed free
play at present by the secret judgment of God, and are reserved to
the public and final judgment. Moreover, it is possible that those
Christian women, who are unconscious of any undue pride on account of
their virtuous chastity, whereby they sinlessly suffered the violence
of their captors, had yet some lurking infirmity which might have
betrayed them into a proud and contemptuous bearing, had they not
been subjected to the humiliation that befell them in the taking
of the city. As, therefore, some men were removed by death, that
no wickedness might change their disposition, so these women were
outraged lest prosperity should corrupt their modesty. Neither those
women, then, who were already puffed up by the circumstance that
they were still virgins, nor those who might have been so puffed up
had they not been exposed to the violence of the enemy, lost their
chastity, but rather gained humility: the former were saved from
pride already cherished, the latter from pride that would shortly
have grown upon them.

We must further notice that some of those sufferers may have
conceived that continence is a bodily good, and abides so long as
the body is inviolate, and did not understand that the purity both
of the body and the soul rests on the stedfastness of the will
strengthened by God's grace, and cannot be forcibly taken from an
unwilling person. From this error they are probably now delivered.
For when they reflect how conscientiously they served God, and when
they settle again to the firm persuasion that He can in nowise
desert those who so serve Him, and so invoke His aid; and when they
consider, what they cannot doubt, how pleasing to Him is chastity,
they are shut up to the conclusion that He could never have permitted
these disasters to befall His saints, if by them that saintliness
could be destroyed which He Himself had bestowed upon them, and
delights to see in them.

  29. _What the servants of Christ should say in reply to the
      unbelievers who cast in their teeth that Christ did not rescue
      them from the fury of their enemies._

The whole family of God, most high and most true, has therefore a
consolation of its own,--a consolation which cannot deceive, and
which has in it a surer hope than the tottering and falling affairs
of earth can afford. They will not refuse the discipline of this
temporal life, in which they are schooled for life eternal; nor will
they lament their experience of it, for the good things of earth they
use as pilgrims who are not detained by them, and its ills either
prove or improve them. As for those who insult over them in their
trials, and when ills befall them say, "Where is thy God?"[78] we may
ask them where their gods are when they suffer the very calamities
for the sake of avoiding which they worship their gods, or maintain
they ought to be worshipped; for the family of Christ is furnished
with its reply: our God is everywhere present, wholly everywhere; not
confined to any place. He can be present unperceived, and be absent
without moving; when He exposes us to adversities, it is either to
prove our perfections or correct our imperfections; and in return
for our patient endurance of the sufferings of time, He reserves for
us an everlasting reward. But who are you, that we should deign to
speak with you even about your own gods, much less about our God, who
is "to be feared above all gods? For all the gods of the nations are
idols; but the Lord made the heavens."[79]

     30. _That those who complain of Christianity really desire to
              live without restraint in shameful luxury._

If the famous Scipio Nasica were now alive, who was once your pontiff,
and was unanimously chosen by the senate, when, in the panic created
by the Punic war, they sought for the best citizen to entertain the
Phrygian goddess, he would curb this shamelessness of yours, though
you would perhaps scarcely dare to look upon the countenance of such
a man. For why in your calamities do you complain of Christianity,
unless because you desire to enjoy your luxurious licence unrestrained,
and to lead an abandoned and profligate life without the interruption
of any uneasiness or disaster? For certainly your desire for peace,
and prosperity, and plenty is not prompted by any purpose of using
these blessings honestly, that is to say, with moderation, sobriety,
temperance, and piety; for your purpose rather is to run riot in an
endless variety of sottish pleasures, and thus to generate from your
prosperity a moral pestilence which will prove a thousand-fold more
disastrous than the fiercest enemies. It was such a calamity as this
that Scipio, your chief pontiff, your best man in the judgment of the
whole senate, feared when he refused to agree to the destruction of
Carthage, Rome's rival; and opposed Cato, who advised its destruction.
He feared security, that enemy of weak minds, and he perceived that
a wholesome fear would be a fit guardian for the citizens. And he
was not mistaken: the event proved how wisely he had spoken. For
when Carthage was destroyed, and the Roman republic delivered from
its great cause of anxiety, a crowd of disastrous evils forthwith
resulted from the prosperous condition of things. First concord was
weakened, and destroyed by fierce and bloody seditions; then followed,
by a concatenation of baleful causes, civil wars, which brought in
their train such massacres, such bloodshed, such lawless and cruel
proscription and plunder, that those Romans who, in the days of their
virtue, had expected injury only at the hands of their enemies, now
that their virtue was lost, suffered greater cruelties at the hands of
their fellow-citizens. The lust of rule, which with other vices existed
among the Romans in more unmitigated intensity than among any other
people, after it had taken possession of the more powerful few, subdued
under its yoke the rest, worn and wearied.

     31. _By what steps the passion for governing increased among
                             the Romans._

For at what stage would that passion rest when once it has lodged
in a proud spirit, until by a succession of advances it has reached
even the throne? And to obtain such advances nothing avails but
unscrupulous ambition. But unscrupulous ambition has nothing to work
upon, save in a nation corrupted by avarice and luxury. Moreover,
a people becomes avaricious and luxurious by prosperity; and it
was this which that very prudent man Nasica was endeavouring to
avoid when he opposed the destruction of the greatest, strongest,
wealthiest city of Rome's enemy. He thought that thus fear would act
as a curb on lust, and that lust being curbed would not run riot
in luxury, and that luxury being prevented avarice would be at an
end; and that these vices being banished, virtue would flourish and
increase, to the great profit of the state; and liberty, the fit
companion of virtue, would abide unfettered. For similar reasons,
and animated by the same considerate patriotism, that same chief
pontiff of yours--I still refer to him who was adjudged Rome's best
man without one dissentient voice--threw cold water on the proposal
of the senate to build a circle of seats round the theatre, and in
a very weighty speech warned them against allowing the luxurious
manners of Greece to sap the Roman manliness, and persuaded them not
to yield to the enervating and emasculating influence of foreign
licentiousness. So authoritative and forcible were his words, that
the senate was moved to prohibit the use even of those benches
which hitherto had been customarily brought to the theatre for the
temporary use of the citizens.[80] How eagerly would such a man as
this have banished from Rome the scenic exhibitions themselves, had
he dared to oppose the authority of those whom he supposed to be
gods! For he did not know that they were malicious devils; or if he
did, he supposed they should rather be propitiated than despised.
For there had not yet been revealed to the Gentiles the heavenly
doctrine which should purify their hearts by faith, and transform
their natural disposition by humble godliness, and turn them from the
service of proud devils to seek the things that are in heaven, or
even above the heavens.

         32. _Of the establishment of scenic entertainments._

Know then, ye who are ignorant of this, and ye who feign ignorance be
reminded, while you murmur against Him who has freed you from such
rulers, that the scenic games, exhibitions of shameless folly and
licence, were established at Rome, not by men's vicious cravings,
but by the appointment of your gods. Much more pardonably might
you have rendered divine honours to Scipio than to such gods as
these. The gods were not so moral as their pontiff. But give me now
your attention, if your mind, inebriated by its deep potations of
error, can take in any sober truth. The gods enjoined that games
be exhibited in their honour to stay a physical pestilence; their
pontiff prohibited the theatre from being constructed, to prevent a
moral pestilence. If, then, there remains in you sufficient mental
enlightenment to prefer the soul to the body, choose whom you will
worship. Besides, though the pestilence was stayed, this was not
because the voluptuous madness of stage-plays had taken possession of
a warlike people hitherto accustomed only to the games of the circus;
but these astute and wicked spirits, foreseeing that in due course
the pestilence would shortly cease, took occasion to infect, not the
bodies, but the morals of their worshippers, with a far more serious
disease. And in this pestilence these gods find great enjoyment,
because it benighted the minds of men with so gross a darkness, and
dishonoured them with so foul a deformity, that even quite recently
(will posterity be able to credit it?) some of those who fled from
the sack of Rome and found refuge in Carthage, were so infected with
this disease, that day after day they seemed to contend with one
another who should most madly run after the actors in the theatres.

    33. _That the overthrow of Rome has not corrected the vices of
                             the Romans._

Oh infatuated men, what is this blindness, or rather madness, which
possesses you? How is it that while, as we hear, even the eastern
nations are bewailing your ruin, and while powerful states in the
most remote parts of the earth are mourning your fall as a public
calamity, ye yourselves should be crowding to the theatres, should
be pouring into them and filling them; and, in short, be playing a
madder part now than ever before? This was the foul plague-spot,
this the wreck of virtue and honour that Scipio sought to preserve
you from when he prohibited the construction of theatres; this was
his reason for desiring that you might still have an enemy to fear,
seeing as he did how easily prosperity would corrupt and destroy you.
He did not consider that republic flourishing whose walls stand, but
whose morals are in ruins. But the seductions of evil-minded devils
had more influence with you than the precautions of prudent men.
Hence the injuries you do, you will not permit to be imputed to you;
but the injuries you suffer, you impute to Christianity. Depraved by
good fortune, and not chastened by adversity, what you desire in the
restoration of a peaceful and secure state, is not the tranquillity
of the commonwealth, but the impunity of your own vicious luxury.
Scipio wished you to be hard pressed by an enemy, that you might not
abandon yourselves to luxurious manners; but so abandoned are you,
that not even when crushed by the enemy is your luxury repressed.
You have missed the profit of your calamity; you have been made most
wretched, and have remained most profligate.

      34. _Of God's clemency in moderating the ruin of the city._

And that you are yet alive is due to God, who spares you that you
may be admonished to repent and reform your lives. It is He who has
permitted you, ungrateful as you are, to escape the sword of the
enemy, by calling yourselves His servants, or by finding asylum in
the sacred places of the martyrs.

It is said that Romulus and Remus, in order to increase the
population of the city they founded, opened a sanctuary in which
every man might find asylum and absolution of all crime,--a
remarkable foreshadowing of what has recently occurred in honour of
Christ. The destroyers of Rome followed the example of its founders.
But it was not greatly to their credit that the latter, for the sake
of increasing the number of their citizens, did that which the former
have done, lest the number of their enemies should be diminished.

    35. _Of the sons of the church who are hidden among the wicked,
              and of false Christians within the church._

Let these and similar answers (if any fuller and fitter answers can be
found) be given to their enemies by the redeemed family of the Lord
Christ, and by the pilgrim city of King Christ. But let this city bear
in mind, that among her enemies lie hid those who are destined to
be fellow-citizens, that she may not think it a fruitless labour to
bear what they inflict as enemies until they become confessors of the
faith. So, too, as long as she is a stranger in the world, the city
of God has in her communion, and bound to her by the sacraments, some
who shall not eternally dwell in the lot of the saints. Of these, some
are not now recognised; others declare themselves, and do not hesitate
to make common cause with our enemies in murmuring against God, whose
sacramental badge they wear. These men you may to-day see thronging the
churches with us, to-morrow crowding the theatres with the godless.
But we have the less reason to despair of the reclamation even of such
persons, if among our most declared enemies there are now some, unknown
to themselves, who are destined to become our friends. In truth, these
two cities are entangled together in this world, and intermixed until
the last judgment effect their separation. I now proceed to speak, as
God shall help me, of the rise, progress, and end of these two cities;
and what I write, I write for the glory of the city of God, that, being
placed in comparison with the other, it may shine with a brighter

   36. _What subjects are to be handled in the following discourse._

But I have still some things to say in confutation of those who
refer the disasters of the Roman republic to our religion, because
it prohibits the offering of sacrifices to the gods. For this end
I must recount all, or as many as may seem sufficient, of the
disasters which befell that city and its subject provinces, before
these sacrifices were prohibited; for all these disasters they would
doubtless have attributed to us, if at that time our religion had
shed its light upon them, and had prohibited their sacrifices. I
must then go on to show what social well-being the true God, in
whose hand are all kingdoms, vouchsafed to grant to them that their
empire might increase. I must show why He did so, and how their false
gods, instead of at all aiding them, greatly injured them by guile
and deceit. And, lastly, I must meet those who, when on this point
convinced and confuted by irrefragable proofs, endeavour to maintain
that they worship the gods, not hoping for the present advantages of
this life, but for those which are to be enjoyed after death. And
this, if I am not mistaken, will be the most difficult part of my
task, and will be worthy of the loftiest argument; for we must then
enter the lists with the philosophers, not the mere common herd of
philosophers, but the most renowned, who in many points agree with
ourselves, as regarding the immortality of the soul, and that the
true God created the world, and by His providence rules all He has
created. But as they differ from us on other points, we must not
shrink from the task of exposing their errors, that, having refuted
the gainsaying of the wicked with such ability as God may vouchsafe,
we may assert the city of God, and true piety, and the worship of
God, to which alone the promise of true and everlasting felicity is
attached. Here, then, let us conclude, that we may enter on these
subjects in a fresh book.


[25] See the Editor's Preface.

[26] Ps. xciv. 15, rendered otherwise in Eng. ver.

[27] Jas. iv. 6 and 1 Pet. v. 5.

[28] Virgil, _Æneid_, vi. 854.

[29] The Benedictines remind us that Alexander and Xenophon, at least
on some occasions, did so.

[30] Virgil, _Æneid_, ii. 501-2. The renderings of Virgil are from

[31] _Ibid._ ii. 166.

[32] _Ibid._

[33] Horace, _Ep._ I. ii. 69.

[34] _Æneid_, i. 71.

[35] _Ibid._ ii. 319.

[36] _Ibid._ 293.

[37] Non numina bona, sed omina mala.

[38] Virgil, _Æneid_, ii. 761.

[39] Though "levis" was the word usually employed to signify the
inconstancy of the Greeks, it is evidently here used, in opposition
to "immanis" of the following clause, to indicate that the Greeks
were more civilised than the barbarians, and not relentless, but, as
we say, easily moved.

[40] _De Conj. Cat._ c. 51.

[41] Sallust, _Cat. Conj._ ix.

[42] Ps. lxxxix. 32.

[43] Matt. v. 45.

[44] Rom. ii. 4.

[45] So Cyprian (_Contra Demetrianum_) says, "Pœnam de adversis mundi
ille sentit, cui et lætitia et gloria omnis in mundo est."

[46] Ezek. xxxiii. 6.

[47] Compare with this chapter the first homily of Chrysostom to the
people of Antioch.

[48] Rom. viii. 28.

[49] 1 Pet. iii. 4.

[50] 1 Tim. vi. 6-10.

[51] Job i. 21.

[52] 1 Tim. vi. 17-19.

[53] Matt. vi. 19-21.

[54] Paulinus was a native of Bordeaux, and both by inheritance and
marriage acquired great wealth, which, after his conversion in his
thirty-sixth year, he distributed to the poor. He became bishop of
Nola in A.D. 409, being then in his fifty-sixth year. Nola was taken
by Alaric shortly after the sack of Rome.

[55] Much of a kindred nature might be gathered from the Stoics.
Antoninus says (ii. 14): "Though thou shouldest be going to live
3000 years, and as many times 10,000 years, still remember that no
man loses any other life than this which he now lives, nor lives any
other than this which he now loses. The longest and the shortest are
thus brought to the same."

[56] Augustine expresses himself more fully on this subject in his
tract, _De cura pro mortuis gerenda_.

[57] Matt. x. 28.

[58] Luke xii. 4.

[59] Ps. lxxix. 2, 3.

[60] Ps. cxvi. 15.

[61] Diogenes especially, and his followers. See also Seneca, _De
Tranq._ c. 14, and _Epist._ 92; and in Cicero's _Tusc. Disp._ i. 43,
the answer of Theodorus, the Cyrenian philosopher, to Lysimachus, who
threatened him with the cross: "Threaten that to your courtiers; it
is of no consequence to Theodorus whether he rot in the earth or in
the air."

[62] Lucan, _Pharsalia_, vii. 819, of those whom Cæsar forbade to be
buried after the battle of Pharsalia.

[63] Gen. xxv. 9, xxxv. 29, etc.

[64] Gen. xlvii. 29, l. 24.

[65] Tob. xii. 12.

[66] Matt. xxvi. 10-13.

[67] John xix. 38.

[68] Dan. iii.

[69] Jonah.

[70] "Second to none," as he is called by Herodotus, who first of all
tells his well-known story (_Clio._ 23, 24).

[71] Augustine here uses the words of Cicero ("vigilando
peremerunt"), who refers to Regulus, _in Pisonem_, c. 19. Aulus
Gellius, quoting Tubero and Tuditanus (vi. 4), adds some further
particulars regarding these tortures.

[72] As the Stoics generally would affirm.

[73] Virgil, _Æneid_, vi. 434.

[74] Plutarch's _Life of Cato_, 72.

[75] 1 Cor. ii. 11.

[76] Ecclus. iii. 27.

[77] Rom. xi. 33.

[78] Ps. xlii. 10.

[79] Ps. xcvi. 4, 5.

[80] Originally the spectators had to stand, and now (according to
Livy, _Ep._ xlviii.) the old custom was restored.

                             BOOK SECOND.



   1. _Of the limits which must be put to the necessity of replying
                           to an adversary._

If the feeble mind of man did not presume to resist the clear evidence
of truth, but yielded its infirmity to wholesome doctrines, as to a
health-giving medicine, until it obtained from God, by its faith and
piety, the grace needed to heal it, they who have just ideas, and
express them in suitable language, would need to use no long discourse
to refute the errors of empty conjecture. But this mental infirmity
is now more prevalent and hurtful than ever, to such an extent that
even after the truth has been as fully demonstrated as man can prove
it to man, they hold for the very truth their own unreasonable
fancies, either on account of their great blindness, which prevents
them from seeing what is plainly set before them, or on account of
their opinionative obstinacy, which prevents them from acknowledging
the force of what they do see. There therefore frequently arises a
necessity of speaking more fully on those points which are already
clear, that we may, as it were, present them not to the eye, but
even to the touch, so that they may be felt even by those who close
their eyes against them. And yet to what end shall we ever bring our
discussions, or what bounds can be set to our discourse, if we proceed
on the principle that we must always reply to those who reply to us?
For those who are either unable to understand our arguments, or are so
hardened by the habit of contradiction, that though they understand
they cannot yield to them, reply to us, and, as it is written, "speak
hard things,"[81] and are incorrigibly vain. Now, if we were to propose
to confute their objections as often as they with brazen face chose
to disregard our arguments, and as often as they could by any means
contradict our statements, you see how endless, and fruitless, and
painful a task we should be undertaking. And therefore I do not wish my
writings to be judged even by you, my son Marcellinus, nor by any of
those others at whose service this work of mine is freely and in all
Christian charity put, if at least you intend always to require a reply
to every exception which you hear taken to what you read in it; for so
you would become like those silly women of whom the apostle says that
they are "always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of
the truth."[82]

        2. _Recapitulation of the contents of the first book._

In the foregoing book, having begun to speak of the city of God, to
which I have resolved, Heaven helping me, to consecrate the whole of
this work, it was my first endeavour to reply to those who attribute
the wars by which the world is being devastated, and specially the
recent sack of Rome by the barbarians, to the religion of Christ, which
prohibits the offering of abominable sacrifices to devils. I have shown
that they ought rather to attribute it to Christ, that for His name's
sake the barbarians, in contravention of all custom and law of war,
threw open as sanctuaries the largest churches, and in many instances
showed such reverence to Christ, that not only His genuine servants,
but even those who in their terror feigned themselves to be so, were
exempted from all those hardships which by the custom of war may
lawfully be inflicted. Then out of this there arose the question, why
wicked and ungrateful men were permitted to share in these benefits;
and why, too, the hardships and calamities of war were inflicted on the
godly as well as on the ungodly. And in giving a suitably full answer
to this large question, I occupied some considerable space, partly that
I might relieve the anxieties which disturb many when they observe that
the blessings of God, and the common and daily human casualties, fall
to the lot of bad men and good without distinction; but mainly that I
might minister some consolation to those holy and chaste women who were
outraged by the enemy, in such a way as to shock their modesty, though
not to sully their purity, and that I might preserve them from being
ashamed of life, though they have no guilt to be ashamed of. And then I
briefly spoke against those who with a most shameless wantonness insult
over those poor Christians who were subjected to those calamities, and
especially over those broken-hearted and humiliated, though chaste and
holy women; these fellows themselves being most depraved and unmanly
profligates, quite degenerate from the genuine Romans, whose famous
deeds are abundantly recorded in history, and everywhere celebrated,
but who have found in their descendants the greatest enemies of
their glory. In truth, Rome, which was founded and increased by the
labours of these ancient heroes, was more shamefully ruined by their
descendants, while its walls were still standing, than it is now by the
razing of them. For in this ruin there fell stones and timbers; but in
the ruin those profligates effected, there fell, not the mural, but the
moral bulwarks and ornaments of the city, and their hearts burned with
passions more destructive than the flames which consumed their houses.
Thus I brought my first book to a close. And now I go on to speak of
those calamities which that city itself, or its subject provinces,
have suffered since its foundation; all of which they would equally
have attributed to the Christian religion, if at that early period the
doctrine of the gospel against their false and deceiving gods had been
as largely and freely proclaimed as now.

  3. _That we need only to read history in order to see what
      calamities the Romans suffered before the religion of Christ
      began to compete with the worship of the gods._

But remember that, in recounting these things, I have still to
address myself to ignorant men; so ignorant, indeed, as to give birth
to the common saying, "Drought and Christianity go hand in hand."[83]
There are indeed some among them who are thoroughly well educated
men, and have a taste for history, in which the things I speak of are
open to their observation; but in order to irritate the uneducated
masses against us, they feign ignorance of these events, and do what
they can to make the vulgar believe that those disasters, which in
certain places and at certain times uniformly befall mankind, are
the result of Christianity, which is being everywhere diffused, and
is possessed of a renown and brilliancy which quite eclipse their
own gods.[84] Let them then, along with us, call to mind with what
various and repeated disasters the prosperity of Rome was blighted,
before ever Christ had come in the flesh, and before His name had
been blazoned among the nations with that glory which they vainly
grudge. Let them, if they can, defend their gods in this article,
since they maintain that they worship them in order to be preserved
from these disasters, which they now impute to us if they suffer in
the least degree. For why did these gods permit the disasters I am
to speak of to fall on their worshippers before the preaching of
Christ's name offended them, and put an end to their sacrifices?

  4. _That the worshippers of the gods never received from them any
      healthy moral precepts, and that in celebrating their worship
      all sorts of impurities were practised._

First of all, we would ask why their gods took no steps to improve
the morals of their worshippers. That the true God should neglect
those who did not seek His help, that was but justice; but why did
those gods, from whose worship ungrateful men are now complaining
that they are prohibited, issue no laws which might have guided
their devotees to a virtuous life? Surely it was but just, that
such care as men showed to the worship of the gods, the gods on
their part should have to the conduct of men. But, it is replied, it
is by his own will a man goes astray. Who denies it? But none the
less was it incumbent on these gods, who were men's guardians, to
publish in plain terms the laws of a good life, and not to conceal
them from their worshippers. It was their part to send prophets to
reach and convict such as broke these laws, and publicly to proclaim
the punishments which await evildoers, and the rewards which may
be looked for by those that do well. Did ever the walls of any of
their temples echo to any such warning voice? I myself, when I was a
young man, used sometimes to go to the sacrilegious entertainments
and spectacles; I saw the priests raving in religious excitement,
and heard the choristers; I took pleasure in the shameful games
which were celebrated in honour of gods and goddesses, of the virgin
Cœlestis,[85] and Berecynthia,[86] the mother of all the gods. And on
the holy day consecrated to her purification, there were sung before
her couch productions so obscene and filthy for the ear--I do not say
of the mother of the gods, but of the mother of any senator or honest
man--nay, so impure, that not even the mother of the foul-mouthed
players themselves could have formed one of the audience. For natural
reverence for parents is a bond which the most abandoned cannot
ignore. And, accordingly, the lewd actions and filthy words with
which these players honoured the mother of the gods, in presence of
a vast assemblage and audience of both sexes, they could not for
very shame have rehearsed at home in presence of their own mothers.
And the crowds that were gathered from all quarters by curiosity,
offended modesty must, I should suppose, have scattered in the
confusion of shame. If these are sacred rites, what is sacrilege? If
this is purification, what is pollution? This festivity was called
the Tables,[87] as if a banquet were being given at which unclean
devils might find suitable refreshment. For it is not difficult to
see what kind of spirits they must be who are delighted with such
obscenities, unless, indeed, a man be blinded by these evil spirits
passing themselves off under the name of gods, and either disbelieves
in their existence, or leads such a life as prompts him rather to
propitiate and fear them than the true God.

      5. _Of the obscenities practised in honour of the mother of
                              the gods._

In this matter I would prefer to have as my assessors in judgment,
not those men who rather take pleasure in these infamous customs
than take pains to put an end to them, but that same Scipio Nasica
who was chosen by the senate as the citizen most worthy to receive
in his hands the image of that demon Cybele, and convey it into the
city. He would tell us whether he would be proud to see his own
mother so highly esteemed by the state as to have divine honours
adjudged to her; as the Greeks and Romans and other nations have
decreed divine honours to men who had been of material service to
them, and have believed that their mortal benefactors were thus made
immortal, and enrolled among the gods.[88] Surely he would desire
that his mother should enjoy such felicity were it possible. But if
we proceeded to ask him whether, among the honours paid to her, he
would wish such shameful rites as these to be celebrated, would he
not at once exclaim that he would rather his mother lay stone-dead,
than survive as a goddess to lend her ear to these obscenities? Is it
possible that he who was of so severe a morality, that he used his
influence as a Roman senator to prevent the building of a theatre in
that city dedicated to the manly virtues, would wish his mother to
be propitiated as a goddess with words which would have brought the
blush to her cheek when a Roman matron? Could he possibly believe
that the modesty of an estimable woman would be so transformed by her
promotion to divinity, that she would suffer herself to be invoked
and celebrated in terms so gross and immodest, that if she had heard
the like while alive upon earth, and had listened without stopping
her ears and hurrying from the spot, her relatives, her husband, and
her children would have blushed for her? Therefore, the mother of
the gods being such a character as the most profligate man would be
ashamed to have for his mother, and meaning to enthral the minds of
the Romans, demanded for her service their best citizen, not to ripen
him still more in virtue by her helpful counsel, but to entangle
him by her deceit, like her of whom it is written, "The adulteress
will hunt for the precious soul."[89] Her intent was to puff up this
high-souled man by an apparently divine testimony to his excellence,
in order that he might rely upon his own eminence in virtue, and
make no further efforts after true piety and religion, without which
natural genius, however brilliant, vapours into pride and comes to
nothing. For what but a guileful purpose could that goddess demand
the best man, seeing that in her own sacred festivals she requires
such obscenities as the best men would be covered with shame to hear
at their own tables?

  6. _That the gods of the pagans never inculcated holiness of life._

This is the reason why those divinities quite neglected the lives
and morals of the cities and nations who worshipped them, and threw
no dreadful prohibition in their way to hinder them from becoming
utterly corrupt, and to preserve them from those terrible and
detestable evils which visit not harvests and vintages, not house and
possessions, not the body which is subject to the soul, but the soul
itself, the spirit that rules the whole man. If there was any such
prohibition, let it be produced, let it be proved. They will tell us
that purity and probity were inculcated upon those who were initiated
in the mysteries of religion, and that secret incitements to virtue
were whispered in the ear of the _élite_; but this is an idle boast.
Let them show or name to us the places which were at any time
consecrated to assemblages in which, instead of the obscene songs and
licentious acting of players, instead of the celebration of those
most filthy and shameless Fugalia[90] (well called Fugalia, since
they banish modesty and right feeling), the people were commanded
in the name of the gods to restrain avarice, bridle impurity, and
conquer ambition; where, in short, they might learn in that school
which Persius vehemently lashes them to, when he says: "Be taught,
ye abandoned creatures, and ascertain the causes of things; what we
are, and for what end we are born; what is the law of our success in
life, and by what art we may turn the goal without making shipwreck;
what limit we should put to our wealth, what we may lawfully desire,
and what uses filthy lucre serves; how much we should bestow upon our
country and our family; learn, in short, what God meant thee to be,
and what place He has ordered you to fill."[91] Let them name to us
the places where such instructions were wont to be communicated from
the gods, and where the people who worshipped them were accustomed to
resort to hear them, as we can point to our churches built for this
purpose in every land where the Christian religion is received.

  7. _That the suggestions of philosophers are precluded from having
      any moral effect, because they have not the authority which
      belongs to divine instruction, and because man's natural bias
      to evil induces him rather to follow the examples of the gods
      than to obey the precepts of men._

But will they perhaps remind us of the schools of the philosophers,
and their disputations? In the first place, these belong not to Rome,
but to Greece; and even if we yield to them that they are now Roman,
because Greece itself has become a Roman province, still the teachings
of the philosophers are not the commandments of the gods, but the
discoveries of men, who, at the prompting of their own speculative
ability, made efforts to discover the hidden laws of nature, and
the right and wrong in ethics, and in dialectic what was consequent
according to the rules of logic, and what was inconsequent and
erroneous. And some of them, by God's help, made great discoveries;
but when left to themselves they were betrayed by human infirmity, and
fell into mistakes. And this was ordered by divine providence, that
their pride might be restrained, and that by their example it might
be pointed out that it is humility which has access to the highest
regions. But of this we shall have more to say, if the Lord God of
truth permit, in its own place.[92] However, if the philosophers have
made any discoveries which are sufficient to guide men to virtue and
blessedness, would it not have been greater justice to vote divine
honours to them? Were it not more accordant with every virtuous
sentiment to read Plato's writings in a "Temple of Plato," than to be
present in the temples of devils to witness the priests of Cybele[93]
mutilating themselves, the effeminate being consecrated, the raving
fanatics cutting themselves, and whatever other cruel or shameful,
or shamefully cruel or cruelly shameful, ceremony is enjoined by the
ritual of such gods as these? Were it not a more suitable education,
and more likely to prompt the youth to virtue, if they heard public
recitals of the laws of the gods, instead of the vain laudation of the
customs and laws of their ancestors? Certainly all the worshippers of
the Roman gods, when once they are possessed by what Persius calls "the
burning poison of lust,"[94] prefer to witness the deeds of Jupiter
rather than to hear what Plato taught or Cato censured. Hence the young
profligate in Terence, when he sees on the wall a fresco representing
the fabled descent of Jupiter into the lap of Danaë in the form of a
golden shower, accepts this as authoritative precedent for his own
licentiousness, and boasts that he is an imitator of God. "And what
God?" he says. "He who with His thunder shakes the loftiest temples.
And was I, a poor creature compared to Him, to make bones of it? No; I
did it, and with all my heart."[95]

  8. _That the theatrical exhibitions publishing the shameful actions
         of the gods, propitiated rather than offended them._

But, some one will interpose, these are the fables of poets, not
the deliverances of the gods themselves. Well, I have no mind to
arbitrate between the lewdness of theatrical entertainments and of
mystic rites; only this I say, and history bears me out in making the
assertion, that those same entertainments, in which the fictions of
poets are the main attraction, were not introduced in the festivals
of the gods by the ignorant devotion of the Romans, but that the gods
themselves gave the most urgent commands to this effect, and indeed
extorted from the Romans these solemnities and celebrations in their
honour. I touched on this in the preceding book, and mentioned that
dramatic entertainments were first inaugurated at Rome on occasion
of a pestilence, and by authority of the pontiff. And what man is
there who is not more likely to adopt, for the regulation of his own
life, the examples that are represented in plays which have a divine
sanction, rather than the precepts written and promulgated with no
more than human authority? If the poets gave a false representation
of Jove in describing him as adulterous, then it were to be expected
that the chaste gods should in anger avenge so wicked a fiction, in
place of encouraging the games which circulated it. Of these plays,
the most inoffensive are comedies and tragedies, that is to say, the
dramas which poets write for the stage, and which, though they often
handle impure subjects, yet do so without the filthiness of language
which characterizes many other performances; and it is these dramas
which boys are obliged by their seniors to read and learn as a part
of what is called a liberal and gentlemanly education.[96]

    9. _That the poetical licence which the Greeks, in obedience to
      their gods, allowed, was restrained by the ancient Romans._

The opinion of the ancient Romans on this matter is attested by
Cicero in his work _De Republica_, in which Scipio, one of the
interlocutors, says, "The lewdness of comedy could never have been
suffered by audiences, unless the customs of society had previously
sanctioned the same lewdness." And in the earlier days the Greeks
preserved a certain reasonableness in their licence, and made it a
law, that whatever comedy wished to say of any one, it must say it
of him by name. And so in the same work of Cicero's, Scipio says,
"Whom has it not aspersed? Nay, whom has it not worried? Whom has
it spared? Allow that it may assail demagogues and factions, men
injurious to the commonwealth--a Cleon, a Cleophon, a Hyperbolus.
That is tolerable, though it had been more seemly for the public
censor to brand such men, than for a poet to lampoon them; but to
blacken the fame of Pericles with scurrilous verse, after he had
with the utmost dignity presided over their state alike in war and
in peace, was as unworthy of a poet, as if our own Plautus or Nævius
were to bring Publius and Cneius Scipio on the comic stage, or as if
Cæcilius were to caricature Cato." And then a little after he goes
on: "Though our Twelve Tables attached the penalty of death only to
a very few offences, yet among these few this was one: if any man
should have sung a pasquinade, or have composed a satire calculated
to bring infamy or disgrace on another person. Wisely decreed. For it
is by the decisions of magistrates, and by a well-informed justice,
that our lives ought to be judged, and not by the flighty fancies of
poets; neither ought we to be exposed to hear calumnies, save where
we have the liberty of replying, and defending ourselves before an
adequate tribunal." This much I have judged it advisable to quote
from the fourth book of Cicero's _De Republica_; and I have made the
quotation word for word, with the exception of some words omitted,
and some slightly transposed, for the sake of giving the sense more
readily. And certainly the extract is pertinent to the matter I am
endeavouring to explain. Cicero makes some further remarks, and
concludes the passage by showing that the ancient Romans did not
permit any living man to be either praised or blamed on the stage.
But the Greeks, as I said, though not so moral, were more logical in
allowing this licence which the Romans forbade: for they saw that
their gods approved and enjoyed the scurrilous language of low comedy
when directed not only against men, but even against themselves; and
this, whether the infamous actions imputed to them were the fictions
of poets, or were their actual iniquities commemorated and acted in
the theatres. And would that the spectators had judged them worthy
only of laughter, and not of imitation! Manifestly it had been a
stretch of pride to spare the good name of the leading men and the
common citizens, when the very deities did not grudge that their own
reputation should be blemished.

   10. _That the devils, in suffering either false or true crimes to
         be laid to their charge, meant to do men a mischief._

It is alleged, in excuse of this practice, that the stories told
of the gods are not true, but false, and mere inventions; but this
only makes matters worse, if we form our estimate by the morality
our religion teaches; and if we consider the malice of the devils,
what more wily and astute artifice could they practise upon men?
When a slander is uttered against a leading statesman of upright and
useful life, is it not reprehensible in proportion to its untruth
and groundlessness? What punishment, then, shall be sufficient when
the gods are the objects of so wicked and outrageous an injustice?
But the devils, whom these men repute gods, are content that even
iniquities they are guiltless of should be ascribed to them, so long
as they may entangle men's minds in the meshes of these opinions, and
draw them on along with themselves to their predestinated punishment:
whether such things were actually committed by the men whom these
devils, delighting in human infatuation, cause to be worshipped as
gods, and in whose stead they, by a thousand malign and deceitful
artifices, substitute themselves, and so receive worship; or whether,
though they were really the crimes of men, these wicked spirits
gladly allowed them to be attributed to higher beings, that there
might seem to be conveyed from heaven itself a sufficient sanction
for the perpetration of shameful wickedness. The Greeks, therefore,
seeing the character of the gods they served, thought that the poets
should certainly not refrain from showing up human vices on the
stage, either because they desired to be like their gods in this, or
because they were afraid that, if they required for themselves a more
unblemished reputation than they asserted for the gods, they might
provoke them to anger.

  11. _That the Greeks admitted players to offices of state, on
      the ground that men who pleased the gods should not be
      contemptuously treated by their fellows_.

It was a part of this same reasonableness of the Greeks which induced
them to bestow upon the actors of these same plays no inconsiderable
civic honours. In the above-mentioned book of the _De Republica_,
it is mentioned that Æschines, a very eloquent Athenian, who had
been a tragic actor in his youth, became a statesman, and that the
Athenians again and again sent another tragedian, Aristodemus, as
their plenipotentiary to Philip. For they judged it unbecoming to
condemn and treat as infamous persons those who were the chief actors
in the scenic entertainments which they saw to be so pleasing to
the gods. No doubt this was immoral of the Greeks, but there can
be as little doubt they acted in conformity with the character of
their gods; for how could they have presumed to protect the conduct
of the citizens from being cut to pieces by the tongues of poets
and players, who were allowed, and even enjoined by the gods, to
tear their divine reputation to tatters? And how could they hold in
contempt the men who acted in the theatres those dramas which, as
they had ascertained, gave pleasure to the gods whom they worshipped?
Nay, how could they but grant to them the highest civic honours?
On what plea could they honour the priests who offered for them
acceptable sacrifices to the gods, if they branded with infamy the
actors who in behalf of the people gave to the gods that pleasure
or honour which they demanded, and which, according to the account
of the priests, they were angry at not receiving? Labeo,[97] whose
learning makes him an authority on such points, is of opinion that
the distinction between good and evil deities should find expression
in a difference of worship; that the evil should be propitiated by
bloody sacrifices and doleful rites, but the good with a joyful and
pleasant observance, as, _e.g._ (as he says himself), with plays,
festivals, and banquets.[98] All this we shall, with God's help,
hereafter discuss. At present, and speaking to the subject on hand,
whether all kinds of offerings are made indiscriminately to all the
gods, as if all were good (and it is an unseemly thing to conceive
that there are evil gods; but these gods of the pagans are all evil,
because they are not gods, but evil spirits), or whether, as Labeo
thinks, a distinction is made between the offerings presented to the
different gods, the Greeks are equally justified in honouring alike
the priests by whom the sacrifices are offered, and the players by
whom the dramas are acted, that they may not be open to the charge of
doing an injury to all their gods, if the plays are pleasing to all
of them, or (which were still worse) to their good gods, if the plays
are relished only by them.

  12. _That the Romans, by refusing to the poets the same licence in
      respect of men which they allowed them in the case of the gods,
      showed a more delicate sensitiveness regarding themselves than
      regarding the gods._

The Romans, however, as Scipio boasts in that same discussion,
declined having their conduct and good name subjected to the assaults
and slanders of the poets, and went so far as to make it a capital
crime if any one should dare to compose such verses. This was a
very honourable course to pursue, so far as they themselves were
concerned, but in respect of the gods it was proud and irreligious:
for they knew that the gods not only tolerated, but relished, being
lashed by the injurious expressions of the poets, and yet they
themselves would not suffer this same handling; and what their
ritual prescribed as acceptable to the gods, their law prohibited
as injurious to themselves. How then, Scipio, do you praise the
Romans for refusing this licence to the poets, so that no citizen
could be calumniated, while you know that the gods were not included
under this protection? Do you count your senate-house worthy of
so much higher a regard than the Capitol? Is the one city of Rome
more valuable in your eyes than the whole heaven of gods, that you
prohibit your poets from uttering any injurious words against a
citizen, though they may with impunity cast what imputations they
please upon the gods, without the interference of senator, censor,
prince, or pontiff? It was, forsooth, intolerable that Plautus or
Nævius should attack Publius and Cneius Scipio, insufferable that
Cæcilius should lampoon Cato; but quite proper that your Terence
should encourage youthful lust by the wicked example of supreme Jove.

  13. _That the Romans should have understood that gods who desired
      to be worshipped in licentious entertainments were unworthy of
      divine honour._

But Scipio, were he alive, would possibly reply: "How could we attach
a penalty to that which the gods themselves have consecrated? For
the theatrical entertainments in which such things are said, and
acted, and performed, were introduced into Roman society by the
gods, who ordered that they should be dedicated and exhibited in
their honour." But was not this, then, the plainest proof that they
were no true gods, nor in any respect worthy of receiving divine
honours from the republic? Suppose they had required that in their
honour the citizens of Rome should be held up to ridicule, every
Roman would have resented the hateful proposal. How then, I would
ask, can they be esteemed worthy of worship, when they propose
that their own crimes be used as material for celebrating their
praises? Does not this artifice expose them, and prove that they are
detestable devils? Thus the Romans, though they were superstitious
enough to serve as gods those who made no secret of their desire
to be worshipped in licentious plays, yet had sufficient regard
to their hereditary dignity and virtue, to prompt them to refuse
to players any such rewards as the Greeks accorded them. On this
point we have this testimony of Scipio, recorded in Cicero: "They
[the Romans] considered comedy and all theatrical performances as
disgraceful, and therefore not only debarred players from offices and
honours open to ordinary citizens, but also decreed that their names
should be branded by the censor, and erased from the roll of their
tribe." An excellent decree, and another testimony to the sagacity
of Rome; but I could wish their prudence had been more thoroughgoing
and consistent. For when I hear that if any Roman citizen chose
the stage as his profession, he not only closed to himself every
laudable career, but even became an outcast from his own tribe, I
cannot but exclaim: This is the true Roman spirit, this is worthy of
a state jealous of its reputation. But then some one interrupts my
rapture, by inquiring with what consistency players are debarred
from all honours, while plays are counted among the honours due to
the gods? For a long while the virtue of Rome was uncontaminated
by theatrical exhibitions;[99] and if they had been adopted for
the sake of gratifying the taste of the citizens, they would have
been introduced hand in hand with the relaxation of manners. But
the fact is, that it was the gods who demanded that they should be
exhibited to gratify them. With what justice, then, is the player
excommunicated by whom God is worshipped? On what pretext can you at
once adore him who exacts, and brand him who acts these plays? This,
then, is the controversy in which the Greeks and Romans are engaged.
The Greeks think they justly honour players, because they worship the
gods who demand plays: the Romans, on the other hand, do not suffer
an actor to disgrace by his name his own plebeian tribe, far less
the senatorial order. And the whole of this discussion may be summed
up in the following syllogism. The Greeks give us the major premiss:
If such gods are to be worshipped, then certainly such men may be
honoured. The Romans add the minor: But such men must by no means be
honoured. The Christians draw the conclusion: Therefore such gods
must by no means be worshipped.

  14. _That Plato, who excluded poets from a well-ordered city, was
      better than these gods who desire to be honoured by theatrical

We have still to inquire why the poets who write the plays, and who
by the law of the twelve tables are prohibited from injuring the good
name of the citizens, are reckoned more estimable than the actors,
though they so shamefully asperse the character of the gods? Is it
right that the actors of these poetical and God-dishonouring effusions
be branded, while their authors are honoured? Must we not here award
the palm to a Greek, Plato, who, in framing his ideal republic,[100]
conceived that poets should be banished from the city as enemies of the
state? He could not brook that the gods be brought into disrepute,
nor that the minds of the citizens be depraved and besotted, by the
fictions of the poets. Compare now human nature as you see it in
Plato, expelling poets from the city that the citizens be uninjured,
with the divine nature as you see it in these gods exacting plays in
their own honour. Plato strove, though unsuccessfully, to persuade the
light-minded and lascivious Greeks to abstain from so much as writing
such plays; the gods used their authority to extort the acting of the
same from the dignified and sober-minded Romans. And not content with
having them acted, they had them dedicated to themselves, consecrated
to themselves, solemnly celebrated in their own honour. To which, then,
would it be more becoming in a state to decree divine honours,--to
Plato, who prohibited these wicked and licentious plays, or to the
demons who delighted in blinding men to the truth of what Plato
unsuccessfully sought to inculcate?

This philosopher, Plato, has been elevated by Labeo to the rank
of a demigod, and set thus upon a level with such as Hercules and
Romulus. Labeo ranks demigods higher than heroes, but both he counts
among the deities. But I have no doubt that he thinks this man whom
he reckons a demigod worthy of greater respect not only than the
heroes, but also than the gods themselves. The laws of the Romans
and the speculations of Plato have this resemblance, that the latter
pronounces a wholesale condemnation of poetical fictions, while the
former restrain the licence of satire, at least so far as men are the
objects of it. Plato will not suffer poets even to dwell in his city:
the laws of Rome prohibit actors from being enrolled as citizens;
and if they had not feared to offend the gods who had asked the
services of the players, they would in all likelihood have banished
them altogether. It is obvious, therefore, that the Romans could not
receive, nor reasonably expect to receive, laws for the regulation
of their conduct from their gods, since the laws they themselves
enacted far surpassed and put to shame the morality of the gods.
The gods demand stage-plays in their own honour; the Romans exclude
the players from all civic honours:[101] the former commanded that
they should be celebrated by the scenic representation of their own
disgrace; the latter commanded that no poet should dare to blemish
the reputation of any citizen. But that demigod Plato resisted the
lust of such gods as these, and showed the Romans what their genius
had left incomplete; for he absolutely excluded poets from his ideal
state, whether they composed fictions with no regard to truth, or
set the worst possible examples before wretched men under the guise
of divine actions. We for our part, indeed, reckon Plato neither a
god nor a demigod; we would not even compare him to any of God's
holy angels, nor to the truth-speaking prophets, nor to any of the
apostles or martyrs of Christ, nay, not to any faithful Christian
man. The reason of this opinion of ours we will, God prospering
us, render in its own place. Nevertheless, since they wish him to
be considered a demigod, we think he certainly is more entitled to
that rank, and is every way superior, if not to Hercules and Romulus
(though no historian could ever narrate nor any poet sing of him that
he had killed his brother, or committed any crime), yet certainly
to Priapus, or a Cynocephalus,[102] or the Fever,[103]--divinities
whom the Romans have partly received from foreigners, and partly
consecrated by home-grown rites. How, then, could gods such as these
be expected to promulgate good and wholesome laws, either for the
prevention of moral and social evils, or for their eradication where
they had already sprung up?--gods who used their influence even to
sow and cherish profligacy, by appointing that deeds truly or falsely
ascribed to them should be published to the people by means of
theatrical exhibitions, and by thus gratuitously fanning the flame of
human lust with the breath of a seemingly divine approbation. In vain
does Cicero, speaking of poets, exclaim against this state of things
in these words: "When the plaudits and acclamation of the people,
who sit as infallible judges, are won by the poets, what darkness
benights the mind, what fears invade, what passions inflame it!"[104]

    15. _That it was vanity, not reason, which created some of the
                             Roman gods._

But is it not manifest that vanity rather than reason regulated the
choice of some of their false gods? This Plato, whom they reckon a
demigod, and who used all his eloquence to preserve men from the
most dangerous spiritual calamities, has yet not been counted worthy
even of a little shrine; but Romulus, because they can call him
their own, they have esteemed more highly than many gods, though
their secret doctrine can allow him the rank only of a demigod. To
him they allotted a flamen, that is to say, a priest of a class so
highly esteemed in their religion (distinguished, too, by their
conical mitres), that for only three of their gods were flamens
appointed--the Flamen Dialis for Jupiter, Martialis for Mars, and
Quirinalis for Romulus (for when the ardour of his fellow-citizens
had given Romulus a seat among the gods, they gave him this new name
Quirinus). And thus by this honour Romulus has been preferred to
Neptune and Pluto, Jupiter's brothers, and to Saturn himself, their
father. They have assigned the same priesthood to serve him as to
serve Jove; and in giving Mars (the reputed father of Romulus) the
same honour, is this not rather for Romulus' sake than to honour Mars?

  16. _That if the gods had really possessed any regard for
      righteousness, the Romans should have received good laws from
      them, instead of having to borrow them from other nations._

Moreover, if the Romans had been able to receive a rule of life
from their gods, they would not have borrowed Solon's laws from
the Athenians, as they did some years after Rome was founded; and
yet they did not keep them as they received them, but endeavoured
to improve and amend them.[105] Although Lycurgus pretended that
he was authorized by Apollo to give laws to the Lacedemonians, the
sensible Romans did not choose to believe this, and were not induced
to borrow laws from Sparta. Numa Pompilius, who succeeded Romulus
in the kingdom, is said to have framed some laws, which, however,
were not sufficient for the regulation of civic affairs. Among these
regulations were many pertaining to religious observances, and yet
he is not reported to have received even these from the gods. With
respect, then, to moral evils, evils of life and conduct,--evils
which are so mighty, that, according to the wisest pagans,[106] by
them states are ruined while their cities stand uninjured,--their
gods made not the smallest provision for preserving their worshippers
from these evils, but, on the contrary, took special pains to
increase them, as we have previously endeavoured to prove.

      17. _Of the rape of the Sabine women, and other iniquities
                 perpetrated in Rome's palmiest days._

But possibly we are to find the reason for this neglect of the
Romans by their gods, in the saying of Sallust, that "equity and
virtue prevailed among the Romans not more by force of laws than of
nature."[107] I presume it is to this inborn equity and goodness of
disposition we are to ascribe the rape of the Sabine women. What,
indeed, could be more equitable and virtuous, than to carry off by
force, as each man was fit, and without their parents' consent,
girls who were strangers and guests, and who had been decoyed and
entrapped by the pretence of a spectacle! If the Sabines were wrong
to deny their daughters when the Romans asked for them, was it not
a greater wrong in the Romans to carry them off after that denial?
The Romans might more justly have waged war against the neighbouring
nation for having refused their daughters in marriage when they first
sought them, than for having demanded them back when they had stolen
them. War should have been proclaimed at first: it was then that Mars
should have helped his warlike son, that he might by force of arms
avenge the injury done him by the refusal of marriage, and might also
thus win the women he desired. There might have been some appearance
of "right of war" in a victor carrying off, in virtue of this right,
the virgins who had been without any show of right denied him;
whereas there was no "right of peace" entitling him to carry off
those who were not given to him, and to wage an unjust war with their
justly enraged parents. One happy circumstance was indeed connected
with this act of violence, viz., that though it was commemorated
by the games of the circus, yet even this did not constitute it a
precedent in the city or realm of Rome. If one would find fault with
the results of this act, it must rather be on the ground that the
Romans made Romulus a god in spite of his perpetrating this iniquity;
for one cannot reproach them with making this deed any kind of
precedent for the rape of women.

Again, I presume it was due to this natural equity and virtue, that
after the expulsion of King Tarquin, whose son had violated Lucretia,
Junius Brutus the consul forced Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus,
Lucretia's husband and his own colleague, a good and innocent man,
to resign his office and go into banishment, on the one sole charge
that he was of the name and blood of the Tarquins. This injustice was
perpetrated with the approval, or at least connivance, of the people,
who had themselves raised to the consular office both Collatinus
and Brutus. Another instance of this equity and virtue is found in
their treatment of Marcus Camillus. This eminent man, after he had
rapidly conquered the Veians, at that time the most formidable of
Rome's enemies, and who had maintained a ten years' war, in which
the Roman army had suffered the usual calamities attendant on bad
generalship, after he had restored security to Rome, which had begun
to tremble for its safety, and after he had taken the wealthiest
city of the enemy, had charges brought against him by the malice of
those that envied his success, and by the insolence of the tribunes
of the people; and seeing that the city bore him no gratitude for
preserving it, and that he would certainly be condemned, he went into
exile, and even in his absence was fined 10,000 asses. Shortly after,
however, his ungrateful country had again to seek his protection from
the Gauls. But I cannot now mention all the shameful and iniquitous
acts with which Rome was agitated, when the aristocracy attempted to
subject the people, and the people resented their encroachments, and
the advocates of either party were actuated rather by the love of
victory than by any equitable or virtuous consideration.

  18. _What the history of Sallust reveals regarding the life of the
      Romans, either when straitened by anxiety or relaxed in security._

I will therefore pause, and adduce the testimony of Sallust himself,
whose words in praise of the Romans (that "equity and virtue
prevailed among them not more by force of laws than of nature")
have given occasion to this discussion. He was referring to that
period immediately after the expulsion of the kings, in which the
city became great in an incredibly short space of time. And yet this
same writer acknowledges in the first book of his history, in the
very exordium of his work, that even at that time, when a very brief
interval had elapsed after the government had passed from kings to
consuls, the more powerful men began to act unjustly, and occasioned
the defection of the people from the patricians, and other disorders
in the city. For after Sallust had stated that the Romans enjoyed
greater harmony and a purer state of society between the second and
third Punic wars than at any other time, and that the cause of this
was not their love of good order, but their fear lest the peace
they had with Carthage might be broken (this also, as we mentioned,
Nasica contemplated when he opposed the destruction of Carthage,
for he supposed that fear would tend to repress wickedness, and to
preserve wholesome ways of living), he then goes on to say: "Yet,
after the destruction of Carthage, discord, avarice, ambition, and
the other vices which are commonly generated by prosperity, more
than ever increased." If they "increased," and that "more than
ever," then already they had appeared, and had been increasing. And
so Sallust adds this reason for what he said. "For," he says, "the
oppressive measures of the powerful, and the consequent secessions
of the plebs from the patricians, and other civil dissensions, had
existed from the first, and affairs were administered with equity
and well-tempered justice for no longer a period than the short
time after the expulsion of the kings, while the city was occupied
with the serious Tuscan war and Tarquin's vengeance." You see how,
even in that brief period after the expulsion of the kings, fear,
he acknowledges, was the cause of the interval of equity and good
order. They were afraid, in fact, of the war which Tarquin waged
against them, after he had been driven from the throne and the city,
and had allied himself with the Tuscans. But observe what he adds:
"After that, the patricians treated the people as their slaves,
ordering them to be scourged or beheaded just as the kings had done,
driving them from their holdings, and harshly tyrannizing over
those who had no property to lose. The people, overwhelmed by these
oppressive measures, and most of all by exorbitant usury, and obliged
to contribute both money and personal service to the constant wars,
at length took arms, and seceded to Mount Aventine and Mount Sacer,
and thus obtained for themselves tribunes and protective laws. But
it was only the second Punic war that put an end on both sides to
discord and strife." You see what kind of men the Romans were, even
so early as a few years after the expulsion of the kings; and it is
of these men he says, that "equity and virtue prevailed among them
not more by force of law than of nature."

Now, if these were the days in which the Roman republic shows fairest
and best, what are we to say or think of the succeeding age, when,
to use the words of the same historian, "changing little by little
from the fair and virtuous city it was, it became utterly wicked
and dissolute?" This was, as he mentions, after the destruction of
Carthage. Sallust's brief sum and sketch of this period may be read in
his own history, in which he shows how the profligate manners which
were propagated by prosperity resulted at last even in civil wars. He
says: "And from this time the primitive manners, instead of undergoing
an insensible alteration as hitherto they had done, were swept away as
by a torrent: the young men were so depraved by luxury and avarice,
that it may justly be said that no father had a son who could either
preserve his own patrimony, or keep his hands off other men's." Sallust
adds a number of particulars about the vices of Sylla, and the debased
condition of the republic in general; and other writers make similar
observations, though in much less striking language.

However, I suppose you now see, or at least any one who gives his
attention has the means of seeing, in what a sink of iniquity
that city was plunged before the advent of our heavenly King. For
these things happened not only before Christ had begun to teach,
but before He was even born of the Virgin. If, then, they dare not
impute to their gods the grievous evils of those former times, more
tolerable before the destruction of Carthage, but intolerable and
dreadful after it, although it was the gods who by their malign craft
instilled into the minds of men the conceptions from which such
dreadful vices branched out on all sides, why do they impute these
present calamities to Christ, who teaches life-giving truth, and
forbids us to worship false and deceitful gods, and who, abominating
and condemning with His divine authority those wicked and hurtful
lusts of men, gradually withdraws His own people from a world that is
corrupted by these vices, and is falling into ruins, to make of them
an eternal city, whose glory rests not on the acclamations of vanity,
but on the judgment of truth?

    19. _Of the corruption which had grown upon the Roman republic
           before Christ abolished the worship of the gods._

Here, then, is this Roman republic, "which has changed little by
little from the fair and virtuous city it was, and has become utterly
wicked and dissolute." It is not I who am the first to say this, but
their own authors, from whom we learned it for a fee, and who wrote
it long before the coming of Christ. You see how, before the coming
of Christ, and after the destruction of Carthage, "the primitive
manners, instead of undergoing insensible alteration, as hitherto
they had done, were swept away as by a torrent; and how depraved by
luxury and avarice the youth were." Let them now, on their part, read
to us any laws given by their gods to the Roman people, and directed
against luxury and avarice. And would that they had only been silent
on the subjects of chastity and modesty, and had not demanded from
the people indecent and shameful practices, to which they lent a
pernicious patronage by their so-called divinity. Let them read
our commandments in the Prophets, Gospels, Acts of the Apostles,
or Epistles; let them peruse the large number of precepts against
avarice and luxury which are everywhere read to the congregations
that meet for this purpose, and which strike the ear, not with the
uncertain sound of a philosophical discussion, but with the thunder
of God's own oracle pealing from the clouds. And yet they do not
impute to their gods the luxury and avarice, the cruel and dissolute
manners, that had rendered the republic utterly wicked and corrupt,
even before the coming of Christ; but whatever affliction their
pride and effeminacy have exposed them to in these latter days,
they furiously impute to our religion. If the kings of the earth
and all their subjects, if all princes and judges of the earth, if
young men and maidens, old and young, every age, and both sexes; if
they whom the Baptist addressed, the publicans and the soldiers,
were all together to hearken to and observe the precepts of the
Christian religion regarding a just and virtuous life, then should
the republic adorn the whole earth with its own felicity, and attain
in life everlasting to the pinnacle of kingly glory. But because
this man listens, and that man scoffs, and most are enamoured of the
blandishments of vice rather than the wholesome severity of virtue,
the people of Christ, whatever be their condition--whether they be
kings, princes, judges, soldiers, or provincials, rich or poor,
bond or free, male or female--are enjoined to endure this earthly
republic, wicked and dissolute as it is, that so they may by this
endurance win for themselves an eminent place in that most holy and
august assembly of angels and republic of heaven, in which the will
of God is the law.

  20. _Of the kind of happiness and life truly delighted in by those
             who inveigh against the Christian religion._

But the worshippers and admirers of these gods delight in imitating
their scandalous iniquities, and are nowise concerned that the
republic be less depraved and licentious. Only let it remain
undefeated, they say, only let it flourish and abound in resources;
let it be glorious by its victories, or still better, secure in
peace; and what matters it to us? This is our concern, that every
man be able to increase his wealth so as to supply his daily
prodigalities, and so that the powerful may subject the weak for
their own purposes. Let the poor court the rich for a living, and
that under their protection they may enjoy a sluggish tranquillity;
and let the rich abuse the poor as their dependants, to minister
to their pride. Let the people applaud not those who protect their
interests, but those who provide them with pleasure. Let no severe
duty be commanded, no impurity forbidden. Let kings estimate their
prosperity, not by the righteousness, but by the servility of their
subjects. Let the provinces stand loyal to the kings, not as moral
guides, but as lords of their possessions and purveyors of their
pleasures; not with a hearty reverence, but a crooked and servile
fear. Let the laws take cognizance rather of the injury done to
another man's property, than of that done to one's own person.
If a man be a nuisance to his neighbour, or injure his property,
family, or person, let him be actionable; but in his own affairs
let every one with impunity do what he will in company with his
own family, and with those who willingly join him. Let there be a
plentiful supply of public prostitutes for every one who wishes to
use them, but specially for those who are too poor to keep one for
their private use. Let there be erected houses of the largest and
most ornate description: in these let there be provided the most
sumptuous banquets, where every one who pleases may, by day or night,
play, drink, vomit,[108] dissipate. Let there be everywhere heard
the rustling of dancers, the loud, immodest laughter of the theatre;
let a succession of the most cruel and the most voluptuous pleasures
maintain a perpetual excitement. If such happiness is distasteful
to any, let him be branded as a public enemy; and if any attempt to
modify or put an end to it, let him be silenced, banished, put an end
to. Let these be reckoned the true gods, who procure for the people
this condition of things, and preserve it when once possessed. Let
them be worshipped as they wish; let them demand whatever games they
please, from or with their own worshippers; only let them secure
that such felicity be not imperilled by foe, plague, or disaster of
any kind. What sane man would compare a republic such as this, I
will not say to the Roman empire, but to the palace of Sardanapalus,
the ancient king who was so abandoned to pleasures, that he caused
it to be inscribed on his tomb, that now that he was dead, he
possessed only those things which he had swallowed and consumed by
his appetites while alive? If these men had such a king as this, who,
while self-indulgent, should lay no severe restraint on them, they
would more enthusiastically consecrate to him a temple and a flamen
than the ancient Romans did to Romulus.

             21. _Cicero's opinion of the Roman republic._

But if our adversaries do not care how foully and disgracefully
the Roman republic be stained by corrupt practices, so long only
as it holds together and continues in being, and if they therefore
pooh-pooh the testimony of Sallust to its "utterly wicked and
profligate" condition, what will they make of Cicero's statement,
that even in his time it had become entirely extinct, and that there
remained extant no Roman republic at all? He introduces Scipio (the
Scipio who had destroyed Carthage) discussing the republic, at a time
when already there were presentiments of its speedy ruin by that
corruption which Sallust describes. In fact, at the time when the
discussion took place, one of the Gracchi, who, according to Sallust,
was the first great instigator of seditions, had already been put to
death. His death, indeed, is mentioned in the same book. Now Scipio,
in the end of the second book, says: "As, among the different sounds
which proceed from lyres, flutes, and the human voice, there must be
maintained a certain harmony which a cultivated ear cannot endure
to hear disturbed or jarring, but which may be elicited in full and
absolute concord by the modulation even of voices very unlike one
another; so, where reason is allowed to modulate the diverse elements
of the state, there is obtained a perfect concord from the upper,
lower, and middle classes as from various sounds; and what musicians
call harmony in singing, is concord in matters of state, which is the
strictest bond and best security of any republic, and which by no
ingenuity can be retained where justice has become extinct." Then,
when he had expatiated somewhat more fully, and had more copiously
illustrated the benefits of its presence and the ruinous effects
of its absence upon a state, Pilus, one of the company present at
the discussion, struck in and demanded that the question should be
more thoroughly sifted, and that the subject of justice should be
freely discussed for the sake of ascertaining what truth there was
in the maxim which was then becoming daily more current, that "the
republic cannot be governed without injustice." Scipio expressed
his willingness to have this maxim discussed and sifted, and gave
it as his opinion that it was baseless, and that no progress could
be made in discussing the republic unless it was established, not
only that this maxim, that "the republic cannot be governed without
injustice," was false, but also that the truth is, that it cannot
be governed without the most absolute justice. And the discussion
of this question, being deferred till the next day, is carried on
in the third book with great animation. For Pilus himself undertook
to defend the position that the republic cannot be governed without
injustice, at the same time being at special pains to clear himself
of any real participation in that opinion. He advocated with great
keenness the cause of injustice against justice, and endeavoured
by plausible reasons and examples to demonstrate that the former
is beneficial, the latter useless, to the republic. Then, at the
request of the company, Lælius attempted to defend justice, and
strained every nerve to prove that nothing is so hurtful to a state
as injustice; and that without justice a republic can neither be
governed, nor even continue to exist.

When this question has been handled to the satisfaction of the
company, Scipio reverts to the original thread of discourse, and
repeats with commendation his own brief definition of a republic,
that it is the weal of the people. "The people" he defines as being
not every assemblage or mob, but an assemblage associated by a common
acknowledgment of law, and by a community of interests. Then he shows
the use of definition in debate; and from these definitions of his
own he gathers that a republic, or "weal of the people," then exists
only when it is well and justly governed, whether by a monarch, or an
aristocracy, or by the whole people. But when the monarch is unjust,
or, as the Greeks say, a tyrant; or the aristocrats are unjust, and
form a faction; or the people themselves are unjust, and become, as
Scipio for want of a better name calls them, themselves the tyrant,
then the republic is not only blemished (as had been proved the day
before), but by legitimate deduction from those definitions, it
altogether ceases to be. For it could not be the people's weal when a
tyrant factiously lorded it over the state; neither would the people
be any longer a people if it were unjust, since it would no longer
answer the definition of a people--"an assemblage associated by a
common acknowledgment of law, and by a community of interests."

When, therefore, the Roman republic was such as Sallust described
it, it was not "utterly wicked and profligate," as he says, but had
altogether ceased to exist, if we are to admit the reasoning of
that debate maintained on the subject of the republic by its best
representatives. Tully himself, too, speaking not in the person
of Scipio or any one else, but uttering his own sentiments, uses
the following language in the beginning of the fifth book, after
quoting a line from the poet Ennius, in which he said, "Rome's severe
morality and her citizens are her safeguard." "This verse," says
Cicero, "seems to me to have all the sententious truthfulness of
an oracle. For neither would the citizens have availed without the
morality of the community, nor would the morality of the commons
without outstanding men have availed either to establish or so long
to maintain in vigour so grand a republic with so wide and just an
empire. Accordingly, before our day, the hereditary usages formed
our foremost men, and they on their part retained the usages and
institutions of their fathers. But our age, receiving the republic as
a _chef-d'œuvre_ of another age which has already begun to grow old,
has not merely neglected to restore the colours of the original, but
has not even been at the pains to preserve so much as the general
outline and most outstanding features. For what survives of that
primitive morality which the poet called Rome's safeguard? It is
so obsolete and forgotten, that, far from practising it, one does
not even know it. And of the citizens what shall I say? Morality
has perished through poverty of great men; a poverty for which we
must not only assign a reason, but for the guilt of which we must
answer as criminals charged with a capital crime. For it is through
our vices, and not by any mishap, that we retain only the name of a
republic, and have long since lost the reality."

This is the confession of Cicero, long indeed after the death of
Africanus, whom he introduced as an interlocutor in his work _De
Republica_, but still before the coming of Christ. Yet, if the
disasters he bewails had been lamented after the Christian religion
had been diffused, and had begun to prevail, is there a man of our
adversaries who would not have thought that they were to be imputed
to the Christians? Why, then, did their gods not take steps then to
prevent the decay and extinction of that republic, over the loss of
which Cicero, long before Christ had come in the flesh, sings so
lugubrious a dirge? Its admirers have need to inquire whether, even
in the days of primitive men and morals, true justice flourished in
it; or was it not perhaps even then, to use the casual expression
of Cicero, rather a coloured painting than the living reality?
But, if God will, we shall consider this elsewhere. For I mean in
its own place to show that--according to the definitions in which
Cicero himself, using Scipio as his mouthpiece, briefly propounded
what a republic is, and what a people is, and according to many
testimonies, both of his own lips and of those who took part in that
same debate--Rome never was a republic, because true justice had
never a place in it. But accepting the more feasible definitions
of a republic, I grant there was a republic of a certain kind, and
certainly much better administered by the more ancient Romans than by
their modern representatives. But the fact is, true justice has no
existence save in that republic whose founder and ruler is Christ,
if at least any choose to call this a republic; and indeed we cannot
deny that it is the people's weal. But if perchance this name, which
has become familiar in other connections, be considered alien to our
common parlance, we may at all events say that in this city is true
justice; the city of which Holy Scripture says, "Glorious things are
said of thee, O city of God."

     22. _That the Roman gods never took any steps to prevent the
              republic from being ruined by immorality._

But what is relevant to the present question is this, that however
admirable our adversaries say the republic was or is, it is certain
that by the testimony of their own most learned writers it had
become, long before the coming of Christ, utterly wicked and
dissolute, and indeed had no existence, but had been destroyed by
profligacy. To prevent this, surely these guardian gods ought to have
given precepts of morals and a rule of life to the people by whom
they were worshipped in so many temples, with so great a variety of
priests and sacrifices, with such numberless and diverse rites, so
many festal solemnities, so many celebrations of magnificent games.
But in all this the demons only looked after their own interest,
and cared not at all how their worshippers lived, or rather were at
pains to induce them to lead an abandoned life, so long as they paid
these tributes to their honour, and regarded them with fear. If any
one denies this, let him produce, let him point to, let him read the
laws which the gods had given against sedition, and which the Gracchi
transgressed when they threw everything into confusion; or those
Marius, and Cinna, and Carbo broke when they involved their country
in civil wars, most iniquitous and unjustifiable in their causes,
cruelly conducted, and yet more cruelly terminated; or those which
Sylla scorned, whose life, character, and deeds, as described by
Sallust and other historians, are the abhorrence of all mankind. Who
will deny that at that time the republic had become extinct?

Possibly they will be bold enough to suggest in defence of the gods,
that they abandoned the city on account of the profligacy of the
citizens, according to the lines of Virgil:

          "Gone from each fane, each sacred shrine,
           Are those who made this realm divine."[109]

But, firstly, if it be so, then they cannot complain against the
Christian religion, as if it were that which gave offence to the
gods and caused them to abandon Rome, since the Roman immorality had
long ago driven from the altars of the city a cloud of little gods,
like as many flies. And yet where was this host of divinities, when,
long before the corruption of the primitive morality, Rome was taken
and burnt by the Gauls? Perhaps they were present, but asleep? For
at that time the whole city fell into the hands of the enemy, with
the single exception of the Capitoline hill; and this too would have
been taken, had not--the watchful geese aroused the sleeping gods!
And this gave occasion to the festival of the goose, in which Rome
sank nearly to the superstition of the Egyptians, who worship beasts
and birds. But of these adventitious evils which are inflicted by
hostile armies or by some disaster, and which attach rather to the
body than the soul, I am not meanwhile disputing. At present I speak
of the decay of morality, which at first almost imperceptibly lost
its brilliant hue, but afterwards was wholly obliterated, was swept
away as by a torrent, and involved the republic in such disastrous
ruin, that though the houses and walls remained standing, the leading
writers do not scruple to say that the republic was destroyed. Now,
the departure of the gods "from each fane, each sacred shrine," and
their abandonment of the city to destruction, was an act of justice,
if their laws inculcating justice and a moral life had been held in
contempt by that city. But what kind of gods were these, pray, who
declined to live with a people who worshipped them, and whose corrupt
life they had done nothing to reform?

     23. _That the vicissitudes of this life are dependent not on
 the favour or hostility of demons, but on the will of the true God._

But, further, is it not obvious that the gods have abetted the
fulfilment of men's desires, instead of authoritatively bridling them?
For Marius, a low-born and self-made man, who ruthlessly provoked and
conducted civil wars, was so effectually aided by them, that he was
seven times consul, and died full of years in his seventh consulship,
escaping the hands of Sylla, who immediately afterwards came into
power. Why, then, did they not also aid him, so as to restrain him from
so many enormities? For if it is said that the gods had no hand in
his success, this is no trivial admission, that a man can attain the
dearly coveted felicity of this life even though his own gods be not
propitious; that men can be loaded with the gifts of fortune as Marius
was, can enjoy health, power, wealth, honours, dignity, length of days,
though the gods be hostile to him; and that, on the other hand, men
can be tormented as Regulus was, with captivity, bondage, destitution,
watchings, pain, and cruel death, though the gods be his friends. To
concede this is to make a compendious confession that the gods are
useless, and their worship superfluous. If the gods have taught the
people rather what goes clean counter to the virtues of the soul, and
that integrity of life which meets a reward after death; if even in
respect of temporal and transitory blessings they neither hurt those
whom they hate nor profit whom they love, why are they worshipped, why
are they invoked with such eager homage? Why do men murmur in difficult
and sad emergencies, as if the gods had retired in anger? and why, on
their account, is the Christian religion injured by the most unworthy
calumnies? If in temporal matters they have power either for good or
for evil, why did they stand by Marius, the worst of Rome's citizens,
and abandon Regulus, the best? Does this not prove themselves to be
most unjust and wicked? And even if it be supposed that for this
very reason they are the rather to be feared and worshipped, this
is a mistake; for we do not read that Regulus worshipped them less
assiduously than Marius. Neither is it apparent that a wicked life is
to be chosen, on the ground that the gods are supposed to have favoured
Marius more than Regulus. For Metellus, the most highly esteemed of
all the Romans, who had five sons in the consulship, was prosperous
even in this life; and Catiline, the worst of men, reduced to poverty
and defeated in the war his own guilt had aroused, lived and perished
miserably. Real and secure felicity is the peculiar possession of those
who worship that God by whom alone it can be conferred.

It is thus apparent, that when the republic was being destroyed by
profligate manners, its gods did nothing to hinder its destruction by
the direction or correction of its manners, but rather accelerated
its destruction by increasing the demoralization and corruption
that already existed. They need not pretend that their goodness was
shocked by the iniquity of the city, and that they withdrew in anger.
For they were there, sure enough; they are detected, convicted:
they were equally unable to break silence so as to guide others,
and to keep silence so as to conceal themselves. I do not dwell on
the fact that the inhabitants of Minturnæ took pity on Marius, and
commended him to the goddess Marica in her grove, that she might
give him success in all things, and that from the abyss of despair
in which he then lay he forthwith returned unhurt to Rome, and
entered the city the ruthless leader of a ruthless army; and they
who wish to know how bloody was his victory, how unlike a citizen,
and how much more relentlessly than any foreign foe he acted, let
them read the histories. But this, as I said, I do not dwell upon;
nor do I attribute the bloody bliss of Marius to, I know not what
Minturnian goddess [Marica], but rather to the secret providence of
God, that the mouths of our adversaries might be shut, and that they
who are not led by passion, but by prudent consideration of events,
might be delivered from error. And even if the demons have any
power in these matters, they have only that power which the secret
decree of the Almighty allots to them, in order that we may not
set too great store by earthly prosperity, seeing it is oftentimes
vouchsafed even to wicked men like Marius; and that we may not, on
the other hand, regard it as an evil, since we see that many good and
pious worshippers of the one true God are, in spite of the demons,
pre-eminently successful; and, finally, that we may not suppose that
these unclean spirits are either to be propitiated or feared for the
sake of earthly blessings or calamities: for as wicked men on earth
cannot do all they would, so neither can these demons, but only in so
far as they are permitted by the decree of Him whose judgments are
fully comprehensible, justly reprehensible by none.

    24. _Of the deeds of Sylla, in which the demons boasted that he
                           had their help._

It is certain that Sylla--whose rule was so cruel, that, in
comparison with it, the preceding state of things which he came
to avenge was regretted--when first he advanced towards Rome to
give battle to Marius, found the auspices so favourable when he
sacrificed, that, according to Livy's account, the augur Postumius
expressed his willingness to lose his head if Sylla did not, with the
help of the gods, accomplish what he designed. The gods, you see, had
not departed from "every fane and sacred shrine," since they were
still predicting the issue of these affairs, and yet were taking no
steps to correct Sylla himself. Their presages promised him great
prosperity, but no threatenings of theirs subdued his evil passions.
And then, when he was in Asia conducting the war against Mithridates,
a message from Jupiter was delivered to him by Lucius Titius, to the
effect that he would conquer Mithridates; and so it came to pass.
And afterwards, when he was meditating a return to Rome for the
purpose of avenging in the blood of the citizens injuries done to
himself and his friends, a second message from Jupiter was delivered
to him by a soldier of the sixth legion, to the effect that it was
he who had predicted the victory over Mithridates, and that now he
promised to give him power to recover the republic from his enemies,
though with great bloodshed. Sylla at once inquired of the soldier
what form had appeared to him; and, on his reply, recognised that it
was the same as Jupiter had formerly employed to convey to him the
assurance regarding the victory over Mithridates. How, then, can the
gods be justified in this matter for the care they took to predict
these shadowy successes, and for their negligence in correcting
Sylla, and restraining him from stirring up a civil war so lamentable
and atrocious, that it not merely disfigured, but extinguished,
the republic? The truth is, as I have often said, and as Scripture
informs us, and as the facts themselves sufficiently indicate, the
demons are found to look after their own ends only, that they may
be regarded and worshipped as gods, and that men may be induced to
offer to them a worship which associates them with their crimes, and
involves them in one common wickedness and judgment of God.

Afterwards, when Sylla had come to Tarentum, and had sacrificed
there, he saw on the head of the victim's liver the likeness of a
golden crown. Thereupon the same soothsayer Postumius interpreted
this to signify a signal victory, and ordered that he only should eat
of the entrails. A little afterwards, the slave of a certain Lucius
Pontius cried out, "I am Bellona's messenger; the victory is yours,
Sylla!" Then he added that the Capitol should be burned. As soon as
he had uttered this prediction he left the camp, but returned the
following day more excited than ever, and shouted, "The Capitol is
fired!" And fired indeed it was. This it was easy for a demon both
to foresee and quickly to announce. But observe, as relevant to
our subject, what kind of gods they are under whom these men desire
to live, who blaspheme the Saviour that delivers the wills of the
faithful from the dominion of devils. The man cried out in prophetic
rapture, "The victory is yours, Sylla!" And to certify that he spoke
by a divine spirit, he predicted also an event which was shortly to
happen, and which indeed did fall out, in a place from which he in
whom this spirit was speaking was far distant. But he never cried,
Forbear thy villanies, Sylla!--the villanies which were committed at
Rome by that victor to whom a golden crown on the calf's liver had
been shown as the divine evidence of his victory. If such signs as
this were customarily sent by just gods, and not by wicked demons,
then certainly the entrails he consulted should rather have given
Sylla intimation of the cruel disasters that were to befall the city
and himself. For that victory was not so conducive to his exaltation
to power, as it was fatal to his ambition; for by it he became so
insatiable in his desires, and was rendered so arrogant and reckless
by prosperity, that he may be said rather to have inflicted a moral
destruction on himself than corporal destruction on his enemies. But
these truly woful and deplorable calamities the gods gave him no
previous hint of, neither by entrails, augury, dream, nor prediction.
For they feared his amendment more than his defeat. Yea, they took
good care that this glorious conqueror of his own fellow-citizens
should be conquered and led captive by his own infamous vices, and
should thus be the more submissive slave of the demons themselves.

  25. _How powerfully the evil spirits incite men to wicked actions,
     by giving them the quasi-divine authority of their example._

Now, who does not hereby comprehend,--unless he has preferred to
imitate such gods rather than by divine grace to withdraw himself
from their fellowship,--who does not see how eagerly these evil
spirits strive by their example to lend, as it were, divine authority
to crime? Is not this proved by the fact that they were seen in a
wide plain in Campania rehearsing among themselves the battle which
shortly after took place there with great bloodshed between the
armies of Rome? For at first there were heard loud crashing noises,
and afterwards many reported that they had seen for some days
together two armies engaged. And when this battle ceased, they found
the ground all indented with just such footprints of men and horses
as a great conflict would leave. If, then, the deities were veritably
fighting with one another, the civil wars of men are sufficiently
justified; yet, by the way, let it be observed that such pugnacious
gods must be very wicked or very wretched. If, however, it was but
a sham-fight, what did they intend by this, but that the civil wars
of the Romans should seem no wickedness, but an imitation of the
gods? For already the civil wars had begun; and before this, some
lamentable battles and execrable massacres had occurred. Already
many had been moved by the story of the soldier, who, on stripping
the spoils of his slain foe, recognised in the stripped corpse his
own brother, and, with deep curses on civil wars, slew himself there
and then on his brother's body. To disguise the bitterness of such
tragedies, and kindle increasing ardour in this monstrous warfare,
these malign demons, who were reputed and worshipped as gods, fell
upon this plan of revealing themselves in a state of civil war,
that no compunction for fellow-citizens might cause the Romans to
shrink from such battles, but that the human criminality might be
justified by the divine example. By a like craft, too, did these
evil spirits command that scenic entertainments, of which I have
already spoken, should be instituted and dedicated to them. And in
these entertainments the poetical compositions and actions of the
drama ascribed such iniquities to the gods, that every one might
safely imitate them, whether he believed the gods had actually done
such things, or, not believing this, yet perceived that they most
eagerly desired to be represented as having done them. And that no
one might suppose, that in representing the gods as fighting with one
another, the poets had slandered them, and imputed to them unworthy
actions, the gods themselves, to complete the deception, confirmed
the compositions of the poets by exhibiting their own battles to the
eyes of men, not only through actions in the theatres, but in their
own persons on the actual field.

We have been forced to bring forward these facts, because their
authors have not scrupled to say and to write that the Roman
republic had already been ruined by the depraved moral habits of
the citizens, and had ceased to exist before the advent of our Lord
Jesus Christ. Now this ruin they do not impute to their own gods,
though they impute to our Christ the evils of this life, which cannot
ruin good men, be they alive or dead. And this they do, though our
Christ has issued so many precepts inculcating virtue and restraining
vice; while their own gods have done nothing whatever to preserve
that republic that served them, and to restrain it from ruin by such
precepts, but have rather hastened its destruction, by corrupting its
morality through their pestilent example. No one, I fancy, will now
be bold enough to say that the republic was then ruined because of
the departure of the gods "from each fane, each sacred shrine," as
if they were the friends of virtue, and were offended by the vices
of men. No, there are too many presages from entrails, auguries,
soothsayings, whereby they boastingly proclaimed themselves prescient
of future events and controllers of the fortune of war,--all which
prove them to have been present. And had they been indeed absent, the
Romans would never in these civil wars have been so far transported
by their own passions as they were by the instigations of these gods.

  26. _That the demons gave in secret certain obscure instructions in
      morals, while in public their own solemnities inculcated all

Seeing that this is so,--seeing that the filthy and cruel deeds,
the disgraceful and criminal actions of the gods, whether real or
feigned, were at their own request published, and were consecrated,
and dedicated in their honour as sacred and stated solemnities;
seeing they vowed vengeance on those who refused to exhibit them
to the eyes of all, that they might be proposed as deeds worthy of
imitation, why is it that these same demons, who, by taking pleasure
in such obscenities, acknowledge themselves to be unclean spirits,
and by delighting in their own villanies and iniquities, real or
imaginary, and by requesting from the immodest, and extorting from
the modest, the celebration of these licentious acts, proclaim
themselves instigators to a criminal and lewd life;--why, I ask, are
they represented as giving some good moral precepts to a few of their
own elect, initiated in the secrecy of their shrines? If it be so,
this very thing only serves further to demonstrate the malicious
craft of these pestilent spirits. For so great is the influence of
probity and chastity, that all men, or almost all men, are moved by
the praise of these virtues; nor is any man so depraved by vice, but
he hath some feeling of honour left in him. So that, unless the devil
sometimes transformed himself, as Scripture says, into an angel of
light,[110] he could not compass his deceitful purpose. Accordingly,
in public, a bold impurity fills the ear of the people with noisy
clamour; in private, a feigned chastity speaks in scarce audible
whispers to a few: an open stage is provided for shameful things, but
on the praiseworthy the curtain falls: grace hides, disgrace flaunts:
a wicked deed draws an overflowing house, a virtuous speech finds
scarce a hearer, as though purity were to be blushed at, impurity
boasted of. Where else can such confusion reign, but in devils'
temples? Where, but in the haunts of deceit? For the secret precepts
are given as a sop to the virtuous, who are few in number; the wicked
examples are exhibited to encourage the vicious, who are countless.

Where and when those initiated in the mysteries of Cœlestis received
any good instructions, we know not. What we do know is, that before
her shrine, in which her image is set, and amidst a vast crowd
gathering from all quarters, and standing closely packed together,
we were intensely interested spectators of the games which were
going on, and saw, as we pleased to turn the eye, on this side a
grand display of harlots, on the other the virgin goddess: we saw
this virgin worshipped with prayer and with obscene rites. There we
saw no shamefaced mimes, no actress overburdened with modesty: all
that the obscene rites demanded was fully complied with. We were
plainly shown what was pleasing to the virgin deity, and the matron
who witnessed the spectacle returned home from the temple a wiser
woman. Some, indeed, of the more prudent women turned their faces
from the immodest movements of the players, and learned the art of
wickedness by a furtive regard. For they were restrained, by the
modest demeanour due to men, from looking boldly at the immodest
gestures; but much more were they restrained from condemning with
chaste heart the sacred rites of her whom they adored. And yet this
licentiousness--which, if practised in one's home, could only be done
there in secret--was practised as a public lesson in the temple;
and if any modesty remained in men, it was occupied in marvelling
that wickedness which men could not unrestrainedly commit should be
part of the religious teaching of the gods, and that to omit its
exhibition should incur the anger of the gods. What spirit can that
be, which by a hidden inspiration stirs men's corruption, and goads
them to adultery, and feeds on the full-fledged iniquity, unless it
be the same that finds pleasure in such religious ceremonies, sets in
the temples images of devils, and loves to see in play the images of
vices; that whispers in secret some righteous sayings to deceive the
few who are good, and scatters in public invitations to profligacy,
to gain possession of the millions who are wicked?

  27. _That the obscenities of those plays which the Romans
      consecrated in order to propitiate their gods, contributed
      largely to the overthrow of public order._

Cicero, a weighty man, and a philosopher in his way, when about to
be made edile, wished the citizens to understand[111] that, among
the other duties of his magistracy, he must propitiate Flora by
the celebration of games. And these games are reckoned devout in
proportion to their lewdness. In another place,[112] and when he was
now consul, and the state in great peril, he says that games had been
celebrated for ten days together, and that nothing had been omitted
which could pacify the gods: as if it had not been more satisfactory
to irritate the gods by temperance, than to pacify them by debauchery;
and to provoke their hate by honest living, than soothe it by such
unseemly grossness. For no matter how cruel was the ferocity of those
men who were threatening the state, and on whose account the gods
were being propitiated: it could not have been more hurtful than
the alliance of gods who were won with the foulest vices. To avert
the danger which threatened men's bodies, the gods were conciliated
in a fashion that drove virtue from their spirits; and the gods did
not enrol themselves as defenders of the battlements against the
besiegers, until they had first stormed and sacked the morality of
the citizens. This propitiation of such divinities,--a propitiation
so wanton, so impure, so immodest, so wicked, so filthy, whose actors
the innate and praiseworthy virtue of the Romans disabled from civic
honours, erased from their tribe, recognised as polluted and made
infamous;--this propitiation, I say, so foul, so detestable, and alien
from every religious feeling, these fabulous and ensnaring accounts
of the criminal actions of the gods, these scandalous actions which
they either shamefully and wickedly committed, or more shamefully and
wickedly feigned, all this the whole city learned in public both by
the words and gestures of the actors. They saw that the gods delighted
in the commission of these things, and therefore believed that they
wished them not only to be exhibited to them, but to be imitated by
themselves. But as for that good and honest instruction which they
speak of, it was given in such secrecy, and to so few (if indeed given
at all), that they seemed rather to fear it might be divulged, than
that it might not be practised.

          28. _That the Christian religion is health-giving._

They, then, are but abandoned and ungrateful wretches, in deep and
fast bondage to that malign spirit, who complain and murmur that men
are rescued by the name of Christ from the hellish thraldom of these
unclean spirits, and from a participation in their punishment, and
are brought out of the night of pestilential ungodliness into the
light of most healthful piety. Only such men could murmur that the
masses flock to the churches and their chaste acts of worship, where
a seemly separation of the sexes is observed; where they learn how
they may so spend this earthly life, as to merit a blessed eternity
hereafter; where Holy Scripture and instruction in righteousness
are proclaimed from a raised platform in presence of all, that both
they who do the word may hear to their salvation, and they who do
it not may hear to judgment. And though some enter who scoff at
such precepts, all their petulance is either quenched by a sudden
change, or is restrained through fear or shame. For no filthy and
wicked action is there set forth to be gazed at or to be imitated;
but either the precepts of the true God are recommended, His miracles
narrated, His gifts praised, or His benefits implored.

       29. _An exhortation to the Romans to renounce paganism._

This, rather, is the religion worthy of your desires, O admirable
Roman race,--the progeny of your Scævolas and Scipios, of Regulus,
and of Fabricius. This rather covet, this distinguish from that foul
vanity and crafty malice of the devils. If there is in your nature
any eminent virtue, only by true piety is it purged and perfected,
while by impiety it is wrecked and punished. Choose now what you
will pursue, that your praise may be not in yourself, but in the
true God, in whom is no error. For of popular glory you have had
your share; but by the secret providence of God, the true religion
was not offered to your choice. Awake, it is now day; as you have
already awaked in the persons of some in whose perfect virtue and
sufferings for the true faith we glory: for they, contending on all
sides with hostile powers, and conquering them all by bravely dying,
have purchased for us this country of ours with their blood; to which
country we invite you, and exhort you to add yourselves to the number
of the citizens of this city, which also has a sanctuary[113] of its
own in the true remission of sins. Do not listen to those degenerate
sons of thine who slander Christ and Christians, and impute to them
these disastrous times, though they desire times in which they may
enjoy rather impunity for their wickedness than a peaceful life. Such
has never been Rome's ambition even in regard to her earthly country.
Lay hold now on the celestial country, which is easily won, and in
which you will reign truly and for ever. For there shalt thou find no
vestal fire, no Capitoline stone, but the one true God

          "No date, no goal will here ordain:
           But grant an endless, boundless reign."[114]

No longer, then, follow after false and deceitful gods; abjure them
rather, and despise them, bursting forth into true liberty. Gods
they are not, but malignant spirits, to whom your eternal happiness
will be a sore punishment. Juno, from whom you deduce your origin
according to the flesh, did not so bitterly grudge Rome's citadels
to the Trojans, as these devils whom yet ye repute gods, grudge an
everlasting seat to the race of mankind. And thou thyself hast in no
wavering voice passed judgment on them, when thou didst pacify them
with games, and yet didst account as infamous the men by whom the
plays were acted. Suffer us, then, to assert thy freedom against the
unclean spirits who had imposed on thy neck the yoke of celebrating
their own shame and filthiness. The actors of these divine crimes
thou hast removed from offices of honour; supplicate the true
God, that He may remove from thee those gods who delight in their
crimes,--a most disgraceful thing if the crimes are really theirs,
and a most malicious invention if the crimes are feigned. Well done,
in that thou hast spontaneously banished from the number of your
citizens all actors and players. Awake more fully: the majesty of God
cannot be propitiated by that which defiles the dignity of man. How,
then, can you believe that gods who take pleasure in such lewd plays,
belong to the number of the holy powers of heaven, when the men by
whom these plays are acted are by yourselves refused admission into
the number of Roman citizens even of the lowest grade? Incomparably
more glorious than Rome, is that heavenly city in which for victory
you have truth; for dignity, holiness; for peace, felicity; for life,
eternity. Much less does it admit into its society such gods, if thou
dost blush to admit into thine such men. Wherefore, if thou wouldst
attain to the blessed city, shun the society of devils. They who
are propitiated by deeds of shame, are unworthy of the worship of
right-hearted men. Let these, then, be obliterated from your worship
by the cleansing of the Christian religion, as those men were blotted
from your citizenship by the censor's mark.

But, so far as regards carnal benefits, which are the only blessings
the wicked desire to enjoy, and carnal miseries, which alone they
shrink from enduring, we will show in the following book that the
demons have not the power they are supposed to have; and although
they had it, we ought rather on that account to despise these
blessings, than for the sake of them to worship those gods, and
by worshipping them to miss the attainment of these blessings
they grudge us. But that they have not even this power which is
ascribed to them by those who worship them for the sake of temporal
advantages, this, I say, I will prove in the following book; so let
us here close the present argument.


[81] Ps. xciv. 4.

[82] 2 Tim. iii. 7.

[83] "Pluvia defit, causa Christiani." Similar accusations and
similar replies may be seen in the celebrated passage of Tertullian's
_Apol._ c. 40, and in the eloquent exordium of Arnobius, _C. Gentes_.

[84] Augustine is supposed to refer to Symmachus, who similarly
accused the Christians in his address to the Emperor Valentinianus
in the year 384. At Augustine's request, Paulus Orosius wrote his
history in confutation of Symmachus' charges.

[85] Tertullian (_Apol._ c. 24) mentions Cœlestis as specially
worshipped in Africa. Augustine mentions her again in the 26th
chapter of this book, and in other parts of his works.

[86] Berecynthia is one of the many names of Rhea or Cybele. Livy
(xxix. 11) relates that the image of Cybele was brought to Rome the
day before the ides of April, which was accordingly dedicated as
her feast-day. The image, it seems, had to be washed in the stream
Almon, a tributary of the Tiber, before being placed in the temple
of Victory; and each year, as the festival returned, the washing
was repeated with much pomp at the same spot. Hence Lucan's line
(i. 600), 'Et lotam parvo revocant Almone Cybelen,' and the elegant
verses of Ovid, _Fast._ iv. 337 et seq.

[87] "Fercula," dishes, or courses.

[88] See Cicero, _De Nat. Deor._ ii. 24.

[89] Prov. vi. 26.

[90] Fugalia. Vives is uncertain to what feast Augustine refers.
Censorinus understands him to refer to a feast celebrating the
expulsion of the kings from Rome. This feast, however (celebrated on
the 24th February), was commonly called "Regifugium."

[91] Persius, _Sat._ iii. 66-72.

[92] See below, books viii.-xii.

[93] "Galli," the castrated priests of Cybele, who were named after
the river Gallus, in Phrygia, the water of which was supposed to
intoxicate or madden those who drank it. According to Vitruvius
(viii. 3), there was a similar fountain in Paphlagonia. Apuleius
(_Golden Ass_, viii.) gives a graphic and humorous description of
the dress, dancing, and imposture of these priests; mentioning,
among other things, that they lashed themselves with whips and cut
themselves with knives till the ground was wet with blood.

[94] Persius, _Sat._ iii. 37.

[95] Ter. _Eun._ iii. 5. 36; and cf. the similar allusion in
Aristoph. _Clouds_, 1033-4. It may be added that the argument of this
chapter was largely used by the wiser of the heathen themselves.
Dionysius Hal. (ii. 20) and Seneca (_De Brev. Vit._ c. xvi.) make
the very same complaint; and it will be remembered that his adoption
of this reasoning was one of the grounds on which Euripides was
suspected of atheism.

[96] This sentence recalls Augustine's own experience as a boy, which
he bewails in his _Confessions_.

[97] Labeo, a jurist of the time of Augustus, learned in law and
antiquities, and the author of several works much prized by his own
and some succeeding ages. The two articles in Smith's Dictionary on
Antistius and Cornelius Labeo should be read.

[98] "Lectisternia," feasts in which the images of the gods were laid
on pillows in the streets, and all kinds of food set before them.

[99] According to Livy (vii. 2), theatrical exhibitions were
introduced in the year 392 A. U. C. Before that time, he says, there
had only been the games of the circus. The Romans sent to Etruria for
players, who were called "histriones," "hister" being the Tuscan word
for a player. Other particulars are added by Livy.

[100] See the _Republic_, book iii.

[101] Comp. Tertullian, _De Spectac._ c. 22.

[102] The Egyptian gods represented with dogs' heads, called by Lucan
(viii. 832) _semicanes deos_.

[103] The Fever had, according to Vives, three altars in Rome. See
Cicero, _De Nat. Deor._ iii. 25, and Ælian, _Var. Hist._ xii. 11.

[104] Cicero, _De Republica_, v. Compare the third _Tusculan Quæst._
c. ii.

[105] In the year A.U. 299, three ambassadors were sent from Rome
to Athens to copy Solon's laws, and acquire information about the
institutions of Greece. On their return the Decemviri were appointed
to draw up a code; and finally, after some tragic interruptions, the
celebrated Twelve Tables were accepted as the fundamental statutes
of Roman law (_fons universi publici privatique juris_). These were
graven on brass, and hung up for public information. Livy, iii. 31-34.

[106] Possibly he refers to Plautus' _Persa_, iv. 4. 11-14.

[107] Sallust, _Cat. Con._ ix. Compare the similar saying of Tacitus
regarding the chastity of the Germans: "Plusque ibi boni mores
valent, quam alibi bonæ leges" (_Germ._ xix.).

[108] The same collocation of words is used by Cicero with reference to
the well-known mode of renewing the appetite in use among the Romans.

[109] _Æneid_, ii. 351-2.

[110] 2 Cor. xi. 14.

[111] Cicero, _C. Verrem_, vi. 8.

[112] Cicero, _C. Catilinam_, iii. 8.

[113] Alluding to the sanctuary given to all who fled to Rome in its
early days.

[114] Virgil, _Æneid_, i. 278.

                              BOOK THIRD.



   1. _Of the ills which alone the wicked fear, and which the world
      continually suffered, even when the gods were worshipped._

Of moral and spiritual evils, which are above all others to be
deprecated, I think enough has already been said to show that the
false gods took no steps to prevent the people who worshipped them
from being overwhelmed by such calamities, but rather aggravated
the ruin. I see I must now speak of those evils which alone are
dreaded by the heathen--famine, pestilence, war, pillage, captivity,
massacre, and the like calamities, already enumerated in the first
book. For evil men account those things alone evil which do not make
men evil; neither do they blush to praise good things, and yet to
remain evil among the good things they praise. It grieves them more
to own a bad house than a bad life, as if it were man's greatest good
to have everything good but himself. But not even such evils as were
alone dreaded by the heathen were warded off by their gods, even when
they were most unrestrictedly worshipped. For in various times and
places before the advent of our Redeemer, the human race was crushed
with numberless and sometimes incredible calamities; and at that
time what gods but those did the world worship, if you except the
one nation of the Hebrews, and, beyond them, such individuals as the
most secret and most just judgment of God counted worthy of divine
grace?[115] But that I may not be prolix, I will be silent regarding
the heavy calamities that have been suffered by any other nations,
and will speak only of what happened to Rome and the Roman empire, by
which I mean Rome properly so called, and those lands which already,
before the coming of Christ, had by alliance or conquest become, as
it were, members of the body of the state.

    2. _Whether the gods, whom the Greeks and Romans worshipped in
    common, were justified in permitting the destruction of Ilium._

First, then, why was Troy or Ilium, the cradle of the Roman people
(for I must not overlook nor disguise what I touched upon in the
first book[116]), conquered, taken, and destroyed by the Greeks,
though it esteemed and worshipped the same gods as they? Priam, some
answer, paid the penalty of the perjury of his father Laomedon.[117]
Then it is true that Laomedon hired Apollo and Neptune as his
workmen. For the story goes that he promised them wages, and then
broke his bargain. I wonder that famous diviner Apollo toiled at so
huge a work, and never suspected Laomedon was going to cheat him of
his pay. And Neptune too, his uncle, brother of Jupiter, king of the
sea, it really was not seemly that he should be ignorant of what was
to happen. For he is introduced by Homer[118] (who lived and wrote
before the building of Rome) as predicting something great of the
posterity of Æneas, who in fact founded Rome. And as Homer says,
Neptune also rescued Æneas in a cloud from the wrath of Achilles,
though (according to Virgil[119])

          "All his will was to destroy
           His own creation, perjured Troy."

Gods, then, so great as Apollo and Neptune, in ignorance of the cheat
that was to defraud them of their wages, built the walls of Troy for
nothing but thanks and thankless people.[120] There may be some doubt
whether it is not a worse crime to believe such persons to be gods,
than to cheat such gods. Even Homer himself did not give full credence
to the story; for while he represents Neptune, indeed, as hostile to
the Trojans, he introduces Apollo as their champion, though the story
implies that both were offended by that fraud. If, therefore, they
believe their fables, let them blush to worship such gods; if they
discredit the fables, let no more be said of the "Trojan perjury;" or
let them explain how the gods hated Trojan, but loved Roman perjury.
For how did the conspiracy of Catiline, even in so large and corrupt a
city, find so abundant a supply of men whose hands and tongues found
them a living by perjury and civic broils? What else but perjury
corrupted the judgments pronounced by so many of the senators? What
else corrupted the people's votes and decisions of all causes tried
before them? For it seems that the ancient practice of taking oaths has
been preserved even in the midst of the greatest corruption, not for
the sake of restraining wickedness by religious fear, but to complete
the tale of crimes by adding that of perjury.

   3. _That the gods could not be offended by the adultery of Paris,
             this crime being so common among themselves._

There is no ground, then, for representing the gods (by whom, as they
say, that empire stood, though they are proved to have been conquered
by the Greeks) as being enraged at the Trojan perjury. Neither,
as others again plead in their defence, was it indignation at the
adultery of Paris that caused them to withdraw their protection from
Troy. For their habit is to be instigators and instructors in vice,
not its avengers. "The city of Rome," says Sallust, "was first built
and inhabited, as I have heard, by the Trojans, who, flying their
country, under the conduct of Æneas, wandered about without making
any settlement."[121] If, then, the gods were of opinion that the
adultery of Paris should be punished, it was chiefly the Romans, or
at least the Romans also, who should have suffered; for the adultery
was brought about by Æneas' mother. But how could they hate in Paris
a crime which they made no objection to in their own sister Venus,
who (not to mention any other instance) committed adultery with
Anchises, and so became the mother of Æneas? Is it because in the
one case Menelaus[122] was aggrieved, while in the other Vulcan[123]
connived at the crime? For the gods, I fancy, are so little jealous
of their wives, that they make no scruple of sharing them with men.
But perhaps I may be suspected of turning the myths into ridicule,
and not handling so weighty a subject with sufficient gravity. Well,
then, let us say that Æneas is not the son of Venus. I am willing
to I admit it; but is Romulus any more the son of Mars? For why
not the one as well as the other? Or is it lawful for gods to have
intercourse with women, unlawful for men to have intercourse with
goddesses? A hard, or rather an incredible condition, that what
was allowed to Mars by the law of Venus, should not be allowed to
Venus herself by her own law. However, both cases have the authority
of Rome; for Cæsar in modern times believed no less that he was
descended from Venus,[124] than the ancient Romulus believed himself
the son of Mars.

      4. _Of Varro's opinion, that it is useful for men to feign
                themselves the offspring of the gods._

Some one will say, But do you believe all this? Not I indeed. For
even Varro, a very learned heathen, all but admits that these stories
are false, though he does not boldly and confidently say so. But he
maintains it is useful for states that brave men believe, though
falsely, that they are descended from the gods; for that thus the
human spirit, cherishing the belief of its divine descent, will both
more boldly venture into great enterprises, and will carry them
out more energetically, and will therefore by its very confidence
secure more abundant success. You see how wide a field is opened to
falsehood by this opinion of Varro's, which I have expressed as well
as I could in my own words; and how comprehensible it is, that many
of the religions and sacred legends should be feigned in a community
in which it was judged profitable for the citizens that lies should
be told even about the gods themselves.

  5. _That it is not credible that the gods should have punished the
      adultery of Paris, seeing they showed no indignation at the
      adultery of the mother of Romulus._

But whether Venus could bear Æneas to a human father Anchises, or
Mars beget Romulus of the daughter of Numitor, we leave as unsettled
questions. For our own Scriptures suggest the very similar question,
whether the fallen angels had sexual intercourse with the daughters
of men, by which the earth was at that time filled with giants,
that is, with enormously large and strong men. At present, then, I
will limit my discussion to this dilemma: If that which their books
relate about the mother of Æneas and the father of Romulus be true,
how can the gods be displeased with men for adulteries which, when
committed by themselves, excite no displeasure? If it is false,
not even in this case can the gods be angry that men should really
commit adulteries, which, even when falsely attributed to the gods,
they delight in. Moreover, if the adultery of Mars be discredited,
that Venus also may be freed from the imputation, then the mother
of Romulus is left unshielded by the pretext of a divine seduction.
For Sylvia was a vestal priestess, and the gods ought to avenge this
sacrilege on the Romans with greater severity than Paris' adultery
on the Trojans. For even the Romans themselves in primitive times
used to go so far as to bury alive any vestal who was detected in
adultery, while women unconsecrated, though they were punished,
were never punished with death for that crime; and thus they more
earnestly vindicated the purity of shrines they esteemed divine, than
of the human bed.

    6. _That the gods exacted no penalty for the fratricidal act of

I add another instance: If the sins of men so greatly incensed those
divinities, that they abandoned Troy to fire and sword to punish
the crime of Paris, the murder of Romulus' brother ought to have
incensed them more against the Romans than the cajoling of a Greek
husband moved them against the Trojans: fratricide in a newly-born
city should have provoked them more than adultery in a city already
flourishing. It makes no difference to the question we now discuss,
whether Romulus ordered his brother to be slain, or slew him with
his own hand; a crime this latter which many shamelessly deny, many
through shame doubt, many in grief disguise. And we shall not pause
to examine and weigh the testimonies of historical writers on the
subject. All agree that the brother of Romulus was slain, not by
enemies, not by strangers. If it was Romulus who either commanded or
perpetrated this crime; Romulus was more truly the head of the Romans
than Paris of the Trojans; why then did he who carried off another
man's wife bring down the anger of the gods on the Trojans, while he
who took his brother's life obtained the guardianship of those same
gods? If, on the other hand, that crime was not wrought either by the
hand or will of Romulus, then the whole city is chargeable with it,
because it did not see to its punishment, and thus committed, not
fratricide, but parricide, which is worse. For both brothers were
the founders of that city, of which the one was by villany prevented
from being a ruler. So far as I see, then, no evil can be ascribed
to Troy which warranted the gods in abandoning it to destruction,
nor any good to Rome which accounts for the gods visiting it with
prosperity; unless the truth be, that they fled from Troy because
they were vanquished, and betook themselves to Rome to practise their
characteristic deceptions there. Nevertheless they kept a footing for
themselves in Troy, that they might deceive future inhabitants who
repeopled these lands; while at Rome, by a wider exercise of their
malignant arts, they exulted in more abundant honours.

 7. _Of the destruction of Ilium by Fimbria, a lieutenant of Marius._

And surely we may ask what wrong poor Ilium had done, that, in the
first heat of the civil wars of Rome, it should suffer at the hand of
Fimbria, the veriest villain among Marius' partisans, a more fierce
and cruel destruction than the Grecian sack.[125] For when the Greeks
took it many escaped, and many who did not escape were suffered to
live, though in captivity. But Fimbria from the first gave orders
that not a life should be spared, and burnt up together the city and
all its inhabitants. Thus was Ilium requited, not by the Greeks, whom
she had provoked by wrong-doing; but by the Romans, who had been
built out of her ruins; while the gods, adored alike of both sides,
did simply nothing, or, to speak more correctly, could do nothing.
Is it then true, that at this time also, after Troy had repaired
the damage done by the Grecian fire, all the gods by whose help the
kingdom stood, "forsook each fane, each sacred shrine?"

But if so, I ask the reason; for in my judgment, the conduct of
the gods was as much to be reprobated as that of the townsmen to
be applauded. For these closed their gates against Fimbria, that
they might preserve the city for Sylla, and were therefore burnt
and consumed by the enraged general. Now, up to this time, Sylla's
cause was the more worthy of the two; for till now he used arms to
restore the republic, and as yet his good intentions had met with no
reverses. What better thing, then, could the Trojans have done? What
more honourable, what more faithful to Rome, or more worthy of her
relationship, than to preserve their city for the better part of the
Romans, and to shut their gates against a parricide of his country?
It is for the defenders of the gods to consider the ruin which this
conduct brought on Troy. The gods deserted an adulterous people, and
abandoned Troy to the fires of the Greeks, that out of her ashes a
chaster Rome might arise. But why did they a second time abandon this
same town, allied now to Rome, and not making war upon her noble
daughter, but preserving a most stedfast and pious fidelity to Rome's
most justifiable faction? Why did they give her up to be destroyed, not
by the Greek heroes, but by the basest of the Romans? Or, if the gods
did not favour Sylla's cause, for which the unhappy Trojans maintained
their city, why did they themselves predict and promise Sylla such
successes? Must we call them flatterers of the fortunate, rather than
helpers of the wretched? Troy was not destroyed, then, because the gods
deserted it. For the demons, always watchful to deceive, did what they
could. For, when all the statues were overthrown and burnt together
with the town, Livy tells us that only the image of Minerva is said to
have been found standing uninjured amidst the ruins of her temple; not
that it might be said in their praise, "The gods who made this realm
divine," but that it might not be said in their defence, They are "gone
from each fane, each sacred shrine:" for that marvel was permitted to
them, not that they might be proved to be powerful, but that they might
be convicted of being present.

  8. _Whether Rome ought to have been entrusted to the Trojan gods?_

Where, then, was the wisdom of entrusting Rome to the Trojan
gods, who had demonstrated their weakness in the loss of Troy?
Will some one say that, when Fimbria stormed Troy, the gods were
already resident in Rome? How, then, did the image of Minerva remain
standing? Besides, if they were at Rome when Fimbria destroyed Troy,
perhaps they were at Troy when Rome itself was taken and set on fire
by the Gauls. But as they are very acute in hearing, and very swift
in their movements, they came quickly at the cackling of the goose to
defend at least the Capitol, though to defend the rest of the city
they were too long in being warned.

  9. _Whether it is credible that the peace during the reign of Numa
                    was brought about by the gods._

It is also believed that it was by the help of the gods that the
successor of Romulus, Numa Pompilius, enjoyed peace during his entire
reign, and shut the gates of Janus, which are customarily kept
open[126] during war. And it is supposed he was thus requited for
appointing many religious observances among the Romans. Certainly that
king would have commanded our congratulations for so rare a leisure,
had he been wise enough to spend it on wholesome pursuits, and,
subduing a pernicious curiosity, had sought out the true God with true
piety. But as it was, the gods were not the authors of his leisure; but
possibly they would have deceived him less had they found him busier.
For the more disengaged they found him, the more they themselves
occupied his attention. Varro informs us of all his efforts, and of the
arts he employed to associate these gods with himself and the city;
and in its own place, if God will, I shall discuss these matters.
Meanwhile, as we are speaking of the benefits conferred by the gods,
I readily admit that peace is a great benefit; but it is a benefit of
the true God, which, like the sun, the rain, and other supports of
life, is frequently conferred on the ungrateful and wicked. But if this
great boon was conferred on Rome and Pompilius by their gods, why did
they never afterwards grant it to the Roman empire during even more
meritorious periods? Were the sacred rites more efficient at their
first institution than during their subsequent celebration? But they
had no existence in Numa's time, until he added them to the ritual;
whereas afterwards they had already been celebrated and preserved, that
benefit might arise from them. How, then, is it that those forty-three,
or as others prefer it, thirty-nine years of Numa's reign, were passed
in unbroken peace, and yet that afterwards, when the worship was
established, and the gods themselves, who were invoked by it, were the
recognised guardians and patrons of the city, we can with difficulty
find during the whole period, from the building of the city to the
reign of Augustus, one year--that, viz., which followed the close of
the first Punic war--in which, for a marvel, the Romans were able to
shut the gates of war?[127]

  10. _Whether it was desirable that the Roman empire should be
      increased by such a furious succession of wars, when it might
      have been quiet and safe by following in the peaceful ways of

Do they reply that the Roman empire could never have been so widely
extended, nor so glorious, save by constant and unintermitting wars?
A fit argument, truly! Why must a kingdom be distracted in order to
be great? In this little world of man's body, is it not better to
have a moderate stature, and health with it, than to attain the huge
dimensions of a giant by unnatural torments, and when you attain it
to find no rest, but to be pained the more in proportion to the size
of your members? What evil would have resulted, or rather what good
would not have resulted, had those times continued which Sallust
sketched, when he says, "At first the kings (for that was the first
title of empire in the world) were divided in their sentiments: part
cultivated the mind, others the body: at that time the life of men
was led without covetousness; every one was sufficiently satisfied
with his own!"[128] Was it requisite, then, for Rome's prosperity,
that the state of things which Virgil reprobates should succeed:

          "At length stole on a baser age,
           And war's indomitable rage,
           And greedy lust of gain?"[129]

But obviously the Romans have a plausible defence for undertaking
and carrying on such disastrous wars,--to wit, that the pressure of
their enemies forced them to resist, so that they were compelled
to fight, not by any greed of human applause, but by the necessity
of protecting life and liberty. Well, let that pass. Here is
Sallust's account of the matter: "For when their state, enriched
with laws, institutions, territory, seemed abundantly prosperous and
sufficiently powerful, according to the ordinary law of human nature,
opulence gave birth to envy. Accordingly, the neighbouring kings and
states took arms and assaulted them. A few allies lent assistance;
the rest, struck with fear, kept aloof from dangers. But the Romans,
watchful at home and in war, were active, made preparations,
encouraged one another, marched to meet their enemies,--protected
by arms their liberty, country, parents. Afterwards, when they had
repelled the dangers by their bravery, they carried help to their
allies and friends, and procured alliances more by conferring than
by receiving favours."[130] This was to build up Rome's greatness by
honourable means. But, in Numa's reign, I would know whether the long
peace was maintained in spite of the incursions of wicked neighbours,
or if these incursions were discontinued that the peace might be
maintained? For if even then Rome was harassed by wars, and yet did
not meet force with force, the same means she then used to quiet her
enemies without conquering them in war, or terrifying them with the
onset of battle, she might have used always, and have reigned in
peace with the gates of Janus shut. And if this was not in her power,
then Rome enjoyed peace not at the will of her gods, but at the will
of her neighbours round about, and only so long as they cared to
provoke her with no war, unless perhaps these pitiful gods will dare
to sell to one man as their favour what lies not in their power to
bestow, but in the will of another man. These demons, indeed, in so
far as they are permitted, can terrify or incite the minds of wicked
men by their own peculiar wickedness. But if they always had this
power, and if no action were taken against their efforts by a more
secret and higher power, they would be supreme to give peace or the
victories of war, which almost always fall out through some human
emotion, and frequently in opposition to the will of the gods, as is
proved not only by lying legends, which scarcely hint or signify any
grain of truth, but even by Roman history itself.

  11. _Of the statue of Apollo at Cumæ, whose tears are supposed to
      have portended disaster to the Greeks, whom the god was unable
      to succour._

And it is still this weakness of the gods which is confessed in the
story of the Cuman Apollo, who is said to have wept for four days
during the war with the Achæans and King Aristonicus. And when the
augurs were alarmed at the portent, and had determined to cast the
statue into the sea, the old men of Cumæ interposed, and related
that a similar prodigy had occurred to the same image during the
wars against Antiochus and against Perseus, and that by a decree of
the senate gifts had been presented to Apollo, because the event had
proved favourable to the Romans. Then soothsayers were summoned who
were supposed to have greater professional skill, and they pronounced
that the weeping of Apollo's image was propitious to the Romans,
because Cumæ was a Greek colony, and that Apollo was bewailing (and
thereby presaging) the grief and calamity that was about to light
upon his own land of Greece, from which he had been brought. Shortly
afterwards it was reported that King Aristonicus was defeated and
made prisoner,--a defeat certainly opposed to the will of Apollo;
and this he indicated by even shedding tears from his marble image.
And this shows us that, though the verses of the poets are mythical,
they are not altogether devoid of truth, but describe the manners of
the demons in a sufficiently fit style. For in Virgil Diana mourned
for Camilla,[131] and Hercules wept for Pallas doomed to die.[132]
This is perhaps the reason why Numa Pompilius, too, when, enjoying
prolonged peace, but without knowing or inquiring from whom he
received it, he began in his leisure to consider to what gods he
should entrust the safe keeping and conduct of Rome, and not dreaming
that the true, almighty, and most high God cares for earthly affairs,
but recollecting only that the Trojan gods which Æneas had brought
to Italy had been able to preserve neither the Trojan nor Lavinian
kingdom founded by Æneas himself, concluded that he must provide
other gods as guardians of fugitives and helpers of the weak, and add
them to those earlier divinities who had either come over to Rome
with Romulus, or when Alba was destroyed.

 12. _That the Romans added a vast number of gods to those introduced
       by Numa, and that their numbers helped them not at all._

But though Pompilius introduced so ample a ritual, yet did not Rome
see fit to be content with it. For as yet Jupiter himself had not
his chief temple,--it being King Tarquin who built the Capitol.
And Æsculapius left Epidaurus for Rome, that in this foremost city
he might have a finer field for the exercise of his great medical
skill.[133] The mother of the gods, too, came I know not whence from
Pessinuns; it being unseemly that, while her son presided on the
Capitoline hill, she herself should lie hid in obscurity. But if she
is the mother of all the gods, she not only followed some of her
children to Rome, but left others to follow her. I wonder, indeed,
if she were the mother of Cynocephalus, who a long while afterwards
came from Egypt. Whether also the goddess Fever was her offspring,
is a matter for her grandson Æsculapius[134] to decide. But of
whatever breed she be, the foreign gods will not presume, I trust, to
call a goddess base-born who is a Roman citizen. Who can number the
deities to whom the guardianship of Rome was entrusted? Indigenous
and imported, both of heaven, earth, hell, seas, fountains, rivers;
and, as Varro says, gods certain and uncertain, male and female:
for, as among animals, so among all kinds of gods are there these
distinctions. Rome, then, enjoying the protection of such a cloud of
deities, might surely have been preserved from some of those great
and horrible calamities, of which I can mention but a few. For by
the great smoke of her altars she summoned to her protection, as by
a beacon-fire, a host of gods, for whom she appointed and maintained
temples, altars, sacrifices, priests, and thus offended the true and
most high God, to whom alone all this ceremonial is lawfully due.
And, indeed, she was more prosperous when she had fewer gods; but
the greater she became, the more gods she thought she should have, as
the larger ship needs to be manned by a larger crew. I suppose she
despaired of the smaller number, under whose protection she had spent
comparatively happy days, being able to defend her greatness. For
even under the kings (with the exception of Numa Pompilius, of whom I
have already spoken), how wicked a contentiousness must have existed
to occasion the death of Romulus' brother!

    13. _By what right or agreement the Romans obtained their first

How is it that neither Juno, who with her husband Jupiter even then

          "Rome's sons, the nation of the gown,"[135]

nor Venus herself, could assist the children of the loved Æneas to find
wives by some right and equitable means? For the lack of this entailed
upon the Romans the lamentable necessity of stealing their wives, and
then waging war with their fathers-in-law; so that the wretched women,
before they had recovered from the wrong done them by their husbands,
were dowried with the blood of their fathers. "But the Romans conquered
their neighbours." Yes; but with what wounds on both sides, and with
what sad slaughter of relatives and neighbours! The war of Cæsar and
Pompey was the contest of only one father-in-law with one son-in-law;
and before it began, the daughter of Cæsar, Pompey's wife, was already
dead. But with how keen and just an accent of grief does Lucan[136]
exclaim: "I sing that worse than civil war waged in the plains of
Emathia, and in which the crime was justified by the victory!"

The Romans, then, conquered that they might, with hands stained in the
blood of their fathers-in-law, wrench the miserable girls from their
embrace,--girls who dared not weep for their slain parents, for fear
of offending their victorious husbands; and while yet the battle was
raging, stood with their prayers on their lips, and knew not for whom
to utter them. Such nuptials were certainly prepared for the Roman
people not by Venus, but Bellona; or possibly that infernal fury
Alecto had more liberty to injure them now that Juno was aiding them,
than when the prayers of that goddess had excited her against Æneas.
Andromache in captivity was happier than these Roman brides. For though
she was a slave, yet, after she had become the wife of Pyrrhus, no
more Trojans fell by his hand; but the Romans slew in battle the very
fathers of the brides they fondled. Andromache, the victor's captive,
could only mourn, not fear, the death of her people. The Sabine women,
related to men still combatants, feared the death of their fathers
when their husbands went out to battle, and mourned their death as
they returned, while neither their grief nor their fear could be
freely expressed. For the victories of their husbands, involving the
destruction of fellow-townsmen, relatives, brothers, fathers, caused
either pious agony or cruel exultation. Moreover, as the fortune of
war is capricious, some of them lost their husbands by the sword of
their parents, while others lost husband and father together in mutual
destruction. For the Romans by no means escaped with impunity, but they
were driven back within their walls, and defended themselves behind
closed gates; and when the gates were opened by guile, and the enemy
admitted into the town, the Forum itself was the field of a hateful
and fierce engagement of fathers-in-law and sons-in-law. The ravishers
were indeed quite defeated, and, flying on all sides to their houses,
sullied with new shame their original shameful and lamentable triumph.
It was at this juncture that Romulus, hoping no more from the valour
of his citizens, prayed Jupiter that they might stand their ground;
and from this occasion the god gained the name of Stator. But not even
thus would the mischief have been finished, had not the ravished women
themselves flashed out with dishevelled hair, and cast themselves
before their parents, and thus disarmed their just rage, not with
the arms of victory, but with the supplications of filial affection.
Then Romulus, who could not brook his own brother as a colleague, was
compelled to accept Titus Tatius, king of the Sabines, as his partner
on the throne. But how long would he who misliked the fellowship of his
own twin-brother endure a stranger? So, Tatius being slain, Romulus
remained sole king, that he might be the greater god. See what rights
of marriage these were that fomented unnatural wars. These were the
Roman leagues of kindred, relationship, alliance, religion. This was
the life of the city so abundantly protected by the gods. You see how
many severe things might be said on this theme; but our purpose carries
us past them, and requires our discourse for other matters.

     14. _Of the wickedness of the war waged by the Romans against
      the Albans, and of the victories won by the lust of power._

But what happened after Numa's reign, and under the other kings,
when the Albans were provoked into war, with sad results not to
themselves alone, but also to the Romans? The long peace of Numa had
become tedious; and with what endless slaughter and detriment of both
states did the Roman and Alban armies bring it to an end! For Alba,
which had been founded by Ascanius, son of Æneas, and which was more
properly the mother of Rome than Troy herself, was provoked to battle
by Tullus Hostilius, king of Rome, and in the conflict both inflicted
and received such damage, that at length both parties wearied of the
struggle. It was then devised that the war should be decided by the
combat of three twin-brothers from each army: from the Romans the
three Horatii stood forward, from the Albans the three Curiatii. Two
of the Horatii were overcome and disposed of by the Curiatii; but
by the remaining Horatius the three Curiatii were slain. Thus Rome
remained victorious, but with such a sacrifice that only one survivor
returned to his home. Whose was the loss on both sides? Whose the
grief, but of the offspring of Æneas, the descendants of Ascanius,
the progeny of Venus, the grandsons of Jupiter? For this, too, was
a "worse than civil" war, in which the belligerent states were
mother and daughter. And to this combat of the three twin-brothers
there was added another atrocious and horrible catastrophe. For
as the two nations had formerly been friendly (being related and
neighbours), the sister of the Horatii had been betrothed to one of
the Curiatii; and she, when she saw her brother wearing the spoils of
her betrothed, burst into tears, and was slain by her own brother in
his anger. To me, this one girl seems to have been more humane than
the whole Roman people. I cannot think her to blame for lamenting
the man to whom already she had plighted her troth, or, as perhaps
she was doing, for grieving that her brother should have slain him
to whom he had promised his sister. For why do we praise the grief
of Æneas (in Virgil[137]) over the enemy cut down even by his own
hand? Why did Marcellus shed tears over the city of Syracuse, when he
recollected, just before he destroyed, its magnificence and meridian
glory, and thought upon the common lot of all things? I demand, in
the name of humanity, that if men are praised for tears shed over
enemies conquered by themselves, a weak girl should not be counted
criminal for bewailing her lover slaughtered by the hand of her
brother. While, then, that maiden was weeping for the death of her
betrothed inflicted by her brother's hand, Rome was rejoicing that
such devastation had been wrought on her mother state, and that she
had purchased a victory with such an expenditure of the common blood
of herself and the Albans.

Why allege to me the mere names and words of "glory" and "victory?"
Tear off the disguise of wild delusion, and look at the naked deeds:
weigh them naked, judge them naked. Let the charge be brought against
Alba, as Troy was charged with adultery. There is no such charge,
none like it found: the war was kindled only in order that there

          "Might sound in languid ears the cry
           Of Tullus and of victory."[138]

This vice of restless ambition was the sole motive to that social and
parricidal war,--a vice which Sallust brands in passing; for when
he has spoken with brief but hearty commendation of those primitive
times in which life was spent without covetousness, and every one
was sufficiently satisfied with what he had, he goes on: "But after
Cyrus in Asia, and the Lacedemonians and Athenians in Greece, began
to subdue cities and nations, and to account the lust of sovereignty
a sufficient ground for war, and to reckon that the greatest glory
consisted in the greatest empire;"[139] and so on, as I need not
now quote. This lust of sovereignty disturbs and consumes the human
race with frightful ills. By this lust Rome was overcome when she
triumphed over Alba, and praising her own crime, called it glory.
For, as our Scriptures say, "the wicked boasteth of his heart's
desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth."[140]
Away, then, with these deceitful masks, these deluding whitewashes,
that things may be truthfully seen and scrutinized. Let no man tell
me that this and the other was a "great" man, because he fought
and conquered so and so. Gladiators fight and conquer, and this
barbarism has its meed of praise; but I think it were better to take
the consequences of any sloth, than to seek the glory won by such
arms. And if two gladiators entered the arena to fight, one being
father, the other his son, who would endure such a spectacle? who
would not be revolted by it? How, then, could that be a glorious war
which a daughter-state waged against its mother? Or did it constitute
a difference, that the battlefield was not an arena, and that the
wide plains were filled with the carcases not of two gladiators, but
of many of the flower of two nations; and that those contests were
viewed not by the amphitheatre, but by the whole world, and furnished
a profane spectacle both to those alive at the time, and to their
posterity, so long as the fame of it is handed down?

Yet those gods, guardians of the Roman empire, and, as it were,
theatric spectators of such contests as these, were not satisfied until
the sister of the Horatii was added by her brother's sword as a third
victim from the Roman side, so that Rome herself, though she won the
day, should have as many deaths to mourn. Afterwards, as a fruit of the
victory, Alba was destroyed, though it was there the Trojan gods had
formed a third asylum after Ilium had been sacked by the Greeks, and
after they had left Lavinium, where Æneas had founded a kingdom in a
land of banishment. But probably Alba was destroyed because from it too
the gods had migrated, in their usual fashion, as Virgil says:

          "Gone from each fane, each sacred shrine,
           Are those who made this realm divine."[141]

Gone, indeed, and from now their third asylum, that Rome might
seem all the wiser in committing herself to them after they had
deserted three other cities. Alba, whose king Amulius had banished
his brother, displeased them; Rome, whose king Romulus had slain his
brother, pleased them. But before Alba was destroyed, its population,
they say, was amalgamated with the inhabitants of Rome, so that
the two cities were one. Well, admitting it was so, yet the fact
remains that the city of Ascanius, the third retreat of the Trojan
gods, was destroyed by the daughter-city. Besides, to effect this
pitiful conglomerate of the war's leavings, much blood was spilt on
both sides. And how shall I speak in detail of the same wars, so
often renewed in subsequent reigns, though they seemed to have been
finished by great victories; and of wars that time after time were
brought to an end by great slaughters, and which yet time after time
were renewed by the posterity of those who had made peace and struck
treaties? Of this calamitous history we have no small proof, in the
fact that no subsequent king closed the gates of war; and therefore,
with all their tutelar gods, no one of them reigned in peace.

       15. _What manner of life and death the Roman kings had._

And what was the end of the kings themselves? Of Romulus, a flattering
legend tells us that he was assumed into heaven. But certain Roman
historians relate that he was torn in pieces by the senate for his
ferocity, and that a man, Julius Proculus, was suborned to give out
that Romulus had appeared to him, and through him commanded the Roman
people to worship him as a god; and that in this way the people, who
were beginning to resent the action of the senate, were quieted and
pacified. For an eclipse of the sun had also happened; and this was
attributed to the divine power of Romulus by the ignorant multitude,
who did not know that it was brought about by the fixed laws of the
sun's course: though this grief of the sun might rather have been
considered proof that Romulus had been slain, and that the crime
was indicated by this deprivation of the sun's light; as, in truth,
was the case when the Lord was crucified through the cruelty and
impiety of the Jews. For it is sufficiently demonstrated that this
latter obscuration of the sun did not occur by the natural laws of
the heavenly bodies, because it was then the Jewish passover, which
is held only at full moon, whereas natural eclipses of the sun happen
only at the last quarter of the moon. Cicero, too, shows plainly enough
that the apotheosis of Romulus was imaginary rather than real, when,
even while he is praising him in one of Scipio's remarks in the _De
Republica_, he says: "Such a reputation had he acquired, that when he
suddenly disappeared during an eclipse of the sun, he was supposed to
have been assumed into the number of the gods, which could be supposed
of no mortal who had not the highest reputation for virtue."[142] By
these words, "he suddenly disappeared," we are to understand that he
was mysteriously made away with by the violence either of the tempest
or of a murderous assault. For their other writers speak not only of an
eclipse, but of a sudden storm also, which certainly either afforded
opportunity for the crime, or itself made an end of Romulus. And of
Tullus Hostilius, who was the third king of Rome, and who was himself
destroyed by lightning, Cicero in the same book says, that "he was
not supposed to have been deified by this death, possibly because the
Romans were unwilling to vulgarize the promotion they were assured or
persuaded of in the case of Romulus, lest they should bring it into
contempt by gratuitously assigning it to all and sundry." In one of his
invectives,[143] too, he says, in round terms, "The founder of this
city, Romulus, we have raised to immortality and divinity by kindly
celebrating his services;" implying that his deification was not real,
but reputed, and called so by courtesy on account of his virtues. In
the dialogue _Hortensius_, too, while speaking of the regular eclipses
of the sun, he says that they "produce the same darkness as covered the
death of Romulus, which happened during an eclipse of the sun." Here
you see he does not at all shrink from speaking of his "death," for
Cicero was more of a reasoner than an eulogist.

The other kings of Rome, too, with the exception of Numa Pompilius and
Ancus Marcius, who died natural deaths, what horrible ends they had!
Tullus Hostilius, the conqueror and destroyer of Alba, was, as I said,
himself and all his house consumed by lightning. Priscus Tarquinius was
slain by his predecessor's sons. Servius Tullius was foully murdered by
his son-in-law Tarquinius Superbus, who succeeded him on the throne.
Nor did so flagrant a parricide committed against Rome's best king
drive from their altars and shrines those gods who were said to have
been moved by Paris' adultery to treat poor Troy in this style, and
abandon it to the fire and sword of the Greeks. Nay, the very Tarquin
who had murdered, was allowed to succeed his father-in-law. And this
infamous parricide, during the reign he had secured by murder, was
allowed to triumph in many victorious wars, and to build the Capitol
from their spoils; the gods meanwhile not departing, but abiding, and
abetting, and suffering their king Jupiter to preside and reign over
them in that very splendid Capitol, the work of a parricide. For he did
not build the Capitol in the days of his innocence, and then suffer
banishment for subsequent crimes; but to that reign during which he
built the Capitol, he won his way by unnatural crime. And when he was
afterwards banished by the Romans, and forbidden the city, it was not
for his own but his son's wickedness in the affair of Lucretia,--a
crime perpetrated not only without his cognizance, but in his absence.
For at that time he was besieging Ardea, and fighting Rome's battles;
and we cannot say what he would have done had he been aware of his
son's crime. Notwithstanding, though his opinion was neither inquired
into nor ascertained, the people stripped him of royalty; and when he
returned to Rome with his army, it was admitted, but he was excluded,
abandoned by his troops, and the gates shut in his face. And yet, after
he had appealed to the neighbouring states, and tormented the Romans
with calamitous but unsuccessful wars, and when he was deserted by the
ally on whom he most depended, despairing of regaining the kingdom, he
lived a retired and quiet life for fourteen years, as it is reported,
in Tusculum, a Roman town; where he grew old in his wife's company,
and at last terminated his days in a much more desirable fashion than
his father-in-law, who had perished by the hand of his son-in-law;
his own daughter abetting, if report be true. And this Tarquin the
Romans called, not the Cruel, nor the Infamous, but the Proud; their
own pride perhaps resenting his tyrannical airs. So little did they
make of his murdering their best king, his own father-in-law, that
they elected him their own king. I wonder if it was not even more
criminal in them to reward so bountifully so great a criminal. And yet
there was no word of the gods abandoning the altars; unless, perhaps,
some one will say in defence of the gods, that they remained at Rome
for the purpose of punishing the Romans, rather than of aiding and
profiting them, seducing them by empty victories, and wearing them out
by severe wars. Such was the life of the Romans under the kings during
the much-praised epoch of the state which extends to the expulsion of
Tarquinius Superbus in the 243d year, during which all those victories,
which were bought with so much blood and such disasters, hardly pushed
Rome's dominion twenty miles from the city; a territory which would by
no means bear comparison with that of any petty Gætulian state.

  16. _Of the first Roman consuls, the one of whom drove the other
      from the country, and shortly after perished at Rome by the
      hand of a wounded enemy, and so ended a career of unnatural

To this epoch let us add also that of which Sallust says, that it was
ordered with justice and moderation, while the fear of Tarquin and
of a war with Etruria was impending. For so long as the Etrurians
aided the efforts of Tarquin to regain the throne, Rome was convulsed
with distressing war. And therefore he says that the state was
ordered with justice and moderation, through the pressure of fear,
not through the influence of equity. And in this very brief period,
how calamitous a year was that in which consuls were first created,
when the kingly power was abolished! They did not fulfil their term
of office. For Junius Brutus deprived his colleague Lucius Tarquinius
Collatinus, and banished him from the city; and shortly after he
himself fell in battle, at once slaying and slain, having formerly
put to death his own sons and his brothers-in-law, because he had
discovered that they were conspiring to restore Tarquin. It is this
deed that Virgil shudders to record, even while he seems to praise
it; for when he says,

          "And call his own rebellious seed
           For menaced liberty to bleed,"

he immediately exclaims,

          "Unhappy father! howsoe'er
           The deed be judged by after days;"

that is to say, let posterity judge the deed as they please, let them
praise and extol the father who slew his sons, he is unhappy. And
then he adds, as if to console so unhappy a man:

          "His country's love shall all o'erbear,
           And unextinguished thirst of praise."[144]

In the tragic end of Brutus, who slew his own sons, and though he
slew his enemy, Tarquin's son, yet could not survive him, but was
survived by Tarquin the elder, does not the innocence of his colleague
Collatinus seem to be vindicated, who, though a good citizen, suffered
the same punishment as Tarquin himself, when that tyrant was banished?
For Brutus himself is said to have been a relative[145] of Tarquin.
But Collatinus had the misfortune to bear not only the blood, but the
name of Tarquin. To change his name, then, not his country, would have
been his fit penalty: to abridge his name by this word, and be called
simply L. Collatinus. But he was not compelled to lose what he could
lose without detriment, but was stripped of the honour of the first
consulship, and was banished from the land he loved. Is this, then, the
glory of Brutus--this injustice, alike detestable and profitless to
the republic? Was it to this he was driven by "his country's love, and
unextinguished thirst of praise?"

When Tarquin the tyrant was expelled, L. Tarquinius Collatinus,
the husband of Lucretia, was created consul along with Brutus. How
justly the people acted, in looking more to the character than the
name of a citizen! How unjustly Brutus acted, in depriving of honour
and country his colleague in that new office, whom he might have
deprived of his name, if it were so offensive to him! Such were the
ills, such the disasters, which fell out when the government was
"ordered with justice and moderation." Lucretius, too, who succeeded
Brutus, was carried off by disease before the end of that same year.
So P. Valerius, who succeeded Collatinus, and M. Horatius, who
filled the vacancy occasioned by the death of Lucretius, completed
that disastrous and funereal year, which had five consuls. Such was
the year in which the Roman republic inaugurated the new honour and
office of the consulship.

  17. _Of the disasters which vexed the Roman republic after the
      inauguration of the consulship, and of the non-intervention of
      the gods of Rome._

After this, when their fears were gradually diminished,--not because
the wars ceased, but because they were not so furious,--that period in
which things were "ordered with justice and moderation" drew to an end,
and there followed that state of matters which Sallust thus briefly
sketches: "Then began the patricians to oppress the people as slaves,
to condemn them to death or scourging, as the kings had done, to drive
them from their holdings, and to tyrannize over those who had no
property to lose. The people, overwhelmed by these oppressive measures,
and most of all by usury, and obliged to contribute both money and
personal service to the constant wars, at length took arms and seceded
to Mount Aventine and Mount Sacer, and thus secured for themselves
tribunes and protective laws. But it was only the second Punic war that
put an end on both sides to discord and strife."[146] But why should I
spend time in writing such things, or make others spend it in reading
them? Let the terse summary of Sallust suffice to intimate the misery
of the republic through all that long period till the second Punic
war,--how it was distracted from without by unceasing wars, and torn
with civil broils and dissensions. So that those victories they boast
were not the substantial joys of the happy, but the empty comforts of
wretched men, and seductive incitements to turbulent men to concoct
disasters upon disasters. And let not the good and prudent Romans be
angry at our saying this; and indeed we need neither deprecate nor
denounce their anger, for we know they will harbour none. For we speak
no more severely than their own authors, and much less elaborately and
strikingly; yet they diligently read these authors, and compel their
children to learn them. But they who are angry, what would they do to
me were I to say what Sallust says? "Frequent mobs, seditions, and at
last civil wars, became common, while a few leading men on whom the
masses were dependent, affected supreme power under the seemly pretence
of seeking the good of senate and people; citizens were judged good
or bad, without reference to their loyalty to the republic (for all
were equally corrupt); but the wealthy and dangerously powerful were
esteemed good citizens, because they maintained the existing state of
things." Now, if those historians judged that an honourable freedom of
speech required that they should not be silent regarding the blemishes
of their own state, which they have in many places loudly applauded in
their ignorance of that other and true city in which citizenship is an
everlasting dignity; what does it become us to do, whose liberty ought
to be so much greater, as our hope in God is better and more assured,
when they impute to our Christ the calamities of this age, in order
that men of the less instructed and weaker sort may be alienated from
that city in which alone eternal and blessed life can be enjoyed? Nor
do we utter against their gods anything more horrible than their own
authors do, whom they read and circulate. For, indeed, all that we have
said we have derived from them, and there is much more to say of a
worse kind which we are unable to say.

Where, then, were those gods who are supposed to be justly worshipped
for the slender and delusive prosperity of this world, when the
Romans, who were seduced to their service by lying wiles, were
harassed by such calamities? Where were they when Valerius the consul
was killed while defending the Capitol, that had been fired by
exiles and slaves? He was himself better able to defend the temple
of Jupiter, than that crowd of divinities with their most high and
mighty king, whose temple he came to the rescue of, were able to
defend him. Where were they when the city, worn out with unceasing
seditions, was waiting in some kind of calm for the return of the
ambassadors who had been sent to Athens to borrow laws, and was
desolated by dreadful famine and pestilence? Where were they when the
people, again distressed with famine, created for the first time a
prefect of the market; and when Spurius Melius, who, as the famine
increased, distributed corn to the famishing masses, was accused
of aspiring to royalty, and at the instance of this same prefect,
and on the authority of the superannuated dictator L. Quintius, was
put to death by Quintus Servilius, master of the horse,--an event
which occasioned a serious and dangerous riot? Where were they
when that very severe pestilence visited Rome, on account of which
the people, after long and wearisome and useless supplications of
the helpless gods, conceived the idea of celebrating Lectisternia,
which had never been done before; that is to say, they set couches
in honour of the gods, which accounts for the name of this sacred
rite, or rather sacrilege?[147] Where were they when, during ten
successive years of reverses, the Roman army suffered frequent and
great losses among the Veians, and would have been destroyed but
for the succour of Furius Camillus, who was afterwards banished by
an ungrateful country? Where were they when the Gauls took, sacked,
burned, and desolated Rome? Where were they when that memorable
pestilence wrought such destruction, in which Furius Camillus too
perished, who first defended the ungrateful republic from the Veians,
and afterwards saved it from the Gauls? Nay, during this plague they
introduced a new pestilence of scenic entertainments, which spread
its more fatal contagion, not to the bodies, but the morals of the
Romans? Where were they when another frightful pestilence visited
the city--I mean the poisonings imputed to an incredible number of
noble Roman matrons, whose characters were infected with a disease
more fatal than any plague? Or when both consuls at the head of the
army were beset by the Samnites in the Caudine Forks, and forced to
strike a shameful treaty, 600 Roman knights being kept as hostages;
while the troops, having laid down their arms, and being stripped of
everything, were made to pass under the yoke with one garment each?
Or when, in the midst of a serious pestilence, lightning struck the
Roman camp and killed many? Or when Rome was driven, by the violence
of another intolerable plague, to send to Epidaurus for Æsculapius
as a god of medicine; since the frequent adulteries of Jupiter in
his youth had not perhaps left this king of all who so long reigned
in the Capitol, any leisure for the study of medicine? Or when, at
one time, the Lucanians, Brutians, Samnites, Tuscans, and Senonian
Gauls conspired against Rome, and first slew her ambassadors, then
overthrew an army under the prætor, putting to the sword 13,000
men, besides the commander and seven tribunes? Or when the people,
after the serious and long-continued disturbances at Rome, at last
plundered the city and withdrew to Janiculus; a danger so grave,
that Hortensius was created dictator,--an office which they had
recourse to only in extreme emergencies; and he, having brought back
the people, died while yet he retained his office,--an event without
precedent in the case of any dictator, and which was a shame to those
gods who had now Æsculapius among them?

At that time, indeed, so many wars were everywhere engaged in, that
through scarcity of soldiers they enrolled for military service the
_proletarii_, who received this name, because, being too poor to
equip for military service, they had leisure to beget offspring.[148]
Pyrrhus, king of Greece, and at that time of wide-spread renown, was
invited by the Tarentines to enlist himself against Rome. It was to
him that Apollo, when consulted regarding the issue of his enterprise,
uttered with some pleasantry so ambiguous an oracle, that whichever
alternative happened, the god himself should be counted divine. For he
so worded the oracle,[149] that whether Pyrrhus was conquered by the
Romans, or the Romans by Pyrrhus, the soothsaying god would securely
await the issue. And then what frightful massacres of both armies
ensued! Yet Pyrrhus remained conqueror, and would have been able now
to proclaim Apollo a true diviner, as he understood the oracle, had
not the Romans been the conquerors in the next engagement. And while
such disastrous wars were being waged, a terrible disease broke out
among the women. For the pregnant women died before delivery. And
Æsculapius, I fancy, excused himself in this matter on the ground that
he professed to be arch-physician, not midwife. Cattle, too, similarly
perished; so that it was believed that the whole race of animals was
destined to become extinct. Then what shall I say of that memorable
winter in which the weather was so incredibly severe, that in the
Forum frightfully deep snow lay for forty days together, and the Tiber
was frozen? Had such things happened in our time, what accusations we
should have heard from our enemies! And that other great pestilence,
which raged so long and carried off so many; what shall I say of it?
Spite of all the drugs of Æsculapius, it only grew worse in its second
year, till at last recourse was had to the Sibylline books,--a kind of
oracle which, as Cicero says in his _De Divinatione_, owes significance
to its interpreters, who make doubtful conjectures as they can or as
they wish. In this instance, the cause of the plague was said to be
that so many temples had been used as private residences. And thus
Æsculapius for the present escaped the charge of either ignominious
negligence or want of skill. But why were so many allowed to occupy
sacred tenements without interference, unless because supplication had
long been addressed in vain to such a crowd of gods, and so by degrees
the sacred places were deserted of worshippers, and being thus vacant,
could without offence be put at least to some human uses? And the
temples, which were at that time laboriously recognised and restored
that the plague might be stayed, fell afterwards into disuse, and were
again devoted to the same human uses. Had they not thus lapsed into
obscurity, it could not have been pointed to as proof of Varro's great
erudition, that in his work on sacred places he cites so many that were
unknown. Meanwhile, the restoration of the temples procured no cure of
the plague, but only a fine excuse for the gods.

  18. _The disasters suffered by the Romans in the Punic wars, which
          were not mitigated by the protection of the gods._

In the Punic wars, again, when victory hung so long in the balance
between the two kingdoms, when two powerful nations were straining
every nerve and using all their resources against one another, how
many smaller kingdoms were crushed, how many large and flourishing
cities were demolished, how many states were overwhelmed and ruined,
how many districts and lands far and near were desolated! How often
were the victors on either side vanquished! What multitudes of
men, both of those actually in arms and of others, were destroyed!
What huge navies, too, were crippled in engagements, or were sunk
by every kind of marine disaster! Were we to attempt to recount
or mention these calamities, we should become writers of history.
At that period Rome was mightily perturbed, and resorted to vain
and ludicrous expedients. On the authority of the Sibylline books,
the secular games were re-appointed, which had been inaugurated a
century before, but had faded into oblivion in happier times. The
games consecrated to the infernal gods were also renewed by the
pontiffs; for they, too, had sunk into disuse in the better times.
And no wonder; for when they were renewed, the great abundance of
dying men made all hell rejoice at its riches, and give itself up to
sport: for certainly the ferocious wars, and disastrous quarrels, and
bloody victories--now on one side, and now on the other--though most
calamitous to men, afforded great sport and a rich banquet to the
devils. But in the first Punic war there was no more disastrous event
than the Roman defeat in which Regulus was taken. We made mention of
him in the two former books as an incontestably great man, who had
before conquered and subdued the Carthaginians, and who would have
put an end to the first Punic war, had not an inordinate appetite for
praise and glory prompted him to impose on the worn-out Carthaginians
harder conditions than they could bear. If the unlooked-for captivity
and unseemly bondage of this man, his fidelity to his oath, and his
surpassingly cruel death, do not bring a blush to the face of the
gods, it is true that they are brazen and bloodless.

Nor were there wanting at that time very heavy disasters within the
city itself. For the Tiber was extraordinarily flooded, and destroyed
almost all the lower parts of the city; some buildings being carried
away by the violence of the torrent, while others were soaked to
rottenness by the water that stood round them even after the flood
was gone. This visitation was followed by a fire which was still
more destructive, for it consumed some of the loftier buildings
round the Forum, and spared not even its own proper temple, that of
Vesta, in which virgins chosen for this honour, or rather for this
punishment, had been employed in conferring, as it were, everlasting
life on fire, by ceaselessly feeding it with fresh fuel. But at the
time we speak of, the fire in the temple was not content with being
kept alive: it raged. And when the virgins, scared by its vehemence,
were unable to save those fatal images which had already brought
destruction on three cities[150] in which they had been received,
Metellus the priest, forgetful of his own safety, rushed in and
rescued the sacred things, though he was half roasted in doing so.
For either the fire did not recognise even him, or else the goddess
of fire was there,--a goddess who would not have fled from the fire
supposing she had been there. But here you see how a man could be of
greater service to Vesta than she could be to him. Now if these gods
could not avert the fire from themselves, what help against flames or
flood could they bring to the state of which they were the reputed
guardians? Facts have shown that they were useless. These objections
of ours would be idle if our adversaries maintained that their idols
are consecrated rather as symbols of things eternal, than to secure
the blessings of time; and that thus, though the symbols, like all
material and visible things, might perish, no damage thereby resulted
to the things for the sake of which they had been consecrated,
while, as for the images themselves, they could be renewed again
for the same purposes they had formerly served. But with lamentable
blindness, they suppose that, through the intervention of perishable
gods, the earthly well-being and temporal prosperity of the state can
be preserved from perishing. And so, when they are reminded that even
when the gods remained among them this well-being and prosperity were
blighted, they blush to change the opinion they are unable to defend.

   19. _Of the calamity of the second Punic war, which consumed the
                      strength of both parties._

As to the second Punic war, it were tedious to recount the disasters
it brought on both the nations engaged in so protracted and shifting
a war, that (by the acknowledgment even of those writers who have
made it their object not so much to narrate the wars as to eulogize
the dominion of Rome) the people who remained victorious were less
like conquerors than conquered. For, when Hannibal poured out of
Spain over the Pyrenees, and overran Gaul, and burst through the
Alps, and during his whole course gathered strength by plundering and
subduing as he went, and inundated Italy like a torrent, how bloody
were the wars, and how continuous the engagements, that were fought!
How often were the Romans vanquished! How many towns went over to
the enemy, and how many were taken and subdued! What fearful battles
there were, and how often did the defeat of the Romans shed lustre
on the arms of Hannibal! And what shall I say of the wonderfully
crushing defeat at Cannæ, where even Hannibal, cruel as he was, was
yet sated with the blood of his bitterest enemies, and gave orders
that they be spared? From this field of battle he sent to Carthage
three bushels of gold rings, signifying that so much of the rank
of Rome had that day fallen, that it was easier to give an idea of
it by measure than by numbers; and that the frightful slaughter of
the common rank and file whose bodies lay undistinguished by the
ring, and who were numerous in proportion to their meanness, was
rather to be conjectured than accurately reported. In fact, such
was the scarcity of soldiers after this, that the Romans impressed
their criminals on the promise of impunity, and their slaves by
the bribe of liberty, and out of these infamous classes did not so
much recruit as create an army. But these slaves, or, to give them
all their titles, these freedmen who were enlisted to do battle for
the republic of Rome, lacked arms. And so they took arms from the
temples, as if the Romans were saying to their gods: Lay down those
arms you have held so long in vain, if by chance our slaves may be
able to use to purpose what you, our gods, have been impotent to
use. At that time, too, the public treasury was too low to pay the
soldiers, and private resources were used for public purposes; and
so generously did individuals contribute of their property, that,
saving the gold ring and bulla which each wore, the pitiful mark
of his rank, no senator, and much less any of the other orders and
tribes, reserved any gold for his own use. But if in our day they
were reduced to this poverty, who would be able to endure their
reproaches, barely endurable as they are now, when more money is
spent on actors for the sake of a superfluous gratification, than was
then disbursed to the legions?

  20. _Of the destruction of the Saguntines, who received no help
      from the Roman gods, though perishing on account of their
      fidelity to Rome._

But among all the disasters of the second Punic war, there occurred
none more lamentable, or calculated to excite deeper complaint, than
the fate of the Saguntines. This city of Spain, eminently friendly
to Rome, was destroyed by its fidelity to the Roman people. For when
Hannibal had broken treaty with the Romans, he sought occasion for
provoking them to war, and accordingly made a fierce assault upon
Saguntum. When this was reported at Rome, ambassadors were sent to
Hannibal, urging him to raise the siege; and when this remonstrance
was neglected, they proceeded to Carthage, lodged complaint against
the breaking of the treaty, and returned to Rome without accomplishing
their object. Meanwhile the siege went on; and in the eighth or ninth
month, this opulent but ill-fated city, dear as it was to its own
state and to Rome, was taken, and subjected to treatment which one
cannot read, much less narrate, without horror. And yet, because it
bears directly on the matter in hand, I will briefly touch upon it.
First, then, famine wasted the Saguntines, so that even human corpses
were eaten by some: so at least it is recorded. Subsequently, when
thoroughly worn out, that they might at least escape the ignominy
of falling into the hands of Hannibal, they publicly erected a huge
funeral pile, and cast themselves into its flames, while at the same
time they slew their children and themselves with the sword. Could
these gods, these debauchees and gourmands, whose mouths water for
fat sacrifices, and whose lips utter lying divinations,--could they
not do anything in a case like this? Could they not interfere for the
preservation of a city closely allied to the Roman people, or prevent
it perishing for its fidelity to that alliance of which they themselves
had been the mediators? Saguntum, faithfully keeping the treaty it had
entered into before these gods, and to which it had firmly bound itself
by an oath, was besieged, taken, and destroyed by a perjured person.
If afterwards, when Hannibal was close to the walls of Rome, it was
the gods who terrified him with lightning and tempest, and drove him
to a distance, why, I ask, did they not thus interfere before? For I
make bold to say, that this demonstration with the tempest would have
been more honourably made in defence of the allies of Rome--who were in
danger on account of their reluctance to break faith with the Romans,
and had no resources of their own--than in defence of the Romans
themselves, who were fighting in their own cause, and had abundant
resources to oppose Hannibal. If, then, they had been the guardians of
Roman prosperity and glory, they would have preserved that glory from
the stain of this Saguntine disaster; and how silly it is to believe
that Rome was preserved from destruction at the hands of Hannibal by
the guardian care of those gods who were unable to rescue the city of
Saguntum from perishing through its fidelity to the alliance of Rome.
If the population of Saguntum had been Christian, and had suffered as
it did for the Christian faith (though, of course, Christians would
not have used fire and sword against their own persons), they would
have suffered with that hope which springs from faith in Christ--the
hope not of a brief temporal reward, but of unending and eternal bliss.
What, then, will the advocates and apologists of these gods say in
their defence, when charged with the blood of these Saguntines; for
they are professedly worshipped and invoked for this very purpose of
securing prosperity in this fleeting and transitory life? Can anything
be said but what was alleged in the case of Regulus' death? For
though there is a difference between the two cases, the one being an
individual, the other a whole community, yet the cause of destruction
was in both cases the keeping of their plighted troth. For it was this
which made Regulus willing to return to his enemies, and this which
made the Saguntines unwilling to revolt to their enemies. Does, then,
the keeping of faith provoke the gods to anger? Or is it possible
that not only individuals, but even entire communities, perish while
the gods are propitious to them? Let our adversaries choose which
alternative they will. If, on the one hand, those gods are enraged
at the keeping of faith, let them enlist perjured persons as their
worshippers. If, on the other hand, men and states can suffer great and
terrible calamities, and at last perish while favoured by the gods,
then does their worship not produce happiness as its fruit. Let those,
therefore, who suppose that they have fallen into distress because
their religious worship has been abolished, lay aside their anger; for
it were quite possible that did the gods not only remain with them, but
regard them with favour, they might yet be left to mourn an unhappy
lot, or might, even like Regulus and the Saguntines, be horribly
tormented, and at last perish miserably.

   21. _Of the ingratitude of Rome to Scipio, its deliverer, and of
  its manners during the period which Sallust describes as the best._

Omitting many things, that I may not exceed the limits of the work
I have proposed to myself, I come to the epoch between the second
and last Punic wars, during which, according to Sallust, the Romans
lived with the greatest virtue and concord. Now, in this period of
virtue and harmony, the great Scipio, the liberator of Rome and
Italy, who had with surprising ability brought to a close the second
Punic war--that horrible, destructive, dangerous contest--who had
defeated Hannibal and subdued Carthage, and whose whole life is
said to have been dedicated to the gods, and cherished in their
temples,--this Scipio, after such a triumph, was obliged to yield to
the accusations of his enemies, and to leave his country, which his
valour had saved and liberated, to spend the remainder of his days in
the town of Liternum, so indifferent to a recall from exile, that he
is said to have given orders that not even his remains should lie in
his ungrateful country. It was at that time also that the proconsul
Cn. Manlius, after subduing the Galatians, introduced into Rome the
luxury of Asia, more destructive than all hostile armies. It was then
that iron bedsteads and expensive carpets were first used; then, too,
that female singers were admitted at banquets, and other licentious
abominations were introduced. But at present I meant to speak, not
of the evils men voluntarily practise, but of those they suffer in
spite of themselves. So that the case of Scipio, who succumbed to
his enemies, and died in exile from the country he had rescued, was
mentioned by me as being pertinent to the present discussion; for
this was the reward he received from those Roman gods whose temples
he saved from Hannibal, and who are worshipped only for the sake of
securing temporal happiness. But since Sallust, as we have seen,
declares that the manners of Rome were never better than at that
time, I therefore judged it right to mention the Asiatic luxury then
introduced, that it might be seen that what he says is true, only
when that period is compared with the others, during which the morals
were certainly worse, and the factions more violent. For at that
time--I mean between the second and third Punic war--that notorious
Lex Voconia was passed, which prohibited a man from making a woman,
even an only daughter, his heir; than which law I am at a loss to
conceive what could be more unjust. It is true that in the interval
between these two Punic wars the misery of Rome was somewhat less.
Abroad, indeed, their forces were consumed by wars, yet also consoled
by victories; while at home there were not such disturbances as at
other times. But when the last Punic war had terminated in the utter
destruction of Rome's rival, which quickly succumbed to the other
Scipio, who thus earned for himself the surname of Africanus, then
the Roman republic was overwhelmed with such a host of ills, which
sprang from the corrupt manners induced by prosperity and security,
that the sudden overthrow of Carthage is seen to have injured
Rome more seriously than her long-continued hostility. During the
whole subsequent period down to the time of Cæsar Augustus, who
seems to have entirely deprived the Romans of liberty,--a liberty,
indeed, which in their own judgment was no longer glorious, but
full of broils and dangers, and which now was quite enervated and
languishing,--and who submitted all things again to the will of a
monarch, and infused as it were a new life into the sickly old age of
the republic, and inaugurated a fresh _régime_;--during this whole
period, I say, many military disasters were sustained on a variety
of occasions, all of which I here pass by. There was specially the
treaty of Numantia, blotted as it was with extreme disgrace; for the
sacred chickens, they say, flew out of the coop, and thus augured
disaster to Mancinus the consul; just as if, during all these years
in which that little city of Numantia had withstood the besieging
army of Rome, and had become a terror to the republic, the other
generals had all marched against it under unfavourable auspices.

      22. _Of the edict of Mithridates, commanding that all Roman
               citizens found in Asia should be slain._

These things, I say, I pass in silence; but I can by no means be
silent regarding the order given by Mithridates, king of Asia, that
on one day all Roman citizens residing anywhere in Asia (where great
numbers of them were following their private business) should be put
to death: and this order was executed. How miserable a spectacle
was then presented, when each man was suddenly and treacherously
murdered wherever he happened to be, in the field or on the road, in
the town, in his own home, or in the street, in market or temple, in
bed or at table! Think of the groans of the dying, the tears of the
spectators, and even of the executioners themselves. For how cruel a
necessity was it that compelled the hosts of these victims, not only
to see these abominable butcheries in their own houses, but even to
perpetrate them: to change their countenance suddenly from the bland
kindliness of friendship, and in the midst of peace set about the
business of war; and, shall I say, give and receive wounds, the slain
being pierced in body, the slayer in spirit! Had all these murdered
persons, then, despised auguries? Had they neither public nor
household gods to consult when they left their homes and set out on
that fatal journey? If they had not, our adversaries have no reason
to complain of these Christian times in this particular, since long
ago the Romans despised auguries as idle. If, on the other hand, they
did consult omens, let them tell us what good they got thereby, even
when such things were not prohibited, but authorized, by human, if
not by divine law.

  23. _Of the internal disasters which vexed the Roman republic, and
      followed a portentous madness which seized all the domestic

But let us now mention, as succinctly as possible, those disasters
which were still more vexing, because nearer home; I mean those
discords which are erroneously called civil, since they destroy civil
interests. The seditions had now become urban wars, in which blood
was freely shed, and in which parties raged against one another,
not with wrangling and verbal contention, but with physical force
and arms. What a sea of Roman blood was shed, what desolations and
devastations were occasioned in Italy by wars social, wars servile,
wars civil! Before the Latins began the social war against Rome, all
the animals used in the service of man--dogs, horses, asses, oxen,
and all the rest that are subject to man--suddenly grew wild, and
forgot their domesticated tameness, forsook their stalls and wandered
at large, and could not be closely approached either by strangers or
their own masters without danger. If this was a portent, how serious
a calamity must have been portended by a plague which, whether
portent or no, was in itself a serious calamity! Had it happened in
our day, the heathen would have been more rabid against us than their
animals were against them.

      24. _Of the civil dissension occasioned by the sedition of
                             the Gracchi._

The civil wars originated in the seditions which the Gracchi excited
regarding the agrarian laws; for they were minded to divide among the
people the lands which were wrongfully possessed by the nobility.
But to reform an abuse of so long standing was an enterprise full
of peril, or rather, as the event proved, of destruction. For what
disasters accompanied the death of the elder Gracchus! what slaughter
ensued when, shortly after, the younger brother met the same fate! For
noble and ignoble were indiscriminately massacred; and this not by
legal authority and procedure, but by mobs and armed rioters. After
the death of the younger Gracchus, the consul Lucius Opimius, who had
given battle to him within the city, and had defeated and put to the
sword both himself and his confederates, and had massacred many of the
citizens, instituted a judicial examination of others, and is reported
to have put to death as many as 3000 men. From this it may be gathered
how many fell in the riotous encounters, when the result even of a
judicial investigation was so bloody. The assassin of Gracchus himself
sold his head to the consul for its weight in gold, such being the
previous agreement. In this massacre, too, Marcus Fulvius, a man of
consular rank, with all his children, was put to death.

    25. _Of the temple of Concord, which was erected by a decree of
      the senate on the scene of these seditions and massacres._

A pretty decree of the senate it was, truly, by which the temple of
Concord was built on the spot where that disastrous rising had taken
place, and where so many citizens of every rank had fallen.[151] I
suppose it was that the monument of the Gracchi's punishment might
strike the eye and affect the memory of the pleaders. But what was
this but to deride the gods, by building a temple to that goddess who,
had she been in the city, would not have suffered herself to be torn
by such dissensions? Or was it that Concord was chargeable with that
bloodshed because she had deserted the minds of the citizens, and was
therefore incarcerated in that temple? For if they had any regard to
consistency, why did they not rather erect on that site a temple of
Discord? Or is there a reason for Concord being a goddess while Discord
is none? Does the distinction of Labeo hold here, who would have made
the one a good, the other an evil deity?--a distinction which seems to
have been suggested to him by the mere fact of his observing at Rome
a temple to Fever as well as one to Health. But, on the same ground,
Discord as well as Concord ought to be deified. A hazardous venture the
Romans made in provoking so wicked a goddess, and in forgetting that
the destruction of Troy had been occasioned by her taking offence. For,
being indignant that she was not invited with the other gods [to the
nuptials of Peleus and Thetis], she created dissension among the three
goddesses by sending in the golden apple, which occasioned strife in
heaven, victory to Venus, the rape of Helen, and the destruction of
Troy. Wherefore, if she was perhaps offended that the Romans had not
thought her worthy of a temple among the other gods in their city, and
therefore disturbed the state with such tumults, to how much fiercer
passion would she be roused when she saw the temple of her adversary
erected on the scene of that massacre, or, in other words, on the scene
of her own handiwork! Those wise and learned men are enraged at our
laughing at these follies; and yet, being worshippers of good and bad
divinities alike, they cannot escape this dilemma about Concord and
Discord: either they have neglected the worship of these goddesses, and
preferred Fever and War, to whom there are shrines erected of great
antiquity, or they have worshipped them, and after all Concord has
abandoned them, and Discord has tempestuously hurled them into civil

   26. _Of the various kinds of wars which followed the building of
                        the temple of Concord._

But they supposed that, in erecting the temple of Concord within the
view of the orators, as a memorial of the punishment and death of
the Gracchi, they were raising an effectual obstacle to sedition.
How much effect it had, is indicated by the still more deplorable
wars that followed. For after this the orators endeavoured not to
avoid the example of the Gracchi, but to surpass their projects; as
did Lucius Saturninus, a tribune of the people, and Caius Servilius
the prætor, and some time after Marcus Drusus, all of whom stirred
seditions which first of all occasioned bloodshed, and then the
social wars by which Italy was grievously injured, and reduced to a
piteously desolate and wasted condition. Then followed the servile
war and the civil wars; and in them what battles were fought, and
what blood was shed, so that almost all the peoples of Italy, which
formed the main strength of the Roman empire, were conquered as
if they were barbarians! Then even historians themselves find it
difficult to explain how the servile war was begun by a very few,
certainly less than seventy gladiators, what numbers of fierce
and cruel men attached themselves to these, how many of the Roman
generals this band defeated, and how it laid waste many districts
and cities. And that was not the only servile war: the province of
Macedonia, and subsequently Sicily and the sea-coast, were also
depopulated by bands of slaves. And who can adequately describe
either the horrible atrocities which the pirates first committed, or
the wars they afterwards maintained against Rome?

           27. _Of the civil war between Marius and Sylla._

But when Marius, stained with the blood of his fellow-citizens, whom
the rage of party had sacrificed, was in his turn vanquished and
driven from the city, it had scarcely time to breathe freely, when,
to use the words of Cicero, "Cinna and Marius together returned and
took possession of it. Then, indeed, the foremost men in the state
were put to death, its lights quenched. Sylla afterwards avenged
this cruel victory; but we need not say with what loss of life, and
with what ruin to the republic."[152] For of this vengeance, which
was more destructive than if the crimes which it punished had been
committed with impunity, Lucan says: "The cure was excessive, and too
closely resembled the disease. The guilty perished, but when none but
the guilty survived: and then private hatred and anger, unbridled
by law, were allowed free indulgence."[153] In that war between
Marius and Sylla, besides those who fell in the field of battle, the
city, too, was filled with corpses in its streets, squares, markets,
theatres, and temples; so that it is not easy to reckon whether the
victors slew more before or after victory, that they might be, or
because they were, victors. As soon as Marius triumphed, and returned
from exile, besides the butcheries everywhere perpetrated, the head
of the consul Octavius was exposed on the rostrum; Cæsar and Fimbria
were assassinated in their own houses; the two Crassi, father and
son, were murdered in one another's sight; Bebius and Numitorius were
disembowelled by being dragged with hooks; Catulus escaped the hands
of his enemies by drinking poison; Merula, the flamen of Jupiter, cut
his veins and made a libation of his own blood to his god. Moreover,
every one whose salutation Marius did not answer by giving his hand,
was at once cut down before his face.

     28. _Of the victory of Sylla, the avenger of the cruelties of

Then followed the victory of Sylla, the so-called avenger of the
cruelties of Marius. But not only was his victory purchased with
great bloodshed; but when hostilities were finished, hostility
survived, and the subsequent peace was bloody as the war. To the
former and still recent massacres of the elder Marius, the younger
Marius and Carbo, who belonged to the same party, added greater
atrocities. For when Sylla approached, and they despaired not only
of victory, but of life itself, they made a promiscuous massacre
of friends and foes. And, not satisfied with staining every corner
of Rome with blood, they besieged the senate, and led forth the
senators to death from the curia as from a prison. Mucius Scævola
the pontiff was slain at the altar of Vesta, which he had clung to
because no spot in Rome was more sacred than her temple; and his
blood well-nigh extinguished the fire which was kept alive by the
constant care of the virgins. Then Sylla entered the city victorious,
after having slaughtered in the Villa Publica, not by combat, but by
an order, 7000 men who had surrendered, and were therefore unarmed;
so fierce was the rage of peace itself, even after the rage of war
was extinct. Moreover, throughout the whole city every partisan of
Sylla slew whom he pleased, so that the number of deaths went beyond
computation, till it was suggested to Sylla that he should allow some
to survive, that the victors might not be destitute of subjects. Then
this furious and promiscuous licence to murder was checked, and much
relief was expressed at the publication of the prescription list,
containing though it did the death-warrant of two thousand men of
the highest ranks, the senatorial and equestrian. The large number
was indeed saddening, but it was consolatory that a limit was fixed;
nor was the grief at the numbers slain so great as the joy that the
rest were secure. But this very security, hard-hearted as it was,
could not but bemoan the exquisite torture applied to some of those
who had been doomed to die. For one was torn to pieces by the unarmed
hands of the executioners; men treating a living man more savagely
than wild beasts are used to tear an abandoned corpse. Another had
his eyes dug out, and his limbs cut away bit by bit, and was forced
to live a long while, or rather to die a long while, in such torture.
Some celebrated cities were put up to auction, like farms; and one
was collectively condemned to slaughter, just as an individual
criminal would be condemned to death. These things were done in
peace when the war was over, not that victory might be more speedily
obtained, but that, after being obtained, it might not be thought
lightly of. Peace vied with war in cruelty, and surpassed it: for
while war overthrew armed hosts, peace slew the defenceless. War gave
liberty to him who was attacked, to strike if he could; peace granted
to the survivors not life, but an unresisting death.

  29. _A comparison of the disasters which Rome experienced during
      the Gothic and Gallic invasions, with those occasioned by the
      authors of the civil wars._

What fury of foreign nations, what barbarian ferocity, can compare
with this victory of citizens over citizens? Which was more
disastrous, more hideous, more bitter to Rome: the recent Gothic and
the old Gallic invasion, or the cruelty displayed by Marius and Sylla
and their partisans against men who were members of the same body as
themselves? The Gauls, indeed, massacred all the senators they found
in any part of the city except the Capitol, which alone was defended;
but they at least sold life to those who were in the Capitol, though
they might have starved them out if they could not have stormed
it. The Goths, again, spared so many senators, that it is the more
surprising that they killed any. But Sylla, while Marius was still
living, established himself as conqueror in the Capitol, which the
Gauls had not violated, and thence issued his death-warrants; and
when Marius had escaped by flight, though destined to return more
fierce and bloodthirsty than ever, Sylla issued from the Capitol
even decrees of the senate for the slaughter and confiscation of
the property of many citizens. Then, when Sylla left, what did the
Marian faction hold sacred or spare, when they gave no quarter even
to Mucius, a citizen, a senator, a pontiff, and though clasping
in piteous embrace the very altar in which, they say, reside the
destinies of Rome? And that final proscription list of Sylla's, not
to mention countless other massacres, despatched more senators than
the Goths could even plunder.

   30. _Of the connection of the wars which with great severity and
     frequency followed one another before the advent of Christ._

With what effrontery, then, with what assurance, with what impudence,
with what folly, or rather insanity, do they refuse to impute these
disasters to their own gods, and impute the present to our Christ!
These bloody civil wars, more distressing, by the avowal of their own
historians, than any foreign wars, and which were pronounced to be
not merely calamitous, but absolutely ruinous to the republic, began
long before the coming of Christ, and gave birth to one another; so
that a concatenation of unjustifiable causes led from the wars of
Marius and Sylla to those of Sertorius and Catiline, of whom the
one was proscribed, the other brought up by Sylla; from this to the
war of Lepidus and Catulus, of whom the one wished to rescind, the
other to defend the acts of Sylla; from this to the war of Pompey
and Cæsar, of whom Pompey had been a partisan of Sylla, whose power
he equalled or even surpassed, while Cæsar condemned Pompey's power
because it was not his own, and yet exceeded it when Pompey was
defeated and slain. From him the chain of civil wars extended to the
second Cæsar, afterwards called Augustus, and in whose reign Christ
was born. For even Augustus himself waged many civil wars; and in
these wars many of the foremost men perished, among them that skilful
manipulator of the republic, Cicero. Caius [Julius] Cæsar, when he
had conquered Pompey, though he used his victory with clemency, and
granted to men of the opposite faction both life and honours, was
suspected of aiming at royalty, and was assassinated in the curia by
a party of noble senators, who had conspired to defend the liberty
of the republic. His power was then coveted by Antony, a man of very
different character, polluted and debased by every kind of vice, who
was strenuously resisted by Cicero on the same plea of defending
the liberty of the republic. At this juncture that other Cæsar,
the adopted son of Caius, and afterwards, as I said, known by the
name of Augustus, had made his _début_ as a young man of remarkable
genius. This youthful Cæsar was favoured by Cicero, in order that his
influence might counteract that of Antony; for he hoped that Cæsar
would overthrow and blast the power of Antony, and establish a free
state,--so blind and unaware of the future was he: for that very
young man, whose advancement and influence he was fostering, allowed
Cicero to be killed as the seal of an alliance with Antony, and
subjected to his own rule the very liberty of the republic in defence
of which he had made so many orations.

  31. _That it is effrontery to impute the present troubles to Christ
      and the prohibition of polytheistic worship, since even when
      the gods were worshipped such calamities befell the people._

Let those who have no gratitude to Christ for His great benefits,
blame their own gods for these heavy disasters. For certainly
when these occurred the altars of the gods were kept blazing, and
there rose the mingled fragrance of "Sabæan incense and fresh
garlands;"[154] the priests were clothed with honour, the shrines
were maintained in splendour; sacrifices, games, sacred ecstasies,
were common in the temples; while the blood of the citizens was
being so freely shed, not only in remote places, but among the
very altars of the gods. Cicero did not choose to seek sanctuary
in a temple, because Mucius had sought it there in vain. But they
who most unpardonably calumniate this Christian era, are the very
men who either themselves fled for asylum to the places specially
dedicated to Christ, or were led there by the barbarians that they
might be safe. In short, not to recapitulate the many instances I
have cited, and not to add to their number others which it were
tedious to enumerate, this one thing I am persuaded of, and this
every impartial judgment will readily acknowledge, that if the human
race had received Christianity before the Punic wars, and if the
same desolating calamities which these wars brought upon Europe and
Africa had followed the introduction of Christianity, there is no one
of those who now accuse us who would not have attributed them to our
religion. How intolerable would their accusations have been, at least
so far as the Romans are concerned, if the Christian religion had
been received and diffused prior to the invasion of the Gauls, or to
the ruinous floods and fires which desolated Rome, or to those most
calamitous of all events, the civil wars! And those other disasters,
which were of so strange a nature that they were reckoned prodigies,
had they happened since the Christian era, to whom but to the
Christians would they have imputed these as crimes? I do not speak
of those things which were rather surprising than hurtful,--oxen
speaking, unborn infants articulating some words in their mothers'
wombs, serpents flying, hens and women being changed into the other
sex; and other similar prodigies which, whether true or false, are
recorded not in their imaginative, but in their historical works,
and which do not injure, but only astonish men. But when it rained
earth, when it rained chalk, when it rained stones--not hailstones,
but real stones--this certainly was calculated to do serious damage.
We have read in their books that the fires of Etna, pouring down from
the top of the mountain to the neighbouring shore, caused the sea to
boil, so that rocks were burnt up, and the pitch of ships began to
run,--a phenomenon incredibly surprising, but at the same time no
less hurtful. By the same violent heat, they relate that on another
occasion Sicily was filled with cinders, so that the houses of the
city Catina were destroyed and buried under them,--a calamity which
moved the Romans to pity them, and remit their tribute for that
year. One may also read that Africa, which had by that time become a
province of Rome, was visited by a prodigious multitude of locusts,
which, after consuming the fruit and foliage of the trees, were
driven into the sea in one vast and measureless cloud; so that when
they were drowned and cast upon the shore the air was polluted, and
so serious a pestilence produced that in the kingdom of Masinissa
alone they say there perished 800,000 persons, besides a much greater
number in the neighbouring districts. At Utica they assure us that,
of 30,000 soldiers then garrisoning it, there survived only ten. Yet
which of these disasters, suppose they happened now, would not be
attributed to the Christian religion by those who thus thoughtlessly
accuse us, and whom we are compelled to answer? And yet to their own
gods they attribute none of these things, though they worship them
for the sake of escaping lesser calamities of the same kind, and do
not reflect that they who formerly worshipped them were not preserved
from these serious disasters.


[115] Compare Aug. _Epist. ad Deogratias_, 102, 13; and _De Præd.
Sanct._ 19.

[116] Ch. iv.

[117] Virg. _Georg._ i. 502, 'Laomedonteæ luimus perjuria Trojæ.'

[118] _Iliad_, xx. 293 et seqq.

[119] _Æneid_, v. 810, 811.

[120] Gratis et ingratis.

[121] _De Conj. Cat._ vi.

[122] Helen's husband.

[123] Venus' husband.

[124] Suetonius, in his _Life of Julius Cæsar_ (c. 6), relates that,
in pronouncing a funeral oration in praise of his aunt Julia, Cæsar
claimed for the Julian gens to which his family belonged a descent
from Venus, through Iulus, son of Eneas.

[125] Livy, 83, one of the lost books; and Appian, _in Mithridat_.

[126] The gates of Janus were not the gates of a temple, but the
gates of a passage called Janus, which was used only for military
purposes; shut therefore in peace, open in war.

[127] The year of the Consuls T. Manlius and C. Atilius, A. U. C. 519.

[128] Sall. _Conj. Cat._ ii.

[129] _Æneid_, viii. 326-7.

[130] Sall. _Cat. Conj._ vi.

[131] _Æneid_, xi. 532.

[132] _Ibid._ x. 464.

[133] Livy, x. 47.

[134] Being son of Apollo.

[135] Virgil, _Æn._ i. 286.

[136] _Pharsal._ v. 1.

[137] _Æneid_, x. 821, of Lausus:

          "But when Anchises' son surveyed
           The fair, fair face so ghastly made,
           He groaned, by tenderness unmanned,
           And stretched the sympathizing hand," etc.

[138] Virgil, _Æneid_, vi. 813.

[139] Sallust, _Cat. Conj._ ii.

[140] Ps. x. 3.

[141] _Æneid_, ii. 351-2.

[142] Cicero, _De Rep._ ii. 10.

[143] _Contra Cat._ iii. 2.

[144] _Æneid_, vi. 820, etc.

[145] His nephew.

[146] _Hist._ i.

[147] Lectisternia, from _lectus_, a couch, and _sterno_, I spread.

[148] _Proletarius_, from _proles_, offspring.

[149] The oracle ran: "Dico te, Pyrrhe, vincere posse Romanos."

[150] Troy, Lavinia, Alba.

[151] Under the inscription on the temple some person wrote the line,
"Vecordiæ opus ædem facit Concordiæ"--The work of discord makes the
temple of Concord.

[152] Cicero, _in Catilin._ iii. _sub. fin._

[153] Lucan, _Pharsal._ ii. 142-146.

[154] Virgil, _Æneid_, i. 417.

                            BOOK FOURTH.[155]



    1. _Of the things which have been discussed in the first book._

Having begun to speak of the city of God, I have thought it necessary
first of all to reply to its enemies, who, eagerly pursuing earthly
joys, and gaping after transitory things, throw the blame of all the
sorrow they suffer in them--rather through the compassion of God
in admonishing, than His severity in punishing--on the Christian
religion, which is the one salutary and true religion. And since
there is among them also an unlearned rabble, they are stirred up as
by the authority of the learned to hate us more bitterly, thinking
in their inexperience that things which have happened unwontedly
in their days were not wont to happen in other times gone by; and
whereas this opinion of theirs is confirmed even by those who know
that it is false, and yet dissemble their knowledge in order that
they may seem to have just cause for murmuring against us, it was
necessary, from books in which their authors recorded and published
the history of bygone times that it might be known, to demonstrate
that it is far otherwise than they think; and at the same time to
teach that the false gods, whom they openly worshipped, or still
worship in secret, are most unclean spirits, and most malignant and
deceitful demons, even to such a pitch that they take delight in
crimes which, whether real or only fictitious, are yet their own,
which it has been their will to have celebrated in honour of them at
their own festivals; so that human infirmity cannot be called back
from the perpetration of damnable deeds, so long as authority is
furnished for imitating them that seems even divine. These things we
have proved, not from our own conjectures, but partly from recent
memory, because we ourselves have seen such things celebrated, and
to such deities, partly from the writings of those who have left
these things on record to posterity, not as if in reproach, but as
in honour of their own gods. Thus Varro, a most learned man among
them, and of the weightiest authority, when he made separate books
concerning things human and things divine, distributing some among
the human, others among the divine, according to the special dignity
of each, placed the scenic plays not at all among things human, but
among things divine; though, certainly, if only there were good and
honest men in the state, the scenic plays ought not to be allowed
even among things human. And this he did not on his own authority,
but because, being born and educated at Rome, he found them among the
divine things. Now as we briefly stated in the end of the first book
what we intended afterwards to discuss, and as we have disposed of
a part of this in the next two books, we see what our readers will
expect us now to take up.

  2. _Of those things which are contained in Books Second and Third._

We had promised, then, that we would say something against those who
attribute the calamities of the Roman republic to our religion, and
that we would recount the evils, as many and great as we could remember
or might deem sufficient, which that city, or the provinces belonging
to its empire, had suffered before their sacrifices were prohibited,
all of which would beyond doubt have been attributed to us, if our
religion had either already shone on them, or had thus prohibited
their sacrilegious rites. These things we have, as we think, fully
disposed of in the second and third books, treating in the second of
evils in morals, which alone or chiefly are to be accounted evils;
and in the third, of those which only fools dread to undergo--namely,
those of the body or of outward things--which for the most part the
good also suffer. But those evils by which they themselves become
evil, they take, I do not say patiently, but with pleasure. And how
few evils have I related concerning that one city and its empire! Not
even all down to the time of Cæsar Augustus. What if I had chosen to
recount and enlarge on those evils, not which men have inflicted on
each other, such as the devastations and destructions of war, but which
happen in earthly things, from the elements of the world itself? Of
such evils Apuleius speaks briefly in one passage of that book which
he wrote, _De Mundo_, saying that all earthly things are subject to
change, overthrow, and destruction.[156] For, to use his own words, by
excessive earthquakes the ground has burst asunder, and cities with
their inhabitants have been clean destroyed: by sudden rains whole
regions have been washed away; those also which formerly had been
continents, have been insulated by strange and new-come waves, and
others, by the subsiding of the sea, have been made passable by the
foot of man: by winds and storms cities have been overthrown; fires
have flashed forth from the clouds, by which regions in the East being
burnt up have perished; and on the western coasts the like destructions
have been caused by the bursting forth of waters and floods. So,
formerly, from the lofty craters of Etna, rivers of fire kindled by God
have flowed like a torrent down the steeps. If I had wished to collect
from history wherever I could, these and similar instances, where
should I have finished what happened even in those times before the
name of Christ had put down those of their idols, so vain and hurtful
to true salvation? I promised that I should also point out which of
their customs, and for what cause, the true God, in whose power all
kingdoms are, had deigned to favour to the enlargement of their empire;
and how those whom they think gods can have profited them nothing, but
much rather hurt them by deceiving and beguiling them; so that it seems
to me I must now speak of these things, and chiefly of the increase of
the Roman empire. For I have already said not a little, especially in
the second book, about the many evils introduced into their manners by
the hurtful deceits of the demons whom they worshipped as gods. But
throughout all the three books already completed, where it appeared
suitable, we have set forth how much succour God, through the name of
Christ, to whom the barbarians beyond the custom of war paid so much
honour, has bestowed on the good and bad, according as it is written,
"Who maketh His sun to rise on the good and the evil, and giveth rain
to the just and the unjust."[157]

  3. _Whether the great extent of the empire, which has been
      acquired only by wars, is to be reckoned among the good things
      either of the wise or the happy._

Now, therefore, let us see how it is that they dare to ascribe the very
great extent and duration of the Roman empire to those gods whom they
contend that they worship honourably, even by the obsequies of vile
games and the ministry of vile men: although I should like first to
inquire for a little what reason, what prudence, there is in wishing
to glory in the greatness and extent of the empire, when you cannot
point out the happiness of men who are always rolling, with dark fear
and cruel lust, in warlike slaughters and in blood, which, whether
shed in civil or foreign war, is still human blood; so that their
joy may be compared to glass in its fragile splendour, of which one
is horribly afraid lest it should be suddenly broken in pieces. That
this may be more easily discerned, let us not come to nought by being
carried away with empty boasting, or blunt the edge of our attention
by loud-sounding names of things, when we hear of peoples, kingdoms,
provinces. But let us suppose a case of two men; for each individual
man, like one letter in a language, is as it were the element of a city
or kingdom, however far-spreading in its occupation of the earth. Of
these two men let us suppose that one is poor, or rather of middling
circumstances; the other very rich. But the rich man is anxious with
fears, pining with discontent, burning with covetousness, never secure,
always uneasy, panting from the perpetual strife of his enemies, adding
to his patrimony indeed by these miseries to an immense degree, and by
these additions also heaping up most bitter cares. But that other man
of moderate wealth is contented with a small and compact estate, most
dear to his own family, enjoying the sweetest peace with his kindred
neighbours and friends, in piety religious, benignant in mind, healthy
in body, in life frugal, in manners chaste, in conscience secure. I
know not whether any one can be such a fool, that he dare hesitate
which to prefer. As, therefore, in the case of these two men, so in two
families, in two nations, in two kingdoms, this test of tranquillity
holds good; and if we apply it vigilantly and without prejudice, we
shall quite easily see where the mere show of happiness dwells, and
where real felicity. Wherefore if the true God is worshipped, and if He
is served with genuine rites and true virtue, it is advantageous that
good men should long reign both far and wide. Nor is this advantageous
so much to themselves, as to those over whom they reign. For, so far
as concerns themselves, their piety and probity, which are great gifts
of God, suffice to give them true felicity, enabling them to live well
the life that now is, and afterwards to receive that which is eternal.
In this world, therefore, the dominion of good men is profitable, not
so much for themselves as for human affairs. But the dominion of bad
men is hurtful chiefly to themselves who rule, for they destroy their
own souls by greater licence in wickedness; while those who are put
under them in service are not hurt except by their own iniquity. For
to the just all the evils imposed on them by unjust rulers are not the
punishment of crime, but the test of virtue. Therefore the good man,
although he is a slave, is free; but the bad man, even if he reigns, is
a slave, and that not of one man, but, what is far more grievous, of as
many masters as he has vices; of which vices when the divine Scripture
treats, it says, "For of whom any man is overcome, to the same he is
also the bond-slave."[158]

       4. _How like kingdoms without justice are to robberies._

Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great
robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms?
The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority
of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy;
the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance
of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it
holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues
peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because
the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of
covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an
apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate
who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he
meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold
pride, "What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I
do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost
it with a great fleet art styled emperor."[159]

     5. _Of the runaway gladiators whose power became like that of
                            royal dignity._

I shall not therefore stay to inquire what sort of men Romulus
gathered together, seeing he deliberated much about them,--how,
being assumed out of that life they led into the fellowship of his
city, they might cease to think of the punishment they deserved,
the fear of which had driven them to greater villanies; so that
henceforth they might be made more peaceable members of society. But
this I say, that the Roman empire, which by subduing many nations
had already grown great and an object of universal dread, was itself
greatly alarmed, and only with much difficulty avoided a disastrous
overthrow, because a mere handful of gladiators in Campania, escaping
from the games, had recruited a great army, appointed three generals,
and most widely and cruelly devastated Italy. Let them say what
god aided these men, so that from a small and contemptible band of
robbers they attained to a kingdom, feared even by the Romans, who
had such great forces and fortresses. Or will they deny that they
were divinely aided because they did not last long?[160] As if,
indeed, the life of any man whatever lasted long. In that case, too,
the gods aid no one to reign, since all individuals quickly die; nor
is sovereign power to be reckoned a benefit, because in a little time
in every man, and thus in all of them one by one, it vanishes like
a vapour. For what does it matter to those who worshipped the gods
under Romulus, and are long since dead, that after their death the
Roman empire has grown so great, while they plead their causes before
the powers beneath? Whether those causes are good or bad, it matters
not to the question before us. And this is to be understood of all
those who carry with them the heavy burden of their actions, having
in the few days of their life swiftly and hurriedly passed over the
stage of the imperial office, although the office itself has lasted
through long spaces of time, being filled by a constant succession
of dying men. If, however, even those benefits which last only for
the shortest time are to be ascribed to the aid of the gods, these
gladiators were not a little aided, who broke the bonds of their
servile condition, fled, escaped, raised a great and most powerful
army, obedient to the will and orders of their chiefs and much feared
by the Roman majesty, and remaining unsubdued by several Roman
generals, seized many places, and, having won very many victories,
enjoyed whatever pleasures they wished, and did what their lust
suggested, and, until at last they were conquered, which was done
with the utmost difficulty, lived sublime and dominant. But let us
come to greater matters.

    6. _Concerning the covetousness of Ninus, who was the first who
     made war on his neighbours, that he might rule more widely._

Justinus, who wrote Greek or rather foreign history in Latin, and
briefly, like Trogus Pompeius whom he followed, begins his work
thus: "In the beginning of the affairs of peoples and nations the
government was in the hands of kings, who were raised to the height
of this majesty not by courting the people, but by the knowledge
good men had of their moderation. The people were held bound by no
laws; the decisions of the princes were instead of laws. It was
the custom to guard rather than to extend the boundaries of the
empire; and kingdoms were kept within the bounds of each ruler's
native land. Ninus king of the Assyrians first of all, through new
lust of empire, changed the old and, as it were, ancestral custom
of nations. He first made war on his neighbours, and wholly subdued
as far as to the frontiers of Libya the nations as yet untrained to
resist." And a little after he says: "Ninus established by constant
possession the greatness of the authority he had gained. Having
mastered his nearest neighbours, he went on to others, strengthened
by the accession of forces, and by making each fresh victory the
instrument of that which followed, subdued the nations of the whole
East." Now, with whatever fidelity to fact either he or Trogus may
in general have written--for that they sometimes told lies is shown
by other more trustworthy writers--yet it is agreed among other
authors, that the kingdom of the Assyrians was extended far and wide
by King Ninus. And it lasted so long, that the Roman empire has not
yet attained the same age; for, as those write who have treated of
chronological history, this kingdom endured for twelve hundred and
forty years from the first year in which Ninus began to reign, until
it was transferred to the Medes. But to make war on your neighbours,
and thence to proceed to others, and through mere lust of dominion to
crush and subdue people who do you no harm, what else is this to be
called than great robbery?

     7. _Whether earthly kingdoms in their rise and fall have been
          either aided or deserted by the help of the gods._

If this kingdom was so great and lasting without the aid of the
gods, why is the ample territory and long duration of the Roman
empire to be ascribed to the Roman gods? For whatever is the cause
in it, the same is in the other also. But if they contend that the
prosperity of the other also is to be attributed to the aid of the
gods, I ask of which? For the other nations whom Ninus overcame, did
not then worship other gods. Or if the Assyrians had gods of their
own, who, so to speak, were more skilful workmen in the construction
and preservation of the empire, whether are they dead, since they
themselves have also lost the empire; or, having been defrauded of
their pay, or promised a greater, have they chosen rather to go over
to the Medes, and from them again to the Persians, because Cyrus
invited them, and promised them something still more advantageous?
This nation, indeed, since the time of the kingdom of Alexander
the Macedonian, which was as brief in duration as it was great in
extent, has preserved its own empire, and at this day occupies no
small territories in the East. If this is so, then either the gods
are unfaithful, who desert their own and go over to their enemies,
which Camillus, who was but a man, did not do, when, being victor
and subduer of a most hostile state, although he had felt that
Rome, for whom he had done so much, was ungrateful, yet afterwards,
forgetting the injury and remembering his native land, he freed her
again from the Gauls; or they are not so strong as gods ought to be,
since they can be overcome by human skill or strength. Or if, when
they carry on war among themselves, the gods are not overcome by
men, but some gods who are peculiar to certain cities are perchance
overcome by other gods, it follows that they have quarrels among
themselves which they uphold, each for his own part. Therefore a
city ought not to worship its own gods, but rather others who aid
their own worshippers. Finally, whatever may have been the case as
to this change of sides, or flight, or migration, or failure in
battle on the part of the gods, the name of Christ had not yet been
proclaimed in those parts of the earth when these kingdoms were lost
and transferred through great destructions in war. For if, after more
than twelve hundred years, when the kingdom was taken away from the
Assyrians, the Christian religion had there already preached another
eternal kingdom, and put a stop to the sacrilegious worship of false
gods, what else would the foolish men of that nation have said, but
that the kingdom which had been so long preserved, could be lost for
no other cause than the desertion of their own religions and the
reception of Christianity? In which foolish speech that might have
been uttered, let those we speak of observe their own likeness, and
blush, if there is any sense of shame in them, because they have
uttered similar complaints; although the Roman empire is afflicted
rather than changed,--a thing which has befallen it in other times
also, before the name of Christ was heard, and it has been restored
after such affliction,--a thing which even in these times is not to
be despaired of. For who knows the will of God concerning this matter?

  8. _Which of the gods can the Romans suppose presided over the
      increase and preservation of their empire, when they have
      believed that even the care of single things could scarcely be
      committed to single gods?_

Next let us ask, if they please, out of so great a crowd of gods
which the Romans worship, whom in especial, or what gods they
believe to have extended and preserved that empire. Now, surely of
this work, which is so excellent and so very full of the highest
dignity, they dare not ascribe any part to the goddess Cloacina;[161]
or to Volupia, who has her appellation from voluptuousness; or to
Libentina, who has her name from lust; or to Vaticanus, who presides
over the screaming of infants; or to Cunina, who rules over their
cradles. But how is it possible to recount in one part of this
book all the names of gods or goddesses, which they could scarcely
comprise in great volumes, distributing among these divinities their
peculiar offices about single things? They have not even thought
that the charge of their lands should be committed to any one god:
but they have entrusted their farms to Rusina; the ridges of the
mountains to Jugatinus; over the downs they have set the goddess
Collatina; over the valleys, Vallonia. Nor could they even find one
Segetia so competent, that they could commend to her care all their
corn crops at once; but so long as their seed-corn was still under
the ground, they would have the goddess Seia set over it; then,
whenever it was above ground and formed straw, they set over it
the goddess Segetia; and when the grain was collected and stored,
they set over it the goddess Tutilina, that it might be kept safe.
Who would not have thought that goddess Segetia sufficient to take
care of the standing corn until it had passed from the first green
blades to the dry ears? Yet she was not enough for men, who loved
a multitude of gods, that the miserable soul, despising the chaste
embrace of the one true God, should be prostituted to a crowd of
demons. Therefore they set Proserpina over the germinating seeds;
over the joints and knots of the stems, the god Nodotus; over
the sheaths enfolding the ears, the goddess Volutina; when the
sheaths opened that the spike might shoot forth, it was ascribed
to the goddess Patelana; when the stems stood all equal with new
ears, because the ancients described this equalizing by the term
_hostire_, it was ascribed to the goddess Hostilina; when the grain
was in flower, it was dedicated to the goddess Flora; when full of
milk, to the god Lacturnus; when maturing, to the goddess Matuta;
when the crop was runcated,--that is, removed from the soil,--to the
goddess Runcina. Nor do I yet recount them all, for I am sick of all
this, though it gives them no shame. Only, I have said these very few
things, in order that it may be understood they dare by no means say
that the Roman empire has been established, increased, and preserved
by their deities, who had all their own functions assigned to them
in such a way, that no general oversight was entrusted to any one of
them. When, therefore, could Segetia take care of the empire, who was
not allowed to take care of the corn and the trees? When could Cunina
take thought about war, whose oversight was not allowed to go beyond
the cradles of the babies? When could Nodotus give help in battle,
who had nothing to do even with the sheath of the ear, but only with
the knots of the joints? Every one sets a porter at the door of his
house, and because he is a man, he is quite sufficient; but these
people have set three gods, Forculus to the doors, Cardea to the
hinge, Limentinus to the threshold.[162] Thus Forculus could not at
the same time take care also of the hinge and the threshold.

  9. _Whether the great extent and long duration of the Roman empire
      should be ascribed to Jove, whom his worshippers believe to be
      the chief god._

Therefore omitting, or passing by for a little, that crowd of petty
gods, we ought to inquire into the part performed by the great gods,
whereby Rome has been made so great as to reign so long over so many
nations. Doubtless, therefore, this is the work of Jove. For they
will have it that he is the king of all the gods and goddesses,
as is shown by his sceptre and by the Capitol on the lofty hill.
Concerning that god they publish a saying which, although that of a
poet, is most apt, "All things are full of Jove."[163] Varro believes
that this god is worshipped, although called by another name, even
by those who worship one God alone without any image. But if this
is so, why has he been so badly used at Rome (and indeed by other
nations too), that an image of him should be made?--a thing which
was so displeasing to Varro himself, that although he was overborne
by the perverse custom of so great a city, he had not the least
hesitation in both saying and writing, that those who have appointed
images for the people have both taken away fear and added error.

    10. _What opinions those have followed who have set divers gods
                   over divers parts of the world._

Why, also, is Juno united to him as his wife, who is called at once
"sister and yokefellow?"[164] Because, say they, we have Jove in the
ether, Juno in the air; and these two elements are united, the one
being superior, the other inferior. It is not he, then, of whom it is
said, "All things are full of Jove," if Juno also fills some part.
Does each fill either, and are both of this couple in both of these
elements, and in each of them at the same time? Why, then, is the ether
given to Jove, the air to Juno? Besides, these two should have been
enough. Why is it that the sea is assigned to Neptune, the earth to
Pluto? And that these also might not be left without mates, Salacia
is joined to Neptune, Proserpine to Pluto. For they say that, as Juno
possesses the lower part of the heavens,--that is, the air,--so Salacia
possesses the lower part of the sea, and Proserpine the lower part of
the earth. They seek how they may patch up these fables, but they find
no way. For if these things were so, their ancient sages would have
maintained that there are three chief elements of the world, not four,
in order that each of the elements might have a pair of gods. Now, they
have positively affirmed that the ether is one thing, the air another.
But water, whether higher or lower, is surely water. Suppose it ever
so unlike, can it ever be so much so as no longer to be water? And
the lower earth, by whatever divinity it may be distinguished, what
else can it be than earth? Lo, then, since the whole physical world
is complete in these four or three elements, where shall Minerva be?
What should she possess, what should she fill? For she is placed in
the Capitol along with these two, although she is not the offspring of
their marriage. Or if they say that she possesses the higher part of
the ether,--and on that account the poets have feigned that she sprang
from the head of Jove,--why then is she not rather reckoned queen of
the gods, because she is superior to Jove? Is it because it would be
improper to set the daughter before the father? Why, then, is not that
rule of justice observed concerning Jove himself toward Saturn? Is it
because he was conquered? Have they fought then? By no means, say they;
that is an old wife's fable. Lo, we are not to believe fables, and
must hold more worthy opinions concerning the gods! Why, then, do they
not assign to the father of Jove a seat, if not of higher, at least
of equal honour? Because Saturn, say they, is length of time.[165]
Therefore they who worship Saturn worship Time; and it is insinuated
that Jupiter, the king of the gods, was born of Time. For is anything
unworthy said when Jupiter and Juno are said to have been sprung from
Time, if he is the heaven and she is the earth, since both heaven and
earth have been made, and are therefore not eternal? For their learned
and wise men have this also in their books. Nor is that saying taken by
Virgil out of poetic figments, but out of the books of philosophers,

          "Then Ether, the Father Almighty, in copious showers descended
           Into his spouse's glad bosom, making it fertile,"[166]

--that is, into the bosom of Tellus, or the earth. Although here,
also, they will have it that there are some differences, and think
that in the earth herself Terra is one thing, Tellus another, and
Tellumo another. And they have all these as gods, called by their
own names, distinguished by their own offices, and venerated with
their own altars and rites. This same earth also they call the
mother of the gods, so that even the fictions of the poets are more
tolerable, if, according, not to their poetical but sacred books,
Juno is not only the sister and wife, but also the mother of Jove.
The same earth they worship as Ceres, and also as Vesta; while yet
they more frequently affirm that Vesta is nothing else than fire,
pertaining to the hearths, without which the city cannot exist; and
therefore virgins are wont to serve her, because as nothing is born
of a virgin, so nothing is born of fire;--but all this nonsense
ought to be completely abolished and extinguished by Him who is
born of a virgin. For who can bear that, while they ascribe to the
fire so much honour, and, as it were, chastity, they do not blush
sometimes even to call Vesta Venus, so that honoured virginity may
vanish in her handmaidens? For if Vesta is Venus, how can virgins
rightly serve her by abstaining from venery? Are there two Venuses,
the one a virgin, the other not a maid? Or rather, are there three,
one the goddess of virgins, who is also called Vesta, another the
goddess of wives, and another of harlots? To her also the Phenicians
offered a gift by prostituting their daughters before they united
them to husbands.[167] Which of these is the wife of Vulcan?
Certainly not the virgin, since she has a husband. Far be it from
us to say it is the harlot, lest we should seem to wrong the son of
Juno and fellow-worker of Minerva. Therefore it is to be understood
that she belongs to the married people; but we would not wish them
to imitate her in what she did with Mars. "Again," say they, "you
return to fables." What sort of justice is that, to be angry with us
because we say such things of their gods, and not to be angry with
themselves, who in their theatres most willingly behold the crimes of
their gods? And,--a thing incredible, if it were not thoroughly well
proved,--these very theatric representations of the crimes of their
gods have been instituted in honour of these same gods.

    11. _Concerning the many gods whom the pagan doctors defend as
                     being one and the same Jove._

Let them therefore assert as many things as ever they please in
physical reasonings and disputations. One while let Jupiter be the
soul of this corporeal world, who fills and moves that whole mass,
constructed and compacted out of four, or as many elements as they
please; another while, let him yield to his sister and brothers their
parts of it: now let him be the ether, that from above he may embrace
Juno, the air spread out beneath; again, let him be the whole heaven
along with the air, and impregnate with fertilizing showers and seeds
the earth, as his wife, and, at the same time, his mother (for this
is not vile in divine beings); and yet again (that it may not be
necessary to run through them all), let him, the one god, of whom
many think it has been said by a most noble poet,

          "For God pervadeth all things,
           All lands, and the tracts of the sea, and the depth of the

let it be him who in the ether is Jupiter; in the air, Juno; in the
sea, Neptune; in the lower parts of the sea, Salacia; in the earth,
Pluto; in the lower part of the earth, Proserpine; on the domestic
hearths, Vesta; in the furnace of the workmen, Vulcan; among the
stars, Sol, and Luna, and the Stars; in divination, Apollo; in
merchandise, Mercury; in Janus, the initiator; in Terminus, the
terminator; Saturn, in time; Mars and Bellona, in war; Liber, in
vineyards; Ceres, in corn-fields; Diana, in forests; Minerva, in
learning. Finally, let it be him who is in that crowd, as it were,
of plebeian gods: let him preside under the name of Liber over the
seed of men, and under that of Libera over that of women: let him be
Diespiter, who brings forth the birth to the light of day: let him be
the goddess Mena, whom they set over the menstruation of women: let
him be Lucina, who is invoked by women in childbirth: let him bring
help to those who are being born, by taking them up from the bosom
of the earth, and let him be called Opis: let him open the mouth in
the crying babe, and be called the god Vaticanus: let him lift it
from the earth, and be called the goddess Levana; let him watch over
cradles, and be called the goddess Cunina: let it be no other than he
who is in those goddesses, who sing the fates of the new born, and
are called Carmentes: let him preside over fortuitous events, and be
called Fortuna: in the goddess Rumina, let him milk out the breast
to the little one, because the ancients termed the breast _ruma_: in
the goddess Potina, let him administer drink: in the goddess Educa,
let him supply food: from the terror of infants, let him be styled
Paventia: from the hope which comes, Venilia; from voluptuousness,
Volupia; from action, Agenor: from the stimulants by which man is
spurred on to much action, let him be named the goddess Stimula:
let him be the goddess Strenia, for making strenuous; Numeria, who
teaches to number; Camœna, who teaches to sing: let him be both the
god Consus for granting counsel, and the goddess Sentia for inspiring
sentences: let him be the goddess Juventas, who, after the robe of
boyhood is laid aside, takes charge of the beginning of the youthful
age: let him be Fortuna Barbata, who endues adults with a beard, whom
they have not chosen to honour; so that this divinity, whatever it
may be, should at least be a male god, named either Barbatus, from
_barba_, like Nodotus, from _nodus_; or, certainly, not Fortuna, but
because he has beards, Fortunius: let him, in the god Jugatinus,
yoke couples in marriage; and when the girdle of the virgin wife is
loosed, let him be invoked as the goddess Virginiensis: let him be
Mutunus or Tuternus, who, among the Greeks, is called Priapus. If
they are not ashamed of it, let all these which I have named, and
whatever others I have not named (for I have not thought fit to name
all), let all these gods and goddesses be that one Jupiter, whether,
as some will have it, all these are parts of him, or are his powers,
as those think who are pleased to consider him the soul of the
world, which is the opinion of most of their doctors, and these the
greatest. If these things are so (how evil they may be I do not yet
meanwhile inquire), what would they lose, if they, by a more prudent
abridgment, should worship one god? For what part of him could be
contemned if he himself should be worshipped? But if they are afraid
lest parts of him should be angry at being passed by or neglected,
then it is not the case, as they will have it, that this whole is as
the life of one living being, which contains all the gods together,
as if they were its virtues, or members, or parts; but each part
has its own life separate from the rest, if it is so that one can
be angered, appeased, or stirred up more than another. But if it is
said that all together,--that is, the whole Jove himself,--would be
offended if his parts were not also worshipped singly and minutely,
it is foolishly spoken. Surely none of them could be passed by if
he who singly possesses them all should be worshipped. For, to omit
other things which are innumerable, when they say that all the stars
are parts of Jove, and are all alive, and have rational souls, and
therefore without controversy are gods, can they not see how many
they do not worship, to how many they do not build temples or set up
altars, and to how very few, in fact, of the stars they have thought
of setting them up and offering sacrifice? If, therefore, those are
displeased who are not severally worshipped, do they not fear to live
with only a few appeased, while all heaven is displeased? But if
they worship all the stars because they are part of Jove whom they
worship, by the same compendious method they could supplicate them
all in him alone. For in this way no one would be displeased, since
in him alone all would be supplicated. No one would be contemned,
instead of there being just cause of displeasure given to the
much greater number who are passed by in the worship offered to
some; especially when Priapus, stretched out in vile nakedness, is
preferred to those who shine from their supernal abode.

   12. _Concerning the opinion of those who have thought that God is
       the soul of the world, and the world is the body of God._

Ought not men of intelligence, and indeed men of every kind, to be
stirred up to examine the nature of this opinion? For there is no need
of excellent capacity for this task, that putting away the desire of
contention, they may observe that if God is the soul of the world, and
the world is as a body to Him, who is the soul, He must be one living
being consisting of soul and body, and that this same God is a kind
of womb of nature containing all things in Himself, so that the lives
and souls of all living things are taken, according to the manner of
each one's birth, out of His soul which vivifies that whole mass, and
therefore nothing at all remains which is not a part of God. And if
this is so, who cannot see what impious and irreligious consequences
follow, such as that whatever one may trample, he must trample a part
of God, and in slaying any living creature, a part of God must be
slaughtered? But I am unwilling to utter all that may occur to those
who think of it, yet cannot be spoken without irreverence.

    13. _Concerning those who assert that only rational animals are
                        parts of the one God._

But if they contend that only rational animals, such as men, are
parts of God, I do not really see how, if the whole world is God,
they can separate beasts from being parts of Him. But what need
is there of striving about that? Concerning the rational animal
himself,--that is, man,--what more unhappy belief can be entertained
than that a part of God is whipped when a boy is whipped? And who,
unless he is quite mad, could bear the thought that parts of God can
become lascivious, iniquitous, impious, and altogether damnable? In
brief, why is God angry at those who do not worship Him, since these
offenders are parts of Himself? It remains, therefore, that they
must say that all the gods have their own lives; that each one lives
for himself, and none of them is a part of any one; but that all are
to be worshipped,--at least as many as can be known and worshipped;
for they are so many it is impossible that all can be so. And of
all these, I believe that Jupiter, because he presides as king, is
thought by them to have both established and extended the Roman
empire. For if he has not done it, what other god do they believe
could have attempted so great a work, when they must all be occupied
with their own offices and works, nor can one intrude on that of
another? Could the kingdom of men then be propagated and increased by
the king of the gods?

  14. _The enlargement of kingdoms is unsuitably ascribed to Jove;
      for if, as they will have it, Victoria is a goddess, she alone
      would suffice for this business._

Here, first of all, I ask, why even the kingdom itself is not some
god? For why should not it also be so, if Victory is a goddess? Or
what need is there of Jove himself in this affair, if Victory favours
and is propitious, and always goes to those whom she wishes to be
victorious? With this goddess favourable and propitious, even if Jove
was idle and did nothing, what nations could remain unsubdued, what
kingdom would not yield? But perhaps it is displeasing to good men to
fight with most wicked unrighteousness, and provoke with voluntary
war neighbours who are peaceable and do no wrong, in order to enlarge
a kingdom? If they feel thus, I entirely approve and praise them.

     15. _Whether it is suitable for good men to wish to rule more

Let them ask, then, whether it is quite fitting for good men to
rejoice in extended empire. For the iniquity of those with whom just
wars are carried on favours the growth of a kingdom, which would
certainly have been small if the peace and justice of neighbours had
not by any wrong provoked the carrying on of war against them; and
human affairs being thus more happy, all kingdoms would have been
small, rejoicing in neighbourly concord; and thus there would have
been very many kingdoms of nations in the world, as there are very
many houses of citizens in a city. Therefore, to carry on war and
extend a kingdom over wholly subdued nations seems to bad men to
be felicity, to good men necessity. But because it would be worse
that the injurious should rule over those who are more righteous,
therefore even that is not unsuitably called felicity. But beyond
doubt it is greater felicity to have a good neighbour at peace, than
to conquer a bad one by making war. Your wishes are bad, when you
desire that one whom you hate or fear should be in such a condition
that you can conquer him. If, therefore, by carrying on wars that
were just, not impious or unrighteous, the Romans could have acquired
so great an empire, ought they not to worship as a goddess even
the injustice of foreigners? For we see that this has co-operated
much in extending the empire, by making foreigners so unjust that
they became people with whom just wars might be carried on, and
the empire increased. And why may not injustice, at least that of
foreign nations, also be a goddess, if Fear and Dread, and Ague
have deserved to be Roman gods? By these two, therefore,--that is,
by foreign injustice, and the goddess Victoria, for injustice stirs
up causes of wars, and Victoria brings these same wars to a happy
termination,--the empire has increased, even although Jove has been
idle. For what part could Jove have here, when those things which
might be thought to be his benefits are held to be gods, called
gods, worshipped as gods, and are themselves invoked for their own
parts? He also might have some part here, if he himself might be
called Empire, just as she is called Victory. Or if empire is the
gift of Jove, why may not victory also be held to be his gift? And it
certainly would have been held to be so, had he been recognised and
worshipped, not as a stone in the Capitol, but as the true King of
kings and Lord of lords.

  16. _What was the reason why the Romans, in detailing separate gods
      for all things and all movements of the mind, chose to have the
      temple of Quiet outside the gates._

But I wonder very much, that while they assigned to separate gods
single things, and (well nigh) all movements of the mind; that while
they invoked the goddess Agenoria, who should excite to action; the
goddess Stimula, who should stimulate to unusual action; the goddess
Murcia, who should not move men beyond measure, but make them, as
Pomponius says, _murcid_--that is, too slothful and inactive; the
goddess Strenua, who should make them strenuous; and that while they
offered to all these gods and goddesses solemn and public worship,
they should yet have been unwilling to give public acknowledgment
to her whom they name Quies because she makes men quiet, but built
her temple outside the Colline gate. Whether was this a symptom of
an unquiet mind, or rather was it thus intimated that he who should
persevere in worshipping that crowd, not, to be sure, of gods, but
of demons, could not dwell with quiet; to which the true Physician
calls, saying, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye
shall find rest unto your souls?"

   17. _Whether, if the highest power belongs to Jove, Victoria also
                       ought to be worshipped._

Or do they say, perhaps, that Jupiter sends the goddess Victoria,
and that she, as it were, acting in obedience to the king of the
gods, comes to those to whom he may have despatched her, and takes
up her quarters on their side? This is truly said, not of Jove, whom
they, according to their own imagination, feign to be king of the
gods, but of Him who is the true eternal King, because he sends, not
Victory, who is no person, but His angel, and causes whom He pleases
to conquer; whose counsel may be hidden, but cannot be unjust. For
if Victory is a goddess, why is not Triumph also a god, and joined
to Victory either as husband, or brother, or son? Indeed, they have
imagined such things concerning the gods, that if the poets had
feigned the like, and they should have been discussed by us, they
would have replied that they were laughable figments of the poets not
to be attributed to true deities. And yet they themselves did not
laugh when they were, not reading in the poets, but worshipping in
the temples such doating follies. Therefore they should entreat Jove
alone for all things, and supplicate him only. For if Victory is a
goddess, and is under him as her king, wherever he might have sent
her, she could not dare to resist and do her own will rather than his.

       18. _With what reason they who think Felicity and Fortune
                  goddesses have distinguished them._

What shall we say, besides, of the idea that Felicity also is a
goddess? She has received a temple; she has merited an altar;
suitable rites of worship are paid to her. She alone, then, should be
worshipped. For where she is present, what good thing can be absent?
But what does a man wish, that he thinks Fortune also a goddess
and worships her? Is felicity one thing, fortune another? Fortune,
indeed, may be bad as well as good; but felicity, if it could be
bad, would not be felicity. Certainly we ought to think all the
gods of either sex (if they also have sex) are only good. This says
Plato; this say other philosophers; this say all estimable rulers
of the republic and the nations. How is it, then, that the goddess
Fortune is sometimes good, sometimes bad? Is it perhaps the case
that when she is bad she is not a goddess, but is suddenly changed
into a malignant demon? How many Fortunes are there then? Just as
many as there are men who are fortunate, that is, of good fortune.
But since there must also be very many others who at the very same
time are men of bad fortune, could she, being one and the same
Fortune, be at the same time both bad and good--the one to these,
the other to those? She who is the goddess, is she always good?
Then she herself is felicity. Why, then, are two names given her?
Yet this is tolerable; for it is customary that one thing should be
called by two names. But why different temples, different altars,
different rituals? There is a reason, say they, because Felicity
is she whom the good have by previous merit; but fortune, which is
termed good without any trial of merit, befalls both good and bad
men fortuitously, whence also she is named Fortune. How, therefore,
is she good, who without any discernment comes both to the good and
to the bad? Why is she worshipped, who is thus blind, running at
random on any one whatever, so that for the most part she passes by
her worshippers, and cleaves to those who despise her? Or if her
worshippers profit somewhat, so that they are seen by her and loved,
then she follows merit, and does not come fortuitously. What, then,
becomes of that definition of fortune? What becomes of the opinion
that she has received her very name from fortuitous events? For it
profits one nothing to worship her if she is truly _fortune_. But if
she distinguishes her worshippers, so that she may benefit them, she
is not fortune. Or does Jupiter send her too, whither he pleases?
Then let him alone be worshipped; because Fortune is not able to
resist him when he commands her, and sends her where he pleases. Or,
at least, let the bad worship her, who do not choose to have merit by
which the goddess Felicity might be invited.

                19. _Concerning Fortuna Muliebris._[169]

To this supposed deity, whom they call Fortuna, they ascribe so much,
indeed, that they have a tradition that the image of her, which was
dedicated by the Roman matrons, and called Fortuna Muliebris, has
spoken, and has said, once and again, that the matrons pleased her by
their homage; which, indeed, if it is true, ought not to excite our
wonder. For it is not so difficult for malignant demons to deceive,
and they ought the rather to advert to their wits and wiles, because
it is that goddess who comes by haphazard who has spoken, and not she
who comes to reward merit. For Fortuna was loquacious, and Felicitas
mute; and for what other reason but that men might not care to live
rightly, having made Fortuna their friend, who could make them
fortunate without any good desert? And truly, if Fortuna speaks, she
should at least speak, not with a womanly, but with a manly voice;
lest they themselves who have dedicated the image should think so
great a miracle has been wrought by feminine loquacity.

  20. _Concerning Virtue and Faith, which the pagans have honoured
      with temples and sacred rites, passing by other good qualities,
      which ought likewise to have been worshipped, if deity was
      rightly attributed to these._

They have made Virtue also a goddess, which, indeed, if it could be
a goddess, had been preferable to many. And now, because it is not
a goddess, but a gift of God, let _it_ be obtained by prayer from
Him, by whom alone it can be given, and the whole crowd of false gods
vanishes. But why is Faith believed to be a goddess, and why does she
herself receive temple and altar? For whoever prudently acknowledges
her makes his own self an abode for her. But how do they know what
faith is, of which it is the prime and greatest function that the
true God may be believed in? But why had not virtue sufficed? Does
it not include faith also? Forasmuch as they have thought proper to
distribute virtue into four divisions--prudence, justice, fortitude,
and temperance--and as each of these divisions has its own virtues,
faith is among the parts of justice, and has the chief place with
as many of us as know what that saying means, "The just shall live
by faith."[170] But if Faith is a goddess, I wonder why these keen
lovers of a multitude of gods have wronged so many other goddesses,
by passing them by, when they could have dedicated temples and altars
to them likewise. Why has temperance not deserved to be a goddess,
when some Roman princes have obtained no small glory on account of
her? Why, in fine, is fortitude not a goddess, who aided Mucius
when he thrust his right hand into the flames; who aided Curtius,
when for the sake of his country he threw himself headlong into the
yawning earth; who aided Decius the sire, and Decius the son, when
they devoted themselves for the army?--though we might question
whether these men had _true_ fortitude, if this concerned our present
discussion. Why have prudence and wisdom merited no place among the
gods? Is it because they are all worshipped under the general name
of Virtue itself? Then they could thus worship the true God also, of
whom all the other gods are thought to be parts. But in that one name
of virtue is comprehended both faith and chastity, which yet have
obtained separate altars in temples of their own.

   21. _That although not understanding them to be the gifts of God,
  they ought at least to have been content with Virtue and Felicity._

These, not verity but vanity has made goddesses. For these are gifts
of the true God, not themselves goddesses. However, where virtue and
felicity are, what else is sought for? What can suffice the man whom
virtue and felicity do not suffice? For surely virtue comprehends
all things we need do, felicity all things we need wish for. If
Jupiter, then, was worshipped in order that he might give these two
things,--because, if extent and duration of empire is something good,
it pertains to this same felicity,--why is it not understood that
they are not goddesses, but the gifts of God? But if they are judged
to be goddesses, then at least that other great crowd of gods should
not be sought after. For, having considered all the offices which
their fancy has distributed among the various gods and goddesses,
let them find out, if they can, anything which could be bestowed by
any god whatever on a man possessing virtue, possessing felicity.
What instruction could be sought either from Mercury or Minerva, when
Virtue already possessed all in herself? Virtue, indeed, is defined
by the ancients as itself the art of living well and rightly. Hence,
because virtue is called in Greek ἀρετὴ, it has been thought the
Latins have derived from it the term _art_. But if Virtue cannot
come except to the clever, what need was there of the god Father
Catius, who should make men cautious, that is, acute, when Felicity
could confer this? Because, to be born clever belongs to felicity.
Whence, although goddess Felicity could not be worshipped by one not
yet born, in order that, being made his friend, she might bestow
this on him, yet she might confer this favour on parents who were
her worshippers, that clever children should be born to them. What
need had women in childbirth to invoke Lucina, when, if Felicity
should be present, they would have, not only a good delivery, but
good children too? What need was there to commend the children to
the goddess Ops when they were being born; to the god Vaticanus in
their birth-cry; to the goddess Cunina when lying cradled; to the
goddess Rumina when sucking; to the god Statilinus when standing; to
the goddess Adeona when coming; to Abeona when going away; to the
goddess Mens that they might have a good mind; to the god Volumnus,
and the goddess Volumna, that they might wish for good things; to
the nuptial gods, that they might make good matches; to the rural
gods, and chiefly to the goddess Fructesca herself, that they might
receive the most abundant fruits; to Mars and Bellona, that they
might carry on war well; to the goddess Victoria, that they might
be victorious; to the god Honor, that they might be honoured; to
the goddess Pecunia, that they might have plenty money; to the god
Aesculanus, and his son Argentinus, that they might have brass and
silver coin? For they set down Aesculanus as the father of Argentinus
for this reason, that brass coin began to be used before silver.
But I wonder Argentinus has not begotten Aurinus, since gold coin
also has followed. Could they have him for a god, they would prefer
Aurinus both to his father Argentinus and his grandfather Aesculanus,
just as they set Jove before Saturn. Therefore, what necessity was
there on account of these gifts, either of soul, or body, or outward
estate, to worship and invoke so great a crowd of gods, all of whom I
have not mentioned, nor have they themselves been able to provide for
all human benefits, minutely and singly methodized, minute and single
gods, when the one goddess Felicity was able, with the greatest ease,
compendiously to bestow the whole of them? nor should any other be
sought after, either for the bestowing of good things, or for the
averting of evil. For why should they invoke the goddess Fessonia for
the weary; for driving away enemies, the goddess Pellonia; for the
sick, as a physician, either Apollo or Æsculapius, or both together
if there should be great danger? Neither should the god Spiniensis be
entreated that he might root out the thorns from the fields; nor the
goddess Rubigo that the mildew might not come,--Felicitas alone being
present and guarding, either no evils would have arisen, or they
would have been quite easily driven away. Finally, since we treat of
these two goddesses, Virtue and Felicity, if felicity is the reward
of virtue, she is not a goddess, but a gift of God. But if she is a
goddess, why may she not be said to confer virtue itself, inasmuch as
it is a great felicity to attain virtue?

     22. _Concerning the knowledge of the worship due to the gods,
    which Varro glories in having himself conferred on the Romans._

What is it, then, that Varro boasts he has bestowed as a very great
benefit on his fellow-citizens, because he not only recounts the gods
who ought to be worshipped by the Romans, but also tells what pertains
to each of them? "Just as it is of no advantage," he says, "to know the
name and appearance of any man who is a physician, and not know that he
is a physician, so," he says, "it is of no advantage to know well that
Æsculapius is a god, if you are not aware that he can bestow the gift
of health, and consequently do not know why you ought to supplicate
him." He also affirms this by another comparison, saying, "No one is
able, not only to live well, but even to live at all, if he does not
know who is a smith, who a baker, who a weaver, from whom he can seek
any utensil, whom he may take for a helper, whom for a leader, whom for
a teacher;" asserting, "that in this way it can be doubtful to no one,
that thus the knowledge of the gods is useful, if one can know what
force, and faculty, or power any god may have in anything. For from
this we may be able," he says, "to know what god we ought to call to,
and invoke for any cause; lest we should do as too many are wont to
do, and desire water from Liber, and wine from Lymphs." Very useful,
forsooth! Who would not give this man thanks if he could show true
things, and if he could teach that the one true God, from whom all good
things are, is to be worshipped by men?

  23. _Concerning Felicity, whom the Romans, who venerate many gods,
      for a long time did not worship with divine honour, though she
      alone would have sufficed instead of all._

But how does it happen, if their books and rituals are true, and
Felicity is a goddess, that she herself is not appointed as the
only one to be worshipped, since she could confer all things, and
all at once make men happy? For who wishes anything for any other
reason than that he may become happy? Why was it left to Lucullus
to dedicate a temple to so great a goddess at so late a date, and
after so many Roman rulers? Why did Romulus himself, ambitious as he
was of founding a fortunate city, not erect a temple to this goddess
before all others? Why did he supplicate the other gods for anything,
since he would have lacked nothing had she been with him? For even
he himself would neither have been first a king, then afterwards,
as they think, a god, if this goddess had not been propitious to
him. Why, therefore, did he appoint as gods for the Romans, Janus,
Jove, Mars, Picus, Faunus, Tiberinus, Hercules, and others, if there
were more of them? Why did Titus Tatius add Saturn, Ops, Sun, Moon,
Vulcan, Light, and whatever others he added, among whom was even the
goddess Cloacina, while Felicity was neglected? Why did Numa appoint
so many gods and so many goddesses without this one? Was it perhaps
because he could not see her among so great a crowd? Certainly king
Hostilius would not have introduced the new gods Fear and Dread to
be propitiated, if he could have known or might have worshipped this
goddess. For, in presence of Felicity, Fear and Dread would have
disappeared,--I do not say propitiated, but put to flight. Next, I
ask, how is it that the Roman empire had already immensely increased
before any one worshipped Felicity? Was the empire, therefore, more
great than happy? For how could true felicity be there, where there
was not true piety? For piety is the genuine worship of the true God,
and not the worship of as many demons as there are false gods. Yet
even afterwards, when Felicity had already been taken into the number
of the gods, the great infelicity of the civil wars ensued. Was
Felicity perhaps justly indignant, both because she was invited so
late, and was invited not to honour, but rather to reproach, because
along with her were worshipped Priapus, and Cloacina, and Fear and
Dread, and Ague, and others which were not gods to be worshipped,
but the crimes of the worshippers? Last of all, if it seemed good
to worship so great a goddess along with a most unworthy crowd, why
at least was she not worshipped in a more honourable way than the
rest? For is it not intolerable that Felicity is placed neither among
the gods _Consentes_,[171] whom they allege to be admitted into the
council of Jupiter, nor among the gods whom they term _Select_? Some
temple might be made for her which might be pre-eminent, both in
loftiness of site and dignity of style. Why, indeed, not something
better than is made for Jupiter himself? For who gave the kingdom
even to Jupiter but Felicity? I am supposing that when he reigned
he was happy. Felicity, however, is certainly more valuable than
a kingdom. For no one doubts that a man might easily be found who
may fear to be made a king; but no one is found who is unwilling
to be happy. Therefore, if it is thought they can be consulted by
augury, or in any other way, the gods themselves should be consulted
about this thing, whether they may wish to give place to Felicity.
If, perchance, the place should already be occupied by the temples
and altars of others, where a greater and more lofty temple might
be built to Felicity, even Jupiter himself might give way, so that
Felicity might rather obtain the very pinnacle of the Capitoline
hill. For there is not any one who would resist Felicity, except,
which is impossible, one who might wish to be unhappy. Certainly, if
he should be consulted, Jupiter would in no case do what those three
gods, Mars, Terminus, and Juventas, did, who positively refused to
give place to their superior and king. For, as their books record,
when king Tarquin wished to construct the Capitol, and perceived that
the place which seemed to him to be the most worthy and suitable was
preoccupied by other gods, not daring to do anything contrary to
their pleasure, and believing that they would willingly give place
to a god who was so great, and was their own master, because there
were many of them there when the Capitol was founded, he inquired by
augury whether they chose to give place to Jupiter, and they were
all willing to remove thence except those whom I have named, Mars,
Terminus, and Juventas; and therefore the Capitol was built in such a
way that these three also might be within it, yet with such obscure
signs that even the most learned men could scarcely know this.
Surely, then, Jupiter himself would by no means despise Felicity as
he was himself despised by Terminus, Mars, and Juventas. But even
they themselves who had not given place to Jupiter, would certainly
give place to Felicity, who had made Jupiter king over them. Or if
they should not give place, they would act thus not out of contempt
of her, but because they chose rather to be obscure in the house of
Felicity, than to be eminent without her in their own places.

Thus the goddess Felicity being established in the largest and
loftiest place, the citizens should learn whence the furtherance
of every good desire should be sought. And so, by the persuasion
of nature herself, the superfluous multitude of other gods being
abandoned, Felicity alone would be worshipped, prayer would be made
to her alone, her temple alone would be frequented by the citizens
who wished to be happy, which no one of them would not wish; and
thus felicity, who was sought for from all the gods, would be sought
for only from her own self. For who wishes to receive from any god
anything else than felicity, or what he supposes to tend to felicity?
Wherefore, if Felicity has it in her power to be with what man she
pleases (and she has it if she is a goddess), what folly is it, after
all, to seek from any other god her whom you can obtain by request
from her own self! Therefore they ought to honour this goddess above
other gods, even by dignity of place. For, as we read in their own
authors, the ancient Romans paid greater honours to I know not what
Summanus, to whom they attributed nocturnal thunderbolts, than to
Jupiter, to whom diurnal thunderbolts were held to pertain. But,
after a famous and conspicuous temple had been built to Jupiter,
owing to the dignity of the building, the multitude resorted to him
in so great numbers, that scarce one can be found who remembers even
to have read the name of Summanus, which now he cannot once hear
named. But if Felicity is not a goddess, because, as is true, it is
a gift of God, that god must be sought who has power to give it, and
that hurtful multitude of false gods must be abandoned which the vain
multitude of foolish men follows after, making gods to itself of
the gifts of God, and offending Himself whose gifts they are by the
stubbornness of a proud will. For he cannot be free from infelicity
who worships Felicity as a goddess, and forsakes God, the giver of
felicity; just as he cannot be free from hunger who licks a painted
loaf of bread, and does not buy it of the man who has a real one.

     24. _The reasons by which the pagans attempt to defend their
       worshipping among the gods the divine gifts themselves._

We may, however, consider their reasons. Is it to be believed, say
they, that our forefathers were besotted even to such a degree as
not to know that these things are divine gifts, and not gods? But as
they knew that such things are granted to no one, except by some god
freely bestowing them, they called the gods whose names they did not
find out by the names of those things which they deemed to be given
by them; sometimes slightly altering the name for that purpose,
as, for example, from war they have named Bellona, not _bellum_;
from cradles, Cunina, not _cunæ_; from standing corn, Segetia, not
_seges_; from apples, Pomona, not _pomum_; from oxen, Bubona, not
_bos_. Sometimes, again, with no alteration of the word, just as the
things themselves are named, so that the goddess who gives money is
called Pecunia, and money is not thought to be itself a goddess: so
of Virtus, who gives virtue; Honor, who gives honour; Concordia,
who gives concord; Victoria, who gives victory. So, they say, when
Felicitas is called a goddess, what is meant is not the thing itself
which is given, but that deity by whom felicity is given.

   25. _Concerning the one God only to be worshipped, who, although
   His name is unknown, is yet deemed to be the giver of felicity._

Having had that reason rendered to us, we shall perhaps much more
easily persuade, as we wish, those whose heart has not become too
much hardened. For if now human infirmity has perceived that felicity
cannot be given except by some god; if this was perceived by those
who worshipped so many gods, at whose head they set Jupiter himself;
if, in their ignorance of the name of Him by whom felicity was given,
they agreed to call Him by the name of that very thing which they
believed He gave;--then it follows that they thought that felicity
could not be given even by Jupiter himself, whom they already
worshipped, but certainly by him whom they thought fit to worship
under the name of Felicity itself. I thoroughly affirm the statement
that they believed felicity to be given by a certain God whom they
knew not: let Him therefore be sought after, let Him be worshipped,
and it is enough. Let the train of innumerable demons be repudiated,
and let this God suffice every man whom his gift suffices. For him,
I say, God the giver of felicity will not be enough to worship,
for whom felicity itself is not enough to receive. But let him for
whom it suffices (and man has nothing more he ought to wish for)
serve the one God, the giver of felicity. This God is not he whom
they call Jupiter. For if they acknowledged him to be the giver of
felicity, they would not seek, under the name of Felicity itself, for
another god or goddess by whom felicity might be given; nor could
they tolerate that Jupiter himself should be worshipped with such
infamous attributes. For he is said to be the debaucher of the wives
of others; he is the shameless lover and ravisher of a beautiful boy.

   26. _Of the scenic plays, the celebration of which the gods have
                   exacted from their worshippers._

"But," says Cicero, "Homer invented these things, and transferred
things human to the gods: I would rather transfer things divine to
us."[172] The poet, by ascribing such crimes to the gods, has justly
displeased the grave man. Why, then, are the scenic plays, where
these crimes are habitually spoken of, acted, exhibited, in honour
of the gods, reckoned among things divine by the most learned men?
Cicero should exclaim, not against the inventions of the poets, but
against the customs of the ancients. Would not they have exclaimed in
reply, What have we done? The gods themselves have loudly demanded
that these plays should be exhibited in their honour, have fiercely
exacted them, have menaced destruction unless this was performed,
have avenged its neglect with great severity, and have manifested
pleasure at the reparation of such neglect. Among their virtuous
and wonderful deeds the following is related. It was announced in a
dream to Titus Latinius, a Roman rustic, that he should go to the
senate and tell them to recommence the games of Rome, because on the
first day of their celebration a condemned criminal had been led to
punishment in sight of the people, an incident so sad as to disturb
the gods who were seeking amusement from the games. And when the
peasant who had received this intimation was afraid on the following
day to deliver it to the senate, it was renewed next night in a
severer form: he lost his son, because of his neglect. On the third
night he was warned that a yet graver punishment was impending, if
he should still refuse obedience. When even thus he did not dare to
obey, he fell into a virulent and horrible disease. But then, on the
advice of his friends, he gave information to the magistrates, and
was carried in a litter into the senate, and having, on declaring
his dream, immediately recovered strength, went away on his own
feet whole.[173] The senate, amazed at so great a miracle, decreed
that the games should be renewed at fourfold cost. What sensible
man does not see that men, being put upon by malignant demons, from
whose domination nothing save the grace of God through Jesus Christ
our Lord sets free, have been compelled by force to exhibit to such
gods as these, plays which, if well advised, they should condemn as
shameful? Certain it is that in these plays the poetic crimes of the
gods are celebrated, yet they are plays which were re-established
by decree of the senate, under compulsion of the gods. In these
plays the most shameless actors celebrated Jupiter as the corrupter
of chastity, and thus gave him pleasure. If that was a fiction, he
would have been moved to anger; but if he was delighted with the
representation of his crimes, even although fabulous, then, when he
happened to be worshipped, who but the devil could be served? Is
it so that he could found, extend, and preserve the Roman empire,
who was more vile than any Roman man whatever, to whom such things
were displeasing? Could he give felicity who was so infelicitously
worshipped, and who, unless he should be thus worshipped, was yet
more infelicitously provoked to anger?

    27. _Concerning the three kinds of gods about which the pontiff
                       Scævola has discoursed._

It is recorded that the very learned pontiff Scævola[174] had
distinguished about three kinds of gods--one introduced by the poets,
another by the philosophers, another by the statesmen. The first kind
he declares to be trifling, because many unworthy things have been
invented by the poets concerning the gods; the second does not suit
states, because it contains some things that are superfluous, and
some, too, which it would be prejudicial for the people to know. It
is no great matter about the superfluous things, for it is a common
saying of skilful lawyers, "Superfluous things do no harm."[175]
But what are those things which do harm when brought before the
multitude? "These," he says, "that Hercules, Æsculapius, Castor and
Pollux, are not gods; for it is declared by learned men that these
were but men, and yielded to the common lot of mortals." What else?
"That states have not the true images of the gods; because the true
God has neither sex, nor age, nor definite corporeal members." The
pontiff is not willing that the people should know these things; for
he does not think they are false. He thinks it expedient, therefore,
that states should be deceived in matters of religion; which Varro
himself does not hesitate even to say in his books about things
divine. Excellent religion! to which the weak, who requires to be
delivered, may flee for succour; and when he seeks for the truth by
which he may be delivered, it is believed to be expedient for him
that he be deceived. And, truly, in these same books, Scævola is not
silent as to his reason for rejecting the poetic sort of gods,--to
wit, "because they so disfigure the gods that they could not bear
comparison even with good men, when they make one to commit theft,
another adultery; or, again, to say or do something else basely and
foolishly; as that three goddesses contested (with each other) the
prize of beauty, and the two vanquished by Venus destroyed Troy; that
Jupiter turned himself into a bull or swan that he might copulate
with some one; that a goddess married a man, and Saturn devoured his
children; that, in fine, there is nothing that could be imagined,
either of the miraculous or vicious, which may not be found there,
and yet is far removed from the nature of the gods." O chief pontiff
Scævola, take away the plays if thou art able; instruct the people
that they may not offer such honours to the immortal gods, in which,
if they like, they may admire the crimes of the gods, and, so far as
it is possible, may, if they please, imitate them. But if the people
shall have answered thee, You, O pontiff, have brought these things
in among us, then ask the gods themselves at whose instigation you
have ordered these things, that they may not order such things to
be offered to them. For if they are bad, and therefore in no way to
be believed concerning the majority of the gods, the greater is the
wrong done the gods about whom they are feigned with impunity. But
they do not hear thee, they are demons, they teach wicked things,
they rejoice in vile things; not only do they not count it a wrong if
these things are feigned about them, but it is a wrong they are quite
unable to bear if they are not acted at their stated festivals. But
now, if thou wouldst call on Jupiter against them, chiefly for that
reason that more of his crimes are wont to be acted in the scenic
plays, is it not the case that, although you call him god Jupiter, by
whom this whole world is ruled and administered, it is he to whom the
greatest wrong is done by you, because you have thought he ought to
be worshipped along with them, and have styled him their king?

    28. _Whether the worship of the gods has been of service to the
            Romans in obtaining and extending the empire._

Therefore such gods, who are propitiated by such honours, or rather are
impeached by them (for it is a greater crime to delight in having such
things said of them falsely, than even if they could be said truly),
could never by any means have been able to increase and preserve
the Roman empire. For if they could have done it, they would rather
have bestowed so grand a gift on the Greeks, who, in this kind of
divine things,--that is, in scenic plays,--have worshipped them more
honourably and worthily, although they have not exempted themselves
from those slanders of the poets, by whom they saw the gods torn in
pieces, giving them licence to ill-use any man they pleased, and have
not deemed the scenic players themselves to be base, but have held
them worthy even of distinguished honour. But just as the Romans were
able to have gold money, although they did not worship a god Aurinus,
so also they could have silver and brass coin, and yet worship neither
Argentinus nor his father Æsculanus; and so of all the rest, which it
would be irksome for me to detail. It follows, therefore, both that
they could not by any means attain such dominion if the true God was
unwilling; and that if these gods, false and many, were unknown or
contemned, and He alone was known and worshipped with sincere faith
and virtue, they would both have a better kingdom here, whatever might
be its extent, and whether they might have one here or not, would
afterwards receive an eternal kingdom.

      29. _Of the falsity of the augury by which the strength and
    stability of the Roman empire was considered to be indicated._

For what kind of augury is that which they have declared to be most
beautiful, and to which I referred a little ago, that Mars, and
Terminus, and Juventas would not give place even to Jove the king
of the gods? For thus, they say, it was signified that the nation
dedicated to Mars,--that is, the Roman,--should yield to none
the place it once occupied; likewise, that on account of the god
Terminus, no one would be able to disturb the Roman frontiers; and
also, that the Roman youth, because of the goddess Juventas, should
yield to no one. Let them see, therefore, how they can hold him to
be the king of their gods, and the giver of their own kingdom, if
these auguries set him down for an adversary, to whom it would have
been honourable not to yield. However, if these things are true, they
need not be at all afraid. For they are not going to confess that the
gods who would not yield to Jove have yielded to Christ. For, without
altering the boundaries of the empire, Jesus Christ has proved
Himself able to drive them, not only from their temples, but from the
hearts of their worshippers. But, before Christ came in the flesh,
and, indeed, before these things which we have quoted from their
books could have been written, but yet after that auspice was made
under king Tarquin, the Roman army has been divers times scattered or
put to flight, and has shown the falseness of the auspice, which they
derived from the fact that the goddess Juventas had not given place
to Jove; and the nation dedicated to Mars was trodden down in the
city itself by the invading and triumphant Gauls; and the boundaries
of the empire, through the falling away of many cities to Hannibal,
had been hemmed into a narrow space. Thus the beauty of the auspices
is made void, and there has remained only the contumacy against Jove,
not of gods, but of demons. For it is one thing not to have yielded,
and another to have returned whither you have yielded. Besides, even
afterwards, in the oriental regions, the boundaries of the Roman
empire were changed by the will of Hadrian; for he yielded up to the
Persian empire those three noble provinces, Armenia, Mesopotamia, and
Assyria. Thus that god Terminus, who according to these books was the
guardian of the Roman frontiers, and by that most beautiful auspice
had not given place to Jove, would seem to have been more afraid of
Hadrian, a king of men, than of the king of the gods. The aforesaid
provinces having also been taken back again, almost within our own
recollection the frontier fell back, when Julian, given up to the
oracles of their gods, with immoderate daring ordered the victualling
ships to be set on fire. The army being thus left destitute of
provisions, and he himself also being presently killed by the enemy,
and the legions being hard pressed, while dismayed by the loss of
their commander, they were reduced to such extremities that no one
could have escaped, unless by articles of peace the boundaries of
the empire had then been established where they still remain; not,
indeed, with so great a loss as was suffered by the concession of
Hadrian, but still at a considerable sacrifice. It was a vain augury,
then, that the god Terminus did not yield to Jove, since he yielded
to the will of Hadrian, and yielded also to the rashness of Julian,
and the necessity of Jovinian. The more intelligent and grave Romans
have seen these things, but have had little power against the custom
of the state, which was bound to observe the rites of the demons;
because even they themselves, although they perceived that these
things were vain, yet thought that the religious worship which is due
to God should be paid to the nature of things which is established
under the rule and government of the one true God, "serving," as
saith the apostle, "the creature more than the Creator, who is
blessed for evermore."[176] The help of this true God was necessary
to send holy and truly pious men, who would die for the true religion
that they might remove the false from among the living.

    30. _What kind of things even their worshippers have owned they
             have thought about the gods of the nations._

Cicero the augur laughs at auguries, and reproves men for regulating
the purposes of life by the cries of crows and jackdaws.[177] But
it will be said that an academic philosopher, who argues that all
things are uncertain, is unworthy to have any authority in these
matters. In the second book of his _De Natura Deorum_,[178] he
introduces Lucilius Balbus, who, after showing that superstitions
have their origin in physical and philosophical truths, expresses
his indignation at the setting up of images and fabulous notions,
speaking thus: "Do you not therefore see that from true and useful
physical discoveries the reason may be drawn away to fabulous and
imaginary gods? This gives birth to false opinions and turbulent
errors, and superstitions well-nigh old-wifeish. For both the forms
of the gods, and their ages, and clothing, and ornaments, are made
familiar to us; their genealogies, too, their marriages, kinships,
and all things about them, are debased to the likeness of human
weakness. They are even introduced as having perturbed minds; for
we have accounts of the lusts, cares, and angers of the gods. Nor,
indeed, as the fables go, have the gods been without their wars and
battles. And that not only when, as in Homer, some gods on either
side have defended two opposing armies, but they have even carried
on wars on their own account, as with the Titans or with the Giants.
Such things it is quite absurd either to say or to believe: they are
utterly frivolous and groundless." Behold, now, what is confessed by
those who defend the gods of the nations. Afterwards he goes on to
say that some things belong to superstition, but others to religion,
which he thinks good to teach according to the Stoics. "For not only
the philosophers," he says, "but also our forefathers, have made a
distinction between superstition and religion. For those," he says,
"who spent whole days in prayer, and offered sacrifice, that their
children might outlive them, are called superstitious."[179] Who does
not see that he is trying, while he fears the public prejudice, to
praise the religion of the ancients, and that he wishes to disjoin
it from superstition, but cannot find out how to do so? For if
those who prayed and sacrificed all day were called superstitious
by the ancients, were those also called so who instituted (what
he blames) the images of the gods of diverse age and distinct
clothing, and invented the genealogies of gods, their marriages,
and kinships? When, therefore, these things are found fault with
as superstitious, he implicates in that fault the ancients who
instituted and worshipped such images. Nay, he implicates himself,
who, with whatever eloquence he may strive to extricate himself and
be free, was yet under the necessity of venerating these images;
nor dared he so much as whisper in a discourse to the people what
in this disputation he plainly sounds forth. Let us Christians,
therefore, give thanks to the Lord our God,--not to heaven and earth,
as that author argues, but to Him who has made heaven and earth;
because these superstitions, which that Balbus, like a babbler,[180]
scarcely reprehends, He, by the most deep lowliness of Christ, by
the preaching of the apostles, by the faith of the martyrs dying
for the truth and living with the truth, has overthrown, not only
in the hearts of the religious, but even in the temples of the
superstitious, by their own free service.

  31. _Concerning the opinions of Varro, who, while reprobating the
      popular belief, thought that their worship should be confined
      to one god, though he was unable to discover the true God._

What says Varro himself, whom we grieve to have found, although not
by his own judgment, placing the scenic plays among things divine?
When in many passages he is exhorting, like a religious man, to the
worship of the gods, does he not in doing so admit that he does not in
his own judgment believe those things which he relates that the Roman
state has instituted; so that he does not hesitate to affirm that if he
were founding a new state, he could enumerate the gods and their names
better by the rule of nature? But being born into a nation already
ancient, he says that he finds himself bound to accept the traditional
names and surnames of the gods, and the histories connected with them,
and that his purpose in investigating and publishing these details is
to incline the people to worship the gods, and not to despise them. By
which words this most acute man sufficiently indicates that he does not
publish all things, because they would not only have been contemptible
to himself, but would have seemed despicable even to the rabble, unless
they had been passed over in silence. I should be thought to conjecture
these things, unless he himself, in another passage, had openly said,
in speaking of religious rites, that many things are true which it
is not only not useful for the common people to know, but that it is
expedient that the people should think otherwise, even though falsely,
and therefore the Greeks have shut up the religious ceremonies and
mysteries in silence, and within walls. In this he no doubt expresses
the policy of the so-called wise men by whom states and peoples are
ruled. Yet by this crafty device the malign demons are wonderfully
delighted, who possess alike the deceivers and the deceived, and from
whose tyranny nothing sets free save the grace of God through Jesus
Christ our Lord.

The same most acute and learned author also says, that those alone
seem to him to have perceived what God is, who have believed Him to
be the soul of the world, governing it by design and reason.[181]
And by this, it appears, that although he did not attain to the
truth,--for the true God is not a soul, but the maker and author
of the soul,--yet if he could have been free to go against the
prejudices of custom, he could have confessed and counselled others
that the one God ought to be worshipped, who governs the world by
design and reason; so that on this subject only this point would
remain to be debated with him, that he had called Him a soul, and
not rather the creator of the soul. He says, also, that the ancient
Romans, for more than a hundred and seventy years, worshipped the
gods without an image.[182] "And if this custom," he says, "could
have remained till now, the gods would have been more purely
worshipped." In favour of this opinion, he cites as a witness among
others the Jewish nation; nor does he hesitate to conclude that
passage by saying of those who first consecrated images for the
people, that they have both taken away religious fear from their
fellow-citizens, and increased error, wisely thinking that the gods
easily fall into contempt when exhibited under the stolidity of
images. But as he does not say they have transmitted error, but that
they have increased it, he therefore wishes it to be understood that
there was error already when there were no images. Wherefore, when
he says they alone have perceived what God is who have believed Him
to be the governing soul of the world, and thinks that the rites
of religion would have been more purely observed without images,
who fails to see how near he has come to the truth? For if he had
been able to do anything against so inveterate an error, he would
certainly have given it as his opinion both that the one God should
be worshipped, and that He should be worshipped without an image;
and having so nearly discovered the truth, perhaps he might easily
have been put in mind of the mutability of the soul, and might thus
have perceived that the true God is that immutable nature which made
the soul itself. Since these things are so, whatever ridicule such
men have poured in their writings against the plurality of the gods,
they have done so rather as compelled by the secret will of God to
confess them, than as trying to persuade others. If, therefore, any
testimonies are adduced by us from these writings, they are adduced
for the confutation of those who are unwilling to consider from how
great and malignant a power of the demons the singular sacrifice of
the shedding of the most holy blood, and the gift of the imparted
Spirit, can set us free.

     32. _In what interest the princes of the nations wished false
       religions to continue among the people subject to them._

Varro says also, concerning the generations of the gods, that
the people have inclined to the poets rather than to the natural
philosophers; and that therefore their forefathers,--that is, the
ancient Romans,--believed both in the sex and the generations of the
gods, and settled their marriages; which certainly seems to have
been done for no other cause except that it was the business of
such men as were prudent and wise to deceive the people in matters
of religion, and in that very thing not only to worship, but also
to imitate the demons, whose greatest lust is to deceive. For just
as the demons cannot possess any but those whom they have deceived
with guile, so also men in princely office, not indeed being just,
but like demons, have persuaded the people in the name of religion
to receive as true those things which they themselves knew to be
false; in this way, as it were, binding them up more firmly in civil
society, so that they might in like manner possess them as subjects.
But who that was weak and unlearned could escape the deceits of both
the princes of the state and the demons?

   33. _That the times of all kings and kingdoms are ordained by the
                 judgment and power of the true God._

Therefore that God, the author and giver of felicity, because He
alone is the true God, Himself gives earthly kingdoms both to
good and bad. Neither does He do this rashly, and, as it were,
fortuitously,--because He is God, not fortune,--but according to the
order of things and times, which is hidden from us, but thoroughly
known to Himself; which same order of times, however, He does not
serve as subject to it, but Himself rules as lord and appoints as
governor. Felicity He gives only to the good. Whether a man be a
subject or a king makes no difference: he may equally either possess
or not possess it. And it shall be full in that life where kings and
subjects exist no longer. And therefore earthly kingdoms are given by
Him both to the good and the bad; lest His worshippers, still under
the conduct of a very weak mind, should covet these gifts from Him as
some great things. And this is the mystery of the Old Testament, in
which the New was hidden, that there even earthly gifts are promised:
those who were spiritual understanding even then, although not yet
openly declaring, both the eternity which was symbolized by these
earthly things, and in what gifts of God true felicity could be found.

  34. _Concerning the kingdom of the Jews, which was founded by the
      one and true God, and preserved by Him as long as they remained
      in the true religion._

Therefore, that it might be known that these earthly good things, after
which those pant who cannot imagine better things, remain in the power
of the one God Himself, not of the many false gods whom the Romans
have formerly believed worthy of worship, He multiplied His people in
Egypt from being very few, and delivered them out of it by wonderful
signs. Nor did their women invoke Lucina when their offspring was being
incredibly multiplied; and that nation having increased incredibly,
He Himself delivered, He Himself saved them from the hands of the
Egyptians, who persecuted them, and wished to kill all their infants.
Without the goddess Rumina they sucked; without Cunina they were
cradled; without Educa and Potina they took food and drink; without
all those puerile gods they were educated; without the nuptial gods
they were married; without the worship of Priapus they had conjugal
intercourse; without invocation of Neptune the divided sea opened up
a way for them to pass over, and overwhelmed with its returning waves
their enemies who pursued them. Neither did they consecrate any goddess
Mannia when they received manna from heaven; nor, when the smitten rock
poured forth water to them when they thirsted, did they worship Nymphs
and Lymphs. Without the mad rites of Mars and Bellona they carried
on war; and while, indeed, they did not conquer without victory, yet
they did not hold it to be a goddess, but the gift of their God.
Without Segetia they had harvests; without Bubona, oxen; honey without
Mellona; apples without Pomona: and, in a word, everything for which
the Romans thought they must supplicate so great a crowd of false
gods, they received much more happily from the one true God. And if
they had not sinned against Him with impious curiosity, which seduced
them like magic arts, and drew them to strange gods and idols, and at
last led them to kill Christ, their kingdom would have remained to
them, and would have been, if not more spacious, yet more happy, than
that of Rome. And now that they are dispersed through almost all lands
and nations, it is through the providence of that one true God; that
whereas the images, altars, groves, and temples of the false gods are
everywhere overthrown, and their sacrifices prohibited, it may be shown
from their books how this has been foretold by their prophets so long
before; lest, perhaps, when they should be read in ours, they might
seem to be invented by us. But now, reserving what is to follow for the
following book, we must here set a bound to the prolixity of this one.


[155] In Augustine's letter to Evodius (169), which was written
towards the end of the year 415, he mentions that this fourth book
and the following one were begun and finished during that same year.

[156] Comp. Bacon's _Essay on the Vicissitudes of Things_.

[157] Matt. v. 45.

[158] 2 Pet. ii. 19.

[159] Nonius Marcell. borrows this anecdote from Cicero, _De Repub._

[160] It was extinguished by Crassus in its third year.

[161] Cloacina, supposed by Lactantius (_De falsa relig._ i. 20),
Cyprian (_De Idol. vanit._), and Augustine (_infra._, c. 23) to be
the goddess of the "cloaca," or sewage of Rome. Others, however,
suppose it to be equivalent to Cluacina, a title given to Venus,
because the Romans after the end of the Sabine war purified
themselves (_cluere_) in the vicinity of her statue.

[162] Forculum foribus, Cardeam cardini, Limentinum limini.

[163] Virgil, _Eclog._ iii. 60.

[164] Virgil, _Æneid_, i. 47.

[165] Cicero, _De Nat. Deor._ ii. 25.

[166] Virgil, _Georg._ ii. 325, 326.

[167] Eusebius, _De Præp. Evang._ i. 10.

[168] Virgil, _Georg._ iv. 221, 222.

[169] The feminine Fortune.

[170] Hab. ii. 4.

[171] So called from the consent or harmony of the celestial
movements of these gods.

[172] _Tusc. Quæst._ i. 26.

[173] Livy, ii. 36; Cicero, _De Divin._ 26.

[174] Called by Cicero (_De Oratore_, i. 39) the most eloquent of
lawyers, and the best skilled lawyer among eloquent men.

[175] Superflua non nocent.

[176] Rom. i. 25.

[177] _De Divin._ ii. 37.

[178] Cic. _De Nat. Deorum_, lib. ii. c. 28.

[179] Superstition, from _superstes_. Against this etymology of
Cicero, see Lact. _Inst. Div._ iv. 28.

[180] Balbus, from _balbutiens_, stammering, babbling.

[181] See Cicero, _De Nat. Deor._ i. 2.

[182] Plutarch's _Numa_, c. 8.

                            BOOK FIFTH.[183]




Since, then, it is established that the complete attainment of all we
desire is that which constitutes felicity, which is no goddess, but a
gift of God, and that therefore men can worship no god save Him who
is able to make them happy,--and were Felicity herself a goddess, she
would with reason be the only object of worship,--since, I say, this
is established, let us now go on to consider why God, who is able to
give with all other things those good gifts which can be possessed
by men who are not good, and consequently not happy, has seen fit to
grant such extended and long-continued dominion to the Roman empire;
for that this was not effected by that multitude of false gods which
they worshipped, we have both already adduced, and shall, as occasion
offers, yet adduce considerable proof.

    1. _That the cause of the Roman empire, and of all kingdoms, is
   neither fortuitous nor consists in the position of the stars._[184]

The cause, then, of the greatness of the Roman empire is neither
fortuitous nor fatal, according to the judgment or opinion of those
who call those things _fortuitous_ which either have no causes, or
such causes as do not proceed from some intelligible order, and those
things _fatal_ which happen independently of the will of God and man,
by the necessity of a certain _order_. In a word, human kingdoms are
established by divine providence. And if any one attributes their
existence to fate, because he calls the will or the power of God
itself by the name of fate, let him keep his opinion, but correct his
language. For why does he not say at first what he will say afterwards,
when some one shall put the question to him, What he means by _fate_?
For when men hear that word, according to the ordinary use of the
language, they simply understand by it the virtue of that particular
position of the stars which may exist at the time when any one is born
or conceived, which some separate altogether from the will of God,
whilst others affirm that this also is dependent on that will. But
those who are of opinion that, apart from the will of God, the stars
determine what we shall do, or what good things we shall possess, or
what evils we shall suffer, must be refused a hearing by all, not
only by those who hold the true religion, but by those who wish to
be the worshippers of any gods whatsoever, even false gods. For what
does this opinion really amount to but this, that no god whatever is
to be worshipped or prayed to? Against these, however, our present
disputation is not intended to be directed, but against those who,
in defence of those whom they think to be gods, oppose the Christian
religion. They, however, who make the position of the stars depend on
the divine will, and in a manner decree what character each man shall
have, and what good or evil shall happen to him, if they think that
these same stars have that power conferred upon them by the supreme
power of God, in order that they may determine these things according
to their will, do a great injury to the celestial sphere, in whose most
brilliant senate, and most splendid senate-house, as it were, they
suppose that wicked deeds are decreed to be done,--such deeds as that
if any terrestrial state should decree them, it would be condemned
to overthrow by the decree of the whole human race. What judgment,
then, is left to God concerning the deeds of men, who is Lord both of
the stars and of men, when to these deeds a celestial necessity is
attributed? Or, if they do not say that the stars, though they have
indeed received a certain power from God, who is supreme, determine
those things according to their own discretion, but simply that His
commands are fulfilled by them instrumentally in the application and
enforcing of such necessities, are we thus to think concerning God even
what it seemed unworthy that we should think concerning the will of
the stars? But, if the stars are said rather to signify these things
than to effect them, so that that _position of the stars_ is, as it
were, a kind of speech predicting, not causing future things,--for
this has been the opinion of men of no ordinary learning,--certainly
the mathematicians are not wont so to speak, saying, for example,
Mars in such or such a position _signifies_ a homicide, but _makes_ a
homicide. But, nevertheless, though we grant that they do not speak as
they ought, and that we ought to accept as the proper form of speech
that employed by the philosophers in predicting those things which
they think they discover in the position of the stars, how comes it
that they have never been able to assign any cause why, in the life
of twins, in their actions, in the events which befall them, in their
professions, arts, honours, and other things pertaining to human life,
also in their very death, there is often so great a difference, that,
as far as these things are concerned, many entire strangers are more
like them than they are like each other, though separated at birth by
the smallest interval of time, but at conception generated by the same
act of copulation, and at the same moment?

            2. _On the difference in the health of twins._

Cicero says that the famous physician Hippocrates has left in writing
that he had suspected that a certain pair of brothers were twins,
from the fact that they both took ill at once, and their disease
advanced to its crisis and subsided in the same time in each of
them.[185] Posidonius the Stoic, who was much given to astrology,
used to explain the fact by supposing that they had been born
and conceived under the same constellation. In this question the
conjecture of the physician is by far more worthy to be accepted,
and approaches much nearer to credibility, since, according as the
parents were affected in body at the time of copulation, so might the
first elements of the fœtuses have been affected, so that all that
was necessary for their growth and development up till birth having
been supplied from the body of the same mother, they might be born
with like constitutions. Thereafter, nourished in the same house, on
the same kinds of food, where they would have also the same kinds of
air, the same locality, the same quality of water,--which, according
to the testimony of medical science, have a very great influence,
good or bad, on the condition of bodily health,--and where they
would also be accustomed to the same kinds of exercise, they would
have bodily constitutions so similar that they would be similarly
affected with sickness at the same time and by the same causes. But,
to wish to adduce that particular position of the stars which existed
at the time when they were born or conceived as the cause of their
being simultaneously affected with sickness, manifests the greatest
arrogance, when so many beings of most diverse kinds, in the most
diverse conditions, and subject to the most diverse events, may have
been conceived and born at the same time, and in the same district,
lying under the same sky. But we know that twins do not only act
differently, and travel to very different places, but that they
also suffer from different kinds of sickness; for which Hippocrates
would give what is in my opinion the simplest reason, namely, that,
through diversity of food and exercise, which arises not from the
constitution of the body, but from the inclination of the mind, they
may have come to be different from each other in respect of health.
Moreover, Posidonius, or any other asserter of the fatal influence of
the stars, will have enough to do to find anything to say to this,
if he be unwilling to impose upon the minds of the uninstructed in
things of which they are ignorant. But, as to what they attempt to
make out from that very small interval of time elapsing between
the births of twins, on account of that point in the heavens where
the mark of the natal hour is placed, and which they call the
"horoscope," it is either disproportionately small to the diversity
which is found in the dispositions, actions, habits, and fortunes
of twins, or it is disproportionately great when compared with the
estate of twins, whether low or high, which is the same for both of
them, the cause for whose greatest difference they place, in every
case, in the hour on which one is born; and, for this reason, if the
one is born so immediately after the other that there is no change
in the horoscope, I demand an entire similarity in all that respects
them both, which can never be found in the case of any twins. But if
the slowness of the birth of the second give time for a change in the
horoscope, I demand different parents, which twins can never have.

  3. _Concerning the arguments which Nigidius the mathematician drew
      from the potter's wheel, in the question about the birth of

It is to no purpose, therefore, that that famous fiction about the
potter's wheel is brought forward, which tells of the answer which
Nigidius is said to have given when he was perplexed with this
question, and on account of which he was called _Figulus_.[186] For,
having whirled round the potter's wheel with all his strength, he
marked it with ink, striking it twice with the utmost rapidity, so
that the strokes seemed to fall on the very same part of it. Then,
when the rotation had ceased, the marks which he had made were found
upon the rim of the wheel at no small distance apart. Thus, said
he, considering the great rapidity with which the celestial sphere
revolves, even though twins were born with as short an interval
between their births as there was between the strokes which I gave
this wheel, that brief interval of time is equivalent to a very great
distance in the celestial sphere. Hence, said he, come whatever
dissimilitudes may be remarked in the habits and fortunes of twins.
This argument is more fragile than the vessels which are fashioned
by the rotation of that wheel. For if there is so much significance
in the heavens which cannot be comprehended by observation of the
constellations, that, in the case of twins, an inheritance may fall
to the one and not to the other, why, in the case of others who
are not twins, do they dare, having examined their constellations,
to declare such things as pertain to that secret which no one can
comprehend, and to attribute them to the precise moment of the birth
of each individual? Now, if such predictions in connection with the
natal hours of others who are not twins are to be vindicated on the
ground that they are founded on the observation of more extended
spaces in the heavens, whilst those very small moments of time which
separated the births of twins, and correspond to minute portions
of celestial space, are to be connected with trifling things about
which the mathematicians are not wont to be consulted,--for who would
consult them as to when he is to sit, when to walk abroad, when and
on what he is to dine?--how can we be justified in so speaking, when
we can point out such manifold diversity both in the habits, doings,
and destinies of twins?

  4. _Concerning the twins Esau and Jacob, who were very unlike each
              other both in their character and actions._

In the time of the ancient fathers, to speak concerning illustrious
persons, there were born two twin brothers, the one so immediately
after the other, that the first took hold of the heel of the second.
So great a difference existed in their lives and manners, so great a
dissimilarity in their actions, so great a difference in their parents'
love for them respectively, that the very contrast between them
produced even a mutual hostile antipathy. Do we mean, when we say that
they were so unlike each other, that when the one was walking the other
was sitting, when the one was sleeping the other was waking,--which
differences are such as are attributed to those minute portions of
space which cannot be appreciated by those who note down the position
of the stars which exists at the moment of one's birth, in order that
the mathematicians may be consulted concerning it? One of these twins
was for a long time a hired servant; the other never served. One of
them was beloved by his mother; the other was not so. One of them lost
that honour which was so much valued among their people; the other
obtained it. And what shall we say of their wives, their children, and
their possessions? How different they were in respect to all these!
If, therefore, such things as these are connected with those minute
intervals of time which elapse between the births of twins, and are not
to be attributed to the constellations, wherefore are they predicted in
the case of others from the examination of their constellations? And
if, on the other hand, these things are said to be predicted, because
they are connected, not with minute and inappreciable moments, but with
intervals of time which can be observed and noted down, what purpose
is that potter's wheel to serve in this matter, except it be to whirl
round men who have hearts of clay, in order that they may be prevented
from detecting the emptiness of the talk of the mathematicians?

   5. _In what manner the mathematicians are convicted of professing
                           a vain science._

Do not those very persons whom the medical sagacity of Hippocrates
led him to suspect to be twins, because their disease was observed
by him to develope to its crisis and to subside again in the same
time in each of them,--do not these, I say, serve as a sufficient
refutation of those who wish to attribute to the influence of the
stars that which was owing to a similarity of bodily constitution?
For wherefore were they both sick of the same disease, and at the
same time, and not the one after the other in the order of their
birth? (for certainly they could not both be born at the same time.)
Or, if the fact of their having been born at different times by
no means necessarily implies that they must be sick at different
times, why do they contend that the difference in the time of their
births was the cause of their difference in other things? Why could
they travel in foreign parts at different times, marry at different
times, beget children at different times, and do many other things
at different times, by reason of their having been born at different
times, and yet could not, for the same reason, also be sick at
different times? For if a difference in the moment of birth changed
the horoscope, and occasioned dissimilarity in all other things, why
has that simultaneousness which belonged to their conception remained
in their attacks of sickness? Or, if the destinies of health are
involved in the time of conception, but those of other things be
said to be attached to the time of birth, they ought not to predict
anything concerning health from examination of the constellations
of birth, when the hour of conception is not also given, that its
constellations may be inspected. But if they say that they predict
attacks of sickness without examining the horoscope of conception,
because these are indicated by the moments of birth, how could
they inform either of these twins when he would be sick, from the
horoscope of his birth, when the other also, who had not the same
horoscope of birth, must of necessity fall sick at the same time?
Again, I ask, if the distance of time between the births of twins
is so great as to occasion a difference of their constellations on
account of the difference of their horoscopes, and therefore of
all the cardinal points to which so much influence is attributed,
that even from such change there comes a difference of destiny,
how is it possible that this should be so, since they cannot have
been conceived at different times? Or, if two conceived at the same
moment of time could have different destinies with respect to their
births, why may not also two born at the same moment of time have
different destinies for life and for death? For if the one moment
in which both were conceived did not hinder that the one should be
born before the other, why, if two are born at the same moment,
should anything hinder them from dying at the same moment? If a
simultaneous conception allows of twins being differently affected
in the _womb_, why should not simultaneousness of birth allow of any
two individuals having different fortunes in the _world_? and thus
would all the fictions of this art, or rather delusion, be swept
away. What strange circumstance is this, that two children conceived
at the same time, nay, at the same moment, under the same position of
the stars, have different fates which bring them to different hours
of birth, whilst two children, born of two different mothers, at the
same moment of time, under one and the same position of the stars,
cannot have different fates which shall conduct them by necessity
to diverse manners of life and of death? Are they at conception as
yet without destinies, because they can only have them if they be
born? What, therefore, do they mean when they say that, if the hour
of the conception be found, many things can be predicted by these
astrologers? from which also arose that story which is reiterated
by some, that a certain sage chose an hour in which to lie with his
wife, in order to secure his begetting an illustrious son. From this
opinion also came that answer of Posidonius, the great astrologer
and also philosopher, concerning those twins who were attacked with
sickness at the same time, namely, "That this had happened to them
because they were conceived at the same time, and born at the same
time." For certainly he added "conception," lest it should be said
to him that they could not both be _born_ at the same time, knowing
that at any rate they must both have been conceived at the same time;
wishing thus to show that he did not attribute the fact of their
being similarly and simultaneously affected with sickness to the
similarity of their bodily constitutions as its proximate cause, but
that he held that even in respect of the similarity of their health,
they were bound together by a sidereal connection. If, therefore,
the time of conception has so much to do with the similarity of
destinies, these same destinies ought not to be changed by the
circumstances of birth; or, if the destinies of twins be said to be
changed because they are born at different times, why should we not
rather understand that they had been already changed in order that
they might be born at different times? Does not, then, the will of
men living in the world change the destinies of birth, when the order
of birth can change the destinies they had at conception?

               6. _Concerning twins of different sexes._

But even in the very conception of twins, which certainly occurs at
the same moment in the case of both, it often happens that the one is
conceived a male, and the other a female. I know two of different sexes
who are twins. Both of them are alive, and in the flower of their age;
and though they resemble each other in body, as far as difference of
sex will permit, still they are very different in the whole scope and
purpose of their lives (consideration being had of those differences
which necessarily exist between the lives of males and females),--the
one holding the office of a count, and being almost constantly away
from home with the army in foreign service, the other never leaving
her country's soil, or her native district. Still more,--and this is
more incredible, if the destinies of the stars are to be believed in,
though it is not wonderful if we consider the wills of men, and the
free gifts of God,--he is married; she is a sacred virgin: he has
begotten a numerous offspring; she has never even married. But is not
the virtue of the horoscope very great? I think I have said enough
to show the absurdity of that. But, say those astrologers, whatever
be the virtue of the horoscope in other respects, it is certainly of
significance with respect to birth. But why not also with respect to
conception, which takes place undoubtedly with one act of copulation?
And, indeed, so great is the force of nature, that after a woman has
once conceived, she ceases to be liable to conception. Or were they,
perhaps, changed at birth, either he into a male, or she into a female,
because of the difference in their horoscopes? But, whilst it is not
altogether absurd to say that certain sidereal influences have some
power to cause differences in bodies alone,--as, for instance, we see
that the seasons of the year come round by the approaching and receding
of the sun, and that certain kinds of things are increased in size or
diminished by the waxings and wanings of the moon, such as sea-urchins,
oysters, and the wonderful tides of the ocean,--it does not follow that
the _wills of men_ are to be made subject to the position of the stars.
The astrologers, however, when they wish to bind our actions also to
the constellations, only set us on investigating whether, even in
these bodies, the changes may not be attributable to some other than a
sidereal cause. For what is there which more intimately concerns a body
than its sex? And yet, under the same position of the stars, twins of
different sexes may be conceived. Wherefore, what greater absurdity can
be affirmed or believed than that the position of the stars, which was
the same for both of them at the time of conception, could not cause
that the one child should not have been of a different sex from her
brother, with whom she had a common constellation, whilst the position
of the stars which existed at the hour of their birth could cause that
she should be separated from him by the great distance between marriage
and holy virginity?

  7. _Concerning the choosing of a day for marriage, or for planting,
                              or sowing._

Now, will any one bring forward this, that in choosing certain
particular days for particular actions, men bring about certain new
destinies for their actions? That man, for instance, according to
this doctrine, was not born to have an illustrious son, but rather a
contemptible one, and therefore, being a man of learning, he chose an
hour in which to lie with his wife. He made, therefore, a destiny
which he did not have before, and from that destiny of his own making
something began to be fatal which was not contained in the destiny of
his natal hour. Oh, singular stupidity! A day is chosen on which to
marry; and for this reason, I believe, that unless a day be chosen,
the marriage may fall on an unlucky day, and turn out an unhappy
one. What then becomes of what the stars have already decreed at
the hour of birth? Can a man be said to change by an act of choice
that which has already been determined for him, whilst that which he
himself has determined in the choosing of a day cannot be changed by
another power? Thus, if men alone, and not all things under heaven,
are subject to the influence of the stars, why do they choose some
days as suitable for planting vines or trees, or for sowing grain,
other days as suitable for taming beasts on, or for putting the
males to the females, that the cows and mares may be impregnated,
and for such-like things? If it be said that certain chosen days
have an influence on these things, because the constellations rule
over all terrestrial bodies, animate and inanimate, according to
differences in moments of time, let it be considered what innumerable
multitudes of beings are born or arise, or take their origin at the
very same instant of time, which come to ends so different, that
they may persuade any little boy that these observations about days
are ridiculous. For who is so mad as to dare affirm that all trees,
all herbs, all beasts, serpents, birds, fishes, worms, have each
separately their own moments of birth or commencement? Nevertheless,
men are wont, in order to try the skill of the mathematicians,
to bring before them the constellations of dumb animals, the
constellations of whose birth they diligently observe at home with
a view to this discovery; and they prefer those mathematicians to
all others, who say from the inspection of the constellations that
they indicate the birth of a beast and not of a man. They also dare
tell what kind of beast it is, whether it is a wool-bearing beast,
or a beast suited for carrying burthens, or one fit for the plough,
or for watching a house; for the astrologers are also tried with
respect to the fates of dogs, and their answers concerning these are
followed by shouts of admiration on the part of those who consult
them. They so deceive men as to make them think that during the birth
of a man the births of all other beings are suspended, so that not
even a fly comes to life at the same time that he is being born,
under the same region of the heavens. And if this be admitted with
respect to the fly, the reasoning cannot stop there, but must ascend
from flies till it lead them up to camels and elephants. Nor are they
willing to attend to this, that when a day has been chosen whereon
to sow a field, so many grains fall into the ground simultaneously,
germinate simultaneously, spring up, come to perfection, and ripen
simultaneously; and yet, of all the ears which are coeval, and, so to
speak, _congerminal_, some are destroyed by mildew, some are devoured
by the birds, and some are pulled by men. How can they say that all
these had their different constellations, which they see coming to so
different ends? Will they confess that it is folly to choose days for
such things, and to affirm that they do not come within the sphere of
the celestial decree, whilst they subject men alone to the stars, on
whom alone in the world God has bestowed free wills? All these things
being considered, we have good reason to believe that, when the
astrologers give very many wonderful answers, it is to be attributed
to the occult inspiration of spirits not of the best kind, whose care
it is to insinuate into the minds of men, and to confirm in them,
those false and noxious opinions concerning the fatal influence of
the stars, and not to their marking and inspecting of horoscopes,
according to some kind of art which in reality has no existence.

  8. _Concerning those who call by the name of fate, not the
      position of the stars, but the connection of causes which
      depends on the will of God._

But, as to those who call by the name of fate, not the disposition of
the stars as it may exist when any creature is conceived, or born,
or commences its existence, but the whole connection and train of
causes which makes everything become what it does become, there is
no need that I should labour and strive with them in a merely verbal
controversy, since they attribute the so-called order and connection
of causes to the will and power of God most high, who is most rightly
and most truly believed to know all things before they come to pass,
and to leave nothing unordained; from whom are all powers, although
the wills of all are not from Him. Now, that it is chiefly the will
of God most high, whose power extends itself irresistibly through all
things which they call fate, is proved by the following verses, of
which, if I mistake not, Annæus Seneca is the author:--

          "Father supreme, Thou ruler of the lofty heavens,
           Lead me where'er it is Thy pleasure; I will give
           A prompt obedience, making no delay,
           Lo! here I am. Promptly I come to do Thy sovereign will;
           If Thy command shall thwart my inclination, I will still
           Follow Thee groaning, and the work assigned,
           With all the suffering of a mind repugnant,
           Will perform, being evil; which, had I been good,
           I should have undertaken and performed, though hard,
           With virtuous cheerfulness.
           The Fates do lead the man that follows willing;
           But the man that is unwilling, him they drag."[187]

Most evidently, in this last verse, he calls that "fate" which he had
before called "the will of the Father supreme," whom, he says, he is
ready to obey that he may be led, being willing, not dragged, being
unwilling, since "the Fates do lead the man that follows willing, but
the man that is unwilling, him they drag."

The following Homeric lines, which Cicero translates into Latin, also
favour this opinion:--

          "Such are the minds of men, as is the light
           Which Father Jove himself doth pour
           Illustrious o'er the fruitful earth."[188]

Not that Cicero wishes that a poetical sentiment should have any
weight in a question like this; for when he says that the Stoics, when
asserting the power of fate, were in the habit of using these verses
from Homer, he is not treating concerning the opinion of that poet, but
concerning that of those philosophers, since by these verses, which
they quote in connection with the controversy which they hold about
fate, is most distinctly manifested what it is which they reckon fate,
since they call by the name of Jupiter him whom they reckon the supreme
god, from whom, they say, hangs the whole chain of fates.

   9. _Concerning the foreknowledge of God and the free will of man,
              in opposition to the definition of Cicero._

The manner in which Cicero addresses himself to the task of
refuting the Stoics, shows that he did not think he could effect
anything against them in argument unless he had first demolished
divination.[189] And this he attempts to accomplish by denying that
there is any knowledge of future things, and maintains with all
his might that there is no such knowledge either in God or man,
and that there is no prediction of events. Thus he both denies the
foreknowledge of God, and attempts by vain arguments, and by opposing
to himself certain oracles very easy to be refuted, to overthrow all
prophecy, even such as is clearer than the light (though even these
oracles are not refuted by him).

But, in refuting these conjectures of the mathematicians, his
argument is triumphant, because truly these are such as destroy
and refute themselves. Nevertheless, they are far more tolerable
who assert the fatal influence of the stars than they who deny the
foreknowledge of future events. For, to confess that God exists,
and at the same time to deny that He has foreknowledge of future
things, is the most manifest folly. This Cicero himself saw, and
therefore attempted to assert the doctrine embodied in the words of
Scripture, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."[190]
That, however, he did not do in his own person, for he saw how odious
and offensive such an opinion would be; and, therefore in his book
on the nature of the gods,[191] he makes Cotta dispute concerning
this against the Stoics, and preferred to give his own opinion in
favour of Lucilius Balbus, to whom he assigned the defence of the
Stoical position, rather than in favour of Cotta, who maintained
that no divinity exists. However, in his book on divination, he in
his own person most openly opposes the doctrine of the prescience of
future things. But all this he seems to do in order that he may not
grant the doctrine of fate, and by so doing destroy free will. For he
thinks that, the knowledge of future things being once conceded, fate
follows as so necessary a consequence that it cannot be denied.

But, let these perplexing debatings and disputations of the
philosophers go on as they may, we, in order that we may confess the
most high and true God Himself, do confess His will, supreme power,
and prescience. Neither let us be afraid lest, after all, we do not
do by will that which we do by will, because He, whose foreknowledge
is infallible, foreknew that we would do it. It was this which Cicero
was afraid of, and therefore opposed foreknowledge. The Stoics also
maintained that all things do not come to pass by necessity, although
they contended that all things happen according to destiny. What is it,
then, that Cicero feared in the prescience of future things? Doubtless
it was this,--that if all future things have been foreknown, they will
happen in the order in which they have been foreknown; and if they come
to pass in this order, there is a certain order of things foreknown
by God; and if a certain order of things, then a certain order of
causes, for nothing can happen which is not preceded by some efficient
cause. But if there is a certain order of causes according to which
everything happens which does happen, then by fate, says he, all things
happen which do happen. But if this be so, then is there nothing in
our own power, and there is no such thing as freedom of will; and if
we grant that, says he, the whole economy of human life is subverted.
In vain are laws enacted. In vain are reproaches, praises, chidings,
exhortations had recourse to; and there is no justice whatever in the
appointment of rewards for the good, and punishments for the wicked.
And that consequences so disgraceful, and absurd, and pernicious to
humanity may not follow, Cicero chooses to reject the foreknowledge of
future things, and shuts up the religious mind to this alternative, to
make choice between two things, either that something is in our own
power, or that there is foreknowledge,--both of which cannot be true;
but if the one is affirmed, the other is thereby denied. He therefore,
like a truly great and wise man, and one who consulted very much and
very skilfully for the good of humanity, of those two chose the freedom
of the will, to confirm which he denied the foreknowledge of future
things; and thus, wishing to make men free, he makes them sacrilegious.
But the religious mind chooses both, confesses both, and maintains both
by the faith of piety. But how so? says Cicero; for the knowledge of
future things being granted, there follows a chain of consequences
which ends in this, that there can be nothing depending on our own free
wills. And further, if there is anything depending on our wills, we
must go backwards by the same steps of reasoning till we arrive at the
conclusion that there is no foreknowledge of future things. For we go
backwards through all the steps in the following order:--If there is
free will, all things do not happen according to fate; if all things do
not happen according to fate, there is not a certain order of causes;
and if there is not a certain order of causes, neither is there a
certain order of things foreknown by God,--for things cannot come to
pass except they are preceded by efficient causes,--but, if there is no
fixed and certain order of causes foreknown by God, all things cannot
be said to happen according as He foreknew that they would happen. And
further, if it is not true that all things happen just as they have
been foreknown by Him, there is not, says he, in God any foreknowledge
of future events.

Now, against the sacrilegious and impious darings of reason, we
assert both that God knows all things before they come to pass, and
that we do by our free will whatsoever we know and feel to be done
by us only because we will it. But that all things come to pass by
fate, we do not say; nay we affirm that nothing comes to pass by
fate; for we demonstrate that the name of fate, as it is wont to
be used by those who speak of fate, meaning thereby the position
of the stars at the time of each one's conception or birth, is an
unmeaning word, for astrology itself is a delusion. But an order of
causes in which the highest efficiency is attributed to the will of
God, we neither deny nor do we designate it by the name of fate,
unless, perhaps, we may understand fate to mean that which is spoken,
deriving it from _fari_, to speak; for we cannot deny that it is
written in the sacred Scriptures, "God hath spoken once; these two
things have I heard, that power belongeth unto God. Also unto Thee, O
God, belongeth mercy: for Thou wilt render unto every man according
to his works."[192] Now the expression, "Once hath He spoken," is to
be understood as meaning "_immovably_," that is, unchangeably hath
He spoken, inasmuch as He knows unchangeably all things which shall
be, and all things which He will do. We might, then, use the word
fate in the sense it bears when derived from _fari_, to speak, had
it not already come to be understood in another sense, into which I
am unwilling that the hearts of men should unconsciously slide. But
it does not follow that, though there is for God a certain order of
all causes, there must therefore be nothing depending on the free
exercise of our own wills, for our wills themselves are included in
that order of causes which is certain to God, and is embraced by His
foreknowledge, for human wills are also causes of human actions;
and He who foreknew all the causes of things would certainly among
those causes not have been ignorant of our wills. For even that very
concession which Cicero himself makes is enough to refute him in
this argument. For what does it help him to say that nothing takes
place without a cause, but that every cause is not fatal, there being
a fortuitous cause, a natural cause, and a voluntary cause? It is
sufficient that he confesses that whatever happens must be preceded
by a cause. For we say that those causes which are called fortuitous
are not a mere name for the absence of causes, but are only latent,
and we attribute them either to the will of the true God, or to that
of spirits of some kind or other. And as to natural causes, we by no
means separate them from the will of Him who is the author and framer
of all nature. But now as to voluntary causes. They are referable
either to God, or to angels, or to men, or to animals of whatever
description, if indeed those instinctive movements of animals devoid
of reason, by which, in accordance with their own nature, they seek
or shun various things, are to be called wills. And when I speak of
the wills of angels, I mean either the wills of good angels, whom we
call the angels of God, or of the wicked angels, whom we call the
angels of the devil, or demons. Also by the wills of men I mean the
wills either of the good or of the wicked. And from this we conclude
that there are no efficient causes of all things which come to pass
unless voluntary causes, that is, such as belong to that nature which
is the spirit of life. For the air or wind is called spirit, but,
inasmuch as it is a body, it is not the spirit of life. The spirit
of life, therefore, which quickens all things, and is the creator
of every body, and of every created spirit, is God Himself, the
uncreated spirit. In His supreme will resides the power which acts
on the wills of all created spirits, helping the good, judging the
evil, controlling all, granting power to some, not granting it to
others. For, as He is the creator of all natures, so also is He the
bestower of all powers, not of all wills; for wicked wills are not
from Him, being contrary to nature, which is from Him. As to bodies,
they are more subject to wills: some to our wills, by which I mean
the wills of all living mortal creatures, but more to the wills of
men than of beasts. But all of them are most of all subject to the
will of God, to whom all wills also are subject, since they have no
power except what He has bestowed upon them. The cause of things,
therefore, which makes but is not made, is God; but all other causes
both make and are made. Such are all created spirits, and especially
the rational. Material causes, therefore, which may rather be said to
be made than to make, are not to be reckoned among efficient causes,
because they can only do what the wills of spirits do by them. How,
then, does an order of causes which is certain to the foreknowledge
of God necessitate that there should be nothing which is dependent
on our wills, when our wills themselves have a very important place
in the order of causes? Cicero, then, contends with those who call
this order of causes fatal, or rather designate this order itself
by the name of fate; to which we have an abhorrence, especially on
account of the word, which men have become accustomed to understand
as meaning what is not true. But, whereas he denies that the order
of all causes is most certain, and perfectly clear to the prescience
of God, we detest his opinion more than the Stoics do. For he either
denies that God exists,--which, indeed, in an assumed personage,
he has laboured to do, in his book _De Natura Deorum_,--or if he
confesses that He exists, but denies that He is prescient of future
things, what is that but just "the fool saying in his heart there is
no God?" For one who is not prescient of all future things is not
God. Wherefore our wills also have just so much power as God willed
and foreknew that they should have; and therefore whatever power
they have, they have it within most certain limits; and whatever they
are to do, they are most assuredly to do, for He whose foreknowledge
is infallible foreknew that they would have the power to do it, and
would do it. Wherefore, if I should choose to apply the name of fate
to anything at all, I should rather say that fate belongs to the
weaker of two parties, will to the stronger, who has the other in his
power, than that the freedom of our will is excluded by that order
of causes, which, by an unusual application of the word peculiar to
themselves, the Stoics call _Fate_.

            10. _Whether our wills are ruled by necessity._

Wherefore, neither is that necessity to be feared, for dread of which
the Stoics laboured to make such distinctions among the causes of
things as should enable them to rescue certain things from the dominion
of necessity, and to subject others to it. Among those things which
they wished not to be subject to necessity they placed our wills,
knowing that they would not be free if subjected to necessity. For
if that is to be called _our necessity_ which is not in our power,
but even though we be unwilling effects what it can effect,--as, for
instance, the necessity of death,--it is manifest that our wills by
which we live uprightly or wickedly are not under such a necessity; for
we do many things which, if we were not willing, we should certainly
not do. This is primarily true of the act of willing itself,--for if
we will, it _is_; if we will not, it _is_ not,--for we should not will
if we were unwilling. But if we define necessity to be that according
to which we say that it is necessary that anything be of such or such
a nature, or be done in such and such a manner, I know not why we
should have any dread of that necessity taking away the freedom of
our will. For we do not put the life of God or the foreknowledge of
God under necessity if we should say that it is necessary that God
should live for ever, and foreknow all things; as neither is His power
diminished when we say that He cannot die or fall into error,--for
this is in such a way impossible to Him, that if it were possible for
Him, He would be of less power. But assuredly He is rightly called
omnipotent, though He can neither die nor fall into error. For He
is called omnipotent on account of His doing what He wills, not on
account of His suffering what He wills not; for if that should befall
Him, He would by no means be omnipotent. Wherefore, He cannot do some
things for the very reason that He is omnipotent. So also, when we say
that it is necessary that, when we will, we will by free choice, in
so saying we both affirm what is true beyond doubt, and do not still
subject our wills thereby to a necessity which destroys liberty. Our
wills, therefore, _exist_ as _wills_, and do themselves whatever we
do by willing, and which would not be done if we were unwilling. But
when any one suffers anything, being unwilling, by the will of another,
even in that case will retains its essential validity,--we do not mean
the will of the party who inflicts the suffering, for we resolve it
into the power of God. For if a will should simply exist, but not be
able to do what it wills, it would be overborne by a more powerful
will. Nor would this be the case unless there had existed will, and
that not the will of the other party, but the will of him who willed,
but was not able to accomplish what he willed. Therefore, whatsoever
a man suffers contrary to his own will, he ought not to attribute to
the will of men, or of angels, or of any created spirit, but rather to
His will who gives power to wills. It is not the case, therefore, that
because God foreknew what would be in the power of our wills, there is
for that reason nothing in the power of our wills. For he who foreknew
this did not foreknow nothing. Moreover, if He who foreknew what would
be in the power of our wills did not foreknow nothing, but something,
assuredly, even though He did foreknow, there is something in the
power of our wills. Therefore we are by no means compelled, either,
retaining the prescience of God, to take away the freedom of the will,
or, retaining the freedom of the will, to deny that He is prescient of
future things, which is impious. But we embrace both. We faithfully
and sincerely confess both. The former, that we may believe well; the
latter, that we may live well. For he lives ill who does not believe
well concerning God. Wherefore, be it far from us, in order to maintain
our freedom, to deny the prescience of Him by whose help we are or
shall be free. Consequently, it is not in vain that laws are enacted,
and that reproaches, exhortations, praises, and vituperations are had
recourse to; for these also He foreknew, and they are of great avail,
even as great as He foreknew that they would be of. Prayers, also, are
of avail to procure those things which He foreknew that He would grant
to those who offered them; and with justice have rewards been appointed
for good deeds, and punishments for sins. For a man does not therefore
sin because God foreknew that he would sin. Nay, it cannot be doubted
but that it is the man himself who sins when he does sin, because He,
whose foreknowledge is infallible, foreknew not that fate, or fortune,
or something else would sin, but that the man himself would sin, who,
if he wills not, sins not. But if he shall not will to sin, even this
did God foreknow.

    11. _Concerning the universal providence of God in the laws of
                  which all things are comprehended._

Therefore God supreme and true, with His Word and Holy Spirit (which
three are one), one God omnipotent, creator and maker of every soul and
of every body; by whose gift all are happy who are happy through verity
and not through vanity; who made man a rational animal consisting
of soul and body, who, when he sinned, neither permitted him to go
unpunished, nor left him without mercy; who has given to the good and
to the evil, being in common with stones, vegetable life in common with
trees, sensuous life in common with brutes, intellectual life in common
with angels alone; from whom is every mode, every species, every order;
from whom are measure, number, weight; from whom is everything which
has an existence in nature, of whatever kind it be, and of whatever
value; from whom are the seeds of forms and the forms of seeds, and
the motion of seeds and of forms; who gave also to flesh its origin,
beauty, health, reproductive fecundity, disposition of members, and
the salutary concord of its parts; who also to the irrational soul has
given memory, sense, appetite, but to the rational soul, in addition to
these, has given intelligence and will; who has not left, not to speak
of heaven and earth, angels and men, but not even the entrails of the
smallest and most contemptible animal, or the feather of a bird, or the
little flower of a plant, or the leaf of a tree, without an harmony,
and, as it were, a mutual peace among all its parts;--that God can
never be believed to have left the kingdoms of men, their dominations
and servitudes, outside of the laws of His providence.

  12. _By what virtues the ancient Romans merited that the true God,
   although they did not worship Him, should enlarge their empire._

Wherefore let us go on to consider what virtues of the Romans they
were which the true God, in whose power are also the kingdoms of the
earth, condescended to help in order to raise the empire, and also
for what reason He did so. And, in order to discuss this question on
clearer ground, we have written the former books, to show that the
power of those gods, who, they thought, were to be worshipped with
such trifling and silly rites, had nothing to do in this matter; and
also what we have already accomplished of the present volume, to
refute the doctrine of fate, lest any one who might have been already
persuaded that the Roman empire was not extended and preserved by
the worship of these gods, might still be attributing its extension
and preservation to some kind of fate, rather than to the most
powerful will of God most high. The ancient and primitive Romans,
therefore, though their history shows us that, like all the other
nations, with the sole exception of the Hebrews, they worshipped
false gods, and sacrificed victims, not to God, but to demons, have
nevertheless this commendation bestowed on them by their historian,
that they were "greedy of praise, prodigal of wealth, desirous of
great glory, and content with a moderate fortune."[193] Glory they
most ardently loved: for it they wished to live, for it they did not
hesitate to die. Every other desire was repressed by the strength of
their passion for that one thing. At length their country itself,
because it seemed inglorious to serve, but glorious to rule and to
command, they first earnestly desired to be free, and then to be
mistress. Hence it was that, not enduring the domination of kings,
they put the government into the hands of two chiefs, holding office
for a year, who were called consuls, not kings or lords.[194] But
royal pomp seemed inconsistent with the administration of a ruler
(_regentis_), or the benevolence of one who consults (that is, for
the public good) (_consulentis_), but rather with the haughtiness of
a lord (_dominantis_). King Tarquin, therefore, having been banished,
and the consular government having been instituted, it followed, as
the same author already alluded to says in his praises of the Romans,
that "the state grew with amazing rapidity after it had obtained
liberty, so great a desire of glory had taken possession of it."
That eagerness for praise and desire of glory, then, was that which
accomplished those many wonderful things, laudable, doubtless, and
glorious according to human judgment. The same Sallust praises the
great men of his own time, Marcus Cato, and Caius Cæsar, saying that
for a long time the republic had no one great in virtue, but that
within his memory there had been these two men of eminent virtue, and
very different pursuits. Now, among the praises which he pronounces
on Cæsar he put this, that he wished for a great empire, an army,
and a new war, that he might have a sphere where his genius and
virtue might shine forth. Thus it was ever the prayer of men of
heroic character that Bellona would excite miserable nations to war,
and lash them into agitation with her bloody scourge, so that there
might be occasion for the display of their valour. This, forsooth, is
what that desire of praise and thirst for glory did. Wherefore, by
the love of liberty in the first place, afterwards also by that of
domination and through the desire of praise and glory, they achieved
many great things; and their most eminent poet testifies to their
having been prompted by all these motives:

          "Porsenna there, with pride elate,
           Bids Rome to Tarquin ope her gate;
           With arms he hems the city in,
           Æneas' sons stand firm to win."[195]

At that time it was their greatest ambition either to die bravely
or to live free; but when liberty was obtained, so great a desire
of glory took possession of them, that liberty alone was not enough
unless domination also should be sought, their great ambition being
that which the same poet puts into the mouth of Jupiter:

          "Nay, Juno's self, whose wild alarms
           Set ocean, earth, and heaven in arms,
           Shall change for smiles her moody frown,
           And vie with me in zeal to crown
           Rome's sons, the nation of the gown.
           So stands my will. There comes a day,
           While Rome's great ages hold their way,
           When old Assaracus's sons
           Shall quit them on the myrmidons,
           O'er Phthia and Mycenæ reign,
           And humble Argos to their chain."[196]

Which things, indeed, Virgil makes Jupiter predict as future, whilst,
in reality, he was only himself passing in review in his own mind
things which were already done, and which were beheld by him as
present realities. But I have mentioned them with the intention
of showing that, next to liberty, the Romans so highly esteemed
domination, that it received a place among those things on which
they bestowed the greatest praise. Hence also it is that that poet,
preferring to the arts of other nations those arts which peculiarly
belong to the Romans, namely, the arts of ruling and commanding, and
of subjugating and vanquishing nations, says,

          "Others, belike, with happier grace,
           From bronze or stone shall call the face,
           Plead doubtful causes, map the skies,
           And tell when planets set or rise;
           But Roman thou, do thou control
                 The nations far and wide;
           Be this thy genius, to impose
           The rule of peace on vanquished foes,
           Show pity to the humbled soul,
                 And crush the sons of pride."[197]

These arts they exercised with the more skill the less they gave
themselves up to pleasures, and to enervation of body and mind in
coveting and amassing riches, and through these corrupting morals, by
extorting them from the miserable citizens and lavishing them on base
stage-players. Hence these men of base character, who abounded when
Sallust wrote and Virgil sang these things, did not seek after honours
and glory by these arts, but by treachery and deceit. Wherefore the
same says, "But at first it was rather ambition than avarice that
stirred the minds of men, which vice, however, is nearer to virtue. For
glory, honour, and power are desired alike by the good man and by the
ignoble; but the former," he says, "strives onward to them by the true
way, whilst the other, knowing nothing of the good arts, seeks them by
fraud and deceit."[198] And what is meant by seeking the attainment
of glory, honour, and power by good arts, is to seek them by virtue,
and not by deceitful intrigue; for the good and the ignoble man alike
desire these things, but the good man strives to overtake them by the
true way. The way is virtue, along which he presses as to the goal of
possession--namely, to glory, honour, and power. Now that this was a
sentiment engrained in the Roman mind, is indicated even by the temples
of their gods; for they built in very close proximity the temples of
Virtue and Honour, worshipping as gods the gifts of God. Hence we can
understand what they who were good thought to be the end of virtue,
and to what they ultimately referred it, namely, to honour; for, as to
the bad, they had no virtue though they desired honour, and strove to
possess it by fraud and deceit. Praise of a higher kind is bestowed
upon Cato, for he says of him, "The less he sought glory, the more it
followed him."[199] We say praise of a higher kind; for the glory with
the desire of which the Romans burned is the judgment of men thinking
well of men. And therefore virtue is better, which is content with no
human judgment save that of one's own conscience. Whence the apostle
says, "For this is our glory, the testimony of our conscience."[200]
And in another place he says, "But let every one prove his own work,
and then he shall have glory in himself, and not in another."[201] That
glory, honour, and power, therefore, which they desired for themselves,
and to which the good sought to attain by good arts, should not be
sought after by virtue, but virtue by them. For there is no true virtue
except that which is directed towards that end in which is the highest
and ultimate good of man. Wherefore even the honours which Cato sought
he ought not to have sought, but the state ought to have conferred them
on him unsolicited, on account of his virtues.

But, of the two great Romans of that time, Cato was he whose virtue
was by far the nearest to the true idea of virtue. Wherefore, let
us refer to the opinion of Cato himself, to discover what was the
judgment he had formed concerning the condition of the state both
then and in former times. "I do not think," he says, "that it was by
arms that our ancestors made the republic great from being small.
Had that been the case, the republic of our day would have been by
far more flourishing than that of their times, for the number of
our allies and citizens is far greater; and, besides, we possess a
far greater abundance of armour and of horses than they did. But it
was other things than these that made them great, and we have none
of them: industry at home, just government without, a mind free in
deliberation, addicted neither to crime nor to lust. Instead of
these, we have luxury and avarice, poverty in the state, opulence
among citizens; we laud riches, we follow laziness; there is no
difference made between the good and the bad; all the rewards of
virtue are got possession of by intrigue. And no wonder, when every
individual consults only for his own good, when ye are the slaves of
pleasure at home, and, in public affairs, of money and favour, no
wonder that an onslaught is made upon the unprotected republic."[202]

He who hears these words of Cato or of Sallust probably thinks that
such praise bestowed on the ancient Romans was applicable to all of
them, or, at least, to very many of them. It is not so; otherwise
the things which Cato himself writes, and which I have quoted in
the second book of this work, would not be true. In that passage he
says, that even from the very beginning of the state wrongs were
committed by the more powerful, which led to the separation of the
people from the fathers, besides which there were other internal
dissensions; and the only time at which there existed a just and
moderate administration was after the banishment of the kings, and
that no longer than whilst they had cause to be afraid of Tarquin,
and were carrying on the grievous war which had been undertaken on
his account against Etruria; but afterwards the fathers oppressed the
people as slaves, flogged them as the kings had done, drove them from
their land, and, to the exclusion of all others, held the government
in their own hands alone. And to these discords, whilst the fathers
were wishing to rule, and the people were unwilling to serve, the
second Punic war put an end; for again great fear began to press upon
their disquieted minds, holding them back from those distractions by
another and greater anxiety, and bringing them back to civil concord.
But the great things which were then achieved were accomplished
through the administration of a few men, who were good in their own
way. And by the wisdom and forethought of these few good men, which
first enabled the republic to endure these evils and mitigated them,
it waxed greater and greater. And this the same historian affirms,
when he says that, reading and hearing of the many illustrious
achievements of the Roman people in peace and in war, by land and by
sea, he wished to understand what it was by which these great things
were specially sustained. For he knew that very often the Romans had
with a small company contended with great legions of the enemy; and
he knew also that with small resources they had carried on wars with
opulent kings. And he says that, after having given the matter much
consideration, it seemed evident to him that the pre-eminent virtue
of a few citizens had achieved the whole, and that that explained
how poverty overcame wealth, and small numbers great multitudes.
But, he adds, after that the state had been corrupted by luxury and
indolence, again the republic, by its own greatness, was able to bear
the vices of its magistrates and generals. Wherefore even the praises
of Cato are only applicable to a few; for only a few were possessed
of that virtue which leads men to pursue after glory, honour, and
power by the true way,--that is, by virtue itself. This industry at
home, of which Cato speaks, was the consequence of a desire to enrich
the public treasury, even though the result should be poverty at
home; and therefore, when he speaks of the evil arising out of the
corruption of morals, he reverses the expression, and says, "Poverty
in the state, riches at home."

  13. _Concerning the love of praise, which, though it is a vice, is
     reckoned a virtue, because by it greater vice is restrained._

Wherefore, when the kingdoms of the East had been illustrious for
a long time, it pleased God that there should also arise a Western
empire, which, though later in time, should be more illustrious
in extent and greatness. And, in order that it might overcome the
grievous evils which existed among other nations, He purposely
granted it to such men as, for the sake of honour, and praise, and
glory, consulted well for their country, in whose glory they sought
their own, and whose safety they did not hesitate to prefer to their
own, suppressing the desire of wealth and many other vices for
this one vice, namely, the love of praise. For he has the soundest
perception who recognises that even the love of praise is a vice; nor
has this escaped the perception of the poet Horace, who says,

          "You're bloated by ambition? take advice:
           Yon book will ease you if you read it thrice."[203]

And the same poet, in a lyric song, hath thus spoken with the desire
of repressing the passion for domination:

          "Rule an ambitious spirit, and thou hast
           A wider kingdom than if thou shouldst join
           To distant Gades Lybia, and thus
           Shouldst hold in service either Carthaginian."[204]

Nevertheless, they who restrain baser lusts, not by the power of
the Holy Spirit obtained by the faith of piety, or by the love
of intelligible beauty, but by desire of human praise, or, at
all events, restrain them better by the love of such praise, are
not indeed yet holy, but only less base. Even Tully was not able
to conceal this fact; for, in the same books which he wrote, _De
Republica_, when speaking concerning the education of a chief of
the state, who ought, he says, to be nourished on glory, goes on to
say that their ancestors did many wonderful and illustrious things
through desire of glory. So far, therefore, from resisting this
vice, they even thought that it ought to be excited and kindled up,
supposing that that would be beneficial to the republic. But not even
in his books on philosophy does Tully dissimulate this poisonous
opinion, for he there avows it more clearly than day. For when he is
speaking of those studies which are to be pursued with a view to the
_true good_, and not with the vainglorious desire of human praise, he
introduces the following universal and general statement:

 "Honour nourishes the arts, and all are stimulated to the
 prosecution of studies by glory; and those pursuits are always
 neglected which are generally discredited."[205]

     14. _Concerning the eradication of the love of human praise,
          because all the glory of the righteous is in God._

It is, therefore, doubtless far better to resist this desire than to
yield to it, for the purer one is from this defilement, the liker
is he to God; and, though this vice be not thoroughly eradicated
from his heart,--for it does not cease to tempt even the minds of
those who are making good progress in virtue,--at any rate, let
the desire of glory be surpassed by the love of righteousness, so
that, if there be seen anywhere "lying neglected things which are
generally discredited," if they are good, if they are right, even
the love of human praise may blush and yield to the love of truth.
For so hostile is this vice to pious faith, if the love of glory be
greater in the heart than the fear or love of God, that the Lord
said, "How can ye believe, who look for glory from one another,
and do not seek the glory which is from God alone?"[206] Also,
concerning some who had believed on Him, but were afraid to confess
Him openly, the evangelist says, "They loved the praise of men more
than the praise of God;"[207] which did not the holy apostles, who,
when they proclaimed the name of Christ in those places where it
was not only discredited, and therefore neglected,--according as
Cicero says, "Those things are always neglected which are generally
discredited,"--but was even held in the utmost detestation, holding
to what they had heard from the Good Master, who was also the
physician of minds, "If any one shall deny me before men, him will I
also deny before my Father who is in heaven, and before the angels
of God,"[208] amidst maledictions and reproaches, and most grievous
persecutions and cruel punishments, were not deterred from the
preaching of human salvation by the noise of human indignation. And
when, as they did and spake divine things, and lived divine lives,
conquering, as it were, hard hearts, and introducing into them the
peace of righteousness, great glory followed them in the church of
Christ, they did not rest in that as in the end of their virtue, but,
referring that glory itself to the glory of God, by whose grace they
were what they were, they sought to kindle, also by that same flame,
the minds of those for whose good they consulted, to the love of Him,
by whom they could be made to be what they themselves were. For their
Master had taught them not to seek to be good for the sake of human
glory, saying, "Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before
men to be seen of them, or otherwise ye shall not have a reward from
your Father who is in heaven."[209] But again, lest, understanding
this wrongly, they should, through fear of pleasing men, be less
useful through concealing their goodness, showing for what end they
ought to make it known, He says, "Let your works shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your Father who is in
heaven."[210] Not, observe, "that ye may be seen by them, that is, in
order that their eyes may be directed upon you,"--for of yourselves
ye are nothing,--but "that they may glorify your Father who is in
heaven," by fixing their regards on whom they may become such as ye
are. These the martyrs followed, who surpassed the Scævolas, and the
Curtiuses, and the Deciuses, both in true virtue, because in true
piety, and also in the greatness of their number. But since those
Romans were in an earthly city, and had before them, as the end of
all the offices undertaken in its behalf, its safety, and a kingdom,
not in heaven, but in earth,--not in the sphere of eternal life, but
in the sphere of demise and succession, where the dead are succeeded
by the dying,--what else but glory should they love, by which they
wished even after death to live in the mouths of their admirers?

     15. _Concerning the temporal reward which God granted to the
                        virtues of the Romans._

Now, therefore, with regard to those to whom God did not purpose to
give eternal life with His holy angels in His own celestial city,
to the society of which that true piety which does not render the
service of religion, which the Greeks call λατρεία, to any save the
true God conducts, if He had also withheld from them the terrestrial
glory of that most excellent empire, a reward would not have been
rendered to their good arts,--that is, their virtues,--by which they
sought to attain so great glory. For as to those who seem to do
some good that they may receive glory from men, the Lord also says,
"Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward."[211] So
also these despised their own private affairs for the sake of the
republic, and for its treasury resisted avarice, consulted for the
good of their country with a spirit of freedom, addicted neither to
what their laws pronounced to be crime nor to lust. By all these
acts, as by the true way, they pressed forward to honours, power,
and glory; they were honoured among almost all nations; they imposed
the laws of their empire upon many nations; and at this day, both in
literature and history, they are glorious among almost all nations.
There is no reason why they should complain against the justice of
the supreme and true God,--"they have received their reward."

   16. _Concerning the reward of the holy citizens of the celestial
  city, to whom the example of the virtues of the Roman are useful._

But the reward of the saints is far different, who even here endured
reproaches for that city of God which is hateful to the lovers of
this world. That city is eternal. There none are born, for none die.
There is true and full felicity,--not a goddess, but a gift of God.
Thence we receive the pledge of faith, whilst on our pilgrimage we
sigh for its beauty. There rises not the sun on the good and the
evil, but the Sun of Righteousness protects the good alone. There no
great industry shall be expended to enrich the public treasury by
suffering privations at home, for there is the common treasury of
truth. And, therefore, it was not only for the sake of recompensing
the citizens of Rome that her empire and glory had been so signally
extended, but also that the citizens of that eternal city, during
their pilgrimage here, might diligently and soberly contemplate these
examples, and see what a love they owe to the supernal country on
account of life eternal, if the terrestrial country was so much
beloved by its citizens on account of human glory.

   17. _To what profit the Romans carried on wars, and how much they
     contributed to the well-being of those whom they conquered._

For, as far as this life of mortals is concerned, which is spent
and ended in a few days, what does it matter under whose government
a dying man lives, if they who govern do not force him to impiety
and iniquity? Did the Romans at all harm those nations, on whom,
when subjugated, they imposed their laws, except in as far as that
was accomplished with great slaughter in war? Now, had it been done
with consent of the nations, it would have been done with greater
success, but there would have been no glory of conquest, for neither
did the Romans themselves live exempt from those laws which they
imposed on others. Had this been done without Mars and Bellona, so
that there should have been no place for victory, no one conquering
where no one had fought, would not the condition of the Romans and
of the other nations have been one and the same, especially if that
had been done at once which afterwards was done most humanely and
most acceptably, namely, the admission of all to the rights of Roman
citizens who belonged to the Roman empire, and if that had been made
the privilege of all which was formerly the privilege of a few, with
this one condition, that the humbler class who had no lands of their
own should live at the public expense--an alimentary impost, which
would have been paid with a much better grace by them into the hands
of good administrators of the republic, of which they were members,
by their own hearty consent, than it would have been paid with had it
to be extorted from them as conquered men? For I do not see what it
makes for the safety, good morals, and certainly not for the dignity,
of men, that some have conquered and others have been conquered,
except that it yields them that most insane pomp of human glory, in
which "they have received their reward," who burned with excessive
desire of it, and carried on most eager wars. For do not their lands
pay tribute? Have they any privilege of learning what the others are
not privileged to learn? Are there not many senators in the other
countries who do not even know Rome by sight? Take away outward
show,[212] and what are all men after all but men? But even though
the perversity of the age should permit that all the better men
should be more highly honoured than others, neither thus should human
honour be held at a great price, for it is smoke which has no weight.
But let us avail ourselves even in these things of the kindness of
God. Let us consider how great things they despised, how great things
they endured, what lusts they subdued for the sake of human glory,
who merited that glory, as it were, in reward for such virtues; and
let this be useful to us even in suppressing pride, so that, as that
city in which it has been promised us to reign as far surpasses this
one as heaven is distant from the earth, as eternal life surpasses
temporal joy, solid glory empty praise, or the society of angels the
society of mortals, or the glory of Him who made the sun and moon
the light of the sun and moon, the citizens of so great a country
may not seem to themselves to have done anything very great, if, in
order to obtain it, they have done some good works or endured some
evils, when those men for this terrestrial country already obtained,
did such great things, suffered such great things. And especially
are all these things to be considered, because the remission of
sins which collects citizens to the celestial country has something
in it to which a shadowy resemblance is found in that asylum of
Romulus, whither escape from the punishment of all manner of crimes
congregated that multitude with which the state was to be founded.

  18. _How far Christians ought to be from boasting, if they have done
      anything for the love of the eternal country, when the Romans did
      such great things for human glory and a terrestrial city._

What great thing, therefore, is it for that eternal and celestial
city to despise all the charms of this world, however pleasant, if
for the sake of this terrestrial city Brutus could even put to death
his son,--a sacrifice which the heavenly city compels no one to make?
But certainly it is more difficult to put to death one's sons, than
to do what is required to be done for the heavenly country, even
to distribute to the poor those things which were looked upon as
things to be amassed and laid up for one's children, or to let them
go, if there arise any temptation which compels us to do so, for
the sake of faith and righteousness. For it is not earthly riches
which make us or our sons happy; for they must either be lost by us
in our lifetime, or be possessed when we are dead, by whom we know
not, or perhaps by whom we would not. But it is God who makes us
happy, who is the true riches of minds. But of Brutus, even the poet
who celebrates his praises testifies that it was the occasion of
unhappiness to him that he slew his son, for he says,

          "And call his own rebellious seed
           For menaced liberty to bleed.
           Unhappy father! howsoe'er
           The deed be judged by after days."[213]

But in the following verse he consoles him in his unhappiness, saying,

          "His country's love shall all o'erbear."

There are those two things, namely, liberty and the desire of human
praise, which compelled the Romans to admirable deeds. If, therefore,
for the liberty of dying men, and for the desire of human praise
which is sought after by mortals, sons could be put to death by a
father, what great thing is it, if, for the true liberty which has
made us free from the dominion of sin, and death, and the devil,--not
through the desire of human praise, but through the earnest desire of
freeing men, not from King Tarquin, but from demons and the prince
of the demons,--we should, I do not say put to death our sons, but
reckon among our sons Christ's poor ones? If, also, another Roman
chief, surnamed Torquatus, slew his son, not because he fought
against his country, but because, being challenged by an enemy,
he through youthful impetuosity fought, though for his country,
yet contrary to orders which he his father had given as general;
and this he did, notwithstanding that his son was victorious, lest
there should be more evil in the example of authority despised, than
good in the glory of slaying an enemy;--if, I say, Torquatus acted
thus, wherefore should they boast themselves, who, for the laws of
a celestial country, despise all earthly good things, which are
loved far less than sons? If Furius Camillus, who was condemned by
those who envied him, notwithstanding that he had thrown off from
the necks of his countrymen the yoke of their most bitter enemies,
the Veientes, again delivered his ungrateful country from the Gauls,
because he had no other in which he could have better opportunities
for living a life of glory;--if Camillus did thus, why should he be
extolled as having done some great thing, who, having, it may be,
suffered in the church at the hands of carnal enemies most grievous
and dishonouring injury, has not betaken himself to heretical
enemies, or himself raised some heresy against her, but has rather
defended her, as far as he was able, from the most pernicious
perversity of heretics, since there is not another church, I say not
in which one can live a life of glory, but in which eternal life can
be obtained? If Mucius, in order that peace might be made with King
Porsenna, who was pressing the Romans with a most grievous war, when
he did not succeed in slaying Porsenna, but slew another by mistake
for him, reached forth his right hand and laid it on a red-hot altar,
saying that many such as he saw him to be had conspired for his
destruction, so that Porsenna, terrified at his daring, and at the
thought of a conspiracy of such as he, without any delay recalled all
his warlike purposes, and made peace;--if, I say, Mucius did this,
who shall speak of his meritorious claims to the kingdom of heaven,
if for it he may have given to the flames not one hand, but even his
whole body, and that not by his own spontaneous act, but because he
was persecuted by another? If Curtius, spurring on his steed, threw
himself all armed into a precipitous gulf, obeying the oracles of
their gods, which had commanded that the Romans should throw into
that gulf the best thing which they possessed, and they could only
understand thereby that, since they excelled in men and arms, the
gods had commanded that an armed man should be cast headlong into
that destruction;--if he did this, shall we say that that man has
done a great thing for the eternal city who may have died by a like
death, not, however, precipitating himself spontaneously into a
gulf, but having suffered this death at the hands of some enemy of
his faith, more especially when he has received from his Lord, who
is also King of his country, a more certain oracle, "Fear not them
who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul?"[214] If the Decii
dedicated themselves to death, consecrating themselves in a form of
words, as it were, that falling, and pacifying by their blood the
wrath of the gods, they might be the means of delivering the Roman
army;--if they did this, let not the holy martyrs carry themselves
proudly, as though they had done some meritorious thing for a share
in that country where are eternal life and felicity, if even to
the shedding of their blood, loving not only the brethren for whom
it was shed, but, according as had been commanded them, even their
enemies by whom it was being shed, they have vied with one another in
faith of love and love of faith. If Marcus Pulvillus, when engaged
in dedicating a temple to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, received with
such indifference the false intelligence which was brought to him of
the death of his son, with the intention of so agitating him that he
should go away, and thus the glory of dedicating the temple should
fall to his colleague;--if he received that intelligence with such
indifference that he even ordered that his son should be cast out
unburied, the love of glory having overcome in his heart the grief
of bereavement, how shall any one affirm that he has done a great
thing for the preaching of the gospel, by which the citizens of the
heavenly city are delivered from divers errors, and gathered together
from divers wanderings, to whom his Lord has said, when anxious about
the burial of his father, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their
dead?"[215] Regulus, in order not to break his oath, even with his
most cruel enemies, returned to them from Rome itself, because (as
he is said to have replied to the Romans when they wished to retain
him) he could not have the dignity of an honourable citizen at Rome
after having been a slave to the Africans, and the Carthaginians put
him to death with the utmost tortures, because he had spoken against
them in the senate. If Regulus acted thus, what tortures are not to
be despised for the sake of good faith toward that country to whose
beatitude faith itself leads? Or what will a man have rendered to the
Lord for all He has bestowed upon him, if, for the faithfulness he
owes to Him, he shall have suffered such things as Regulus suffered
at the hands of his most ruthless enemies for the good faith which
he owed to them? And how shall a Christian dare vaunt himself of
his voluntary poverty, which he has chosen in order that during the
pilgrimage of this life he may walk the more disencumbered on the
way which leads to the country where the true riches are, even God
Himself;--how, I say, shall he vaunt himself for this, when he hears
or reads that Lucius Valerius, who died when he was holding the
office of consul, was so poor that his funeral expenses were paid
with money collected by the people?--or when he hears that Quintius
Cincinnatus, who, possessing only four acres of land, and cultivating
them with his own hands, was taken from the plough to be made
dictator,--an office more honourable even than that of consul,--and
that, after having won great glory by conquering the enemy, he
preferred notwithstanding to continue in his poverty? Or how shall he
boast of having done a great thing, who has not been prevailed upon
by the offer of any reward of this world to renounce his connection
with that heavenly and eternal country, when he hears that Fabricius
could not be prevailed on to forsake the Roman city by the great
gifts offered to him by Pyrrhus king of the Epirots, who promised him
the fourth part of his kingdom, but preferred to abide there in his
poverty as a private individual? For if, when their republic,--that
is, the interest of the people, the interest of the country, the
common interest,--was most prosperous and wealthy, they themselves
were so poor in their own houses, that one of them, who had already
been twice a consul, was expelled from that senate of poor men by
the censor, because he was discovered to possess ten pounds weight
of silver-plate,--since, I say, those very men by whose triumphs the
public treasury was enriched were so poor, ought not all Christians,
who make common property of their riches with a far nobler purpose,
even that (according to what is written in the Acts of the Apostles)
they may distribute to each one according to his need, and that no
one may say that anything is his own, but that all things may be
their common possession,[216]--ought they not to understand that they
should not vaunt themselves, because they do that to obtain the
society of angels, when those men did well-nigh the same thing to
preserve the glory of the Romans?

How could these, and whatever like things are found in the Roman
history, have become so widely known, and have been proclaimed by so
great a fame, had not the Roman empire, extending far and wide, been
raised to its greatness by magnificent successes? Wherefore, through
that empire, so extensive and of so long continuance, so illustrious
and glorious also through the virtues of such great men, the reward
which they sought was rendered to their earnest aspirations, and also
examples are set before us, containing necessary admonition, in order
that we may be stung with shame if we shall see that we have not held
fast those virtues for the sake of the most glorious city of God, which
are, in whatever way, resembled by those virtues which they held fast
for the sake of the glory of a terrestrial city, and that, too, if we
shall feel conscious that we have held them fast, we may not be lifted
up with pride, because, as the apostle says, "The sufferings of the
present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be
revealed in us."[217] But so far as regards human and temporal glory,
the lives of these ancient Romans were reckoned sufficiently worthy.
Therefore, also, we see, in the light of that truth which, veiled in
the Old Testament, is revealed in the New, namely, that it is not in
view of terrestrial and temporal benefits, which divine providence
grants promiscuously to good and evil, that God is to be worshipped,
but in view of eternal life, everlasting gifts, and of the society
of the heavenly city itself;--in the light of this truth we see that
the Jews were most righteously given as a trophy to the glory of the
Romans; for we see that these Romans, who rested on earthly glory, and
sought to obtain it by virtues, such as they were, conquered those who,
in their great depravity, slew and rejected the giver of true glory,
and of the eternal city.

   19. _Concerning the difference between true glory and the desire
                            of domination._

There is assuredly a difference between the desire of human glory
and the desire of domination; for, though he who has an overweening
delight in human glory will be also very prone to aspire earnestly
after domination, nevertheless they who desire the true glory even of
human praise strive not to displease those who judge well of them.
For there are many good moral qualities, of which many are competent
judges, although they are not possessed by many; and by those good
moral qualities those men press on to glory, honour, and domination,
of whom Sallust says, "But they press on by the true way."

But whosoever, without possessing that desire of glory which makes
one fear to displease those who judge his conduct, desires domination
and power, very often seeks to obtain what he loves by most open
crimes. Therefore he who desires glory presses on to obtain it either
by the true way, or certainly by deceit and artifice, wishing to
appear good when he is not. Therefore to him who possesses virtues
it is a great virtue to despise glory; for contempt of it is seen by
God, but is not manifest to human judgment. For whatever any one does
before the eyes of men in order to show himself to be a despiser of
glory, if they suspect that he is doing it in order to get greater
praise,--that is, greater glory,--he has no means of demonstrating
to the perceptions of those who suspect him that the case is really
otherwise than they suspect it to be. But he who despises the judgment
of praisers, despises also the rashness of suspectors. Their salvation,
indeed, he does not despise, if he is truly good; for so great is the
righteousness of that man who receives his virtues from the Spirit of
God, that he loves his very enemies, and so loves them that he desires
that his haters and detractors may be turned to righteousness, and
become his associates, and that not in an earthly but in a heavenly
country. But with respect to his praisers, though he sets little value
on their praise, he does not set little value on their love; neither
does he elude their praise, lest he should forfeit their love. And,
therefore, he strives earnestly to have their praises directed to Him
from whom every one receives whatever in him is truly praiseworthy. But
he who is a despiser of glory, but is greedy of domination, exceeds
the beasts in the vices of cruelty and luxuriousness. Such, indeed,
were certain of the Romans, who, wanting the love of esteem, wanted
not the thirst for domination; and that there were many such, history
testifies. But it was Nero Cæsar who was the first to reach the summit,
and, as it were, the citadel, of this vice; for so great was his
luxuriousness, that one would have thought there was nothing manly to
be dreaded in him, and such his cruelty, that, had not the contrary
been known, no one would have thought there was anything effeminate in
his character. Nevertheless power and domination are not given even to
such men save by the providence of the most high God, when He judges
that the state of human affairs is worthy of such lords. The divine
utterance is clear on this matter; for the Wisdom of God thus speaks:
"By me kings reign, and tyrants possess the land."[218] But, that it
may not be thought that by "tyrants" is meant, not wicked and impious
kings, but brave men, in accordance with the ancient use of the word,
as when Virgil says,

          "For know that treaty may not stand
           Where king greets king and joins not hand,"[219]

in another place it is most unambiguously said of God, that He
"maketh the man who is an hypocrite to reign on account of the
perversity of the people."[220] Wherefore, though I have, according
to my ability, shown for what reason God, who alone is true and just,
helped forward the Romans, who were good according to a certain
standard of an earthly state, to the acquirement of the glory of so
great an empire, there may be, nevertheless, a more hidden cause,
known better to God than to us, depending on the diversity of the
merits of the human race. Among all who are truly pious, it is at all
events agreed that no one without true piety--that is, true worship
of the true God--can have true virtue; and that it is not true virtue
which is the slave of human praise. Though, nevertheless, they who
are not citizens of the eternal city, which is called the city of
God in the sacred Scriptures, are more useful to the earthly city
when they possess even that virtue than if they had not even that.
But there could be nothing more fortunate for human affairs than
that, by the mercy of God, they who are endowed with true piety of
life, if they have the skill for ruling people, should also have the
power. But such men, however great virtues they may possess in this
life, attribute it solely to the grace of God that He has bestowed
it on them--willing, believing, seeking. And, at the same time, they
understand how far they are short of that perfection of righteousness
which exists in the society of those holy angels for which they are
striving to fit themselves. But however much that virtue may be
praised and cried up, which without true piety is the slave of human
glory, it is not at all to be compared even to the feeble beginnings
of the virtue of the saints, whose hope is placed in the grace and
mercy of the true God.

   20. _That it is as shameful for the virtues to serve human glory
                         as bodily pleasure._

Philosophers,--who place the end of human good in virtue itself, in
order to put to shame certain other philosophers, who indeed approve
of the virtues, but measure them all with reference to the end of
bodily pleasure, and think that this pleasure is to be sought for its
own sake, but the virtues on account of pleasure,--are wont to paint
a kind of word-picture, in which Pleasure sits like a luxurious queen
on a royal seat, and all the virtues are subjected to her as slaves,
watching her nod, that they may do whatever she shall command. She
commands Prudence to be ever on the watch to discover how Pleasure
may rule, and be safe. Justice she orders to grant what benefits
she can, in order to secure those friendships which are necessary
for bodily pleasure; to do wrong to no one, lest, on account of the
breaking of the laws, Pleasure be not able to live in security.
Fortitude she orders to keep her mistress, that is, Pleasure, bravely
in her mind, if any affliction befall her body which does not
occasion death, in order that by remembrance of former delights she
may mitigate the poignancy of present pain. Temperance she commands
to take only a certain quantity even of the most favourite food,
lest, through immoderate use, anything prove hurtful by disturbing
the health of the body, and thus Pleasure, which the Epicureans make
to consist chiefly in the health of the body, be grievously offended.
Thus the virtues, with the whole dignity of their glory, will be the
slaves of Pleasure, as of some imperious and disreputable woman.

There is nothing, say our philosophers, more disgraceful and
monstrous than this picture, and which the eyes of good men can
less endure. And they say the truth. But I do not think that the
picture would be sufficiently becoming, even if it were made so that
the virtues should be represented as the slaves of human glory;
for, though that glory be not a luxurious woman, it is nevertheless
puffed up, and has much vanity in it. Wherefore it is unworthy
of the solidity and firmness of the virtues to represent them as
serving this glory, so that Prudence shall provide nothing, Justice
distribute nothing, Temperance moderate nothing, except to the end
that men may be pleased and vainglory served. Nor will they be able
to defend themselves from the charge of such baseness, whilst they,
by way of being despisers of glory, disregard the judgment of other
men, seem to themselves wise, and please themselves. For their
virtue,--if, indeed, it is virtue at all,--is only in another way
subjected to human praise; for he who seeks to please himself seeks
still to please man. But he who, with true piety towards God, whom
he loves, believes, and hopes in, fixes his attention more on those
things in which he displeases himself, than on those things, if there
are any such, which please himself, or rather, not himself, but the
truth, does not attribute that by which he can now please the truth
to anything but to the mercy of Him whom he has feared to displease,
giving thanks for what in him is healed, and pouring out prayers for
the healing of that which is yet unhealed.

   21. _That the Roman dominion was granted by Him from whom is all
         power, and by whose providence all things are ruled._

These things being so, we do not attribute the power of giving kingdoms
and empires to any save to the true God, who gives happiness in the
kingdom of heaven to the pious alone, but gives kingly power on earth
both to the pious and the impious, as it may please Him, whose good
pleasure is always just. For though we have said something about the
principles which guide His administration, in so far as it has seemed
good to Him to explain it, nevertheless it is too much for us, and far
surpasses our strength, to discuss the hidden things of men's hearts,
and by a clear examination to determine the merits of various kingdoms.
He, therefore, who is the one true God, who never leaves the human
race without just judgment and help, gave a kingdom to the Romans when
He would, and as great as He would, as He did also to the Assyrians,
and even the Persians, by whom, as their own books testify, only two
gods are worshipped, the one good and the other evil,--to say nothing
concerning the Hebrew people, of whom I have already spoken as much
as seemed necessary, who, as long as they were a kingdom, worshipped
none save the true God. The same, therefore, who gave to the Persians
harvests, though they did not worship the goddess Segetia, who gave the
other blessings of the earth, though they did not worship the many gods
which the Romans supposed to preside, each one over some particular
thing, or even many of them over each several thing,--He, I say, gave
the Persians dominion, though they worshipped none of those gods to
whom the Romans believed themselves indebted for the empire. And the
same is true in respect of men as well as nations. He who gave power to
Marius gave it also to Caius Cæsar; He who gave it to Augustus gave it
also to Nero; He also who gave it to the most benignant emperors, the
Vespasians, father and son, gave it also to the cruel Domitian; and,
finally, to avoid the necessity of going over them all, He who gave it
to the Christian Constantine gave it also to the apostate Julian, whose
gifted mind was deceived by a sacrilegious and detestable curiosity,
stimulated by the love of power. And it was because he was addicted
through curiosity to vain oracles, that, confident of victory, he
burned the ships which were laden with the provisions necessary for
his army, and therefore, engaging with hot zeal in rashly audacious
enterprises, he was soon slain, as the just consequence of his
recklessness, and left his army unprovisioned in an enemy's country,
and in such a predicament that it never could have escaped, save by
altering the boundaries of the Roman empire, in violation of that omen
of the god Terminus of which I spoke in the preceding book; for the god
Terminus yielded to necessity, though he had not yielded to Jupiter.
Manifestly these things are ruled and governed by the one God according
as He pleases; and if His motives are hid, are they therefore unjust?

   22. _The durations and issues of war depend on the will of God._

Thus also the durations of wars are determined by Him as He may see
meet, according to His righteous will, and pleasure, and mercy, to
afflict or to console the human race, so that they are sometimes of
longer, sometimes of shorter duration. The war of the Pirates and the
third Punic war were terminated with incredible celerity. Also the war
of the fugitive gladiators, though in it many Roman generals and the
consuls were defeated, and Italy was terribly wasted and ravaged, was
nevertheless ended in the third year, having itself been, during its
continuance, the end of much. The Picentes, the Marsi, and the Peligni,
not distant but Italian nations, after a long and most loyal servitude
under the Roman yoke, attempted to raise their heads into liberty,
though many nations had now been subjected to the Roman power, and
Carthage had been overthrown. In this Italian war the Romans were very
often defeated, and two consuls perished, besides other noble senators;
nevertheless this calamity was not protracted over a long space of
time, for the fifth year put an end to it. But the second Punic war,
lasting for the space of eighteen years, and occasioning the greatest
disasters and calamities to the republic, wore out and well-nigh
consumed the strength of the Romans; for in two battles about seventy
thousand Romans fell.[221] The first Punic war was terminated after
having been waged for three-and-twenty years. The Mithridatic war was
waged for forty years. And that no one may think that in the early and
much belauded times of the Romans they were far braver and more able
to bring wars to a speedy termination, the Samnite war was protracted
for nearly fifty years; and in this war the Romans were so beaten that
they were even put under the yoke. But because they did not love glory
for the sake of justice, but seemed rather to have loved justice for
the sake of glory, they broke the peace and the treaty which had been
concluded. These things I mention, because many, ignorant of past
things, and some also dissimulating what they know, if in Christian
times they see any war protracted a little longer than they expected,
straightway make a fierce and insolent attack on our religion,
exclaiming that, but for it, the deities would have been supplicated
still, according to ancient rites; and then, by that bravery of the
Romans, which, with the help of Mars and Bellona, speedily brought to
an end such great wars, this war also would be speedily terminated. Let
them, therefore, who have read history recollect what long-continued
wars, having various issues and entailing woful slaughter, were waged
by the ancient Romans, in accordance with the general truth that
the earth, like the tempestuous deep, is subject to agitations from
tempests--tempests of such evils, in various degrees,--and let them
sometimes confess what they do not like to own, and not, by madly
speaking against God, destroy themselves and deceive the ignorant.

  23. _Concerning the war in which Radagaisus, king of the Goths, a
      worshipper of demons, was conquered in one day, with all his
      mighty forces._

Nevertheless they do not mention with thanksgiving what God has very
recently, and within our own memory, wonderfully and mercifully done,
but as far as in them lies they attempt, if possible, to bury it in
universal oblivion. But should we be silent about these things, we
should be in like manner ungrateful. When Radagaisus, king of the
Goths, having taken up his position very near to the city, with a
vast and savage army, was already close upon the Romans, he was in
one day so speedily and so thoroughly beaten, that, whilst not even
one Roman was wounded, much less slain, far more than a hundred
thousand of his army were prostrated, and he himself and his sons,
having been captured, were forthwith put to death, suffering the
punishment they deserved. For had so impious a man, with so great and
so impious a host, entered the city, whom would he have spared? what
tombs of the martyrs would he have respected? in his treatment of what
person would he have manifested the fear of God? whose blood would
he have refrained from shedding? whose chastity would he have wished
to preserve inviolate? But how loud would they not have been in the
praises of their gods! How insultingly they would have boasted, saying
that Radagaisus had conquered, that he had been able to achieve such
great things, because he propitiated and won over the gods by daily
sacrifices,--a thing which the Christian religion did not allow the
Romans to do! For when he was approaching to those places where he
was overwhelmed at the nod of the Supreme Majesty, as his fame was
everywhere increasing, it was being told us at Carthage that the
pagans were believing, publishing, and boasting, that he, on account
of the help and protection of the gods friendly to him, because of
the sacrifices which he was said to be daily offering to them, would
certainly not be conquered by those who were not performing such
sacrifices to the Roman gods, and did not even permit that they should
be offered by any one. And now these wretched men do not give thanks
to God for His great mercy, who, having determined to chastise the
corruption of men, which was worthy of far heavier chastisement than
the corruption of the barbarians, tempered His indignation with such
mildness as, in the first instance, to cause that the king of the Goths
should be conquered in a wonderful manner, lest glory should accrue to
demons, whom he was known to be supplicating, and thus the minds of
the weak should be overthrown; and then, afterwards, to cause that,
when Rome was to be taken, it should be taken by those barbarians
who, contrary to any custom of all former wars, protected, through
reverence for the Christian religion, those who fled for refuge to
the sacred places, and who so opposed the demons themselves, and the
rites of impious sacrifices, that they seemed to be carrying on a far
more terrible war with them than with men. Thus did the true Lord
and Governor of things both scourge the Romans mercifully, and, by
the marvellous defeat of the worshippers of demons, show that those
sacrifices were not necessary even for the safety of present things;
so that, by those who do not obstinately hold out, but prudently
consider the matter, true religion may not be deserted on account of
the urgencies of the present time, but may be more clung to in most
confident expectation of eternal life.

  24. _What was the happiness of the Christian emperors, and how far
                        it was true happiness._

For neither do we say that certain Christian emperors were therefore
happy because they ruled a long time, or, dying a peaceful death,
left their sons to succeed them in the empire, or subdued the
enemies of the republic, or were able both to guard against and to
suppress the attempt of hostile citizens rising against them. These
and other gifts or comforts of this sorrowful life even certain
worshippers of demons have merited to receive, who do not belong to
the kingdom of God to which these belong; and this is to be traced to
the mercy of God, who would not have those who believe in Him desire
such things as the highest good. But we say that they are happy if
they rule justly; if they are not lifted up amid the praises of those
who pay them sublime honours, and the obsequiousness of those who
salute them with an excessive humility, but remember that they are
men; if they make their power the handmaid of His majesty by using
it for the greatest possible extension of His worship; if they fear,
love, worship God; if more than their own they love that kingdom
in which they are not afraid to have partners; if they are slow to
punish, ready to pardon; if they apply that punishment as necessary
to government and defence of the republic, and not in order to
gratify their own enmity; if they grant pardon, not that iniquity may
go unpunished, but with the hope that the transgressor may amend his
ways; if they compensate with the lenity of mercy and the liberality
of benevolence for whatever severity they may be compelled to
decree; if their luxury is as much restrained as it might have been
unrestrained; if they prefer to govern depraved desires rather than
any nation whatever; and if they do all these things, not through
ardent desire of empty glory, but through love of eternal felicity,
not neglecting to offer to the true God, who is their God, for their
sins, the sacrifices of humility, contrition, and prayer. Such
Christian emperors, we say, are happy in the present time by hope,
and are destined to be so in the enjoyment of the reality itself,
when that which we wait for shall have arrived.

   25. _Concerning the prosperity which God granted to the Christian
                         emperor Constantine._

For the good God, lest men, who believe that He is to be worshipped
with a view to eternal life, should think that no one could attain
to all this high estate, and to this terrestrial dominion, unless he
should be a worshipper of the demons,--supposing that these spirits
have great power with respect to such things,--for this reason He
gave to the Emperor Constantine, who was not a worshipper of demons,
but of the true God Himself, such fulness of earthly gifts as no
one would even dare wish for. To him also He granted the honour of
founding a city,[222] a companion to the Roman empire, the daughter,
as it were, of Rome itself, but without any temple or image of the
demons. He reigned for a long period as sole emperor, and unaided
held and defended the whole Roman world. In conducting and carrying
on wars he was most victorious; in overthrowing tyrants he was most
successful. He died at a great age, of sickness and old age, and
left his sons to succeed him in the empire.[223] But again, lest any
emperor should become a Christian in order to merit the happiness
of Constantine, when every one should be a Christian for the sake
of eternal life, God took away Jovian far sooner than Julian, and
permitted that Gratian should be slain by the sword of a tyrant. But
in his case there was far more mitigation of the calamity than in the
case of the great Pompey, for he could not be avenged by Cato, whom
he had left, as it were, heir to the civil war. But Gratian, though
pious minds require not such consolations, was avenged by Theodosius,
whom he had associated with himself in the empire, though he had a
little brother of his own, being more desirous of a faithful alliance
than of extensive power.

         26. _On the faith and piety of Theodosius Augustus._

And on this account, Theodosius not only preserved during the
lifetime of Gratian that fidelity which was due to him, but also,
after his death, he, like a true Christian, took his little brother
Valentinian under his protection, as joint emperor, after he had
been expelled by Maximus, the murderer of his father. He guarded
him with paternal affection, though he might without any difficulty
have got rid of him, being entirely destitute of all resources,
had he been animated with the desire of extensive empire, and not
with the ambition of being a benefactor. It was therefore a far
greater pleasure to him, when he had adopted the boy, and preserved
to him his imperial dignity, to console him by his very humanity
and kindness. Afterwards, when that success was rendering Maximus
terrible, Theodosius, in the midst of his perplexing anxieties,
was not drawn away to follow the suggestions of a sacrilegious and
unlawful curiosity, but sent to John, whose abode was in the desert
of Egypt,--for he had learned that this servant of God (whose fame
was spreading abroad) was endowed with the gift of prophecy,--and
from him he received assurance of victory. Immediately the slayer
of the tyrant Maximus, with the deepest feelings of compassion and
respect, restored the boy Valentinianus to his share in the empire
from which he had been driven. Valentinianus being soon after
slain by secret assassination, or by some other plot or accident,
Theodosius, having again received a response from the prophet, and
placing entire confidence in it, marched against the tyrant Eugenius,
who had been unlawfully elected to succeed that emperor, and defeated
his very powerful army, more by prayer than by the sword. Some
soldiers who were at the battle reported to me that all the missiles
they were throwing were snatched from their hands by a vehement wind,
which blew from the direction of Theodosius' army upon the enemy; nor
did it only drive with greater velocity the darts which were hurled
against them, but also turned back upon their own bodies the darts
which they themselves were throwing. And therefore the poet Claudian,
although an alien from the name of Christ, nevertheless says in his
praises of him, "O prince, too much beloved by God, for thee Æolus
pours armed tempests from their caves; for thee the air fights, and
the winds with one accord obey thy bugles."[224] But the victor, as
he had believed and predicted, overthrew the statues of Jupiter,
which had been, as it were, consecrated by I know not what kind of
rites against him, and set up in the Alps. And the thunderbolts of
these statues, which were made of gold, he mirthfully and graciously
presented to his couriers, who (as the joy of the occasion permitted)
were jocularly saying that they would be most happy to be struck
by such thunderbolts. The sons of his own enemies, whose fathers
had been slain not so much by his orders as by the vehemence of
war, having fled for refuge to a church, though they were not yet
Christians, he was anxious, taking advantage of the occasion, to
bring over to Christianity, and treated them with Christian love.
Nor did he deprive them of their property, but, besides allowing
them to retain it, bestowed on them additional honours. He did not
permit private animosities to affect the treatment of any man after
the war. He was not like Cinna, and Marius, and Sylla, and other
such men, who wished not to finish civil wars even when they were
finished, but rather grieved that they had arisen at all, than wished
that when they were finished they should harm any one. Amid all
these events, from the very commencement of his reign, he did not
cease to help the troubled church against the impious by most just
and merciful laws, which the heretical Valens, favouring the Arians,
had vehemently afflicted. Indeed, he rejoiced more to be a member of
this church than he did to be a king upon the earth. The idols of the
Gentiles he everywhere ordered to be overthrown, understanding well
that not even terrestrial gifts are placed in the power of demons,
but in that of the true God. And what could be more admirable than
his religious humility, when, compelled by the urgency of certain of
his intimates, he avenged the grievous crime of the Thessalonians,
which at the prayer of the bishops he had promised to pardon, and,
being laid hold of by the discipline of the church, did penance
in such a way that the sight of his imperial loftiness prostrated
made the people who were interceding for him weep more than the
consciousness of offence had made them fear it when enraged? These
and other similar good works, which it would be long to tell, he
carried with him from this world of time, where the greatest human
nobility and loftiness are but vapour. Of these works the reward is
eternal happiness, of which God is the giver, though only to those
who are sincerely pious. But all other blessings and privileges of
this life, as the world itself, light, air, earth, water, fruits, and
the soul of man himself, his body, senses, mind, life, He lavishes on
good and bad alike. And among these blessings is also to be reckoned
the possession of an empire, whose extent He regulates according to
the requirements of His providential government at various times.
Whence, I see, we must now answer those who, being confuted and
convicted by the most manifest proofs, by which it is shown that for
obtaining these terrestrial things, which are all the foolish desire
to have, that multitude of false gods is of no use, attempt to assert
that the gods are to be worshipped with a view to the interest, not
of the present life, but of that which is to come after death. For
as to those who, for the sake of the friendship of this world, are
willing to worship vanities, and do not grieve that they are left to
their puerile understandings, I think they have been sufficiently
answered in these five books; of which books, when I had published
the first three, and they had begun to come into the hands of many,
I heard that certain persons were preparing against them an answer
of some kind or other in writing. Then it was told me that they had
already written their answer, but were waiting a time when they
could publish it without danger. Such persons I would advise not to
desire what cannot be of any advantage to them; for it is very easy
for a man to seem to himself to have answered arguments, when he has
only been unwilling to be silent. For what is more loquacious than
vanity? And though it be able, if it like, to shout more loudly than
the truth, it is not, for all that, more powerful than the truth.
But let men consider diligently all the things that we have said,
and if, perchance, judging without party spirit, they shall clearly
perceive that they are such things as may rather be shaken than torn
up by their most impudent garrulity, and, as it were, satirical and
mimic levity, let them restrain their absurdities, and let them
choose rather to be corrected by the wise than to be lauded by the
foolish. For if they are waiting an opportunity, not for liberty to
speak the truth, but for licence to revile, may not that befall them
which Tully says concerning some one, "Oh, wretched man! who was at
liberty to sin?"[225] Wherefore, whoever he be who deems himself
happy because of licence to revile, he would be far happier if that
were not allowed him at all; for he might all the while, laying aside
empty boast, be contradicting those to whose views he is opposed by
way of free consultation with them, and be listening, as it becomes
him, honourably, gravely, candidly, to all that can be adduced by
those whom he consults by friendly disputation.


[183] Written in the year 415.

[184] On the application of astrology to national prosperity, and the
success of certain religions, see Lecky's _Rationalism_, i. 303.

[185] This fact is not recorded in any of the extant works of
Hippocrates or Cicero. Vives supposes it may have found place in
Cicero's book, _De Fato_.

[186] _i.e._ the potter.

[187] _Epist._ 107.

[188] _Odyssey_, xviii. 136, 137.

[189] _De Divinat._ ii.

[190] Ps. xiv. 1

[191] Book iii.

[192] Ps. lxii. 11, 12.

[193] Sallust, _Cat._ vii.

[194] Augustine notes that the name consul is derived from
_consulere_, and thus signifies a more benign rule than that of a rex
(from _regere_), or dominus (from _dominari_).

[195] _Æneid_, viii. 646.

[196] _Æneid_, i. 279.

[197] _Ibid._ vi. 847.

[198] Sallust, _in Cat._ c. xi.

[199] Sallust, _in Cat._ c. 54.

[200] 2 Cor. i. 12.

[201] Gal. vi. 4.

[202] Sallust, _in Cat._ c. 52.

[203] Horace, _Epist._ i. 1. 36, 37.

[204] Hor. _Carm._ ii. 2.

[205] _Tusc. Quæst._ i. 2.

[206] John v. 44.

[207] John xii. 43.

[208] Matt. x. 33.

[209] Matt. vi. 1.

[210] Matt. v. 16.

[211] Matt. vi. 2.

[212] _Jactantia._

[213] _Æneid_, vi. 820.

[214] Matt. x. 28.

[215] Matt. viii. 22.

[216] Acts ii. 45.

[217] Rom. viii. 18.

[218] Prov. viii. 15.

[219] _Æneid_, vii. 266.

[220] Job xxxiv. 30.

[221] Of the Thrasymene Lake and Cannæ.

[222] Constantinople.

[223] Constantius, Constantine, and Constans.

[224] _Panegyr. de tertio Honorii consulatu._

[225] _Tusc. Quaest._ v. 19.

                              BOOK SIXTH.




In the five former books, I think I have sufficiently disputed
against those who believe that the many false gods, which the
Christian truth shows to be useless images, or unclean spirits and
pernicious demons, or certainly creatures, not the Creator, are to be
worshipped for the advantage of this mortal life, and of terrestrial
affairs, with that rite and service which the Greeks call λατρεία,
and which is due to the one true God. And who does not know that,
in the face of excessive stupidity and obstinacy, neither these
five nor any other number of books whatsoever could be enough,
when it is esteemed the glory of vanity to yield to no amount of
strength on the side of truth,--certainly to his destruction over
whom so heinous a vice tyrannizes? For, notwithstanding all the
assiduity of the physician who attempts to effect a cure, the disease
remains unconquered, not through any fault of his, but because of
the incurableness of the sick man. But those who thoroughly weigh
the things which they read, having understood and considered them,
without any, or with no great and excessive degree of that obstinacy
which belongs to a long-cherished error, will more readily judge
that, in the five books already finished, we have done more than
the necessity of the question demanded, than that we have given
it less discussion than it required. And they cannot have doubted
but that all the hatred which the ignorant attempt to bring upon
the Christian religion on account of the disasters of this life,
and the destruction and change which befall terrestrial things,
whilst the learned do not merely dissimulate, but encourage that
hatred, contrary to their own consciences, being possessed by a mad
impiety;--they cannot have doubted, I say, but that this hatred
is devoid of right reflection and reason, and full of most light
temerity, and most pernicious animosity.

   1. _Of those who maintain that they worship the gods not for the
              sake of temporal, but eternal advantages._

Now, as, in the next place (as the promised order demands), those are
to be refuted and taught who contend that the gods of the nations,
which the Christian truth destroys, are to be worshipped not on account
of this life, but on account of that which is to be after death, I
shall do well to commence my disputation with the truthful oracle of
the holy psalm, "Blessed is the man whose hope is the Lord God, and who
respecteth not Vanities and lying follies."[226] Nevertheless, in all
vanities and lying follies the philosophers are to be listened to with
far more toleration, who have repudiated those opinions and errors of
the people; for the people set up images to the deities, and either
feigned concerning those whom they call immortal gods many false and
unworthy things, or believed them, already feigned, and, when believed,
mixed them up with their worship and sacred rites.

With those men who, though not by free avowal of their convictions, do
still testify that they disapprove of those things by their muttering
disapprobation during disputations on the subject, it may not be
very far amiss to discuss the following question: Whether, for the
sake of the life which is to be after death, we ought to worship,
not the one God, who made all creatures spiritual and corporeal, but
those many gods who, as some of these philosophers hold, were made by
that one God, and placed by Him in their respective sublime spheres,
and are therefore considered more excellent and more noble than all
the others?[227] But who will assert that it must be affirmed and
contended that those gods, certain of whom I have mentioned in the
fourth book,[228] to whom are distributed, each to each, the charges
of minute things, do bestow eternal life? But will those most skilled
and most acute men, who glory in having written for the great benefit
of men, to teach on what account each god is to be worshipped, and
what is to be sought from each, lest with most disgraceful absurdity,
such as a mimic is wont for the sake of merriment to exhibit, water
should be sought from Liber, wine from the Lymphs,--will those men
indeed affirm to any man supplicating the immortal gods, that when he
shall have asked wine from the Lymphs, and they shall have answered
him, "We have water, seek wine from Liber," he may rightly say, "If
ye have not wine, at least give me eternal life?" What more monstrous
than this absurdity? Will not these Lymphs,--for they are wont to be
very easily made laugh,[229]--laughing loudly (if they do not attempt
to deceive like demons), answer the suppliant, "O man, dost thou think
that we have life (_vitam_) in our power, who thou hearest have not
even the vine (_vitem_)?" It is therefore most impudent folly to seek
and hope for eternal life from such gods as are asserted so to preside
over the separate minute concernments of this most sorrowful and short
life, and whatever is useful for supporting and propping it, as that
if anything which is under the care and power of one be sought from
another, it is so incongruous and absurd that it appears very like to
mimic drollery,--which, when it is done by mimics knowing what they are
doing, is deservedly laughed at in the theatre, but when it is done by
foolish persons, who do not know better, is more deservedly ridiculed
in the world. Wherefore, as concerns those gods which the states have
established, it has been cleverly invented and handed down to memory
by learned men, what god or goddess is to be supplicated in relation
to every particular thing,--what, for instance, is to be sought from
Liber, what from the Lymphs, what from Vulcan, and so of all the rest,
some of whom I have mentioned in the fourth book, and some I have
thought right to omit. Further, if it is an error to seek wine from
Ceres, bread from Liber, water from Vulcan, fire from the Lymphs, how
much greater absurdity ought it to be thought, if supplication be made
to any one of these for eternal life?

Wherefore, if, when we were inquiring what gods or goddesses are
to be believed to be able to confer earthly kingdoms upon men, all
things having been discussed, it was shown to be very far from the
truth to think that even terrestrial kingdoms are established by any
of those many false deities, is it not most insane impiety to believe
that eternal life, which is, without any doubt or comparison, to be
preferred to all terrestrial kingdoms, can be given to any one by any
of these gods? For the reason why such gods seemed to us not to be
able to give even an earthly kingdom, was not because they are very
great and exalted, whilst that is something small and abject, which
they, in their so great sublimity, would not condescend to care for,
but because, however deservedly any one may, in consideration of
human frailty, despise the falling pinnacles of an earthly kingdom,
these gods have presented such an appearance as to seem most unworthy
to have the granting and preserving of even those entrusted to them;
and consequently, if (as we have taught in the two last books of our
work, where this matter is treated of) no god out of all that crowd,
either belonging to, as it were, the plebeian or to the noble gods,
is fit to give mortal kingdoms to mortals, how much less is he able
to make immortals of mortals?

And more than this, if, according to the opinion of those with whom we
are now arguing, the gods are to be worshipped, not on account of the
present life, but of that which is to be after death, then, certainly,
they are not to be worshipped on account of those particular things
which are distributed and portioned out (not by any law of rational
truth, but by mere vain conjecture) to the power of such gods, as
they believe they ought to be worshipped, who contend that their
worship is necessary for all the desirable things of this mortal life,
against whom I have disputed sufficiently, as far as I was able, in
the five preceding books. These things being so, if the age itself
of those who worshipped the goddess Juventas should be characterized
by remarkable vigour, whilst her despisers should either die within
the years of youth, or should, during that period, grow cold as with
the torpor of old age; if bearded Fortuna should cover the cheeks of
her worshippers more handsomely and more gracefully than all others,
whilst we should see those by whom she was despised either altogether
beardless or ill-bearded; even then we should most rightly say, that
thus far these several gods had power, limited in some way by their
functions, and that, consequently, neither ought eternal life to be
sought from Juventas, who could not give a beard, nor ought any good
thing after this life to be expected from Fortuna Barbata, who has
no power even in this life to give the age itself at which the beard
grows. But now, when their worship is necessary not even on account of
those very things which they think are subjected to their power,--for
many worshippers of the goddess Juventas have not been at all vigorous
at that age, and many who do not worship her rejoice in youthful
strength; and also many suppliants of Fortuna Barbata have either not
been able to attain to any beard at all, not even an ugly one, although
they who adore her in order to obtain a beard are ridiculed by her
bearded despisers,--is the human heart really so foolish as to believe
that that worship of the gods, which it acknowledges to be vain and
ridiculous with respect to those very temporal and swiftly passing
gifts, over each of which one of these gods is said to preside, is
fruitful in results with respect to eternal life? And that they are
able to give eternal life has not been affirmed even by those who, that
they might be worshipped by the silly populace, distributed in minute
division among them these temporal occupations, that none of them might
sit idle; for they had supposed the existence of an exceedingly great

  2. _What we are to believe that Varro thought concerning the gods
      of the nations, whose various kinds and sacred rites he has
      shown to be such that he would have acted more reverently
      towards them had he been altogether silent concerning them._

Who has investigated those things more carefully than Marcus Varro?
Who has discovered them more learnedly? Who has considered them more
attentively? Who has distinguished them more acutely? Who has written
about them more diligently and more fully?--who, though he is less
pleasing in his eloquence, is nevertheless so full of instruction
and wisdom, that in all the erudition which we call secular, but
they liberal, he will teach the student of things as much as Cicero
delights the student of words. And even Tully himself renders him
such testimony, as to say in his Academic books that he had held that
disputation which is there carried on with Marcus Varro, "a man," he
adds, "unquestionably the acutest of all men, and, without any doubt,
the most learned."[230] He does not say the most eloquent or the most
fluent, for in reality he was very deficient in this faculty, but he
says, "of all men the most acute." And in those books,--that is, the
Academic,--where he contends that all things are to be doubted, he
adds of him, "without any doubt the most learned." In truth, he was
so certain concerning this thing, that he laid aside that doubt which
he is wont to have recourse to in all things, as if, when about to
dispute in favour of the doubt of the Academics, he had, with respect
to this one thing, forgotten that he was an Academic. But in the first
book, when he extols the literary works of the same Varro, he says,
"Us straying and wandering in our own city like strangers, thy books,
as it were, brought home, that at length we might come to know of who
we were and where we were. Thou hast opened up to us the age of the
country, the distribution of seasons, the laws of sacred things, and of
the priests; thou hast opened up to us domestic and public discipline;
thou hast pointed out to us the proper places for religious ceremonies,
and hast informed us concerning sacred places. Thou hast shown us the
names, kinds, offices, causes of all divine and human things."[231]

This man, then, of so distinguished and excellent acquirements, and,
as Terentian briefly says of him in a most elegant verse,

          "Varro, a man universally informed,"[232]

who read so much that we wonder when he had time to write, wrote so
much that we can scarcely believe any one could have read it all,--this
man, I say, so great in talent, so great in learning, had he been an
opposer and destroyer of the so-called divine things of which he wrote,
and had he said that they pertained to superstition rather than to
religion, might perhaps, even in that case, not have written so many
things which are ridiculous, contemptible, detestable. But when he so
worshipped these same gods, and so vindicated their worship, as to say,
in that same literary work of his, that he was afraid lest they should
perish, not by an assault by enemies, but by the negligence of the
citizens, and that from this ignominy they are being delivered by him,
and are being laid up and preserved in the memory of the good by means
of such books, with a zeal far more beneficial than that through which
Metellus is declared to have rescued the sacred things of Vesta from
the flames, and Æneas to have rescued the Penates from the burning of
Troy; and when he, nevertheless, gives forth such things to be read by
succeeding ages as are deservedly judged by wise and unwise to be unfit
to be read, and to be most hostile to the truth of religion; what ought
we to think but that a most acute and learned man,--not, however, made
free by the Holy Spirit,--was overpowered by the custom and laws of his
state, and, not being able to be silent about those things by which he
was influenced, spoke of them under pretence of commending religion?

   3. _Varro's distribution of his book which he composed concerning
             the antiquities of human and divine things._

He wrote forty-one books of antiquities. These he divided into human
and divine things. Twenty-five he devoted to human things, sixteen
to divine things; following this plan in that division,--namely,
to give six books to each of the four divisions of human things.
For he directs his attention to these considerations: who perform,
where they perform, when they perform, what they perform. Therefore
in the first six books he wrote concerning men; in the second six,
concerning places; in the third six, concerning times; in the fourth
and last six, concerning things. Four times six, however, make only
twenty-four. But he placed at the head of them one separate work,
which spoke of all these things conjointly.

In divine things, the same order he preserved throughout, as far as
concerns those things which are performed to the gods. For sacred
things are performed by men in places and times. These four things
I have mentioned he embraced in twelve books, allotting three to
each. For he wrote the first three concerning men, the following
three concerning places, the third three concerning times, and the
fourth three concerning sacred rites,--showing who should perform,
where they should perform, when they should perform, what they should
perform, with most subtle distinction. But because it was necessary
to say--and that especially was expected--to whom they should perform
sacred rites, he wrote concerning the gods themselves the last three
books; and these five times three made fifteen. But they are in all,
as we have said, sixteen. For he put also at the beginning of these
one distinct book, speaking by way of introduction of all which
follows; which being finished, he proceeded to subdivide the first
three in that fivefold distribution which pertain to men, making
the first concerning high priests, the second concerning augurs,
the third concerning the fifteen men presiding over the sacred
ceremonies.[233] The second three he made concerning places, speaking
in one of them concerning their chapels, in the second concerning
their temples, and in the third concerning religious places. The
next three which follow these, and pertain to times,--that is, to
festival days,--he distributed so as to make one concerning holidays,
the other concerning the circus games, and the third concerning
scenic plays. Of the fourth three, pertaining to sacred things, he
devoted one to consecrations, another to private, the last to public,
sacred rites. In the three which remain, the gods themselves follow
this pompous train, as it were, for whom all this culture has been
expended. In the first book are the certain gods, in the second the
uncertain, in the third, and last of all, the chief and select gods.

  4. _That from the disputation of Varro, it follows that the
      worshippers of the gods regard human things as more ancient
      than divine things._

In this whole series of most beautiful and most subtle distributions
and distinctions, it will most easily appear evident from the things
we have said already, and from what is to be said hereafter, to any
man who is not, in the obstinacy of his heart, an enemy to himself,
that it is vain to seek and to hope for, and even most impudent to
wish for eternal life. For these institutions are either the work
of men, or of demons,--not of those whom they call good demons,
but, to speak more plainly, of unclean, and, without controversy,
malign spirits, who with wonderful slyness and secretness suggest to
the thoughts of the impious, and sometimes openly present to their
understandings, noxious opinions, by which the human mind grows more
and more foolish, and becomes unable to adapt itself to and abide in
the immutable and eternal truth, and seek to confirm these opinions
by every kind of fallacious attestation in their power. This very
same Varro testifies that he wrote first concerning human things,
but afterwards concerning divine things, because the states existed
first, and afterward these things were instituted by them. But the
true religion was not instituted by any earthly state, but plainly it
established the celestial city. It, however, is inspired and taught
by the true God, the giver of eternal life to His true worshippers.

The following is the reason Varro gives when he confesses that he
had written first concerning human things, and afterwards of divine
things, because these divine things were instituted by men:--"As the
painter is before the painted tablet, the mason before the edifice,
so states are before those things which are instituted by states."
But he says that he would have written first concerning the gods,
afterwards concerning men, if he had been writing concerning the
whole nature of the gods,--as if he were really writing concerning
some portion of, and not all, the nature of the gods; or as if,
indeed, some portion of, though not all, the nature of the gods ought
not to be put before that of men. How, then, comes it that in those
three last books, when he is diligently explaining the certain,
uncertain, and select gods, he seems to pass over no portion of the
nature of the gods? Why, then, does he say, "If we had been writing
on the whole nature of the gods, we would first have finished the
divine things before we touched the human?" For he either writes
concerning the whole nature of the gods, or concerning some portion
of it, or concerning no part of it at all. If concerning it all, it
is certainly to be put before human things; if concerning some part
of it, why should it not, from the very nature of the case, precede
human things? Is not even some part of the gods to be preferred
to the whole of humanity? But if it is too much to prefer a part
of the divine to all human things, that part is certainly worthy
to be preferred to the Romans at least. For he writes the books
concerning human things, not with reference to the whole world, but
only to Rome; which books he says he had properly placed, in the
order of writing, before the books on divine things, like a painter
before the painted tablet, or a mason before the building, most
openly confessing that, as a picture or a structure, even these
divine things were instituted by men. There remains only the third
supposition, that he is to be understood to have written concerning
no divine nature, but that he did not wish to say this openly, but
left it to the intelligent to infer; for when one says "not all,"
usage understands that to mean "some," but it _may_ be understood
as meaning _none_, because that which is _none_ is neither all nor
some. In fact, as he himself says, if he had been writing concerning
all the nature of the gods, its due place would have been before
human things in the order of writing. But, as the truth declares,
even though Varro is silent, the divine nature should have taken
precedence of Roman things, though it were not _all_, but only
_some_. But it is properly put after, therefore it is _none_. His
arrangement, therefore, was due, not to a desire to give human things
priority to divine things, but to his unwillingness to prefer false
things to true. For in what he wrote on human things, he followed
the history of affairs; but in what he wrote concerning those things
which they call divine, what else did he follow but mere conjectures
about vain things? This, doubtless, is what, in a subtle manner, he
wished to signify; not only writing concerning divine things after
the human, but even giving a reason why he did so; for if he had
suppressed this, some, perchance, would have defended his doing so
in one way, and some in another. But in that very reason he has
rendered, he has left nothing for men to conjecture at will, and has
sufficiently proved that he preferred men to the institutions of men,
not the nature of men to the nature of the gods. Thus he confessed
that, in writing the books concerning divine things, he did not write
concerning the truth which belongs to nature, but the falseness which
belongs to error; which he has elsewhere expressed more openly (as
I have mentioned in the fourth book[234]), saying that, had he been
founding a new city himself, he would have written according to the
order of nature; but as he had only found an old one, he could not
but follow its custom.

    5. _Concerning the three kinds of theology according to Varro,
      namely, one fabulous, the other natural, the third civil._

Now what are we to say of this proposition of his, namely, that there
are three kinds of theology, that is, of the account which is given
of the gods; and of these, the one is called mythical, the other
physical, and the third civil? Did the Latin usage permit, we should
call the kind which he has placed first in order _fabular_,[235] but
let us call it _fabulous_,[236] for mythical is derived from the Greek
μῦθος, a fable; but that the second should be called _natural_, the
usage of speech now admits; the third he himself has designated in
Latin, calling it _civil_.[237] Then he says, "they call that kind
_mythical_ which the poets chiefly use; _physical_, that which the
philosophers use; _civil_, that which the people use. As to the first I
have mentioned," says he, "in it are many fictions, which are contrary
to the dignity and nature of the immortals. For we find in it that one
god has been born from the head, another from the thigh, another from
drops of blood; also, in this we find that gods have stolen, committed
adultery, served men; in a word, in this all manner of things are
attributed to the gods, such as may befall, not merely any man, but
even the most contemptible man." He certainly, where he could, where he
dared, where he thought he could do it with impunity, has manifested,
without any of the haziness of ambiguity, how great injury was done
to the nature of the gods by lying fables; for he was speaking, not
concerning natural theology, not concerning civil, but concerning
fabulous theology, which he thought he could freely find fault with.

Let us see, now, what he says concerning the second kind. "The second
kind which I have explained," he says, "is that concerning which
philosophers have left many books, in which they treat such questions
as these: what gods there are, where they are, of what kind and
character they are, since what time they have existed, or if they
have existed from eternity; whether they are of fire, as Heraclitus
believes; or of number, as Pythagoras; or of atoms, as Epicurus says;
and other such things, which men's ears can more easily hear inside
the walls of a school than outside in the Forum." He finds fault
with nothing in this kind of theology which they call _physical_,
and which belongs to philosophers, except that he has related their
controversies among themselves, through which there has arisen a
multitude of dissentient sects. Nevertheless he has removed this kind
from the Forum, that is, from the populace, but he has shut it up in
schools. But that first kind, most false and most base, he has not
removed from the citizens. Oh, the religious ears of the people, and
among them even those of the Romans, that are not able to bear what
the philosophers dispute concerning the gods! But when the poets sing
and stage-players act such things as are derogatory to the dignity
and the nature of the immortals, such as may befall not a man merely,
but the most contemptible man, they not only bear, but willingly
listen to. Nor is this all, but they even consider that these things
please the gods, and that they are propitiated by them.

But some one may say, Let us distinguish these two kinds of theology,
the mythical and the physical,--that is, the fabulous and the
natural,--from this civil kind about which we are now speaking.
Anticipating this, he himself has distinguished them. Let us see
now how he explains the civil theology itself. I see, indeed,
why it should be distinguished as fabulous, even because it is
false, because it is base, because it is unworthy. But to wish to
distinguish the natural from the civil, what else is that but to
confess that the civil itself is false? For if that be natural, what
fault has it that it should be excluded? And if this which is called
civil be not natural, what merit has it that it should be admitted?
This, in truth, is the cause why he wrote first concerning human
things, and afterwards concerning divine things; since in divine
things he did not follow nature, but the institution of men. Let us
look at this civil theology of his. "The third kind," says he, "is
that which citizens in cities, and especially the priests, ought to
know and to administer. From it is to be known what god each one
may suitably worship, what sacred rites and sacrifices each one may
suitably perform." Let us still attend to what follows. "The first
theology," he says, "is especially adapted to the theatre, the second
to the world, the third to the city." Who does not see to which he
gives the palm? Certainly to the second, which he said above is that
of the philosophers. For he testifies that this pertains to the
world, than which they think there is nothing better. But those two
theologies, the first and the third,--to wit, those of the theatre
and of the city,--has he distinguished them or united them? For
although we see that the city is in the world, we do not see that it
follows that any things belonging to the city pertain to the world.
For it is possible that such things may be worshipped and believed in
the city, according to false opinions, as have no existence either
in the world or out of it. But where is the theatre but in the city?
Who instituted the theatre but the state? For what purpose did it
constitute it but for scenic plays? And to what class of things do
scenic plays belong but to those divine things concerning which these
books of Varro's are written with so much ability?

    6. _Concerning the mythic, that is, the fabulous, theology, and
                      the civil, against Varro._

O Marcus Varro! thou art the most acute, and without doubt the most
learned, but still a man, not God,--now lifted up by the Spirit of
God to see and to announce divine things, thou seest, indeed, that
divine things are to be separated from human trifles and lies, but
thou fearest to offend those most corrupt opinions of the populace,
and their customs in public superstitions, which thou thyself, when
thou considerest them on all sides, perceivest, and all your literature
loudly pronounces to be abhorrent from the nature of the gods, even
of such gods as the frailty of the human mind supposes to exist in
the elements of this world. What can the most excellent human talent
do here? What can human learning, though manifold, avail thee in
this perplexity? Thou desirest to worship the natural gods; thou art
compelled to worship the civil. Thou hast found some of the gods to be
fabulous, on whom thou vomitest forth very freely what thou thinkest,
and, whether thou willest or not, thou wettest therewith even the civil
gods. Thou sayest, forsooth, that the fabulous are adapted to the
theatre, the natural to the world, and the civil to the city; though
the world is a divine work, but cities and theatres are the works of
men, and though the gods who are laughed at in the theatre are not
other than those who are adored in the temples; and ye do not exhibit
games in honour of other gods than those to whom ye immolate victims.
How much more freely and more subtly wouldst thou have decided these
hadst thou said that some gods are natural, others established by men;
and concerning those who have been so established, the literature of
the poets gives one account, and that of the priests another,--both
of which are, nevertheless, so friendly the one to the other, through
fellowship in falsehood, that they are both pleasing to the demons, to
whom the doctrine of the truth is hostile.

That theology, therefore, which they call natural, being put aside
for a moment, as it is afterwards to be discussed, we ask if any one
is really content to seek a hope for eternal life from poetical,
theatrical, scenic gods? Perish the thought! The true God avert so
wild and sacrilegious a madness! What, is eternal life to be asked
from those gods whom these things pleased, and whom these things
propitiate, in which their own crimes are represented? No one, as I
think, has arrived at such a pitch of headlong and furious impiety.
So then, neither by the fabulous nor by the civil theology does any
one obtain eternal life. For the one sows base things concerning
the gods by feigning them, the other reaps by cherishing them; the
one scatters lies, the other gathers them together; the one pursues
divine things with false crimes, the other incorporates among divine
things the plays which are made up of these crimes; the one sounds
abroad in human songs impious fictions concerning the gods, the other
consecrates these for the festivities of the gods themselves; the
one sings the misdeeds and crimes of the gods, the other loves them;
the one gives forth or feigns, the other either attests the true or
delights in the false. Both are base; both are damnable. But the one
which is theatrical teaches public abomination, and that one which
is of the city adorns itself with that abomination. Shall eternal
life be hoped for from these, by which this short and temporal life
is polluted? Does the society of wicked men pollute our life if they
insinuate themselves into our affections, and win our assent? and
does not the society of demons pollute the life, who are worshipped
with their own crimes?--if with true crimes, how wicked the demons!
if with false, how wicked the worship!

When we say these things, it may perchance seem to some one who is
very ignorant of these matters that only those things concerning
the gods which are sung in the songs of the poets and acted on
the stage are unworthy of the divine majesty, and ridiculous, and
too detestable to be celebrated, whilst those sacred things which
not stage-players but priests perform are pure and free from all
unseemliness. Had this been so, never would any one have thought that
these theatrical abominations should be celebrated in their honour,
never would the gods themselves have ordered them to be performed to
them. But men are in nowise ashamed to perform these things in the
theatres, because similar things are carried on in the temples. In
short, when the fore-mentioned author attempted to distinguish the
civil theology from the fabulous and natural, as a sort of third and
distinct kind, he wished it to be understood to be rather tempered by
both than separated from either. For he says that those things which
the poets write are less than the people ought to follow, whilst what
the philosophers say is more than it is expedient for the people to
pry into. "Which," says he, "differ in such a way, that nevertheless
not a few things from both of them have been taken to the account
of the civil theology; wherefore we will indicate what the civil
theology has in common with that of the poet, though it ought to be
more closely connected with the theology of philosophers." Civil
theology is therefore not quite disconnected from that of the poets.
Nevertheless, in another place, concerning the generations of the
gods, he says that the people are more inclined toward the poets
than toward the physical theologists. For in this place he said what
ought to be done; in that other place, what was really done. He said
that the latter had written for the sake of utility, but the poets
for the sake of amusement. And hence the things from the poets'
writings, which the people ought not to follow, are the crimes of the
gods; which, nevertheless, amuse both the people and the gods. For,
for amusement's sake, he says, the poets write, and not for that of
utility; nevertheless they write such things as the gods will desire,
and the people perform.

     7. _Concerning the likeness and agreement of the fabulous and
                          civil theologies._

That theology, therefore, which is fabulous, theatrical, scenic,
and full of all baseness and unseemliness, is taken up into the
civil theology; and part of that theology, which in its totality
is deservedly judged to be worthy of reprobation and rejection, is
pronounced worthy to be cultivated and observed;--not at all an
incongruous part, as I have undertaken to show, and one which, being
alien to the whole body, was unsuitably attached to and suspended
from it, but a part entirely congruous with, and most harmoniously
fitted to the rest, as a member of the same body. For what else do
those images, forms, ages, sexes, characteristics of the gods show?
If the poets have Jupiter with a beard, and Mercury beardless, have
not the priests the same? Is the Priapus of the priests less obscene
than the Priapus of the players? Does he receive the adoration of
worshippers in a different form from that in which he moves about
the stage for the amusement of spectators? Is not Saturn old and
Apollo young in the shrines where their images stand, as well as when
represented by actor's masks? Why are Forculus, who presides over
doors, and Limentinus, who presides over thresholds and lintels, male
gods, and Cardea between them feminine, who presides over hinges?
Are not those things found in books on divine things, which grave
poets have deemed unworthy of their verses? Does the Diana of the
theatre carry arms, whilst the Diana of the city is simply a virgin?
Is the stage Apollo a lyrist, but the Delphic Apollo ignorant of this
art? But these things are decent compared with the more shameful
things. What was thought of Jupiter himself by those who placed his
wet nurse in the Capitol? Did they not bear witness to Euhemerus,
who, not with the garrulity of a fable-teller, but with the gravity
of an historian who had diligently investigated the matter, wrote
that all such gods had been men and mortals? And they who appointed
the Epulones as parasites at the table of Jupiter, what else did
they wish for but mimic sacred rites? For if any mimic had said
that parasites of Jupiter were made use of at his table, he would
assuredly have appeared to be seeking to call forth laughter. Varro
said it,--not when he was mocking, but when he was commending the
gods did he say it. His books on divine, not on human, things testify
that he wrote this,--not where he set forth the scenic games, but
where he explained the Capitoline laws. In a word, he is conquered,
and confesses that, as they made the gods with a human form, so they
believed that they are delighted with human pleasures.

For also malign spirits were not so wanting to their own business as
not to confirm noxious opinions in the minds of men by converting
them into sport. Whence also is that story about the sacristan of
Hercules, which says that, having nothing to do, he took to playing
at dice as a pastime, throwing them alternately with the one hand
for Hercules, with the other for himself, with this understanding,
that if he should win, he should from the funds of the temple prepare
himself a supper, and hire a mistress; but if Hercules should win the
game, he himself should, at his own expense, provide the same for the
pleasure of Hercules. Then, when he had been beaten by himself, as
though by Hercules, he gave to the god Hercules the supper he owed
him, and also the most noble harlot Larentina. But she, having fallen
asleep in the temple, dreamed that Hercules had had intercourse with
her, and had said to her that she would find her payment with the
youth whom she should first meet on leaving the temple, and that she
was to believe this to be paid to her by Hercules. And so the first
youth that met her on going out was the wealthy Tarutius, who kept
her a long time, and when he died left her his heir. She, having
obtained a most ample fortune, that she should not seem ungrateful
for the divine hire, in her turn made the Roman people her heir,
which she thought to be most acceptable to the deities; and, having
disappeared, the will was found. By which meritorious conduct they
say that she gained divine honours.

Now had these things been feigned by the poets and acted by the
mimics, they would without any doubt have been said to pertain to the
fabulous theology, and would have been judged worthy to be separated
from the dignity of the civil theology. But when these shameful
things,--not of the poets, but of the people; not of the mimics, but
of the sacred things; not of the theatres, but of the temples, that
is, not of the fabulous, but of the civil theology,--are reported
by so great an author, not in vain do the actors represent with
theatrical art the baseness of the gods, which is so great; but
surely in vain do the priests attempt, by rites called sacred, to
represent their nobleness of character, which has no existence. There
are sacred rites of Juno; and these are celebrated in her beloved
island, Samos, where she was given in marriage to Jupiter. There are
sacred rites of Ceres, in which Proserpine is sought for, having
been carried off by Pluto. There are sacred rites Venus, in which,
her beloved Adonis being slain by a boar's tooth, the lovely youth
is lamented. There are sacred rites of the mother of the gods, in
which the beautiful youth Atys, loved by her, and castrated by her
through a woman's jealousy, is deplored by men who have suffered
the like calamity, whom they call Galli. Since, then, these things
are more unseemly than all scenic abomination, why is it that they
strive to separate, as it were, the fabulous fictions of the poet
concerning the gods, as, forsooth, pertaining to the theatre, from
the civil theology which they wish to belong to the city, as though
they were separating from noble and worthy things, things unworthy
and base? Wherefore there is more reason to thank the stage-actors,
who have spared the eyes of men, and have not laid bare by theatrical
exhibition all the things which are hid by the walls of the temples.
What good is to be thought of their sacred rites which are concealed
in darkness, when those which are brought forth into the light are
so detestable? And certainly they themselves have seen what they
transact in secret through the agency of mutilated and effeminate
men. Yet they have _not_ been able to conceal those same men
miserably and vilely enervated and corrupted. Let them persuade
whom they can that they transact anything holy through such men,
who, they cannot deny, are numbered, and live among their sacred
things. We know not what they transact, but we know through whom they
transact; for we know what things are transacted on the stage, where
never, even in a chorus of harlots, hath one who is mutilated or an
effeminate appeared. And, nevertheless, even these things are acted
by vile and infamous characters; for, indeed, they ought not to be
acted by men of good character. What, then, are those sacred rites,
for the performance of which holiness has chosen such men as not even
the obscenity of the stage has admitted?

  8. _Concerning the interpretations, consisting of natural
      explanations, which the pagan teachers attempt to show for
      their gods._

But all these things, they say, have certain physical, that is,
natural interpretations, showing their natural meaning; as though
in this disputation we were seeking physics and not theology, which
is the account, not of nature, but of God. For although He who is
the true God is God, not by opinion, but by nature, nevertheless
all nature is not God; for there is certainly a nature of man, of a
beast, of a tree, of a stone,--none of which is God. For if, when the
question is concerning the mother of the gods, that from which the
whole system of interpretation starts certainly is, that the mother
of the gods is the earth, why do we make further inquiry? why do we
carry our investigation through all the rest of it? What can more
manifestly favour them who say that all those gods were men? For they
are earth-born in the sense that the earth is their mother. But in
the true theology the earth is the work, not the mother, of God. But
in whatever way their sacred rites may be interpreted, and, whatever
reference they may have to the nature of things, it is not according
to nature, but contrary to nature, that men should be effeminates.
This disease, this crime, this abomination, has a recognised place
among those sacred things, though even depraved men will scarcely
be compelled by torments to confess they are guilty of it. Again,
if these sacred rites, which are proved to be fouler than scenic
abominations, are excused and justified on the ground that they have
their own interpretations, by which they are shown to symbolize the
nature of things, why are not the poetical things in like manner
excused and justified? For many have interpreted even these in like
fashion, to such a degree that even that which they say is the most
monstrous and most horrible,--namely, that Saturn devoured his own
children,--has been interpreted by some of them to mean that length
of time, which is signified by the name of Saturn, consumes whatever
it begets; or that, as the same Varro thinks, Saturn belongs to seeds
which fall back again into the earth from whence they spring. And so
one interprets it in one way, and one in another. And the same is to
be said of all the rest of this theology.

And, nevertheless, it is called the fabulous theology, and is
censured, cast off, rejected, together with all such interpretations
belonging to it. And not only by the natural theology, which is that
of the philosophers, but also by this civil theology, concerning
which we are speaking, which is asserted to pertain to cities and
peoples, it is judged worthy of repudiation, because it has invented
unworthy things concerning the gods. Of which, I wot, this is
the secret: that those most acute and learned men, by whom those
things were written, understood that both theologies ought to be
rejected,--to wit, both that fabulous and this civil one,--but the
former they dared to reject, the latter they dared not; the former
they set forth to be censured, the latter they showed to be very
like it; not that it might be chosen to be held in preference to the
other, but that it might be understood to be worthy of being rejected
together with it. And thus, without danger to those who feared to
censure the civil theology, both of them being brought into contempt,
that theology which they call natural might find a place in better
disposed minds; for the civil and the fabulous are both fabulous and
both civil. He who shall wisely inspect the vanities and obscenities
of both will find that they are both fabulous; and he who shall
direct his attention to the scenic plays pertaining to the fabulous
theology in the festivals of the civil gods, and in the divine rites
of the cities, will find they are both civil. How, then, can the
power of giving eternal life be attributed to any of those gods whose
own images and sacred rites convict them of being most like to the
fabulous gods, which are most openly reprobated, in forms, ages, sex,
characteristics, marriages, generations, rites; in all which things
they are understood either to have been men, and to have had their
sacred rites and solemnities instituted in their honour according
to the life or death of each of them, the demons suggesting and
confirming this error, or certainly most foul spirits, who, taking
advantage of some occasion or other, have stolen into the minds of
men to deceive them?

           9. _Concerning the special offices of the gods._

And as to those very offices of the gods, so meanly and so minutely
portioned out, so that they say that they ought to be supplicated,
each one according to his special function,--about which we have
spoken much already, though not all that is to be said concerning
it,--are they not more consistent with mimic buffoonery than divine
majesty? If any one should use two nurses for his infant, one of whom
should give nothing but food, the other nothing but drink, as these
make use of two goddesses for this purpose, Educa and Potina, he
should certainly seem to be foolish, and to do in his house a thing
worthy of a mimic. They would have Liber to have been named from
"liberation," because through him males at the time of copulation
are liberated by the emission of the seed. They also say that Libera
(the same in their opinion as Venus) exercises the same function in
the case of women, because they say that they also emit seed; and
they also say that on this account the same part of the male and
of the female is placed in the temple, that of the male to Liber,
and that of the female to Libera. To these things they add the
women assigned to Liber, and the wine for exciting lust. Thus the
Bacchanalia are celebrated with the utmost insanity, with respect to
which Varro himself confesses that such things would not be done by
the Bacchanals except their minds were highly excited. These things,
however, afterwards displeased a saner senate, and it ordered them
to be discontinued. Here, at length, they perhaps perceived how
much power unclean spirits, when held to be gods, exercise over the
minds of men. These things, certainly, were not to be done in the
theatres; for there they play, not rave, although to have gods who
are delighted with such plays is very like raving.

But what kind of distinction is this which he makes between the
religious and the superstitious man, saying that the gods are
feared[238] by the superstitious man, but are reverenced[239] as
parents by the religious man, not feared as enemies; and that they are
all so good that they will more readily spare those who are impious
than hurt one who is innocent? And yet he tells us that three gods are
assigned as guardians to a woman after she has been delivered, lest
the god Silvanus come in and molest her; and that in order to signify
the presence of these protectors, three men go round the house during
the night, and first strike the threshold with a hatchet, next with a
pestle, and the third time sweep it with a brush, in order that these
symbols of agriculture having been exhibited, the god Silvanus might be
hindered from entering, because neither are trees cut down or pruned
without a hatchet, neither is grain ground without a pestle, nor corn
heaped up without a besom. Now from these three things three gods
have been named: Intercidona, from the cut[240] made by the hatchet;
Pilumnus, from the pestle; Diverra, from the besom;--by which guardian
gods the woman who has been delivered is preserved against the power of
the god Silvanus. Thus the guardianship of kindly-disposed gods would
not avail against the malice of a mischievous god, unless they were
three to one, and fought against him, as it were, with the opposing
emblems of cultivation, who, being an inhabitant of the woods, is
rough, horrible, and uncultivated. Is this the innocence of the gods?
Is this their concord? Are these the health-giving deities of the
cities, more ridiculous than the things which are laughed at in the

When a male and a female are united, the god Jugatinus presides.
Well, let this be borne with. But the married woman must be brought
home: the god Domiducus also is invoked. That she may be in the
house, the god Domitius is introduced. That she may remain with her
husband, the goddess Manturnæ is used. What more is required? Let
human modesty be spared. Let the lust of flesh and blood go on with
the rest, the secret of shame being respected. Why is the bedchamber
filled with a crowd of deities, when even the groomsmen[241] have
departed? And, moreover, it is so filled, not that in consideration
of their presence more regard may be paid to chastity, but that by
their help the woman, naturally of the weaker sex, and trembling
with the novelty of her situation, may the more readily yield her
virginity. For there are the goddess Virginiensis, and the god-father
Subigus, and the goddess-mother Prema, and the goddess Pertunda,
and Venus, and Priapus.[242] What is this? If it was absolutely
necessary that a man, labouring at this work, should be helped by
the gods, might not some one god or goddess have been sufficient?
Was Venus not sufficient alone, who is even said to be named from
this, that without her power a woman does not cease to be a virgin?
If there is any shame in men, which is not in the deities, is it not
the case that, when the married couple believe that so many gods
of either sex are present, and busy at this work, they are so much
affected with shame, that the man is less moved, and the woman more
reluctant? And certainly, if the goddess Virginiensis is present
to loose the virgin's zone, if the god Subigus is present that the
virgin may be got under the man, if the goddess Prema is present
that, having been got under him, she may be kept down, and may not
move herself, what has the goddess Pertunda to do there? Let her
blush; let her go forth. Let the husband himself do something. It is
disgraceful that any one but himself should do that from which she
gets her name. But perhaps she is tolerated because she is said to
be a goddess, and not a god. For if she were believed to be a male,
and were called Pertundus, the husband would demand more help against
him for the chastity of his wife than the newly-delivered woman
against Silvanus. But why am I saying this, when Priapus, too, is
there, a male to excess, upon whose immense and most unsightly member
the newly-married bride is commanded to sit, according to the most
honourable and most religious custom of matrons?

Let them go on, and let them attempt with all the subtlety they can
to distinguish the civil theology from the fabulous, the cities from
the theatres, the temples from the stages, the sacred things of the
priests from the songs of the poets, as honourable things from base
things, truthful things from fallacious, grave from light, serious
from ludicrous, desirable things from things to be rejected, we
understand what they do. They are aware that that theatrical and
fabulous theology hangs by the civil, and is reflected back upon it
from the songs of the poets as from a mirror; and thus, that theology
having been exposed to view which they do not dare to condemn, they
more freely assail and censure that picture of it, in order that
those who perceive what they mean may detest this very face itself of
which that is the picture,--which, however, the gods themselves, as
though seeing themselves in the same mirror, love so much, that it is
better seen in both of them who and what they are. Whence, also, they
have compelled their worshippers, with terrible commands, to dedicate
to them the uncleanness of the fabulous theology, to put them among
their solemnities, and reckon them among divine things; and thus they
have both shown themselves more manifestly to be most impure spirits,
and have made that rejected and reprobated theatrical theology a
member and a part of this, as it were, chosen and approved theology
of the city, so that, though the whole is disgraceful and false, and
contains in it fictitious gods, one part of it is in the literature
of the priests, the other in the songs of the poets. Whether it may
have other parts is another question. At present, I think, I have
sufficiently shown, on account of the division of Varro, that the
theology of the city and that of the theatre belong to one civil
theology. Wherefore, because they are both equally disgraceful,
absurd, shameful, false, far be it from religious men to hope for
eternal life from either the one or the other.

In fine, even Varro himself, in his account and enumeration of the
gods, starts from the moment of a man's conception. He commences
the series of those gods who take charge of man with Janus, carries
it on to the death of the man decrepit with age, and terminates
it with the goddess Nænia, who is sung at the funerals of the
aged. After that, he begins to give an account of the other gods,
whose province is not man himself, but man's belongings, as food,
clothing, and all that is necessary for this life; and, in the case
of all these, he explains what is the special office of each, and
for what each ought to be supplicated. But with all this scrupulous
and comprehensive diligence, he has neither proved the existence,
nor so much as mentioned the name, of any god from whom eternal life
is to be sought,--the one object for which we are Christians. Who,
then, is so stupid as not to perceive that this man, by setting forth
and opening up so diligently the civil theology, and by exhibiting
its likeness to that fabulous, shameful, and disgraceful theology,
and also by teaching that that fabulous sort is also a part of this
other, was labouring to obtain a place in the minds of men for none
but that natural theology which he says pertains to philosophers,
with such subtlety that he censures the fabulous, and, not daring
openly to censure the civil, shows its censurable character by simply
exhibiting it; and thus, both being reprobated by the judgment of men
of right understanding, the natural alone remains to be chosen? But
concerning this in its own place, by the help of the true God, we
have to discuss more diligently.

      10. _Concerning the liberty of Seneca, who more vehemently
       censured the civil theology than Varro did the fabulous._

That liberty, in truth, which this man wanted, so that he did not
dare to censure that theology of the city, which is very similar
to the theatrical, so openly as he did the theatrical itself, was,
though not fully, yet in part possessed by Annæus Seneca, whom we
have some evidence to show to have flourished in the times of our
apostles. It was in part possessed by him, I say, for he possessed
it in writing, but not in living. For in that book which he wrote
against superstition,[243] he more copiously and vehemently censured
that civil and urban theology than Varro the theatrical and fabulous.
For, when speaking concerning images, he says, "They dedicate
images of the sacred and inviolable immortals in most worthless and
motionless matter. They give them the appearance of man, beasts, and
fishes, and some make them of mixed sex, and heterogeneous bodies.
They call them deities, when they are such that if they should get
breath and should suddenly meet them, they would be held to be
monsters." Then, a while afterwards, when extolling the natural
theology, he had expounded the sentiments of certain philosophers, he
opposes to himself a question, and says, "Here some one says, Shall
I believe that the heavens and the earth are gods, and that some are
above the moon and some below it? Shall I bring forward either Plato
or the peripatetic Strato, one of whom made God to be without a body,
the other without a mind?" In answer to which he says, "And, really,
what truer do the dreams of Titus Tatius, or Romulus, or Tullus
Hostilius appear to thee? Tatius declared the divinity of the goddess
Cloacina; Romulus that of Picus and Tiberinus; Tullus Hostilius that
of Pavor and Pallor, the most disagreeable affections of men, the one
of which is the agitation of the mind under fright, the other that
of the body, not a disease, indeed, but a change of colour." Wilt
thou rather believe that these are deities, and receive them into
heaven? But with what freedom he has written concerning the rites
themselves, cruel and shameful! "One," he says, "castrates himself,
another cuts his arms. Where will they find room for the fear of
these gods when angry, who use such means of gaining their favour
when propitious? But gods who wish to be worshipped in this fashion
should be worshipped in none. So great is the frenzy of the mind when
perturbed and driven from its seat, that the gods are propitiated by
men in a manner in which not even men of the greatest ferocity and
fable-renowned cruelty vent their rage. Tyrants have lacerated the
limbs of some; they never ordered any one to lacerate his own. For
the gratification of royal lust, some have been castrated; but no
one ever, by the command of his lord, laid violent hands on himself
to emasculate himself. They kill themselves in the temples. They
supplicate with their wounds and with their blood. If any one has
time to see the things they do and the things they suffer, he will
find so many things unseemly for men of respectability, so unworthy
of freemen, so unlike the doings of sane men, that no one would
doubt that they are mad, had they been mad with the minority; but now
the multitude of the insane is the defence of their sanity."

He next relates those things which are wont to be done in the Capitol,
and with the utmost intrepidity insists that they are such things as
one could only believe to be done by men making sport, or by madmen.
For, having spoken with derision of this, that in the Egyptian sacred
rites Osiris, being lost, is lamented for, but straightway, when found,
is the occasion of great joy by his reappearance, because both the
losing and the finding of him are feigned; and yet that grief and that
joy which are elicited thereby from those who have lost nothing and
found nothing are real;--having, I say, so spoken of this, he says,
"Still there is a fixed time for this frenzy. It is tolerable to go
mad once in the year. Go into the Capitol. One is suggesting divine
commands[244] to a god; another is telling the hours to Jupiter;
one is a lictor; another is an anointer, who with the mere movement
of his arms imitates one anointing. There are women who arrange the
hair of Juno and Minerva, standing far away not only from her image,
but even from her temple. These move their fingers in the manner of
hair-dressers. There are some women who hold a mirror. There are some
who are calling the gods to assist them in court. There are some who
are holding up documents to them, and are explaining to them their
cases. A learned and distinguished comedian, now old and decrepit,
was daily playing the mimic in the Capitol, as though the gods would
gladly be spectators of that which men had ceased to care about. Every
kind of artificers working for the immortal gods is dwelling there in
idleness." And a little after he says, "Nevertheless these, though they
give themselves up to the gods for purposes superfluous enough, do not
do so for any abominable or infamous purpose. There sit certain women
in the Capitol who think they are beloved by Jupiter; nor are they
frightened even by the look of the, if you will believe the poets, most
wrathful Juno."

This liberty Varro did not enjoy. It was only the poetical theology he
seemed to censure. The civil, which this man cuts to pieces, he was
not bold enough to impugn. But if we attend to the truth, the temples
where these things are performed are far worse than the theatres where
they are represented. Whence, with respect to these sacred rites of the
civil theology, Seneca preferred, as the best course to be followed
by a wise man, to feign respect for them in act, but to have no real
regard for them at heart. "All which things," he says, "a wise man will
observe as being commanded by the laws, but not as being pleasing to
the gods." And a little after he says, "And what of this, that we unite
the gods in marriage, and that not even naturally, for we join brothers
and sisters? We marry Bellona to Mars, Venus to Vulcan, Salacia to
Neptune. Some of them we leave unmarried, as though there were no match
for them, which is surely needless, especially when there are certain
unmarried goddesses, as Populonia, or Fulgora, or the goddess Rumina,
for whom I am not astonished that suitors have been awanting. All this
ignoble crowd of gods, which the superstition of ages has amassed, we
ought," he says, "to adore in such a way as to remember all the while
that its worship belongs rather to custom than to reality." Wherefore,
neither those laws nor customs instituted in the civil theology that
which was pleasing to the gods, or which pertained to reality. But this
man, whom philosophy had made, as it were, free, nevertheless, because
he was an illustrious senator of the Roman people, worshipped what he
censured, did what he condemned, adored what he reproached, because,
forsooth, philosophy had taught him something great,--namely, not to
be superstitious in the world, but, on account of the laws of cities
and the customs of men, to be an actor, not on the stage, but in the
temples,--conduct the more to be condemned, that those things which
he was deceitfully acting he so acted that the people thought he was
acting sincerely. But a stage-actor would rather delight people by
acting plays than take them in by false pretences.

            11. _What Seneca thought concerning the Jews._

Seneca, among the other superstitions of civil theology, also
found fault with the sacred things of the Jews, and especially the
sabbaths, affirming that they act uselessly in keeping those seventh
days, whereby they lose through idleness about the seventh part of
their life, and also many things which demand immediate attention
are damaged. The Christians, however, who were already most hostile
to the Jews, he did not dare to mention, either for praise or blame,
lest, if he praised them, he should do so against the ancient custom
of his country, or, perhaps, if he should blame them, he should do so
against his own will.

When he was speaking concerning those Jews, he said, "When,
meanwhile, the customs of that most accursed nation have gained such
strength that they have been now received in all lands, the conquered
have given laws to the conquerors." By these words he expresses his
astonishment; and, not knowing what the providence of God was leading
him to say, subjoins in plain words an opinion by which he showed
what he thought about the meaning of those sacred institutions:
"For," he says, "those, however, know the cause of their rites,
whilst the greater part of the people know not why they perform
theirs." But concerning the solemnities of the Jews, either why or
how far they were instituted by divine authority, and afterwards, in
due time, by the same authority taken away from the people of God, to
whom the mystery of eternal life was revealed, we have both spoken
elsewhere, especially when we were treating against the Manichæans,
and also intend to speak in this work in a more suitable place.

  12. _That when once the vanity of the gods of the nations has been
      exposed, it cannot be doubted that they are unable to bestow
      eternal life on any one, when they cannot afford help even with
      respect to the things of this temporal life._

Now, since there are three theologies, which the Greeks call
respectively mythical, physical, and political, and which may be
called in Latin fabulous, natural, and civil; and since neither from
the fabulous, which even the worshippers of many and false gods have
themselves most freely censured, nor from the civil, of which that is
convicted of being a part, or even worse than it, can eternal life be
hoped for from any of these theologies,--if any one thinks that what
has been said in this book is not enough for him, let him also add
to it the many and various dissertations concerning God as the giver
of felicity, contained in the former books, especially the fourth one.

For to what but to felicity should men consecrate themselves, were
felicity a goddess? However, as it is not a goddess, but a gift of
God, to what God but the giver of happiness ought we to consecrate
ourselves, who piously love eternal life, in which there is true and
full felicity? But I think, from what has been said, no one ought
to doubt that none of those gods is the giver of happiness, who are
worshipped with such shame, and who, if they are not so worshipped,
are more shamefully enraged, and thus confess that they are most
foul spirits. Moreover, how can he give eternal life who cannot
give happiness? For we mean by eternal life that life where there
is endless happiness. For if the soul live in eternal punishments,
by which also those unclean spirits shall be tormented, that is
rather eternal death than eternal life. For there is no greater or
worse death than when death never dies. But because the soul from
its very nature, being created immortal, cannot be without some kind
of life, its utmost death is alienation from the life of God in an
eternity of punishment. So, then, He only who gives true happiness
gives eternal life, that is, an endlessly happy life. And since those
gods whom this civil theology worships have been proved to be unable
to give this happiness, they ought not to be worshipped on account
of those temporal and terrestrial things, as we showed in the five
former books, much less on account of eternal life, which is to be
after death, as we have sought to show in this one book especially,
whilst the other books also lend it their co-operation. But since
the strength of inveterate habit has its roots very deep, if any one
thinks that I have not disputed sufficiently to show that this civil
theology ought to be rejected and shunned, let him attend to another
book which, with God's help, is to be joined to this one.


[226] Ps. xl. 4.

[227] Plato, in the _Timæus_.

[228] Ch. xi. and xxi.

[229] See Virgil, _Ec._ iii. 9.

[230] Of the four books _De Acad._, dedicated to Varro, only a part
of the first is extant.

[231] Cicero, _De Quæst. Acad._ i. 3.

[232] In his book _De Metris_, chapter on phalæcian verses.

[233] Tarquin the Proud, having bought the books of the sibyl,
appointed two men to preserve and interpret them (Dionys. Halic.
_Antiq._ iv. 62). These were afterwards increased to ten, while the
plebeians were contending for larger privileges; and subsequently
five more were added.

[234] Ch. 31.

[235] _Fabulare._

[236] _Fabulosum._

[237] _Civile._

[238] _Timeri._

[239] _Vereri._

[240] _Intercido_, I cut or cleave.

[241] _Paranymphi._

[242] Comp. Tertullian, _Adv. Nat._ ii. 11; Arnobius, _Contra Gent._
iv.; Lactantius, _Inst._ i. 20.

[243] Mentioned also by Tertullian, _Apol._ 12, but not extant.

[244] _Numina._ Another reading is _nomina_; and with either reading
another translation is admissible: "One is announcing to a god the
names (or gods) who salute him."

                             BOOK SEVENTH.




It will be the duty of those who are endowed with quicker and better
understandings, in whose case the former books are sufficient, and
more than sufficient, to effect their intended object, to bear with
me with patience and equanimity whilst I attempt with more than
ordinary diligence to tear up and eradicate depraved and ancient
opinions hostile to the truth of piety, which the long-continued
error of the human race has fixed very deeply in unenlightened minds;
co-operating also in this, according to my little measure, with the
grace of Him who, being the true God, is able to accomplish it, and
on whose help I depend in my work; and, for the sake of others, such
should not deem superfluous what they feel to be no longer necessary
for themselves. A very great matter is at stake when the true and
truly holy divinity is commended to men as that which they ought to
seek after and to worship; not, however, on account of the transitory
vapour of mortal life, but on account of life eternal, which alone is
blessed, although the help necessary for this frail life we are now
living is also afforded us by it.

  1. _Whether, since it is evident that Deity is not to be found in
      the civil theology, we are to believe that it is to be found in
      the select gods._

If there is any one whom the sixth book, which I have last finished,
has not persuaded that this divinity, or, so to speak, deity--for
this word also our authors do not hesitate to use, in order to
translate more accurately that which the Greeks call θεότης;--if
there is any one, I say, whom the sixth book has not persuaded that
this divinity or deity is not to be found in that theology which
they call civil, and which Marcus Varro has explained in sixteen
books,--that is, that the happiness of eternal life is not attainable
through the worship of gods such as states have established to be
worshipped, and that in such a form,--perhaps, when he has read this
book, he will not have anything further to desire in order to the
clearing up of this question. For it is possible that some one may
think that at least the select and chief gods, whom Varro comprised
in his last book, and of whom we have not spoken sufficiently, are
to be worshipped on account of the blessed life, which is none other
than eternal. In respect to which matter I do not say what Tertullian
said, perhaps more wittily than truly, "If gods are selected like
onions, certainly the rest are rejected as bad."[245] I do not say
this, for I see that even from among the select, some are selected
for some greater and more excellent office: as in warfare, when
recruits have been elected, there are some again elected from among
those for the performance of some greater military service; and in
the church, when persons are elected to be overseers, certainly the
rest are not rejected, since all good Christians are deservedly
called elect; in the erection of a building corner stones are
elected, though the other stones, which are destined for other parts
of the structure, are not rejected; grapes are elected for eating,
whilst the others, which we leave for drinking, are not rejected.
There is no need of adducing many illustrations, since the thing is
evident. Wherefore the selection of certain gods from among many
affords no proper reason why either he who wrote on this subject,
or the worshippers of the gods, or the gods themselves, should be
spurned. We ought rather to seek to know what gods these are, and for
what purpose they may appear to have been selected.

     2. _Who are the select gods, and whether they are held to be
            exempt from the offices of the commoner gods._

The following gods, certainly, Varro signalizes as select, devoting
one book to this subject: Janus, Jupiter, Saturn, Genius, Mercury,
Apollo, Mars, Vulcan, Neptune, Sol, Orcus, father Liber, Tellus,
Ceres, Juno, Luna, Diana, Minerva, Venus, Vesta; of which twenty
gods, twelve are males, and eight females. Whether are these deities
called select, because of their higher spheres of administration in
the world, or because they have become better known to the people,
and more worship has been expended on them? If it be on account of
the greater works which are performed by them in the world, we ought
not to have found them among that, as it were, plebeian crowd of
deities, which has assigned to it the charge of minute and trifling
things. For, first of all, at the conception of a fœtus, from which
point all the works commence which have been distributed in minute
detail to many deities, Janus himself opens the way for the reception
of the seed; there also is Saturn, on account of the seed itself;
there is Liber,[246] who liberates the male by the effusion of the
seed; there is Libera, whom they also would have to be Venus, who
confers this same benefit on the woman, namely, that she also be
liberated by the emission of the seed;--all these are of the number
of those who are called select. But there is also the goddess Mena,
who presides over the menses; though the daughter of Jupiter, ignoble
nevertheless. And this province of the menses the same author, in his
book on the select gods, assigns to Juno herself, who is even queen
among the select gods; and here, as Juno Lucina, along with the same
Mena, her stepdaughter, she presides over the same blood. There also
are two gods, exceedingly obscure, Vitumnus and Sentinus--the one of
whom imparts life to the fœtus, and the other sensation; and, of a
truth, they bestow, most ignoble though they be, far more than all
those noble and select gods bestow. For, surely, without life and
sensation, what is the whole fœtus which a woman carries in her womb,
but a most vile and worthless thing, no better than slime and dust?

  3. _How there is no reason which can be shown for the selection of
      certain gods, when the administration of more exalted offices
      is assigned to many inferior gods._

What is the cause, therefore, which has driven so many select gods
to these very small works, in which they are excelled by Vitumnus
and Sentinus, though little known and sunk in obscurity, inasmuch
as they confer the munificent gifts of life and sensation? For the
select Janus bestows an entrance, and, as it were, a door[247] for
the seed; the select Saturn bestows the seed itself; the select Liber
bestows on men the emission of the same seed; Libera, who is Ceres
or Venus, confers the same on women; the select Juno confers (not
alone, but together with Mena, the daughter of Jupiter) the menses,
for the growth of that which has been conceived; and the obscure
and ignoble Vitumnus confers life, whilst the obscure and ignoble
Sentinus confers sensation;--which two last things are as much more
excellent than the others, as they themselves are excelled by reason
and intellect. For as those things which reason and understand are
preferable to those which, without intellect and reason, as in the
case of cattle, live and feel; so also those things which have
been endowed with life and sensation are deservedly preferred to
those things which neither live nor feel. Therefore Vitumnus the
life-giver,[248] and Sentinus the sense-giver,[249] ought to have
been reckoned among the select gods, rather than Janus the admitter
of seed, and Saturn the giver or sower of seed, and Liber and Libera
the movers and liberators of seed; which seed is not worth a thought,
unless it attain to life and sensation. Yet these select gifts are
not given by select gods, but by certain unknown, and, considering
their dignity, neglected gods. But if it be replied that Janus has
dominion over all beginnings, and therefore the opening of the way
for conception is not without reason assigned to him; and that
Saturn has dominion over all seeds, and therefore the sowing of the
seed whereby a human being is generated cannot be excluded from his
operation; that Liber and Libera have power over the emission of
all seeds, and therefore preside over those seeds which pertain to
the procreation of men; that Juno presides over all purgations and
births, and therefore she has also charge of the purgations of women
and the births of human beings;--if they give this reply, let them
find an answer to the question concerning Vitumnus and Sentinus,
whether they are willing that these likewise should have dominion
over all things which live and feel. If they grant this, let them
observe in how sublime a position they are about to place them. For
to spring from seeds is in the earth and of the earth, but to live
and feel are supposed to be properties even of the sidereal gods.
But if they say that only such things as come to life in flesh, and
are supported by senses, are assigned to Sentinus, why does not that
God who made all things live and feel, bestow on flesh also life
and sensation, in the universality of His operation conferring also
on fœtuses this gift? And what, then, is the use of Vitumnus and
Sentinus? But if these, as it were, extreme and lowest things have
been committed by Him who presides universally over life and sense to
these gods as to servants, are these select gods then so destitute
of servants, that they could not find any to whom even they might
commit those things, but with all their dignity, for which they are,
it seems, deemed worthy to be selected, were compelled to perform
their work along with ignoble ones? Juno is select queen of the gods,
and the sister and wife of Jupiter; nevertheless she is Iterduca,
the conductor, to boys, and performs this work along with a most
ignoble pair--the goddesses Abeona and Adeona. There they have also
placed the goddess Mena, who gives to boys a good mind, and she is
not placed among the select gods; as if anything greater could be
bestowed on a man than a good mind. But Juno is placed among the
select because she is Iterduca and Domiduca (she who conducts one
on a journey, and who conducts him home again); as if it is of any
advantage for one to make a journey, and to be conducted home again,
if his mind is not good. And yet the goddess who bestows that gift
has not been placed by the selectors among the select gods, though
she ought indeed to have been preferred even to Minerva, to whom, in
this minute distribution of work, they have allotted the memory of
boys. For who will doubt that it is a far better thing to have a good
mind, than ever so great a memory? For no one is bad who has a good
mind;[250] but some who are very bad are possessed of an admirable
memory, and are so much the worse, the less they are able to forget
the bad things which they think. And yet Minerva is among the select
gods, whilst the goddess Mena is hidden by a worthless crowd. What
shall I say concerning Virtus? What concerning Felicitas?--concerning
whom I have already spoken much in the fourth book,[251] to whom,
though they held them to be goddesses, they have not thought fit to
assign a place among the select gods, among whom they have given a
place to Mars and Orcus, the one the causer of death, the other the
receiver of the dead.

Since, therefore, we see that even the select gods themselves work
together with the others, like a senate with the people, in all those
minute works which have been minutely portioned out among many gods;
and since we find that far greater and better things are administered
by certain gods who have not been reckoned worthy to be selected
than by those who are called select, it remains that we suppose that
they were called select and chief, not on account of their holding
more exalted offices in the world, but because it happened to them
to become better known to the people. And even Varro himself says,
that in that way obscurity had fallen to the lot of some father
gods and mother goddesses,[252] as it falls to the lot of men. If,
therefore, Felicity ought not perhaps to have been put among the
select gods, because they did not attain to that noble position
by merit, but by chance, Fortune at least should have been placed
among them, or rather before them; for they say that that goddess
distributes to every one the gifts she receives, not according to
any rational arrangement, but according as chance may determine.
She ought to have held the uppermost place among the select gods,
for among them chiefly it is that she shows what power she has. For
we see that they have been selected not on account of some eminent
virtue or rational happiness, but by that random power of Fortune
which the worshippers of these gods think that she exerts. For that
most eloquent man Sallust also may perhaps have the gods themselves
in view when he says: "But, in truth, fortune rules in everything;
it renders all things famous or obscure, according to caprice rather
than according to truth."[253] For they cannot discover a reason
why Venus should have been made famous, whilst Virtus has been
made obscure, when the divinity of both of them has been solemnly
recognised by them, and their merits are not to be compared. Again,
if she has deserved a noble position on account of the fact that she
is much sought after--for there are more who seek after Venus than
after Virtus--why has Minerva been celebrated whilst Pecunia has been
left in obscurity, although throughout the whole human race avarice
allures a far greater number than skill? And even among those who are
skilled in the arts, you will rarely find a man who does not practise
his own art for the purpose of pecuniary gain; and that for the sake
of which anything is made, is always valued more than that which is
made for the sake of something else. If, then, this selection of gods
has been made by the judgment of the foolish multitude, why has not
the goddess Pecunia been preferred to Minerva, since there are many
artificers for the sake of money? But if this distinction has been
made by the few wise, why has Virtus been preferred to Venus, when
reason by far prefers the former? At all events, as I have already
said, Fortune herself--who, according to those who attribute most
influence to her, renders all things famous or obscure according to
caprice rather than according to the truth--since she has been able
to exercise so much power even over the gods, as, according to her
capricious judgment, to render those of them famous whom she would,
and those obscure whom she would; Fortune herself ought to occupy the
place of pre-eminence among the select gods, since over them also she
has such pre-eminent power. Or must we suppose that the reason why
she is not among the select is simply this, that even Fortune herself
has had an adverse fortune? She was adverse, then, to herself, since,
whilst ennobling others, she herself has remained obscure.

  4. _The inferior gods, whose names are not associated with infamy,
      have been better dealt with than the select gods, whose
      infamies are celebrated._

However, any one who eagerly seeks for celebrity and renown, might
congratulate those select gods, and call them fortunate, were it not
that he saw that they have been selected more to their injury than to
their honour. For that low crowd of gods have been protected by their
very meanness and obscurity from being overwhelmed with infamy. We
laugh, indeed, when we see them distributed by the mere fiction of
human opinions, according to the special works assigned to them, like
those who farm small portions of the public revenue, or like workmen
in the street of the silversmiths,[254] where one vessel, in order
that it may go out perfect, passes through the hands of many, when
it might have been finished by one perfect workman. But the only
reason why the combined skill of many workmen was thought necessary,
was, that it is better that each part of an art should be learned by
a special workman, which can be done speedily and easily, than that
they should all be compelled to be perfect in one art throughout all
its parts, which they could only attain slowly and with difficulty.
Nevertheless there is scarcely to be found one of the non-select
gods who has brought infamy on himself by any crime, whilst there
is scarce any one of the select gods who has not received upon
himself the brand of notable infamy. These latter have descended to
the humble works of the others, whilst the others have not come up
to their sublime crimes. Concerning Janus, there does not readily
occur to my recollection anything infamous; and perhaps he was such
an one as lived more innocently than the rest, and further removed
from misdeeds and crimes. He kindly received and entertained Saturn
when he was fleeing; he divided his kingdom with his guest, so that
each of them had a city for himself,[255]--the one Janiculum, and the
other Saturnia. But those seekers after every kind of unseemliness
in the worship of the gods have disgraced him, whose life they found
to be less disgraceful than that of the other gods, with an image
of monstrous deformity, making it sometimes with two faces, and
sometimes, as it were, double, with four faces.[256] Did they wish
that, as the most of the select gods had lost shame[257] through the
perpetration of shameful crimes, his greater innocence should be
marked by a greater number of faces?[258]

      5. _Concerning the more secret doctrine of the pagans, and
               concerning the physical interpretations._

But let us hear their own physical interpretations by which they
attempt to colour, as with the appearance of profounder doctrine,
the baseness of most miserable error. Varro, in the first place,
commends these interpretations so strongly as to say, that the
ancients invented the images, badges, and adornments of the gods,
in order that when those who went to the mysteries should see them
with their bodily eyes, they might with the eyes of their mind see
the soul of the world, and its parts, that is, the true gods; and
also that the meaning which was intended by those who made their
images with the human form, seemed to be this,--namely, that the mind
of mortals, which is in a human body, is very like to the immortal
mind,[259] just as vessels might be placed to represent the gods,
as, for instance, a wine-vessel might be placed in the temple of
Liber, to signify wine, that which is contained being signified by
that which contains. Thus by an image which had the human form the
rational soul was signified, because the human form is the vessel,
as it were, in which that nature is wont to be contained which they
attribute to God, or to the gods. These are the mysteries of doctrine
to which that most learned man penetrated in order that he might
bring them forth to the light. But, O thou most acute man, hast thou
lost among those mysteries that prudence which led thee to form the
sober opinion, that those who first established those images for the
people took away fear from the citizens and added error, and that
the ancient Romans honoured the gods more chastely without images?
For it was through consideration of them that thou wast emboldened
to speak these things against the later Romans. For if those most
ancient Romans also had worshipped images, perhaps thou wouldst
have suppressed by the silence of fear all those sentiments (true
sentiments, nevertheless) concerning the folly of setting up images,
and wouldst have extolled more loftily, and more loquaciously,
those mysterious doctrines consisting of these vain and pernicious
fictions. Thy soul, so learned and so clever (and for this I grieve
much for thee), could never through these mysteries have reached its
God; that is, the God by whom, not with whom, it was made, of whom
it is not a part, but a work,--that God who is not the soul of all
things, but who made every soul, and in whose light alone every soul
is blessed, if it be not ungrateful for His grace.

But the things which follow in this book will show what is the nature
of these mysteries, and what value is to be set upon them. Meanwhile,
this most learned man confesses as his opinion that the soul of the
world and its parts are the true gods, from which we perceive that
his theology (to wit, that same natural theology to which he pays
great regard) has been able, in its completeness, to extend itself
even to the nature of the rational soul. For in this book (concerning
the select gods) he says a very few things by anticipation concerning
the natural theology; and we shall see whether he has been able in
that book, by means of physical interpretations, to refer to this
natural theology that civil theology, concerning which he wrote last
when treating of the select gods. Now, if he has been able to do
this, the whole is natural; and in that case, what need was there for
distinguishing so carefully the civil from the natural? But if it
has been distinguished by a veritable distinction, then, since not
even this natural theology with which he is so much pleased is true
(for though it has reached as far as the soul, it has not reached
to the true God who made the soul), how much more contemptible and
false is that civil theology which is chiefly occupied about what is
corporeal, as will be shown by its very interpretations, which they
have with such diligence sought out and enucleated, some of which I
must necessarily mention!

  6. _Concerning the opinion of Varro, that God is the soul of the
      world, which nevertheless, in its various parts, has many souls
      whose nature is divine._

The same Varro, then, still speaking by anticipation, says that he
thinks that God is the soul of the world (which the Greeks call
κόσμος), and that this world itself is God; but as a wise man, though
he consists of body and mind, is nevertheless called wise on account
of his mind, so the world is called God on account of mind, although
it consists of mind and body. Here he seems, in some fashion at least,
to acknowledge one God; but that he may introduce more, he adds that
the world is divided into two parts, heaven and earth, which are
again divided each into two parts, heaven into ether and air, earth
into water and land, of all which the ether is the highest, the air
second, the water third, and the earth the lowest. All these four
parts, he says, are full of souls; those which are in the ether and
air being immortal, and those which are in the water and on the earth
mortal. From the highest part of the heavens to the orbit of the moon
there are souls, namely, the stars and planets; and these are not only
understood to be gods, but are seen to be such. And between the orbit
of the moon and the commencement of the region of clouds and winds
there are aerial souls; but these are seen with the mind, not with the
eyes, and are called Heroes, and Lares, and Genii. This is the natural
theology which is briefly set forth in these anticipatory statements,
and which satisfied not Varro only, but many philosophers besides. This
I must discuss more carefully, when, with the help of God, I shall have
completed what I have yet to say concerning the civil theology, as far
as it concerns the select gods.

    7. _Whether it is reasonable to separate Janus and Terminus as
                        two distinct deities._

Who, then, is Janus, with whom Varro commences? He is the world.
Certainly a very brief and unambiguous reply. Why, then, do they
say that the beginnings of things pertain to him, but the ends to
another whom they call Terminus? For they say that two months have
been dedicated to these two gods, with reference to beginnings
and ends--January to Janus, and February to Terminus--over and
above those ten months which commence with March and end with
December. And they say that that is the reason why the Terminalia
are celebrated in the month of February, the same month in which
the sacred purification is made which they call Februum, and from
which the month derives its name.[260] Do the beginnings of things,
therefore, pertain to the world, which is Janus, and not also the
ends, since another god has been placed over them? Do they not
own that all things which they say begin in this world also come
to an end in this world? What folly it is, to give him only half
power in work, when in his image they give him two faces! Would it
not be a far more elegant way of interpreting the two-faced image,
to say that Janus and Terminus are the same, and that the one face
has reference to beginnings, the other to ends? For one who works
ought to have respect to both. For he who in every forthputting of
activity does not look back on the beginning, does not look forward
to the end. Wherefore it is necessary that prospective intention be
connected with retrospective memory. For how shall one find how to
finish anything, if he has forgotten what it was which he had begun?
But if they thought that the blessed life is begun in this world,
and perfected beyond the world, and for that reason attributed to
Janus, that is, to the world, only the power of beginnings, they
should certainly have preferred Terminus to him, and should not have
shut him out from the number of the select gods. Yet even now, when
the beginnings and ends of temporal things are represented by these
two gods, more honour ought to have been given to Terminus. For the
greater joy is that which is felt when anything is finished; but
things begun are always cause of much anxiety until they are brought
to an end, which end he who begins anything very greatly longs for,
fixes his mind on, expects, desires; nor does any one ever rejoice
over anything he has begun, unless it be brought to an end.

  8. _For what reason the worshippers of Janus have made his image
      with two faces, when they would sometimes have it be seen with

But now let the interpretation of the two-faced image be produced.
For they say that it has two faces, one before and one behind,
because our gaping mouths seem to resemble the world: whence the
Greeks call the palate οὐρανός, and some Latin poets,[261] he says,
have called the heavens palatum [the palate]; and from the gaping
mouth, they say, there is a way out in the direction of the teeth,
and a way in in the direction of the gullet. See what the world has
been brought to on account of a Greek or a poetical word for our
palate! Let this god be worshipped only on account of saliva, which
has two open doorways under the heavens of the palate,--one through
which part of it may be spitten out, the other through which part of
it may be swallowed down. Besides, what is more absurd than not to
find in the world itself two doorways opposite to each other, through
which it may either receive anything into itself, or cast it out from
itself; and to seek of our throat and gullet, to which the world has
no resemblance, to make up an image of the world in Janus, because
the world is said to resemble the _palate_, to which Janus bears no
likeness? But when they make him four-faced, and call him double
Janus, they interpret this as having reference to the four quarters
of the world, as though the world looked out on anything, like Janus
through his four faces. Again, if Janus is the world, and the world
consists of four quarters, then the image of the two-faced Janus
is false. Or if it is true, because the whole world is sometimes
understood by the expression east and west, will any one call the
world double when north and south also are mentioned, as they call
Janus double when he has four faces? They have no way at all of
interpreting, in relation to the world, four doorways by which to go
in and to come out as they did in the case of the two-faced Janus,
where they found, at any rate in the human mouth, something which
answered to what they said about him; unless perhaps Neptune come to
their aid, and hand them a fish, which, besides the mouth and gullet,
has also the openings of the gills, one on each side. Nevertheless,
with all the doors, no soul escapes this vanity but that one which
hears the truth saying, "I am the door."[262]

   9. _Concerning the power of Jupiter, and a comparison of Jupiter
                             with Janus._

But they also show whom they would have Jove (who is also called
Jupiter) understood to be. He is the god, say they, who has the power
of the causes by which anything comes to be in the world. And how
great a thing this is, that most noble verse of Virgil testifies:

          "Happy is he who has learned the causes of things."[263]

But why is Janus preferred to him? Let that most acute and most
learned man answer us this question. "Because," says he, "Janus
has dominion over first things, Jupiter over highest[264] things.
Therefore Jupiter is deservedly held to be the king of all things;
for highest things are better than first things: for although first
things precede in time, highest things excel by dignity."

Now this would have been rightly said had the first parts of things
which are done been distinguished from the highest parts; as, for
instance, it is the beginning of a thing done to set out, the highest
part to arrive. The commencing to learn is the first part of a thing
begun, the acquirement of knowledge is the highest part. And so of
all things: the beginnings are first, the ends highest. This matter,
however, has been already discussed in connection with Janus and
Terminus. But the causes which are attributed to Jupiter are things
effecting, not things effected; and it is impossible for them to
be prevented in time by things which are made or done, or by the
beginnings of such things; for the thing which makes is always prior
to the thing which is made. Therefore, though the beginnings of
things which are made or done pertain to Janus, they are nevertheless
not prior to the efficient causes which they attribute to Jupiter.
For as nothing takes place without being preceded by an efficient
cause, so without an efficient cause nothing begins to take place.
Verily, if the people call this god Jupiter, in whose power are all
the causes of all natures which have been made, and of all natural
things, and worship him with such insults and infamous criminations,
they are guilty of more shocking sacrilege than if they should
totally deny the existence of any god. It would therefore be better
for them to call some other god by the name of Jupiter--some one
worthy of base and criminal honours; substituting instead of Jupiter
some vain fiction (as Saturn is said to have had a stone given to him
to devour instead of his son), which they might make the subject of
their blasphemies, rather than speak of _that_ god as both thundering
and committing adultery,--ruling the whole world, and laying himself
out for the commission of so many licentious acts,--having in his
power nature and the highest causes of all natural things, but not
having his own causes good.

Next, I ask what place they find any longer for this Jupiter among
the gods, if Janus is the world; for Varro defined the true gods to
be the soul of the world, and the parts of it. And therefore whatever
falls not within this definition, is certainly not a true god,
according to them. Will they then say that Jupiter is the soul of
the world, and Janus the body--that is, this visible world? If they
say this, it will not be possible for them to affirm that Janus is
a god. For even, according to them, the body of the world is not a
god, but the soul of the world and its parts. Wherefore Varro, seeing
this, says that he thinks God is the soul of the world, and that
this world itself is God; but that as a wise man, though he consists
of soul and body, is nevertheless called wise from the soul, so the
world is called God from the soul, though it consists of soul and
body. Therefore the body of the world alone is not God, but either
the soul of it alone, or the soul and the body together, yet so as
that it is God not by virtue of the body, but by virtue of the soul.
If, therefore, Janus is the world, and Janus is a god, will they say,
in order that Jupiter may be a god, that he is some part of Janus?
For they are wont rather to attribute universal existence to Jupiter;
whence the saying, "All things are full of Jupiter."[265] Therefore
they must think Jupiter also, in order that he may be a god, and
especially king of the gods, to be the world, that he may rule over
the other gods--according to them, his parts. To this effect, also,
the same Varro expounds certain verses of Valerius Soranus[266] in
that book which he wrote apart from the others concerning the worship
of the gods. These are the verses:

          "Almighty Jove, progenitor of kings, and things, and gods,
           And eke the mother of the gods, god one and all."

But in the same book he expounds these verses by saying that as the
male emits seed, and the female receives it, so Jupiter, whom they
believed to be the world, both emits all seeds from himself and
receives them into himself. For which reason, he says, Soranus wrote,
"Jove, progenitor and mother;" and with no less reason said that one
and all were the same. For the world is one, and in that one are all

  10. _Whether the distinction between Janus and Jupiter is a proper

Since, therefore, Janus is the world, and Jupiter is the world,
wherefore are Janus and Jupiter two gods, while the world is but one?
Why do they have separate temples, separate altars, different rites,
dissimilar images? If it be because the nature of beginnings is one,
and the nature of causes another, and the one has received the name
of Janus, the other of Jupiter; is it then the case, that if one man
has two distinct offices of authority, or two arts, two judges or two
artificers are spoken of, because the nature of the offices or the
arts is different? So also with respect to one god: if he have the
power of beginnings and of causes, must he therefore be thought to be
two gods, because beginnings and causes are two things? But if they
think that this is right, let them also affirm that Jupiter is as
many gods as they have given him surnames, on account of many powers;
for the things from which these surnames are applied to him are many
and diverse. I shall mention a few of them.

  11. _Concerning the surnames of Jupiter, which are referred not to
               many gods, but to one and the same god._

They have called him Victor, Invictus, Opitulus, Impulsor, Stator,
Centumpeda, Supinalis, Tigillus, Almus, Ruminus, and other names
which it were long to enumerate. But these surnames they have given
to one god on account of diverse causes and powers, but yet have not
compelled him to be, on account of so many things, as many gods. They
gave him these surnames because he conquered all things; because he
was conquered by none; because he brought help to the needy; because
he had the power of impelling, stopping, stablishing, throwing on
the back; because as a beam[267] he held together and sustained the
world; because he nourished all things; because, like the pap,[268]
he nourished animals. Here, we perceive, are some great things and
some small things; and yet it is one who is said to perform them
all. I think that the causes and the beginnings of things, on account
of which they have thought that the one world is two gods, Jupiter
and Janus, are nearer to each other than the holding together of the
world, and the giving of the pap to animals; and yet, on account
of these two works so far apart from each other, both in nature
and dignity, there has not been any necessity for the existence of
two gods; but one Jupiter has been called, on account of the one
Tigillus, on account of the other Ruminus. I am unwilling to say
that the giving of the pap to sucking animals might have become Juno
rather than Jupiter, especially when there was the goddess Rumina to
help and to serve her in this work; for I think it may be replied
that Juno herself is nothing else than Jupiter, according to those
verses of Valerius Soranus, where it has been said:

          "Almighty Jove, progenitor of kings, and things, and gods,
           And eke the mother of the gods," etc.

Why, then, was he called Ruminus, when they who may perchance inquire
more diligently may find that he is also that goddess Rumina?

If, then, it was rightly thought unworthy of the majesty of the gods,
that in one ear of corn one god should have the care of the joint,
another that of the husk, how much more unworthy of that majesty is
it, that one thing, and that of the lowest kind, even the giving of
the pap to animals that they may be nourished, should be under the
care of two gods, one of whom is Jupiter himself, the very king of
all things, who does this not along with his own wife, but with some
ignoble Rumina (unless perhaps he himself is Rumina, being Ruminus
for males and Rumina for females)! I should certainly have said that
they had been unwilling to apply to Jupiter a feminine name, had he
not been styled in these verses "progenitor and mother," and had I
not read among other surnames of his that of Pecunia [money], which
we found as a goddess among those petty deities, as I have already
mentioned in the fourth book. But since both males and females have
money [_pecuniam_], why has he not been called both Pecunius and
Pecunia? That is their concern.

              12. _That Jupiter is also called Pecunia._

How elegantly they have accounted for this name! "He is also called
Pecunia," say they, "because all things belong to him." Oh how grand an
explanation of the name of a deity! Yes; he to whom all things belong
is most meanly and most contumeliously called Pecunia. In comparison of
all things which are contained by heaven and earth, what are all things
together which are possessed by men under the name of money?[269] And
this name, forsooth, hath avarice given to Jupiter, that whoever was a
lover of money might seem to himself to love not an ordinary god, but
the very king of all things himself. But it would be a far different
thing if he had been called Riches. For riches are one thing, money
another. For we call rich the wise, the just, the good, who have either
no money or very little. For they are more truly rich in possessing
virtue, since by it, even as respects things necessary for the body,
they are content with what they have. But we call the greedy poor,
who are always craving and always wanting. For they may possess ever
so great an amount of money; but whatever be the abundance of that,
they are not able but to want. And we properly call God Himself rich;
not, however, in money, but in omnipotence. Therefore they who have
abundance of money are called rich, but inwardly needy if they are
greedy. So also, those who have no money are called poor, but inwardly
rich if they are wise.

What, then, ought the wise man to think of this theology, in which
the king of the gods receives the name of that thing "which no wise
man has desired?"[270] For had there been anything wholesomely
taught by this philosophy concerning eternal life, how much more
appropriately would that god who is the ruler of the world have been
called by them, not money, but wisdom, the love of which purges from
the filth of avarice, that is, of the love of money!

   13. _That when it is expounded what Saturn is, what Genius is, it
      comes to this, that both of them are shown to be Jupiter._

But why speak more of this Jupiter, with whom perchance all the
rest are to be identified; so that, he being all, the opinion as to
the existence of many gods may remain as a mere opinion, empty of
all truth? And they are all to be referred to him, if his various
parts and powers are thought of as so many gods, or if the principle
of mind which they think to be diffused through all things has
received the names of many gods from the various parts which the
mass of this visible world combines in itself, and from the manifold
administration of nature. For what is Saturn also? "One of the
principal gods," he says, "who has dominion over all sowings." Does
not the exposition of the verses of Valerius Soranus teach that
Jupiter is the world, and that he emits all seeds from himself, and
receives them into himself?

It is he, then, with whom is the dominion of all sowings. What
is Genius? "He is the god who is set over, and has the power of
begetting, all things." Who else than the world do they believe to
have this power, to which it has been said:

          "Almighty Jove, progenitor and mother?"

And when in another place he says that Genius is the rational soul of
every one, and therefore exists separately in each individual, but
that the corresponding soul of the world is God, he just comes back
to this same thing,--namely, that the soul of the world itself is to
be held to be, as it were, the universal genius. This, therefore, is
what he calls Jupiter. For if every genius is a god, and the soul
of every man a genius, it follows that the soul of every man is a
god. But if very absurdity compels even these theologists themselves
to shrink from this, it remains that they call that genius god by
special and pre-eminent distinction, whom they call the soul of the
world, and therefore Jupiter.

           14. _Concerning the offices of Mercury and Mars._

But they have not found how to refer Mercury and Mars to any parts
of the world, and to the works of God which are in the elements;
and therefore they have set them at least over human works, making
them assistants in speaking and in carrying on wars. Now Mercury,
if he has also the power of the speech of the gods, rules also over
the king of the gods himself, if Jupiter, as he receives from him
the faculty of speech, also speaks according as it is his pleasure
to permit him--which surely is absurd; but if it is only the power
over human speech which is held to be attributed to him, then we say
it is incredible that Jupiter should have condescended to give the
pap not only to children, but also to beasts--from which he has been
surnamed Ruminus--and yet should have been unwilling that the care of
our speech, by which we excel the beasts, should pertain to him. And
thus speech itself both belongs to Jupiter, and is Mercury. But if
speech itself is said to be Mercury, as those things which are said
concerning him by way of interpretation show it to be;--for he is
said to have been called Mercury, that is, he who runs between,[271]
because speech runs between men: they say also that the Greeks call
him Ἑρμῆς, because speech, or interpretation, which certainly belongs
to speech, is called by them ἑρμηνεία: also he is said to preside
over payments, because speech passes between sellers and buyers:
the wings, too, which he has on his head and on his feet, they say,
mean that speech passes winged through the air: he is also said to
have been called the messenger,[272] because by means of speech all
our thoughts are expressed;[273]--if, therefore, speech itself is
Mercury, then, even by their own confession, he is not a god. But
when they make to themselves gods of such as are not even demons, by
praying to unclean spirits, they are possessed by such as are not
gods, but demons. In like manner, because they have not been able
to find for Mars any element or part of the world in which he might
perform some works of nature of whatever kind, they have said that he
is the god of war, which is a work of men, and that not one which is
considered desirable by them. If, therefore, Felicitas should give
perpetual peace, Mars would have nothing to do. But if war itself is
Mars, as speech is Mercury, I wish it were as true that there were no
war to be falsely called a god, as it is true that it is not a god.

   15. _Concerning certain stars which the pagans have called by the
                         names of their gods._

But possibly these stars which have been called by their names are
these gods. For they call a certain star Mercury, and likewise a
certain other star Mars. But among those stars which are called by the
names of gods, is that one which they call Jupiter, and yet with them
Jupiter is the world. There also is that one they call Saturn, and yet
they give to him no small property besides,--namely, all seeds. There
also is that brightest of them all which is called by them Venus,
and yet they will have this same Venus to be also the moon:--not to
mention how Venus and Juno are said by them to contend about that most
brilliant star, as though about another golden apple. For some say
that Lucifer belongs to Venus, and some to Juno. But, as usual, Venus
conquers. For by far the greatest number assign that star to Venus, so
much so that there is scarcely found one of them who thinks otherwise.
But since they call Jupiter the king of all, who will not laugh to see
his star so far surpassed in brilliancy by the star of Venus? For it
ought to have been as much more brilliant than the rest, as he himself
is more powerful. They answer that it only appears so because it is
higher up, and very much farther away from the earth. If, therefore,
its greater dignity has deserved a higher place, why is Saturn higher
in the heavens than Jupiter? Was the vanity of the fable which made
Jupiter king not able to reach the stars? And has Saturn been permitted
to obtain at least in the heavens, what he could not obtain in his own
kingdom nor in the Capitol?

But why has Janus received no star? If it is because he is the world,
and they are all in him, the world is also Jupiter's, and yet he has
one. Did Janus compromise his case as best he could, and instead of
the one star which he does not have among the heavenly bodies, accept
so many faces on earth? Again, if they think that on account of the
stars alone Mercury and Mars are parts of the world, in order that
they may be able to have them for gods, since speech and war are not
parts of the world, but acts of men, how is it that they have made
no altars, established no rites, built no temples for Aries, and
Taurus, and Cancer, and Scorpio, and the rest which they number as
the celestial signs, and which consist not of single stars, but each
of them of many stars, which also they say are situated above those
already mentioned in the highest part of the heavens, where a more
constant motion causes the stars to follow an undeviating course? And
why have they not reckoned them as gods, I do not say among those
select gods, but not even among those, as it were, plebeian gods?

   16. _Concerning Apollo and Diana, and the other select gods whom
              they would have to be parts of the world._

Although they would have Apollo to be a diviner and physician, they
have nevertheless given him a place as some part of the world. They
have said that he is also the sun; and likewise they have said that
Diana, his sister, is the moon, and the guardian of roads. Whence
also they will have her be a virgin, because a road brings forth
nothing. They also make both of them have arrows, because those two
planets send their rays from the heavens to the earth. They make
Vulcan to be the fire of the world; Neptune the waters of the world;
Father Dis, that is, Orcus, the earthy and lowest part of the world.
Liber and Ceres they set over seeds,--the former over the seeds of
males, the latter over the seeds of females; or the one over the
fluid part of seed, but the other over the dry part. And all this
together is referred to the world, that is, to Jupiter, who is called
"progenitor and mother," because he emitted all seeds from himself,
and received them into himself. For they also make this same Ceres
to be the Great Mother, who they say is none other than the earth,
and call her also Juno. And therefore they assign to her the second
causes of things, notwithstanding that it has been said to Jupiter,
"progenitor and mother of the gods;" because, according to them, the
whole world itself is Jupiter's. Minerva, also, because they set
her over human arts, and did not find even a star in which to place
her, has been said by them to be either the highest æther, or even
the moon. Also Vesta herself they have thought to be the highest of
the goddesses, because she is the earth; although they have thought
that the milder fire of the world, which is used for the ordinary
purposes of human life, not the more violent fire, such as belongs to
Vulcan, is to be assigned to her. And thus they will have all those
select gods to be the world and its parts,--some of them the whole
world, others of them its parts; the whole of it Jupiter,--its parts,
Genius, Mater Magna, Sol and Luna, or rather Apollo and Diana, and so
on. And sometimes they make one god many things; sometimes one thing
many gods. Many things are one god in the case of Jupiter; for both
the whole world is Jupiter, and the sky alone is Jupiter, and the
star alone is said and held to be Jupiter. Juno also is mistress of
second causes,--Juno is the air, Juno is the earth; and had she won
it over Venus, Juno would have been the star. Likewise Minerva is the
highest æther, and Minerva is likewise the moon, which they suppose
to be in the lowest limit of the æther. And also they make one thing
many gods in this way. The world is both Janus and Jupiter; also the
earth is Juno, and Mater Magna, and Ceres.

  17. _That even Varro himself pronounced his own opinions regarding
                         the gods ambiguous._

And the same is true with respect to all the rest, as is true with
respect to those things which I have mentioned for the sake of
example. They do not explain them, but rather involve them. They
rush hither and thither, to this side or to that, according as they
are driven by the impulse of erratic opinion; so that even Varro
himself has chosen rather to doubt concerning all things, than to
affirm anything. For, having written the first of the three last
books concerning the certain gods, and having commenced in the second
of these to speak of the uncertain gods, he says: "I ought not to
be censured for having stated in this book the doubtful opinions
concerning the gods. For he who, when he has read them, shall
think that they both ought to be, and can be, conclusively judged
of, will do so himself. For my own part, I can be more easily led
to doubt the things which I have written in the first book, than
to attempt to reduce all the things I shall write in this one to
any orderly system." Thus he makes uncertain not only that book,
concerning the uncertain gods, but also that other concerning the
certain gods. Moreover, in that third book concerning the select
gods, after having exhibited by anticipation as much of the natural
theology as he deemed necessary, and when about to commence to
speak of the vanities and lying insanities of the civil theology,
where he was not only without the guidance of the truth of things,
but was also pressed by the authority of tradition, he says: "I
will write in this book concerning the public gods of the Roman
people, to whom they have dedicated temples, and whom they have
conspicuously distinguished by many adornments; but, as Xenophon of
Colophon writes, I will state what I think, not what I am prepared to
maintain: it is for man to think those things, for God to know them."

It is not, then, an account of things comprehended and most certainly
believed which he promised, when about to write those things which
were instituted by men. He only timidly promises an account of things
which are but the subject of doubtful opinion. Nor, indeed, was it
possible for him to affirm with the same certainty that Janus was the
world, and such like things; or to discover with the same certainty
such things as how Jupiter was the son of Saturn, while Saturn was
made subject to him as king:--he could, I say, neither affirm nor
discover such things with the same certainty with which he knew such
things as that the world existed, that the heavens and earth existed,
the heavens bright with stars, and the earth fertile through seeds;
or with the same perfect conviction with which he believed that this
universal mass of nature is governed and administered by a certain
invisible and mighty force.

        18. _A more credible cause of the rise of pagan error._

A far more credible account of these gods is given, when it is said
that they were men, and that to each one of them sacred rites and
solemnities were instituted, according to his particular genius,
manners, actions, circumstances; which rites and solemnities, by
gradually creeping through the souls of men, which are like demons,
and eager for things which yield them sport, were spread far and
wide; the poets adorning them with lies, and false spirits seducing
men to receive them. For it is far more likely that some youth,
either impious himself, or afraid of being slain by an impious
father, being desirous to reign, dethroned his father, than that
(according to Varro's interpretation) Saturn was overthrown by his
son Jupiter; for cause, which belongs to Jupiter, is before seed,
which belongs to Saturn. For had this been so, Saturn would never
have been before Jupiter, nor would he have been the father of
Jupiter. For cause always precedes seed, and is never generated from
seed. But when they seek to honour by natural interpretation most
vain fables or deeds of men, even the acutest men are so perplexed
that we are compelled to grieve for their folly also.

    19. _Concerning the interpretations which compose the reason of
                        the worship of Saturn._

They said, says Varro, that Saturn was wont to devour all that
sprang from him, because seeds returned to the earth from whence
they sprang. And when it is said that a lump of earth was put before
Saturn to be devoured instead of Jupiter, it is signified, he says,
that before the art of ploughing was discovered, seeds were buried in
the earth by the hands of men. The earth itself, then, and not seeds,
should have been called Saturn, because it in a manner devours what
it has brought forth, when the seeds which have sprung from it return
again into it. And what has Saturn's receiving of a lump of earth
instead of Jupiter to do with this, that the seeds were covered in
the soil by the hands of men? Was the seed kept from being devoured,
like other things, by being covered with the soil? For what they
say would imply that he who put on the soil took away the seed, as
Jupiter is said to have been taken away when the lump of soil was
offered to Saturn instead of him, and not rather that the soil, by
covering the seed, only caused it to be devoured the more eagerly.
Then, in that way, Jupiter is the seed, and not the cause of the
seed, as was said a little before.

But what shall men do who cannot find anything wise to say, because
they are interpreting foolish things? Saturn has a pruning-knife. That,
says Varro, is on account of agriculture. Certainly in Saturn's reign
there as yet existed no agriculture, and therefore the former times
of Saturn are spoken of, because, as the same Varro interprets the
fables, the primeval men lived on those seeds which the earth produced
spontaneously. Perhaps he received a pruning-knife when he had lost
his sceptre; that he who had been a king, and lived at ease during
the first part of his time, should become a laborious workman whilst
his son occupied the throne. Then he says that boys were wont to be
immolated to him by certain peoples, the Carthaginians for instance;
and also that adults were immolated by some nations, for example the
Gauls--because, of all seeds, the human race is the best. What need
we say more concerning this most cruel vanity? Let us rather attend
to and hold by this, that these interpretations are not carried up to
the true God,--a living, incorporeal, unchangeable nature, from whom a
blessed life enduring for ever may be obtained,--but that they end in
things which are corporeal, temporal, mutable, and mortal. And whereas
it is said in the fables that Saturn castrated his father Cœlus, this
signifies, says Varro, that the divine seed belongs to Saturn, and
not to Cœlus; for this reason, as far as a reason can be discovered,
namely, that in heaven[274] nothing is born from seed. But, lo! Saturn,
if he is the son of Cœlus, is the son of Jupiter. For they affirm
times without number, and that emphatically, that the heavens[275] are
Jupiter. Thus those things which come not of the truth, do very often,
without being impelled by any one, themselves overthrow one another. He
says that Saturn was called Κρόνος, which in the Greek tongue signifies
a space of time,[276] because, without that, seed cannot be productive.
These and many other things are said concerning Saturn, and they are
all referred to seed. But Saturn surely, with all that great power,
might have sufficed for seed. Why are other gods demanded for it,
especially Liber and Libera, that is, Ceres?--concerning whom again,
as far as seed is concerned, he says as many things as if he had said
nothing concerning Saturn.

            20. _Concerning the rites of Eleusinian Ceres_.

Now among the rites of Ceres, those Eleusinian rites are much famed
which were in the highest repute among the Athenians, of which Varro
offers no interpretation except with respect to corn, which Ceres
discovered, and with respect to Proserpine, whom Ceres lost, Orcus
having carried her away. And this Proserpine herself, he says,
signifies the fecundity of seeds. But as this fecundity departed at
a certain season, whilst the earth wore an aspect of sorrow through
the consequent sterility, there arose an opinion that the daughter
of Ceres, that is, fecundity itself, who was called Proserpine, from
_proserpere_ (to creep forth, to spring), had been carried away by
Orcus, and detained among the inhabitants of the nether world; which
circumstance was celebrated with public mourning. But since the same
fecundity again returned, there arose joy because Proserpine had been
given back by Orcus, and thus these rites were instituted. Then Varro
adds, that many things are taught in the mysteries of Ceres which
only refer to the discovery of fruits.

  21. _Concerning the shamefulness of the rites which are celebrated
                         in honour of Liber_.

Now as to the rites of Liber, whom they have set over liquid seeds,
and therefore not only over the liquors of fruits, among which
wine holds, so to speak, the primacy, but also over the seeds of
animals:--as to these rites, I am unwilling to undertake to show
to what excess of turpitude they had reached, because that would
entail a lengthened discourse, though I am not unwilling to do so
as a demonstration of the proud stupidity of those who practise
them. Among other rites which I am compelled from the greatness
of their number to omit, Varro says that in Italy, at the places
where roads crossed each other, the rites of Liber were celebrated
with such unrestrained turpitude, that the private parts of a man
were worshipped in his honour. Nor was this abomination transacted
in secret, that some regard at least might be paid to modesty,
but was openly and wantonly displayed. For during the festival of
Liber, this obscene member, placed on a car, was carried with great
honour, first over the cross-roads in the country, and then into
the city. But in the town of Lavinium a whole month was devoted to
Liber alone, during the days of which all the people gave themselves
up to the most dissolute conversation, until that member had been
carried through the forum and brought to rest in its own place; on
which unseemly member it was necessary that the most honourable
matron should place a wreath in the presence of all the people. Thus,
forsooth, was the god Liber to be appeased in order to the growth of
seeds. Thus was enchantment to be driven away from fields, even by a
matron's being compelled to do in public what not even a harlot ought
to be permitted to do in a theatre, if there were matrons among the
spectators. For these reasons, then, Saturn alone was not believed
to be sufficient for seeds,--namely, that the impure mind might find
occasions for multiplying the gods; and that, being righteously
abandoned to uncleanness by the one true God, and being prostituted
to the worship of many false gods, through an avidity for ever
greater and greater uncleanness, it should call these sacrilegious
rites sacred things, and should abandon itself to be violated and
polluted by crowds of foul demons.

          22. _Concerning Neptune, and Salacia, and Venilia_.

Now Neptune had Salacia to wife, who they say is the nether waters of
the sea. Wherefore was Venilia also joined to him? Was it not simply
through the lust of the soul desiring a greater number of demons to
whom to prostitute itself, and not because this goddess was necessary
to the perfection of their sacred rites? But let the interpretation
of this illustrious theology be brought forward to restrain us from
this censuring by rendering a satisfactory reason. Venilia, says
this theology, is the wave which comes to the shore, Salacia the
wave which returns into the sea. Why, then, are there two goddesses,
when it is one wave which comes and returns? Certainly it is mad
lust itself, which in its eagerness for many deities resembles the
waves which break on the shore. For though the water which goes is
not different from that which returns, still the soul which goes and
returns not is defiled by two demons, whom it has taken occasion by
this false pretext to invite. I ask thee, O Varro, and you who have
read such works of learned men, and think ye have learned something
great,--I ask you to interpret this, I do not say in a manner
consistent with the eternal and unchangeable nature which alone is
God, but only in a manner consistent with the doctrine concerning the
soul of the world and its parts, which ye think to be the true gods.
It is a somewhat more tolerable thing that ye have made that part of
the soul of the world which pervades the sea your god Neptune. Is
the wave, then, which comes to the shore and returns to the main,
two parts of the world, or two parts of the soul of the world? Who
of you is so silly as to think so? Why, then, have they made to you
two goddesses? The only reason seems to be, that your wise ancestors
have provided, not that many gods should rule you, but that many
of such demons as are delighted with those vanities and falsehoods
should possess you. But why has that Salacia, according to this
interpretation, lost the lower part of the sea, seeing that she was
represented as subject to her husband? For in saying that she is the
receding wave, ye have put her on the surface. Was she enraged at her
husband for taking Venilia as a concubine, and thus drove him from
the upper part of the sea?

  23. _Concerning the earth, which Varro affirms to be a goddess,
      because that soul of the world which he thinks to be God
      pervades also this lowest part of his body, and imparts to it a
      divine force._

Surely the earth, which we see full of its own living creatures, is
one; but for all that, it is but a mighty mass among the elements,
and the lowest part of the world. Why, then, would they have it to
be a goddess? Is it because it is fruitful? Why, then, are not men
rather held to be gods, who render it fruitful by cultivating it;
but though they plough it, do not adore it? But, say they, the part
of the soul of the world which pervades it makes it a goddess. As
if it were not a far more evident thing, nay, a thing which is not
called in question, that there is a soul in man. And yet men are not
held to be gods, but (a thing to be sadly lamented), with wonderful
and pitiful delusion, are subjected to those who are not gods, and
than whom they themselves are better, as the objects of deserved
worship and adoration. And certainly the same Varro, in the book
concerning the select gods, affirms that there are three grades of
soul in universal nature. One which pervades all the living parts of
the body, and has not sensation, but only the power of life,--that
principle which penetrates into the bones, nails, and hair. By this
principle in the world trees are nourished, and grow without being
possessed of sensation, and live in a manner peculiar to themselves.
The second grade of soul is that in which there is sensation. This
principle penetrates into the eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, and the
organs of sensation. The third grade of soul is the highest, and is
called mind, where intelligence has its throne. This grade of soul no
mortal creatures except man are possessed of. Now this part of the
soul of the world, Varro says, is called God, and in us is called
Genius. And the stones and earth in the world, which we see, and
which are not pervaded by the power of sensation, are, as it were,
the bones and nails of God. Again, the sun, moon, and stars, which we
perceive, and by which He perceives, are His organs of perception.
Moreover, the ether is His mind; and by the virtue which is in it,
which penetrates into the stars, it also makes them gods; and because
it penetrates through them into the earth, it makes it the goddess
Tellus, whence again it enters and permeates the sea and ocean,
making them the god Neptune.

Let him return from this, which he thinks to be natural theology,
back to that from which he went out, in order to rest from the
fatigue occasioned by the many turnings and windings of his path.
Let him return, I say, let him return to the civil theology. I wish
to detain him there a while. I have somewhat to say which has to do
with that theology. I am not yet saying, that if the earth and stones
are similar to our bones and nails, they are in like manner devoid
of intelligence, as they are devoid of sensation. Nor am I saying
that, if our bones and nails are said to have intelligence, because
they are in a man who has intelligence, he who says that the things
analogous to these in the world are gods, is as stupid as he is who
says that our bones and nails are men. We shall perhaps have occasion
to dispute these things with the philosophers. At present, however, I
wish to deal with Varro as a political theologian. For it is possible
that, though he may seem to have wished to lift up his head, as it
were, into the liberty of natural theology, the consciousness that
the book with which he was occupied was one concerning a subject
belonging to civil theology, may have caused him to relapse into the
point of view of that theology, and to say this in order that the
ancestors of his nation, and other states, might not be believed to
have bestowed on Neptune an irrational worship. What I am to say is
this: Since the earth is one, why has not that part of the soul of
the world which permeates the earth made it that one goddess which he
calls Tellus? But had it done so, what then had become of Orcus, the
brother of Jupiter and Neptune, whom they call Father Dis?[277] And
where, in that case, had been his wife Proserpine, who, according to
another opinion given in the same book, is called, not the fecundity
of the earth, but its lower part?[278] But if they say that part of
the soul of the world, when it permeates the upper part of the earth,
makes the god Father Dis, but when it pervades the nether part of the
same the goddess Proserpine; what, in that case, will that Tellus be?
For all that which she was has been divided into these two parts,
and these two gods; so that it is impossible to find what to make or
where to place her as a third goddess, except it be said that those
divinities Orcus and Proserpine are the one goddess Tellus, and that
they are not three gods, but one or two, whilst notwithstanding they
are called three, held to be three, worshipped as three, having
their own several altars, their own shrines, rites, images, priests,
whilst their own false demons also through these things defile the
prostituted soul. Let this further question be answered: What part of
the earth does a part of the soul of the world permeate in order to
make the god Tellumo? No, says he; but the earth being one and the
same, has a double life,--the masculine, which produces seed, and
the feminine, which receives and nourishes the seed. Hence it has
been called Tellus from the feminine principle, and Tellumo from the
masculine. Why, then, do the priests, as he indicates, perform divine
service to four gods, two others being added,--namely, to Tellus,
Tellumo, Altor, and Rusor? We have already spoken concerning Tellus
and Tellumo. But why do they worship Altor?[279] Because, says he,
all that springs of the earth is nourished by the earth. Wherefore do
they worship Rusor?[280] Because all things return back again to the
place whence they proceeded.

  24. _Concerning the surnames of Tellus and their significations,
      which, although they indicate many properties, ought not to have
      established the opinion that there is a corresponding number of

The one earth, then, on account of this fourfold virtue, ought to
have had four surnames, but not to have been considered as four
gods,--as Jupiter and Juno, though they have so many surnames, are
for all that only single deities,--for by all these surnames it
is signified that a manifold virtue belongs to one god or to one
goddess; but the multitude of surnames does not imply a multitude of
gods. But as sometimes even the vilest women themselves grow tired of
those crowds which they have sought after under the impulse of wicked
passion, so also the soul, become vile, and prostituted to impure
spirits, sometimes begins to loathe to multiply to itself gods to
whom to surrender itself to be polluted by them, as much as it once
delighted in so doing. For Varro himself, as if ashamed of that crowd
of gods, would make Tellus to be one goddess. "They say," says he,
"that whereas the one great mother has a tympanum, it is signified
that she is the orb of the earth; whereas she has towers on her head,
towns are signified; and whereas seats are fixed round about her, it
is signified that whilst all things move, she moves not. And their
having made the Galli to serve this goddess, signifies that they
who are in need of seed ought to follow the earth, for in it all
seeds are found. By their throwing themselves down before her, it is
taught," he says, "that they who cultivate the earth should not sit
idle, for there is always something for them to do. The sound of the
cymbals signifies the noise made by the throwing of iron utensils,
and by men's hands, and all other noises connected with agricultural
operations; and these cymbals are of brass, because the ancients used
brazen utensils in their agriculture before iron was discovered.
They place beside the goddess an unbound and tame lion, to show that
there is no kind of land so wild and so excessively barren as that it
would be profitless to attempt to bring it in and cultivate it." Then
he adds that, because they gave many names and surnames to mother
Tellus, it came to be thought that these signified many gods. "They
think," says he, "that Tellus is Ops, because the earth is improved
by labour; Mother, because it brings forth much; Great, because it
brings forth seed; Proserpine, because fruits creep forth from it;
Vesta, because it is invested with herbs. And thus," says he, "they
not at all absurdly identify other goddesses with the earth." If,
then, it is one goddess (though, if the truth were consulted, it is
not even that), why do they nevertheless separate it into many? Let
there be many names of one goddess, and let there not be as many
goddesses as there are names.

But the authority of the erring ancients weighs heavily on Varro, and
compels him, after having expressed this opinion, to show signs of
uneasiness; for he immediately adds, "With which things the opinion
of the ancients, who thought that there were really many goddesses,
does not conflict." How does it not conflict, when it is entirely a
different thing to say that one goddess has many names, and to say
that there are many goddesses? But it is possible, he says, that the
same thing may both be one, and yet have in it a plurality of things.
I grant that there are many things in one man; are there therefore in
him many men? In like manner, in one goddess there are many things;
are there therefore also many goddesses? But let them divide, unite,
multiply, reduplicate, and implicate as they like.

These are the famous mysteries of Tellus and the Great Mother, all of
which are shown to have reference to mortal seeds and to agriculture.
Do these things, then,--namely, the tympanum, the towers, the
Galli, the tossing to and fro of limbs, the noise of cymbals, the
images of lions,--do these things, having this reference and this
end, promise eternal life? Do the mutilated Galli, then, serve this
Great Mother in order to signify that they who are in need of seed
should follow the earth, as though it were not rather the case that
this very service caused them to want seed? For whether do they, by
following this goddess, acquire seed, being in want of it, or, by
following her, lose seed when they have it? Is this to interpret or
to deprecate? Nor is it considered to what a degree malign demons
have gained the upper hand, inasmuch as they have been able to exact
such cruel rites without having dared to promise any great things
in return for them. Had the earth not been a goddess, men would
have, by labouring, laid their hands on _it_ in order to obtain seed
through it, and would not have laid violent hands on themselves in
order to lose seed on account of it. Had it not been a goddess, it
would have become so fertile by the hands of others, that it would
not have compelled a man to be rendered barren by his own hands;
nor that in the festival of Liber an honourable matron put a wreath
on the private parts of a man in the sight of the multitude, where
perhaps her husband was standing by blushing and perspiring, if there
is any shame left in men; and that in the celebration of marriages
the newly-married bride was ordered to sit upon Priapus. These things
are bad enough, but they are small and contemptible in comparison
with that most cruel abomination, or most abominable cruelty, by
which either set is so deluded that neither perishes of its wound.
There the enchantment of fields is feared; here the amputation of
members is not feared. There the modesty of the bride is outraged,
but in such a manner as that neither her fruitfulness nor even her
virginity is taken away; here a man is so mutilated that he is
neither changed into a woman nor remains a man.

      25. _The interpretation of the mutilation of Atys which the
                doctrine of the Greek sages set forth._

Varro has not spoken of that Atys, nor sought out any interpretation
for him, in memory of whose being loved by Ceres the Gallus is
mutilated. But the learned and wise Greeks have by no means been silent
about an interpretation so holy and so illustrious. The celebrated
philosopher Porphyry has said that Atys signifies the flowers of
spring, which is the most beautiful season, and therefore was mutilated
because the flower falls before the fruit appears.[281] They have not,
then, compared the man himself, or rather that semblance of a man they
called Atys, to the flower, but his male organs,--these, indeed, fell
whilst he was living. Did I say fell? nay, truly they did not fall, nor
were they plucked off, but torn away. Nor when that flower was lost
did any fruit follow, but rather sterility. What, then, do they say is
signified by the castrated Atys himself, and whatever remained to him
after his castration? To what do they refer that? What interpretation
does that give rise to? Do they, after vain endeavours to discover
an interpretation, seek to persuade men that that is rather to be
believed which report has made public, and which has also been written
concerning his having been a mutilated man? Our Varro has very properly
opposed this, and has been unwilling to state it; for it certainly was
not unknown to that most learned man.

   26. _Concerning the abomination of the sacred rites of the Great

Concerning the effeminates consecrated to the same Great Mother, in
defiance of all the modesty which belongs to men and women, Varro has
not wished to say anything, nor do I remember to have read anywhere
aught concerning them. These effeminates, no later than yesterday,
were going through the streets and places of Carthage with anointed
hair, whitened faces, relaxed bodies, and feminine gait, exacting from
the people the means of maintaining their ignominious lives. Nothing
has been said concerning them. Interpretation failed, reason blushed,
speech was silent. The Great Mother has surpassed all her sons, not
in greatness of deity, but of crime. To this monster not even the
monstrosity of Janus is to be compared. His deformity was only in his
image; hers was the deformity of cruelty in her sacred rites. He has a
redundancy of members in stone images; she inflicts the loss of members
on men. This abomination is not surpassed by the licentious deeds of
Jupiter, so many and so great. He, with all his seductions of women,
only disgraced heaven with one Ganymede; she, with so many avowed and
public effeminates, has both defiled the earth and outraged heaven.
Perhaps we may either compare Saturn to this Magna Mater, or even set
him before her in this kind of abominable cruelty, for he mutilated his
father. But at the festivals of Saturn men could rather be slain by the
hands of others than mutilated by their own. He devoured his sons, as
the poets say, and the natural theologists interpret this as they list.
History says he slew them. But the Romans never received, like the
Carthaginians, the custom of sacrificing their sons to him. This Great
Mother of the gods, however, has brought mutilated men into Roman
temples, and has preserved that cruel custom, being believed to promote
the strength of the Romans by emasculating their men. Compared with
this evil, what are the thefts of Mercury, the wantonness of Venus, and
the base and flagitious deeds of the rest of them, which we might bring
forward from books, were it not that they are daily sung and danced in
the theatres? But what are these things to so great an evil,--an evil
whose magnitude was only proportioned to the greatness of the Great
Mother,--especially as these are said to have been invented by the
poets? as if the poets had also invented this, that they are acceptable
to the gods. Let it be imputed, then, to the audacity and impudence of
the poets that these things have been sung and written of. But that
they have been incorporated into the body of divine rites and honours,
the deities themselves demanding and extorting that incorporation,
what is that but the crime of the gods? nay more, the confession of
demons and the deception of wretched men? But as to this, that the
Great Mother is considered to be worshipped in the appropriate form
when she is worshipped by the consecration of mutilated men, this is
not an invention of the poets, nay, they have rather shrunk from it
with horror than sung of it. Ought any one, then, to be consecrated to
these select gods, that he may live blessedly after death, consecrated
to whom he could not live decently before death, being subjected to
such foul superstitions, and bound over to unclean demons? But all
these things, says Varro, are to be referred to the world.[282] Let
him consider if it be not rather to the unclean.[283] But why not
refer that to the world which is demonstrated to be in the world?
We, however, seek for a mind which, trusting to true religion, does
not adore the world as its god, but for the sake of God praises the
world as a work of God, and, purified from mundane defilements, comes
pure[284] to God Himself who founded the world.[285]

  27. _Concerning the figments of the physical theologists, who
      neither worship the true divinity, nor perform the worship
      wherewith the true divinity should be served._

We see that these select gods have, indeed, become more famous than
the rest; not, however, that their merits may be brought to light,
but that their opprobrious deeds may not be hid. Whence it is more
credible that they were men, as not only poetic but also historical
literature has handed down. For this which Virgil says,

          "Then from Olympus' heights came down
           Good Saturn, exiled from his throne
           By Jove, his mightier heir;"[286]

and what follows with reference to this affair, is fully related
by the historian Euhemerus, and has been translated into Latin by
Ennius. And as they who have written before us in the Greek or in the
Latin tongue against such errors as these have said much concerning
this matter, I have thought it unnecessary to dwell upon it. When I
consider those physical reasons, then, by which learned and acute men
attempt to turn human things into divine things, all I see is that
they have been able to refer these things only to temporal works and
to that which has a corporeal nature, and even though invisible still
mutable; and this is by no means the true God. But if this worship
had been performed as the symbolism of ideas at least congruous
with religion, though it would indeed have been cause of grief that
the true God was not announced and proclaimed by its symbolism,
nevertheless it could have been in some degree borne with, when
it did not occasion and command the performance of such foul and
abominable things. But since it is impiety to worship the body or the
soul for the true God, by whose indwelling alone the soul is happy,
how much more impious is it to worship those things through which
neither soul nor body can obtain either salvation or human honour?
Wherefore if with temple, priest, and sacrifice, which are due to
the true God, any element of the world be worshipped, or any created
spirit, even though not impure and evil, that worship is still evil,
not because the things are evil by which the worship is performed,
but because those things ought only to be used in the worship of
Him to whom alone such worship and service are due. But if any one
insist that he worships the one true God,--that is, the Creator of
every soul and of every body,--with stupid and monstrous idols, with
human victims, with putting a wreath on the male organ, with the
wages of unchastity, with the cutting of limbs, with emasculation,
with the consecration of effeminates, with impure and obscene plays,
such a one does not sin because he worships One who ought not to be
worshipped, but because he worships Him who ought to be worshipped
in a way in which He ought not to be worshipped. But he who worships
with such things,--that is, foul and obscene things,--and that not
the true God, namely, the maker of soul and body, but a creature,
even though not a wicked creature, whether it be soul or body, or
soul and body together, twice sins against God, because he both
worships for God what is not God, and also worships with such things
as neither God nor what is not God ought to be worshipped with.
It is, indeed, manifest how these pagans worship,--that is, how
shamefully and criminally they worship; but what or whom they worship
would have been left in obscurity, had not their history testified
that those same confessedly base and foul rites were rendered in
obedience to the demands of the gods, who exacted them with terrible
severity. Wherefore it is evident beyond doubt that this whole civil
theology is occupied in inventing means for attracting wicked and
most impure spirits, inviting them to visit senseless images, and
through these to take possession of stupid hearts.

   28. _That the doctrine of Varro concerning theology is in no part
                       consistent with itself_.

To what purpose, then, is it that this most learned and most acute
man Varro attempts, as it were, with subtle disputation, to reduce
and refer all these gods to heaven and earth? He cannot do it. They
go out of his hands like water; they shrink back; they slip down and
fall. For when about to speak of the females, that is, the goddesses,
he says, "Since, as I observed in the first book concerning places,
heaven and earth are the two origins of the gods, on which account
they are called celestials and terrestrials, and as I began in the
former books with heaven, speaking of Janus, whom some have said to be
heaven, and others the earth, so I now commence with Tellus in speaking
concerning the goddesses." I can understand what embarrassment so
great a mind was experiencing. For he is influenced by the perception
of a certain plausible resemblance, when he says that the heaven is
that which does, and the earth that which suffers, and therefore
attributes the masculine principle to the one, and the feminine to
the other,--not considering that it is rather He who made both heaven
and earth who is the maker of both activity and passivity. On this
principle he interprets the celebrated mysteries of the Samothracians,
and promises, with an air of great devoutness, that he will by writing
expound these mysteries, which have not been so much as known to his
countrymen, and will send them his exposition. Then he says that he
had from many proofs gathered that, in those mysteries, among the
images one signifies heaven, another the earth, another the patterns of
things, which Plato calls ideas. He makes Jupiter to signify heaven,
Juno the earth, Minerva the ideas. Heaven, by which anything is made;
the earth, from which it is made; and the pattern, according to which
it is made. But, with respect to the last, I am forgetting to say
that Plato attributed so great an importance to these ideas as to
say, not that anything was made by heaven according to them, but that
according to them heaven itself was made.[287] To return, however,--it
is to be observed that Varro has, in the book on the select gods, lost
that theory of these gods, in whom he has, as it were, embraced all
things. For he assigns the male gods to heaven, the females to earth;
among which latter he has placed Minerva, whom he had before placed
above heaven itself. Then the male god Neptune is in the sea, which
pertains rather to earth than to heaven. Last of all, father Dis, who
is called in Greek Πλούτων, another male god, brother of both (Jupiter
and Neptune), is also held to be a god of the earth, holding the
upper region of the earth himself, and allotting the nether region to
his wife Proserpine. How, then, do they attempt to refer the gods to
heaven, and the goddesses to earth? What solidity, what consistency,
what sobriety has this disputation? But that Tellus is the origin
of the goddesses,--the great mother, to wit, beside whom there is
continually the noise of the mad and abominable revelry of effeminates
and mutilated men, and men who cut themselves, and indulge in frantic
gesticulations,--how is it, then, that Janus is called the head of
the gods, and Tellus the head of the goddesses? In the one case error
does not make one head, and in the other frenzy does not make a sane
one. Why do they vainly attempt to refer these to the world? Even if
they could do so, no pious person worships the world for the true God.
Nevertheless, plain truth makes it evident that they are not able even
to do this. Let them rather identify them with dead men and most wicked
demons, and no further question will remain.

  29. _That all things which the physical theologists have referred
      to the world and its parts, they ought to have referred to the
      one true God_.

For all those things which, according to the account given of those
gods, are referred to the world by so-called physical interpretation,
may, without any religious scruple, be rather assigned to the true
God, who made heaven and earth, and created every soul and every
body; and the following is the manner in which we see that this may
be done. We worship God,--not heaven and earth, of which two parts
this world consists, nor the soul or souls diffused through all
living things,--but God who made heaven and earth, and all things
which are in them; who made every soul, whatever be the nature of its
life, whether it have life without sensation and reason, or life with
sensation, or life with both sensation and reason.

  30. _How piety distinguishes the Creator from the creatures, so
      that, instead of one God, there are not worshipped as many gods
      as there are works of the one author._

And now, to begin to go over those works of the one true God, on
account of which these have made to themselves many and false gods,
whilst they attempt to give an honourable interpretation to their
many most abominable and most infamous mysteries,--we worship
that God who has appointed to the natures created by Him both the
beginnings and the end of their existing and moving; who holds,
knows, and disposes the causes of things; who hath created the virtue
of seeds; who hath given to what creatures He would a rational soul,
which is called mind; who hath bestowed the faculty and use of
speech; who hath imparted the gift of foretelling future things to
whatever spirits it seemed to Him good; who also Himself predicts
future things, through whom He pleases, and through whom He will
removes diseases; who, when the human race is to be corrected and
chastised by wars, regulates also the beginnings, progress, and ends
of these wars; who hath created and governs the most vehement and
most violent fire of this world, in due relation and proportion to
the other elements of immense nature; who is the governor of all the
waters; who hath made the sun brightest of all material lights, and
hath given him suitable power and motion; who hath not withdrawn,
even from the inhabitants of the nether world, His dominion and
power; who hath appointed to mortal natures their suitable seed and
nourishment, dry or liquid; who establishes and makes fruitful the
earth; who bountifully bestows its fruits on animals and on men; who
knows and ordains, not only principal causes, but also subsequent
causes; who hath determined for the moon her motion; who affords
ways in heaven and on earth for passage from one place to another;
who hath granted also to human minds, which He hath created, the
knowledge of the various arts for the help of life and nature; who
hath appointed the union of male and female for the propagation of
offspring; who hath favoured the societies of men with the gift of
terrestrial fire for the simplest and most familiar purposes, to burn
on the hearth and to give light. These are, then, the things which
that most acute and most learned man Varro has laboured to distribute
among the select gods, by I know not what physical interpretation,
which he has got from other sources, and also conjectured for
himself. But these things the one true God makes and does, but as
_the same_ God,--that is, as He who is wholly everywhere, included
in no space, bound by no chains, mutable in no part of His being,
filling heaven and earth with omnipresent power, not with a needy
nature. Therefore He governs all things in such a manner as to
allow them to perform and exercise their own proper movements. For
although they can be nothing without Him, they are not what He is.
He does also many things through angels; but only from Himself does
He beatify angels. So also, though He send angels to men for certain
purposes, He does not for all that beatify men by the good inherent
in the angels, but by Himself, as He does the angels themselves.

     31. _What benefits God gives to the followers of the truth to
               enjoy over and above His general bounty._

For, besides such benefits as, according to this administration
of nature of which we have made some mention, He lavishes on good
and bad alike, we have from Him a great manifestation of great
love, which belongs only to the good. For although we can never
sufficiently give thanks to Him, that we are, that we live, that we
behold heaven and earth, that we have mind and reason by which to
seek after Him who made all these things, nevertheless, what hearts,
what number of tongues, shall affirm that they are sufficient to
render thanks to Him for this, that He hath not wholly departed from
us, laden and overwhelmed with sins, averse to the contemplation of
His light, and blinded by the love of darkness, that is, of iniquity,
but hath sent to us His own Word, who is His only Son, that by His
birth and suffering for us in the flesh, which He assumed, we might
know how much God valued man, and that by that unique sacrifice
we might be purified from all our sins, and that, love being shed
abroad in our hearts by His Spirit, we might, having surmounted all
difficulties, come into eternal rest, and the ineffable sweetness of
the contemplation of Himself?

  32. _That at no time in the past was the mystery of Christ's
      redemption awanting, but was at all times declared, though in
      various forms._

This mystery of eternal life, even from the beginning of the human
race, was, by certain signs and sacraments suitable to the times,
announced through angels to those to whom it was meet. Then the
Hebrew people was congregated into one republic, as it were, to
perform this mystery; and in that republic was foretold, sometimes
through men who understood what they spake, and sometimes through
men who understood not, all that had transpired since the advent of
Christ until now, and all that will transpire. This same nation, too,
was afterwards dispersed through the nations, in order to testify
to the scriptures in which eternal salvation in Christ had been
declared. For not only the prophecies which are contained in words,
nor only the precepts for the right conduct of life, which teach
morals and piety, and are contained in the sacred writings,--not
only these, but also the rites, priesthood, tabernacle or temple,
altars, sacrifices, ceremonies, and whatever else belongs to that
service which is due to God, and which in Greek is properly called
λατρεία,--all these signified and fore-announced those things which
we who believe in Jesus Christ unto eternal life believe to have been
fulfilled, or behold in process of fulfilment, or confidently believe
shall yet be fulfilled.

  33. _That only through the Christian religion could the deceit of
      malign spirits, who rejoice in the errors of men, have been

This, the only true religion, has alone been able to manifest that
the gods of the nations are most impure demons, who desire to be
thought gods, availing themselves of the names of certain defunct
souls, or the appearance of mundane creatures, and with proud
impurity rejoicing in things most base and infamous, as though in
divine honours, and envying human souls their conversion to the
true God. From whose most cruel and most impious dominion a man is
liberated when he believes on Him who has afforded an example of
humility, following which men may rise as great as was that pride
by which they fell. Hence are not only those gods, concerning whom
we have already spoken much, and many others belonging to different
nations and lands, but also those of whom we are now treating, who
have been selected as it were into the senate of the gods,--selected,
however, on account of the notoriousness of their crimes, not on
account of the dignity of their virtues,--whose sacred things Varro
attempts to refer to certain natural reasons, seeking to make base
things honourable, but cannot find how to square and agree with
these reasons, because these are not the causes of those rites,
which he thinks, or rather wishes to be thought to be so. For had
not only these, but also all others of this kind, been real causes,
even though they had nothing to do with the true God and eternal
life, which is to be sought in religion, they would, by affording
some sort of reason drawn from the nature of things, have mitigated
in some degree that offence which was occasioned by some turpitude
or absurdity in the sacred rites, which was not understood. This
he attempted to do in respect to certain fables of the theatres,
or mysteries of the shrines; but he did not acquit the theatres
of likeness to the shrines, but rather condemned the shrines for
likeness to the theatres. However, he in some way made the attempt to
soothe the feelings shocked by horrible things, by rendering what he
would have to be natural interpretations.

  34. _Concerning the books of Numa Pompilius, which the senate
      ordered to be burned, in order that the causes of sacred rites
      therein assigned should not become known._.

But, on the other hand, we find, as the same most learned man has
related, that the causes of the sacred rites which were given from
the books of Numa Pompilius could by no means be tolerated, and were
considered unworthy, not only to become known to the religious by
being read, but even to lie written in the darkness in which they had
been concealed. For now let me say what I promised in the third book
of this work to say in its proper place. For, as we read in the same
Varro's book on the worship of the gods, "A certain one Terentius had
a field at the Janiculum, and once, when his ploughman was passing
the plough near to the tomb of Numa Pompilius, he turned up from the
ground the books of Numa, in which were written the causes of the
sacred institutions; which books he carried to the prætor, who, having
read the beginnings of them, referred to the senate what seemed to
be a matter of so much importance. And when the chief senators had
read certain of the causes why this or that rite was instituted, the
senate assented to the dead Numa, and the conscript fathers, as though
concerned for the interests of religion, ordered the prætor to burn
the books."[288] Let each one believe what he thinks; nay, let every
champion of such impiety say whatever mad contention may suggest. For
my part, let it suffice to suggest that the causes of those sacred
things which were written down by King Numa Pompilius, the institutor
of the Roman rites, ought never to have become known to people or
senate, or even to the priests themselves; and also that Numa himself
attained to these secrets of demons by an illicit curiosity, in order
that he might write them down, so as to be able, by reading, to be
reminded of them. However, though he was king, and had no cause to
be afraid of any one, he neither dared to teach them to any one, nor
to destroy them by obliteration, or any other form of destruction.
Therefore, because he was unwilling that any one should know them,
lest men should be taught infamous things, and because he was afraid
to violate them, lest he should enrage the demons against himself, he
buried them in what he thought a safe place, believing that a plough
could not approach his sepulchre. But the senate, fearing to condemn
the religious solemnities of their ancestors, and therefore compelled
to assent to Numa, were nevertheless so convinced that those books were
pernicious, that they did not order them to be buried again, knowing
that human curiosity would thereby be excited to seek with far greater
eagerness after the matter already divulged, but ordered the scandalous
relics to be destroyed with fire; because, as they thought it was now
a necessity to perform those sacred rites, they judged that the error
arising from ignorance of their causes was more tolerable than the
disturbance which the knowledge of them would occasion the state.

    35. _Concerning the hydromancy through which Numa was befooled
            by certain images of demons seen in the water._

For Numa himself also, to whom no prophet of God, no holy angel
was sent, was driven to have recourse to hydromancy, that he might
see the images of the gods in the water (or, rather, appearances
whereby the demons made sport of him), and might learn from them
what he ought to ordain and observe in the sacred rites. This kind
of divination, says Varro, was introduced from the Persians, and
was used by Numa himself, and at an after time by the philosopher
Pythagoras. In this divination, he says, they also inquire at the
inhabitants of the nether world, and make use of blood; and this
the Greeks call νεκρομαντείαν. But whether it be called necromancy
or hydromancy it is the same thing, for in either case the dead are
supposed to foretell future things. But by what artifices these
things are done, let themselves consider; for I am unwilling to say
that these artifices were wont to be prohibited by the laws, and to
be very severely punished even in the Gentile states, before the
advent of our Saviour. I am unwilling, I say, to affirm this, for
perhaps even such things were then allowed. However, it was by these
arts that Pompilius learned those sacred rites which he gave forth
as facts, whilst he concealed their causes; for even he himself was
afraid of that which he had learned. The senate also caused the
books in which those causes were recorded to be burned. What is it,
then, to me, that Varro attempts to adduce all sorts of fanciful
physical interpretations, which if these books had contained, they
would certainly not have been burned? For otherwise the conscript
fathers would also have burned those books which Varro published
and dedicated to the high priest Cæsar.[289] Now Numa is said to
have married the nymph Egeria, because (as Varro explains it in the
forementioned book) he carried forth[290] water wherewith to perform
his hydromancy. Thus facts are wont to be converted into fables
through false colourings. It was by that hydromancy, then, that that
over-curious Roman king learned both the sacred rites which were
to be written in the books of the priests, and also the causes of
those rites,--which latter, however, he was unwilling that any one
besides himself should know. Wherefore he made these causes, as it
were, to die along with himself, taking care to have them written by
themselves, and removed from the knowledge of men by being buried in
the earth. Wherefore the things which are written in those books were
either abominations of demons, so foul and noxious as to render that
whole civil theology execrable even in the eyes of such men as those
senators, who had accepted so many shameful things in the sacred
rites themselves, or they were nothing else than the accounts of dead
men, whom, through the lapse of ages, almost all the Gentile nations
had come to believe to be immortal gods; whilst those same demons
were delighted even with such rites, having presented themselves to
receive worship under pretence of being those very dead men whom
they had caused to be thought immortal gods by certain fallacious
miracles, performed in order to establish that belief. But, by the
hidden providence of the true God, these demons were permitted to
confess these things to their friend Numa, having been gained by
those arts through which necromancy could be performed, and yet were
not constrained to admonish him rather at his death to burn than to
bury the books in which they were written. But, in order that these
books might be unknown, the demons could not resist the plough by
which they were thrown up, or the pen of Varro, through which the
things which were done in reference to this matter have come down
even to our knowledge. For they are not able to effect anything which
they are not allowed; but they are permitted to influence those whom
God, in His deep and just judgment, according to their deserts, gives
over either to be simply afflicted by them, or to be also subdued and
deceived. But how pernicious these writings were judged to be, or
how alien from the worship of the true Divinity, may be understood
from the fact that the senate preferred to burn what Pompilius had
hid, rather than to fear what he feared, so that he could not dare to
do that. Wherefore let him who does not desire to live a pious life
even now, seek eternal life by means of such rites. But let him who
does not wish to have fellowship with malign demons have no fear for
the noxious superstition wherewith they are worshipped, but let him
recognise the true religion by which they are unmasked and vanquished.


[245] Tert. _Apol._ 13, "Nec electio sine reprobatione;" and _Ad
Nationes_, ii. 9, "Si dei ut bulbi seliguntur, qui non seliguntur,
reprobi pronuntiantur."

[246] Cicero, _De Nat. Deor._ ii., distinguishes this Liber from
Liber Bacchus, son of Jupiter and Semele.

[247] _Januam._

[248] _Vivificator._

[249] _Sensificator._

[250] As we say, "right-minded."

[251] Ch. 21, 23.

[252] The father Saturn, and the mother Ops, _e.g._, being more
obscure than their son Jupiter and daughter Juno.

[253] Sallust, _Cat. Conj._ ch. 8.

[254] Vicus argentarius.

[255] Virgil, _Æneid_, viii. 357, 358.

[256] Quadrifrons.

[257] Frons.

[258] "Quanto iste innocentior esset, tanto frontosior appareret;"
being used for the shamelessness of innocence, as we use "face" for
the shamelessness of impudence.

[259] Cicero, _Tusc. Quæst._ v. 13.

[260] An interesting account of the changes made in the Roman year by
Numa is given in Plutarch's life of that king. Ovid also (_Fasti_,
ii.) explains the derivation of February, telling us that it was the
last month of the old year, and took its name from the lustrations
performed then: "Februa Romani dixere piamina patres."

[261] Ennius, in Cicero, _De Nat. Deor._ ii. 18.

[262] John x. 9.

[263] _Georgic_, ii. 470.

[264] _Summa_, which also includes the meaning "last."

[265] Virgil, _Eclog._ iii. 60, who borrows the expression from the
_Phænomena_ of Aratus.

[266] Soranus lived about B.C. 100. See Smith's _Dict._

[267] Tigillus.

[268] Ruma.

[269] "Pecunia," that is, property; the original meaning of "pecunia"
being property in cattle, then property or wealth of any kind. Comp.
Augustine, _De discipl. Christ._ 6.

[270] Sallust, _Catil._ c. 11.

[271] Quasi medius currens.

[272] Nuncius.

[273] Enunciantur.

[274] Cœlo.

[275] Cœlum.

[276] Sc. Χρόνος.

[277] See c. 16.

[278] Varro, _De Ling. Lat._ v. 68.

[279] Nourisher.

[280] Returner.

[281] In the book _De Ratione Naturali Deorum_.

[282] Mundum.

[283] Immundum.

[284] Mundus.

[285] Mundum.

[286] Virgil, _Æneid_, viii. 319-20.

[287] In the _Timæus_.

[288] Plutarch's _Numa_; Livy, xl. 29.

[289] Comp. Lactantius, _Instit._ i. 6.

[290] Egesserit.

                             BOOK EIGHTH.



   1. _That the question of natural theology is to be discussed with
        those philosophers who sought a more excellent wisdom_.

We shall require to apply our mind with far greater intensity to the
present question than was requisite in the solution and unfolding
of the questions handled in the preceding books; for it is not with
ordinary men, but with philosophers that we must confer concerning the
theology which they call natural. For it is not like the fabulous, that
is, the theatrical; nor the civil, that is, the urban theology: the one
of which displays the crimes of the gods, whilst the other manifests
their criminal desires, which demonstrate them to be rather malign
demons than gods. It is, we say, with philosophers we have to confer
with respect to this theology,--men whose very name, if rendered into
Latin, signifies those who profess the love of wisdom. Now, if wisdom
is God, who made all things, as is attested by the divine authority and
truth,[291] then the philosopher is a lover of God. But since the thing
itself, which is called by this name, exists not in all who glory in
the name,--for it does not follow, of course, that all who are called
philosophers are lovers of true wisdom,--we must needs select from
the number of those with whose opinions we have been able to acquaint
ourselves by reading, some with whom we may not unworthily engage in
the treatment of this question. For I have not in this work undertaken
to refute all the vain opinions of the philosophers, but only such as
pertain to theology, which Greek word we understand to mean an account
or explanation of the divine nature. Nor, again, have I undertaken to
refute all the vain theological opinions of all the philosophers, but
only of such of them as, agreeing in the belief that there is a divine
nature, and that this divine nature is concerned about human affairs,
do nevertheless deny that the worship of the one unchangeable God is
sufficient for the obtaining of a blessed life after death, as well
as at the present time; and hold that, in order to obtain that life,
many gods, created, indeed, and appointed to their several spheres by
that one God, are to be worshipped. These approach nearer to the truth
than even Varro; for, whilst he saw no difficulty in extending natural
theology in its entirety even to the world and the soul of the world,
these acknowledge God as existing above all that is of the nature of
soul, and as the Creator not only of this visible world, which is often
called heaven and earth, but also of every soul whatsoever, and as Him
who gives blessedness to the rational soul,--of which kind is the human
soul,--by participation in His own unchangeable and incorporeal light.
There is no one, who has even a slender knowledge of these things, who
does not know of the Platonic philosophers, who derive their name from
their master Plato. Concerning this Plato, then, I will briefly state
such things as I deem necessary to the present question, mentioning
beforehand those who preceded him in time in the same department of

     2. _Concerning the two schools of philosophers, that is, the
                Italic and Ionic, and their founders._

As far as concerns the literature of the Greeks, whose language holds a
more illustrious place than any of the languages of the other nations,
history mentions two schools of philosophers, the one called the Italic
school, originating in that part of Italy which was formerly called
Magna Græcia; the other called the Ionic school, having its origin in
those regions which are still called by the name of Greece. The Italic
school had for its founder Pythagoras of Samos, to whom also the term
"philosophy" is said to owe its origin. For whereas formerly those who
seemed to excel others by the laudable manner in which they regulated
their lives were called sages, Pythagoras, on being asked what he
professed, replied that he was a philosopher, that is, a student or
lover of wisdom; for it seemed to him to be the height of arrogance to
profess oneself a sage.[292] The founder of the Ionic school, again,
was Thales of Miletus, one of those seven who were styled the "seven
sages," of whom six were distinguished by the kind of life they lived,
and by certain maxims which they gave forth for the proper conduct of
life. Thales was distinguished as an investigator into the nature of
things; and, in order that he might have successors in his school, he
committed his dissertations to writing. That, however, which especially
rendered him eminent was his ability, by means of astronomical
calculations, even to predict eclipses of the sun and moon. He thought,
however, that water was the first principle of things, and that of it
all the elements of the world, the world itself, and all things which
are generated in it, ultimately consist. Over all this work, however,
which, when we consider the world, appears so admirable, he set nothing
of the nature of divine mind. To him succeeded Anaximander, his pupil,
who held a different opinion concerning the nature of things; for he
did not hold that all things spring from one principle, as Thales
did, who held that principle to be water, but thought that each thing
springs from its own proper principle. These principles of things he
believed to be infinite in number, and thought that they generated
innumerable worlds, and all the things which arise in them. He thought,
also, that these worlds are subject to a perpetual process of alternate
dissolution and regeneration, each one continuing for a longer or
shorter period of time, according to the nature of the case; nor did
he, any more than Thales, attribute anything to a divine mind in the
production of all this activity of things. Anaximander left as his
successor his disciple Anaximenes, who attributed all the causes of
things to an infinite air. He neither denied nor ignored the existence
of gods, but, so far from believing that the air was made by them,
he held, on the contrary, that they sprang from the air. Anaxagoras,
however, who was his pupil, perceived that a divine mind was the
productive cause of all things which we see, and said that all the
various kinds of things, according to their several modes and species,
were produced out of an infinite matter consisting of homogeneous
particles, but by the efficiency of a divine mind. Diogenes, also,
another pupil of Anaximenes, said that a certain air was the original
substance of things out of which all things were produced, but that
it was possessed of a divine reason, without which nothing could be
produced from it. Anaxagoras was succeeded by his disciple Archelaus,
who also thought that all things consisted of homogeneous particles,
of which each particular thing was made, but that those particles were
pervaded by a divine mind, which perpetually energized all the eternal
bodies, namely, those particles, so that they are alternately united
and separated. Socrates, the master of Plato, is said to have been the
disciple of Archelaus; and on Plato's account it is that I have given
this brief historical sketch of the whole history of these schools.

                   3. _Of the Socratic philosophy._

Socrates is said to have been the first who directed the entire
effort of philosophy to the correction and regulation of manners, all
who went before him having expended their greatest efforts in the
investigation of physical, that is, natural phenomena. However, it
seems to me that it cannot be certainly discovered whether Socrates
did this because he was wearied of obscure and uncertain things,
and so wished to direct his mind to the discovery of something
manifest and certain, which was necessary in order to the obtaining
of a blessed life,--that one great object toward which the labour,
vigilance, and industry of all philosophers seem to have been
directed,--or whether (as some yet more favourable to him suppose)
he did it because he was unwilling that minds defiled with earthly
desires should essay to raise themselves upward to divine things. For
he saw that the causes of things were sought for by them,--which
causes he believed to be ultimately reducible to nothing else than
the will of the one true and supreme God,--and on this account he
thought they could only be comprehended by a purified mind; and
therefore that all diligence ought to be given to the purification of
the life by good morals, in order that the mind, delivered from the
depressing weight of lusts, might raise itself upward by its native
vigour to eternal things, and might, with purified understanding,
contemplate that nature which is incorporeal and unchangeable light,
where live the causes of all created natures. It is evident, however,
that he hunted out and pursued, with a wonderful pleasantness of
style and argument, and with a most pointed and insinuating urbanity,
the foolishness of ignorant men, who thought that they knew this
or that,--sometimes confessing his own ignorance, and sometimes
dissimulating his knowledge, even in those very moral questions to
which he seems to have directed the whole force of his mind. And
hence there arose hostility against him, which ended in his being
calumniously impeached, and condemned to death. Afterwards, however,
that very city of the Athenians, which had publicly condemned him,
did publicly bewail him,--the popular indignation having turned
with such vehemence on his accusers, that one of them perished by
the violence of the multitude, whilst the other only escaped a like
punishment by voluntary and perpetual exile.

Illustrious, therefore, both in his life and in his death, Socrates
left very many disciples of his philosophy, who vied with one another
in desire for proficiency in handling those moral questions which
concern the chief good (_summum bonum_), the possession of which can
make a man blessed; and because, in the disputations of Socrates,
where he raises all manner of questions, makes assertions, and then
demolishes them, it did not evidently appear what he held to be the
chief good, every one took from these disputations what pleased him
best, and every one placed the final good[293] in whatever it appeared
to himself to consist. Now, that which is called the final good is
that at which, when one has arrived, he is blessed. But so diverse
were the opinions held by those followers of Socrates concerning this
final good, that (a thing scarcely to be credited with respect to the
followers of one master) some placed the chief good in pleasure, as
Aristippus, others in virtue, as Antisthenes. Indeed, it were tedious
to recount the various opinions of various disciples.

   4. _Concerning Plato, the chief among the disciples of Socrates,
              and his threefold division of philosophy._

But, among the disciples of Socrates, Plato was the one who shone with
a glory which far excelled that of the others, and who not unjustly
eclipsed them all. By birth an Athenian of honourable parentage, he
far surpassed his fellow-disciples in natural endowments, of which
he was possessed in a wonderful degree. Yet, deeming himself and the
Socratic discipline far from sufficient for bringing philosophy to
perfection, he travelled as extensively as he was able, going to every
place famed for the cultivation of any science of which he could make
himself master. Thus he learned from the Egyptians whatever they held
and taught as important; and from Egypt, passing into those parts of
Italy which were filled with the fame of the Pythagoreans, he mastered,
with the greatest facility, and under the most eminent teachers,
all the Italic philosophy which was then in vogue. And, as he had a
peculiar love for his master Socrates, he made him the speaker in
all his dialogues, putting into his mouth whatever he had learned,
either from others, or from the efforts of his own powerful intellect,
tempering even his moral disputations with the grace and politeness of
the Socratic style. And, as the study of wisdom consists in action and
contemplation, so that one part of it may be called active, and the
other contemplative,--the active part having reference to the conduct
of life, that is, to the regulation of morals, and the contemplative
part to the investigation into the causes of nature and into pure
truth,--Socrates is said to have excelled in the active part of that
study, while Pythagoras gave more attention to its contemplative part,
on which he brought to bear all the force of his great intellect. To
Plato is given the praise of having perfected philosophy by combining
both parts into one. He then divides it into three parts,--the first
moral, which is chiefly occupied with action; the second natural,
of which the object is contemplation; and the third rational, which
discriminates between the true and the false. And though this last
is necessary both to action and contemplation, it is contemplation,
nevertheless, which lays peculiar claim to the office of investigating
the nature of truth. Thus this tripartite division is not contrary
to that which made the study of wisdom to consist in action and
contemplation. Now, as to what Plato thought with respect to each of
these parts,--that is, what he believed to be the end of all actions,
the cause of all natures, and the light of all intelligences,--it
would be a question too long to discuss, and about which we ought
not to make any rash affirmation. For, as Plato liked and constantly
affected the well-known method of his master Socrates, namely, that of
dissimulating his knowledge or his opinions, it is not easy to discover
clearly what he himself thought on various matters, any more than
it is to discover what were the real opinions of Socrates. We must,
nevertheless, insert into our work certain of those opinions which he
expresses in his writings, whether he himself uttered them, or narrates
them as expressed by others, and seems himself to approve of,--opinions
sometimes favourable to the true religion, which our faith takes up
and defends, and sometimes contrary to it, as, for example, in the
questions concerning the existence of one God or of many, as it relates
to the truly blessed life which is to be after death. For those who are
praised as having most closely followed Plato, who is justly preferred
to all the other philosophers of the Gentiles, and who are said to have
manifested the greatest acuteness in understanding him, do perhaps
entertain such an idea of God as to admit that in Him are to be found
the cause of existence, the ultimate reason for the understanding,
and the end in reference to which the whole life is to be regulated.
Of which three things, the first is understood to pertain to the
natural, the second to the rational, and the third to the moral part of
philosophy. For if man has been so created as to attain, through that
which is most excellent in him, to that which excels all things,--that
is, to the one true and absolutely good God, without whom no nature
exists, no doctrine instructs, no exercise profits,--let Him be sought
in whom all things are secure to us, let Him be discovered in whom all
truth becomes certain to us, let Him be loved in whom all becomes right
to us.

  5. _That it is especially with the Platonists that we must carry
      on our disputations on matters of theology, their opinions
      being preferable to those of all other philosophers._

If, then, Plato defined the wise man as one who imitates, knows,
loves this God, and who is rendered blessed through fellowship with
Him in His own blessedness, why discuss with the other philosophers?
It is evident that none come nearer to us than the Platonists.
To them, therefore, let that fabulous theology give place which
delights the minds of men with the crimes of the gods; and that
civil theology also, in which impure demons, under the name of
gods, have seduced the peoples of the earth given up to earthly
pleasures, desiring to be honoured by the errors of men, and, by
filling the minds of their worshippers with impure desires, exciting
them to make the representation of their crimes one of the rites of
their worship, whilst they themselves found in the spectators of
these exhibitions a most pleasing spectacle,--a theology in which,
whatever was honourable in the temple, was defiled by its mixture
with the obscenity of the theatre, and whatever was base in the
theatre was vindicated by the abominations of the temples. To these
philosophers also the interpretations of Varro must give place, in
which he explains the sacred rites as having reference to heaven and
earth, and to the seeds and operations of perishable things; for,
in the first place, those rites have not the signification which
he would have men believe is attached to them, and therefore truth
does not follow him in his attempt so to interpret them; and even
if they had this signification, still those things ought not to be
worshipped by the rational soul as its god which are placed below
it in the scale of nature, nor ought the soul to prefer to itself
as gods things to which the true God has given it the preference.
The same must be said of those writings pertaining to the sacred
rites, which Numa Pompilius took care to conceal by causing them to
be buried along with himself, and which, when they were afterwards
turned up by the plough, were burned by order of the senate. And, to
treat Numa with all honour, let us mention as belonging to the same
rank as these writings that which Alexander of Macedon wrote to his
mother as communicated to him by Leo, an Egyptian high priest. In
this letter not only Picus and Faunus, and Æneas and Romulus, or even
Hercules and Æsculapius and Liber, born of Semele, and the twin sons
of Tyndareus, or any other mortals who have been deified, but even
the principal gods themselves,[294] to whom Cicero, in his Tusculan
questions,[295] alludes without mentioning their names, Jupiter,
Juno, Saturn, Vulcan, Vesta, and many others whom Varro attempts to
identify with the parts or the elements of the world, are shown to
have been men. There is, as we have said, a similarity between this
case and that of Numa; for, the priest being afraid because he had
revealed a mystery, earnestly begged of Alexander to command his
mother to burn the letter which conveyed these communications to her.
Let these two theologies, then, the fabulous and the civil, give
place to the Platonic philosophers, who have recognised the true God
as the author of all things, the source of the light of truth, and
the bountiful bestower of all blessedness. And not these only, but
to these great acknowledgers of so great a God, those philosophers
must yield who, having their mind enslaved to their body, supposed
the principles of all things to be material; as Thales, who held that
the first principle of all things was water; Anaximenes, that it
was air; the Stoics, that it was fire; Epicurus, who affirmed that
it consisted of atoms, that is to say, of minute corpuscules; and
many others whom it is needless to enumerate, but who believed that
bodies, simple or compound, animate or inanimate, but nevertheless
bodies, were the cause and principle of all things. For some of
them--as, for instance, the Epicureans--believed that living things
could originate from things without life; others held that all things
living or without life spring from a living principle, but that,
nevertheless, all things, being material, spring from a material
principle. For the Stoics thought that fire, that is, one of the four
material elements of which this visible world is composed, was both
living and intelligent, the maker of the world and of all things
contained in it,--that it was in fact God. These and others like
them have only been able to suppose that which their hearts enslaved
to sense have vainly suggested to them. And yet they have within
themselves something which they could not see: they represented
to themselves inwardly things which they had seen without, even
when they were not seeing them, but only thinking of them. But
this representation in thought is no longer a body, but only the
similitude of a body; and that faculty of the mind by which this
similitude of a body is seen is neither a body nor the similitude of
a body; and the faculty which judges whether the representation is
beautiful or ugly is without doubt superior to the object judged of.
This principle is the understanding of man, the rational soul; and
it is certainly not a body, since that similitude of a body which
it beholds and judges of is itself not a body. The soul is neither
earth, nor water, nor air, nor fire, of which four bodies, called the
four elements, we see that this world is composed. And if the soul
is not a body, how should God, its Creator, be a body? Let all those
philosophers, then, give place, as we have said, to the Platonists,
and those also who have been ashamed to say that God is a body, but
yet have thought that our souls are of the same nature as God. They
have not been staggered by the great changeableness of the soul,--an
attribute which it would be impious to ascribe to the divine
nature,--but they say it is the body which changes the soul, for in
itself it is unchangeable. As well might they say, "Flesh is wounded
by some body, for in itself it is invulnerable." In a word, that
which is unchangeable can be changed by nothing, so that that which
can be changed by the body cannot properly be said to be immutable.

     6. _Concerning the meaning of the Platonists in that part of
                     philosophy called physical._

These philosophers, then, whom we see not undeservedly exalted above
the rest in fame and glory, have seen that no material body is God,
and therefore they have transcended all bodies in seeking for God.
They have seen that whatever is changeable is not the most high God,
and therefore they have transcended every soul and all changeable
spirits in seeking the supreme. They have seen also that, in every
changeable thing, the form which makes it that which it is, whatever
be its mode or nature, can only _be_ through Him who truly _is_,
because He is unchangeable. And therefore, whether we consider the
whole body of the world, its figure, qualities, and orderly movement,
and also all the bodies which are in it; or whether we consider
all life, either that which nourishes and maintains, as the life
of trees, or that which, besides this, has also sensation, as the
life of beasts; or that which adds to all these intelligence, as the
life of man; or that which does not need the support of nutriment,
but only maintains, feels, understands, as the life of angels,--all
can only _be_ through Him who absolutely _is_. For to Him it is not
one thing to _be_, and another to live, as though He could _be_,
not living; nor is it to Him one thing to live, and another thing
to understand, as though He could live, not understanding; nor is
it to Him one thing to understand, another thing to be blessed, as
though He could understand and not be blessed. But to Him to live, to
understand, to be blessed, are to _be_. They have understood, from
this unchangeableness and this simplicity, that all things must have
been made by Him, and that He could Himself have been made by none.
For they have considered that whatever is is either body or life,
and that life is something better than body, and that the nature
of body is sensible, and that of life intelligible. Therefore they
have preferred the intelligible nature to the sensible. We mean by
sensible things such things as can be perceived by the sight and
touch of the body; by intelligible things, such as can be understood
by the sight of the mind. For there is no corporeal beauty, whether
in the condition of a body, as figure, or in its movement, as in
music, of which it is not the mind that judges. But this could never
have been, had there not existed in the mind itself a superior form
of these things, without bulk, without noise of voice, without
space and time. But even in respect of these things, had the mind
not been mutable, it would not have been possible for one to judge
better than another with regard to sensible forms. He who is clever
judges better than he who is slow, he who is skilled than he who is
unskilful, he who is practised than he who is unpractised; and the
same person judges better after he has gained experience than he did
before. But that which is capable of more and less is mutable; whence
able men, who have thought deeply on these things, have gathered
that the first form is not to be found in those things whose form is
changeable. Since, therefore, they saw that body and mind might be
more or less beautiful in form, and that, if they wanted form, they
could have no existence, they saw that there is some existence in
which is the first form, unchangeable, and therefore not admitting
of degrees of comparison, and in that they most rightly believed
was the first principle of things, which was not made, and by which
all things were made. Therefore that which is known of God He
manifested to them when His invisible things were seen by them, being
understood by those things which have been made; also His eternal
power and Godhead by whom all visible and temporal things have been
created.[296] We have said enough upon that part of theology which
they call physical, that is, natural.

     7. _How much the Platonists are to be held as excelling other
          philosophers in logic_, i.e. _rational philosophy._

Then, again, as far as regards the doctrine which treats of that
which they call logic, that is, rational philosophy, far be it from
us to compare them with those who attributed to the bodily senses the
faculty of discriminating truth, and thought that all we learn is to
be measured by their untrustworthy and fallacious rules. Such were the
Epicureans, and all of the same school. Such also were the Stoics, who
ascribed to the bodily senses that expertness in disputation which they
so ardently love, called by them dialectic, asserting that from the
senses the mind conceives the notions (ἔννοιαι) of those things which
they explicate by definition. And hence is developed the whole plan and
connection of their learning and teaching. I often wonder, with respect
to this, how they can say that none are beautiful but the wise; for
by what bodily sense have they perceived that beauty, by what eyes of
the flesh have they seen wisdom's comeliness of form? Those, however,
whom we justly rank before all others, have distinguished those things
which are conceived by the mind from those which are perceived by the
senses, neither taking away from the senses anything to which they are
competent, nor attributing to them anything beyond their competency.
And the light of our understandings, by which all things are learned by
us, they have affirmed to be that selfsame God by whom all things were

    8. _That the Platonists hold the first rank in moral philosophy

The remaining part of philosophy is morals, or what is called by the
Greeks ἠθική, in which is discussed the question concerning the chief
good,--that which will leave us nothing further to seek in order to
be blessed, if only we make all our actions refer to it, and seek it
not for the sake of something else, but for its own sake. Therefore
it is called the end, because we wish other things on account of it,
but itself only for its own sake. This beatific good, therefore,
according to some, comes to a man from the body, according to others,
from the mind, and, according to others, from both together. For
they saw that man himself consists of soul and body; and therefore
they believed that from either of these two, or from both together,
their well-being must proceed, consisting in a certain final good,
which could render them blessed, and to which they might refer all
their actions, not requiring anything ulterior to which to refer that
good itself. This is why those who have added a third kind of good
things, which they call extrinsic,--as honour, glory, wealth, and the
like,--have not regarded them as part of the final good, that is, to
be sought after for their own sake, but as things which are to be
sought for the sake of something else, affirming that this kind of
good is good to the good, and evil to the evil. Wherefore, whether
they have sought the good of man from the mind or from the body, or
from both together, it is still only from man they have supposed that
it must be sought. But they who have sought it from the body have
sought it from the inferior part of man; they who have sought it from
the mind, from the superior part; and they who have sought it from
both, from the whole man. Whether, therefore, they have sought it
from any part, or from the whole man, still they have only sought it
from man; nor have these differences, being three, given rise only
to three dissentient sects of philosophers, but to many. For diverse
philosophers have held diverse opinions, both concerning the good of
the body, and the good of the mind, and the good of both together.
Let, therefore, all these give place to those philosophers who have
not affirmed that a man is blessed by the enjoyment of the body, or
by the enjoyment of the mind, but by the enjoyment of God,--enjoying
Him, however, not as the mind does the body or itself, or as one
friend enjoys another, but as the eye enjoys light, if, indeed, we
may draw any comparison between these things. But what the nature of
this comparison is, will, if God help me, be shown in another place,
to the best of my ability. At present, it is sufficient to mention
that Plato determined the final good to be to live according to
virtue, and affirmed that he only can attain to virtue who knows and
imitates God,--which knowledge and imitation are the only cause of
blessedness. Therefore he did not doubt that to philosophize is to
love God, whose nature is incorporeal. Whence it certainly follows
that the student of wisdom, that is, the philosopher, will then
become blessed when he shall have begun to enjoy God. For though he
is not necessarily blessed who enjoys that which he loves (for many
are miserable by loving that which ought not to be loved, and still
more miserable when they enjoy it), nevertheless no one is blessed
who does not enjoy that which he loves. For even they who love things
which ought not to be loved do not count themselves blessed by loving
merely, but by enjoying them. Who, then, but the most miserable will
deny that he is blessed, who enjoys that which he loves, and loves
the true and highest good? But the true and highest good, according
to Plato, is God, and therefore he would call him a philosopher who
loves God; for philosophy is directed to the obtaining of the blessed
life, and he who loves God is blessed in the enjoyment of God.

     9. _Concerning that philosophy which has come nearest to the
                           Christian faith._

Whatever philosophers, therefore, thought concerning the supreme God,
that He is both the maker of all created things, the light by which
things are known, and the good in reference to which things are to be
done; that we have in Him the first principle of nature, the truth
of doctrine, and the happiness of life,--whether these philosophers
may be more suitably called Platonists, or whether they may give some
other name to their sect; whether, we say, that only the chief men
of the Ionic school, such as Plato himself, and they who have well
understood him, have thought thus; or whether we also include the
Italic school, on account of Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans, and all
who may have held like opinions; and, lastly, whether also we include
all who have been held wise men and philosophers among all nations
who are discovered to have seen and taught this, be they Atlantics,
Libyans, Egyptians, Indians, Persians, Chaldeans, Scythians, Gauls,
Spaniards, or of other nations,--we prefer these to all other
philosophers, and confess that they approach nearest to us.

    10. _That the excellency of the Christian religion is above all
                     the science of philosophers._

For although a Christian man instructed only in ecclesiastical
literature may perhaps be ignorant of the very name of Platonists, and
may not even know that there have existed two schools of philosophers
speaking the Greek tongue, to wit, the Ionic and Italic, he is
nevertheless not so deaf with respect to human affairs, as not to
know that philosophers profess the study, and even the possession,
of wisdom. He is on his guard, however, with respect to those who
philosophize according to the elements of this world, not according
to God, by whom the world itself was made; for he is warned by the
precept of the apostle, and faithfully hears what has been said,
"Beware that no one deceive you through philosophy and vain deceit,
according to the elements of the world."[297] Then, that he may not
suppose that all philosophers are such as do this, he hears the same
apostle say concerning certain of them, "Because that which is known
of God is manifest among them, for God has manifested it to them. For
His invisible things from the creation of the world are clearly seen,
being understood by the things which are made, also His eternal power
and Godhead."[298] And, when speaking to the Athenians, after having
spoken a mighty thing concerning God, which few are able to understand,
"In Him we live, and move, and have our being,"[299] he goes on to say,
"As certain also of your own have said." He knows well, too, to be on
his guard against even these philosophers in their errors. For where
it has been said by him, "that God has manifested to them by those
things which are made His invisible things, that they might be seen
by the understanding," there it has also been said that they did not
rightly worship God Himself, because they paid divine honours, which
are due to Him alone, to other things also to which they ought not to
have paid them,--"because, knowing God, they glorified Him not as God;
neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their
foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they
became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the
likeness of the image of corruptible man, and of birds, and fourfooted
beasts, and creeping things;"[300]--where the apostle would have us
understand him as meaning the Romans, and Greeks, and Egyptians, who
gloried in the name of wisdom; but concerning this we will dispute
with them afterwards. With respect, however, to that wherein they
agree with us we prefer them to all others, namely, concerning the one
God, the author of this universe, who is not only above every body,
being incorporeal, but also above all souls, being incorruptible--our
principle, our light, our good. And though the Christian man, being
ignorant of their writings, does not use in disputation words which he
has not learned,--not calling that part of philosophy natural (which
is the Latin term), or physical (which is the Greek one), which treats
of the investigation of nature; or that part rational, or logical,
which deals with the question how truth may be discovered; or that
part moral, or ethical, which concerns morals, and shows how good is
to be sought, and evil to be shunned,--he is not, therefore, ignorant
that it is from the one true and supremely good God that we have that
nature in which we are made in the image of God, and that doctrine by
which we know Him and ourselves, and that grace through which, by
cleaving to Him, we are blessed. This, therefore, is the cause why we
prefer these to all the others, because, whilst other philosophers
have worn out their minds and powers in seeking the causes of things,
and endeavouring to discover the right mode of learning and of living,
these, by knowing God, have found where resides the cause by which
the universe has been constituted, and the light by which truth is to
be discovered, and the fountain at which felicity is to be drunk. All
philosophers, then, who have had these thoughts concerning God, whether
Platonists or others, agree with us. But we have thought it better to
plead our cause with the Platonists, because their writings are better
known. For the Greeks, whose tongue holds the highest place among the
languages of the Gentiles, are loud in their praises of these writings;
and the Latins, taken with their excellence, or their renown, have
studied them more heartily than other writings, and, by translating
them into our tongue, have given them greater celebrity and notoriety.

    11. _How Plato has been able to approach so nearly to Christian

Certain partakers with us in the grace of Christ, wonder when
they hear and read that Plato had conceptions concerning God, in
which they recognise considerable agreement with the truth of our
religion. Some have concluded from this, that when he went to Egypt
he had heard the prophet Jeremiah, or, whilst travelling in the
same country, had read the prophetic scriptures, which opinion I
myself have expressed in certain of my writings.[301] But a careful
calculation of dates, contained in chronological history, shows
that Plato was born about a hundred years after the time in which
Jeremiah prophesied, and, as he lived eighty-one years, there are
found to have been about seventy years from his death to that time
when Ptolemy, king of Egypt, requested the prophetic scriptures
of the Hebrew people to be sent to him from Judea, and committed
them to seventy Hebrews, who also knew the Greek tongue, to be
translated and kept. Therefore, on that voyage of his, Plato could
neither have seen Jeremiah, who was dead so long before, nor have
read those same scriptures which had not yet been translated into
the Greek language, of which he was a master, unless, indeed, we
say that, as he was most earnest in the pursuit of knowledge, he
also studied those writings through an interpreter, as he did those
of the Egyptians,--not, indeed, writing a translation of them (the
facilities for doing which were only gained even by Ptolemy in return
for munificent acts of kindness,[302] though fear of his kingly
authority might have seemed a sufficient motive), but learning as
much as he possibly could concerning their contents by means of
conversation. What warrants this supposition is the opening verses
of Genesis: "In the beginning God made the heaven and earth. And the
earth was invisible, and without order; and darkness was over the
abyss: and the Spirit of God moved over the waters."[303] For in
the _Timæus_, when writing on the formation of the world, he says
that God first united earth and fire; from which it is evident that
he assigns to fire a place in heaven. This opinion bears a certain
resemblance to the statement, "In the beginning God made heaven and
earth." Plato next speaks of those two intermediary elements, water
and air, by which the other two extremes, namely, earth and fire,
were mutually united; from which circumstance he is thought to have
so understood the words, "The Spirit of God moved over the waters."
For, not paying sufficient attention to the designations given by
those scriptures to the Spirit of God, he may have thought that the
four elements are spoken of in that place, because the air also is
called spirit.[304] Then, as to Plato's saying that the philosopher
is a lover of God, nothing shines forth more conspicuously in those
sacred writings. But the most striking thing in this connection, and
that which most of all inclines me almost to assent to the opinion
that Plato was not ignorant of those writings, is the answer which
was given to the question elicited from the holy Moses when the words
of God were conveyed to him by the angel; for, when he asked what was
the name of that God who was commanding him to go and deliver the
Hebrew people out of Egypt, this answer was given: "I am who am;
and thou shalt say to the children of Israel, He who _is_ sent me
unto you;"[305] as though compared with Him that truly _is_, because
He is unchangeable, those things which have been created mutable
_are_ not,--a truth which Plato vehemently held, and most diligently
commended. And I know not whether this sentiment is anywhere to be
found in the books of those who were before Plato, unless in that
book where it is said, "I am who am; and thou shalt say to the
children of Israel, _Who is_ sent me unto you."

  12. _That even the Platonists, though they say these things
      concerning the one true God, nevertheless thought that sacred
      rites were to be performed in honour of many gods._

But we need not determine from what source he learned these
things,--whether it was from the books of the ancients who preceded
him, or, as is more likely, from the words of the apostle: "Because
that which is known of God has been manifested among them, for
God hath manifested it to them. For His invisible things from
the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by
those things which have been made, also His eternal power and
Godhead."[306] From whatever source he may have derived this
knowledge, then, I think I have made it sufficiently plain that
I have not chosen the Platonic philosophers undeservedly as the
parties with whom to discuss; because the question we have just
taken up concerns the natural theology,--the question, namely,
whether sacred rites are to be performed to one God, or to many,
for the sake of the happiness which is to be after death. I have
specially chosen them because their juster thoughts concerning the
one God who made heaven and earth, have made them illustrious among
philosophers. This has given them such superiority to all others
in the judgment of posterity, that, though Aristotle, the disciple
of Plato, a man of eminent abilities, inferior in eloquence to
Plato, yet far superior to many in that respect, had founded the
Peripatetic sect,--so called because they were in the habit of
walking about during their disputations,--and though he had, through
the greatness of his fame, gathered very many disciples into his
school, even during the life of his master; and though Plato at his
death was succeeded in his school, which was called the Academy, by
Speusippus, his sister's son, and Xenocrates, his beloved disciple,
who, together with their successors, were called from this name of
the school, Academics; nevertheless the most illustrious recent
philosophers, who have chosen to follow Plato, have been unwilling to
be called Peripatetics, or Academics, but have preferred the name of
Platonists. Among these were the renowned Plotinus, Iamblichus, and
Porphyry, who were Greeks, and the African Apuleius, who was learned
both in the Greek and Latin tongues. All these, however, and the rest
who were of the same school, and also Plato himself, thought that
sacred rites ought to be performed in honour of many gods.

  13. _Concerning the opinion of Plato, according to which he defined
     the gods as beings entirely good and the friends of virtue._

Therefore, although in many other important respects they differ from
us, nevertheless with respect to this particular point of difference,
which I have just stated, as it is one of great moment, and the
question on hand concerns it, I will first ask them to what gods
they think that sacred rites are to be performed,--to the good or to
the bad, or to both the good and the bad? But we have the opinion of
Plato affirming that all the gods are good, and that there is not
one of the gods bad. It follows, therefore, that these are to be
performed to the good, for then they are performed to gods; for if
they are not good, neither are they gods. Now, if this be the case
(for what else ought we to believe concerning the gods?), certainly
it explodes the opinion that the bad gods are to be propitiated by
sacred rites in order that they may not harm us, but the good gods
are to be invoked in order that they may assist us. For there are no
bad gods, and it is to the good that, as they say, the due honour of
such rites is to be paid. Of what character, then, are those gods who
love scenic displays, even demanding that a place be given them among
divine things, and that they be exhibited in their honour? The power
of these gods proves that they exist, but their liking such things
proves that they are bad. For it is well known what Plato's opinion
was concerning scenic plays. He thinks that the poets themselves,
because they have composed songs so unworthy of the majesty and
goodness of the gods, ought to be banished from the state. Of what
character, therefore, are those gods who contend with Plato himself
about those scenic plays? He does not suffer the gods to be defamed
by false crimes; the gods command those same crimes to be celebrated
in their own honour.

In fine, when they ordered these plays to be inaugurated, they not
only demanded base things, but also did cruel things, taking from
Titus Latinius his son, and sending a disease upon him because he
had refused to obey them, which they removed when he had fulfilled
their commands. Plato, however, bad though they were, did not
think they were to be feared; but, holding to his opinion with the
utmost firmness and constancy, does not hesitate to remove from a
well-ordered state all the sacrilegious follies of the poets, with
which these gods are delighted because they themselves are impure.
But Labeo places this same Plato (as I have mentioned already in the
second book[307]) among the demi-gods. Now Labeo thinks that the
bad deities are to be propitiated with bloody victims, and by fasts
accompanied with the same, but the good deities with plays, and all
other things which are associated with joyfulness. How comes it,
then, that the demi-god Plato so persistently dares to take away
those pleasures, because he deems them base, not from the demi-gods
but from the gods, and these the good gods? And, moreover, those very
gods themselves do certainly refute the opinion of Labeo, for they
showed themselves in the case of Latinius to be not only wanton and
sportive, but also cruel and terrible. Let the Platonists, therefore,
explain these things to us, since, following the opinion of their
master, they think that all the gods are good and honourable, and
friendly to the virtues of the wise, holding it unlawful to think
otherwise concerning any of the gods. We will explain it, say they.
Let us then attentively listen to them.

  14. _Of the opinion of those who have said that rational souls are
      of three kinds, to wit, those of the celestial gods, those of
      the aerial demons, and those of terrestrial men._

There is, say they, a threefold division of all animals endowed with
a rational soul, namely, into gods, men, and demons. The gods occupy
the loftiest region, men the lowest, the demons the middle region.
For the abode of the gods is heaven, that of men the earth, that of
the demons the air. As the dignity of their regions is diverse, so
also is that of their natures; therefore the gods are better than men
and demons. Men have been placed below the gods and demons, both in
respect of the order of the regions they inhabit, and the difference
of their merits. The demons, therefore, who hold the middle place,
as they are inferior to the gods, than whom they inhabit a lower
region, so they are superior to men, than whom they inhabit a loftier
one. For they have immortality of body in common with the gods, but
passions of the mind in common with men. On which account, say they,
it is not wonderful that they are delighted with the obscenities
of the theatre, and the fictions of the poets, since they are also
subject to human passions, from which the gods are far removed, and
to which they are altogether strangers. Whence we conclude that it
was not the gods, who are all good and highly exalted, that Plato
deprived of the pleasure of theatric plays, by reprobating and
prohibiting the fictions of the poets, but the demons.

Of these things many have written: among others Apuleius, the Platonist
of Madaura, who composed a whole work on the subject, entitled,
_Concerning the God of Socrates_. He there discusses and explains of
what kind that deity was who attended on Socrates, a sort of familiar,
by whom it is said he was admonished to desist from any action which
would not turn out to his advantage. He asserts most distinctly, and
proves at great length, that it was not a god but a demon; and he
discusses with great diligence the opinion of Plato concerning the
lofty estate of the gods, the lowly estate of men, and the middle
estate of demons. These things being so, how did Plato dare to take
away, if not from the gods, whom he removed from all human contagion,
certainly from the demons, all the pleasures of the theatre, by
expelling the poets from the state? Evidently in this way he wished
to admonish the human soul, although still confined in these moribund
members, to despise the shameful commands of the demons, and to detest
their impurity, and to choose rather the splendour of virtue. But
if Plato showed himself virtuous in answering and prohibiting these
things, then certainly it was shameful of the demons to command them.
Therefore either Apuleius is wrong, and Socrates' familiar did not
belong to this class of deities, or Plato held contradictory opinions,
now honouring the demons, now removing from the well-regulated
state the things in which they delighted, or Socrates is not to be
congratulated on the friendship of the demon, of which Apuleius was
so ashamed that he entitled his book _On the God of Socrates_, whilst
according to the tenor of his discussion, wherein he so diligently
and at such length distinguishes gods from demons, he ought not to
have entitled it, _Concerning the God_, but _Concerning the Demon of
Socrates_. But he preferred to put this into the discussion itself
rather than into the title of his book. For, through the sound doctrine
which has illuminated human society, all, or almost all men have such
a horror at the name of demons, that every one who, before reading
the dissertation of Apuleius, which sets forth the dignity of demons,
should have read the title of the book, _On the Demon of Socrates_,
would certainly have thought that the author was not a sane man. But
what did even Apuleius find to praise in the demons, except subtlety
and strength of body and a higher place of habitation? For when he
spoke generally concerning their manners, he said nothing that was
good, but very much that was bad. Finally, no one, when he has read
that book, wonders that they desired to have even the obscenity of the
stage among divine things, or that, wishing to be thought gods, they
should be delighted with the crimes of the gods, or that all those
sacred solemnities, whose obscenity occasions laughter, and whose
shameful cruelty causes horror, should be in agreement with their

     15. _That the demons are not better than men because of their
    aerial bodies, or on account of their superior place of abode._

Wherefore let not the mind truly religious, and submitted to the
true God, suppose that demons are better than men, because they
have better bodies. Otherwise it must put many beasts before itself
which are superior to us both in acuteness of the senses, in ease
and quickness of movement, in strength and in long-continued vigour
of body. What man can equal the eagle or the vulture in strength of
vision? Who can equal the dog in acuteness of smell? Who can equal
the hare, the stag, and all the birds in swiftness? Who can equal
in strength the lion or the elephant? Who can equal in length of
life the serpents, which are affirmed to put off old age along with
their skin, and to return to youth again? But as we are better than
all these by the possession of reason and understanding, so we ought
also to be better than the demons by living good and virtuous lives.
For divine providence gave to them bodies of a better quality than
ours, that that in which we excel them might in this way be commended
to us as deserving to be far more cared for than the body, and that
we should learn to despise the bodily excellence of the demons
compared with goodness of life, in respect of which we are better
than they, knowing that we too shall have immortality of body,--not
an immortality tortured by eternal punishment, but that which is
consequent on purity of soul.

But now, as regards loftiness of place, it is altogether ridiculous
to be so influenced by the fact that the demons inhabit the air, and
we the earth, as to think that on that account they are to be put
before us; for in this way we put all the birds before ourselves.
But the birds, when they are weary with flying, or require to repair
their bodies with food, come back to the earth to rest or to feed,
which the demons, they say, do not. Are they, therefore, inclined
to say that the birds are superior to us, and the demons superior
to the birds? But if it be madness to think so, there is no reason
why we should think that, on account of their inhabiting a loftier
element, the demons have a claim to our religious submission. But
as it is really the case that the birds of the air are not only not
put before us who dwell on the earth, but are even subjected to us
on account of the dignity of the rational soul which is in us, so
also it is the case that the demons, though they are aerial, are not
better than we who are terrestrial because the air is higher than
the earth, but, on the contrary, men are to be put before demons
because their despair is not to be compared to the hope of pious men.
Even that law of Plato's, according to which he mutually orders
and arranges the four elements, inserting between the two extreme
elements--namely, fire, which is in the highest degree mobile, and
the immoveable earth--the two middle ones, air and water, that by
how much the air is higher up than the water, and the fire than the
air, by so much also are the waters higher than the earth,--this
law, I say, sufficiently admonishes us not to estimate the merits
of animated creatures according to the grades of the elements. And
Apuleius himself says that man is a terrestrial animal in common with
the rest, who is nevertheless to be put far before aquatic animals,
though Plato puts the waters themselves before the land. By this he
would have us understand that the same order is not to be observed
when the question concerns the merits of animals, though it seems
to be the true one in the gradation of bodies; for it appears to be
possible that a soul of a higher order may inhabit a body of a lower,
and a soul of a lower order a body of a higher.

    16. _What Apuleius the Platonist thought concerning the manners
                        and actions of demons._

The same Apuleius, when speaking concerning the manners of demons,
said that they are agitated with the same perturbations of mind as
men; that they are provoked by injuries, propitiated by services and
by gifts, rejoice in honours, are delighted with a variety of sacred
rites, and are annoyed if any of them be neglected. Among other
things, he also says that on them depend the divinations of augurs,
soothsayers, and prophets, and the revelations of dreams; and that
from them also are the miracles of the magicians. But, when giving a
brief definition of them, he says, "Demons are of an animal nature,
passive in soul, rational in mind, aerial in body, eternal in time."
"Of which five things, the three first are common to them and us, the
fourth peculiar to themselves, and the fifth common to them with the
gods."[308] But I see that they have in common with the gods two of
the first things, which they have in common with us. For he says that
the gods also are animals; and when he is assigning to every order
of beings its own element, he places us among the other terrestrial
animals which live and feel upon the earth. Wherefore, if the demons
are animals as to genus, this is common to them, not only with men,
but also with the gods and with beasts; if they are rational as to
their mind, this is common to them with the gods and with men; if
they are eternal in time, this is common to them with the gods only;
if they are passive as to their soul, this is common to them with men
only; if they are aerial in body, in this they are alone. Therefore
it is no great thing for them to be of an animal nature, for so also
are the beasts; in being rational as to mind, they are not above
ourselves, for so are we also; and as to their being eternal as to
time, what is the advantage of that if they are not blessed? for
better is temporal happiness than eternal misery. Again, as to their
being passive in soul, how are they in this respect above us, since
we also are so, but would not have been so had we not been miserable?
Also, as to their being aerial in body, how much value is to be set
on that, since a soul of any kind whatsoever is to be set above every
body? and therefore religious worship, which ought to be rendered
from the soul, is by no means due to that thing which is inferior
to the soul. Moreover, if he had, among those things which he says
belong to demons, enumerated virtue, wisdom, happiness, and affirmed
that they have those things in common with the gods, and, like them,
eternally, he would assuredly have attributed to them something
greatly to be desired, and much to be prized. And even in that case
it would not have been our duty to worship them like God on account
of these things, but rather to worship Him from whom we know they had
received them. But how much less are they really worthy of divine
honour,--those aerial animals who are only rational that they may be
capable of misery, passive that they may be actually miserable, and
eternal that it may be impossible for them to end their misery!

    17. _Whether it is proper that men should worship those spirits
         from whose vices it is necessary that they be freed._

Wherefore, to omit other things, and confine our attention to that
which he says is common to the demons with us, let us ask this
question: If all the four elements are full of their own animals, the
fire and the air of immortal, and the water and the earth of mortal
ones, why are the souls of demons agitated by the whirlwinds and
tempests of passions?--for the Greek word πάθος means perturbation,
whence he chose to call the demons "passive in soul," because the word
passion, which is derived from πάθος, signified a commotion of the
mind contrary to reason. Why, then, are these things in the minds of
demons which are not in beasts? For if anything of this kind appears in
beasts, it is not perturbation, because it is not contrary to reason,
of which they are devoid. Now it is foolishness or misery which is
the cause of these perturbations in the case of men, for we are not
yet blessed in the possession of that perfection of wisdom which is
promised to us at last, when we shall be set free from our present
mortality. But the gods, they say, are free from these perturbations,
because they are not only eternal, but also blessed; for they also
have the same kind of rational souls, but most pure from all spot and
plague. Wherefore, if the gods are free from perturbation because they
are blessed, not miserable animals, and the beasts are free from them
because they are animals which are capable neither of blessedness
nor misery, it remains that the demons, like men, are subject to
perturbations because they are not blessed but miserable animals.
What folly, therefore, or rather what madness, to submit ourselves
through any sentiment of religion to demons, when it belongs to the
true religion to deliver us from that depravity which makes us like to
them! For Apuleius himself, although he is very sparing toward them,
and thinks they are worthy of divine honours, is nevertheless compelled
to confess that they are subject to anger; and the true religion
commands us not to be moved with anger, but rather to resist it. The
demons are won over by gifts; and the true religion commands us to
favour no one on account of gifts received. The demons are flattered by
honours; but the true religion commands us by no means to be moved by
such things. The demons are haters of some men and lovers of others,
not in consequence of a prudent and calm judgment, but because of what
he calls their "passive soul;" whereas the true religion commands us
to love even our enemies. Lastly, the true religion commands us to
put away all disquietude of heart, and agitation of mind, and also
all commotions and tempests of the soul, which Apuleius asserts to
be continually swelling and surging in the souls of demons. Why,
therefore, except through foolishness and miserable error, shouldst
thou humble thyself to worship a being to whom thou desirest to be
unlike in thy life? And why shouldst thou pay religious homage to him
whom thou art unwilling to imitate, when it is the highest duty of
religion to imitate Him whom thou worshippest?

  18. _What kind of religion that is which teaches that men ought to
      employ the advocacy of demons in order to be recommended to the
      favour of the good gods._

In vain, therefore, have Apuleius, and they who think with him,
conferred on the demons the honour of placing them in the air, between
the ethereal heavens and the earth, that they may carry to the gods
the prayers of men, to men the answers of the gods; for Plato held,
they say, that no god has intercourse with man. They who believe these
things have thought it unbecoming that men should have intercourse with
the gods, and the gods with men, but a befitting thing that the demons
should have intercourse with both gods and men, presenting to the gods
the petitions of men, and conveying to men what the gods have granted;
so that a chaste man, and one who is a stranger to the crimes of the
magic arts, must use as patrons, through whom the gods may be induced
to hear him, demons who love these crimes, although the very fact of
his not loving them ought to have recommended him to them as one who
deserved to be listened to with greater readiness and willingness on
their part. They love the abominations of the stage, which chastity
does not love. They love, in the sorceries of the magicians, "_a
thousand arts of inflicting harm_,"[309] which innocence does not love.
Yet both chastity and innocence, if they wish to obtain anything from
the gods, will not be able to do so by their own merits, except their
enemies act as mediators on their behalf. Apuleius need not attempt
to justify the fictions of the poets, and the mockeries of the stage.
If human modesty can act so faithlessly towards itself as not only to
love shameful things, but even to think that they are pleasing to the
divinity, we can cite on the other side their own highest authority and
teacher, Plato.

    19. _Of the impiety of the magic art, which is dependent on the
                    assistance of malign spirits._

Moreover, against those magic arts, concerning which some men,
exceedingly wretched and exceedingly impious, delight to boast, may
not public opinion itself be brought forward as a witness? For why are
those arts so severely punished by the laws, if they are the works
of deities who ought to be worshipped? Shall it be said that the
Christians have ordained those laws by which magic arts are punished?
With what other meaning, except that these sorceries are without doubt
pernicious to the human race, did the most illustrious poet say,

          "By heaven, I swear, and your dear life,
             Unwillingly these arms I wield,
           And take, to meet the coming strife,
             Enchantment's sword and shield."[310]

And that also which he says in another place concerning magic arts,

          "I've seen him to another place transport the standing

has reference to the fact that the fruits of one field are said to
be transferred to another by these arts which this pestiferous and
accursed doctrine teaches. Does not Cicero inform us that, among
the laws of the Twelve Tables, that is, the most ancient laws of
the Romans, there was a law written which appointed a punishment
to be inflicted on him who should do this?[312] Lastly, was it
before Christian judges that Apuleius himself was accused of magic
arts?[313] Had he known these arts to be divine and pious, and
congruous with the works of divine power, he ought not only to
have confessed, but also to have professed them, rather blaming
the laws by which these things were prohibited and pronounced
worthy of condemnation, while they ought to have been held worthy
of admiration and respect. For by so doing, either he would have
persuaded the judges to adopt his own opinion, or, if they had
shown their partiality for unjust laws, and condemned him to death
notwithstanding his praising and commending such things, the demons
would have bestowed on his soul such rewards as he deserved, who, in
order to proclaim and set forth their divine works, had not feared
the loss of his human life. As our martyrs, when that religion was
charged on them as a crime, by which they knew they were made safe
and most glorious throughout eternity, did not choose, by denying it,
to escape temporal punishments, but rather by confessing, professing,
and proclaiming it, by enduring all things for it with fidelity and
fortitude, and by dying for it with pious calmness, put to shame the
law by which that religion was prohibited, and caused its revocation.
But there is extant a most copious and eloquent oration of this
Platonic philosopher, in which he defends himself against the charge
of practising these arts, affirming that he is wholly a stranger to
them, and only wishing to show his innocence by denying such things
as cannot be innocently committed. But all the miracles of the
magicians, who he thinks are justly deserving of condemnation, are
performed according to the teaching and by the power of demons. Why,
then, does he think that they ought to be honoured? For he asserts
that they are necessary, in order to present our prayers to the
gods, and yet their works are such as we must shun if we wish our
prayers to reach the true God. Again, I ask, what kind of prayers of
men does he suppose are presented to the good gods by the demons?
If magical prayers, they will have none such; if lawful prayers,
they will not receive them through such beings. But if a sinner who
is penitent pour out prayers, especially if he has committed any
crime of sorcery, does he receive pardon through the intercession of
those demons by whose instigation and help he has fallen into the
sin he mourns? or do the demons themselves, in order that they may
merit pardon for the penitent, first become penitents because they
have deceived them? This no one ever said concerning the demons;
for had this been the case, they would never have dared to seek for
themselves divine honours. For how should they do so who desired by
penitence to obtain the grace of pardon, seeing that such detestable
pride could not exist along with a humility worthy of pardon?

  20. _Whether we are to believe that the good gods are more willing
            to have intercourse with demons than with men._

But does any urgent and most pressing cause compel the demons to
mediate between the gods and men, that they may offer the prayers of
men, and bring back the answers from the gods? and if so, what, pray,
is that cause, what is that so great necessity? Because, say they, no
god has intercourse with man. Most admirable holiness of God, which
has no intercourse with a supplicating man, and yet has intercourse
with an arrogant demon! which has no intercourse with a penitent
man, and yet has intercourse with a deceiving demon! which has no
intercourse with a man fleeing for refuge to the divine nature, and
yet has intercourse with a demon feigning divinity! which has no
intercourse with a man seeking pardon, and yet has intercourse with
a demon persuading to wickedness! which has no intercourse with a
man expelling the poets by means of philosophical writings from a
well-regulated state, and yet has intercourse with a demon requesting
from the princes and priests of a state the theatrical performance of
the mockeries of the poets! which has no intercourse with the man who
prohibits the ascribing of crime to the gods, and yet has intercourse
with a demon who takes delight in the fictitious representation of
their crimes! which has no intercourse with a man punishing the
crimes of the magicians by just laws, and yet has intercourse with a
demon teaching and practising magical arts! which has no intercourse
with a man shunning the imitation of a demon, and yet has intercourse
with a demon lying in wait for the deception of a man!

  21. _Whether the gods use the demons as messengers and
      interpreters, and whether they are deceived by them willingly,
      or without their own knowledge._

But herein, no doubt, lies the great necessity for this absurdity, so
unworthy of the gods, that the ethereal gods, who are concerned about
human affairs, would not know what terrestrial men were doing unless
the aerial demons should bring them intelligence, because the ether
is suspended far away from the earth and far above it, but the air is
contiguous both to the ether and to the earth. O admirable wisdom!
what else do these men think concerning the gods who, they say, are
all in the highest degree good, but that they are concerned about
human affairs, lest they should seem unworthy of worship, whilst,
on the other hand, from the distance between the elements, they are
ignorant of terrestrial things? It is on this account that they have
supposed the demons to be necessary as agents, through whom the gods
may inform themselves with respect to human affairs, and through
whom, when necessary, they may succour men; and it is on account of
this office that the demons themselves have been held as deserving of
worship. If this be the case, then a demon is better known by these
good gods through nearness of body, than a man is by goodness of mind.
O mournful necessity! or shall I not rather say detestable and vain
error, that I may not impute vanity to the divine nature! For if the
gods can, with their minds free from the hindrance of bodies, see
our mind, they do not need the demons as messengers from our mind to
them; but if the ethereal gods, by means of their bodies, perceive the
corporeal indices of minds, as the countenance, speech, motion, and
thence understand what the demons tell them, then it is also possible
that they may be deceived by the falsehoods of demons. Moreover, if the
divinity of the gods cannot be deceived by the demons, neither can it
be ignorant of our actions. But I would they would tell me whether the
demons have informed the gods that the fictions of the poets concerning
the crimes of the gods displease Plato, concealing the pleasure which
they themselves take in them; or whether they have concealed both, and
have preferred that the gods should be ignorant with respect to this
whole matter, or have told both, as well the pious prudence of Plato
with respect to the gods as their own lust, which is injurious to the
gods; or whether they have concealed Plato's opinion, according to
which he was unwilling that the gods should be defamed with falsely
alleged crimes through the impious licence of the poets, whilst they
have not been ashamed nor afraid to make known their own wickedness,
which make them love theatrical plays, in which the infamous deeds of
the gods are celebrated. Let them choose which they will of these
four alternatives, and let them consider how much evil any one of
them would require them to think of the gods. For if they choose the
first, they must then confess that it was not possible for the good
gods to dwell with the good Plato, though he sought to prohibit things
injurious to them, whilst they dwelt with evil demons, who exulted
in their injuries; and this because they suppose that the good gods
can only know a good man, placed at so great a distance from them,
through the mediation of evil demons, whom they could know on account
of their nearness to themselves.[314] If they shall choose the second,
and shall say that both these things are concealed by the demons, so
that the gods are wholly ignorant both of Plato's most religious law
and the sacrilegious pleasure of the demons, what, in that case, can
the gods know to any profit with respect to human affairs through
these mediating demons, when they do not know those things which are
decreed, through the piety of good men, for the honour of the good
gods against the lust of evil demons? But if they shall choose the
third, and reply that these intermediary demons have communicated,
not only the opinion of Plato, which prohibited wrongs to be done to
the gods, but also their own delight in these wrongs, I would ask if
such a communication is not rather an insult? Now the gods, hearing
both and knowing both, not only permit the approach of those malign
demons, who desire and do things contrary to the dignity of the gods
and the religion of Plato, but also, through these wicked demons, who
are near to them, send good things to the good Plato, who is far away
from them; for they inhabit such a place in the concatenated series of
the elements, that they can come into contact with those by whom they
are accused, but not with him by whom they are defended,--knowing the
truth on both sides, but not being able to change the weight of the air
and the earth. There remains the fourth supposition; but it is worse
than the rest. For who will suffer it to be said that the demons have
made known the calumnious fictions of the poets concerning the immortal
gods, and also the disgraceful mockeries of the theatres, and their
own most ardent lust after, and most sweet pleasure in these things,
whilst they have concealed from them that Plato, with the gravity of
a philosopher, gave it as his opinion that all these things ought to
be removed from a well-regulated republic; so that the good gods are
now compelled, through such messengers, to know the evil doings of the
most wicked beings, that is to say, of the messengers themselves, and
are not allowed to know the good deeds of the philosophers, though the
former are for the injury, but these latter for the honour of the gods

  22. _That we must, notwithstanding the opinion of Apuleius, reject
                        the worship of demons._

None of these four alternatives, then, is to be chosen; for we
dare not suppose such unbecoming things concerning the gods as the
adoption of any one of them would lead us to think. It remains,
therefore, that no credence whatever is to be given to the opinion
of Apuleius and the other philosophers of the same school, namely,
that the demons act as messengers and interpreters between the gods
and men to carry our petitions from us to the gods, and to bring
back to us the help of the gods. On the contrary, we must believe
them to be spirits most eager to inflict harm, utterly alien from
righteousness, swollen with pride, pale with envy, subtle in deceit;
who dwell indeed in this air as in a prison, in keeping with their
own character, because, cast down from the height of the higher
heaven, they have been condemned to dwell in this element as the
just reward of irretrievable transgression. But, though the air is
situated above the earth and the waters, they are not on that account
superior in merit to men, who, though they do not surpass them as
far as their earthly bodies are concerned, do nevertheless far excel
them through piety of mind,--they having made choice of the true God
as their helper. Over many, however, who are manifestly unworthy of
participation in the true religion, they tyrannize as over captives
whom they have subdued,--the greatest part of whom they have
persuaded of their divinity by wonderful and lying signs, consisting
either of deeds or of predictions. Some, nevertheless, who have more
attentively and diligently considered their vices, they have not been
able to persuade that they are gods, and so have feigned themselves
to be messengers between the gods and men. Some, indeed, have
thought that not even this latter honour ought to be acknowledged as
belonging to them, not believing that they were gods, because they
saw that they were wicked, whereas the gods, according to their view,
are all good. Nevertheless they dared not say that they were wholly
unworthy of all divine honour, for fear of offending the multitude,
by whom, through inveterate superstition, the demons were served by
the performance of many rites, and the erection of many temples.

  23. _What Hermes Trismegistus thought concerning idolatry, and from
      what source he knew that the superstitions of Egypt were to be

The Egyptian Hermes, whom they call Trismegistus, had a different
opinion concerning those demons. Apuleius, indeed, denies that they
are gods; but when he says that they hold a middle place between the
gods and men, so that they seem to be necessary for men as mediators
between them and the gods, he does not distinguish between the
worship due to them and the religious homage due to the supernal
gods. This Egyptian, however, says that there are some gods made by
the supreme God, and some made by men. Any one who hears this, as I
have stated it, no doubt supposes that it has reference to images,
because they are the works of the hands of men; but he asserts that
visible and tangible images are, as it were, only the bodies of the
gods, and that there dwell in them certain spirits, which have been
invited to come into them, and which have power to inflict harm, or
to fulfil the desires of those by whom divine honours and services
are rendered to them. To unite, therefore, by a certain art, those
invisible spirits to visible and material things, so as to make, as
it were, animated bodies, dedicated and given up to those spirits
who inhabit them,--this, he says, is to make gods, adding that men
have received this great and wonderful power. I will give the words
of this Egyptian as they have been translated into our tongue: "And,
since we have undertaken to discourse concerning the relationship
and fellowship between men and the gods, know, O Æsculapius, the
power and strength of man. As the Lord and Father, or that which is
highest, even God, is the maker of the celestial gods, so man is
the maker of the gods who are in the temples, content to dwell near
to men."[315] And a little after he says, "Thus humanity, always
mindful of its nature and origin, perseveres in the imitation of
divinity; and as the Lord and Father made eternal gods, that they
should be like Himself, so humanity fashioned its own gods according
to the likeness of its own countenance." When this Æsculapius, to
whom especially he was speaking, had answered him, and had said,
"Dost thou mean the statues, O Trismegistus?"--"Yes, the statues,"
replied he, "however unbelieving thou art, O Æsculapius,--the
statues, animated, and full of sensation and spirit, and who do
such great and wonderful things,--the statues, prescient of future
things, and foretelling them by lot, by prophet, by dreams, and
many other things, who bring diseases on men and cure them again,
giving them joy or sorrow according to their merits. Dost thou
not know, Æsculapius, that Egypt is an image of heaven, or, more
truly, a translation and descent of all things which are ordered and
transacted there,--that it is, in truth, if we may say so, to be the
temple of the whole world? And yet, as it becomes the prudent man to
know all things beforehand, ye ought not to be ignorant of this, that
there is a time coming when it shall appear that the Egyptians have
all in vain, with pious mind, and with most scrupulous diligence,
waited on the divinity, and when all their holy worship shall come to
nought, and be found to be in vain."

Hermes then follows out at great length the statements of this
passage, in which he seems to predict the present time, in which
the Christian religion is overthrowing all lying figments with
a vehemence and liberty proportioned to its superior truth and
holiness, in order that the grace of the true Saviour may deliver
men from those gods which man has made, and subject them to that
God by whom man was made. But when Hermes predicts these things, he
speaks as one who is a friend to these same mockeries of demons,
and does not clearly express the name of Christ. On the contrary,
he deplores, as if it had already taken place, the future abolition
of those things by the observance of which there was maintained in
Egypt a resemblance of heaven,--he bears witness to Christianity
by a kind of mournful prophecy. Now it was with reference to such
that the apostle said, that "knowing God, they glorified Him not as
God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations,
and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be
wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible
God into the likeness of the image of corruptible man,"[316] and so
on, for the whole passage is too long to quote. For Hermes makes
many such statements agreeable to the truth concerning the one true
God who fashioned this world. And I know not how he has become so
bewildered by that "darkening of the heart" as to stumble into the
expression of a desire that men should always continue in subjection
to those gods which he confesses to be made by men, and to bewail
their future removal; as if there could be anything more wretched
than mankind tyrannized over by the work of his own hands, since man,
by worshipping the works of his own hands, may more easily cease to
be man, than the works of his hands can, through his worship of them,
become gods. For it can sooner happen that man, who has received
an honourable position, may, through lack of understanding, become
comparable to the beasts, than that the works of man may become
preferable to the work of God, made in His own image, that is, to man
himself. Wherefore deservedly is man left to fall away from Him who
made him, when he prefers to himself that which he himself has made.

For these vain, deceitful, pernicious, sacrilegious things did the
Egyptian Hermes sorrow, because he knew that the time was coming when
they should be removed. But his sorrow was as impudently expressed
as his knowledge was imprudently obtained; for it was not the Holy
Spirit who revealed these things to him, as He had done to the holy
prophets, who, foreseeing these things, said with exultation, "If
a man shall make gods, lo, they are no gods;"[317] and in another
place, "And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that
I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they
shall no more be remembered."[318] But the holy Isaiah prophesies
expressly concerning Egypt in reference to this matter, saying, "And
the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His presence, and their heart
shall be overcome in them,"[319] and other things to the same effect.
And with the prophet are to be classed those who rejoiced that that
which they knew was to come had actually come,--as Simeon, or Anna,
who immediately recognised Jesus when He was born, or Elisabeth, who
in the Spirit recognised Him when He was conceived, or Peter, who
said by the revelation of the Father, "Thou art Christ, the Son of
the living God."[320] But to this Egyptian those spirits indicated
the time of their own destruction, who also, when the Lord was
present in the flesh, said with trembling, "Art Thou come hither to
destroy us before the time?"[321] meaning by destruction before the
time, either that very destruction which they expected to come, but
which they did not think would come so suddenly as it appeared to
have done, or only that destruction which consisted in their being
brought into contempt by being made known. And, indeed, this was a
destruction before the time, that is, before the time of judgment,
when they are to be punished with eternal damnation, together with
all men who are implicated in their wickedness, as the true religion
declares, which neither errs nor leads into error; for it is not like
him who, blown hither and thither by every wind of doctrine, and
mixing true things with things which are false, bewails as about to
perish a religion which he afterwards confesses to be error.

  24. _How Hermes openly confessed the error of his forefathers, the
        coming destruction of which he nevertheless bewailed._

After a long interval, Hermes again comes back to the subject of
the gods which men have made, saying as follows: "But enough on
this subject. Let us return to man and to reason, that divine gift
on account of which man has been called a rational animal. For the
things which have been said concerning man, wonderful though they
are, are less wonderful than those which have been said concerning
reason. For man to discover the divine nature, and to make it,
surpasses the wonder of all other wonderful things. Because,
therefore, our forefathers erred very far with respect to the
knowledge of the gods, through incredulity and through want of
attention to their worship and service, they invented this art of
making gods; and this art once invented, they associated with it a
suitable virtue borrowed from universal nature, and, being incapable
of making souls, they evoked those of demons or of angels, and united
them with these holy images and divine mysteries, in order that
through these souls the images might have power to do good or harm to
men." I know not whether the demons themselves could have been made,
even by adjuration, to confess as he has confessed in these words:
"Because our forefathers erred very far with respect to the knowledge
of the gods, through incredulity and through want of attention to
their worship and service, they invented the art of making gods."
Does he say that it was a moderate degree of error which resulted
in their discovery of the art of making gods, or was he content to
say "they erred?" No; he must needs add "very far," and say, "_They
erred very far._" It was this great error and incredulity, then,
of their forefathers who did not attend to the worship and service
of the gods, which was the origin of the art of making gods. And
yet this wise man grieves over the ruin of this art at some future
time, as if it were a divine religion. Is he not verily compelled by
divine influence, on the one hand, to reveal the past error of his
forefathers, and by a diabolical influence, on the other hand, to
bewail the future punishment of demons? For if their forefathers, by
erring very far with respect to the knowledge of the gods, through
incredulity and aversion of mind from their worship and service,
invented the art of making gods, what wonder is it that all that is
done by this detestable art, which is opposed to the divine religion,
should be taken away by that religion, when truth corrects error,
faith refutes incredulity, and conversion rectifies aversion?

For if he had only said, without mentioning the cause, that his
forefathers had discovered the art of making gods, it would have
been our duty, if we paid any regard to what is right and pious, to
consider and to see that they could never have attained to this art
if they had not erred from the truth, if they had believed those
things which are worthy of God, if they had attended to divine
worship and service. However, if we alone should say that the causes
of this art were to be found in the great error and incredulity of
men, and aversion of the mind erring from and unfaithful to divine
religion, the impudence of those who resist the truth were in some
way to be borne with; but when he who admires in man, above all other
things, this power which it has been granted him to practise, and
sorrows because a time is coming when all those figments of gods
invented by men shall even be commanded by the laws to be taken
away,--when even this man confesses nevertheless, and explains the
causes which led to the discovery of this art, saying that their
ancestors, through great error and incredulity, and through not
attending to the worship and service of the gods, invented this art
of making gods,--what ought we to say, or rather to do, but to give
to the Lord our God all the thanks we are able, because He has taken
away those things by causes the contrary of those which led to their
institution? For that which the prevalence of error instituted, the
way of truth took away; that which incredulity instituted, faith took
away; that which aversion from divine worship and service instituted,
conversion to the one true and holy God took away. Nor was this the
case only in Egypt, for which country alone the spirit of the demons
lamented in Hermes, but in all the earth, which sings to the Lord a
new song,[322] as the truly holy and truly prophetic Scriptures have
predicted, in which it is written, "Sing unto the Lord a new song;
sing unto the Lord, all the earth." For the title of this psalm is,
"When the house was built after the captivity." For a house is being
built to the Lord in all the earth, even the city of God, which is
the holy Church, after that captivity in which demons held captive
those men who, through faith in God, became living stones in the
house. For although man made gods, it did not follow that he who made
them was not held captive by them, when, by worshipping them, he was
drawn into fellowship with them,--into the fellowship not of stolid
idols, but of cunning demons; for what are idols but what they are
represented to be in the same Scriptures, "They have eyes, but they
do not see,"[323] and, though artistically fashioned, are still
without life and sensation? But unclean spirits, associated through
that wicked art with these same idols, have miserably taken captive
the souls of their worshippers, by bringing them down into fellowship
with themselves. Whence the apostle says, "We know that an idol is
nothing, but those things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice
to demons, and not to God; and I would not ye should have fellowship
with demons."[324] After this captivity, therefore, in which men were
held by malign demons, the house of God is being built in all the
earth; whence the title of that psalm in which it is said, "Sing unto
the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Sing unto the
Lord, bless His name; declare well His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations, among all people His wonderful
things. For great is the Lord, and much to be praised: He is terrible
above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are demons: but the
Lord made the heavens."[325]

Wherefore he who sorrowed because a time was coming when the worship
of idols should be abolished, and the domination of the demons over
those who worshipped them, wished, under the influence of a demon,
that that captivity should always continue, at the cessation of which
that psalm celebrates the building of the house of the Lord in all
the earth. Hermes foretold these things with grief, the prophet with
joyfulness; and because the Spirit is victorious who sang these things
through the ancient prophets, even Hermes himself was compelled in a
wonderful manner to confess, that those very things which he wished not
to be removed, and at the prospect of whose removal he was sorrowful,
had been instituted, not by prudent, faithful, and religious, but by
erring and unbelieving men, averse to the worship and service of the
gods. And although he calls them gods, nevertheless, when he says
that they were made by such men as we certainly ought not to be, he
shows, whether he will or not, that they are not to be worshipped by
those who do not resemble these image-makers, that is, by prudent,
faithful, and religious men, at the same time also making it manifest
that the very men who made them involved themselves in the worship
of those as gods who were not gods. For true is the saying of the
prophet, "If a man _make_ gods, lo, they are no gods."[326] Such gods,
therefore, acknowledged by such worshippers and made by such men,
did Hermes call "gods made by men," that is to say, demons, through
some art of I know not what description, bound by the chains of their
own lusts to images. But, nevertheless, he did not agree with that
opinion of the Platonic Apuleius, of which we have already shown the
incongruity and absurdity, namely, that they were interpreters and
intercessors between the gods whom God made, and men whom the same
God made, bringing to God the prayers of men, and from God the gifts
given in answer to these prayers. For it is exceedingly stupid to
believe that gods whom men have made have more influence with gods
whom God has made than men themselves have, whom the very same God has
made. And consider, too, that it is a demon which, bound by a man to
an image by means of an impious art, has been made a god, but a god
to such a man only, not to every man. What kind of god, therefore, is
that which no man would make but one erring, incredulous, and averse
to the true God? Moreover, if the demons which are worshipped in the
temples, being introduced by some kind of strange art into images, that
is, into visible representations of themselves, by those men who by
this art made gods when they were straying away from, and were averse
to the worship and service of the gods,--if, I say, those demons are
neither mediators nor interpreters between men and the gods, both on
account of their own most wicked and base manners, and because men,
though erring, incredulous, and averse from the worship and service of
the gods, are nevertheless beyond doubt better than the demons whom
they themselves have evoked, then it remains to be affirmed that what
power they possess they possess as demons, doing harm by bestowing
pretended benefits,--harm all the greater for the deception,--or else
openly and undisguisedly doing evil to men. They cannot, however, do
anything of this kind unless where they are permitted by the deep and
secret providence of God, and then only so far as they are permitted.
When, however, they are permitted, it is not because they, being
midway between men and the gods, have through the friendship of the
gods great power over men; for these demons cannot possibly be friends
to the good gods who dwell in the holy and heavenly habitation, by
whom we mean holy angels and rational creatures, whether thrones, or
dominations, or principalities, or powers, from whom they are as far
separated in disposition and character as vice is distant from virtue,
wickedness from goodness.

  25. _Concerning those things which may be common to the holy angels
                             and to men._

Wherefore we must by no means seek, through the supposed mediation
of demons, to avail ourselves of the benevolence or beneficence of
the gods, or rather of the good angels, but through resembling them
in the possession of a good will, through which we are with them,
and live with them, and worship with them the same God, although
we cannot see them with the eyes of our flesh. But it is not in
locality we are distant from them, but in merit of life, caused by
our miserable unlikeness to them in will, and by the weakness of
our character; for the mere fact of our dwelling on earth under the
conditions of life in the flesh does not prevent our fellowship with
them. It is only prevented when we, in the impurity of our hearts,
mind earthly things. But in this present time, while we are being
healed that we may eventually be as they are, we are brought near to
them by faith, if by their assistance we believe that He who is their
blessedness is also ours.

    26. _That all the religion of the pagans has reference to dead

It is certainly a remarkable thing how this Egyptian, when expressing
his grief that a time was coming when those things would be taken
away from Egypt, which he confesses to have been invented by men
erring, incredulous, and averse to the service of divine religion,
says, among other things, "Then shall that land, the most holy place
of shrines and temples, be full of sepulchres and dead men," as if,
in sooth, if these things were not taken away, men would not die!
as if dead bodies could be buried elsewhere than in the ground! as
if, as time advanced, the number of sepulchres must not necessarily
increase in proportion to the increase of the number of the dead!
But they who are of a perverse mind, and opposed to us, suppose that
what he grieves for is that the memorials of our martyrs were to
succeed to their temples and shrines, in order, forsooth, that they
may have grounds for thinking that gods were worshipped by the pagans
in temples, but that dead men are worshipped by us in sepulchres.
For with such blindness do impious men, as it were, stumble over
mountains, and will not see the things which strike their own eyes,
that they do not attend to the fact that in all the literature of
the pagans there are not found any, or scarcely any gods, who have
not been men, to whom, when dead, divine honours have been paid. I
will not enlarge on the fact that Varro says that all dead men are
thought by them to be gods Manes, and proves it by those sacred
rites which are performed in honour of almost all the dead, among
which he mentions funeral games, considering this the very highest
proof of divinity, because games are only wont to be celebrated in
honour of divinities. Hermes himself, of whom we are now treating,
in that same book in which, as if foretelling future things, he
says with sorrow, "Then shall that land, the most holy place of
shrines and temples, be full of sepulchres and dead men," testifies
that the gods of Egypt were dead men. For, having said that their
forefathers, erring very far with respect to the knowledge of the
gods, incredulous and inattentive to the divine worship and service,
invented the art of making gods, with which art, when invented, they
associated the appropriate virtue which is inherent in universal
nature, and by mixing up that virtue with this art, they called forth
the souls of demons or of angels (for they could not make souls),
and caused them to take possession of, or associate themselves with
holy images and divine mysteries, in order that through these souls
the images might have power to do good or harm to men;--having said
this, he goes on, as it were, to prove it by illustrations, saying,
"Thy grandsire, O Æsculapius, the first discoverer of medicine,
to whom a temple was consecrated in a mountain of Libya, near to
the shore of the crocodiles, in which temple lies his earthly man,
that is, his body,--for the better part of him, or rather the whole
of him, if the whole man is in the intelligent life, went back to
heaven,--affords even now by his divinity all those helps to infirm
men, which formerly he was wont to afford to them by the art of
medicine." He says, therefore, that a dead man was worshipped as a
god in that place where he had his sepulchre. He deceives men by a
falsehood, for the man "went back to heaven." Then he adds, "Does not
Hermes, who was my grandsire, and whose name I bear, abiding in the
country which is called by his name, help and preserve all mortals
who come to him from every quarter?" For this elder Hermes, that is,
Mercury, who, he says, was his grandsire, is said to be buried in
Hermopolis, that is, in the city called by his name; so here are two
gods whom he affirms to have been men, Æsculapius and Mercury. Now
concerning Æsculapius, both the Greeks and the Latins think the same
thing; but as to Mercury, there are many who do not think that he was
formerly a mortal, though Hermes testifies that he was his grandsire.
But are these two different individuals who were called by the same
name? I will not dispute much whether they are different individuals
or not. It is sufficient to know that this Mercury of whom Hermes
speaks is, as well as Æsculapius, a god who once was a man, according
to the testimony of this same Trismegistus, esteemed so great by his
countrymen, and also the grandson of Mercury himself.

Hermes goes on to say, "But do we know how many good things Isis,
the wife of Osiris, bestows when she is propitious, and what great
opposition she can offer when enraged?" Then, in order to show that
there were gods made by men through this art, he goes on to say,
"For it is easy for earthly and mundane gods to be angry, being
made and composed by men out of either nature;" thus giving us to
understand that he believed that demons were formerly the souls of
dead men, which, as he says, by means of a certain art invented by
men very far in error, incredulous, and irreligious, were caused
to take possession of images, because they who made such gods were
not able to make souls. When, therefore, he says "either nature,"
he means soul and body,--the demon being the soul, and the image
the body. What, then, becomes of that mournful complaint, that the
land of Egypt, the most holy place of shrines and temples, was to be
full of sepulchres and dead men? Verily, the fallacious spirit, by
whose inspiration Hermes spoke these things, was compelled to confess
through him that even already that land was full of sepulchres and of
dead men, whom they were worshipping as gods. But it was the grief of
the demons which was expressing itself through his mouth, who were
sorrowing on account of the punishments which were about to fall upon
them at the tombs of the martyrs. For in many such places they are
tortured and compelled to confess, and are cast out of the bodies of
men, of which they had taken possession.

     27. _Concerning the nature of the honour which the Christians
                        pay to their martyrs._

But, nevertheless, we do not build temples, and ordain priests,
rites, and sacrifices for these same martyrs; for they are not
our gods, but their God is our God. Certainly we honour their
reliquaries, as the memorials of holy men of God who strove for the
truth even to the death of their bodies, that the true religion might
be made known, and false and fictitious religions exposed. For if
there were some before them who thought that these religions were
really false and fictitious, they were afraid to give expression
to their convictions. But who ever heard a priest of the faithful,
standing at an altar built for the honour and worship of God over
the holy body of some martyr, say in the prayers, I offer to thee a
sacrifice, O Peter, or O Paul, or O Cyprian? for it is to God that
sacrifices are offered at their tombs,--the God who made them both
men and martyrs, and associated them with holy angels in celestial
honour; and the reason why we pay such honours to their memory
is, that by so doing we may both give thanks to the true God for
their victories, and, by recalling them afresh to remembrance, may
stir ourselves up to imitate them by seeking to obtain like crowns
and palms, calling to our help that same God on whom they called.
Therefore, whatever honours the religious may pay in the places of
the martyrs, they are but honours rendered to their memory,[327] not
sacred rites or sacrifices offered to dead men as to gods. And even
such as bring thither food,--which, indeed, is not done by the better
Christians, and in most places of the world is not done at all,--do
so in order that it may be sanctified to them through the merits of
the martyrs, in the name of the Lord of the martyrs, first presenting
the food and offering prayer, and thereafter taking it away to be
eaten, or to be in part bestowed upon the needy.[328] But he who
knows the one sacrifice of Christians, which is the sacrifice offered
in those places, also knows that these are not sacrifices offered to
the martyrs. It is, then, neither with divine honours nor with human
crimes, by which they worship their gods, that we honour our martyrs;
neither do we offer sacrifices to them, or convert the crimes of the
gods into their sacred rites. For let those who will and can read
the letter of Alexander to his mother Olympias, in which he tells
the things which were revealed to him by the priest Leon, and let
those who have read it recall to memory what it contains, that they
may see what great abominations have been handed down to memory, not
by poets, but by the mystic writings of the Egyptians, concerning
the goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris, and the parents of both, all
of whom, according to these writings, were royal personages. Isis,
when sacrificing to her parents, is said to have discovered a crop
of barley, of which she brought some ears to the king her husband,
and his councillor Mercurius, and hence they identify her with Ceres.
Those who read the letter may there see what was the character of
those people to whom when dead sacred rites were instituted as
to gods, and what those deeds of theirs were which furnished the
occasion for these rites. Let them not once dare to compare in any
respect those people, though they hold them to be gods, to our holy
martyrs, though we do not hold them to be gods. For we do not ordain
priests and offer sacrifices to our martyrs, as they do to their
dead men, for that would be incongruous, undue, and unlawful, such
being due only to God; and thus we do not delight them with their
own crimes, or with such shameful plays as those in which the crimes
of the gods are celebrated, which are either real crimes committed
by them at a time when they were men, or else, if they never were
men, fictitious crimes invented for the pleasure of noxious demons.
The god of Socrates, if he had a god, cannot have belonged to this
class of demons. But perhaps they who wished to excel in this art of
making gods, imposed a god of this sort on a man who was a stranger
to, and innocent of any connection with that art. What need we say
more? No one who is even moderately wise imagines that demons are to
be worshipped on account of the blessed life which is to be after
death. But perhaps they will say that all the gods are good, but that
of the demons some are bad and some good, and that it is the good who
are to be worshipped, in order that through them we may attain to the
eternally blessed life. To the examination of this opinion we will
devote the following book.


[291] Wisdom vii. 24-27.

[292] "Sapiens," that is, a wise man, one who had attained to wisdom.

[293] Finem boni.

[294] Dii majorum gentium.

[295] Book i. 13.

[296] Rom. i. 19, 20.

[297] Col. ii. 8.

[298] Rom. i. 19, 20.

[299] Acts xvii. 28.

[300] Rom. i. 21-23.

[301] _De Doctrina Christiana_, ii. 43. Comp. _Retract._ ii. 4, 2.

[302] Liberating Jewish slaves, and sending gifts to the temple. See
Josephus, _Ant._ xii. 2.

[303] Gen. i. 1, 2.

[304] Spiritus.

[305] Ex. iii. 14.

[306] Rom. i. 20.

[307] Ch. 14.

[308] _De Deo Socratis._

[309] Virgil, _Æn._ 7. 338.

[310] Virgil, _Æn._ 4. 492, 493.

[311] Virgil, _Ec._ 8. 99.

[312] Pliny (_Hist. Nat._ xxviii. 2) and others quote the law as
running: "Qui fruges incantasit, qui malum carmen incantasit.... neu
alienam segetem pelexeris."

[313] Before Claudius, the prefect of Africa, a heathen.

[314] Another reading, "whom they could not know, though near to

[315] These quotations are from a dialogue between Hermes and
Æsculapius, which is said to have been translated into Latin by

[316] Rom. i. 21.

[317] Jer. xvi. 20.

[318] Zech. xiii. 2.

[319] Isa. xix. 1.

[320] Matt. xvi. 16.

[321] Matt. viii. 29.

[322] Ps. xcvi. 1.

[323] Ps. cxv. 5, etc.

[324] 1 Cor. x. 19, 20.

[325] Ps. xcvi. 1-5.

[326] Jer. xvi. 20.

[327] Ornamenta memoriarum.

[328] Comp. _The Confessions_, vi. 2.

                              BOOK NINTH.



  1. _The point at which the discussion has arrived, and what remains
                            to be handled._

Some have advanced the opinion that there are both good and bad gods;
but some, thinking more respectfully of the gods have attributed
to them so much honour and praise as to preclude the supposition
of any god being wicked. But those who have maintained that there
are wicked gods as well as good ones have included the demons under
the name "gods," and sometimes, though more rarely, have called the
gods demons; so that they admit that Jupiter, whom they make the
king and head of all the rest, is called a demon by Homer.[329]
Those, on the other hand, who maintain that the gods are all good,
and far more excellent than the men who are justly called good, are
moved by the actions of the demons, which they can neither deny nor
impute to the gods whose goodness they affirm, to distinguish between
gods and demons; so that, whenever they find anything offensive
in the deeds or sentiments by which unseen spirits manifest their
power, they believe this to proceed not from the gods, but from
the demons. At the same time they believe that, as no god can hold
direct intercourse with men, these demons hold the position of
mediators, ascending with prayers, and returning with gifts. This
is the opinion of the Platonists, the ablest and most esteemed of
their philosophers, with whom we therefore chose to debate this
question,--whether the worship of a number of gods is of any service
towards obtaining blessedness in the future life. And this is the
reason why, in the preceding book, we have inquired how the demons,
who take pleasure in such things as good and wise men loathe and
execrate, in the sacrilegious and immoral fictions which the poets
have written, not of men, but of the gods themselves, and in the
wicked and criminal violence of magical arts, can be regarded as
more nearly related and more friendly to the gods than men are, and
can mediate between good men and the good gods; and it has been
demonstrated that this is absolutely impossible.

  2. _Whether among the demons, inferior to the gods, there are any
      good spirits under whose guardianship the human soul might
      reach true blessedness._

This book, then, ought, according to the promise made in the end of the
preceding one, to contain a discussion, not of the difference which
exists among the gods, who, according to the Platonists, are all good,
nor of the difference between gods and demons, the former of whom they
separate by a wide interval from men, while the latter are placed
intermediately between the gods and men, but of the difference, since
they make one, among the demons themselves. This we shall discuss so
far as it bears on our theme. It has been the common and usual belief
that some of the demons are bad, others good; and this opinion, whether
it be that of the Platonists or any other sect, must by no means be
passed over in silence, lest some one suppose he ought to cultivate
the good demons in order that by their mediation he may be accepted
by the gods, all of whom he believes to be good, and that he may live
with them after death; whereas he would thus be ensnared in the toils
of wicked spirits, and would wander far from the true God, with whom
alone, and in whom alone, the human soul, that is to say, the soul that
is rational and intellectual, is blessed.

    3. _What Apuleius attributes to the demons, to whom, though he
        does not deny them reason, he does not ascribe virtue._

What, then, is the difference between good and evil demons? For the
Platonist Apuleius, in a treatise on this whole subject,[330] while
he says a great deal about their aerial bodies, has not a word to say
of the spiritual virtues with which, if they were good, they must have
been endowed. Not a word has he said, then, of that which could give
them happiness; but proof of their misery he has given, acknowledging
that their mind, by which they rank as reasonable beings, is not only
not imbued and fortified with virtue so as to resist all unreasonable
passions, but that it is somehow agitated with tempestuous emotions,
and is thus on a level with the mind of foolish men. His own words
are: "It is this class of demons the poets refer to, when, without
serious error, they feign that the gods hate and love individuals
among men, prospering and ennobling some, and opposing and distressing
others. Therefore pity, indignation, grief, joy, every human emotion is
experienced by the demons, with the same mental disturbance, and the
same tide of feeling and thought. These turmoils and tempests banish
them far from the tranquillity of the celestial gods." Can there be
any doubt that in these words it is not some inferior part of their
spiritual nature, but the very mind by which the demons hold their
rank as rational beings, which he says is tossed with passion like a
stormy sea? They cannot, then, be compared even to wise men, who with
undisturbed mind resist these perturbations to which they are exposed
in this life, and from which human infirmity is never exempt, and who
do not yield themselves to approve of or perpetrate anything which
might deflect them from the path of wisdom and law of rectitude. They
resemble in character, though not in bodily appearance, wicked and
foolish men. I might indeed say they are worse, inasmuch as they have
grown old in iniquity, and incorrigible by punishment. Their mind, as
Apuleius says, is a sea tossed with tempest, having no rallying point
of truth or virtue in their soul from which they can resist their
turbulent and depraved emotions.

      4. _The opinion of the Peripatetics and Stoics about mental

Among the philosophers there are two opinions about these mental
emotions, which the Greeks call πάθη, while some of our own writers,
as Cicero, call them perturbations,[331] some affections, and some,
to render the Greek word more accurately, passions. Some say that even
the wise man is subject to these perturbations, though moderated and
controlled by reason, which imposes laws upon them, and so restrains
them within necessary bounds. This is the opinion of the Platonists
and Aristotelians; for Aristotle was Plato's disciple, and the founder
of the Peripatetic school. But others, as the Stoics, are of opinion
that the wise man is not subject to these perturbations. But Cicero,
in his book _De Finibus_, shows that the Stoics are here at variance
with the Platonists and Peripatetics rather in words than in reality;
for the Stoics decline to apply the term "goods" to external and bodily
advantages,[332] because they reckon that the only good is virtue,
the art of living well, and this exists only in the mind. The other
philosophers, again, use the simple and customary phraseology, and
do not scruple to call these things goods, though in comparison of
virtue, which guides our life, they are little and of small esteem.
And thus it is obvious that, whether these outward things are called
goods or advantages, they are held in the same estimation by both
parties, and that in this matter the Stoics are pleasing themselves
merely with a novel phraseology. It seems, then, to me that in this
question, whether the wise man is subject to mental passions, or
wholly free from them, the controversy is one of words rather than of
things; for I think that, if the reality and not the mere sound of the
words is considered, the Stoics hold precisely the same opinion as the
Platonists and Peripatetics. For, omitting for brevity's sake other
proofs which I might adduce in support of this opinion, I will state
but one which I consider conclusive. Aulus Gellius, a man of extensive
erudition, and gifted with an eloquent and graceful style, relates,
in his work entitled _Noctes Atticæ_,[333] that he once made a voyage
with an eminent Stoic philosopher; and he goes on to relate fully and
with gusto what I shall barely state, that when the ship was tossed
and in danger from a violent storm, the philosopher grew pale with
terror. This was noticed by those on board, who, though themselves
threatened with death, were curious to see whether a philosopher would
be agitated like other men. When the tempest had passed over, and as
soon as their security gave them freedom to resume their talk, one
of the passengers, a rich and luxurious Asiatic, begins to banter
the philosopher, and rally him because he had even become pale with
fear, while he himself had been unmoved by the impending destruction.
But the philosopher availed himself of the reply of Aristippus the
Socratic, who, on finding himself similarly bantered by a man of the
same character, answered, "You had no cause for anxiety for the soul
of a profligate debauchee, but I had reason to be alarmed for the soul
of Aristippus." The rich man being thus disposed of, Aulus Gellius
asked the philosopher, in the interests of science and not to annoy
him, what was the reason of his fear? And he, willing to instruct a man
so zealous in the pursuit of knowledge, at once took from his wallet
a book of Epictetus the Stoic,[334] in which doctrines were advanced
which precisely harmonized with those of Zeno and Chrysippus, the
founders of the Stoical school. Aulus Gellius says that he read in
this book that the Stoics maintain that there are certain impressions
made on the soul by external objects which they call _phantasiæ_,
and that it is not in the power of the soul to determine whether or
when it shall be invaded by these. When these impressions are made by
alarming and formidable objects, it must needs be that they move the
soul even of the wise man, so that for a little he trembles with fear,
or is depressed by sadness, these impressions anticipating the work of
reason and self-control; but this does not imply that the mind accepts
these evil impressions, or approves or consents to them. For this
consent is, they think, in a man's power; there being this difference
between the mind of the wise man and that of the fool, that the fool's
mind yields to these passions and consents to them, while that of the
wise man, though it cannot help being invaded by them, yet retains
with unshaken firmness a true and steady persuasion of those things
which it ought rationally to desire or avoid. This account of what
Aulus Gellius relates that he read in the book of Epictetus about the
sentiments and doctrines of the Stoics I have given as well as I could,
not, perhaps, with his choice language, but with greater brevity, and,
I think, with greater clearness. And if this be true, then there is no
difference, or next to none, between the opinion of the Stoics and that
of the other philosophers regarding mental passions and perturbations,
for both parties agree in maintaining that the mind and reason of the
wise man are not subject to these. And perhaps what the Stoics mean
by asserting this, is that the wisdom which characterizes the wise
man is clouded by no error and sullied by no taint, but, with this
reservation that his wisdom remains undisturbed, he is exposed to the
impressions which the goods and ills of this life (or, as they prefer
to call them, the advantages or disadvantages) make upon them. For we
need not say that if that philosopher had thought nothing of those
things which he thought he was forthwith to lose, life and bodily
safety, he would not have been so terrified by his danger as to betray
his fear by the pallor of his cheek. Nevertheless, he might suffer this
mental disturbance, and yet maintain the fixed persuasion that life
and bodily safety, which the violence of the tempest threatened to
destroy, are not those good things which make their possessors good,
as the possession of righteousness does. But in so far as they persist
that we must call them not goods but advantages, they quarrel about
words and neglect things. For what difference does it make whether
goods or advantages be the better name, while the Stoic no less than
the Peripatetic is alarmed at the prospect of losing them, and while,
though they name them differently, they hold them in like esteem? Both
parties assure us that, if urged to the commission of some immorality
or crime by the threatened loss of these goods or advantages, they
would prefer to lose such things as preserve bodily comfort and
security rather than commit such things as violate righteousness. And
thus the mind in which this resolution is well grounded suffers no
perturbations to prevail with it in opposition to reason, even though
they assail the weaker parts of the soul; and not only so, but it
rules over them, and, while it refuses its consent and resists them,
administers a reign of virtue. Such a character is ascribed to Æneas
by Virgil when he says,

          "He stands immovable by tears,
           Nor tenderest words with pity hears."[335]

   5. _That the passions which assail the souls of Christians do not
           seduce them to vice, but exercise their virtue._

We need not at present give a careful and copious exposition of the
doctrine of Scripture, the sum of Christian knowledge, regarding
these passions. It subjects the mind itself to God, that He may
rule and aid it, and the passions, again, to the mind, to moderate
and bridle them, and turn them to righteous uses. In our ethics, we
do not so much inquire whether a pious soul is angry, as why he is
angry; not whether he is sad, but what is the cause of his sadness;
not whether he fears, but what he fears. For I am not aware that any
right thinking person would find fault with anger at a wrongdoer
which seeks his amendment, or with sadness which intends relief to
the suffering, or with fear lest one in danger be destroyed. The
Stoics, indeed, are accustomed to condemn compassion.[336] But how
much more honourable had it been in that Stoic we have been telling
of, had he been disturbed by compassion prompting him to relieve a
fellow-creature, than to be disturbed by the fear of shipwreck! Far
better, and more humane, and more consonant with pious sentiments,
are the words of Cicero in praise of Cæsar, when he says, "Among
your virtues none is more admirable and agreeable than your
compassion."[337] And what is compassion but a fellow-feeling for
another's misery, which prompts us to help him if we can? And this
emotion is obedient to reason, when compassion is shown without
violating right, as when the poor are relieved, or the penitent
forgiven. Cicero, who knew how to use language, did not hesitate to
call this a virtue, which the Stoics are not ashamed to reckon among
the vices, although, as the book of that eminent Stoic, Epictetus,
quoting the opinions of Zeno and Chrysippus, the founders of the
school, has taught us, they admit that passions of this kind invade
the soul of the wise man, whom they would have to be free from all
vice. Whence it follows that these very passions are not judged by
them to be vices, since they assail the wise man without forcing him
to act against reason and virtue; and that, therefore, the opinion of
the Peripatetics or Platonists and of the Stoics is one and the same.
But, as Cicero says,[338] mere logomachy is the bane of these pitiful
Greeks, who thirst for contention rather than for truth. However,
it may justly be asked, whether our subjection to these affections,
even while we follow virtue, is a part of the infirmity of this life?
For the holy angels feel no anger while they punish those whom the
eternal law of God consigns to punishment, no fellow-feeling with
misery while they relieve the miserable, no fear while they aid
those who are in danger; and yet ordinary language ascribes to them
also these mental emotions, because, though they have none of our
weakness, their acts resemble the actions to which these emotions
move us; and thus even God Himself is said in Scripture to be angry,
and yet without any perturbation. For this word is used of the effect
of His vengeance, not of the disturbing mental affection.

     6. _Of the passions which, according to Apuleius, agitate the
   demons who are supposed by him to mediate between gods and men._

Deferring for the present the question about the holy angels, let
us examine the opinion of the Platonists, that the demons who
mediate between gods and men are agitated by passions. For if their
mind, though exposed to their incursion, still remained free and
superior to them, Apuleius could not have said that their hearts
are tossed with passions as the sea by stormy winds.[339] Their
mind, then,--that superior part of their soul whereby they are
rational beings, and which, if it actually exists in them, should
rule and bridle the turbulent passions of the inferior parts of the
soul,--this mind of theirs, I say, is, according to the Platonist
referred to, tossed with a hurricane of passions. The mind of the
demons, therefore, is subject to the emotions of fear, anger, lust,
and all similar affections. What part of them, then, is free, and
endued with wisdom, so that they are pleasing to the gods, and the
fit guides of men into purity of life, since their very highest part,
being the slave of passion and subject to vice, only makes them more
intent on deceiving and seducing, in proportion to the mental force
and energy of desire they possess?

  7. _That the Platonists maintain that the poets wrong the gods by
      representing them as distracted by party feeling, to which the
      demons, and not the gods, are subject._

But if any one says that it is not of all the demons, but only of the
wicked, that the poets, not without truth, say that they violently
love or hate certain men,--for it was of them Apuleius said that they
were driven about by strong currents of emotion,--how can we accept
this interpretation, when Apuleius, in the very same connection,
represents all the demons, and not only the wicked, as intermediate
between gods and men by their aerial bodies? The fiction of the
poets, according to him, consists in their making gods of demons,
and giving them the names of gods, and assigning them as allies
or enemies to individual men, using this poetical licence, though
they profess that the gods are very different in character from the
demons, and far exalted above them by their celestial abode and
wealth of beatitude. This, I say, is the poets' fiction, to say that
these are gods who are not gods, and that, under the names of gods,
they fight among themselves about the men whom they love or hate
with keen partisan feeling. Apuleius says that this is not far from
the truth, since, though they are wrongfully called by the names
of the gods, they are described in their own proper character as
demons. To this category, he says, belongs the Minerva of Homer, "who
interposed in the ranks of the Greeks to restrain Achilles."[340]
For that this was Minerva he supposes to be poetical fiction; for he
thinks that Minerva is a goddess, and he places her among the gods
whom he believes to be all good and blessed in the sublime ethereal
region, remote from intercourse with men. But that there was a demon
favourable to the Greeks and adverse to the Trojans, as another,
whom the same poet mentions under the name of Venus or Mars (gods
exalted above earthly affairs in their heavenly habitations), was the
Trojans' ally and the foe of the Greeks, and that these demons fought
for those they loved against those they hated,--in all this he owned
that the poets stated something very like the truth. For they made
these statements about beings to whom he ascribes the same violent
and tempestuous passions as disturb men, and who are therefore
capable of loves and hatreds not justly formed, but formed in a
party spirit, as the spectators in races or hunts take fancies and
prejudices. It seems to have been the great fear of this Platonist
that the poetical fictions should be believed of the gods, and not of
the demons who bore their names.

   8. _How Apuleius defines the gods who dwell in heaven, the demons
            who occupy the air, and men who inhabit earth._

The definition which Apuleius gives of demons, and in which he of
course includes all demons, is that they are in nature animals, in soul
subject to passion, in mind reasonable, in body aerial, in duration
eternal. Now in these five qualities he has named absolutely nothing
which is proper to good men and not also to bad. For when Apuleius had
spoken of the celestials first, and had then extended his description
so as to include an account of those who dwell far below on the earth,
that, after describing the two extremes of rational being, he might
proceed to speak of the intermediate demons, he says, "Men, therefore,
who are endowed with the faculty of reason and speech, whose soul is
immortal and their members mortal, who have weak and anxious spirits,
dull and corruptible bodies, dissimilar characters, similar ignorance,
who are obstinate in their audacity, and persistent in their hope,
whose labour is vain, and whose fortune is ever on the wane, their
race immortal, themselves perishing, each generation replenished with
creatures whose life is swift and their wisdom slow, their death sudden
and their life a wail,--these are the men who dwell on the earth."[341]
In recounting so many qualities which belong to the large proportion
of men, did he forget that which is the property of the few when he
speaks of their wisdom being slow? If this had been omitted, this his
description of the human race, so carefully elaborated, would have
been defective. And when he commended the excellence of the gods,
he affirmed that they excelled in that very blessedness to which he
thinks men must attain by wisdom. And therefore, if he had wished us
to believe that some of the demons are good, he should have inserted
in his description something by which we might see that they have, in
common with the gods, some share of blessedness, or, in common with
men, some wisdom. But, as it is, he has mentioned no good quality by
which the good may be distinguished from the bad. For although he
refrained from giving a full account of their wickedness, through
fear of offending, not themselves but their worshippers, for whom he
was writing, yet he sufficiently indicated to discerning readers what
opinion he had of them; for only in the one article of the eternity
of their bodies does he assimilate them to the gods, all of whom, he
asserts, are good and blessed, and absolutely free from what he himself
calls the stormy passions of the demons; and as to the soul, he quite
plainly affirms that they resemble men and not the gods, and that this
resemblance lies not in the possession of wisdom, which even men can
attain to, but in the perturbation of passions which sway the foolish
and wicked, but is so ruled by the good and wise that they prefer not
to admit rather than to conquer it. For if he had wished it to be
understood that the demons resembled the gods in the eternity not of
their bodies but of their souls, he would certainly have admitted men
to share in this privilege, because, as a Platonist, he of course must
hold that the human soul is eternal. Accordingly, when describing this
race of living beings, he said that their souls were immortal, their
members mortal. And, consequently, if men have not eternity in common
with the gods because they have mortal bodies, demons have eternity in
common with the gods because their bodies are immortal.

   9. _Whether the intercession of the demons can secure for men the
                  friendship of the celestial gods._

How, then, can men hope for a favourable introduction to the
friendship of the gods by such mediators as these, who are, like men,
defective in that which is the better part of every living creature,
viz. the soul, and who resemble the gods only in the body, which is
the inferior part? For a living creature or animal consists of soul
and body, and of these two parts the soul is undoubtedly the better;
even though vicious and weak, it is obviously better than even the
soundest and strongest body, for the greater excellence of its nature
is not reduced to the level of the body even by the pollution of
vice, as gold, even when tarnished, is more precious than the purest
silver or lead. And yet these mediators, by whose interposition
things human and divine are to be harmonized, have an eternal body
in common with the gods, and a vicious soul in common with men,--as
if the religion by which these demons are to unite gods and men
were a bodily, and not a spiritual matter. What wickedness, then,
or punishment has suspended these false and deceitful mediators, as
it were head downwards, so that their inferior part, their body,
is linked to the gods above, and their superior part, the soul,
bound to men beneath; united to the celestial gods by the part that
serves, and miserable, together with the inhabitants of earth, by
the part that rules? For the body is the servant, as Sallust says:
"We use the soul to rule, the body to obey;"[342] adding, "the one
we have in common with the gods, the other with the brutes." For he
was here speaking of men; and they have, like the brutes, a mortal
body. These demons, whom our philosophic friends have provided for
us as mediators with the gods, may indeed say of the soul and body,
the one we have in common with the gods, the other with men; but,
as I said, they are as it were suspended and bound head downwards,
having the slave, the body, in common with the gods, the master, the
soul, in common with miserable men,--their inferior part exalted,
their superior part depressed. And therefore, if any one supposes
that, because they are not subject, like terrestrial animals, to the
separation of soul and body by death, they therefore resemble the
gods in their eternity, their body must not be considered a chariot
of an eternal triumph, but rather the chain of an eternal punishment.

   10. _That, according to Plotinus, men, whose body is mortal, are
          less wretched than demons, whose body is eternal._

Plotinus, whose memory is quite recent,[343] enjoys the reputation
of having understood Plato better than any other of his disciples.
In speaking of human souls, he says, "The Father in compassion made
their bonds mortal;"[344] that is to say, he considered it due to the
Father's mercy that men, having a mortal body, should not be for ever
confined in the misery of this life. But of this mercy the demons have
been judged unworthy, and they have received, in conjunction with a
soul subject to passions, a body not mortal like man's, but eternal.
For they should have been happier than men if they had, like men, had a
mortal body, and, like the gods, a blessed soul. And they should have
been equal to men, if in conjunction with a miserable soul they had
at least received, like men, a mortal body, so that death might have
freed them from trouble, if, at least, they should have attained some
degree of piety. But, as it is, they are not only no happier than men,
having, like them, a miserable soul, they are also more wretched, being
eternally bound to the body; for he does not leave us to infer that by
some progress in wisdom and piety they can become gods, but expressly
says that they are demons for ever.

  11. _Of the opinion of the Platonists, that the souls of men become
                       demons when disembodied._

He[345] says, indeed, that the souls of men are demons, and that men
become _Lares_ if they are good, _Lemures_ or _Larvæ_ if they are
bad, and _Manes_ if it is uncertain whether they deserve well or ill.
Who does not see at a glance that this is a mere whirlpool sucking
men to moral destruction? For, however wicked men have been, if they
suppose they shall become Larvæ or divine Manes, they will become
the worse the more love they have for inflicting injury; for, as
the Larvæ are hurtful demons made out of wicked men, these men must
suppose that after death they will be invoked with sacrifices and
divine honours that they may inflict injuries. But this question we
must not pursue. He also states that the blessed are called in Greek
εὐδαίμονες, because they are good souls, that is to say, good demons,
confirming his opinion that the souls of men are demons.

     12. _Of the three opposite qualities by which the Platonists
      distinguish between the nature of men and that of demons._

But at present we are speaking of those beings whom he described as
being properly intermediate between gods and men, in nature animals,
in mind rational, in soul subject to passion, in body aerial, in
duration eternal. When he had distinguished the gods, whom he placed
in the highest heaven, from men, whom he placed on earth, not only by
position but also by the unequal dignity of their natures, he concluded
in these words: "You have here two kinds of animals: the gods, widely
distinguished from men by sublimity of abode, perpetuity of life,
perfection of nature; for their habitations are separated by so wide
an interval that there can be no intimate communication between them,
and while the vitality of the one is eternal and indefeasible, that
of the others is fading and precarious, and while the spirits of the
gods are exalted in bliss, those of men are sunk in miseries."[346]
Here I find three opposite qualities ascribed to the extremes of being,
the highest and lowest. For, after mentioning the three qualities for
which we are to admire the gods, he repeated, though in other words,
the same three as a foil to the defects of man. The three qualities
are, "sublimity of abode, perpetuity of life, perfection of nature."
These he again mentioned so as to bring out their contrasts in man's
condition. As he had mentioned "sublimity of abode," he says, "Their
habitations are separated by so wide an interval;" as he had mentioned
"perpetuity of life," he says, that "while divine life is eternal and
indefeasible, human life is fading and precarious;" and as he had
mentioned "perfection of nature," he says, that "while the spirits of
the gods are exalted in bliss, those of men are sunk in miseries."
These three things, then, he predicates of the gods, exaltation,
eternity, blessedness; and of man he predicates the opposite, lowliness
of habitation, mortality, misery.

  13. _How the demons can mediate between gods and men if they have
      nothing in common with both, being neither blessed like the
      gods, nor miserable like men._

If, now, we endeavour to find between these opposites the mean occupied
by the demons, there can be no question as to their local position;
for, between the highest and lowest place, there is a place which
is rightly considered and called the middle place. The other two
qualities remain, and to them we must give greater care, that we may
see whether they are altogether foreign to the demons, or how they are
so bestowed upon them without infringing upon their mediate position.
We may dismiss the idea that they are foreign to them. For we cannot
say that the demons, being rational animals, are neither blessed nor
wretched, as we say of the beasts and plants, which are void of feeling
and reason, or as we say of the middle place, that it is neither the
highest nor the lowest. The demons, being rational, must be either
miserable or blessed. And, in like manner, we cannot say that they
are neither mortal nor immortal; for all living things either live
eternally or end life in death. Our author, besides, stated that the
demons are eternal. What remains for us to suppose, then, but that
these mediate beings are assimilated to the gods in one of the two
remaining qualities, and to men in the other? For if they received both
from above, or both from beneath, they should no longer be mediate, but
either rise to the gods above, or sink to men beneath. Therefore, as
it has been demonstrated that they must possess these two qualities,
they will hold their middle place if they receive one from each party.
Consequently, as they cannot receive their eternity from beneath,
because it is not there to receive, they must get it from above; and
accordingly they have no choice but to complete their mediate position
by accepting misery from men.

According to the Platonists, then, the gods, who occupy the highest
place, enjoy eternal blessedness, or blessed eternity; men, who
occupy the lowest, a mortal misery, or a miserable mortality; and
the demons, who occupy the mean, a miserable eternity, or an eternal
misery. As to those five things which Apuleius included in his
definition of demons, he did not show, as he promised, that the
demons are mediate. For three of them, that their nature is animal,
their mind rational, their soul subject to passions, he said that
they have in common with men; one thing, their eternity, in common
with the gods; and one proper to themselves, their aerial body. How,
then, are they intermediate, when they have three things in common
with the lowest, and only one in common with the highest? Who does
not see that the intermediate position is abandoned in proportion
as they tend to, and are depressed towards, the lowest extreme? But
perhaps we are to accept them as intermediate because of their one
property of an aerial body, as the two extremes have each their
proper body, the gods an ethereal, men a terrestrial body, and
because two of the qualities they possess in common with man they
possess also in common with the gods, namely, their animal nature
and rational mind. For Apuleius himself, in speaking of gods and
men, said, "You have two animal natures." And Platonists are wont
to ascribe a rational mind to the gods. Two qualities remain, their
liability to passion, and their eternity,--the first of which they
have in common with men, the second with the gods; so that they are
neither wafted to the highest nor depressed to the lowest extreme,
but perfectly poised in their intermediate position. But then, this
is the very circumstance which constitutes the eternal misery, or
miserable eternity, of the demons. For he who says that their soul
is subject to passions would also have said that they are miserable,
had he not blushed for their worshippers. Moreover, as the world
is governed, not by fortuitous haphazard, but, as the Platonists
themselves avow, by the providence of the supreme God, the misery of
the demons would not be eternal unless their wickedness were great.

If, then, the blessed are rightly styled _eudemons_, the demons
intermediate between gods and men are not eudemons. What, then, is
the local position of those good demons, who, above men but beneath
the gods, afford assistance to the former, minister to the latter?
For if they are good and eternal, they are doubtless blessed. But
eternal blessedness destroys their intermediate character, giving
them a close resemblance to the gods, and widely separating them
from men. And therefore the Platonists will in vain strive to show
how the good demons, if they are both immortal and blessed, can
justly be said to hold a middle place between the gods, who are
immortal and blessed, and men, who are mortal and miserable. For if
they have both immortality and blessedness in common with the gods,
and neither of these in common with men, who are both miserable and
mortal, are they not rather remote from men and united with the gods,
than intermediate between them? They would be intermediate if they
held one of their qualities in common with the one party, and the
other with the other, as man is a kind of mean between angels and
beasts,--the beast being an irrational and mortal animal, the angel
a rational and immortal one, while man, inferior to the angel and
superior to the beast, and having in common with the one mortality,
and with the other reason, is a rational and mortal animal. So,
when we seek for an intermediate between the blessed immortals and
miserable mortals, we should find a being which is either mortal and
blessed, or immortal and miserable.

     14. _Whether men, though mortal, can enjoy true blessedness._

It is a great question among men, whether man can be mortal and
blessed. Some, taking the humbler view of his condition, have denied
that he is capable of blessedness so long as he continues in this
mortal life; others, again, have spurned this idea, and have been
bold enough to maintain that, even though mortal, men may be blessed
by attaining wisdom. But if this be the case, why are not these wise
men constituted mediators between miserable mortals and the blessed
immortals, since they have blessedness in common with the latter, and
mortality in common with the former? Certainly, if they are blessed,
they envy no one (for what more miserable than envy?), but seek with
all their might to help miserable mortals on to blessedness, so that
after death they may become immortal, and be associated with the
blessed and immortal angels.

   15. _Of the man Christ Jesus, the Mediator between God and men_.

But if, as is much more probable and credible, it must needs be that
all men, so long as they are mortal, are also miserable, we must
seek an intermediate who is not only man, but also God, that, by
the interposition of His blessed mortality, He may bring men out of
their mortal misery to a blessed immortality. In this intermediate
two things are requisite, that He become mortal, and that He do not
continue mortal. He did become mortal, not rendering the divinity of
the Word infirm, but assuming the infirmity of flesh. Neither did
He continue mortal in the flesh, but raised it from the dead; for
it is the very fruit of His mediation that those, for the sake of
whose redemption He became the Mediator, should not abide eternally
in bodily death. Wherefore it became the Mediator between us and
God to have both a transient mortality and a permanent blessedness,
that by that which is transient He might be assimilated to mortals,
and might translate them from mortality to that which is permanent.
Good angels, therefore, cannot mediate between miserable mortals and
blessed immortals, for they themselves also are both blessed and
immortal; but evil angels can mediate, because they are immortal like
the one party, miserable like the other. To these is opposed the good
Mediator, who, in opposition to their immortality and misery, has
chosen to be mortal for a time, and has been able to continue blessed
in eternity. It is thus He has destroyed, by the humility of His
death and the benignity of His blessedness, those proud immortals and
hurtful wretches, and has prevented them from seducing to misery by
their boast of immortality those men whose hearts He has cleansed by
faith, and whom He has thus freed from their impure dominion.

Man, then, mortal and miserable, and far removed from the immortal and
the blessed, what medium shall he choose by which he may be united to
immortality and blessedness? The immortality of the demons, which might
have some charm for man, is miserable; the mortality of Christ, which
might offend man, exists no longer. In the one there is the fear of an
eternal misery; in the other, death, which could not be eternal, can no
longer be feared, and blessedness, which is eternal, must be loved. For
the immortal and miserable mediator interposes himself to prevent us
from passing to a blessed immortality, because that which hinders such
a passage, namely, misery, continues in him; but the mortal and blessed
Mediator interposed Himself, in order that, having passed through
mortality, He might of mortals make immortals (showing His power to do
this in His own resurrection), and from being miserable to raise them
to the blessed company from the number of whom He had Himself never
departed. There is, then, a wicked mediator, who separates friends,
and a good Mediator, who reconciles enemies. And those who separate
are numerous, because the multitude of the blessed are blessed only
by their participation in the one God; of which participation the
evil angels being deprived, they are wretched, and interpose to hinder
rather than to help to this blessedness, and by their very number
prevent us from reaching that one beatific good, to obtain which we
need not many but one Mediator, the uncreated Word of God, by whom all
things were made, and in partaking of whom we are blessed. I do not
say that He is Mediator because He is the Word, for as the Word He
is supremely blessed and supremely immortal, and therefore far from
miserable mortals; but He is Mediator as He is man, for by His humanity
He shows us that, in order to obtain that blessed and beatific good,
we need not seek other mediators to lead us through the successive
steps of this attainment, but that the blessed and beatific God,
having Himself become a partaker of our humanity, has afforded us
ready access to the participation of His divinity. For in delivering
us from our mortality and misery, He does not lead us to the immortal
and blessed angels, so that we should become immortal and blessed
by participating in their nature, but He leads us straight to that
Trinity, by participating in which the angels themselves are blessed.
Therefore, when He chose to be in the form of a servant, and lower than
the angels, that He might be our Mediator, He remained higher than the
angels, in the form of God,--Himself at once the way of life on earth
and life itself in heaven.

  16. _Whether it is reasonable in the Platonists to determine that
      the celestial gods decline contact with earthly things and
      intercourse with men, who therefore require the intercession of
      the demons._

That opinion, which the same Platonist avers that Plato uttered,
is not true, "that no god holds intercourse with men."[347] And
this, he says, is the chief evidence of their exaltation, that they
are never contaminated by contact with men. He admits, therefore,
that the demons are contaminated; and it follows that they cannot
cleanse those by whom they are themselves contaminated, and thus
all alike become impure, the demons by associating with men, and
men by worshipping the demons. Or, if they say that the demons are
not contaminated by associating and dealing with men, then they are
better than the gods, for the gods, were they to do so, would be
contaminated. For this, we are told, is the glory of the gods, that
they are so highly exalted that no human intercourse can sully them.
He affirms, indeed, that the supreme God, the Creator of all things,
whom we call the true God, is spoken of by Plato as the only God whom
the poverty of human speech fails even passably to describe; and
that even the wise, when their mental energy is as far as possible
delivered from the trammels of connection with the body, have only
such gleams of insight into His nature as may be compared to a flash
of lightning illumining the darkness. If, then, this supreme God, who
is truly exalted above all things, does nevertheless visit the minds
of the wise, when emancipated from the body, with an intelligible and
ineffable presence, though this be only occasional, and as it were
a swift flash of light athwart the darkness, why are the other gods
so sublimely removed from all contact with men, as if they would be
polluted by it? as if it were not a sufficient refutation of this
to lift up our eyes to those heavenly bodies which give the earth
its needful light. If the stars, though they, by his account, are
visible gods, are not contaminated when we look at them, neither are
the demons contaminated when men see them quite closely. But perhaps
it is the human voice, and not the eye, which pollutes the gods;
and therefore the demons are appointed to mediate and carry men's
utterances to the gods, who keep themselves remote through fear of
pollution? What am I to say of the other senses? For by smell neither
the demons, who are present, nor the gods, though they were present
and inhaling the exhalations of living men, would be polluted if
they are not contaminated with the effluvia of the carcases offered
in sacrifice. As for taste, they are pressed by no necessity of
repairing bodily decay, so as to be reduced to ask food from men. And
touch is in their own power. For while it may seem that contact is so
called, because the sense of touch is specially concerned in it, yet
the gods, if so minded, might mingle with men, so as to see and be
seen, hear and be heard; and where is the need of touching? For men
would not dare to desire this, if they were favoured with the sight
or conversation of gods or good demons; and if through excessive
curiosity they should desire it, how could they accomplish their wish
without the consent of the god or demon, when they cannot touch so
much as a sparrow unless it be caged?

There is, then, nothing to hinder the gods from mingling in a bodily
form with men, from seeing and being seen, from speaking and hearing.
And if the demons do thus mix with men, as I said, and are not
polluted, while the gods, were they to do so, should be polluted,
then the demons are less liable to pollution than the gods. And if
even the demons are contaminated, how can they help men to attain
blessedness after death, if, so far from being able to cleanse them,
and present them clean to the unpolluted gods, these mediators
are themselves polluted? And if they cannot confer this benefit
on men, what good can their friendly mediation do? Or shall its
result be, not that men find entrance to the gods, but that men and
demons abide together in a state of pollution, and consequently of
exclusion from blessedness? Unless, perhaps, some one may say that,
like sponges or things of that sort, the demons themselves, in the
process of cleansing their friends, become themselves the filthier in
proportion as the others become clean. But if this is the solution,
then the gods, who shun contact or intercourse with men for fear of
pollution, mix with demons who are far more polluted. Or perhaps
the gods, who cannot cleanse men without polluting themselves, can
without pollution cleanse the demons who have been contaminated
by human contact? Who can believe such follies, unless the demons
have practised their deceit upon him? If seeing and being seen is
contamination, and if the gods, whom Apuleius himself calls visible,
"the brilliant lights of the world,"[348] and the other stars, are
seen by men, are we to believe that the demons, who cannot be seen
unless they please, are safer from contamination? Or if it is only
the seeing and not the being seen which contaminates, then they must
deny that these gods of theirs, these brilliant lights of the world,
see men when their rays beam upon the earth. Their rays are not
contaminated by lighting on all manner of pollution, and are we to
suppose that the gods would be contaminated if they mixed with men,
and even if contact were needed in order to assist them? For there is
contact between the earth and the sun's or moon's rays, and yet this
does not pollute the light.

  17. _That to obtain the blessed life, which consists in partaking
      of the supreme good, man needs such mediation as is furnished
      not by a demon, but by Christ alone._

I am considerably surprised that such learned men, men who pronounce
all material and sensible things to be altogether inferior to those
that are spiritual and intelligible, should mention bodily contact
in connection with the blessed life. Is that sentiment of Plotinus
forgotten?--"We must fly to our beloved fatherland. There is the
Father, there our all. What fleet or flight shall convey us thither?
Our way is, to become like God."[349] If, then, one is nearer to God
the liker he is to Him, there is no other distance from God than
unlikeness to Him. And the soul of man is unlike that incorporeal and
unchangeable and eternal essence, in proportion as it craves things
temporal and mutable. And as the things beneath, which are mortal and
impure, cannot hold intercourse with the immortal purity which is
above, a mediator is indeed needed to remove this difficulty; but not
a mediator who resembles the highest order of being by possessing an
immortal body, and the lowest by having a diseased soul, which makes
him rather grudge that we be healed than help our cure. We need a
Mediator who, being united to us here below by the mortality of His
body, should at the same time be able to afford us truly divine help
in cleansing and liberating us by means of the immortal righteousness
of His spirit, whereby He remained heavenly even while here upon
earth. Far be it from the incontaminable God to fear pollution from
the man[350] He assumed, or from the men among whom He lived in the
form of a man. For, though His incarnation showed us nothing else,
these two wholesome facts were enough, that true divinity cannot be
polluted by flesh, and that demons are not to be considered better
than ourselves because they have not flesh.[351] This, then, as
Scripture says, is the "Mediator between God and man, the man Christ
Jesus,"[352] of whose divinity, whereby He is equal to the Father,
and humanity, whereby He has become like us, this is not the place to
speak as fully as I could.

   18. _That the deceitful demons, while promising to conduct men to
 God by their intercession, mean to turn them from the path of truth._

As to the demons, these false and deceitful mediators, who, though
their uncleanness of spirit frequently reveals their misery and
malignity, yet, by virtue of the levity of their aerial bodies and
the nature of the places they inhabit, do contrive to turn us aside
and hinder our spiritual progress; they do not help us towards God,
but rather prevent us from reaching Him. Since even in the bodily
way, which is erroneous and misleading, and in which righteousness
does not walk,--for we must rise to God not by bodily ascent, but
by incorporeal or spiritual conformity to Him,--in this bodily way,
I say, which the friends of the demons arrange according to the
weight of the various elements, the aerial demons being set between
the ethereal gods and earthy men, they imagine the gods to have
this privilege, that by this local interval they are preserved from
the pollution of human contact. Thus they believe that the demons
are contaminated by men rather than men cleansed by the demons,
and that the gods themselves should be polluted unless their local
superiority preserved them. Who is so wretched a creature as to
expect purification by a way in which men are contaminating, demons
contaminated, and gods contaminable? Who would not rather choose
that way whereby we escape the contamination of the demons, and
are cleansed from pollution by the incontaminable God, so as to be
associated with the uncontaminated angels?

    19. _That even among their own worshippers the name "demon" has
                     never a good signification._

But as some of these demonolators, as I may call them, and among them
Labeo, allege that those whom they call demons are by others called
angels, I must, if I would not seem to dispute merely about words,
say something about the good angels. The Platonists do not deny their
existence, but prefer to call them good demons. But we, following
Scripture, according to which we are Christians, have learned that some
of the angels are good, some bad, but never have we read in Scripture
of good demons; but wherever this or any cognate term occurs, it is
applied only to wicked spirits. And this usage has become so universal,
that, even among those who are called pagans, and who maintain that
demons as well as gods should be worshipped, there is scarcely a man,
no matter how well read and learned, who would dare to say by way of
praise to his slave, You have a demon, or who could doubt that the
man to whom he said this would consider it a curse? Why, then, are we
to subject ourselves to the necessity of explaining away what we have
said when we have given offence by using the word demon, with which
every one, or almost every one, connects a bad meaning, while we can so
easily evade this necessity by using the word angel?

       20. _Of the kind of knowledge which puffs up the demons._

However, the very origin of the name suggests something worthy of
consideration, if we compare it with the divine books. They are
called demons from a Greek word meaning knowledge.[353] Now the
apostle, speaking with the Holy Spirit, says, "Knowledge puffeth up,
but charity buildeth up."[354] And this can only be understood as
meaning that without charity knowledge does no good, but inflates a
man or magnifies him with an empty windiness. The demons, then, have
knowledge without charity, and are thereby so inflated or proud,
that they crave those divine honours and religious services which
they know to be due to the true God, and still, as far as they can,
exact these from all over whom they have influence. Against this
pride of the demons, under which the human race was held subject
as its merited punishment, there was exerted the mighty influence
of the humility of God, who appeared in the form of a servant; but
men, resembling the demons in pride, but not in knowledge, and being
puffed up with uncleanness, failed to recognise Him.

   21. _To what extent the Lord was pleased to make Himself known to
                             the demons._

The devils themselves knew this manifestation of God so well, that
they said to the Lord, though clothed with the infirmity of flesh,
"What have we to do with Thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to
destroy us before the time?"[355] From these words, it is clear that
they had great knowledge, and no charity. They feared His power to
punish, and did not love His righteousness. He made known to them
so much as He pleased, and He was pleased to make known so much as
was needful. But He made Himself known, not as to the holy angels,
who know Him as the Word of God, and rejoice in His eternity, which
they partake, but as was requisite to strike with terror the beings
from whose tyranny He was going to free those who were predestined to
His kingdom and the glory of it, eternally true and truly eternal.
He made Himself known, therefore, to the demons, not by that which
is life eternal, and the unchangeable light which illumines the
pious, whose souls are cleansed by the faith that is in Him, but by
some temporal effects of His power, and evidences of His mysterious
presence, which were more easily discerned by the angelic senses
even of wicked spirits than by human infirmity. But when He judged
it advisable gradually to suppress these signs, and to retire into
deeper obscurity, the prince of the demons doubted whether He were
the Christ, and endeavoured to ascertain this by tempting Him, in so
far as He permitted Himself to be tempted, that He might adapt the
manhood He wore to be an example for our imitation. But after that
temptation, when, as Scripture says, He was ministered to[356] by the
angels who are good and holy, and therefore objects of terror to the
impure spirits, He revealed more and more distinctly to the demons
how great He was, so that, even though the infirmity of His flesh
might seem contemptible, none dared to resist His authority.

   22. _The difference between the knowledge of the holy angels and
                         that of the demons._

The good angels, therefore, hold cheap all that knowledge of
material and transitory things which the demons are so proud of
possessing,--not that they are ignorant of these things, but because
the love of God, whereby they are sanctified, is very dear to them,
and because, in comparison of that not merely immaterial but also
unchangeable and ineffable beauty, with the holy love of which they
are inflamed, they despise all things which are beneath it, and all
that is not it, that they may with every good thing that is in them
enjoy that good which is the source of their goodness. And therefore
they have a more certain knowledge even of those temporal and mutable
things, because they contemplate their principles and causes in the
word of God, by which the world was made,--those causes by which one
thing is approved, another rejected, and all arranged. But the demons
do not behold in the wisdom of God these eternal, and, as it were,
cardinal causes of things temporal, but only foresee a larger part
of the future than men do, by reason of their greater acquaintance
with the signs which are hidden from us. Sometimes, too, it is their
own intentions they predict. And, finally, the demons are frequently,
the angels never, deceived. For it is one thing, by the aid of things
temporal and changeable, to conjecture the changes that may occur in
time, and to modify such things by one's own will and faculty,--and
this is to a certain extent permitted to the demons,--it is another
thing to foresee the changes of times in the eternal and immutable
laws of God, which live in His wisdom, and to know the will of God,
the most infallible and powerful of all causes, by participating
in His spirit; and this is granted to the holy angels by a just
discretion. And thus they are not only eternal, but blessed And the
good wherein they are blessed is God, by whom they were created. For
without end they enjoy the contemplation and participation of Him.

  23. _That the name of gods is falsely given to the gods of the
      Gentiles, though Scripture applies it both to the holy angels
      and just men._

If the Platonists prefer to call these angels gods rather than
demons, and to reckon them with those whom Plato, their founder and
master, maintains were created by the supreme God,[357] they are
welcome to do so, for I will not spend strength in fighting about
words. For if they say that these beings are immortal, and yet
created by the supreme God, blessed but by cleaving to their Creator
and not by their own power, they say what we say, whatever name they
call these beings by. And that this is the opinion either of all or
the best of the Platonists can be ascertained by their writings.
And regarding the name itself, if they see fit to call such blessed
and immortal creatures gods, this need not give rise to any serious
discussion between us, since in our own Scriptures we read, "The God
of gods, the Lord hath spoken;"[358] and again, "Confess to the God
of gods;"[359] and again, "He is a great King above all gods."[360]
And where it is said, "He is to be feared above all gods," the reason
is forthwith added, for it follows, "for all the gods of the nations
are idols, but the Lord made the heavens."[361] He said, "above all
gods," but added, "of the nations;" that is to say, above all those
whom the nations count gods, in other words, demons. By them He is
to be feared with that terror in which they cried to the Lord, "Hast
Thou come to destroy us?" But where it is said, "the God of gods," it
cannot be understood as the god of the demons; and far be it from us
to say that "great King above all gods" means "great King above all
demons." But the same Scripture also calls men who belong to God's
people "gods:" "I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you children of
the Most High."[362] Accordingly, when God is styled God of gods,
this may be understood of these gods; and so, too, when He is styled
a great King above all gods.

Nevertheless, some one may say, if men are called gods because they
belong to God's people, whom He addresses by means of men and angels,
are not the immortals, who already enjoy that felicity which men seek
to attain by worshipping God, much more worthy of the title? And
what shall we reply to this, if not that it is not without reason
that in holy Scripture men are more expressly styled gods than those
immortal and blessed spirits to whom we hope to be equal in the
resurrection, because there was a fear that the weakness of unbelief,
being overcome with the excellence of these beings, might presume to
constitute some of them a god? In the case of men this was a result
that need not be guarded against. Besides, it was right that the men
belonging to God's people should be more expressly called gods, to
assure and certify them that He who is called God of gods is their
God; because, although those immortal and blessed spirits who dwell
in the heavens are called gods, yet they are not called gods of gods,
that is to say, gods of the men who constitute God's people, and
to whom it is said, "I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you the
children of the Most High." Hence the saying of the apostle, "Though
there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, as
there be gods many and lords many, but to us there is but one God,
the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus
Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him."[363]

We need not, therefore, laboriously contend about the name, since
the reality is so obvious as to admit of no shadow of doubt. That
which we say, that the angels who are sent to announce the will
of God to men belong to the order of blessed immortals, does not
satisfy the Platonists, because they believe that this ministry is
discharged, not by those whom they call gods, in other words, not by
blessed immortals, but by demons, whom they dare not affirm to be
blessed, but only immortal, or if they do rank them among the blessed
immortals, yet only as good demons, and not as gods who dwell in
the heaven of heavens remote from all human contact. But, though it
may seem mere wrangling about a name, yet the name of demon is so
detestable that we cannot bear in any sense to apply it to the holy
angels. Now, therefore, let us close this book in the assurance that,
whatever we call these immortal and blessed spirits, who yet are only
creatures, they do not act as mediators to introduce to everlasting
felicity miserable mortals, from whom they are severed by a twofold
distinction. And those others who are mediators, in so far as they
have immortality in common with their superiors, and misery in common
with their inferiors (for they are justly miserable in punishment
of their wickedness), cannot bestow upon us, but rather grudge that
we should possess, the blessedness from which they themselves are
excluded. And so the friends of the demons have nothing considerable
to allege why we should rather worship them as our helpers than avoid
them as traitors to our interests. As for those spirits who are
good, and who are therefore not only immortal but also blessed, and
to whom they suppose we should give the title of gods, and offer
worship and sacrifices for the sake of inheriting a future life, we
shall, by God's help, endeavour in the following book to show that
these spirits, call them by what name, and ascribe to them what
nature you will, desire that religious worship be paid to God alone,
by whom they were created, and by whose communications of Himself to
them they are blessed.


[329] See Plutarch, on the Cessation of Oracles.

[330] The _De Deo Socratis._

[331] _De Fin._ iii. 20; _Tusc. Disp._ iii. 4.

[332] The distinction between _bona_ and _commoda_ is thus given by
Seneca (_Ep._ 87, _ad fin._): "Commodum est quod plus usus est quam
molestiæ; bonum sincerum debet esse et ab omni parte innoxium."

[333] Book xix. ch. 1.

[334] See _Diog. Laert._ ii. 71.

[335] Virgil, _Æneid_, iv. 449.

[336] Seneca, _De Clem._ ii. 4 and 5.

[337] _Pro. Lig._ c. 12.

[338] _De Oratore_, i. 11, 47.

[339] _De Deo Soc._

[340] _De Deo Soc._

[341] _De Deo Soc._

[342] _Cat. Conj._ i.

[343] Plotinus died in 270 A.D. For his relation to Plato, see
Augustine's _Contra Acad._ iii. 41.

[344] _Ennead._ iv. 3. 12.

[345] Apuleius, not Plotinus.

[346] _De Deo Socratis._

[347] Apuleius, _ibid._

[348] Virgil, _Georg._ i. 5.

[349] Augustine apparently quotes from memory from two passages of
the _Enneades_, I. vi. 8, and ii. 3.

[350] Or, humanity.

[351] Comp. _De Trin._ 13. 22.

[352] 1 Tim. ii. 5.

[353] δαίμων = δαήμων, knowing; so Plato, _Cratylus_, 398. B.

[354] 1 Cor. viii. 1.

[355] Mark i. 24.

[356] Matt. iv. 3-11.

[357] _Timæus._

[358] Ps. l. 1.

[359] Ps. cxxxvi. 2.

[360] Ps. xcv. 3.

[361] Ps. xcvi. 5, 6.

[362] Ps. lxxxii. 6.

[363] 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6.

                              BOOK TENTH.



  1. _That the Platonists themselves have determined that God alone
      can confer happiness either on angels or men, but that it yet
      remains a question whether those spirits whom they direct us
      to worship, that we may obtain happiness, wish sacrifice to be
      offered to themselves, or to the one God only._

It is the decided opinion of all who use their brains, that all men
desire to be happy. But who are happy, or how they become so, these
are questions about which the weakness of human understanding stirs
endless and angry controversies, in which philosophers have wasted
their strength and expended their leisure. To adduce and discuss
their various opinions would be tedious, and is unnecessary. The
reader may remember what we said in the eighth book, while making a
selection of the philosophers with whom we might discuss the question
regarding the future life of happiness, whether we can reach it by
paying divine honours to the one true God, the Creator of all gods,
or by worshipping many gods, and he will not expect us to repeat
here the same argument, especially as, even if he has forgotten it,
he may refresh his memory by reperusal. For we made selection of
the Platonists, justly esteemed the noblest of the philosophers,
because they had the wit to perceive that the human soul, immortal
and rational, or intellectual, as it is, cannot be happy except
by partaking of the light of that God by whom both itself and the
world were made; and also that the happy life which all men desire
cannot be reached by any who does not cleave with a pure and holy
love to that one supreme good, the unchangeable God. But as even
these philosophers, whether accommodating to the folly and ignorance
of the people, or, as the apostle says, "becoming vain in their
imaginations,"[364] supposed or allowed others to suppose that many
gods should be worshipped, so that some of them considered that
divine honour by worship and sacrifice should be rendered even to
the demons (an error I have already exploded), we must now, by God's
help, ascertain what is thought about our religious worship and piety
by those immortal and blessed spirits, who dwell in the heavenly
places among dominations, principalities, powers, whom the Platonists
call gods, and some either good demons, or, like us, angels,--that
is to say, to put it more plainly, whether the angels desire us to
offer sacrifice and worship, and to consecrate our possessions and
ourselves, to them, or only to God, theirs and ours.

For this is the worship which is due to the Divinity, or, to
speak more accurately, to the Deity; and, to express this worship
in a single word, as there does not occur to me any Latin term
sufficiently exact, I shall avail myself, whenever necessary, of a
Greek word. Λατρεία, whenever it occurs in Scripture, is rendered
by the word service. But that service which is due to men, and in
reference to which the apostle writes that servants must be subject
to their own masters,[365] is usually designated by another word
in Greek,[366] whereas the service which is paid to God alone by
worship, is always, or almost always, called λατρεία in the usage
of those who wrote from the divine oracles. This cannot so well be
called simply "cultus," for in that case it would not seem to be due
exclusively to God; for the same word is applied to the respect we
pay either to the memory or the living presence of men. From it, too,
we derive the words agriculture, colonist, and others.[367] And the
heathen call their gods "cœlicolæ," not because they worship heaven,
but because they dwell in it, and as it were colonize it,--not in
the sense in which we call those colonists who are attached to their
native soil to cultivate it under the rule of the owners, but in the
sense in which the great master of the Latin language says, "There
was an ancient city inhabited by Tyrian colonists."[368] He called
them colonists, not because they cultivated the soil, but because
they inhabited the city. So, too, cities that have hived off from
larger cities are called colonies. Consequently, while it is quite
true that, using the word in a special sense, "cult" can be rendered
to none but God, yet, as the word is applied to other things besides,
the cult due to God cannot in Latin be expressed by this word alone.

The word "religion" might seem to express more definitely the worship
due to God alone, and therefore Latin translators have used this word
to represent θρησκεία; yet, as not only the uneducated, but also
the best instructed, use the word religion to express human ties,
and relationships, and affinities, it would inevitably introduce
ambiguity to use this word in discussing the worship of God, unable
as we are to say that religion is nothing else than the worship
of God, without contradicting the common usage which applies this
word to the observance of social relationships. "Piety," again, or,
as the Greeks say, εὐσέβεια, is commonly understood as the proper
designation of the worship of God. Yet this word also is used of
dutifulness to parents. The common people, too, use it of works
of charity, which, I suppose, arises from the circumstance that
God enjoins the performance of such works, and declares that He
is pleased with them instead of, or in preference to sacrifices.
From this usage it has also come to pass that God Himself is called
pious,[369] in which sense the Greeks never use εὐσεβεῖν, though
εὐσέβεια is applied to works of charity by their common people
also. In some passages of Scripture, therefore, they have sought to
preserve the distinction by using not εὐσέβεια, the more general
word, but θεοσέβεια, which literally denotes the worship of God.
We, on the other hand, cannot express either of these ideas by one
word. This worship, then, which in Greek is called λατρεία, and in
Latin "servitus" [service], but the service due to God only; this
worship, which in Greek is called θρησκεία, and in Latin "religio,"
but the religion by which we are bound to God only; this worship,
which they call θεοσέβεια, but which we cannot express in one word,
but call it the worship of God,--this, we say, belongs only to that
God who is the true God, and who makes His worshippers gods.[370] And
therefore, whoever these immortal and blessed inhabitants of heaven
be, if they do not love us, and wish us to be blessed, then we ought
not to worship them; and if they do love us and desire our happiness,
they cannot wish us to be made happy by any other means than they
themselves have enjoyed,--for how could they wish our blessedness to
flow from one source, theirs from another?

   2. _The opinion of Plotinus the Platonist regarding enlightenment
                             from above._

But with these more estimable philosophers we have no dispute in
this matter. For they perceived, and in various forms abundantly
expressed in their writings, that these spirits have the same source
of happiness as ourselves,--a certain intelligible light, which is
their God, and is different from themselves, and illumines them that
they may be penetrated with light, and enjoy perfect happiness in the
participation of God. Plotinus, commenting on Plato, repeatedly and
strongly asserts that not even the soul which they believe to be the
soul of the world, derives its blessedness from any other source than
we do, viz. from that Light which is distinct from it and created
it, and by whose intelligible illumination it enjoys light in things
intelligible. He also compares those spiritual things to the vast and
conspicuous heavenly bodies, as if God were the sun, and the soul the
moon; for they suppose that the moon derives its light from the sun.
That great Platonist, therefore, says that the rational soul, or rather
the intellectual soul,--in which class he comprehends the souls of the
blessed immortals who inhabit heaven,--has no nature superior to it
save God, the Creator of the world and the soul itself, and that these
heavenly spirits derive their blessed life, and the light of truth,
from the same source as ourselves, agreeing with the gospel where we
read, "There was a man sent from God whose name was John; the same came
for a witness to bear witness of that Light, that through Him all
might believe. He was not that Light, but that he might bear witness of
the Light. That was the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh
into the world;"[371]--a distinction which sufficiently proves that the
rational or intellectual soul such as John had cannot be its own light,
but needs to receive illumination from another, the true Light. This
John himself avows when he delivers his witness: "We have all received
of His fulness."[372]

  3. _That the Platonists, though knowing something of the Creator
      of the universe, have misunderstood the true worship of God, by
      giving divine honour to angels, good or bad._

This being so, if the Platonists, or those who think with them,
knowing God, glorified Him as God and gave thanks, if they did
not become vain in their own thoughts, if they did not originate
or yield to the popular errors, they would certainly acknowledge
that neither could the blessed immortals retain, nor we miserable
mortals reach, a happy condition without worshipping the one God
of gods, who is both theirs and ours. To Him we owe the service
which is called in Greek λατρεία, whether we render it outwardly or
inwardly; for we are all His temple, each of us severally and all
of us together, because He condescends to inhabit each individually
and the whole harmonious body, being no greater in all than in
each, since He is neither expanded nor divided. Our heart when it
rises to Him is His altar; the priest who intercedes for us is His
Only-begotten; we sacrifice to Him bleeding victims when we contend
for His truth even unto blood; to Him we offer the sweetest incense
when we come before Him burning with holy and pious love; to Him
we devote and surrender ourselves and His gifts in us; to Him, by
solemn feasts and on appointed days, we consecrate the memory of
His benefits, lest through the lapse of time ungrateful oblivion
should steal upon us; to Him we offer on the altar of our heart the
sacrifice of humility and praise, kindled by the fire of burning
love. It is that we may see Him, so far as He can be seen; it is
that we may cleave to Him, that we are cleansed from all stain of
sins and evil passions, and are consecrated in His name. For He is
the fountain of our happiness, He the end of all our desires. Being
attached to Him, or rather let me say, re-attached,--for we had
detached ourselves and lost hold of Him,--being, I say, re-attached
to Him,[373] we tend towards Him by love, that we may rest in Him,
and find our blessedness by attaining that end. For our good, about
which philosophers have so keenly contended, is nothing else than to
be united to God. It is, if I may say so, by spiritually embracing
Him that the intellectual soul is filled and impregnated with true
virtues. We are enjoined to love this good with all our heart,
with all our soul, with all our strength. To this good we ought to
be led by those who love us, and to lead those we love. Thus are
fulfilled those two commandments on which hang all the law and the
prophets: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
with all thy mind, and with all thy soul;" and "Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself."[374] For, that man might be intelligent in
his self-love, there was appointed for him an end to which he might
refer all his actions, that he might be blessed. For he who loves
himself wishes nothing else than this. And the end set before him is
"to draw near to God."[375] And so, when one who has this intelligent
self-love is commanded to love his neighbour as himself, what else
is enjoined than that he shall do all in his power to commend to him
the love of God? This is the worship of God, this is true religion,
this right piety, this the service due to God only. If any immortal
power, then, no matter with what virtue endowed, loves us as himself,
he must desire that we find our happiness by submitting ourselves to
Him, in submission to whom he himself finds happiness. If he does not
worship God, he is wretched, because deprived of God; if he worships
God, he cannot wish to be worshipped in God's stead. On the contrary,
these higher powers acquiesce heartily in the divine sentence in
which it is written, "He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the
Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed."[376]

           4. _That sacrifice is due to the true God only._

But, putting aside for the present the other religious services
with which God is worshipped, certainly no man would dare to say
that sacrifice is due to any but God. Many parts, indeed, of divine
worship are unduly used in showing honour to men, whether through an
excessive humility or pernicious flattery; yet, while this is done,
those persons who are thus worshipped and venerated, or even adored,
are reckoned no more than human; and who ever thought of sacrificing
save to one whom he knew, supposed, or feigned to be a god? And how
ancient a part of God's worship sacrifice is, those two brothers,
Cain and Abel, sufficiently show, of whom God rejected the elder's
sacrifice, and looked favourably on the younger's.

  5. _Of the sacrifices which God does not require, but wished to
      be observed for the exhibition of those things which He does

And who is so foolish as to suppose that the things offered to God
are needed by Him for some uses of His own? Divine Scripture in many
places explodes this idea. Not to be wearisome, suffice it to quote
this brief saying from a psalm: "I have said to the Lord, Thou art my
God: for Thou needest not my goodness."[377] We must believe, then,
that God has no need, not only of cattle, or any other earthly and
material thing, but even of man's righteousness, and that whatever
right worship is paid to God profits not Him, but man. For no man
would say he did a benefit to a fountain by drinking, or to the
light by seeing. And the fact that the ancient church offered animal
sacrifices, which the people of God now-a-days reads of without
imitating, proves nothing else than this, that those sacrifices
signified the things which we do for the purpose of drawing near
to God, and inducing our neighbour to do the same. A sacrifice,
therefore, is the visible sacrament or sacred sign of an invisible
sacrifice. Hence that penitent in the psalm, or it may be the
Psalmist himself, entreating God to be merciful to his sins, says,
"If Thou desiredst sacrifice, I would give it: Thou delightest not
in whole burnt-offerings. The sacrifice of God is a broken heart: a
heart contrite and humble God will not despise."[378] Observe how, in
the very words in which he is expressing God's refusal of sacrifice,
he shows that God requires sacrifice. He does not desire the
sacrifice of a slaughtered beast, but He desires the sacrifice of a
contrite heart. Thus, that sacrifice which he says God does not wish,
is the symbol of the sacrifice which God does wish. God does not wish
sacrifices in the sense in which foolish people think He wishes them,
viz. to gratify His own pleasure. For if He had not wished that the
sacrifices He requires, as, _e.g._, a heart contrite and humbled by
penitent sorrow, should be symbolized by those sacrifices which He
was thought to desire because pleasant to Himself, the old law would
never have enjoined their presentation; and they were destined to
be merged when the fit opportunity arrived, in order that men might
not suppose that the sacrifices themselves, rather than the things
symbolized by them, were pleasing to God or acceptable in us. Hence,
in another passage from another psalm, he says, "If I were hungry, I
would not tell thee; for the world is mine and the fulness thereof.
Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?"[379]
as if He should say, Supposing such things were necessary to me, I
would never ask thee for what I have in my own hand. Then he goes
on to mention what these signify: "Offer unto God the sacrifice of
praise, and pay thy vows unto the Most High. And call upon me in
the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify
me."[380] So in another prophet: "Wherewith shall I come before the
Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him
with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be
pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of
oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of
my body for the sin of my soul? Hath He showed thee, O man, what is
good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"[381] In the words of
this prophet, these two things are distinguished and set forth with
sufficient explicitness, that God does not require these sacrifices
for their own sakes, and that He does require the sacrifices which
they symbolize. In the epistle entitled "To the Hebrews" it is said,
"To do good and to communicate, forget not: for with such sacrifices
God is well pleased."[382] And so, when it is written, "I desire
mercy rather than sacrifice,"[383] nothing else is meant than that
one sacrifice is preferred to another; for that which in common
speech is called sacrifice is only the symbol of the true sacrifice.
Now mercy is the true sacrifice, and therefore it is said, as I have
just quoted, "with such sacrifices God is well pleased." All the
divine ordinances, therefore, which we read concerning the sacrifices
in the service of the tabernacle or the temple, we are to refer to
the love of God and our neighbour. For "on these two commandments,"
as it is written, "hang all the law and the prophets."[384]

                6. _Of the true and perfect sacrifice._

Thus a true sacrifice is every work which is done that we may be
united to God in holy fellowship, and which has a reference to that
supreme good and end in which alone we can be truly blessed.[385]
And therefore even the mercy we show to men, if it is not shown for
God's sake, is not a sacrifice. For, though made or offered by man,
sacrifice is a divine thing, as those who called it _sacrifice_[386]
meant to indicate. Thus man himself, consecrated in the name of God,
and vowed to God, is a sacrifice in so far as he dies to the world
that he may live to God. For this is a part of that mercy which each
man shows to himself; as it is written, "Have mercy on thy soul by
pleasing God."[387] Our body, too, is a sacrifice when we chasten
it by temperance, if we do so as we ought, for God's sake, that we
may not yield our members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin,
but instruments of righteousness unto God.[388] Exhorting to this
sacrifice, the apostle says, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by
the mercy of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."[389] If,
then, the body, which, being inferior, the soul uses as a servant or
instrument, is a sacrifice when it is used rightly, and with reference
to God, how much more does the soul itself become a sacrifice when
it offers itself to God, in order that, being inflamed by the fire of
His love, it may receive of His beauty and become pleasing to Him,
losing the shape of earthly desire, and being remoulded in the image
of permanent loveliness? And this, indeed, the apostle subjoins,
saying, "And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed
in the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good,
and acceptable, and perfect will of God."[390] Since, therefore, true
sacrifices are works of mercy to ourselves or others, done with a
reference to God, and since works of mercy have no other object than
the relief of distress or the conferring of happiness, and since there
is no happiness apart from that good of which it is said, "It is good
for me to be very near to God,"[391] it follows that the whole redeemed
city, that is to say, the congregation or community of the saints, is
offered to God as our sacrifice through the great High Priest, who
offered Himself to God in His passion for us, that we might be members
of this glorious head, according to the form of a servant. For it was
this form He offered, in this He was offered, because it is according
to it He is Mediator, in this He is our Priest, in this the Sacrifice.
Accordingly, when the apostle had exhorted us to present our bodies
a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, our reasonable service,
and not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed in the
renewing of our mind, that we might prove what is that good, and
acceptable, and perfect will of God, that is to say, the true sacrifice
of ourselves, he says, "For I say, through the grace of God which is
given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself
more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according
as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For, as we have
many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so
we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of
another, having gifts differing according to the grace that is given
to us."[392] This is the sacrifice of Christians: we, being many, are
one body in Christ. And this also is the sacrifice which the Church
continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, known to the
faithful, in which she teaches that she herself is offered in the
offering she makes to God.

   7. _Of the love of the holy angels, which prompts them to desire
        that we worship the one true God, and not themselves._

It is very right that these blessed and immortal spirits, who
inhabit celestial dwellings, and rejoice in the communications
of their Creator's fulness, firm in His eternity, assured in His
truth, holy by His grace, since they compassionately and tenderly
regard us miserable mortals, and wish us to become immortal and
happy, do not desire us to sacrifice to themselves, but to Him whose
sacrifice they know themselves to be in common with us. For we and
they together are the one city of God, to which it is said in the
psalm, "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God;"[393] the
human part sojourning here below, the angelic aiding from above. For
from that heavenly city, in which God's will is the intelligible
and unchangeable law, from that heavenly council-chamber,--for
they sit in counsel regarding us,--that holy Scripture, descended
to us by the ministry of angels, in which it is written, "He that
sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be
utterly destroyed,"[394]--this Scripture, this law, these precepts,
have been confirmed by such miracles, that it is sufficiently evident
to whom these immortal and blessed spirits, who desire us to be like
themselves, wish us to sacrifice.

  8. _Of the miracles which God has condescended to adhibit, through
      the ministry of angels, to His promises for the confirmation of
      the faith of the godly._

I should seem tedious were I to recount all the ancient miracles,
which were wrought in attestation of God's promises which He made
to Abraham thousands of years ago, that in his seed all the nations
of the earth should be blessed.[395] For who can but marvel that
Abraham's barren wife should have given birth to a son at an age
when not even a prolific woman could bear children; or, again, that
when Abraham sacrificed, a flame from heaven should have run between
the divided parts;[396] or that the angels in human form, whom he
had hospitably entertained, and who had renewed God's promise of
offspring, should also have predicted the destruction of Sodom by
fire from heaven;[397] and that his nephew Lot should have been
rescued from Sodom by the angels as the fire was just descending,
while his wife, who looked back as she went, and was immediately
turned into salt, stood as a sacred beacon warning us that no one
who is being saved should long for what he is leaving? How striking
also were the wonders done by Moses to rescue God's people from the
yoke of slavery in Egypt, when the magi of the Pharaoh, that is, the
king of Egypt, who tyrannized over this people, were suffered to do
some wonderful things that they might be vanquished all the more
signally! They did these things by the magical arts and incantations
to which the evil spirits or demons are addicted; while Moses, having
as much greater power as he had right on his side, and having the
aid of angels, easily conquered them in the name of the Lord who
made heaven and earth. And, in fact, the magicians failed at the
third plague; whereas Moses, dealing out the miracles delegated to
him, brought ten plagues upon the land, so that the hard hearts
of Pharaoh and the Egyptians yielded, and the people were let go.
But, quickly repenting, and essaying to overtake the departing
Hebrews, who had crossed the sea on dry ground, they were covered
and overwhelmed in the returning waters. What shall I say of those
frequent and stupendous exhibitions of divine power, while the people
were conducted through the wilderness?--of the waters which could not
be drunk, but lost their bitterness, and quenched the thirsty, when
at God's command a piece of wood was cast into them? of the manna
that descended from heaven to appease their hunger, and which begat
worms and putrefied when any one collected more than the appointed
quantity, and yet, though double was gathered on the day before the
Sabbath (it not being lawful to gather it on that day), remained
fresh? of the birds which filled the camp, and turned appetite into
satiety when they longed for flesh, which it seemed impossible to
supply to so vast a population? of the enemies who met them, and
opposed their passage with arms, and were defeated without the loss
of a single Hebrew, when Moses prayed with his hands extended in
the form of a cross? of the seditious persons who arose among God's
people, and separated themselves from the divinely-ordered community,
and were swallowed up alive by the earth, a visible token of an
invisible punishment? of the rock struck with the rod, and pouring
out waters more than enough for all the host? of the deadly serpents'
bites, sent in just punishment of sin, but healed by looking at the
lifted brazen serpent, so that not only were the tormented people
healed, but a symbol of the crucifixion of death set before them in
this destruction of death by death? It was this serpent which was
preserved in memory of this event, and was afterwards worshipped by
the mistaken people as an idol, and was destroyed by the pious and
God-fearing king Hezekiah, much to his credit.

   9. _Of the illicit arts connected with demonolatry, and of which
       the Platonist Porphyry adopts some, and discards others._

These miracles, and many others of the same nature, which it were
tedious to mention, were wrought for the purpose of commending
the worship of the one true God, and prohibiting the worship of a
multitude of false gods. Moreover, they were wrought by simple faith
and godly confidence, not by the incantations and charms composed
under the influence of a criminal tampering with the unseen world, of
an art which they call either magic, or by the more abominable title
necromancy,[398] or the more honourable designation theurgy; for they
wish to discriminate between those whom the people call magicians,
who practise necromancy, and are addicted to illicit arts and
condemned, and those others who seem to them to be worthy of praise
for their practice of theurgy,--the truth, however, being that both
classes are the slaves of the deceitful rites of the demons whom they
invoke under the names of angels.

For even Porphyry promises some kind of purgation of the soul by the
help of theurgy, though he does so with some hesitation and shame,
and denies that this art can secure to any one a return to God; so
that you can detect his opinion vacillating between the profession
of philosophy and an art which he feels to be presumptuous and
sacrilegious. For at one time he warns us to avoid it as deceitful,
and prohibited by law, and dangerous to those who practise it; then
again, as if in deference to its advocates, he declares it useful for
cleansing one part of the soul, not, indeed, the intellectual part,
by which the truth of things intelligible, which have no sensible
images, is recognised, but the spiritual part, which takes cognizance
of the images of things material. This part, he says, is prepared and
fitted for intercourse with spirits and angels, and for the vision of
the gods, by the help of certain theurgic consecrations, or, as they
call them, mysteries. He acknowledges, however, that these theurgic
mysteries impart to the intellectual soul no such purity as fits it
to see its God, and recognise the things that truly exist. And from
this acknowledgment we may infer what kind of gods these are, and
what kind of vision of them is imparted by theurgic consecrations,
if by it one cannot see the things which truly exist. He says,
further, that the rational, or, as he prefers calling it, the
intellectual soul, can pass into the heavens without the spiritual
part being cleansed by theurgic art, and that this art cannot so
purify the spiritual part as to give it entrance to immortality
and eternity. And therefore, although he distinguishes angels from
demons, asserting that the habitation of the latter is in the air,
while the former dwell in the ether and empyrean, and although he
advises us to cultivate the friendship of some demon, who may be able
after our death to assist us, and elevate us at least a little above
the earth,--for he owns that it is by another way we must reach the
heavenly society of the angels,--he at the same time distinctly warns
us to avoid the society of demons, saying that the soul, expiating
its sin after death, execrates the worship of demons by whom it
was entangled. And of theurgy itself, though he recommends it as
reconciling angels and demons, he cannot deny that it treats with
powers which either themselves envy the soul its purity, or serve
the arts of those who do envy it. He complains of this through the
mouth of some Chaldæan or other: "A good man in Chaldæa complains,"
he says, "that his most strenuous efforts to cleanse his soul were
frustrated, because another man, who had influence in these matters,
and who envied him purity, had prayed to the powers, and bound them
by his conjuring not to listen to his request. Therefore," adds
Porphyry, "what the one man bound, the other could not loose." And
from this he concludes that theurgy is a craft which accomplishes
not only good but evil among gods and men; and that the gods also
have passions, and are perturbed and agitated by the emotions which
Apuleius attributed to demons and men, but from which he preserved
the gods by that sublimity of residence, which, in common with Plato,
he accorded to them.

  10. _Concerning theurgy, which promises a delusive purification of
                the soul by the invocation of demons._

But here we have another and a much more learned Platonist than
Apuleius, Porphyry, to wit, asserting that, by I know not what theurgy,
even the gods themselves are subjected to passions and perturbations;
for by adjurations they were so bound and terrified that they could not
confer purity of soul,--were so terrified by him who imposed on them a
wicked command, that they could not by the same theurgy be freed from
that terror, and fulfil the righteous behest of him who prayed to them,
or do the good he sought. Who does not see that all these things are
fictions of deceiving demons, unless he be a wretched slave of theirs,
and an alien from the grace of the true Liberator? For if the Chaldæan
had been dealing with good gods, certainly a well-disposed man, who
sought to purify his own soul, would have had more influence with them
than an evil-disposed man seeking to hinder him. Or, if the gods were
just, and considered the man unworthy of the purification he sought, at
all events they should not have been terrified by an envious person,
nor hindered, as Porphyry avows, by the fear of a stronger deity, but
should have simply denied the boon on their own free judgment. And it
is surprising that that well-disposed Chaldæan, who desired to purify
his soul by theurgical rites, found no superior deity who could either
terrify the frightened gods still more, and force them to confer the
boon, or compose their fears, and so enable them to do good without
compulsion,--even supposing that the good theurgist had no rites by
which he himself might purge away the taint of fear from the gods whom
he invoked for the purification of his own soul. And why is it that
there is a god who has power to terrify the inferior gods, and none who
has power to free them from fear? Is there found a god who listens to
the envious man, and frightens the gods from doing good? and is there
not found a god who listens to the well-disposed man, and removes the
fear of the gods that they may do him good? O excellent theurgy! O
admirable purification of the soul!--a theurgy in which the violence
of an impure envy has more influence than the entreaty of purity and
holiness. Rather let us abominate and avoid the deceit of such wicked
spirits, and listen to sound doctrine. As to those who perform these
filthy cleansings by sacrilegious rites, and see in their initiated
state (as he further tells us, though we may question this vision)
certain wonderfully lovely appearances of angels or gods, this is what
the apostle refers to when he speaks of "Satan transforming himself
into an angel of light."[399] For these are the delusive appearances
of that spirit who longs to entangle wretched souls in the deceptive
worship of many and false gods, and to turn them aside from the true
worship of the true God, by whom alone they are cleansed and healed,
and who, as was said of Proteus, "turns himself into all shapes,"[400]
equally hurtful, whether he assaults us as an enemy, or assumes the
disguise of a friend.

       11. _Of Porphyry's epistle to Anebo, in which he asks for
           information about the differences among demons._

It was a better tone which Porphyry adopted in his letter to Anebo
the Egyptian, in which, assuming the character of an inquirer
consulting him, he unmasks and explodes these sacrilegious arts. In
that letter, indeed, he repudiates all demons, whom he maintains to
be so foolish as to be attracted by the sacrificial vapours, and
therefore residing not in the ether, but in the air beneath the
moon, and indeed in the moon itself. Yet he has not the boldness
to attribute to all the demons all the deceptions and malicious
and foolish practices which justly move his indignation. For,
though he acknowledges that as a race demons are foolish, he so
far accommodates himself to popular ideas as to call some of them
benignant demons. He expresses surprise that sacrifices not only
incline the gods, but also compel and force them to do what men wish;
and he is at a loss to understand how the sun and moon, and other
visible celestial bodies,--for bodies he does not doubt that they
are,--are considered gods, if the gods are distinguished from the
demons by their incorporeality; also, if they are gods, how some are
called beneficent and others hurtful, and how they, being corporeal,
are numbered with the gods, who are incorporeal. He inquires further,
and still as one in doubt, whether diviners and wonderworkers are
men of unusually powerful souls, or whether the power to do these
things is communicated by spirits from without. He inclines to the
latter opinion, on the ground that it is by the use of stones and
herbs that they lay spells on people, and open closed doors, and do
similar wonders. And on this account, he says, some suppose that
there is a race of beings whose property it is to listen to men,--a
race deceitful, full of contrivances, capable of assuming all forms,
simulating gods, demons, and dead men,--and that it is this race
which brings about all these things which have the appearance of
good or evil, but that what is really good they never help us in,
and are indeed unacquainted with, for they make wickedness easy, but
throw obstacles in the path of those who eagerly follow virtue; and
that they are filled with pride and rashness, delight in sacrificial
odours, are taken with flattery. These and the other characteristics
of this race of deceitful and malicious spirits, who come into the
souls of men and delude their senses, both in sleep and waking, he
describes not as things of which he is himself convinced, but only
with so much suspicion and doubt as to cause him to speak of them
as commonly received opinions. We should sympathize with this great
philosopher in the difficulty he experienced in acquainting himself
with and confidently assailing the whole fraternity of devils, which
any Christian old woman would unhesitatingly describe and most
unreservedly detest. Perhaps, however, he shrank from offending
Anebo, to whom he was writing, himself the most eminent patron of
these mysteries, or the others who marvelled at these magical feats
as divine works, and closely allied to the worship of the gods.

However, he pursues this subject, and, still in the character of
an inquirer, mentions some things which no sober judgment could
attribute to any but malicious and deceitful powers. He asks why,
after the better class of spirits have been invoked, the worse
should be commanded to perform the wicked desires of men; why they
do not hear a man who has just left a woman's embrace, while they
themselves make no scruple of tempting men to incest and adultery;
why their priests are commanded to abstain from animal food for fear
of being polluted by the corporeal exhalations, while they themselves
are attracted by the fumes of sacrifices and other exhalations;
why the initiated are forbidden to touch a dead body, while their
mysteries are celebrated almost entirely by means of dead bodies;
why it is that a man addicted to any vice should utter threats, not
to a demon or to the soul of a dead man, but to the sun and moon,
or some of the heavenly bodies, which he intimidates by imaginary
terrors, that he may wring from them a real boon,--for he threatens
that he will demolish the sky, and such like impossibilities,--that
those gods, being alarmed, like silly children, with imaginary and
absurd threats, may do what they are ordered. Porphyry further
relates that a man Chæremon, profoundly versed in these sacred or
rather sacrilegious mysteries, had written that the famous Egyptian
mysteries of Isis and her husband Osiris had very great influence
with the gods to compel them to do what they were ordered, when he
who used the spells threatened to divulge or do away with these
mysteries, and cried with a threatening voice that he would scatter
the members of Osiris if they neglected his orders. Not without
reason is Porphyry surprised that a man should utter such wild and
empty threats against the gods,--not against gods of no account,
but against the heavenly gods, and those that shine with sidereal
light,--and that these threats should be effectual to constrain them
with resistless power, and alarm them so that they fulfil his wishes.
Not without reason does he, in the character of an inquirer into the
reasons of these surprising things, give it to be understood that
they are done by that race of spirits which he previously described
as if quoting other people's opinions,--spirits who deceive not, as
he said, by nature, but by their own corruption, and who simulate
gods and dead men, but not, as he said, demons, for demons they
really are. As to his idea that by means of herbs, and stones,
and animals, and certain incantations and noises, and drawings,
sometimes fanciful, and sometimes copied from the motions of the
heavenly bodies, men create upon earth powers capable of bringing
about various results, all that is only the mystification which these
demons practise on those who are subject to them, for the sake of
furnishing themselves with merriment at the expense of their dupes.
Either, then, Porphyry was sincere in his doubts and inquiries, and
mentioned these things to demonstrate and put beyond question that
they were the work, not of powers which aid us in obtaining life,
but of deceitful demons; or, to take a more favourable view of the
philosopher, he adopted this method with the Egyptian who was wedded
to these errors, and was proud of them, that he might not offend him
by assuming the attitude of a teacher, nor discompose his mind by the
altercation of a professed assailant, but, by assuming the character
of an inquirer, and the humble attitude of one who was anxious to
learn, might turn his attention to these matters, and show how worthy
they are to be despised and relinquished. Towards the conclusion
of his letter, he requests Anebo to inform him what the Egyptian
wisdom indicates as the way to blessedness. But as to those who hold
intercourse with the gods, and pester them only for the sake of
finding a runaway slave, or acquiring property, or making a bargain
of a marriage, or such things, he declares that their pretensions to
wisdom are vain. He adds that these same gods, even granting that
on other points their utterances were true, were yet so ill-advised
and unsatisfactory in their disclosures about blessedness, that they
cannot be either gods or good demons, but are either that spirit who
is called the deceiver, or mere fictions of the imagination.

   12. _Of the miracles wrought by the true God through the ministry
                         of the holy angels._

Since by means of these arts wonders are done which quite surpass human
power, what choice have we but to believe that these predictions and
operations, which seem to be miraculous and divine, and which at the
same time form no part of the worship of the one God, in adherence to
whom, as the Platonists themselves abundantly testify, all blessedness
consists, are the pastime of wicked spirits, who thus seek to seduce
and hinder the truly godly? On the other hand, we cannot but believe
that all miracles, whether wrought by angels or by other means, so long
as they are so done as to commend the worship and religion of the one
God in whom alone is blessedness, are wrought by those who love us in
a true and godly sort, or through their means, God Himself working in
them. For we cannot listen to those who maintain that the invisible
God works no visible miracles; for even they believe that He made the
world, which surely they will not deny to be visible. Whatever marvel
happens in this world, it is certainly less marvellous than this whole
world itself,--I mean the sky and earth, and all that is in them,--and
these God certainly made. But, as the Creator Himself is hidden and
incomprehensible to man, so also is the manner of creation. Although,
therefore, the standing miracle of this visible world is little
thought of, because always before us, yet, when we arouse ourselves
to contemplate it, it is a greater miracle than the rarest and most
unheard-of marvels. For man himself is a greater miracle than any
miracle done through his instrumentality. Therefore God, who made the
visible heaven and earth, does not disdain to work visible miracles in
heaven or earth, that He may thereby awaken the soul which is immersed
in things visible to worship Himself, the Invisible. But the place and
time of these miracles are dependent on His unchangeable will, in which
things future are ordered as if already they were accomplished. For He
moves things temporal without Himself moving in time. He does not in
one way know things that are to be, and, in another, things that have
been; neither does He listen to those who pray otherwise than as He
sees those that will pray. For, even when His angels hear us, it is
He Himself who hears us in them, as in His true temple not made with
hands, as in those men who are His saints; and His answers, though
accomplished in time, have been arranged by His eternal appointment.

    13. _Of the invisible God, who has often made Himself visible,
   not as He really is, but as the beholders could bear the sight._

Neither need we be surprised that God, invisible as He is, should
often have appeared visibly to the patriarchs. For as the sound which
communicates the thought conceived in the silence of the mind is
not the thought itself, so the form by which God, invisible in His
own nature, became visible, was not God Himself. Nevertheless it is
He Himself who was seen under that form, as that thought itself is
heard in the sound of the voice; and the patriarchs recognised that,
though the bodily form was not God, they saw the invisible God. For,
though Moses conversed with God, yet he said, 'If I have found grace
in Thy sight, show me Thyself, that I may see and know Thee.'[401]
And as it was fit that the law, which was given, not to one man or a
few enlightened men, but to the whole of a populous nation, should be
accompanied by awe-inspiring signs, great marvels were wrought, by
the ministry of angels, before the people on the mount where the law
was being given to them through one man, while the multitude beheld
the awful appearances. For the people of Israel believed Moses, not
as the Lacedæmonians believed their Lycurgus, because he had received
from Jupiter or Apollo the laws he gave them. For when the law which
enjoined the worship of one God was given to the people, marvellous
signs and earthquakes, such as the divine wisdom judged sufficient,
were brought about in the sight of all, that they might know that it
was the Creator who could thus use creation to promulgate His law.

  14. _That the one God is to be worshipped not only for the sake
      of eternal blessings, but also in connection with temporal
      prosperity, because all things are regulated by His providence._

The education of the human race, represented by the people of God,
has advanced, like that of an individual, through certain epochs, or,
as it were, ages, so that it might gradually rise from earthly to
heavenly things, and from the visible to the invisible. This object
was kept so clearly in view, that, even in the period when temporal
rewards were promised, the one God was presented as the object of
worship, that men might not acknowledge any other than the true
Creator and Lord of the spirit, even in connection with the earthly
blessings of this transitory life. For he who denies that all things,
which either angels or men can give us, are in the hand of the one
Almighty, is a madman. The Platonist Plotinus discourses concerning
providence, and, from the beauty of flowers and foliage, proves
that from the supreme God, whose beauty is unseen and ineffable,
providence reaches down even to these earthly things here below;
and he argues that all these frail and perishing things could not
have so exquisite and elaborate a beauty, were they not fashioned
by Him whose unseen and unchangeable beauty continually pervades
all things.[402] This is proved also by the Lord Jesus, where He
says, 'Consider the lilies, how they grow; they toil not, neither
do they spin. And yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothe the grass
of the field, which to-day is and to-morrow is cast into the oven,
how much more shall He clothe you, O ye of little faith!'[403] It
was best, therefore, that the soul of man, which was still weakly
desiring earthly things, should be accustomed to seek from God alone
even these petty temporal boons, and the earthly necessaries of this
transitory life, which are contemptible in comparison with eternal
blessings, in order that the desire even of these things might not
draw it aside from the worship of Him, to whom we come by despising
and forsaking such things.

     15. _Of the ministry of the holy angels, by which they fulfil
                        the providence of God._

And so it has pleased Divine Providence, as I have said, and as we
read in the Acts of the Apostles,[404] that the law enjoining the
worship of one God should be given by the disposition of angels. But
among them the person of God Himself visibly appeared, not, indeed,
in His proper substance, which ever remains invisible to mortal eyes,
but by the infallible signs furnished by creation in obedience to its
Creator. He made use, too, of the words of human speech, uttering
them syllable by syllable successively, though in His own nature He
speaks not in a bodily but in a spiritual way; not to sense, but
to the mind; not in words that occupy time, but, if I may so say,
eternally, neither beginning to speak nor coming to an end. And what
He says is accurately heard, not by the bodily but by the mental
ear of His ministers and messengers, who are immortally blessed in
the enjoyment of His unchangeable truth; and the directions which
they in some ineffable way receive, they execute without delay or
difficulty in the sensible and visible world. And this law was given
in conformity with the age of the world, and contained at the first
earthly promises, as I have said, which, however, symbolized eternal
ones; and these eternal blessings few understood, though many took a
part in the celebration of their visible signs. Nevertheless, with
one consent both the words and the visible rites of that law enjoin
the worship of one God,--not one of a crowd of gods, but Him who made
heaven and earth, and every soul and every spirit which is other than
Himself. He created; all else was created; and, both for being and
well-being, all things need Him who created them.

  16. _Whether those angels who demand that we pay them divine
      honour, or those who teach us to render holy service, not to
      themselves, but to God, are to be trusted about the way to life

What angels, then, are we to believe in this matter of blessed and
eternal life?--those who wish to be worshipped with religious rites
and observances, and require that men sacrifice to them; or those who
say that all this worship is due to one God, the Creator, and teach us
to render it with true piety to Him, by the vision of whom they are
themselves already blessed, and in whom they promise that we shall be
so? For that vision of God is the beauty of a vision so great, and is
so infinitely desirable, that Plotinus does not hesitate to say that
he who enjoys all other blessings in abundance, and has not this, is
supremely miserable.[405] Since, therefore, miracles are wrought by
some angels to induce us to worship this God, by others, to induce
us to worship themselves; and since the former forbid us to worship
these, while the latter dare not forbid us to worship God, which
are we to listen to? Let the Platonists reply, or any philosophers,
or the theurgists, or rather, _periurgists_,[406]--for this name is
good enough for those who practise such arts. In short, let all men
answer,--if, at least, there survives in them any spark of that natural
perception which, as rational beings, they possess when created,--let
them, I say, tell us whether we should sacrifice to the gods or
angels who order us to sacrifice to them, or to that One to whom we
are ordered to sacrifice by those who forbid us to worship either
themselves or these others. If neither the one party nor the other had
wrought miracles, but had merely uttered commands, the one to sacrifice
to themselves, the other forbidding that, and ordering us to sacrifice
to God, a godly mind would have been at no loss to discern which
command proceeded from proud arrogance, and which from true religion.
I will say more. If miracles had been wrought only by those who demand
sacrifice for themselves, while those who forbade this, and enjoined
sacrificing to the one God only, thought fit entirely to forego the use
of visible miracles, the authority of the latter was to be preferred
by all who would use, not their eyes only, but their reason. But since
God, for the sake of commending to us the oracles of His truth, has, by
means of these immortal messengers, who proclaim His majesty and not
their own pride, wrought miracles of surpassing grandeur, certainty,
and distinctness, in order that the weak among the godly might not be
drawn away to false religion by those who require us to sacrifice to
them and endeavour to convince us by stupendous appeals to our senses,
who is so utterly unreasonable as not to choose and follow the truth,
when he finds that it is heralded by even more striking evidences than

As for those miracles which history ascribes to the gods of the
heathen,--I do not refer to those prodigies which at intervals
happen from some unknown physical causes, and which are arranged and
appointed by Divine Providence, such as monstrous births, and unusual
meteorological phenomena, whether startling only, or also injurious,
and which are said to be brought about and removed by communication
with demons, and by their most deceitful craft,--but I refer to these
prodigies which manifestly enough are wrought by their power and
force, as, that the household gods which Æneas carried from Troy in
his flight moved from place to place; that Tarquin cut a whetstone
with a razor; that the Epidaurian serpent attached himself as a
companion to Æsculapius on his voyage to Rome; that the ship in which
the image of the Phrygian mother stood, and which could not be moved
by a host of men and oxen, was moved by one weak woman, who attached
her girdle to the vessel and drew it, as proof of her chastity; that
a vestal, whose virginity was questioned, removed the suspicion by
carrying from the Tiber a sieve full of water without any of it
dropping: these, then, and the like, are by no means to be compared
for greatness and virtue to those which, we read, were wrought among
God's people. How much less can we compare those marvels, which even
the laws of heathen nations prohibit and punish,--I mean the magical
and theurgic marvels, of which the great part are merely illusions
practised upon the senses, as the drawing down of the moon, "that,"
as Lucan says, "it may shed a stronger influence on the plants?"[407]
And if some of these do seem to equal those which are wrought by the
godly, the end for which they are wrought distinguishes the two,
and shows that ours are incomparably the more excellent. For those
miracles commend the worship of a plurality of gods, who deserve
worship the less the more they demand it; but these of ours commend
the worship of the one God, who, both by the testimony of His own
Scriptures, and by the eventual abolition of sacrifices, proves
that He needs no such offerings. If, therefore, any angels demand
sacrifice for themselves, we must prefer those who demand it, not
for themselves, but for God, the Creator of all, whom they serve.
For thus they prove how sincerely they love us, since they wish
by sacrifice to subject us, not to themselves, but to Him by the
contemplation of whom they themselves are blessed, and to bring us to
Him from whom they themselves have never strayed. If, on the other
hand, any angels wish us to sacrifice, not to one, but to many, not,
indeed, to themselves, but to the gods whose angels they are, we must
in this case also prefer those who are the angels of the one God of
gods, and who so bid us to worship Him as to preclude our worshipping
any other. But, further, if it be the case, as their pride and
deceitfulness rather indicate, that they are neither good angels nor
the angels of good gods, but wicked demons, who wish sacrifice to be
paid, not to the one only and supreme God, but to themselves, what
better protection against them can we choose than that of the one God
whom the good angels serve, the angels who bid us sacrifice, not to
themselves, but to Him whose sacrifice we ourselves ought to be?

   17. _Concerning the ark of the covenant, and the miraculous signs
          whereby God authenticated the law and the promise._

On this account it was that the law of God, given by the disposition
of angels, and which commanded that the one God of gods alone receive
sacred worship, to the exclusion of all others, was deposited in the
ark, called the ark of the testimony. By this name it is sufficiently
indicated, not that God, who was worshipped by all those rites, was
shut up and enclosed in that place, though His responses emanated from
it along with signs appreciable by the senses, but that His will was
declared from that throne. The law itself, too, was engraven on tables
of stone, and, as I have said, deposited in the ark, which the priests
carried with due reverence during the sojourn in the wilderness, along
with the tabernacle, which was in like manner called the tabernacle
of the testimony; and there was then an accompanying sign, which
appeared as a cloud by day and as a fire by night; when the cloud
moved, the camp was shifted, and where it stood the camp was pitched.
Besides these signs, and the voices which proceeded from the place
where the ark was, there were other miraculous testimonies to the law.
For when the ark was carried across Jordan, on the entrance to the
land of promise, the upper part of the river stopped in its course,
and the lower part flowed on, so as to present both to the ark and
the people dry ground to pass over. Then, when it was carried seven
times round the first hostile and polytheistic city they came to, its
walls suddenly fell down, though assaulted by no hand, struck by no
battering-ram. Afterwards, too, when they were now resident in the land
of promise, and the ark had, in punishment of their sin, been taken
by their enemies, its captors triumphantly placed it in the temple of
their favourite god, and left it shut up there, but, on opening the
temple next day, they found the image they used to pray to fallen to
the ground and shamefully shattered. Then, being themselves alarmed by
portents, and still more shamefully punished, they restored the ark
of the testimony to the people from whom they had taken it. And what
was the manner of its restoration? They placed it on a wagon, and
yoked to it cows from which they had taken the calves, and let them
choose their own course, expecting that in this way the divine will
would be indicated; and the cows, without any man driving or directing
them, steadily pursued the way to the Hebrews, without regarding the
lowing of their calves, and thus restored the ark to its worshippers.
To God these and such like wonders are small, but they are mighty to
terrify and give wholesome instruction to men. For if philosophers, and
especially the Platonists, are with justice esteemed wiser than other
men, as I have just been mentioning, because they taught that even
these earthly and insignificant things are ruled by Divine Providence,
inferring this from the numberless beauties which are observable not
only in the bodies of animals, but even in plants and grasses, how much
more plainly do these things attest the presence of divinity which
happen at the time predicted, and in which that religion is commended
which forbids the offering of sacrifice to any celestial, terrestrial,
or infernal being, and commands it to be offered to God only, who alone
blesses us by His love for us, and by our love to Him, and who, by
arranging the appointed times of those sacrifices, and by predicting
that they were to pass into a better sacrifice by a better Priest,
testified that He has no appetite for these sacrifices, but through
them indicated others of more substantial blessing,--and all this not
that He Himself may be glorified by these honours, but that we may be
stirred up to worship and cleave to Him, being inflamed by His love,
which is our advantage rather than His?

  18. _Against those who deny that the books of the Church are to
      be believed about the miracles whereby the people of God were

Will some one say that these miracles are false, that they never
happened, and that the records of them are lies? Whoever says so, and
asserts that in such matters no records whatever can be credited,
may also say that there are no gods who care for human affairs. For
they have induced men to worship them only by means of miraculous
works, which the heathen histories testify, and by which the gods
have made a display of their own power rather than done any real
service. This is the reason why we have not undertaken in this
work, of which we are now writing the tenth book, to refute those
who either deny that there is any divine power, or contend that it
does not interfere with human affairs, but those who prefer their
own god to our God, the Founder of the holy and most glorious city,
not knowing that He is also the invisible and unchangeable Founder
of this visible and changing world, and the truest bestower of the
blessed life which resides not in things created, but in Himself.
For thus speaks His most trustworthy prophet: "It is good for me to
be united to God."[408] Among philosophers it is a question, what
is that end and good to the attainment of which all our duties are
to have a relation? The Psalmist did not say, It is good for me to
have great wealth, or to wear imperial insignia, purple, sceptre,
and diadem; or, as some even of the philosophers have not blushed to
say, It is good for me to enjoy sensual pleasure; or, as the better
men among them seemed to say, My good is my spiritual strength; but,
"It is good for me to be united to God." This he had learned from
Him whom the holy angels, with the accompanying witness of miracles,
presented as the sole object of worship. And hence he himself became
the sacrifice of God, whose spiritual love inflamed him, and into
whose ineffable and incorporeal embrace he yearned to cast himself.
Moreover, if the worshippers of many gods (whatever kind of gods they
fancy their own to be) believe that the miracles recorded in their
civil histories, or in the books of magic, or of the more respectable
theurgy, were wrought by these gods, what reason have they for
refusing to believe the miracles recorded in those writings, to which
we owe a credence as much greater as He is greater to whom alone
these writings teach us to sacrifice?

     19. _On the reasonableness of offering, as the true religion
   teaches, a visible sacrifice to the one true and invisible God._

As to those who think that these visible sacrifices are suitably
offered to other gods, but that invisible sacrifices, the graces of
purity of mind and holiness of will, should be offered, as greater
and better, to the invisible God, Himself greater and better than
all others, they must be oblivious that these visible sacrifices
are signs of the invisible, as the words we utter are the signs of
things. And therefore, as in prayer or praise we direct intelligible
words to Him to whom in our heart we offer the very feelings we
are expressing, so we are to understand that in sacrifice we offer
visible sacrifice only to Him to whom in our heart we ought to
present ourselves an invisible sacrifice. It is then that the angels,
and all those superior powers who are mighty by their goodness and
piety, regard us with pleasure, and rejoice with us and assist us to
the utmost of their power. But if we offer such worship to them, they
decline it; and when on any mission to men they become visible to the
senses, they positively forbid it. Examples of this occur in holy
writ. Some fancied they should, by adoration or sacrifice, pay the
same honour to angels as is due to God, and were prevented from doing
so by the angels themselves, and ordered to render it to Him to whom
alone they know it to be due. And the holy angels have in this been
imitated by holy men of God. For Paul and Barnabas, when they had
wrought a miracle of healing in Lycaonia, were thought to be gods,
and the Lycaonians desired to sacrifice to them, and they humbly and
piously declined this honour, and announced to them the God in whom
they should believe. And those deceitful and proud spirits, who exact
worship, do so simply because they know it to be due to the true God.
For that which they take pleasure in is not, as Porphyry says and
some fancy, the smell of the victims, but divine honours. They have,
in fact, plenty odours on all hands, and if they wished more, they
could provide them for themselves. But the spirits who arrogate to
themselves divinity are delighted not with the smoke of carcases, but
with the suppliant spirit which they deceive and hold in subjection,
and hinder from drawing near to God, preventing him from offering
himself in sacrifice to God by inducing him to sacrifice to others.

   20. _Of the supreme and true sacrifice which was effected by the
                    Mediator between God and men._

And hence that true Mediator, in so far as, by assuming the form of a
servant, He became the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ
Jesus, though in the form of God He received sacrifice together with
the Father, with whom He is one God, yet in the form of a servant He
chose rather to be than to receive a sacrifice, that not even by
this instance any one might have occasion to suppose that sacrifice
should be rendered to any creature. Thus He is both the Priest who
offers and the Sacrifice offered. And He designed that there should
be a daily sign of this in the sacrifice of the Church, which,
being His body, learns to offer herself through Him. Of this true
Sacrifice the ancient sacrifices of the saints were the various and
numerous signs; and it was thus variously figured, just as one thing
is signified by a variety of words, that there may be less weariness
when we speak of it much. To this supreme and true sacrifice all
false sacrifices have given place.

  21. _Of the power delegated to demons for the trial and
      glorification of the saints, who conquer not by propitiating
      the spirits of the air, but by abiding in God._

The power delegated to the demons at certain appointed and
well-adjusted seasons, that they may give expression to their
hostility to the city of God by stirring up against it the men
who are under their influence, and may not only receive sacrifice
from those who willingly offer it, but may also extort it from the
unwilling by violent persecution;--this power is found to be not
merely harmless, but even useful to the Church, completing as it
does the number of martyrs, whom the city of God esteems as all the
more illustrious and honoured citizens, because they have striven
even to blood against the sin of impiety. If the ordinary language
of the Church allowed it, we might more elegantly call these men our
heroes. For this name is said to be derived from Juno, who in Greek
is called Hêrê, and hence, according to the Greek myths, one of her
sons was called Heros. And these fables mystically signified that
Juno was mistress of the air, which they suppose to be inhabited
by the demons and the heroes, understanding by heroes the souls of
the well-deserving dead. But for a quite opposite reason would we
call our martyrs heroes,--supposing, as I said, that the usage of
ecclesiastical language would admit of it,--not because they lived
along with the demons in the air, but because they conquered these
demons or powers of the air, and among them Juno herself, be she
what she may, not unsuitably represented, as she commonly is by the
poets, as hostile to virtue, and jealous of men of mark aspiring to
the heavens. Virgil, however, unhappily gives way, and yields to
her; for, though he represents her as saying, "I am conquered by
Æneas,"[409] Helenus gives Æneas himself this religious advice:

          "Pay vows to Juno: overbear
           Her queenly soul with gift and prayer."[410]

In conformity with this opinion, Porphyry--expressing, however, not
so much his own views as other people's--says that a good god or
genius cannot come to a man unless the evil genius has been first of
all propitiated, implying that the evil deities had greater power
than the good; for, until they have been appeased and give place, the
good can give no assistance; and if the evil deities oppose, the good
can give no help; whereas the evil can do injury without the good
being able to prevent them. This is not the way of the true and truly
holy religion; not thus do our martyrs conquer Juno, that is to say,
the powers of the air, who envy the virtues of the pious. Our heroes,
if we could so call them, overcome Hêrê, not by suppliant gifts, but
by divine virtues. As Scipio, who conquered Africa by his valour, is
more suitably styled Africanus than if he had appeased his enemies by
gifts, and so won their mercy.

      22. _Whence the saints derive power against demons and true
                        purification of heart._

It is by true piety that men of God cast out the hostile power
of the air which opposes godliness; it is by exorcising it, not
by propitiating it; and they overcome all the temptations of the
adversary by praying, not to him, but to their own God against him.
For the devil cannot conquer or subdue any but those who are in
league with sin; and therefore he is conquered in the name of Him
who assumed humanity, and that without sin, that Himself being both
Priest and Sacrifice, He might bring about the remission of sins,
that is to say, might bring it about through the Mediator between God
and men, the man Christ Jesus, by whom we are reconciled to God, the
cleansing from sin being accomplished. For men are separated from
God only by sins, from which we are in this life cleansed not by our
own virtue, but by the divine compassion; through His indulgence,
not through our own power. For, whatever virtue we call our own is
itself bestowed upon us by His goodness. And we might attribute too
much to ourselves while in the flesh, unless we lived in the receipt
of pardon until we laid it down. This is the reason why there has
been vouchsafed to us, through the Mediator, this grace, that we who
are polluted by sinful flesh should be cleansed by the likeness of
sinful flesh. By this grace of God, wherein He has shown His great
compassion toward us, we are both governed by faith in this life,
and, after this life, are led onwards to the fullest perfection by
the vision of immutable truth.

      23. _Of the principles which, according to the Platonists,
                regulate the purification of the soul._

Even Porphyry asserts that it was revealed by divine oracles that
we are not purified by any sacrifices[411] to sun or moon, meaning
it to be inferred that we are not purified by sacrificing to any
gods. For what mysteries can purify, if those of the sun and moon,
which are esteemed the chief of the celestial gods, do not purify?
He says, too, in the same place, that "principles" can purify,
lest it should be supposed, from his saying that sacrificing to
the sun and moon cannot purify, that sacrificing to some other of
the host of gods might do so. And what he as a Platonist means by
"principles," we know.[412] For he speaks of God the Father and God
the Son, whom he calls (writing in Greek) the intellect or mind of
the Father;[413] but of the Holy Spirit he says either nothing, or
nothing plainly, for I do not understand what other he speaks of as
holding the middle place between these two. For if, like Plotinus
in his discussion regarding the three principal substances,[414] he
wished us to understand by this third the soul of nature, he would
certainly not have given it the middle place between these two, that
is, between the Father and the Son. For Plotinus places the soul of
nature after the intellect of the Father, while Porphyry, making it
the mean, does not place it after, but between the others. No doubt
he spoke according to his light, or as he thought expedient; but we
assert that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit not of the Father only, nor
of the Son only, but of both. For philosophers speak as they have a
mind to, and in the most difficult matters do not scruple to offend
religious ears; but we are bound to speak according to a certain
rule, lest freedom of speech beget impiety of opinion about the
matters themselves of which we speak.

  24. _Of the one only true principle which alone purifies and renews
                            human nature._

Accordingly, when we speak of God, we do not affirm two or three
principles, no more than we are at liberty to affirm two or three gods;
although, speaking of each, of the Father, or of the Son, or of the
Holy Ghost, we confess that each is God: and yet we do not say, as the
Sabellian heretics say, that the Father is the same as the Son, and the
Holy Spirit the same as the Father and the Son; but we say that the
Father is the Father of the Son, and the Son the Son of the Father,
and that the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son is neither the
Father nor the Son. It was therefore truly said that man is cleansed
only by a Principle, although the Platonists erred in speaking in the
plural of _principles_. But Porphyry, being under the dominion of
these envious powers, whose influence he was at once ashamed of and
afraid to throw off, refused to recognise that Christ is the Principle
by whose incarnation we are purified. Indeed he despised Him, because
of the flesh itself which He assumed, that He might offer a sacrifice
for our purification,--a great mystery, unintelligible to Porphyry's
pride, which that true and benignant Redeemer brought low by His
humility, manifesting Himself to mortals by the mortality which He
assumed, and which the malignant and deceitful mediators are proud of
wanting, promising, as the boon of immortals, a deceptive assistance
to wretched men. Thus the good and true Mediator showed that it is sin
which is evil, and not the substance or nature of flesh; for this,
together with the human soul, could without sin be both assumed and
retained, and laid down in death, and changed to something better by
resurrection. He showed also that death itself, although the punishment
of sin, was submitted to by Him for our sakes without sin, and must
not be evaded by sin on our part, but rather, if opportunity serves,
be borne for righteousness' sake. For he was able to expiate sins by
dying, because He both died, and not for sin of His own. But He has
not been recognised by Porphyry as the Principle, otherwise he would
have recognised Him as the Purifier. The Principle is neither the flesh
nor the human soul in Christ, but the Word by which all things were
made. The flesh, therefore, does not by its own virtue purify, but
by virtue of the Word by which it was assumed, when "the Word became
flesh and dwelt among us."[415] For, speaking mystically of eating His
flesh, when those who did not understand Him were offended and went
away, saying, "This is an hard saying, who can hear it?" He answered
to the rest who remained, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh
profiteth nothing."[416] The Principle, therefore, having assumed
a human soul and flesh, cleanses the soul and flesh of believers.
Therefore, when the Jews asked Him who He was, He answered that He
was the _Principle_.[417] And this we carnal and feeble men, liable
to sin, and involved in the darkness of ignorance, could not possibly
understand, unless we were cleansed and healed by Him, both by means
of what we were, and of what we were not. For we were men, but we were
not righteous; whereas in His incarnation there was a human nature, but
it was righteous, and not sinful. This is the mediation whereby a hand
is stretched to the lapsed and fallen; this is the seed "ordained by
angels," by whose ministry the law also was given enjoining the worship
of one God, and promising that this Mediator should come.

   25. _That all the saints, both under the law and before it, were
      justified by faith in the mystery of Christ's incarnation._

It was by faith in this mystery, and godliness of life, that
purification was attainable even by the saints of old, whether before
the law was given to the Hebrews (for God and the angels were even then
present as instructors), or in the periods under the law, although the
promises of spiritual things, being presented in figure, seemed to
be carnal, and hence the name of Old Testament. For it was then the
prophets lived, by whom, as by angels, the same promise was announced;
and among them was he whose grand and divine sentiment regarding the
end and supreme good of man I have just now quoted, "It is good for
me to cleave to God."[418] In this psalm the distinction between the
Old and New Testaments is distinctly announced. For the Psalmist says,
that when he saw that the carnal and earthly promises were abundantly
enjoyed by the ungodly, his feet were almost gone, his steps had
well-nigh slipped; and that it seemed to him as if he had served God
in vain, when he saw that those who despised God increased in that
prosperity which he looked for at God's hand. He says, too, that, in
investigating this matter with the desire of understanding why it was
so, he had laboured in vain, until he went into the sanctuary of God,
and understood the end of those whom he had erroneously considered
happy. Then he understood that they were cast down by that very thing,
as he says, which they had made their boast, and that they had been
consumed and perished for their iniquities; and that that whole fabric
of temporal prosperity had become as a dream when one awaketh, and
suddenly finds himself destitute of all the joys he had imaged in
sleep. And, as in this earth or earthy city they seemed to themselves
to be great, he says, "O Lord, in Thy city Thou wilt reduce their image
to nothing." He also shows how beneficial it had been for him to seek
even earthly blessings only from the one true God, in whose power are
all things, for he says, "As a beast was I before Thee, and I am always
with Thee." "As a beast," he says, meaning that he was stupid. For I
ought to have sought from Thee such things as the ungodly could not
enjoy as well as I, and not those things which I saw them enjoying in
abundance, and hence concluded I was serving Thee in vain, because
they who declined to serve Thee had what I had not. Nevertheless, "I
am always with Thee," because even in my desire for such things I did
not pray to other gods. And consequently he goes on, "Thou hast holden
me by my right hand, and by Thy counsel Thou hast guided me, and with
glory hast taken me up;" as if all earthly advantages were left-hand
blessings, though, when he saw them enjoyed by the wicked, his feet
had almost gone. "For what," he says, "have I in heaven, and what have
I desired from Thee upon earth?" He blames himself, and is justly
displeased with himself; because, though he had in heaven so vast a
possession (as he afterwards understood), he yet sought from his God
on earth a transitory and fleeting happiness,--a happiness of mire, we
may say. "My heart and my flesh," he says, "fail, O God of my heart."
Happy failure, from things below to things above! And hence in another
psalm he says, "My soul longeth, yea, even faileth, for the courts
of the Lord."[419] Yet, though he had said of both his heart and his
flesh that they were failing, he did not say, O God of my heart and
my flesh, but, O God of my heart; for by the heart the flesh is made
clean. Therefore, says the Lord, "Cleanse that which is within, and the
outside shall be clean also."[420] He then says that God Himself,--not
anything received from Him, but Himself,--is his portion. "The God of
my heart, and my portion for ever." Among the various objects of human
choice, God alone satisfied him. "For, lo," he says, "they that are
far from Thee shall perish: Thou destroyest all them that go a-whoring
from Thee,"--that is, who prostitute themselves to many gods. And then
follows the verse for which all the rest of the psalm seems to prepare:
"It is good for me to cleave to God,"--not to go far off; not to go
a-whoring with a multitude of gods. And then shall this union with God
be perfected, when all that is to be redeemed in us has been redeemed.
But for the present we must, as he goes on to say, "place our hope in
God." "For that which is seen," says the apostle, "is not hope. For
what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that
we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."[421] Being, then,
for the present established in this hope, let us do what the Psalmist
further indicates, and become in our measure angels or messengers of
God, declaring His will, and praising His glory and His grace. For
when he had said, "To place my hope in God," he goes on, "that I may
declare all Thy praises in the gates of the daughter of Zion." This
is the most glorious city of God; this is the city which knows and
worships one God: she is celebrated by the holy angels, who invite us
to their society, and desire us to become fellow-citizens with them in
this city; for they do not wish us to worship them as our gods, but to
join them in worshipping their God and ours; nor to sacrifice to them,
but, together with them, to become a sacrifice to God. Accordingly,
whoever will lay aside malignant obstinacy, and consider these things,
shall be assured that all these blessed and immortal spirits, who do
not envy us (for if they envied they were not blessed), but rather
love us, and desire us to be as blessed as themselves, look on us with
greater pleasure, and give us greater assistance, when we join them in
worshipping one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, than if we were to
offer to themselves sacrifice and worship.

   26. _Of Porphyry's weakness in wavering between the confession of
               the true God and the worship of demons._

I know not how it is so, but it seems to me that Porphyry blushed for
his friends the theurgists; for he knew all that I have adduced, but
did not frankly condemn polytheistic worship. He said, in fact, that
there are some angels who visit earth, and reveal divine truth to
theurgists, and others who publish on earth the things that belong to
the Father, His height and depth. Can we believe, then, that the angels
whose office it is to declare the will of the Father, wish us to be
subject to any but Him whose will they declare? And hence, even this
Platonist himself judiciously observes that we should rather imitate
than invoke them. We ought not, then, to fear that we may offend these
immortal and happy subjects of the one God by not sacrificing to them;
for this they know to be due only to the one true God, in allegiance
to whom they themselves find their blessedness, and therefore they
will not have it given to them, either in figure or in the reality,
which the mysteries of sacrifice symbolized. Such arrogance belongs to
proud and wretched demons, whose disposition is diametrically opposite
to the piety of those who are subject to God, and whose blessedness
consists in attachment to Him. And, that we also may attain to this
bliss, they aid us, as is fit, with sincere kindliness, and usurp over
us no dominion, but declare to us Him under whose rule we are then
fellow-subjects. Why, then, O philosopher, do you still fear to speak
freely against the powers which are inimical both to true virtue and
to the gifts of the true God? Already you have discriminated between
the angels who proclaim God's will, and those who visit theurgists,
drawn down by I know not what art. Why do you still ascribe to these
latter the honour of declaring divine truth? If they do not declare
the will of the Father, what divine revelations can they make? Are not
these the evil spirits who were bound over by the incantations of an
envious man,[422] that they should not grant purity of soul to another,
and could not, as you say, be set free from these bonds by a good man
anxious for purity, and recover power over their own actions? Do you
still doubt whether these are wicked demons; or do you, perhaps, feign
ignorance, that you may not give offence to the theurgists, who have
allured you by their secret rites, and have taught you, as a mighty
boon, these insane and pernicious devilries? Do you dare to elevate
above the air, and even to heaven, these envious powers, or pests,
let me rather call them, less worthy of the name of sovereign than of
slaves, as you yourself own; and are you not ashamed to place them even
among your sidereal gods, and so put a slight upon the stars themselves?

     27. _Of the impiety of Porphyry, which is worse than even the
                         mistake of Apuleius._

How much more tolerable and accordant with human feeling is the
error of your Platonist co-sectary Apuleius! for he attributed the
diseases and storms of human passions only to the demons who occupy a
grade beneath the moon, and makes even this avowal as by constraint
regarding gods whom he honours; but the superior and celestial gods,
who inhabit the ethereal regions, whether visible, as the sun, moon,
and other luminaries, whose brilliancy makes them conspicuous, or
invisible, but believed in by him, he does his utmost to remove
beyond the slightest stain of these perturbations. It is not, then,
from Plato, but from your Chaldæan teachers you have learned to
elevate human vices to the ethereal and empyreal regions of the world
and to the celestial firmament, in order that your theurgists might
be able to obtain from your gods divine revelations; and yet you make
yourself superior to these divine revelations by your intellectual
life, which dispenses with these theurgic purifications as not
needed by a philosopher. But, by way of rewarding your teachers, you
recommend these arts to other men, who, not being philosophers, may
be persuaded to use what you acknowledge to be useless to yourself,
who are capable of higher things; so that those who cannot avail
themselves of the virtue of philosophy, which is too arduous for the
multitude, may, at your instigation, betake themselves to theurgists
by whom they may be purified, not, indeed, in the intellectual, but
in the spiritual part of the soul. Now, as the persons who are unfit
for philosophy form incomparably the majority of mankind, more may
be compelled to consult these secret and illicit teachers of yours
than frequent the Platonic schools. For these most impure demons,
pretending to be ethereal gods, whose herald and messenger you have
become, have promised that those who are purified by theurgy in the
spiritual part of their soul shall not indeed return to the Father,
but shall dwell among the ethereal gods above the aerial regions. But
such fancies are not listened to by the multitudes of men whom Christ
came to set free from the tyranny of demons. For in Him they have
the most gracious cleansing, in which mind, spirit, and body alike
participate. For, in order that He might heal the whole man from the
plague of sin, He took without sin the whole human nature. Would that
you had known Him, and would that you had committed yourself for
healing to Him rather than to your own frail and infirm human virtue,
or to pernicious and curious arts! He would not have deceived you;
for Him your own oracles, on your own showing, acknowledged holy
and immortal. It is of Him, too, that the most famous poet speaks,
poetically indeed, since he applies it to the person of another, yet
truly, if you refer it to Christ, saying, "Under thine auspices,
if any traces of our crimes remain, they shall be obliterated, and
earth freed from its perpetual fear."[423] By which he indicates
that, by reason of the infirmity which attaches to this life, the
greatest progress in virtue and righteousness leaves room for the
existence, if not of crimes, yet of the traces of crimes, which are
obliterated only by that Saviour of whom this verse speaks. For that
he did not say this at the prompting of his own fancy, Virgil tells
us in almost the last verse of that 4th Eclogue, when he says, "The
last age predicted by the Cumæan sibyl has now arrived;" whence it
plainly appears that this had been dictated by the Cumæan sibyl. But
those theurgists, or rather demons, who assume the appearance and
form of gods, pollute rather than purify the human spirit by false
appearances and the delusive mockery of unsubstantial forms. How
can those whose own spirit is unclean cleanse the spirit of man?
Were they not unclean, they would not be bound by the incantations
of an envious man, and would neither be afraid nor grudge to bestow
that hollow boon which they promise. But it is sufficient for our
purpose that you acknowledge that the intellectual soul, that is, our
mind, cannot be justified by theurgy; and that even the spiritual
or inferior part of our soul cannot by this act be made eternal
and immortal, though you maintain that it can be purified by it.
Christ, however, promises life eternal; and therefore to Him the
world flocks, greatly to your indignation, greatly also to your
astonishment and confusion. What avails your forced avowal that
theurgy leads men astray, and deceives vast numbers by its ignorant
and foolish teaching, and that it is the most manifest mistake to
have recourse by prayer and sacrifice to angels and principalities,
when at the same time, to save yourself from the charge of spending
labour in vain on such arts, you direct men to the theurgists, that
by their means men, who do not live by the rule of the intellectual
soul, may have their spiritual soul purified?

  28. _How it is that Porphyry has been so blind as not to recognise
                       the true wisdom--Christ._

You drive men, therefore, into the most palpable error. And yet you
are not ashamed of doing so much harm, though you call yourself a
lover of virtue and wisdom. Had you been true and faithful in this
profession, you would have recognised Christ, the virtue of God and
the wisdom of God, and would not, in the pride of vain science, have
revolted from His wholesome humility. Nevertheless you acknowledge
that the spiritual part of the soul can be purified by the virtue
of chastity without the aid of those theurgic arts and mysteries
which you wasted your time in learning. You even say, sometimes,
that these mysteries do not raise the soul after death, so that,
after the termination of this life, they seem to be of no service
even to the part you call spiritual; and yet you recur on every
opportunity to these arts, for no other purpose, so far as I see,
than to appear an accomplished theurgist, and gratify those who are
curious in illicit arts, or else to inspire others with the same
curiosity. But we give you all praise for saying that this art is
to be feared, both on account of the legal enactments against it,
and by reason of the danger involved in the very practice of it. And
would that in this, at least, you were listened to by its wretched
votaries, that they might be withdrawn from entire absorption in it,
or might even be preserved from tampering with it at all! You say,
indeed, that ignorance, and the numberless vices resulting from it,
cannot be removed by any mysteries, but only by the πατρικὸς νοῦς,
that is, the Father's mind or intellect conscious of the Father's
will. But that Christ is this mind you do not believe; for Him you
despise on account of the body He took of a woman and the shame of
the cross; for your lofty wisdom spurns such low and contemptible
things, and soars to more exalted regions. But He fulfils what
the holy prophets truly predicted regarding Him: "I will destroy
the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nought the prudence of the
prudent."[424] For He does not destroy and bring to nought His own
gift in them, but what they arrogate to themselves, and do not hold
of Him. And hence the apostle, having quoted this testimony from
the prophet, adds, "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where
is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom
of this world? For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by
wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching
to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the
Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the
Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto
them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of
God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser
than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men."[425] This
is despised as a weak and foolish thing by those who are wise and
strong in themselves; yet this is the grace which heals the weak, who
do not proudly boast a blessedness of their own, but rather humbly
acknowledge their real misery.

      29. _Of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the
          Platonists in their impiety blush to acknowledge._

You proclaim the Father and His Son, whom you call the Father's
intellect or mind, and between these a third, by whom we suppose you
mean the Holy Spirit, and in your own fashion you call these three
Gods. In this, though your expressions are inaccurate, you do in some
sort, and as through a veil, see what we should strive towards; but
the incarnation of the unchangeable Son of God, whereby we are saved,
and are enabled to reach the things we believe, or in part understand,
this is what you refuse to recognise. You see in a fashion, although
at a distance, although with filmy eye, the country in which we should
abide; but the way to it you know not. Yet you believe in grace, for
you say it is granted to few to reach God by virtue of intelligence.
For you do not say, "Few have thought fit or have wished," but, "It
has been granted to few,"--distinctly acknowledging God's grace,
not man's sufficiency. You also use this word more expressly, when,
in accordance with the opinion of Plato, you make no doubt that in
this life a man cannot by any means attain to perfect wisdom, but
that whatever is lacking is in the future life made up to those who
live intellectually, by God's providence and grace. Oh, had you but
recognised the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord, and that very
incarnation of His, wherein He assumed a human soul and body, you
might have seemed the brightest example of grace![426] But what am
I doing? I know it is useless to speak to a dead man,--useless, at
least, so far as regards you, but perhaps not in vain for those who
esteem you highly, and love you on account of their love of wisdom or
curiosity about those arts which you ought not to have learned; and
these persons I address in your name. The grace of God could not have
been more graciously commended to us than thus, that the only Son of
God, remaining unchangeable in Himself, should assume humanity, and
should give us the hope of His love, by means of the mediation of
a human nature, through which we, from the condition of men, might
come to Him who was so far off,--the immortal from the mortal; the
unchangeable from the changeable; the just from the unjust; the blessed
from the wretched. And, as He had given us a natural instinct to desire
blessedness and immortality, He Himself continuing to be blessed, but
assuming mortality, by enduring what we fear, taught us to despise it,
that what we long for He might bestow upon us.

But in order to your acquiescence in this truth, it is lowliness that
is requisite, and to this it is extremely difficult to bend you. For
what is there incredible, especially to men like you, accustomed to
speculation, which might have predisposed you to believe in this,--what
is there incredible, I say, in the assertion that God assumed a
human soul and body? You yourselves ascribe such excellence to the
intellectual soul, which is, after all, the human soul, that you
maintain that it can become consubstantial with that intelligence of
the Father whom you believe in as the Son of God. What incredible
thing is it, then, if some one soul be assumed by Him in an ineffable
and unique manner for the salvation of many? Moreover, our nature
itself testifies that a man is incomplete unless a body be united with
the soul. This certainly would be more incredible, were it not of all
things the most common; for we should more easily believe in a union
between spirit and spirit, or, to use your own terminology, between the
incorporeal and the incorporeal, even though the one were human, the
other divine, the one changeable and the other unchangeable, than in a
union between the corporeal and the incorporeal. But perhaps it is the
unprecedented birth of a body from a virgin that staggers you? But,
so far from this being a difficulty, it ought rather to assist you to
receive our religion, that a miraculous person was born miraculously.
Or, do you find a difficulty in the fact that, after His body had been
given up to death, and had been changed into a higher kind of body
by resurrection, and was now no longer mortal but incorruptible, He
carried it up into heavenly places? Perhaps you refuse to believe this,
because you remember that Porphyry, in these very books from which
I have cited so much, and which treat of the return of the soul, so
frequently teaches that a body of every kind is to be escaped from, in
order that the soul may dwell in blessedness with God. But here, in
place of following Porphyry, you ought rather to have corrected him,
especially since you agree with him in believing such incredible things
about the soul of this visible world and huge material frame. For, as
scholars of Plato, you hold that the world is an animal, and a very
happy animal, which you wish to be also everlasting. How, then, is
it never to be loosed from a body, and yet never lose its happiness,
if, in order to the happiness of the soul, the body must be left
behind? The sun, too, and the other stars, you not only acknowledge
to be bodies, in which you have the cordial assent of all seeing men,
but also, in obedience to what you reckon a profounder insight, you
declare that they are very blessed animals, and eternal, together
with their bodies. Why is it, then, that when the Christian faith is
pressed upon you, you forget, or pretend to ignore, what you habitually
discuss or teach? Why is it that you refuse to be Christians, on the
ground that you hold opinions which, in fact, you yourselves demolish?
Is it not because Christ came in lowliness, and ye are proud? The
precise nature of the resurrection bodies of the saints may sometimes
occasion discussion among those who are best read in the Christian
Scriptures; yet there is not among us the smallest doubt that they
shall be everlasting, and of a nature exemplified in the instance of
Christ's risen body. But whatever be their nature, since we maintain
that they shall be absolutely incorruptible and immortal, and shall
offer no hindrance to the soul's contemplation by which it is fixed
in God, and as you say that among the celestials the bodies of the
eternally blessed are eternal, why do you maintain that, in order to
blessedness, every body must be escaped from? Why do you thus seek
such a plausible reason for escaping from the Christian faith, if not
because, as I again say, Christ is humble and ye proud? Are ye ashamed
to be corrected? This is the vice of the proud. It is, forsooth, a
degradation for learned men to pass from the school of Plato to the
discipleship of Christ, who by His Spirit taught a fisherman to think
and to say, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All
things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that
was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the
light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."[427]
The old saint Simplicianus, afterwards bishop of Milan, used to tell me
that a certain Platonist was in the habit of saying that this opening
passage of the holy gospel, entitled "According to John," should be
written in letters of gold, and hung up in all churches in the most
conspicuous place. But the proud scorn to take God for their Master,
because "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."[428] So that,
with these miserable creatures, it is not enough that they are sick,
but they boast of their sickness, and are ashamed of the medicine which
could heal them. And, doing so, they secure not elevation, but a more
disastrous fall.

     30. _Porphyry's emendations and modifications of Platonism._

If it is considered unseemly to emend anything which Plato has
touched, why did Porphyry himself make emendations, and these not
a few? for it is very certain that Plato wrote that the souls of
men return after death to the bodies of beasts.[429] Plotinus also,
Porphyry's teacher, held this opinion;[430] yet Porphyry justly
rejected it. He was of opinion that human souls return indeed into
human bodies, but not into the bodies they had left, but other new
bodies. He shrank from the other opinion, lest a woman who had
returned into a mule might possibly carry her own son on her back. He
did not shrink, however, from a theory which admitted the possibility
of a mother coming back into a girl and marrying her own son. How
much more honourable a creed is that which was taught by the holy
and truthful angels, uttered by the prophets who were moved by God's
Spirit, preached by Him who was foretold as the coming Saviour by His
forerunning heralds, and by the apostles whom He sent forth, and who
filled the whole world with the gospel,--how much more honourable,
I say, is the belief that souls return once for all to their own
bodies, than that they return again and again to divers bodies?
Nevertheless Porphyry, as I have said, did considerably improve upon
this opinion, in so far, at least, as he maintained that human souls
could transmigrate only into human bodies, and made no scruple about
demolishing the bestial prisons into which Plato had wished to cast
them. He says, too, that God put the soul into the world that it
might recognise the evils of matter, and return to the Father, and
be for ever emancipated from the polluting contact of matter. And
although here is some inappropriate thinking (for the soul is rather
given to the body that it may do good; for it would not learn evil
unless it did it), yet he corrects the opinion of other Platonists,
and that on a point of no small importance, inasmuch as he avows that
the soul, which is purged from all evil and received to the Father's
presence, shall never again suffer the ills of this life. By this
opinion he quite subverted the favourite Platonic dogma, that as dead
men are made out of living ones, so living men are made out of dead
ones; and he exploded the idea which Virgil seems to have adopted
from Plato, that the purified souls which have been sent into the
Elysian fields (the poetic name for the joys of the blessed) are
summoned to the river Lethe, that is, to the oblivion of the past,

          "That earthward they may pass once more,
           Remembering not the things before,
           And with a blind propension yearn
           To fleshly bodies to return."[431]

This found no favour with Porphyry, and very justly; for it is indeed
foolish to believe that souls should desire to return from that
life, which cannot be very blessed unless by the assurance of its
permanence, and to come back into this life, and to the pollution
of corruptible bodies, as if the result of perfect purification
were only to make defilement desirable. For if perfect purification
effects the oblivion of all evils, and the oblivion of evils creates
a desire for a body in which the soul may again be entangled with
evils, then the supreme felicity will be the cause of infelicity, and
the perfection of wisdom the cause of foolishness, and the purest
cleansing the cause of defilement. And, however long the blessedness
of the soul last, it cannot be founded on truth, if, in order to
be blessed, it must be deceived. For it cannot be blessed unless
it be free from fear. But, to be free from fear, it must be under
the _false_ impression that it shall be always blessed,--the false
impression, for it is destined to be also at some time miserable.
How, then, shall the soul rejoice in truth, whose joy is founded on
falsehood? Porphyry saw this, and therefore said that the purified
soul returns to the Father, that it may never more be entangled in
the polluting contact with evil. The opinion, therefore, of some
Platonists, that there is a necessary revolution carrying souls away
and bringing them round again to the same things, is false. But, were
it true, what were the advantage of knowing it? Would the Platonists
presume to allege their superiority to us, because we were in this
life ignorant of what they themselves were doomed to be ignorant of
when perfected in purity and wisdom in another and better life, and
which they must be ignorant of if they are to be blessed? If it were
most absurd and foolish to say so, then certainly we must prefer
Porphyry's opinion to the idea of a circulation of souls through
constantly alternating happiness and misery. And if this is just,
here is a Platonist emending Plato, here is a man who saw what Plato
did not see, and who did not shrink from correcting so illustrious a
master, but preferred truth to Plato.

    31. _Against the arguments on which the Platonists ground their
        assertion that the human soul is co-eternal with God._

Why, then, do we not rather believe the divinity in those matters,
which human talent cannot fathom? Why do we not credit the assertion
of divinity, that the soul is not co-eternal with God, but is
created, and once was not? For the Platonists seemed to themselves to
allege an adequate reason for their rejection of this doctrine, when
they affirmed that nothing could be everlasting which had not always
existed. Plato, however, in writing concerning the world and the gods
in it, whom the Supreme made, most expressly states that they had
a beginning and yet would have no end, but, by the sovereign will
of the Creator, would endure eternally. But, by way of interpreting
this, the Platonists have discovered that he meant a beginning,
not of time, but of cause. "For as if a foot," they say, "had been
always from eternity in dust, there would always have been a print
underneath it; and yet no one would doubt that this print was made
by the pressure of the foot, nor that, though the one was made by
the other, neither was prior to the other; so," they say, "the world
and the gods created in it have always been, their Creator always
existing, and yet they were made." If, then, the soul has always
existed, are we to say that its wretchedness has always existed?
For if there is something in it which was not from eternity, but
began in time, why is it impossible that the soul itself, though not
previously existing, should begin to be in time? Its blessedness,
too, which, as he owns, is to be more stable, and indeed endless,
after the soul's experience of evils,--this undoubtedly has a
beginning in time, and yet is to be always, though previously it
had no existence. This whole argumentation, therefore, to establish
that nothing can be endless except that which has had no beginning,
falls to the ground. For here we find the blessedness of the soul,
which has a beginning, and yet has no end. And, therefore, let the
incapacity of man give place to the authority of God; and let us
take our belief regarding the true religion from the ever-blessed
spirits, who do not seek for themselves that honour which they
know to be due to their God and ours, and who do not command us to
sacrifice save only to Him, whose sacrifice, as I have often said
already, and must often say again, we and they ought together to be,
offered through that Priest who offered Himself to death a sacrifice
for us, in that human nature which He assumed, and according to which
He desired to be our Priest.

  32. _Of the universal way of the soul's deliverance, which Porphyry
      did not find because he did not rightly seek it, and which the
      grace of Christ has alone thrown open._

This is the religion which possesses the universal way for delivering
the soul; for, except by this way, none can be delivered. This is
a kind of royal way, which alone leads to a kingdom which does not
totter like all temporal dignities, but stands firm on eternal
foundations. And when Porphyry says, towards the end of the first
book _De Regressu Animæ_, that no system of doctrine which furnishes
the universal way for delivering the soul has as yet been received,
either from the truest philosophy, or from the ideas and practices
of the Indians, or from the reasoning[432] of the Chaldæans, or from
any source whatever, and that no historical reading had made him
acquainted with that way, he manifestly acknowledges that there is
such a way, but that as yet he was not acquainted with it. Nothing of
all that he had so laboriously learned concerning the deliverance of
the soul, nothing of all that he seemed to others, if not to himself,
to know and believe, satisfied him. For he perceived that there was
still wanting a commanding authority which it might be right to
follow in a matter of such importance. And when he says that he had
not learned from any truest philosophy a system which possessed the
universal way of the soul's deliverance, he shows plainly enough,
as it seems to me, either that the philosophy of which he was a
disciple was not the truest, or that it did not comprehend such
a way. And how can that be the truest philosophy which does not
possess this way? For what else is the universal way of the soul's
deliverance than that by which all souls universally are delivered,
and without which, therefore, no soul is delivered? And when he says,
in addition, "or from the ideas and practices of the Indians, or from
the reasoning of the Chaldæans, or from any source whatever," he
declares in the most unequivocal language that this universal way of
the soul's deliverance was not embraced in what he had learned either
from the Indians or the Chaldæans; and yet he could not forbear
stating that it was from the Chaldæans he had derived these divine
oracles of which he makes such frequent mention. What, therefore,
does he mean by this universal way of the soul's deliverance, which
had not yet been made known by any truest philosophy, or by the
doctrinal systems of those nations which were considered to have
great insight in things divine, because they indulged more freely
in a curious and fanciful science and worship of angels? What is
this universal way of which he acknowledges his ignorance, if not
a way which does not belong to one nation as its special property,
but is common to all, and divinely bestowed? Porphyry, a man of no
mediocre abilities, does not question that such a way exists; for he
believes that Divine Providence could not have left men destitute of
this universal way of delivering the soul. For he does not say that
this way does not exist, but that this great boon and assistance has
not yet been discovered, and has not come to his knowledge. And no
wonder; for Porphyry lived in an age when this universal way of the
soul's deliverance,--in other words, the Christian religion,--was
exposed to the persecutions of idolaters and demon-worshippers, and
earthly rulers,[433] that the number of martyrs or witnesses for the
truth might be completed and consecrated, and that by them proof
might be given that we must endure all bodily sufferings in the cause
of the holy faith, and for the commendation of the truth. Porphyry,
being a witness of these persecutions, concluded that this way was
destined to a speedy extinction, and that it, therefore, was not
the universal way of the soul's deliverance, and did not see that
the very thing that thus moved him, and deterred him from becoming
a Christian, contributed to the confirmation and more effectual
commendation of our religion.

This, then, is the universal way of the soul's deliverance, the way
that is granted by the divine compassion to the nations universally.
And no nation to which the knowledge of it has already come, or may
hereafter come, ought to demand, Why so soon? or, Why so late?--for
the design of Him who sends it is impenetrable by human capacity. This
was felt by Porphyry when he confined himself to saying that this gift
of God was not yet received, and had not yet come to his knowledge.
For, though this was so, he did not on that account pronounce that the
way itself had no existence. This, I say, is the universal way for
the deliverance of believers, concerning which the faithful Abraham
received the divine assurance, "In thy seed shall all nations be
blessed."[434] He, indeed, was by birth a Chaldæan; but, that he might
receive these great promises, and that there might be propagated from
him a seed "disposed by angels in the hand of a Mediator,"[435] in whom
this universal way, thrown open to all nations for the deliverance
of the soul, might be found, he was ordered to leave his country,
and kindred, and father's house. Then was he himself, first of all,
delivered from the Chaldæan superstitions, and by his obedience
worshipped the one true God, whose promises he faithfully trusted.
This is the universal way, of which it is said in holy prophecy, "God
be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon
us; that Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among all
nations."[436] And hence, when our Saviour, so long after, had taken
flesh of the seed of Abraham, He says of Himself, "I am the way, the
truth, and the life."[437] This is the universal way, of which so long
before it had been predicted, "And it shall come to pass in the last
days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the
top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all
nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye,
and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God
of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His
paths: for out of Sion shall go forth the law, and the word of the
Lord from Jerusalem."[438] This way, therefore, is not the property
of one, but of all nations. The law and the word of the Lord did not
remain in Zion and Jerusalem, but issued thence to be universally
diffused. And therefore the Mediator Himself, after His resurrection,
says to His alarmed disciples, "These are the words which I spake
unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled
which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in
the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened He their understandings that
they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is
written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the
dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be
preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."[439]
This is the universal way of the soul's deliverance, which the holy
angels and the holy prophets formerly disclosed where they could
among the few men who found the grace of God, and especially in the
Hebrew nation, whose commonwealth was, as it were, consecrated to
prefigure and fore-announce the city of God which was to be gathered
from all nations, by their tabernacle, and temple, and priesthood,
and sacrifices. In some explicit statements, and in many obscure
foreshadowings, this way was declared; but latterly came the Mediator
Himself in the flesh, and His blessed apostles, revealing how the grace
of the New Testament more openly explained what had been obscurely
hinted to preceding generations, in conformity with the relation of the
ages of the human race, and as it pleased God in His wisdom to appoint,
who also bore them witness with signs and miracles, some of which I
have cited above. For not only were there visions of angels, and words
heard from those heavenly ministrants, but also men of God, armed with
the word of simple piety, cast out unclean spirits from the bodies and
senses of men, and healed deformities and sicknesses; the wild beasts
of earth and sea, the birds of air, inanimate things, the elements,
the stars, obeyed their divine commands; the powers of hell gave way
before them, the dead were restored to life. I say nothing of the
miracles peculiar and proper to the Saviour's own person, especially
the nativity and the resurrection; in the one of which He wrought only
the mystery of a virgin maternity, while in the other He furnished an
instance of the resurrection which all shall at last experience. This
way purifies the whole man, and prepares the mortal in all his parts
for immortality. For, to prevent us from seeking for one purgation for
the part which Porphyry calls intellectual, and another for the part he
calls spiritual, and another for the body itself, our most mighty and
truthful Purifier and Saviour assumed the whole human nature. Except by
this way, which has been present among men both during the period of
the promises and of the proclamation of their fulfilment, no man has
been delivered, no man is delivered, no man shall be delivered.

As to Porphyry's statement that the universal way of the soul's
deliverance had not yet come to his knowledge by any acquaintance he
had with history, I would ask, what more remarkable history can be
found than that which has taken possession of the whole world by its
authoritative voice? or what more trustworthy than that which narrates
past events, and predicts the future with equal clearness, and in the
unfulfilled predictions of which we are constrained to believe by those
that are already fulfilled? For neither Porphyry nor any Platonists
can despise divination and prediction, even of things that pertain to
this life and earthly matters, though they justly despise ordinary
soothsaying and the divination that is connected with magical arts.
They deny that these are the predictions of great men, or are to be
considered important, and they are right; for they are founded, either
on the foresight of subsidiary causes, as to a professional eye much of
the course of a disease is foreseen by certain premonitory symptoms,
or the unclean demons predict what they have resolved to do, that they
may thus work upon the thoughts and desires of the wicked with an
appearance of authority, and incline human frailty to imitate their
impure actions. It is not such things that the saints who walk in the
universal way care to predict as important, although, for the purpose
of commending the faith, they knew and often predicted even such things
as could not be detected by human observation, nor be readily verified
by experience. But there were other truly important and divine events
which they predicted, in so far as it was given them to know the will
of God. For the incarnation of Christ, and all those important marvels
that were accomplished in Him, and done in His name; the repentance
of men and the conversion of their wills to God; the remission of
sins, the grace of righteousness, the faith of the pious, and the
multitudes in all parts of the world who believe in the true divinity;
the overthrow of idolatry and demon worship, and the testing of the
faithful by trials; the purification of those who persevered, and their
deliverance from all evil; the day of judgment, the resurrection of
the dead, the eternal damnation of the community of the ungodly, and
the eternal kingdom of the most glorious city of God, ever-blessed
in the enjoyment of the vision of God,--these things were predicted
and promised in the Scriptures of this way; and of these we see so
many fulfilled, that we justly and piously trust that the rest will
also come to pass. As for those who do not believe, and consequently
do not understand, that this is the way which leads straight to the
vision of God and to eternal fellowship with Him, according to the true
predictions and statements of the Holy Scriptures, they may storm at
our position, but they cannot storm it.

And therefore, in these ten books, though not meeting, I dare say,
the expectation of some, yet I have, as the true God and Lord has
vouchsafed to aid me, satisfied the desire of certain persons, by
refuting the objections of the ungodly, who prefer their own gods to
the Founder of the holy city, about which we undertook to speak. Of
these ten books, the first five were directed against those who think
we should worship the gods for the sake of the blessings of this
life, and the second five against those who think we should worship
them for the sake of the life which is to be after death. And now, in
fulfilment of the promise I made in the first book, I shall go on to
say, as God shall aid me, what I think needs to be said regarding the
origin, history, and deserved ends of the two cities, which, as already
remarked, a