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Title: The Theological Tractates and The Consolation of Philosophy

Author: Boethius

Translator: Edward Kennard Rand

H. F. Stewart

Release date: August 29, 2004 [eBook #13316]
Most recently updated: December 18, 2020

Language: English, Latin


Produced by Ted Garvin, Robert Connal and the Online Distributed

Proofreading Team.







[Transcriber's Note: The paper edition of this book has Latin and English pages facing each other. This version of the text uses alternating Latin and English sections, with the English text slightly indented.]




In preparing the text of the Consolatio I have used the apparatus in Peiper's edition (Teubner, 1871), since his reports, as I know in the case of the Tegernseensis, are generally accurate and complete; I have depended also on my own collations or excerpts from various of the important manuscripts, nearly all of which I have at least examined, and I have also followed, not always but usually, the opinions of Engelbrecht in his admirable article, Die Consolatio Philosophiae des Boethius in the Sitzungsberichte of the Vienna Academy, cxliv. (1902) 1-60. The present text, then, has been constructed from only part of the material with which an editor should reckon, though the reader may at least assume that every reading in the text has, unless otherwise stated, the authority of some manuscript of the ninth or tenth century; in certain orthographical details, evidence from the text of the Opuscula Sacra has been used without special mention of this fact. We look to August Engelbrecht for the first critical edition of the Consolatio at, we hope, no distant date.

The text of the Opuscula Sacra is based on my own collations of all the important manuscripts of these works. An edition with complete apparatus criticus will be ready before long for the Vienna Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum. The history of the text of the Opuscula Sacra, as I shall attempt to show elsewhere, is intimately connected with that of the Consolatio.



Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, of the famous Praenestine family of the Anicii, was born about 480 A.D. in Rome. His father was an ex-consul; he himself was consul under Theodoric the Ostrogoth in 510, and his two sons, children of a great grand-daughter of the renowned Q. Aurelius Symmachus, were joint consuls in 522. His public career was splendid and honourable, as befitted a man of his race, attainments, and character. But he fell under the displeasure of Theodoric, and was charged with conspiring to deliver Rome from his rule, and with corresponding treasonably to this end with Justin, Emperor of the East. He was thrown into prison at Pavia, where he wrote the Consolation of Philosophy, and he was brutally put to death in 524. His brief and busy life was marked by great literary achievement. His learning was vast, his industry untiring, his object unattainable— nothing less than the transmission to his countrymen of all the works of Plato and Aristotle, and the reconciliation of their apparently divergent views. To form the idea was a silent judgment on the learning of his day; to realize it was more than one man could accomplish; but Boethius accomplished much. He translated the [Greek: Eisagogae] of Porphyry, and the whole of Aristotle's Organon. He wrote a double commentary on the [Greek: Eisagogae] and commentaries on the Categories and the De Interpretatione of Aristotle, and on the Topica of Cicero. He also composed original treatises on the categorical and hypothetical syllogism, on Division and on Topical Differences. He adapted the arithmetic of Nicomachus, and his textbook on music, founded on various Greek authorities, was in use at Oxford and Cambridge until modern times. His five theological Tractates are here, together with the Consolation of Philosophy, to speak for themselves.

Boethius was the last of the Roman philosophers, and the first of the scholastic theologians. The present volume serves to prove the truth of both these assertions.

The Consolation of Philosophy is indeed, as Gibbon called it, "a golden volume, not unworthy of the leisure of Plato or of Tully." To belittle its originality and sincerity, as is sometimes done, with a view to saving the Christianity of the writer, is to misunderstand his mind and his method. The Consolatio is not, as has been maintained, a mere patchwork of translations from Aristotle and the Neoplatonists. Rather it is the supreme essay of one who throughout his life had found his highest solace in the dry light of reason. His chief source of refreshment, in the dungeon to which his beloved library had not accompanied him, was a memory well stocked with the poetry and thought of former days. The development of the argument is anything but Neoplatonic; it is all his own.

And if the Consolation of Philosophy admits Boethius to the company of Cicero or even of Plato, the theological Tractates mark him as the forerunner of St. Thomas. It was the habit of a former generation to regard Boethius as an eclectic, the transmitter of a distorted Aristotelianism, a pagan, or at best a luke-warm Christian, who at the end cast off the faith which he had worn in times of peace, and wrapped himself in the philosophic cloak which properly belonged to him. The authenticity of the Tractates was freely denied. We know better now. The discovery by Alfred Holder, and the illuminating discussion by Hermann Usener,[1] of a fragment of Cassiodorus are sufficient confirmation of the manuscript tradition, apart from the work of scholars who have sought to justify that tradition from internal evidence. In that fragment Cassiodorus definitely ascribes to his friend Boethius "a book on the Trinity, some dogmatic chapters, and a book against Nestorius."[2] Boethius was without doubt a Christian, a Doctor and perhaps a martyr. Nor is it necessary to think that, when in prison, he put away his faith. If it is asked why the Consolation of Philosophy contains no conscious or direct reference to the doctrines which are traced in the Tractates with so sure a hand, and is, at most, not out of harmony with Christianity, the answer is simple. In the Consolation he is writing philosophy; in the Tractates he is writing theology. He observes what Pascal calls the orders of things. Philosophy belongs to one order, theology to another. They have different objects. The object of philosophy is to understand and explain the nature of the world around us; the object of theology is to understand and explain doctrines delivered by divine revelation. The scholastics recognized the distinction,[3] and the corresponding difference in the function of Faith and Reason. Their final aim was to co-ordinate the two, but this was not possible before the thirteenth century. Meanwhile Boethius helps to prepare the way. In the Consolation he gives Reason her range, and suffers her, unaided, to vindicate the ways of Providence. In the Tractates Reason is called in to give to the claims of Faith the support which it does not really lack.[4] Reason, however, has still a right to be heard. The distinction between fides and ratio is proclaimed in the first two Tractates. In the second especially it is drawn with a clearness worthy of St. Thomas himself; and there is, of course, the implication that the higher authority resides with fides. But the treatment is philosophical and extremely bold. Boethius comes back to the question of the substantiality of the divine Persons which he has discussed in Tr. I. from a fresh point of view. Once more he decides that the Persons are predicated relatively; even Trinity, he concludes, is not predicated substantially of deity. Does this square with catholic doctrine? It is possible to hear a note of challenge in his words to John the Deacon, fidem si poterit rationemque coniunge. Philosophy states the problem in unequivocal terms. Theology is required to say whether they commend themselves.

One object of the scholastics, anterior to the final co-ordination of the two sciences, was to harmonize and codify all the answers to all the questions that philosophy raises. The ambition of Boethius was not so soaring, but it was sufficiently bold. He set out, first to translate, and then to reconcile, Plato and Aristotle; to go behind all the other systems, even the latest and the most in vogue, back to the two great masters, and to show that they have the truth, and are in substantial accord. So St. Thomas himself, if he cannot reconcile the teaching of Plato and Aristotle, at least desires to correct the one by the other, to discover what truth is common to both, and to show its correspondence with Christian doctrine. It is reasonable to conjecture that Boethius, if he had lived, might have attempted something of the kind. Were he alive to-day, he might feel more in tune with the best of the pagans than with most contemporary philosophic thought.

In yet one more respect Boethius belongs to the company of the schoolmen. He not only put into circulation many precious philosophical notions, served as channel through which various works of Aristotle passed into the schools, and handed down to them a definite Aristotelian method for approaching the problem of faith; he also supplied material for that classification of the various sciences which is an essential accompaniment of every philosophical movement, and of which the Middle Ages felt the value.[5] The uniform distribution into natural sciences, mathematics and theology which he recommends may be traced in the work of various teachers up to the thirteenth century, when it is finally accepted and defended by St. Thomas in his commentary on the De Trinitate.

A seventeenth-century translation of the Consolatio Philosophiae is here presented with such alterations as are demanded by a better text, and the requirements of modern scholarship. There was, indeed, not much to do, for the rendering is most exact. This in a translation of that date is not a little remarkable. We look for fine English and poetry in an Elizabethan; but we do not often get from him such loyalty to the original as is here displayed.

Of the author "I.T." nothing is known. He may have been John Thorie, a Fleming born in London in 1568, and a B.A. of Christ Church, 1586. Thorie "was a person well skilled in certain tongues, and a noted poet of his times" (Wood, Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 624), but his known translations are apparently all from the Spanish.[6]

Our translator dedicates his "Five books of Philosophical Comfort" to the Dowager Countess of Dorset, widow of Thomas Sackville, who was part author of A Mirror for Magistrates and Gorboduc, and who, we learn from I.T.'s preface, meditated a similar work. I.T. does not unduly flatter his patroness, and he tells her plainly that she will not understand the philosophy of the book, though the theological and practical parts may be within her scope.

The Opuscula Sacra have never before, to our knowledge, been translated. In reading and rendering them we have been greatly helped by two mediaeval commentaries: one by John the Scot (edited by E.K. Rand in Traube's Quellen und Untersuchungen, vol. i. pt. 2, Munich, 1906); the other by Gilbert de la Porrée (printed in Migne, P.L. lxiv.). We also desire to record our indebtedness in many points of scholarship and philosophy to Mr. E.J. Thomas of Emmanuel College.

Finally, thanks are due to Mr. Dolson for the suggestion in the footnote on the preceding page, and also to Professor Lane Cooper of Cornell University for many valuable corrections as this reprint was passing through the Press.

H.F.S. E.K.R.

October, 1926.

[1] Anecdoton Holderi, Leipzig, 1877.

[2] Scripsit librum de sancta trinitate et capita quaedam dogmatica et librum contra Nestorium. On the question of the genuineness of Tr. IV. De fide catholica see note ad loc.

[3] Cp. H. de Wulf, Histoire de la Philosophie médiévale (Louvain and Paris 1915), p. 332.

[4] See below, De Trin. vi. ad fin.

[5] Cp. L. Baur, Gundissalinus: de divisione, Münster, 1905.

[6] Mr. G. Bayley Dolson suggests with greater probability that I.T. was John Thorpe (fl. 1570-1610), architect to Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset. Cf. American Journal of Philology, vol. xlii. (1921), p. 266.


Editio Princeps:

  Collected Works (except De fide catholica). Joh. et Greg. de
  Gregoriis. Venice, 1491-92.

De consolatione philosophiae. Coburger. Nürnberg, 1473.

De fide catholica. Ed. Ren. Vallinus. Leyden, 1656.

Latest Critical Edition:

De consolatione philosophiae and Theological Tractates. R. Peiper. Teubner, 1871.


De consolatione philosophiae.

Alfred the Great. Ed. W.J. Sedgefield. Oxford, 1899 and 1900.

  Chaucer. Ed. W.W. Skeat in Chaucer's Complete Works. Vol. ii. Oxford,

  H.R. James. The Consolation of Philosophy of Boethius. London,
  1897; reprinted 1906.

  Judicis de Mirandol. La Consolation philosophique de Boëce.
  Paris, 1861.

Illustrative Works:

  A. Engelbrecht. Die Consolatio Phil. der B. Sitzungsberichte der
  Kön. Akad. Vienna, 1902.

  Bardenhewer, Patrologie (Boethius und Cassiodor, pp. 584 sqq.).
  Freiburg im Breslau, 1894.

  Hauréan. Hist. de la philosophie scolastique. Vol. i. Paris,

  Hildebrand. Boethius und seine Stellung zum Christentum.
  Regensburg, 1885.

Hodgkin. Italy and her Invaders. Vols. iii. and iv. Oxford, 1885.

Ch. Jourdain. (1) De l'origine des traditions sur le christianisme de Boëce; (2) Des commentaires inédits sur La Consolation de la philosophie. (Excursions historiques et philosophiques à travers le moyen àge.) Paris, 1888.

  Fritz Klingner. De Boethii consolatione, Philol. Unters. xxvii.
  Berlin, 1921.

  F.D. Maurice. Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy. Vol. i. London,

F. Nitzsch. Das System des B. Berlin, 1860.

  E.K. Rand. Der dem B. zugeschriebene Traktat de Fide catholica
  (Jahrbuch für kl. Phil. xxvi.). 1901.

Semeria. Il Cristianesimo di Sev. Boezio rivendicato, Rome, 1900.

M. Schanz. Gesch. der röm. Litteratur. Teil iv. Boethius. Berlin, 1921.

H.F. Stewart. Boethius: an Essay. Edinburgh, 1891.

Usener. Anecdoton Holderi. Leipsic, 1877.





Investigatam diutissime quaestionem, quantum nostrae mentis igniculum lux diuina dignata est, formatam rationibus litterisque mandatam offerendam uobis communicandamque curaui tam uestri cupidus iudicii quam nostri studiosus inuenti. Qua in re quid mihi sit animi quotiens stilo cogitata commendo, tum ex ipsa materiae difficultate tum ex eo quod raris id est uobis tantum conloquor, intellegi potest. Neque enim famae iactatione et inanibus uulgi clamoribus excitamur; sed si quis est fructus exterior, hic non potest aliam nisi materiae similem sperare sententiam. Quocumque igitur a uobis deieci oculos, partim ignaua segnities partim callidus liuor occurrit, ut contumeliam uideatur diuinis tractatibus inrogare qui talibus hominum monstris non agnoscenda haec potius quam proculcanda proiecerit. Idcirco stilum breuitate contraho et ex intimis sumpta philosophiae disciplinis nouorum uerborum significationibus uelo, ut haec mihi tantum uobisque, si quando ad ea conuertitis oculos, conloquantur; ceteros uero ita submouimus, ut qui capere intellectu nequiuerint ad ea etiam legenda uideantur indigni. Sane[7] tantum a nobis quaeri oportet quantum humanae rationis intuitus ad diuinitatis ualet celsa conscendere. Nam ceteris quoque artibus idem quasi quidam finis est constitutus, quousque potest uia rationis accedere. Neque enim medicina aegris semper affert salutem; sed nulla erit culpa medentis, si nihil eorum quae fieri oportebat omiserit. Idemque in ceteris. At quantum haec difficilior quaestio est, tam facilior esse debet ad ueniam. Vobis tamen etiam illud inspiciendum est, an ex beati Augustini scriptis semina rationum aliquos in nos uenientia fructus extulerint. Ac de proposita quaestione hinc sumamus initium.

[7] sed ne codices optimi.



I have long pondered this problem with such mind as I have and all the light that God has lent me. Now, having set it forth in logical order and cast it into literary form, I venture to submit it to your judgment, for which I care as much as for the results of my own research. You will readily understand what I feel whenever I try to write down what I think if you consider the difficulty of the topic and the fact that I discuss it only with the few—I may say with no one but yourself. It is indeed no desire for fame or empty popular applause that prompts my pen; if there be any external reward, we may not look for more warmth in the verdict than the subject itself arouses. For, apart from yourself, wherever I turn my eyes, they fall on either the apathy of the dullard or the jealousy of the shrewd, and a man who casts his thoughts before the common herd—I will not say to consider but to trample under foot, would seem to bring discredit on the study of divinity. So I purposely use brevity and wrap up the ideas I draw from the deep questionings of philosophy in new and unaccustomed words which speak only to you and to myself, that is, if you deign to look at them. The rest of the world I simply disregard: they cannot understand, and therefore do not deserve to read. We should not of course press our inquiry further than man's wit and reason are allowed to climb the height of heavenly knowledge.[8] In all the liberal arts we see the same limit set beyond which reason may not reach. Medicine, for instance, does not always bring health to the sick, though the doctor will not be to blame if he has left nothing undone which he ought to do. So with the other arts. In the present case the very difficulty of the quest claims a lenient judgment. You must however examine whether the seeds sown in my mind by St. Augustine's writings[9] have borne fruit. And now let us begin our inquiry.

[8] Cf. the discussion of human ratio and divine intellegentia in Cons. v. pr. 4 and 5.

[9] e.g. Aug. De Trin.


Christianae religionis reuerentiam plures usurpant, sed ea fides pollet maxime ac solitarie quae cum propter uniuersalium praecepta regularum, quibus eiusdem religionis intellegatur auctoritas, tum propterea, quod eius cultus per omnes paene mundi terminos emanauit, catholica uel uniuersalis uocatur. Cuius haec de trinitatis unitate sententia est: "Pater," inquiunt, "deus filius deus spiritus sanctus deus." Igitur pater filius spiritus sanctus unus non tres dii. Cuius coniunctionis ratio est indifferentia. Eos enim differentia comitatur qui uel augent uel minuunt, ut Arriani qui gradibus meritorum trinitatem uariantes distrahunt atque in pluralitatem diducunt. Principium enim pluralitatis alteritas est; praeter alteritatem enim nec pluralitas quid sit intellegi potest. Trium namque rerum uel quotlibet tum genere tum specie tum numero diuersitas constat; quotiens enim idem dicitur, totiens diuersum etiam praedicatur. Idem uero dicitur tribus modis: aut genere ut idem homo quod equus, quia his idem genus ut animal; uel specie ut idem Cato quod Cicero, quia eadem species ut homo; uel numero ut Tullius et Cicero, quia unus est numero. Quare diuersum etiam uel genere uel specie uel numero dicitur. Sed numero differentiam accidentium uarietas facit. Nam tres homines neque genere neque specie sed suis accidentibus distant; nam uel si animo cuncta ab his accidentia separemus, tamen locus cunctis diuersus est quem unum fingere nullo modo possumus; duo enim corpora unum locum non obtinebunt, qui est accidens. Atque ideo sunt numero plures, quoniam accidentibus plures fiunt.


There are many who claim as theirs the dignity of the Christian religion; but that form of faith is valid and only valid which, both on account of the universal character of the rules and doctrines affirming its authority, and because the worship in which they are expressed has spread throughout the world, is called catholic or universal. The belief of this religion concerning the Unity of the Trinity is as follows: the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Therefore Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God, not three Gods. The principle of this union is absence of difference[10]: difference cannot be avoided by those who add to or take from the Unity, as for instance the Arians, who, by graduating the Trinity according to merit, break it up and convert it to Plurality. For the essence of plurality is otherness; apart from otherness plurality is unintelligible. In fact, the difference between three or more things lies in genus or species or number. Difference is the necessary correlative of sameness. Sameness is predicated in three ways: By genus; e.g. a man and a horse, because of their common genus, animal. By species; e.g. Cato and Cicero, because of their common species, man. By number; e.g. Tully and Cicero, because they are numerically one. Similarly difference is expressed by genus, species, and number. Now numerical difference is caused by variety of accidents; three men differ neither by genus nor species but by their accidents, for if we mentally remove from them all other accidents,[11] still each one occupies a different place which cannot possibly be regarded as the same for each, since two bodies cannot occupy the same place, and place is an accident. Wherefore it is because men are plural by their accidents that they are plural in number.

[10] The terms differentia, numerus, species, are used expertly, as would be expected of the author of the In Isag. Porph. Commenta. See S. Brandt's edition of that work (in the Vienna Corpus, 1906), s.v. differentia, etc.

[11] This method of mental abstraction is employed more elaborately in Tr. iii. (vide infra, p. 44) and in Cons. v. pr. 4, where the notion of divine foreknowledge is abstracted in imagination.


Age igitur ingrediamur et unumquodque ut intellegi atque capi potest dispiciamus; nam, sicut optime dictum uidetur, eruditi est hominis unum quodque ut ipsum est ita de eo fidem capere temptare.

Nam cum tres sint speculatiuae partes, naturalis, in motu inabstracta [Greek: anupexairetos] (considerat enim corporum formas cum materia, quae a corporibus actu separari non possunt, quae corpora in motu sunt ut cum terra deorsum ignis sursum fertur, habetque motum forma materiae coniuncta), mathematica, sine motu inabstracta (haec enim formas corporum speculatur sine materia ac per hoc sine motu, quae formae cum in materia sint, ab his separari non possunt), theologica, sine motu abstracta atque separabilis (nam dei substantia et materia et motu caret), in naturalibus igitur rationabiliter, in mathematicis disciplinaliter, in diuinis intellectualiter uersari oportebit neque diduci ad imaginationes, sed potius ipsam inspicere formam quae uere forma neque imago est et quae esse ipsum est et ex qua esse est. Omne namque esse ex forma est. Statua enim non secundum aes quod est materia, sed secundum formam qua in eo insignita est effigies animalis dicitur, ipsumque aes non secundum terram quod est eius materia, sed dicitur secundum aeris figuram. Terra quoque ipsa non secundum [Greek: apoion hulaen] dicitur, sed secundum siccitatem grauitatemque quae sunt formae. Nihil igitur secundum materiam esse dicitur sed secundum propriam formam. Sed diuina substantia sine materia forma est atque ideo unum et est id quod est. Reliqua enim non sunt id quod sunt. Vnum quodque enim habet esse suum ex his ex quibus est, id est ex partibus suis, et est hoc atque hoc, id est partes suae coniunctae, sed non hoc uel hoc singulariter, ut cum homo terrenus constet ex anima corporeque, corpus et anima est, non uel corpus uel anima in partem; igitur non est id quod est. Quod uero non est ex hoc atque hoc, sed tantum est hoc, illud uere est id quod est; et est pulcherrimum fortissimumque quia nullo nititur. Quocirca hoc uere unum in quo nullus numerus, nullum in eo aliud praeterquam id quod est. Neque enim subiectum fieri potest; forma enim est, formae uero subiectae esse non possunt. Nam quod ceterae formae subiectae accidentibus sunt ut humanitas, non ita accidentia suscipit eo quod ipsa est, sed eo quod materia ei subiecta est; dum enim materia subiecta humanitati suscipit quodlibet accidens, ipsa hoc suscipere uidetur humanitas. Forma uero quae est sine materia non poterit esse subiectum nec uero inesse materiae, neque enim esset forma sed imago. Ex his enim formis quae praeter materiam sunt, istae formae uenerunt quae sunt in materia et corpus efficiunt. Nam ceteras quae in corporibus sunt abutimur formas uocantes, dum imagines sint. Adsimulantur enim formis his quae non sunt in materia constitutae. Nulla igitur in eo diuersitas, nulla ex diuersitate pluralitas, nulla ex accidentibus multitudo atque idcirco nec numerus.


We will now begin a careful consideration of each several point, as far as they can be grasped and understood; for it has been wisely said,[12] in my opinion, that it is a scholar's duty to formulate his belief about anything according to its real nature.

Speculative Science may be divided into three kinds[13]: Physics, Mathematics, and Theology. Physics deals with motion and is not abstract or separable (i.e. [Greek: anupexairetos]); for it is concerned with the forms of bodies together with their constituent matter, which forms cannot be separated in reality from their bodies.[14] As the bodies are in motion—the earth, for instance, tending downwards, and fire tending upwards, form takes on the movement of the particular thing to which it is annexed.

Mathematics does not deal with motion and is not abstract, for it investigates forms of bodies apart from matter, and therefore apart from movement, which forms, however, being connected with matter cannot be really separated from bodies.

Theology does not deal with motion and is abstract and separable, for the Divine Substance is without either matter or motion. In Physics, then, we are bound to use scientific, in Mathematics, systematical, in Theology, intellectual concepts; and in Theology we will not let ourselves be diverted to play with imaginations, but will simply apprehend that Form which is pure form and no image, which is very Being and the source of Being. For everything owes its being to Form. Thus a statue is not a statue on account of the brass which is its matter, but on account of the form whereby the likeness of a living thing is impressed upon it: the brass itself is not brass because of the earth which is its matter, but because of its form. Likewise earth is not earth by reason of unqualified matter,[15] but by reason of dryness and weight, which are forms. So nothing is said to be because it has matter, but because it has a distinctive form. But the Divine Substance is Form without matter, and is therefore One, and is its own essence. But other things are not simply their own essences, for each thing has its being from the things of which it is composed, that is, from its parts. It is This and That, i.e. it is the totality of its parts in conjunction; it is not This or That taken apart. Earthly man, for instance, since he consists of soul and body, is soul and body, not soul or body, separately; therefore he is not his own essence. That on the other hand which does not consist of This and That, but is only This, is really its own essence, and is altogether beautiful and stable because it is not grounded in anything. Wherefore that is truly One in which is no number, in which nothing is present except its own essence. Nor can it become the substrate of anything, for it is pure Form, and pure Forms cannot be substrates.[16] For if humanity, like other forms, is a substrate for accidents, it does not receive accidents through the fact that it exists, but through the fact that matter is subjected to it. Humanity appears indeed to appropriate the accident which in reality belongs to the matter underlying the conception Humanity. But Form which is without matter cannot be a substrate, and cannot have its essence in matter, else it would not be form but a reflexion. For from those forms which are outside matter come the forms which are in matter and produce bodies. We misname the entities that reside in bodies when we call them forms; they are mere images; they only resemble those forms which are not incorporate in matter. In Him, then, is no difference, no plurality arising out of difference, no multiplicity arising out of accidents, and accordingly no number.

[12] By Cicero (Tusc. v. 7. 19).

[13] Cf. the similar division of philosophy in Isag. Porph. ed. Brandt, pp. 7 ff.

[14] Sb. though they may be separated in thought.

[15] [Greek: Apoios hulae] = [Greek: to amorphon, to aeides] of Aristotle. Cf. [Greek: oute gar hulae to eidos (hae men apoios, to de poiotaes tis) oute ex hulaes] (Alexander Aphrod. De Anima, 17. 17); [Greek: ei de touto, apoios de hae hulae, apoion an eiae soma] (id. De anima libri mantissa, 124. 7).

[16] This is Realism. Cf. "Sed si rerum ueritatem atque integritatem perpendas, non est dubium quin uerae sint. Nam cum res omnes quae uerae sunt sine his quinque (i.e. genus species differentia propria accidentia) esse non possint, has ipsas quinque res uere intellectas esse non dubites." Isag., Porph. ed, pr. i. (M. P.L. lxiv. col. 19, Brandt, pp. 26 ff.). The two passages show that Boethius is definitely committed to the Realistic position, although in his Comment. in Porphyr. a se translatum he holds the scales between Plato and Aristotle, "quorum diiudicare sententias aptum esse non duxi" (cp. Hauréau, Hist. de la philosophie scolastique, i. 120). As a fact in the Comment. in Porph. he merely postpones the question, which in the De Trin. he settles. Boethius was ridiculed in the Middle Ages for his caution.


Deus uero a deo nullo differt, ne uel accidentibus uel substantialibus differentiis in subiecto positis distent. Vbi uero nulla est differentia, nulla est omnino pluralitas, quare nec numerus; igitur unitas tantum. Nam quod tertio repetitur deus, cum pater ac filius et spiritus sanctus nuncupatur, tres unitates non faciunt pluralitatem numeri in eo quod ipsae sunt, si aduertamus ad res numerabiles ac non ad ipsum numerum. Illic enim unitatum repetitio numerum facit. In eo autem numero qui in rebus numerabilibus constat, repetitio unitatum atque pluralitas minime facit numerabilium rerum numerosam diuersitatem. Numerus enim duplex est, unus quidem quo numeramus, alter uero qui in rebus numerabilibus constat. Etenim unum res est; unitas, quo unum dicimus. Duo rursus in rebus sunt ut homines uel lapides; dualitas nihil, sed tantum dualitas qua duo homines uel duo lapides fiunt. Et in ceteris eodem modo. Ergo in numero quo numeramus repetitio unitatum facit pluralitatem; in rerum uero numero non facit pluralitatem unitatum repetitio, uel si de eodem dicam "gladius unus mucro unus ensis unus." Potest enim unus tot uocabulis gladius agnosci; haec enim unitatum iteratio potius est non numeratio, uelut si ita dicamus "ensis mucro gladius," repetitio quaedam est eiusdem non numeratio diuersorum, uelut si dicam "sol sol sol," non tres soles effecerim, sed de uno totiens praedicauerim.

Non igitur si de patre ac filio et spiritu sancto tertio praedicatur deus, idcirco trina praedicatio numerum facit. Hoc enim illis ut dictum est imminet qui inter eos distantiam faciunt meritorum. Catholicis uero nihil in differentia constituentibus ipsamque formam ut est esse ponentibus neque aliud esse quam est ipsum quod est opinantibus recte repetitio de eodem quam enumeratio diuersi uidetur esse cum dicitur "deus pater deus filius deus spiritus sanctus atque haec trinitas unus deus," uelut "ensis atque mucro unus gladius," uelut "sol sol sol unus sol."

Sed hoc interim ad eam dictum sit significationem demonstrationemque qua ostenditur non omnem unitatum repetitionem numerum pluralitatemque perficere. Non uero ita dicitur "pater ac filius et spiritus sanctus" quasi multiuocum quiddam; nam mucro et ensis et ipse est et idem, pater uero ac filius et spiritus sanctus idem equidem est, non uero ipse. In qua re paulisper considerandum est. Requirentibus enim: "Ipse est pater qui filius?" "Minime," inquiunt. Rursus: "Idem alter qui alter?" Negatur. Non est igitur inter eos in re omni indifferentia; quare subintrat numerus quem ex subiectorum diuersitate confici superius explanatum est. De qua re breuite*r considerabimus, si prius illud, quem ad modum de deo unum quodque praedicatur, praemiserimus.


Now God differs from God in no respect, for there cannot be divine essences distinguished either by accidents or by substantial differences belonging to a substrate. But where there is no difference, there is no sort of plurality and accordingly no number; here, therefore, is unity alone. For whereas we say God thrice when we name the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, these three unities do not produce a plurality of number in their own essences, if we think of what we count instead of what we count with. For in the case of abstract number a repetition of single items does produce plurality; but in the case of concrete number the repetition and plural use of single items does not by any means produce numerical difference in the objects counted. There are as a fact two kinds of number. There is the number with which we count (abstract) and the number inherent in the things counted (concrete). "One" is a thing— the thing counted. Unity is that by which oneness is denoted. Again "two" belongs to the class of things as men or stones; but not so duality; duality is merely that whereby two men or two stones are denoted; and so on. Therefore a repetition of unities[17] produces plurality when it is a question of abstract, but not when it is a question of concrete things, as, for example, if I say of one and the same thing, "one sword, one brand, one blade."[18] It is easy to see that each of these names denotes a sword; I am not numbering unities but simply repeating one thing, and in saying "sword, brand, blade," I reiterate the one thing and do not enumerate several different things any more than I produce three suns instead of merely mentioning one thing thrice when I say "Sun, Sun, Sun."

So then if God be predicated thrice of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the threefold predication does not result in plural number. The risk of that, as has been said, attends only on those who distinguish Them according to merit. But Catholic Christians, allowing no difference of merit in God, assuming Him to be Pure Form and believing Him to be nothing else than His own essence, rightly regard the statement "the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and this Trinity is one God," not as an enumeration of different things but as a reiteration of one and the same thing, like the statement, "blade and brand are one sword" or "sun, sun, and sun are one sun."

Let this be enough for the present to establish my meaning and to show that not every repetition of units produces number and plurality. Still in saying "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," we are not using synonymous terms. "Brand and blade" are the same and identical, but "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," though the same, are not identical. This point deserves a moment's consideration. When they ask "Is the Father the same as the Son?" Catholics answer "No." "Is the One the same as the Other?" The answer is in the negative. There is not, therefore, complete indifference between Them; and so number does come in—number which we explained was the result of diversity of substrates. We will briefly debate this point when we have done examining how particular predicates can be applied to God.

[17] e.g. if I say "one, one, one," I enounce three unities.

[18] The same words are used to illustrate the same matter in the Comment. in Arist. [Greek: peri hermaeneias], 2nd ed. (Meiser) 56. 12.


Decem omnino praedicamenta traduntur quae de rebus omnibus uniuersaliter praedicantur, id est substantia, qualitas, quantitas, ad aliquid, ubi, quando, habere, situm esse, facere, pati. Haec igitur talis sunt qualia subiecta permiserint; nam pars eorum in reliquarum rerum praedicatione substantia est, pa*rs in accidentium numero est. At haec cum quis i*n diuinam uerterit praedicationem, cuncta mutantu*r quae praedicari possunt. Ad aliquid uero omnino non potest praedicari, nam substantia in illo non est uere substantia sed ultra substantiam; item qualitas et cetera quae uenire queunt. Quorum ut amplior fiat intellectus exempla subdenda sunt.

Nam cum dicimus "deus," substantiam quidem significare uidemur, sed eam quae sit ultra substantiam; cum uero "iustus," qualitatem quidem sed non accidentem, sed eam quae sit substantia sed ultra substantiam. Neque enim aliud est quod est, aliud est quod iustus est, sed idem est esse deo quod iusto. Item cum dicitur "magnus uel maximus," quantitatem quidem significare uidemur, sed eam quae sit ipsa substantia, talis qualem esse diximus ultra substantiam; idem est enim esse deo quod magno. De forma enim eius superius monstratum est quoniam is sit forma et unum uere nec ulla pluralitas. Sed haec praedicamenta talia sunt, ut in quo sint ipsum esse faciant quod dicitur, diuise quidem in ceteris, in deo uero coniuncte atque copulate hoc modo: nam cum dicimus "substantia" (ut homo uel deus), ita dicitur quasi illud de quo praedicatur ipsum sit substantia, ut substantia homo uel deus. Sed distat, quoniam homo non integre ipsum homo est ac per hoc nec substantia; quod enim est, aliis debet quae non sunt homo. Deus uero hoc ipsum deus est; nihil enim aliud est nisi quod est, ac per hoc ipsum deus est. Rursus "iustus," quod est qualitas, ita dicitur quasi ipse hoc sit de quo praedicatur, id est si dicamus "homo iustus uel deus iustus," ipsum hominem uel deum iustos esse proponimus; sed differt, quod homo alter alter iustus, deus uero idem ipsum est quod est iustum. "Magnus" etiam homo uel deus dicitur atque ita quasi ipse sit homo magnus uel deus magnus; sed homo tantum magnus, deus uero ipsum magnus exsistit. Reliqua uero neque de deo neque de ceteris praedicantur. Nam ubi uel de homine uel de deo praedicari potest, de homine ut in foro, de deo ut ubique, sed ita ut non quasi ipsa sit res id quod praedicatur de qua dicitur. Non enim ita homo dicitur esse in foro quem ad modum esse albus uel longus nec quasi circumfusus et determinatus proprietate aliqua qua designari secundum se possit, sed tantum quo sit illud aliis informatum rebus per hanc praedicationem ostenditur.

De deo uero non ita, nam quod ubique est ita dici uidetur non quod in omni sit loco (omnino enim in loco esse non potest) sed quod omnis ei locus adsit ad eum capiendum, cum ipse non suscipiatur in loco; atque ideo nusquam in loco esse dicitur, quoniam ubique est sed non in loco. "Quando" uero eodem praedicatur modo, ut de homine heri uenit, de deo semper est. Hic quoque non quasi esse aliquid dicitur illud ipsum de quo hesternus dicitur aduentus, sed quid ei secundum tempus accesserit praedicatur. Quod uero de deo dicitur "semper est," unum quidem significat, quasi omni praeterito fuerit, omni quoquo modo sit praesenti est, omni futuro erit. Quod de caelo et de ceteris inmortalibus corporibus secundum philosophos dici potest, at de deo non ita. Semper enim est, quoniam "semper" praesentis est in eo temporis tantumque inter nostrarum rerum praesens, quod est nunc, interest ac diuinarum, quod nostrum "nunc" quasi currens tempus facit et sempiternitatem, diuinum uero "nunc" permanens neque mouens sese atque consistens aeternitatem facit; cui nomini si adicias "semper," facies eius quod est nunc iugem indefessumque ac per hoc perpetuum cursum quod est sempiternitas.

Rursus habere uel facere eodem modo; dicimus enim "uestitus currit" de homine, de deo "cuncta possidens regit." Rursus de eo nihil quod est esse de utrisque dictum est, sed haec omnis praedicatio exterioribus datur omniaque haec quodam modo referuntur ad aliud. Cuius praedicationis differentiam sic facilius internoscimus: qui homo est uel deus refertur ad substantiam qua est aliquid, id est homo uel deus; qui iustus est refertur ad qualitatem qua scilicet est aliquid, id est iustus, qui magnus ad quantitatem qua est aliquid, id est magnus. Nam in ceteris praedicationibus nihil tale est. Qui enim dicit esse aliquem in foro uel ubique, refert quidem ad praedicamentum quod est ubi, sed non quo aliquid est uelut iustitia iustus. Item cum dico "currit" uel "regit" uel "nunc est" uel "semper est," refertur quidem uel ad facere uel ad tempus—si tamen interim diuinum illud semper tempus dici potest—sed non quo aliquo aliquid est uelut magnitudine magnum. Nam situm passionemque requiri in deo non oportet, neque enim sunt.

Iamne patet quae sit differentia praedicationum? Quod aliae quidem quasi rem monstrant aliae uero quasi circumstantias rei quodque illa quidem[19] ita praedicantur, ut esse aliquid rem ostendant, illa uero ut non esse, sed potius extrinsecus aliquid quodam modo affigant. Illa igitur, quae aliquid esse designant, secundum rem praedicationes uocentur. Quae cum de rebus subiectis dicuntur, uocantur accidentia secundum rem; cum uero de deo qui subiectus non est, secundum substantiam rei praedicatio nuncupatur.

[19] quidem vulg.; quae codd. opt.


There are in all ten categories which can be universally predicated of things, namely, Substance, Quality, Quantity, Relation, Place, Time, Condition, Situation, Activity, Passivity. Their meaning is determined by the contingent subject; for some of them denote substance in making predication of other things, others belong to the class of accidents. But when these categories are applied to God they change their meaning entirely. Relation, for instance, cannot be predicated at all of God; for substance in Him is not really substantial but supersubstantial. So with quality and the other possible attributes, of which we must add examples for the sake of clearness.

When we say God, we seem to denote a substance; but it is a substance that is supersubstantial. When we say of Him, "He is just," we mention a quality, not an accidental quality—rather a substantial and, in fact, a supersubstantial quality.[20] For God is not one thing because He is, and another thing because He is just; with Him to be just and to be God are one and the same. So when we say, "He is great or the greatest," we seem to predicate quantity, but it is a quantity similar to this substance which we have declared to be supersubstantial; for with Him to be great and to be God are all one. Again, concerning His Form, we have already shown that He is Form, and truly One without Plurality. The categories we have mentioned are such that they give to the thing to which they are applied the character which they express; in created things they express divided being, in God, conjoined and united being— in the following manner. When we name a substance, as man or God, it seems as though that of which the predication is made were substance itself, as man or God is substance. But there is a difference: since a man is not simply and entirely man, and in virtue of this he is not substance. For what man is he owes to other things which are not man. But God is simply and entirely God, for He is nothing else than what He is, and therefore is, through simple existence, God. Again we apply just, a quality, as though it were that of which it is predicated; that is, if we say "a just man or just God," we assert that man or God is just. But there is a difference, for man is one thing, and a just man is another thing. But God is justice itself. So a man or God is said to be great, and it would appear that man is substantially great or that God is substantially great. But man is merely great; God is greatness.

The remaining categories are not predicable of God nor yet of created things.[21] For place is predicated of man or of God—a man is in the market-place; God is everywhere—but in neither case is the predicate identical with the object of predication. To say "A man is in the market" is quite a different thing from saying "he is white or long," or, so to speak, encompassed and determined by some property which enables him to be described in terms of his substance; this predicate of place simply declares how far his substance is given a particular setting amid other things.

It is otherwise, of course, with God. "He is everywhere" does not mean that He is in every place, for He cannot be in any place at all—but that every place is present to Him for Him to occupy, although He Himself can be received by no place, and therefore He cannot anywhere be in a place, since He is everywhere but in no place. It is the same with the category of time, as, "A man came yesterday; God is ever." Here again the predicate of "coming yesterday" denotes not something substantial, but something happening in terms of time. But the expression "God is ever" denotes a single Present, summing up His continual presence in all the past, in all the present—however that term be used—and in all the future. Philosophers say that "ever" may be applied to the life of the heavens and other immortal bodies. But as applied to God it has a different meaning. He is ever, because "ever" is with Him a term of present time, and there is this great difference between "now," which is our present, and the divine present. Our present connotes changing time and sempiternity; God's present, abiding, unmoved, and immoveable, connotes eternity. Add semper to eternity and you get the constant, incessant and thereby perpetual course of our present time, that is to say, sempiternity.[22]

It is just the same with the categories of condition and activity. For example, we say "A man runs, clothed," "God rules, possessing all things." Here again nothing substantial is asserted of either subject; in fact all the categories we have hitherto named arise from what lies outside substance, and all of them, so to speak, refer to something other than substance. The difference between the categories is easily seen by an example. Thus, the terms "man" and "God" refer to the substance in virtue of which the subject is—man or God. The term "just" refers to the quality in virtue of which the subject is something, viz. just; the term "great" to the quantity in virtue of which He is something, viz. great. No other category save substance, quality, and quantity refer to the substance of the subject. If I say of one "he is in the market" or "everywhere," I am applying the category of place, which is not a category of the substance, like "just" in virtue of justice. So if I say, "he runs, He rules, he is now, He is ever," I make reference to activity or time—if indeed God's "ever" can be described as time—but not to a category of substance, like "great" in virtue of greatness.

Finally, we must not look for the categories of situation and passivity in God, for they simply are not to be found in Him.

Have I now made clear the difference between the categories? Some denote the reality of a thing; others its accidental circumstances; the former declare that a thing is something; the latter say nothing about its being anything, but simply attach to it, so to speak, something external. Those categories which describe a thing in terms of its substance may be called substantial categories; when they apply to things as subjects they are called accidents. In reference to God, who is not a subject at all, it is only possible to employ the category of substance.

[20] Gilbert de la Porrée in his commentary on the De Trin. makes Boethius's meaning clear. "Quod igitur in illo substantiam nominamus, non est subiectionis ratione quod dicitur, sed ultra omnem quae accidentibus est subiecta substantiam est essentia, absque omnibus quae possunt accidere solitaria omnino." (Migne, P.L. lxiv. 1283). Cf. Aug. De Trin. vii. 10.

[21] i.e. according to their substance.

[22] The doctrine is Augustine's, cf. De Ciu. Dei, xi. 6, xii. 16; but Boethius's use of sempiternitas, as well as his word-building, seem to be peculiar to himself. Claudianus Mamertus, speaking of applying the categories to God, uses sempiternitas as Boethius uses aeternitas. Cf. De Statu Animae i. 19. Apuleius seems to use both terms interchangeably, e.g. Asclep. 29-31. On Boethius's distinction between time and eternity see Cons. v. pr. 6, and Rand, i er dem B. zugeschr. Trakt. de fide, pp. 425 ff, and Brandt in Theol. Littzg., 1902, p. 147.


Age nunc de relatiuis speculemur pro quibus omne quod dictum est sumpsimus ad disputationem; maxime enim haec non uidentur secundum se facere praedicationem quae perspicue ex alieno aduentu constare perspiciuntur. Age enim, quoniam dominus ac seruus relatiua sunt, uideamus utrumne ita sit ut secundum se sit praedicatio an minime. Atqui si auferas seruum, abstuleris et dominum; at non etiam si auferas albedinem, abstuleris quoque album, sed interest, quod albedo accidit albo, qua sublata perit nimirum album. At in domino, si seruum auferas, perit uocabulum quo dominus uocabatur; sed non accidit seruus domino ut albedo albo, sed potestas quaedam qua seruus coercetur. Quae quoniam sublato deperit seruo, constat non eam per se domino accidere sed per seruorum quodam modo extrinsecus accessum.

Non igitur dici potest praedicationem relatiuam quidquam rei de qua dicitur secundum se uel addere uel minuere uel mutare. Quae tota non in eo quod est esse consistit, sed in eo quod est in comparatione aliquo modo se habere, nec semper ad aliud sed aliquotiens ad idem. Age enim stet quisquam. Ei igitur si accedam dexter, erit ille sinister ad me comparatus, non quod ille ipse sinister sit, sed quod ego dexter accesserim. Rursus ego sinister accedo, item ille fit dexter, non quod ita sit per se dexter uelut albus ac longus, sed quod me accedente fit dexter atque id quod est a me et ex me est minime uero ex sese.

Quare quae secundum rei alicuius in eo quod ipsa est proprietatem non faciunt praedicationem, nihil alternare uel mutare queunt nullamque omnino uariare essentiam. Quocirca si pater ac filius ad aliquid dicuntur nihilque aliud ut dictum est differunt nisi sola relatione, relatio uero non praedicatur ad id de quo praedicatur quasi ipsa sit et secundum rem de qua dicitur, non faciet alteritatem rerum de qua dicitur, sed, si dici potest, quo quidem modo id quod uix intellegi potuit interpretatum est, personarum. Omnino enim magna regulae est ueritas in rebus incorporalibus distantias effici differentiis non locis. Neque accessisse dici potest aliquid deo, ut pater fieret; non enim coepit esse umquam pater eo quod substantialis quidem ei est productio filii, relatiua uero praedicatio patris. Ac si meminimus omnium in prioribus de deo sententiarum, ita cogitemus processisse quidem ex deo patre filium deum et ex utrisque spiritum sanctum; hos, quoniam incorporales sint, minime locis distare. Quoniam uero pater deus et filius deus et spiritus sanctus deus, deus uero nullas habet differentias quibus differat ab deo, a nullo eorum differt. Differentiae uero ubi absunt, abest pluralitas; ubi abest pluralitas, adest unitas. Nihil autem aliud gigni potuit ex deo nisi deus; et in rebus numerabilibus repetitio unitatum non facit modis omnibus pluralitatem. Trium igitur idonee constituta est unitas.


Let us now consider the category of relation, to which all the foregoing remarks have been preliminary; for qualities which obviously arise from the association of another term do not appear to predicate anything concerning the substance of a subject. For instance, master and slave[23] are relative terms; let us see whether either of them are predicates of substance. If you suppress the term slave,[24] you simultaneously suppress the term master. On the other hand, though you suppress the term whiteness, you do not suppress some white thing,[25] though, of course, if the particular whiteness inhere as an accident in the thing, the thing disappears as soon as you suppress the accidental quality whiteness. But in the case of master, if you suppress the term slave, the term master disappears. But slave is not an accidental quality of master, as whiteness is of a white thing; it denotes the power which the master has over the slave. Now since the power goes when the slave is removed, it is plain that power is no accident to the substance of master, but is an adventitious augmentation arising from the possession of slaves.

It cannot therefore be affirmed that a category of relation increases, decreases, or alters in any way the substance of the thing to which it is applied. The category of relation, then, has nothing to do with the essence of the subject; it simply denotes a condition of relativity, and that not necessarily to something else, but sometimes to the subject itself. For suppose a man standing. If I go up to him on my right and stand beside him, he will be left, in relation to me, not because he is left in himself, but because I have come up to him on my right. Again, if I come up to him on my left, he becomes right in relation to me, not because he is right in himself, as he may be white or long, but because he is right in virtue of my approach. What he is depends entirely on me, and not in the least on the essence of his being.

Accordingly those predicates which do not denote the essential nature of a thing cannot alter, change, or disturb its nature in any way. Wherefore if Father and Son are predicates of relation, and, as we have said, have no other difference but that of relation, and if relation is not asserted of its subject as though it were the subject itself and its substantial quality, it will effect no real difference in its subject, but, in a phrase which aims at interpreting what we can hardly understand, a difference of persons. For it is a canon of absolute truth that distinctions in incorporeal things are established by differences and not by spatial separation. It cannot be said that God became Father by the addition to His substance of some accident; for he never began to be Father, since the begetting of the Son belongs to His very substance; however, the predicate father, as such, is relative. And if we bear in mind all the propositions made concerning God in the previous discussion, we shall admit that God the Son proceeded from God the Father, and the Holy Ghost from both, and that They cannot possibly be spatially different, since They are incorporeal. But since the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and since there are in God no points of difference distinguishing Him from God, He differs from none of the Others. But where there are no differences there is no plurality; where is no plurality there is Unity. Again, nothing but God can be begotten of God, and lastly, in concrete enumerations the repetition of units does not produce plurality. Thus the Unity of the Three is suitably established.

[23] Dominus and seruus are similarly used as illustration, In Cat. (Migne, P.L. lxiv. 217).

[24] i.e. which is external to the master.

[25] i.e. which is external to the whitened thing.


Sed quoniam nulla relatio ad se ipsum referri potest, idcirco quod ea secundum se ipsum est praedicatio quae relatione caret, facta quidem est trinitatis numerositas in eo quod est praedicatio relationis, seruata uero unitas in eo quod est indifferentia uel substantiae uel operationis uel omnino eius quae secundum se dicitur praedicationis. Ita igitur substantia continet unitatem, relatio multiplicat trinitatem; atque ideo sola singillatim proferuntur atque separatim quae relationis sunt. Nam idem pater qui filius non est nec idem uterque qui spiritus sanctus. Idem tamen deus est pater et filius et spiritus sanctus, idem iustus idem bonus idem magnus idem omnia quae secundum se poterunt praedicari. Sane sciendum est non semper talem esse relatiuam praedicationem, ut semper ad differens praedicetur, ut est seruus ad dominum; differunt enim. Nam omne aequale aequali aequale est et simile simili simile est et idem ei quod est idem idem est; et similis est relatio in trinitate patris ad filium et utriusque ad spiritum sanctum ut eius quod est idem ad id quod est idem. Quod si id in cunctis aliis rebus non potest inueniri, facit hoc cognata caducis rebus alteritas. Nos uero nulla imaginatione diduci sed simplici intellectu erigi et ut quidque intellegi potest ita aggredi etiam intellectu oportet.

Sed de proposita quaestione satis dictum est. Nunc uestri normam iudicii exspectat subtilitas quaestionis; quae utrum recte decursa sit an minime, uestrae statuet pronuntiationis auctoritas. Quod si sententiae fidei fundamentis sponte firmissimae opitulante gratia diuina idonea argumentorum adiumenta praestitimus, illuc perfecti operis laetitia remeabit unde uenit effectus. Quod si ultra se humanitas nequiuit ascendere, quantum inbecillitas subtrahit uota supplebunt.


But since no relation can be affirmed of one subject alone, since a predication referring to one substance is a predication without relation, the manifoldness of the Trinity is secured through the category of relation, and the Unity is maintained through the fact that there is no difference of substance, or operation, or generally of any substantial predicate. So then, the category of substance preserves the Unity, that of relation brings about the Trinity. Hence only terms belonging to relation may be applied singly to Each. For the Father is not the same as the Son, nor is either of Them the same as the Holy Spirit. Yet Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each the same God, the same in justice, in goodness, in greatness, and in everything that can be predicated of substance. One must not forget that predicates of relativity do not always involve relation to something other than the subject, as slave involves master, where the two terms are different. For equals are equal, like are like, identicals are identical, each with other, and the relation of Father to Son, and of both to Holy Spirit is a relation of identicals. A relation of this kind is not to be found in created things, but that is because of the difference which we know attaches to transient objects. We must not in speaking of God let imagination lead us astray; we must let the Faculty of pure Knowledge lift us up and teach us to know all things as far as they may be known.[26]

I have now finished the investigation which I proposed. The exactness of my reasoning awaits the standard of your judgment; your authority will pronounce whether I have seen a straight path to the goal. If, God helping me, I have furnished some support in argument to an article which stands by itself on the firm foundation of Faith, I shall render joyous praise for the finished work to Him from whom the invitation comes. But if human nature has failed to reach beyond its limits, whatever is lost through my infirmity must be made good by my intention.

  [26] Cf. Cons. v. pr. 4 and 5, especially in pr. 5 the passage "quare
  in illius summae intellegentiae acumen si possumus erigamur."



Quaero an pater et filius ac spiritus sanctus de diuinitate substantialiter praedicentur an alio quolibet modo; uiamque indaginis hinc arbitror esse sumendam, unde rerum omnium manifestum constat exordium, id est ab ipsis catholicae fidei fundamentis. Si igitur interrogem, an qui dicitur pater substantia sit, respondetur esse substantia. Quod si quaeram, an filius substantia sit, idem dicitur. Spiritum quoque sanctum substantiam esse nemo dubitauerit. Sed cum rursus colligo patrem filium spiritum sanctum, non plures sed una occurrit esse substantia. Vna igitur substantia trium nec separari ullo modo aut disiungi potest nec uelut partibus in unum coniuncta est, sed est una simpliciter. Quaecumque igitur de diuina substantia praedicantur, ea tribus oportet esse communia; idque signi erit quae sint quae de diuinitatis substantia praedicentur, quod quaecumque hoc modo dicuntur, de singulis in unum collectis tribus singulariter praedicabuntur. Hoc modo si dicimus: "Pater deus est, filius deus est, spiritus sanctus deus est," pater filius ac spiritus sanctus unus deus. Si igitur eorum una deitas una substantia est, licet dei nomen de diuinitate substantialiter praedicari.

Ita pater ueritas est, filius ueritas est, spiritus sanctus ueritas est; pater filius et spiritus sanctus non tres ueritates sed una ueritas est. Si igitur una in his substantia una est ueritas, necesse est ueritatem substantialiter praedicari. De bonitate de incommutabilitate de iustitia de omnipotentia ac de ceteris omnibus quae tam de singulis quam de omnibus singulariter praedicamus manifestum est substantialiter dici. Vnde apparet ea quae cum in singulis separatim dici conuenit nec tamen in omnibus dici queunt, non substantialiter praedicari sed alio modo; qui uero iste sit, posterius quaeram. Nam qui pater est, hoc uocabulum non transmittit ad filium neque ad spiritum sanctum. Quo fit ut non sit substantiale nomen hoc inditum; nam si substantiale esset, ut deus ut ueritas ut iustitia ut ipsa quoque substantia, de ceteris diceretur.

Item filius solus hoc recipit nomen neque cum aliis iungit sicut in deo, sicut in ueritate, sicut in ceteris quae superius dixi. Spiritus quoque non est idem qui pater ac filius. Ex his igitur intellegimus patrem ac filium ac spiritum sanctum non de ipsa diuinitate substantialiter dici sed alio quodam modo; si enim substantialiter praedicaretur, et de singulis et de omnibus singulariter diceretur. Haec uero ad aliquid dici manifestum est; nam et pater alicuius pater est et filius alicuius filius est, spiritus alicuius spiritus. Quo fit, ut ne trinitas quidem substantialiter de deo praedicetur; non enim pater trinitas (qui enim pater est, filius ac spiritus sanctus non est) nec trinitas filius nec trinitas spiritus sanctus secundum eundem modum, sed trinitas quidem in personarum pluralitate consistit, unitas uero in substantiae simplicitate.

Quod si personae diuisae sunt, substantia uero indiuisa sit, necesse est quod uocabulum ex personis originem capit id ad substantiam non pertinere; at trinitatem personarum diuersitas fecit, trinitas igitur non pertinet ad substantiam. Quo fit ut neque pater neque filius neque spiritus sanctus neque trinitas de deo substantialiter praedicetur, sed ut dictum est ad aliquid. Deus uero ueritas iustitia bonitas omnipotentia substantia inmutabilitas uirtus sapientia et quicquid huiusmodi excogitari potest substantialiter de diuinitate dicuntur. Haec si se recte et ex fide habent, ut me instruas peto; aut si aliqua re forte diuersus es, diligentius intuere quae dicta sunt et fidem si poterit rationemque coniunge.



The question before us is whether Father, Son, and Holy Spirit may be predicated of the Divinity substantially or otherwise. And I think that the method of our inquiry must be borrowed from what is admittedly the surest source of all truth, namely, the fundamental doctrines of the catholic faith. If, then, I ask whether He who is called Father is a substance, the answer will be yes. If I ask whether the Son is a substance, the reply will be the same. So, too, no one will hesitate to affirm that the Holy Spirit is also a substance. But when, on the other hand, I take together all three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the result is not three substances but one substance. The one substance of the Three, then, cannot be separated or divided, nor is it made up of various parts, combined into one: it is simply one. Everything, therefore, that is affirmed of the divine substance must be common to the Three, and we can recognize what predicates may be affirmed of the substance of the godhead by this sign, that all those which are affirmed of it may also be affirmed severally of each of the Three combined into one. For instance if we say "the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God," then Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God. If then their one godhead is one substance, the name of God may with right be predicated substantially of the Divinity.

Similarly the Father is truth, the Son is truth, and the Holy Spirit is truth; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three truths, but one truth. If, then, they are one substance and one truth, truth must of necessity be a substantial predicate. So Goodness, Immutability, Justice, Omnipotence and all the other predicates which we apply to the Persons singly and collectively are plainly substantial predicates. Hence it appears that what may be predicated of each single One but not of all Three is not a substantial predicate, but of another kind—of what kind I will examine presently. For He who is Father does not transmit this name to the Son nor to the Holy Spirit. Hence it follows that this name is not attached to Him as something substantial; for if it were a substantial predicate, as God, truth, justice, or substance itself, it would be affirmed of the other Persons.

Similarly the Son alone receives this name; nor does He associate it with the other Persons, as in the case of the titles God, truth, and the other predicates which I have already mentioned. The Spirit too is not the same as the Father and the Son. Hence we gather that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not predicated of the Divinity in a substantial manner, but otherwise.[27] For if each term were predicated substantially it would be affirmed of the three Persons both separately and collectively. It is evident that these terms are relative, for the Father is some one's Father, the Son is some one's Son, the Spirit is some one's Spirit. Hence not even Trinity may be substantially[28] predicated of God; for the Father is not Trinity—since He who is Father is not Son and Holy Spirit—nor yet, by parity of reasoning, is the Son Trinity nor the Holy Spirit Trinity, but the Trinity consists in diversity of Persons, the Unity in simplicity of substance.

Now if the Persons are separate, while the Substance is undivided, it must needs be that that term which is derived from Persons does not belong to Substance. But the Trinity is effected by diversity of Persons, wherefore Trinity does not belong to Substance. Hence neither Father, nor Son, nor Holy Spirit, nor Trinity can be substantially predicated of God, but only relatively, as we have said. But God, Truth, Justice, Goodness, Omnipotence, Substance, Immutability, Virtue, Wisdom and all other conceivable predicates of the kind are applicable substantially to divinity.

If I am right and speak in accordance with the Faith, I pray you confirm me. But if you are in any point of another opinion, examine carefully what I have said, and if possible, reconcile faith and reason.[29]

[27] i.e. personaliter (Ioh. Scottus ad loc.).

[28] i.e. sed personaliter (Ioh. Scottus ad loc.).

[29] Vide supra, Introduction, p. xii.



Postulas, ut ex Hebdomadibus nostris eius quaestionis obscuritatem quae continet modum quo substantiae in eo quod sint bonae sint, cum non sint substantialia bona, digeram et paulo euidentius monstrem; idque eo dicis esse faciendum, quod non sit omnibus notum iter huiusmodi scriptionum. Tuus uero testis ipse sum quam haec uiuaciter fueris ante complexus. Hebdomadas uero ego mihi ipse commentor potiusque ad memoriam meam speculata conseruo quam cuiquam participo quorum lasciuia ac petulantia nihil a ioco risuque patitur esse seiunctum.[30] Prohinc tu ne sis obscuritatibus breuitatis aduersus, quae cum sint arcani fida custodia tum id habent commodi, quod cum his solis qui digni sunt conloquuntur. Vt igitur in mathematica fieri solet ceterisque etiam disciplinis, praeposui terminos regulasque quibus cuncta quae sequuntur efficiam.

I. Communis animi conceptio est enuntiatio quam quisque probat auditam. Harum duplex modus est. Nam una ita communis est, ut omnium sit hominum, ueluti si hanc proponas: "Si duobus aequalibus aequalia auferas, quae relinquantur aequalia esse," nullus id intellegens neget. Alia uero est doctorum tantum, quae tamen ex talibus communis animi conceptionibus uenit, ut est: "Quae incorporalia sunt, in loco non esse," et cetera; quae non uulgus sed docti comprobant.

II. Diuersum est esse et id quod est; ipsum enim esse nondum est, at uero quod est accepta essendi forma est atque consistit.

III. Quod est participare aliquo potest, sed ipsum esse nullo modo aliquo participat. Fit enim participatio cum aliquid iam est; est autem aliquid, cum esse susceperit.

IV. Id quod est habere aliquid praeterquam quod ipsum est potest; ipsum uero esse nihil aliud praeter se habet admixtum.

V. Diuersum est tantum esse aliquid et esse aliquid in eo quod est; illic enim accidens hic substantia significatur.

VI. Omne quod est[31] participat eo quod est esse ut sit; alio uero participat ut aliquid sit. Ac per hoc id quod est participat eo quod est esse ut sit; est uero ut participet alio quolibet.

VII. Omne simplex esse suum et id quod est unum habet.

VIII. Omni composito aliud est esse, aliud ipsum est.

IX. Omnis diuersitas discors, similitudo uero appetenda est; et quod appetit aliud, tale ipsum esse naturaliter ostenditur quale est illud hoc ipsum quod appetit.

Sufficiunt igitur quae praemisimus; a prudente uero rationis interprete suis unumquodque aptabitur argumentis.

Quaestio uero huiusmodi est. Ea quae sunt bona sunt; tenet enim communis sententia doctorum omne quod est ad bonum tendere, omne autem tendit ad simile. Quae igitur ad bonum tendunt bona ipsa sunt. Sed quemadmodum bona sint, inquirendum est, utrumne participatione an substantia? Si participatione, per se ipsa nullo modo bona sunt; nam quod participatione album est, per se in eo quod ipsum est album non est. Et de ceteris qualitatibus eodem modo. Si igitur participatione sunt bona, ipsa per se nullo modo bona sunt: non igitur ad bonum tendunt. Sed concessum est. Non igitur participatione sunt bona sed substantia. Quorum uero substantia bona est, id quod sunt bona sunt; id quod sunt autem habent ex eo quod est esse. Esse igitur ipsorum bonum est; omnium igitur rerum ipsum esse bonum est. Sed si esse bonum est, ea quae sunt in eo quod sunt bona sunt idemque illis est esse quod boni esse; substantialia igitur bona sunt, quoniam non participant bonitatem. Quod si ipsum esse in eis bonum est, non est dubium quin substantialia cum sint bona, primo sint bono similia ac per hoc hoc ipsum bonum erunt; nihil enim illi praeter se ipsum simile est. Ex quo fit ut omnia quae sunt deus sint, quod dictu nefas est. Non sunt igitur substantialia bona ac per hoc non in his est esse bonum; non sunt igitur in eo quod sunt bona. Sed nec participant bonitatem; nullo enim modo ad bonum tenderent. Nullo modo igitur sunt bona.

Huic quaestioni talis poterit adhiberi solutio. Multa sunt quae cum separari actu non possunt, animo tamen et cogitatione separantur; ut cum triangulum uel cetera a subiecta materia nullus actu separat, mente tamen segregans ipsum triangulum proprietatemque eius praeter materiam speculatur. Amoueamus igitur primi boni praesentiam paulisper ex animo, quod esse quidem constat idque ex omnium doctorum indoctorumque sententia barbararumque gentium religionibus cognosci potest. Hoc igitur paulisper amoto ponamus omnia esse quae sunt bona atque ea consideremus quemadmodum bona esse possent, si a primo bono minime defluxissent. Hinc intueor aliud in eis esse quod bona sunt, aliud quod sunt. Ponatur enim una eademque substantia bona esse alba, grauis, rotunda. Tunc aliud esset ipsa illa substantia, aliud eius rotunditas, aliud color, aliud bonitas; nam si haec singula idem essent quod ipsa substantia, idem esset grauitas quod color, quod bonum et bonum quod grauitas—quod fieri natura non sinit. Aliud igitur tunc in eis esset esse, aliud aliquid esse, ac tunc bona quidem essent, esse tamen ipsum minime haberent bonum. Igitur si ullo modo essent, non a bono ac bona essent ac non idem essent quod bona, sed eis aliud esset esse aliud bonis esse. Quod si nihil omnino aliud essent nisi bona neque grauia neque colorata neque spatii dimensione distenta nec ulla in eis qualitas esset, nisi tantum bona essent, tunc non res sed rerum uideretur esse principium nec potius uiderentur, sed uideretur; unum enim solumque est huiusmodi, quod tantum bonum aliudque nihil sit. Quae quoniam non sunt simplicia, nec esse omnino poterant, nisi ea id quod solum bonum est esse uoluisset. Idcirco quoniam esse eorum a boni uoluntate defluxit, bona esse dicuntur. Primum enim bonum, quoniam est, in eo quod est bonum est; secundum uero bonum, quoniam ex eo fluxit cuius ipsum esse bonum est, ipsum quoque bonum est. Sed ipsum esse omnium rerum ex eo fluxit quod est primum bonum et quod bonum tale est ut recte dicatur in eo quod est esse bonum. Ipsum igitur eorum esse bonum est; tunc enim in eo.

Qua in re soluta quaestio est. Idcirco enim licet in eo quod sint bona sint, non sunt tamen similia primo bono, quoniam non quoquo modo sint res ipsum esse earum bonum est, sed quoniam non potest esse ipsum esse rerum, nisi a primo esse defluxerit, id est bono; idcirco ipsum esse bonum est nec est simile ei a quo est. Illud enim quoquo modo sit bonum est in eo quod est; non enim aliud est praeterquam bonum. Hoc autem nisi ab illo esset, bonum fortasse esse posset, sed bonum in eo quod est esse non posset. Tunc enim participaret forsitan bono; ipsum uero esse quod non haberent a bono, bonum habere non possent. Igitur sublato ab his bono primo mente et cogitatione, ista licet essent bona, tamen in eo quod essent bona esse non possent, et quoniam actu non potuere exsistere, nisi illud ea quod uere bonum est produxisset, idcirco et esse eorum bonum est et non est simile substantiali bono id quod ab eo fluxit; et nisi ab eo fluxissent, licet essent bona, tamen in eo quod sunt bona esse non possent, quoniam et praeter bonum et non ex bono essent, cum illud ipsum bonum primum est et ipsum esse sit et ipsum bonum et ipsum esse bonum. At non etiam alba in eo quod sunt alba esse oportebit ea quae alba sunt, quoniam ex uoluntate dei fluxerunt ut essent, alba minime. Aliud est enim esse, aliud albis esse; hoc ideo, quoniam qui ea ut essent effecit bonus quidem est, minime uero albus. Voluntatem igitur boni comitatum est ut essent bona in eo quod sunt; uoluntatem uero non albi non est comitata talis eius quod est proprietas ut esset album in eo quod est; neque enim ex albi uoluntate defluxerunt. Itaque quia uoluit esse ea alba qui erat non albus, sunt alba tantum; quia uero uoluit ea esse bona qui erat bonus, sunt bona in eo quod sunt. Secundum hanc igitur rationem cuncta oportet esse iusta, quoniam ipse iustus est qui ea esse uoluit? Ne hoc quidem. Nam bonum esse essentiam, iustum uero esse actum respicit. Idem autem est in eo esse quod agere; idem igitur bonum esse quod iustum. Nobis uero non est idem esse quod agere; non enim simplices sumus. Non est igitur nobis idem bonis esse quod iustis, sed idem nobis est esse omnibus in eo quod sumus. Bona igitur omnia sunt, non etiam iusta. Amplius bonum quidem generale est, iustum uero speciale nec species descendit in omnia. Idcirco alia quidem iusta alia aliud omnia bona.

[30] seiunct. Rand; coniunct. codd. opt.; disiunct. vulg. Vallinus.

[31] est codd. inferiores; om. codd. opt.



You ask me to state and explain somewhat more clearly that obscure question in my Hebdomads[32] concerning the manner in which substances can be good in virtue of existence without being absolute goods.[33] You urge that this demonstration is necessary because the method of this kind of treatise is not clear to all. I can bear witness with what eagerness you have already attacked the subject. But I confess I like to expound my Hebdomads to myself, and would rather bury my speculations in my own memory than share them with any of those pert and frivolous persons who will not tolerate an argument unless it is made amusing. Wherefore do not you take objection to the obscurity that waits on brevity; for obscurity is the sure treasure-house of secret doctrine and has the further advantage that it speaks a language understood only of those who deserve to understand. I have therefore followed the example of the mathematical[34] and cognate sciences and laid down bounds and rules according to which I shall develop all that follows.

I. A common conception is a statement generally accepted as soon as it is made. Of these there are two kinds. One is universally intelligible; as, for instance, "if equals be taken from equals the remainders are equal." Nobody who grasps that proposition will deny it. The other kind is intelligible only to the learned, but it is derived from the same class of common conceptions; as "Incorporeals cannot occupy space," and the like. This is obvious to the learned but not to the common herd.

II. Being and a concrete thing[35] are different. Simple Being awaits manifestation, but a thing is and exists[36] as soon as it has received the form which gives it Being.

III. A concrete thing can participate in something else; but absolute Being can in no wise participate in anything. For participation is effected when a thing already is; but it is something after it has acquired Being.

  IV. That which exists can possess something besides itself. But absolute
  Being has no admixture of aught besides Itself.

  V. Merely to be something and to be something absolutely are different;
  the former implies accidents, the latter connotes a substance.

VI. Everything that is participates in absolute Being[37] through the fact that it exists. In order to be something it participates in something else. Hence that which exists participates in absolute Being through the fact that it exists, but it exists in order to participate in something else.

  VII. Every simple thing possesses as a unity its absolute and its
  particular Being.

  VIII. In every composite thing absolute and individual Being are not one
  and the same.

  IX. Diversity repels; likeness attracts. That which seeks something
  outside itself is demonstrably of the same nature as that which it

These preliminaries are enough then for our purpose. The intelligent interpreter of the discussion will supply the arguments appropriate to each point.

Now the problem is this. Things which are, are good. For all the learned are agreed that every existing thing tends to good and everything tends to its like. Therefore things which tend to good are good. We must, however, inquire how they are good—by participation or by substance. If by participation, they are in no wise good in themselves; for a thing which is white by participation in whiteness is not white in itself by virtue of absolute Being. So with all other qualities. If then they are good by participation, they are not good in themselves; therefore they do not tend to good. But we have agreed that they do. Therefore they are good not by participation but by substance. But those things whose substance is good are substantially good. But they owe their actual Being to absolute Being. Their absolute Being therefore is good; therefore the absolute Being of all things is good. But if their Being is good, things which exist are good through the fact that they exist and their absolute Being is the same as that of the Good. Therefore they are substantial goods, since they do not merely participate in goodness. But if their absolute Being is good, there is no doubt but that, since they are substantial goods, they are like the First Good and therefore they will have to be that Good. For nothing is like It save Itself. Hence all things that are, are God—an impious assertion. Wherefore things are not substantial goods, and so the essence of the Good does not reside in them. Therefore they are not good through the fact that they exist. But neither do they receive good by participation, for they would in no wise tend to good. Therefore they are in no wise good.[38]

This problem admits of the following solution.[39] There are many things which can be separated by a mental process, though they cannot be separated in fact. No one, for instance, can actually separate a triangle or other mathematical figure from the underlying matter; but mentally one can consider a triangle and its properties apart from matter. Let us, therefore, remove from our minds for a moment the presence of the Prime Good, whose Being is admitted by the universal consensus of learned and unlearned opinion and can be deduced from the religious beliefs of savage races. The Prime Good having been thus for a moment put aside, let us postulate as good all things that are, and let us consider how they could possibly be good if they did not derive from the Prime Good. This process leads me to perceive that their Goodness and their existence are two different things. For let me suppose that one and the same substance is good, white, heavy, and round. Then it must be admitted that its substance, roundness, colour, and goodness are all different things. For if each of these qualities were the same as its substance, weight would be the same thing as colour or goodness, and goodness would be the same as colour; which is contrary to nature. Their Being then in that case would be one thing, their quality another, and they would be good, but they would not have their absolute Being good. Therefore if they really existed at all, they would not be from good nor good, they would not be the same as good, but Being and Goodness would be for them two different things. But if they were nothing else but good substances, and were neither heavy, nor coloured, and possessed neither spatial dimension nor quality, beyond that of goodness, they (or rather it) would seem to be not things but the principle of things. For there is one thing alone that is by nature good to the exclusion of every other quality. But since they are not simple, they could not even exist at all unless that which is the one sole Good willed them to be. They are called good simply because their Being is derived from the Will of the Good. For the Prime Good is essentially good in virtue of Being; the secondary good is in its turn good because it derives from the good whose absolute Being is good. But the absolute Being of all things derives from the Prime Good which is such that of It Being and Goodness are rightly predicated as identical. Their absolute Being therefore is good; for thereby it resides in Him.

Thereby the problem is solved. For though things be good through the fact that they exist, they are not like the Prime Good, for the simple reason that their absolute Being is not good under all circumstances, but that things can have no absolute Being unless it derive from the Prime Being, that is, the Prime Good; their substance, therefore, is good, and yet it is not like that from which it comes. For the Prime Good is good through the fact that it exists, irrespective of all conditions, for it is nothing else than good; but the second good if it derived from any other source might be good, but could not be good through the fact that it exists. For in that case it might possibly participate in good, but their substantial Being, not deriving from the Prime Good, could not have the element of good. Therefore when we have put out of mind the Prime Good, these things, though they might be good, would not be good through the fact that they exist, and since they could not actually exist unless the true good had produced them, therefore their Being is good, and yet that which springs from the substantial Good is not like its source which produces it. And unless they had derived from it, though they were good yet they could not be good through the fact that they exist because they were apart from good and not derived from good, since that very good is the Prime Good and is substantial Being and substantial Good and essential Goodness. But we need not say that white things are white through the fact that they exist; for they drew their existence from the will of God, but not their whiteness. For to be is one thing; to be white is another; and that because He who gave them Being is good, but not white. It is therefore in accordance with the will of the Good that they should be good through the fact that they exist; but it is not in accordance with the will of one who is not white that a thing have a certain property making it white in virtue of its Being; for it was not the will of One who is white that gave them Being. And so they are white simply because One who was not white willed them to be white; but they are good through the fact that they exist because One who was good willed them to be good. Ought, then, by parity of reason, all things to be just because He is just who willed them to be? That is not so either. For to be good involves Being, to be just involves an act. For Him being and action are identical; to be good and to be just are one and the same for Him. But being and action are not identical for us, for we are not simple. For us, then, goodness is not the same thing as justice, but we all have the same sort of Being in virtue of our existence. Therefore all things are good, but all things are not just. Finally, good is a general, but just is a species, and this species does not apply to all. Wherefore some things are just, others are something else, but all things are good.

[32] Similarly Porphyry divided the works of Plotinus into six Enneades or groups of nine.

  [33] Cf. discussion on the nature of good in Cons. iii. m. 10 and pr.
  11 (infra, pp. 274 ff.).

  [34] On this mathematical method of exposition cf. Cons. iii. pr. 10
  (infra, p. 270).

[35] Esse = Aristotle's [Greek: to ti esti]; id quod est = [Greek: tode ti].

[36] Consistere = [Greek: hypostaenai].

[37] Id quod est esse = [Greek: to ti aen einai].

[38] Cf. the similar reductio ad absurdum in Tr. 5 (infra, p. 98) and in Cons. v. pr. 3 (infra, p. 374).

[39] Vide supra, p. 6, n. b.


Christianam fidem noui ac ueteris testamenti pandit auctoritas; et quamuis nomen ipsum Christi uetus intra semet continuerit instrumentum eumque semper signauerit affuturum quem credimus per partum uirginis iam uenisse, tamen in orbem terrarum ab ipsius nostri saluatoris mirabili manasse probatur aduentu.

Haec autem religio nostra, quae uocatur christiana atque catholica, his fundamentis principaliter nititur asserens: ex aeterno, id est ante mundi constitutionem, ante omne uidelicet quod temporis potest retinere uocabulum, diuinam patris et filii ac spiritus sancti exstitisse substantiam, ita ut deum dicat patrem, deum filium, deum spiritum sanctum, nec tamen tres deos sed unum: patrem itaque habere filium ex sua substantia genitum et sibi nota ratione coaeternum, quem filium eatenus confitetur, ut non sit idem qui pater est: neque patrem aliquando fuisse filium, ne rursus in infinitum humanus animus diuinam progeniem cogitaret, neque filium in eadem natura qua patri coaeternus est aliquando fieri patrem, ne rursus in infinitum diuina progenies tenderetur: sanctum uero spiritum neque patrem esse neque filium atque ideo in illa natura nec genitum nec generantem sed a patre quoque procedentem uel filio; qui sit tamen processionis istius modus ita non possumus euidenter dicere, quemadmodum generationem filii ex paterna substantia non potest humanus animus aestimare. Haec autem ut credantur uetus ac noua informat instructio. De qua uelut arce religionis nostrae multi diuersa et humaniter atque ut ita dicam carnaliter sentientes aduersa locuti sunt, ut Arrius qui licet deum dicat filium, minorem tamen patre multipliciter et extra patris substantiam confitetur. Sabelliani quoque non tres exsistentes personas sed unam ausi sunt affirmare, eundem dicentes patrem esse qui filius est eundemque filium qui pater est atque spiritum sanctum eundem esse qui pater et filius est; ac per hoc unam dicunt esse personam sub uocabulorum diuersitate signatam.

Manichaei quoque qui duo principia sibi coaeterna et aduersa profitentur, unigenitum dei esse non credunt. Indignum enim iudicant, si deus habere filium uideatur, nihil aliud cogitantes nisi carnaliter, ut quia haec generatio duorum corporum commixtione procedit, illic quoque indignum esse intellectum huiusmodi applicare; quae res eos nec uetus facit recipere testamentum neque in integro nouum. Nam sicut illud omnino error eorum non recipit ita ex uirgine generationem filii non uult admittere, ne humano corpore polluta uideatur dei fuisse natura. Sed de his hactenus; suo enim loco ponentur sicut ordo necessarius postularit.

Ergo diuina ex aeterno natura et in aeternum sine aliqua mutabilitate perdurans sibi tantum conscia uoluntate sponte mundum uoluit fabricare eumque cum omnino non esset fecit ut esset, nec ex sua substantia protulit, ne diuinus natura crederetur, neque aliunde molitus est, ne iam exstitisse aliquid quod eius uoluntatem exsistentia propriae naturae iuuaret atque esset quod neque ab ipso factum esset et tamen esset; sed uerbo produxit caelos, terram creauit, ita ut caelesti habitatione dignas caelo naturas efficeret ac terrae terrena componeret. De caelestibus autem naturis, quae uniuersaliter uocatur angelica, quamuis illic distinctis ordinibus pulchra sint omnia, pars tamen quaedam plus appetens quam ei natura atque ipsius auctor naturae tribuerat de caelesti sede proiecta est; et quoniam angelorum numerum, id est supernae illius ciuitatis cuius ciues angeli sunt, imminutum noluit conditor permanere, formauit ex terra hominem atque spiritu uitae animauit, ratione composuit, arbitrii libertate decorauit eumque praefixa lege paradisi deliciis constituit, ut, si sine peccato manere uellet, tam ipsum quam eius progeniem angelicis coetibus sociaret, ut quia superior natura per superbiae malum ima petierat, inferior substantia per humilitatis bonum ad superna conscenderet. Sed ille auctor inuidiae non ferens hominem illuc ascendere ubi ipse non meruit permanere, temptatione adhibita fecit etiam ipsum eiusque comparem, quam de eius latere generandi causa formator produxerat, inoboedientiae suppliciis subiacere, ei quoque diuinitatem affuturam promittens, quam sibi dum arroganter usurpat elisus est. Haec autem reuelante deo Moysi famulo suo comperta sunt, cui etiam humani generis conditionem atque originem uoluit innotescere, sicut ab eo libri prolati testantur. Omnis enim diuina auctoritas his modis constare uidetur, ut aut historialis modus sit, qui nihil aliud nisi res gestas enuntiet, aut allegoricus, ut non illic possit historiae ordo consistere, aut certe ex utrisque compositus, ut et secundum historiam et secundum allegoriam manere uideatur. Haec autem pie intelligentibus et ueraci corde tenentibus satis abundeque relucent. Sed ad ordinem redeamus.

Primus itaque homo ante peccatum cum sua coniuge incola paradisi fuit. At ubi aurem praebuit suasori et conditoris praeceptum neglexit attendere, exul effectus, terram iussus excolere atque a paradisi sinu seclusus in ignotis partibus sui generis posteritatem transposuit atque poenam quam ipse primus homo praeuaricationis reus exceperat generando transmisit in posteros. Hinc factum est ut et corporum atque animarum corruptio et mortis proueniret interitus primusque mortem in Abel filio suo meruit experiri, ut quanta esset poena quam ipse exceperit probaret in subole. Quod si ipse primus moreretur, nesciret quodam modo ac, si dici fas est, nec sentiret poenam suam, sed ideo expertus in altero est, ut quid sibi iure deberetur contemptor agnosceret et dum poenam mortis sustinet, ipsa exspectatione fortius torqueretur. Hoc autem praeuaricationis malum, quod in posteros naturaliter primus homo transfuderat, quidam Pelagius non admittens proprii nominis haeresim dedicauit, quam catholica fides a consortio sui mox reppulisse probatur. Ab ipso itaque primo homine procedens humanum genus ac multiplici numerositate succrescens erupit in lites, commouit bella, occupauit terrenam miseriam quia[40] felicitatem paradisi in primo patre perdiderat. Nec tamen ex his defuerunt quos sibi conditor gratiae sequestraret eiusque placitis inseruirent; quos licet meritum naturae damnaret, futuri tamen sacramenti et longe postmodum proferendi faciendo participes perditam uoluit reparare naturam. Impletus est ergo mundus humano genere atque ingressus est homo uias suas qui malitia propriae contumaciae despexerat conditorem. Hinc uolens deus per iustum potius hominem reparare genus humanum quam manere proteruum, poenalem multitudinem effusa diluuii inundatione excepto Noe iusto homine cum suis liberis atque his quae secum in arcam introduxerat interire permisit. Cur autem per arcae lignum uoluerit iustos eripere, notum est diuinarum scripturarum mentibus eruditis. Et quasi prima quaedam mundi aetas diluuio ultore transacta est.

Reparatur itaque humanum genus atque propriae naturae uitium, quod praeuaricationis primus auctor infuderat, amplecti non destitit. Creuitque contumacia quam dudum diluuii unda puniuerat et qui numerosam annorum seriem permissus fuerat uiuere, in breuitate annorum humana aetas addicta est. Maluitque deus non iam diluuio punire genus humanum, sed eodem permanente eligere uiros per quorum seriem aliqua generatio commearet, ex qua nobis filium proprium uestitum humano corpore mundi in fine concederet. Quorum primus est Abraham, qui cum esset aetate confectus eiusque uxor decrepita, in senectute sua repromissionis largitione habere filium meruerunt. Hic uocatus est Isaac atque ipse genuit Iacob. Idem quoque duodecim patriarchas non reputante deo in eorum numero quos more suo natura produxerat. Hic ergo Iacob cum filiis ac domo sua transigendi causa Aegyptum uoluit habitare atque illic per annorum seriem multitudo concrescens coeperunt suspicioni esse[41] Aegyptiacis imperiis eosque Pharao magna ponderum mole premi decreuerat et grauibus oneribus affligebat. Tandem deus Aegyptii regis dominationem despiciens diuiso mari rubro, quod numquam antea natura ulla cognouerat, suum transduxit exercitum auctore Moyse et Aaron. Postea igitur pro eorum egressione altis Aegyptus plagis uastata est, cum nollet dimittere populum. Transmisso itaque ut dictum est mari rubro uenit per deserta eremi ad montem qui uocatur Sinai, ibique uniuersorum conditor deus uolens sacramenti futuri gratia populos erudire per Moysen data lege constituit, quemadmodum et sacrificiorum ritus et populorum mores instruerentur. Et cum multis annis multas quoque gentes per uiam debellassent, uenerunt tandem ad fluuium qui uocatur Iordanis duce iam Iesu Naue filio atque ad eorum transitum quemadmodum aquae maris rubri ita quoque Iordanis fluenta siccata sunt; peruentumque est ad eam ciuitatem quae nunc Hierosolyma uocatur. Atque dum ibi dei populus moraretur, post iudices et prophetas reges instituti leguntur, quorum post Saulem primatum Dauid de tribu Iuda legitur adeptus fuisse. Descendit itaque ab eo per singulas successiones regium stemma perductumque est usque ad Herodis tempora, qui primus ex gentilibus memoratis populis legitur imperasse. Sub quo exstitit beata uirgo Maria quae de Dauidica stirpe prouenerat, quae humani generis genuit conditorem. Hoc autem ideo quia multis infectus criminibus mundus iacebat in morte, electa est una gens in qua dei mandata clarescerent, ibique missi prophetae sunt et alii sancti uiri per quorum admonitionem ipse certe populus a tumore peruicaciae reuocaretur. Illi uero eosdem occidentes in suae nequitiae peruersitate manere uoluerunt.

Atque iam in ultimis temporibus non prophetas neque alios sibi placitos sed ipsum unigenitum suum deus per uirginem nasci constituit, ut humana salus quae per primi hominis inoboedientiam deperierat per hominem deum rursus repararetur et quia exstiterat mulier quae causam mortis prima uiro suaserat, esset haec secunda mulier quae uitae causam humanis uisceribus apportaret. Nec uile uideatur quod dei filius ex uirgine natus est, quoniam praeter naturae modum conceptus et editus est. Virgo itaque de spiritu sancto incarnatum dei filium concepit, uirgo peperit, post eius editionem uirgo permansit; atque hominis factus est idemque dei filius, ita ut in eo et diuinae naturae radiaret splendor et humanae fragilitatis appareret assumptio. Sed huic tam sanae atque ueracissimae fidei exstiterant multi qui diuersa garrirent et praeter alios Nestorius et Eutyches repertores haereseos exstiterunt, quorum unus hominem solum, alter deum solum putauit asserere nec humanum corpus quod Christus induerat de humanae substantiae participatione uenisse. Sed haec hactenus.

Creuit itaque secundum carnem Christus, baptizatus est, ut qui baptizandi formam erat ceteris tributurus, ipse primus quod docebat exciperet. Post baptismum uero elegit duodecim discipulos, quorum unus traditor eius fuit. Et quia sanam doctrinam Iudaeorum populus non ferebat, eum inlata manu crucis supplicio peremerunt. Occiditur ergo Christus, iacet tribus diebus ac noctibus in sepulcro, resurgit a mortuis, sicut ante constitutionem mundi ipse cum patre decreuerat, ascendit in caelos ubi, in eo quod dei filius est, numquam defuisse cognoscitur, ut assumptum hominem, quem diabolus non permiserat ad superna conscendere, secum dei filius caelesti habitationi sustolleret. Dat ergo formam discipulis suis baptizandi, docendi salutaria, efficientiam quoque miraculorum atque in uniuersum mundum ad uitam praecipit introire, ut praedicatio salutaris non iam in una tantum gente sed orbi terrarum praedicaretur. Et quoniam humanum genus naturae merito, quam ex primo praeuaricatore contraxerat, aeternae poenae iaculis fuerat uulneratum nec salutis suae erat idoneum, quod eam in parente perdiderat, medicinalia quaedam tribuit sacramenta, ut agnosceret aliud sibi deberi per naturae meritum, aliud per gratiae donum, ut natura nihil aliud nisi poenae summitteret, gratia uero, quae nullis meritis attributa est, quia nec gratia diceretur si meritis tribueretur, totum quod est salutis afferret.

Diffunditur ergo per mundum caelestis illa doctrina, adunantur populi, instituuntur ecclesiae, fit unum corpus quod mundi latitudinem occuparet, cuius caput Christus ascendit in caelos, ut necessario caput suum membra sequerentur. Haec itaque doctrina et praesentem uitam bonis informat operibus et post consummationem saeculi resurrectura corpora nostra praeter corruptionem ad regna caelestia pollicetur, ita ut qui hic bene ipso donante uixerit, esset in illa resurrectione beatissimus, qui uero male, miser post munus resurrectionis adesset. Et hoc est principale religionis nostrae, ut credat non solum animas non perire, sed ipsa quoque corpora, quae mortis aduentus resoluerat, in statum pristinum futura de beatitudine reparari. Haec ergo ecclesia catholica per orbem diffusa tribus modis probatur exsistere: quidquid in ea tenetur, aut auctoritas est scripturarum aut traditio uniuersalis aut certe propria et particularis instructio. Sed auctoritate tota constringitur, uniuersali traditione maiorum nihilominus tota, priuatis uero constitutionibus et propriis informationibus unaquaeque uel pro locorum uarietate uel prout cuique bene uisum est subsistit et regitur. Sola ergo nunc est fidelium exspectatio qua credimus affuturum finem mundi, omnia corruptibilia transitura, resurrecturos homines ad examen futuri iudicii, recepturos pro meritis singulos et in perpetuum atque in aeternum debitis finibus permansuros; solumque est[42] praemium beatitudinis contemplatio conditoris—tanta dumtaxat, quanta a creatura ad creatorem fieri potest,—ut ex eis reparato angelico numero superna illa ciuitas impleatur, ubi rex est uirginis filius eritque gaudium sempiternum, delectatio, cibus, opus, laus perpetua creatoris.

[40] qui uel quod codd.

[41] suspiciones uel suspicione uel suspicio uel subici codd. meliores.

[42] esse codd.


The Christian Faith is proclaimed by the authority of the New Testament and of the Old; but although the Old scripture[44] contains within its pages the name of Christ and constantly gives token that He will come who we believe has already come by the birth of the Virgin, yet the diffusion of that faith throughout the world dates from the actual miraculous coming of our Saviour.

Now this our religion which is called Christian and Catholic is founded chiefly on the following assertions. From all eternity, that is, before the world was established, and so before all that is meant by time began, there has existed one divine substance of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in such wise that we confess the Father God, the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God, and yet not three Gods but one God. Thus the Father hath the Son, begotten of His substance and coeternal with Himself after a manner that He alone knoweth. Him we confess to be Son in the sense that He is not the same as the Father. Nor has the Father ever been Son, for the human mind must not imagine a divine lineage stretching back into infinity; nor can the Son, being of the same nature in virtue of which He is coeternal with the Father, ever become Father, for the divine lineage must not stretch forward into infinity. But the Holy Spirit is neither Father nor Son, and therefore, albeit of the same divine nature, neither begotten, nor begetting, but proceeding as well from the Father as the Son.[45] Yet what the manner of that Procession is we are no more able to state clearly than is the human mind able to understand the generation of the Son from the substance of the Father. But these articles are laid down for our belief by Old and New Testament. Concerning which fortress and citadel[46] of our religion many men have spoken otherwise and have even impugned it, being moved by human, nay rather by carnal feeling. Arius, for instance, who, while calling the Son God, declares Him to be vastly inferior to the Father and of another substance. The Sabellians also have dared to affirm that there are not three separate Persons but only One, saying that the Father is the same as the Son and the Son the same as the Father and the Holy Spirit the same as the Father and the Son; and so declaring that there is but one divine Person expressed by different names.

The Manichaeans, too, who allow two coeternal and contrary principles, do not believe in the Only-begotten Son of God. For they consider it a thought unworthy of God that He should have a Son, since they entertain the very carnal reflection that inasmuch as[47] human generation arises from the mingling of two bodies, it is unworthy to hold a notion of this sort in respect of the divine nature; whereas such a view finds no sanction in the Old Testament and absolutely[48] none in the New. Yea, their error which refuses this notion also refuses the Virgin birth of the Son, because they would not have the God's nature defiled by the man's body. But enough of this for the present; the points will be presented in the proper place as the proper arrangement demands.

The divine nature then, abiding from all eternity and unto all eternity without any change, by the exercise of a will known only to Himself, determined of Himself to form the world, and brought it into being when it was absolutely naught, nor did He produce it from His own substance, lest it should be thought divine by nature, nor did He form it after any model, lest it should be thought that anything had already come into being which helped His will by the existence of an independent nature, and that there should exist something that had not been made by Him and yet existed; but by His Word He brought forth the heavens, and created the earth[49] that so He might make natures worthy of a place in heaven, and also fit earthly things to earth. But although in heaven all things are beautiful and arranged in due order, yet one part of the heavenly creation which is universally termed angelic,[50] seeking more than nature and the Author of Nature had granted them, was cast forth from its heavenly habitation; and because the Creator did not wish the roll of the angels, that is of the heavenly city whose citizens the angels are, to be diminished, He formed man out of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life; He endowed him with reason, He adorned him with freedom of choice and established him in the joys of Paradise, making covenant aforehand that if he would remain without sin He would add him and his offspring to the angelic hosts; so that as the higher nature had fallen low through the curse of pride, the lower substance might ascend on high through the blessing of humility. But the father of envy, loath that man should climb to the place where he himself deserved not to remain, put temptation before him and the consort whom the Creator had brought forth out of his side for the continuance of the race, and laid them open to punishment for disobedience, promising man also the gift of Godhead, the arrogant attempt to seize which had caused his own fall. All this was revealed by God to His servant Moses, whom He vouchsafed to teach the creation and origin of man, as the books written by him declare. For the divine authority is always conveyed in one of the following ways—the historical, which simply announces facts; the allegorical, whence historical matter is excluded; or else the two combined, history and allegory conspiring to establish it. All this is abundantly evident to pious hearers and steadfast believers.

But to return to the order of our discourse; the first man, before sin came, dwelt with his consort in the Garden. But when he hearkened to the voice of his wife and failed to keep the commandment of his Creator, he was banished, bidden to till the ground, and being shut out from the sheltering garden he carried abroad into unknown regions the children of his loins; by begetting whom he transmitted to those that came after, the punishment which he, the first man, had incurred by the sin of disobedience. Hence it came to pass that corruption both of body and soul ensued, and death; and this he was to taste first in his own son Abel, in order that he might learn through his child the greatness of the punishment that was laid upon him. For if he had died first he would in some sense not have known, and if one may so say not have felt, his punishment; but he tasted it in another in order that he might perceive the due reward of his contempt, and, doomed to death himself, might be the more sensibly touched by the apprehension of it. But this curse that came of transgression which the first man had by natural propagation transmitted to posterity, was denied by one Pelagius who so set up the heresy which goes by his name and which the Catholic faith, as is known, at once banished from its bosom. So the human race that sprang from the first man and mightily increased and multiplied, broke into strife, stirred up wars, and became the heir of earthly misery, because it had lost the joys of Paradise in its first parent. Yet were there not a few of mankind whom the Giver of Grace set apart for Himself and who were obedient to His will; and though by desert of nature they were condemned, yet God by making them partakers in the hidden mystery, long afterwards to be revealed, vouchsafed to recover fallen nature. So the earth was filled by the human race and man who by his own wanton wilfulness had despised his Creator began to walk in his own ways. Hence God willing rather to recover mankind through one just man than that it should remain for ever contumacious, suffered all the guilty multitude to perish by the wide waters of a flood, save only Noah, the just one, with his children and all that he had brought with him into the ark. The reason why He wished to save the just by an ark of wood is known to all hearts learned in the Holy Scriptures. Thus what we may call the first age of the world was ended by the avenging flood.

Thus the human race was restored, and yet it hastened to make its own the vice of nature with which the first author of transgression had infected it. And the wickedness increased which had once been punished by the waters of the flood, and man who had been suffered to live for a long series of years was reduced to the brief span of ordinary human life. Yet would not God again visit the race by a flood, but rather, letting it continue, He chose from it men of whose line a generation should arise out of which He might in the last days grant us His own Son to come to us, clothed in human form. Of these men Abraham is the first, and although he was stricken in years and his wife past bearing, they had in their old age the reward of a son in fulfilment of promise unconditional. This son was named Isaac and he begat Jacob, who in his turn begat the twelve Patriarchs, God not reckoning in their number those whom nature in its ordinary course produced.[51] This Jacob, then, together with his sons and his household determined to dwell in Egypt for the purpose of trafficking; and the multitude of them increasing there in the course of many years began to be a cause of suspicion to the Egyptian rulers, and Pharaoh ordered them to be oppressed by exceeding heavy tasks[52] and afflicted them with grievous burdens. At length God, minded to set at naught the tyranny of the king of Egypt, divided the Red Sea—a marvel such as nature had never known before—and brought forth His host by the hands of Moses and Aaron. Thereafter on account of their departure Egypt was vexed with sore plagues, because they would not let the people go. So, after crossing the Red Sea, as I have told, they passed through the desert of the wilderness and came to the mount which is called Sinai, where God the Creator of all, wishing to prepare the nations for the knowledge of the sacrament to come, laid down by a law given through Moses how both the rites of sacrifices and the national customs should be ordered. And after fighting down many tribes in many years amidst their journeyings they came at last to the river called Jordan, with Joshua the son of Nun now as their captain, and, for their crossing, the streams of Jordan were dried up as the waters of the Red Sea had been; so they finished their course to that city which is now called Jerusalem. And while the people of God abode there we read that there were set up first judges and prophets and then kings, of whom we read that after Saul, David of the tribe of Judah ascended the throne. So from him the royal race descended from father to son and lasted till the days of Herod who, we read, was the first taken out of the peoples called Gentile to bear sway. In whose days rose up the blessed Virgin Mary, sprung from the stock of David, she who bore the Maker of the human race. But it was just because the whole world lay dead, stained with its many sins, that God chose out one race in which His commands might shine clear; sending it prophets and other holy men, to the end that by their warnings that people at least might be cured of their swollen pride. But they slew these holy men and chose rather to abide in their wanton wickedness.

And now at the last days of time, in place of prophets and other men well-pleasing to Him, God willed that His only-begotten Son should be born of a Virgin that so the salvation of mankind which had been lost through the disobedience of the first man might be recovered by the God- man, and that inasmuch as it was a woman who had first persuaded man to that which wrought death there should be this second woman who should bring forth from a human womb Him who gives Life. Nor let it be deemed a thing unworthy that the Son of God was born of a Virgin, for it was out of the course of nature that He was conceived and brought to birth. Virgin then she conceived, by the Holy Spirit, the Son of God made flesh, Virgin she bore Him, Virgin she continued after His birth; and He became the Son of Man and likewise the Son of God that in Him the glory of the divine nature might shine forth and at the same time the human weakness be declared which He took upon Him. Yet against this article of Faith so wholesome and altogether true there rose up many who babbled other doctrine, and especially Nestorius and Eutyches, inventors of heresy, of whom the one thought fit to say that He was man alone, the other that He was God alone and that the human body put on by Christ had not come by participation in human substance. But enough on this point.

So Christ grew after the flesh, and was baptized in order that He who was to give the form of baptism to others should first Himself receive what He taught. But after His baptism He chose twelve disciples, one of whom betrayed Him. And because the people of the Jews would not bear sound doctrine they laid hands upon Him and slew and crucified Him. Christ, then, was slain; He lay three days and three nights in the tomb; He rose again from the dead as He had predetermined with His Father before the foundation of the world; He ascended into heaven whence we know that He was never absent, because He is Son of God, in order that as Son of God He might raise together with Him to the heavenly habitation man whose flesh He had assumed, whom the devil had hindered from ascending to the places on high. Therefore He bestowed on His disciples the form of baptizing, the saving truth of the teaching, and the mighty power of miracles, and bade them go throughout the whole world to give it life, in order that the message of salvation might be preached no longer in one nation only but among all the dwellers upon earth. And because the human race was wounded by the weapon of eternal punishment by reason of the nature which they had inherited from the first transgressor and could not win a full meed of salvation because they had lost it in its first parent, God instituted certain health- giving sacraments to teach the difference between what grace bestowed and human nature deserved, nature simply subjecting to punishment, but grace, which is won by no merit, since it would not be grace if it were due to merit, conferring all that belongs to salvation.

Therefore is that heavenly instruction spread throughout the world, the peoples are knit together, churches are founded, and, filling the broad earth, one body formed, whose head, even Christ, ascended into heaven in order that the members might of necessity follow where the Head was gone. Thus this teaching both inspires this present life unto good works, and promises that in the end of the age our bodies shall rise incorruptible to the kingdom of heaven, to the end that he who has lived well on earth by God's gift should be altogether blessed in that resurrection, but he who has lived amiss should, with the gift of resurrection, enter upon misery. And this is a firm principle of our religion, to believe not only that men's souls do not perish, but that their very bodies, which the coming of death had destroyed, recover their first state by the bliss that is to be. This Catholic church, then, spread throughout the world, is known by three particular marks: whatever is believed and taught in it has the authority of the Scriptures, or of universal tradition, or at least of its own and proper usage. And this authority is binding on the whole Church as is also the universal tradition of the Fathers, while each separate church exists and is governed by its private constitution and its proper rites according to difference of locality and the good judgment of each. All, therefore, that the faithful now expect is that the end of the world will come, that all corruptible things shall pass away, that men shall rise for future judgement, that each shall receive reward according to his deserts and abide in the lot assigned to him for ever and for aye; and the sole reward of bliss will be the contemplation of the Almighty, so far, that is, as the creature may look on the Creator, to the end that the number of the angels may be made up from these and the heavenly city filled where the Virgin's Son is King and where will be everlasting joy, delight, food, labour, and unending praise of the Creator.

[43] The conclusions adverse to the genuineness of this tractate, reached in the dissertation Der dem Boethius zugeschriebene Traktat de Fide Catholica (Jahrbücher für kl. Phil. xxvi. (1901) Supplementband) by one of the editors, now seem to both unsound. The writer of that dissertation intends to return to the subject elsewhere. This fourth tractate, though lacking, in the best MSS., either an ascription to Boethius or a title, is firmly imbedded in two distinct recensions of Boethius's theological works. There is no reason to disturb it. Indeed the capita dogmatica mentioned by Cassiodorus can hardly refer to any of the tractates except the fourth.

[44] For instrumentum=Holy Scripture cf. Tertull. Apol. 18, 19, adv. Hermog. 19, etc.; for instrumentum=any historical writing cf. Tert. De Spect. 5.

[45] Boethius is no heretic. By the sixth century uel had lost its strong separative force. Cp. "Noe cum sua uel trium natorum coniugibus," Greg. Tur. H.F. i. 20. Other examples in Bonnet, La Latinité de Grég. de Tours, p. 313, and in Brandt's edition of the Isag. Index, s.v. uel.

[46] Vide Cons. i. pr. 3 (infra, p. 140), and cf. Dante, De Mon. iii. 16, 117.

[47] Ut quia. A very rare use. Cf. Baehrens, Beiträge zur lat. Syntaxis (Philologus, Supplementband xii. 1912). It perhaps=Aristotle's [Greek: oion epei]. Cf. McKinlay, Harvard Studies in Cl. Philol. xviii. 153.

[48] In integro=prorsus; cf. Brandt, op. cit. Index, s.v. integer.

[49] The doctrine is orthodox, but note that Boethius does not say ex nihilo creauit. Vide infra, p. 366 ll. 24 ff.

[50] Vide infra, Cons. iv. pr. 6, p. 342 l. 54.

[51] e.g. Ishmael also [Greek: kata sarka gegennaetai] Gal. iv. 23.

[52] Cf. "populus dei mirabiliter crescens … quia … erant suspecta… laboribus premebatur," Aug. De Ciu. Dei, 18. 7. For other coincidences see Rand, op. cit. pp. 423 ff.



Anxie te quidem diuque sustinui, ut de ea quae in conuentu mota est quaestione loqueremur. Sed quoniam et tu quominus uenires occupatione distractus es et ego in crastinum constitutis negotiis implicabor, mando litteris quae coram loquenda seruaueram. Meministi enim, cum in concilio legeretur epistola, recitatum Eutychianos ex duabus naturis Christum consistere confiteri, in duabus negare: catholicos uero utrique dicto fidem praebere, nam et ex duabus eum naturis consistere et in duabus apud uerae fidei sectatores aequaliter credi. Cuius dicti nouitate percussus harum coniunctionum quae ex duabus naturis uel in duabus consisterent differentias inquirebam, multum scilicet referre ratus nec inerti neglegentia praetereundum, quod episcopus scriptor epistolae tamquam ualde necessarium praeterire noluisset. Hic omnes apertam esse differentiam nec quicquam in eo esse caliginis inconditum confusumque strepere nec ullus in tanto tumultu qui leuiter attingeret quaestionem, nedum qui expediret inuentus est.

Adsederam ego ab eo quem maxime intueri cupiebam longius atque adeo, si situm sedentium recorderis, auersus pluribusque oppositis, ne si aegerrime quidem cuperem, uultum nutumque eius aspicere poteram ex quo mihi aliqua eius darentur signa iudicii. Atqui ego quidem nihil ceteris amplius afferebam, immo uero aliquid etiam minus. Nam de re proposita aeque nihil ceteris sentiebam; minus uero quam ceteri ipse afferebam, falsae scilicet scientiae praesumptionem. Tuli aegerrime, fateor, compressusque indoctorum grege conticui metuens ne iure uiderer insanus, si sanus inter furiosos haberi contenderem. Meditabar igitur dehinc omnes animo quaestiones nec deglutiebam quod acceperam, sed frequentis consilii iteratione ruminabam. Tandem igitur patuere pulsanti animo fores et ueritas inuenta quaerenti omnes nebulas Eutychiani reclusit erroris. Vnde mihi maxime subiit admirari, quaenam haec indoctorum hominum esset audacia qui inscientiae uitium praesumptionis atque inpudentiae nube conentur obducere, cum non modo saepe id quod proponatur ignorent, uerum in huiusmodi contentionibus ne id quidem quod ipsi loquantur intellegant, quasi non deterior fiat inscientiae causa, dum tegitur.

Sed ab illis ad te transeo, cui hoc quantulumcumque est examinandum prius perpendendumque transmitto. Quod si recte se habere pronuntiaueris, peto ut mei nominis hoc quoque inseras chartis; sin uero uel minuendum aliquid uel addendum uel aliqua mutatione uariandum est, id quoque postulo remitti, meis exemplaribus ita ut a te reuertitur transcribendum. Quae ubi ad calcem ducta constiterint, tum demum eius cuius soleo iudicio censenda transmittam. Sed quoniam semel res a conlocutione transfertur ad stilum, prius extremi sibique contrarii Nestorii atque Eutychis summoueantur errores; post uero adiuuante deo, Christianae medietatem fidei temperabo. Quoniam uero in tota quaestione contrariarum sibimet [Greek: haireseon] de personis dubitatur atque naturis, haec primitus definienda sunt et propriis differentiis segreganda.



I have been long and anxiously waiting for you to discuss with me the problem which was raised at the meeting. But since your duties have prevented your coming and I shall be for some time involved in my business engagements, I am setting down in writing what I had been keeping to say by word of mouth.

You no doubt remember how, when the letter[53] was read in the assembly, it was asserted that the Eutychians confess that Christ is formed from two natures but does not consist of them—whereas Catholics admit both propositions, for among followers of the true Faith He is equally believed to be of two natures and in two natures. Struck by the novelty of this assertion I began to inquire what difference there can be between unions formed from two natures and unions which consist in two natures, for the point which the bishop who wrote the letter refused to pass over because of its gravity, seemed to me of importance and not one to be idly and carelessly slurred over. On that occasion all loudly protested that the difference was evident, that there was no obscurity, confusion or perplexity, and in the general storm and tumult there was no one who really touched the edge of the problem, much less anyone who solved it.

I was sitting a long way from the man whom I especially wished to watch,[54] and if you recall the arrangement of the seats, I was turned away from him, with so many between us, that however much I desired it I could not see his face and expression and glean therefrom any sign of his opinion. Personally, indeed, I had nothing more to contribute than the rest, in fact rather less than more. I, no more than the others, had any view about the question at issue, while my possible contribution was less by one thing, namely, the false assumption of a knowledge that I had not got. I was, I admit, much put out, and being overwhelmed by the mob of ignorant speakers, I held my peace, fearing lest I should be rightly set down as insane if I held out for being sane among those madmen.[55] So I continued to ponder all the questions in my mind, not swallowing what I had heard, but rather chewing the cud of constant meditation. At last the door opened to my insistent knocking, and the truth which I found cleared out of my way all the clouds of the Eutychian error. And with this discovery a great wonder came upon me at the vast temerity of unlearned men who use the cloak of impudent presumption to cover up the vice of ignorance, for not only do they often fail to grasp the point at issue, but in a debate of this kind they do not even understand their own statements, forgetting that the case of ignorance is all the worse if it is not honestly admitted.[56]

I turn from them to you, and to you I submit this little essay for your first judgment and consideration. If you pronounce it to be sound I beg you to place it among the other writings of mine which you possess; but if there is anything to be struck out or added or changed in any way, I would ask you to let me have your suggestions, in order that I may enter them in my copies just as they leave your hands. When this revision has been duly accomplished, then I will send the work on to be judged by the man to whom I always submit everything.[57] But since the pen is now to take the place of the living voice, let me first clear away the extreme and self-contradictory errors of Nestorius and Eutyches; after that, by God's help, I will temperately set forth the middle way of the Christian Faith. But since in this whole question of self-contradictory heresies the matter of debate is Persons and Natures, these terms must first be defined and distinguished by their proper differences.

[53] Evidently the letter addressed to Pope Symmachus by the Oriental bishops (vide Mansi, Concil. viii. 221 ff.), in which they inquire concerning the safe middle way between the heresies of Eutyches and Nestorius. The date of the bishops' letter, and consequently, in all probability, of Boethius's tractate was 512.

[54] Obviously his father-in-law Symmachus. Vide p. 76, eius cuius soleo iudiclo, etc.

[55] Cf. Hor. Serm. i. 3. 82; ii. 3. 40.

[56] Cf. infra, de Cons. i. pr. 4 (p. 142) _oportet uulnus detegas.

[57] Vide supra, p. 75, and De Trin. p. 3.


Natura igitur aut de solis corporibus dici potest aut de solis substantiis, id est corporeis atque incorporeis, aut de omnibus rebus quae quocumque modo esse dicuntur. Cum igitur tribus modis natura dici possit, tribus modis sine dubio definienda est. Nam si de omnibus rebus naturam dici placet, talis definitio dabitur quae res omnes quae sunt possit includere. Erit ergo huiusmodi: "natura est earum rerum quae, cum sint, quoquo modo intellectu capi possunt." In hac igitur definitione et accidentia et substantiae definiuntur; haec enim omnia intellectu capi possunt. Additum uero est "quoquo modo," quoniam deus et materia integro perfectoque intellectu intellegi non possunt, sed aliquo tamen modo ceterarum rerum priuatione capiuntur. Idcirco uero adiunximus "quae cum sint," quoniam etiam ipsum nihil significat aliquid sed non naturam. Neque enim quod sit aliquid sed potius non esse significat; omnis uero natura est. Et si de omnibus quidem rebus naturam dici placet, haec sit naturae definitio quam superius proposuimus. Sin uero de solis substantiis natura dicitur, quoniam substantiae omnes aut corporeae sunt aut incorporeae, dabimus definitionem naturae substantias significanti huiusmodi: "natura est uel quod facere uel quod pati possit." "Pati" quidem ac "facere," ut omnia corporea atque corporeorum anima; haec enim in corpore et a corpore et facit et patitur. "Facere" uero tantum ut deus ceteraque diuina. Habes igitur definitionem eius quoque significationis naturae quae tantum substantiis applicatur. Qua in re substantiae quoque est reddita definitio. Nam si nomen naturae substantiam monstrat, cum naturam descripsimus substantiae quoque est assignata descriptio. Quod si naturae nomen relictis incorporeis substantiis ad corporales usque contrahitur, ut corporeae tantum substantiae naturam habere uideantur, sicut Aristoteles ceterique et eiusmodi et multimodae philosophiae sectatores putant, definiemus eam, ut hi etiam qui naturam non nisi in corporibus esse posuerunt. Est autem eius definitio hoc modo: "natura est motus principium per se non per accidens." Quod "motus principium" dixi hoc est, quoniam corpus omne habet proprium motum, ut ignis sursum, terra deorsum. Item quod "per se principium motus" naturam esse proposui et non "per accidens," tale est, quoniam lectum quoque ligneum deorsum ferri necesse est, sed non deorsum per accidens fertur. Idcirco enim quia lignum est, quod est terra, pondere et grauitate deducitur. Non enim quia lectus est, deorsum cadit, sed quia terra est, id est quia terrae contigit, ut lectus esset; unde fit ut lignum naturaliter esse dicamus, lectum uero artificialiter. Est etiam alia significatio naturae per quam dicimus diuersam esse naturam auri atque argenti in hoc proprietatem rerum monstrare cupientes, quae significatio naturae definietur hoc modo: "natura est unam quamque rem informans specifica differentia." Cum igitur tot modis uel dicatur uel definiatur natura, tam catholici quam Nestorius secundum ultimam definitionem duas in Christo naturas esse constituunt; neque enim easdem in deum atque hominem differentias conuenire.


Nature, then, may be affirmed either of bodies alone or of substances alone, that is, of corporeals or incorporeals, or of everything that is in any way capable of affirmation. Since, then, nature can be affirmed in three ways, it must obviously be defined in three ways. For if you choose to affirm nature of the totality of things, the definition will be of such a kind as to include all things that are. It will accordingly be something of this kind: "Nature belongs to those things which, since they exist, can in some measure be apprehended by the mind." This definition, then, includes both accidents and substances, for they all can be apprehended by the mind. But I add "in some measure" because God and matter cannot be apprehended by mind, be it never so whole and perfect, but still they are apprehended in a measure through the removal of accidents. The reason for adding the words, "since they exist," is that the mere word "nothing" denotes something, though it does not denote nature. For it denotes, indeed, not that anything is, but rather non-existence; but every nature exists. And if we choose to affirm "nature" of the totality of things, the definition will be as we have given it above.

But if "nature" is affirmed of substances alone, we shall, since all substances are either corporeal or incorporeal, give to nature denoting substances a definition of the following kind: "Nature is either that which can act or that which can be acted upon." Now the power to act and to suffer belongs to all corporeals and the soul of corporeals; for it both acts in the body and suffers by the body. But only to act belongs to God and other divine substances.

Here, then, you have a further definition of what nature is as applied to substances alone. This definition comprises also the definition of substance. For if the word nature signifies substance, when once we have defined nature we have also settled the definition of substance. But if we neglect incorporeal substances and confine the name nature to corporeal substances so that they alone appear to possess the nature of substance—which is the view of Aristotle and the adherents both of his and various other schools—we shall define nature as those do who have only allowed the word to be applied to bodies. Now, in accordance with this view, the definition is as follows: "Nature is the principle of movement properly inherent in and not accidentally attached to bodies." I say "principle of movement" because every body has its proper movement, fire moving upwards, the earth moving downwards. And what I mean by "movement properly inherent and not accidentally attached" is seen by the example of a wooden bed which is necessarily borne downward and is not carried downward by accident. For it is drawn downward by weight and heaviness because it is of wood, i.e. an earthly material. For it falls down not because it is a bed, but because it is earth, that is, because it is an accident of earth that it is a bed; hence we call it wood in virtue of its nature, but bed in virtue of the art that shaped it.

Nature has, further, another meaning according to which we speak of the different nature of gold and silver, wishing thereby to point the special property of things; this meaning of nature will be defined as follows: "Nature is the specific difference that gives form to anything." Thus, although nature is described or defined in all these different ways, both Catholics and Nestorians firmly hold that there are in Christ two natures of the kind laid down in our last definition, for the same specific differences cannot apply to God and man.


Sed de persona maxime dubitari potest, quaenam ei definitio possit aptari. Si enim omnis habet natura personam, indissolubilis nodus est, quaenam inter naturam personamque possit esse discretio; aut si non aequatur persona naturae, sed infra terminum spatiumque naturae persona subsistit, difficile dictu est ad quas usque naturas persona perueniat, id est quas naturas conueniat habere personam, quas a personae uocabulo segregari. Nam illud quidem manifestum est personae subiectam esse naturam nec praeter naturam personam posse praedicari. Vestiganda sunt igitur haec inquirentibus hoc modo.

Quoniam praeter naturam non potest esse persona quoniamque naturae aliae sunt substantiae, aliae accidentes et uidemus personam in accidentibus non posse constitui (quis enim dicat ullam albedinis uel nigredinis uel magnitudinis esse personam?), relinquitur ergo ut personam in substantiis dici conueniat. Sed substantiarum aliae sunt corporeae, aliae incorporeae. Corporearum uero aliae sunt uiuentes, aliae minime; uiuentium aliae sunt sensibiles, aliae minime; sensibilium aliae rationales, aliae inrationales. Item incorporearum aliae sunt rationales, aliae minime, ut pecudum uitae; rationalium uero alia est inmutabilis atque inpassibilis per naturam ut deus, alia per creationem mutabilis atque passibilis, nisi inpassibilis gratia substantiae ad inpassibilitatis firmitudinem permutetur ut angelorum atque animae. Ex quibus omnibus neque in non uiuentibus corporibus personam posse dici manifestum est (nullus enim lapidis ullam dicit esse personam), neque rursus eorum uiuentium quae sensu carent (neque enim ulla persona est arboris), nec uero eius quae intellectu ac ratione deseritur (nulla est enim persona equi uel bouis ceterorumque animalium quae muta ac sine ratione uitam solis sensibus degunt), at hominis dicimus esse personam, dicimus dei, dicimus angeli. Rursus substantiarum aliae sunt uniuersales, aliae particulares. Vniuersales sunt quae de singulis praedicantur ut homo, animal, lapis, lignum ceteraque huiusmodi quae uel genera uel species sunt; nam et homo de singulis hominibus et animal de singulis animalibus lapisque ac lignum de singulis lapidibus ac lignis dicuntur. Particularia uero sunt quae de aliis minime praedicantur ut Cicero, Plato, lapis hic unde haec Achillis statua facta est, lignum hoc unde haec mensa composita est. Sed in his omnibus nusquam in uniuersalibus persona dici potest, sed in singularibus tantum atque in indiuiduis; animalis enim uel generalis hominis nulla persona est, sed uel Ciceronis uel Platonis uel singulorum indiuiduorum personae singulae nuncupantur.


But the proper definition of Person is a matter of very great perplexity. For if every nature has person, the difference between nature and person is a hard knot to unravel; or if person is not taken as the equivalent of nature but is a term of less scope and range, it is difficult to say to what natures it may be extended, that is, to what natures the term person may be applied and what natures are dissociate from it. For one thing is clear, namely that nature is a substrate of Person, and that Person cannot be predicated apart from nature.

We must, therefore, conduct our inquiry into these points as follows.

Since Person cannot exist apart from a nature and since natures are either substances or accidents and we see that a person cannot come into being among accidents (for who can say there is any person of white or black or size?), it therefore remains that Person is properly applied to substances. But of substances, some are corporeal and others incorporeal. And of corporeals, some are living and others the reverse; of living substances, some are sensitive and others insensitive; of sensitive substances, some are rational and others irrational.[58] Similarly of incorporeal substances, some are rational, others the reverse (for instance the animating spirits of beasts); but of rational substances there is one which is immutable and impassible by nature, namely God, another which in virtue of its creation is mutable and passible except in that case where the Grace of the impassible substance has transformed it to the unshaken impassibility which belongs to angels and to the soul.

Now from all the definitions we have given it is clear that Person cannot be affirmed of bodies which have no life (for no one ever said that a stone had a person), nor yet of living things which lack sense (for neither is there any person of a tree), nor finally of that which is bereft of mind and reason (for there is no person of a horse or ox or any other of the animals which dumb and unreasoning live a life of sense alone), but we say there is a person of a man, of God, of an angel. Again, some substances are universal, others are particular. Universal terms are those which are predicated of individuals, as man, animal, stone, stock and other things of this kind which are either genera or species; for the term man is applied to individual men just as animal is to individual animals, and stone and stock to individual stones and stocks. But particulars are terms which are never predicated of other things, as Cicero, Plato, this stone from which this statue of Achilles was hewn, this piece of wood out of which this table was made. But in all these things person cannot in any case be applied to universals, but only to particulars and individuals; for there is no person of a man if animal or general; only the single persons of Cicero, Plato, or other single individuals are termed persons.

[58] For a similar example of the method of diuisio cf. Cic. De Off. ii. 3. 11. Cf. also Isag. Porph. edit. prima, i. 10 (ed. Brandt, p. 29).


Quocirca si persona in solis substantiis est atque in his rationabilibus substantiaque omnis natura est nec in uniuersalibus sed in indiuiduis constat, reperta personae est definitio: "naturae rationabilis indiuidua substantia." Sed nos hac definitione eam quam Graeci [Greek: hupostasin] dicunt terminauimus. Nomen enim personae uidetur aliunde traductum, ex his scilicet personis quae in comoediis tragoediisque eos quorum interest homines repraesentabant. Persona uero dicta est a personando circumflexa paenultima. Quod si acuatur antepaenultima, apertissime a sono dicta uidebitur; idcirco autem a sono, quia concauitate ipsa maior necesse est uoluatur sonus. Graeci quoque has personas [Greek: prosopa] uocant ab eo quod ponantur in facie atque ante oculos obtegant uultum: [Greek: para tou pros tous opas tithesthai.] Sed quoniam personis inductis histriones indiuiduos homines quorum intererat in tragoedia uel in comoedia ut dictum est repraesentabant, id est Hecubam uel Medeam uel Simonem uel Chremetem, idcirco ceteros quoque homines, quorum certa pro sui forma esset agnitio, et Latini personam et Graeci [Greek: prosopa] nuncupauerunt. Longe uero illi signatius naturae rationabilis indiuiduam subsistentiam [Greek: hupostaseos] nomine uocauerunt, nos uero per inopiam significantium uocum translaticiam retinuimus nuncupationem, eam quam illi [Greek: hupostasin] dicunt personam uocantes; sed peritior Graecia sermonum [Greek: hupostasin] uocat indiuiduam subsistentiam. Atque, uti Graeca utar oratione in rebus quae a Graecis agitata Latina interpretatione translata sunt: [Greek: hai ousiai en men tois katholou einai dunantai. en de tois atomois kai kata meros monois huphistantai], id est: essentiae in uniuersalibus quidem esse possunt, in solis uero indiuiduis et particularibus substant. Intellectus enim uniuersalium rerum ex particularibus sumptus est. Quocirca cum ipsae subsistentiae in uniuersalibus quidem sint, in particularibus uero capiant substantiam, iure subsistentias particulariter substantes [Greek: hupostaseis] appellauerunt. Neque enim pensius subtiliusque intuenti idem uidebitur esse subsistentia quod substantia.

Nam quod Graeci [Greek: ousiosin] uel [Greek: ousiosthai] dicunt, id nos subsistentiam uel subsistere appellamus; quod uero illi [Greek: hupostasin] uel [Greek: huphistasthai], id nos substantiam uel substare interpretamur. Subsistit enim quod ipsum accidentibus, ut possit esse, non indiget. Substat autem id quod aliis accidentibus subiectum quoddam, ut esse ualeant, subministrat; sub illis enim stat, dum subiectum est accidentibus. Itaque genera uel species subsistunt tantum; neque enim accidentia generibus speciebus*ue contingunt. Indiuidua uero non modo subsistunt uerum etiam substant, nam neque ipsa indigent accidentibus ut sint; informata enim sunt iam propriis et specificis differentiis et accidentibus ut esse possint ministrant, dum sunt scilicet subiecta. Quocirca [Greek: einai] atque [Greek: ousiosthai] esse atque subsistere, [Greek: huphistasthai] uero substare intellegitur. Neque enim uerborum inops Graecia est, ut Marcus Tullius alludit, sed essentiam, subsistentiam, substantiam, personam totidem nominibus reddit, essentiam quidem [Greek: ousian], subsistentiam uero [Greek: ousiosin], substantiam [Greek: hupostasin], personam [Greek: prosopon] appellans. Ideo autem [Greek: hupostaseis] Graeci indiuiduas substantias uocauerunt, quoniam ceteris subsunt et quibusdam quasi accidentibus subpositae subiectaeque sunt; atque idcirco nos quoque eas substantias nuncupamus quasi subpositas, quas illi[59] [Greek: hupostaseis], cumque etiam [Greek: prosopa] nuncupent easdem substantias, possumus nos quoque nuncupare personas. Idem est igitur [Greek: ousian] esse quod essentiam, idem [Greek: ousiosin] quod subsistentiam, idem [Greek: hupostasin] quod substantiam, idem [Greek: prosopon] quod personam. Quare autem de inrationabilibus animalibus Graecus [Greek: hupostasin] non dicat, sicut nos de eisdem nomen substantiae praedicamus, haec ratio est, quoniam nomen hoc melioribus applicatum est, ut aliqua id quod est excellentius, tametsi non descriptione naturae secundum id quod [Greek: huphistasthai] atque substare est, at certe [Greek: hupostaseos] uel substantiae uocabulis discerneretur.

Est igitur et hominis quidem essentia, id est [Greek: ousia], et subsistentia, id est [Greek: ousiosis], et [Greek: hupostasis], id est substantia, et [Greek: prosopon], id est persona; [Greek: ousia], quidem atque essentia quoniam est, [Greek: ousiosis] uero atque subsistentia quoniam in nullo subiecto est, [Greek: hupostasis] uero atque substantia, quoniam subest ceteris quae subsistentiae non sunt, id est [Greek: ousioseis]; est [Greek: prosopon] atque persona, quoniam est rationabile indiuiduum. Deus quoque et [Greek: ousia] est et essentia, est enim et maxime ipse est a quo omnium esse proficiscitur. Est [Greek: ousiosis], id est subsistentia (subsistit enim nullo indigens), et [Greek: huphistasthai]; substat enim. Vnde etiam dicimus unam esse [Greek: ousian] uel [Greek: ousiosin], id est essentiam uel subsistentiam deitatis, sed tres [Greek: hupostaseis], id est tres substantias. Et quidem secundum hunc modum dixere unam trinitatis essentiam, tres substantias tresque personas. Nisi enim tres in deo substantias ecclesiasticus loquendi usus excluderet, uideretur idcirco de deo dici substantia, non quod ipse ceteris rebus quasi subiectum supponeretur, sed quod idem omnibus uti praeesset ita etiam quasi principium subesset rebus, dum eis omnibus [Greek: ousiosthai] uel subsistere subministrat.

[59] quas illi Vallinus; quasi uel quas codd. meliores.


Wherefore if Person belongs to substances alone, and these rational, and if every nature is a substance, existing not in universals but in individuals, we have found the definition of Person, viz.: "The individual substance of a rational nature."[60] Now by this definition we Latins have described what the Greeks call [Greek: hupostasis]. For the word person seems to be borrowed from a different source, namely from the masks which in comedies and tragedies used to signify the different subjects of representation. Now persona "mask" is derived from personare, with a circumflex on the penultimate. But if the accent is put on the antepenultimate[61] the word will clearly be seen to come from sonus "sound," and for this reason, that the hollow mask necessarily produces a larger sound. The Greeks, too, call these masks [Greek: prosopa] from the fact that they are placed over the face and conceal the countenance from the spectator: [Greek: para tou pros tous opas tithesthai]. But since, as we have said, it was by the masks they put on that actors played the different characters represented in a tragedy or comedy—Hecuba or Medea or Simon or Chremes,—so also all other men who could be recognized by their several characteristics were designated by the Latins with the term persona and by the Greeks with [Greek: prosopa]. But the Greeks far more clearly gave to the individual subsistence of a rational nature the name [Greek: hupostasis] while we through want of appropriate words have kept a borrowed term, calling that persona which they call [Greek: hupostasis]; but Greece with its richer vocabulary gives the name [Greek: hupostasis] to the individual subsistence. And, if I may use Greek in dealing with matters which were first mooted by Greeks before they came to be interpreted in Latin: [Greek: hai ousiai en men tois katholou einai dunantai. en de tois atomois kai kata meros monois huphistantai], that is: essences indeed can have potential existence in universals, but they have particular substantial existence in particulars alone. For it is from particulars that all our comprehension of universals is taken. Wherefore since subsistences are present in universals but acquire substance in particulars they rightly gave the name [Greek: hupostasis] to subsistences which acquired substance through the medium of particulars. For to no one using his eyes with any care or penetration will subsistence and substance appear identical.

For our equivalents of the Greek terms [Greek: ousiosis ousiosthai] are respectively subsistentia and subsistere, while their [Greek: hupostasis huphistasthai] are represented by our substantia and substare. For a thing has subsistence when it does not require accidents in order to be, but that thing has substance which supplies to other things, accidents to wit, a substrate enabling them to be; for it "substands" those things so long as it is subjected to accidents. Thus genera and species have only subsistence, for accidents do not attach to genera and species. But particulars have not only subsistence but substance, for they, no more than generals, depend on accidents for their Being; for they are already provided with their proper and specific differences and they enable accidents to be by supplying them with a substrate. Wherefore esse and subsistere represent [Greek: einai] and [Greek: ousiosthai], while substare represents [Greek: huphistasthai]. For Greece is not, as Marcus Tullius[62] playfully says, short of words, but provides exact equivalents for essentia, subsistentia, substantia and persona—[Greek: ousia] for essentia, [Greek: ousiosis] for subsistentia, [Greek: hupostasis] for substantia, [Greek: prosopon] for persona. But the Greeks called individual substances [Greek: hupostaseis] because they underlie the rest and offer support and substrate to what are called accidents; and we in our term call them substances as being substrate—[Greek: hupostaseis], and since they also term the same substances [Greek: prosopa], we too may call them persons. So [Greek: ousia] is identical with essence, [Greek: ousiosis] with subsistence, [Greek: hupostasis] with substance, [Greek: prosopon] with person. But the reason why the Greek does not use [Greek: hupostasis] of irrational animals while we apply the term substance to them is this: This term was applied to things of higher value, in order that what is more excellent might be distinguished, if not by a definition of nature answering to the literal meaning of [Greek: huphistasthai]=substare, at any rate by the words [Greek: hupostasis]=substantia.

To begin with, then, man is essence, i.e. [Greek: ousia], subsistence, i.e. [Greek: ousiosis, hupostasis], i.e. substance, [Greek: prosopon], i.e. person: [Greek: ousia] or essentia because he is, [Greek: ousiosis], or subsistence because he is not accidental to any subject, [Greek: hupostusis] or substance because he is subject to all the things which are not subsistences or [Greek: ousioseis], while he is [Greek: prosopon] or person because he is a rational individual. Next, God is [Greek: ousia], or essence, for He is and is especially that from which proceeds the Being of all things. To Him belong [Greek: ousiosis], i.e. subsistence, for He subsists in absolute independence, and [Greek: huphistasthai], for He is substantial Being. Whence we go on to say that there is one [Greek: ousia] or [Greek: ousiosis], i.e. one essence or subsistence of the Godhead, but three [Greek: hupostaseis] or substances. And indeed, following this use, men have spoken of One essence, three substances and three persons of the Godhead. For did not the language of the Church forbid us to say three substances in speaking of God,[63] substance might seem a right term to apply to Him, not because He underlies all other things like a substrate, but because, just as He excels above all things, so He is the foundation and support of things, supplying them all with [Greek: ousiosthai] or subsistence.

[60] Boethius's definition of persona was adopted by St. Thomas (S. i. 29. 1), was regarded as classical by the Schoolmen, and has the approval of modern theologians. Cf. Dorner, Doctrine of Christ, iii. p. 311.

[61] Implying a short penultimate.

[62] Tusc. ii. 15. 35.

[63] For a similar submission of his own opinion to the usage of the Church cf. the end of Tr. i. and of Tr. ii.


Sed haec omnia idcirco sint dicta, ut differentiam naturae atque personae id est [Greek: ousias] atque [Greek: hupostaseos] monstraremus. Quo uero nomine unumquodque oporteat appellari, ecclesiasticae sit locutionis arbitrium. Hoc interim constet quod inter naturam personamque differre praediximus, quoniam natura est cuiuslibet substantiae specificata proprietas, persona uero rationabilis naturae indiuidua substantia. Hanc in Christo Nestorius duplicem esse constituit eo scilicet traductus errore, quod putauerit in omnibus naturis dici posse personam. Hoc enim praesumpto, quoniam in Christo duplicem naturam esse censebat, duplicem quoque personam esse confessus est. Qua in re eum falsum esse cum definitio superius dicta conuincat, tum haec argumentatio euidenter eius declarabit errorem. Si enim non est Christi una persona duasque naturas esse manifestum est, hominis scilicet atque dei (nec tam erit insipiens quisquam, utqui utramque earum a ratione seiungat), sequitur ut duae uideantur esse personae; est enim persona ut dictum est naturae rationabilis indiuidua substantia.

Quae est igitur facta hominis deique coniunctio? Num ita quasi cum duo corpora sibimet apponuntur, ut tantum locis iuncta sint et nihil in alterum ex alterius qualitate perueniat? Quem coniunctionis Graeci modum [Greek: kata parathesin] uocant. Sed si ita humanitas diuinitati coniuncta est, nihil horum ex utrisque confectum est ac per hoc nihil est Christus. Nomen quippe ipsum unum quiddam significat singularitate uocabuli. At si duabus personis manentibus ea coniunctio qualem superius diximus facta est naturarum, unum ex duobus effici nihil potuit; omnino enim ex duabus personis nihil umquam fieri potest. Nihil igitur unum secundum Nestorium Christus est ac per hoc omnino nihil. Quod enim non est unum, nec esse omnino potest; esse enim atque unum conuertitur et quodcumque unum est est. Etiam ea quae ex pluribus coniunguntur ut aceruus, chorus, unum tamen sunt. Sed esse Christum manifeste ac ueraciter confitemur; unum igitur esse dicimus Christum. Quod si ita est, unam quoque Christi sine dubitatione personam esse necesse est. Nam si duae personae essent, unus esse non posset; duos uero esse dicere Christos nihil est aliud nisi praecipitatae mentis insania. Cur enim omnino duos audeat Christos uocare, unum hominem alium deum? Vel cur eum qui deus est Christum uocat, si eum quoque qui homo est Christum est appellaturus, cum nihil simile, nihil habeant ex copulatione coniunctum? Cur simili nomine diuersissimis abutatur naturis, cum, si Christum definire cogitur, utrisque ut ipse dicit Christis non possit unam definitionis adhibere substantiam? Si enim dei atque hominis diuersa substantia est unumque in utrisque Christi nomen nec diuersarum coniunctio substantiarum unam creditur fecisse personam, aequiuocum nomen est Christi et nulla potest definitione concludi. Quibus autem umquam scripturis nomen Christi geminatur? Quid uero noui per aduentum saluatoris effectum est? Nam catholicis et fidei ueritas et raritas miraculi constat. Quam enim magnum est quamque nouum, quam quod semel nec ullo alio saeculo possit euenire, ut eius qui solus est deus natura cum humana quae ab eo erat diuersissima conueniret atque ita ex distantibus naturis una fieret copulatione persona! Secundum Nestorii uero sententiam quid contingit noui? "Seruant," inquit, "proprias humanitas diuinitasque personas." Quando enim non fuit diuinitatis propria humanitatisque persona? Quando uero non erit? Vel quid amplius in Iesu generatione contingit quam in cuiuslibet alterius, si discretis utrisque personis discretae etiam fuere naturae? Ita enim personis manentibus illic nulla naturarum potuit esse coniunctio, ut in quolibet homine, cuius cum propria persona subsistat, nulla est ei excellentissimae substantiae coniuncta diuinitas. Sed fortasse Iesum, id est personam hominis, idcirco Christum uocet, quoniam per eam mira quaedam sit operata diuinitas. Esto. Deum uero ipsum Christi appellatione cur uocet? Cur uero non elementa quoque ipsa simili audeat appellare uocabulo per quae deus mira quaedam cotidianis motibus operatur? An quia inrationabiles substantiae non possunt habere personam qua[64] Christi uocabulum excipere possint[65]? Nonne in sanctis hominibus ac pietate conspicuis apertus diuinitatis actus agnoscitur? Nihil enim intererit, cur non sanctos quoque uiros eadem appellatione dignetur, si in adsumptione humanitatis non est una ex coniunctione persona. Sed dicat forsitan, "Illos quoque Christos uocari fateor, sed ad imaginem ueri Christi." Quod si nulla ex homine atque deo una persona coniuncta est, omnes ita ueros Christos arbitrabimur ut hunc qui ex uirgine genitus creditur. Nulla quippe in hoc adunata persona est ex dei atque hominis copulatione sicut nec in eis, qui dei spiritu de uenturo Christo praedicebant, propter quod etiam ipsi quoque appellati sunt Christi. Iam uero sequitur, ut personis manentibus nullo modo a diuinitate humanitas credatur adsumpta. Omnino enim disiuncta sunt quae aeque personis naturisque separantur, prorsus inquam disiuncta sunt nec magis inter se homines bouesque disiuncti quam diuinitas in Christo humanitasque discreta est, si mansere personae. Homines quippe ac boues una animalis communitate iunguntur; est enim illis secundum genus communis substantia eademque in uniuersalitatis collectione natura. Deo uero atque homini quid non erit diuersa ratione disiunctum, si sub diuersitate naturae personarum quoque credatur mansisse discretio? Non est igitur saluatum genus humanum, nulla in nos salus Christi generatione processit, tot prophetarum scripturae populum inlusere credentem, omnis ueteris testamenti spernatur auctoritas per quam salus mundo Christi generatione promittitur. Non autem prouenisse manifestum est, si eadem in persona est quae in natura diuersitas. Eundem quippe saluum fecit quem creditur adsumpsisse; nulla uero intellegi adsumptio potest, si manet aeque naturae personaeque discretio. Igitur qui adsumi manente persona non potuit, iure non uidebitur per Christi generationem potuisse saluari. Non est igitur per generationem Christi hominum saluata natura,—quod credi nefas est.

Sed quamquam permulta sint quae hunc sensum inpugnare ualeant atque perfringere, de argumentorum copia tamen haec interim libasse sufficiat.

[64] quae codd.

[65] possit Vallinus.


You must consider that all I have said so far has been for the purpose of marking the difference between Nature and Person, that is, [Greek: ousia] and [Greek: hupostasis]. The exact terms which should be applied in each case must be left to the decision of ecclesiastical usage. For the time being let that distinction between Nature and Person hold which I have affirmed, viz. that Nature is the specific property of any substance, and Person the individual substance of a rational nature. Nestorius affirmed that in Christ Person was twofold, being led astray by the false notion that Person may be applied to every nature. For on this assumption, understanding that there were in Christ two natures, he declared that there were likewise two persons. And although the definition which we have already given is enough to prove Nestorius wrong, his error shall be further declared by the following argument. If the Person of Christ is not single, and if it is clear that there are in Him two natures, to wit, divine and human (and no one will be so foolish as to fail to include either in the definition), it follows that there must apparently be two persons; for Person, as has been said, is the individual substance of a rational nature.

What kind of union, then, between God and man has been effected? Is it as when two bodies are laid the one against the other, so that they are only joined locally, and no touch of the quality of the one reaches the other—the kind of union which the Greeks term [Greek: kata parathesin] "by juxtaposition"? But if humanity has been united to divinity in this way no one thing has been formed out of the two, and hence Christ is nothing. The very name of Christ, indeed, denotes by its singular number a unity. But if the two persons continued and such a union of natures as we have above described took place, there could be no unity formed from two things, for nothing could ever possibly be formed out of two persons. Therefore Christ is, according to Nestorius, in no respect one, and therefore He is absolutely nothing. For what is not one cannot exist either; because Being and unity are convertible terms, and whatever is one is. Even things which are made up of many items, such as a heap or chorus, are nevertheless a unity. Now we openly and honestly confess that Christ is; therefore we say that Christ is a Unity. And if this is so, then without controversy the Person of Christ is one also. For if the Persons were two He could not be one; but to say that there are two Christs is nothing else than the madness of a distraught brain. Could Nestorius, I ask, dare to call the one man and the one God in Christ two Christs? Or why does he call Him Christ who is God, if he is also going to call Him Christ who is man, when his combination gives the two no common factor, no coherence? Why does he wrongly use the same name for two utterly different natures, when, if he is compelled to define Christ, he cannot, as he himself admits, apply the substance of one definition to both his Christs? For if the substance of God is different from that of man, and the one name of Christ applies to both, and the combination of different substances is not believed to have formed one Person, the name of Christ is equivocal[66] and cannot be comprised in one definition. But in what Scriptures is the name of Christ ever made double? Or what new thing has been wrought by the coming of the Saviour? For the truth of the faith and the unwontedness of the miracle alike remain, for Catholics, unshaken. For how great and unprecedented a thing it is—unique and incapable of repetition in any other age—that the nature of Him who is God alone should come together with human nature which was entirely different from God to form from different natures by conjunction a single Person! But now, if we follow Nestorius, what happens that is new? "Humanity and divinity," quoth he, "keep their proper Persons." Well, when had not divinity and humanity each its proper Person? And when, we answer, will this not be so? Or wherein is the birth of Jesus more significant than that of any other child, if, the two Persons remaining distinct, the natures also were distinct? For while the Persons remained so there could no more be a union of natures in Christ than there could be in any other man with whose substance, be it never so perfect, no divinity was ever united because of the subsistence of his proper person. But for the sake of argument let him call Jesus, i.e. the human person, Christ, because through that person God wrought certain wonders. Agreed. But why should he call God Himself by the name of Christ? Why should he not go on to call the very elements by that name? For through them in their daily movements God works certain wonders. Is it because irrational substances cannot possess a Person enabling them to receive the name of Christ? Is not the operation of God seen plainly in men of holy life and notable piety? There will surely be no reason not to call the saints also by that name, if Christ taking humanity on Him is not one Person through conjunction. But perhaps he will say, "I allow that such men are called Christs, but it is because they are in the image of the true Christ." But if no one Person has been formed of the union of God and man, we shall consider all of them just as true Christs as Him who, we believe, was born of a Virgin. For no Person has been made one by the union of God and man either in Him or in them who by the Spirit of God foretold the coming Christ, for which cause they too were called Christs. So now it follows that so long as the Persons remain, we cannot in any wise believe that humanity has been assumed by divinity. For things which differ alike in persons and natures are certainly separate, nay absolutely separate; man and oxen are not further separate than are divinity and humanity in Christ, if the Persons have remained. Men indeed and oxen are united in one animal nature, for by genus they have a common substance and the same nature in the collection which forms the universal.[67] But God and man will be at all points fundamentally different if we are to believe that distinction of Persons continues under difference of nature. Then the human race has not been saved, the birth of Christ has brought us no salvation, the writings of all the prophets have but beguiled the people that believed in them, contempt is poured upon the authority of the whole Old Testament which promised to the world salvation by the birth of Christ. It is plain that salvation has not been brought us, if there is the same difference in Person that there is in Nature. No doubt He saved that humanity which we believe He assumed; but no assumption can be conceived, if the separation abides alike of Nature and of Person. Hence that human nature which could not be assumed as long as the Person continued, will certainly and rightly appear incapable of salvation by the birth of Christ. Wherefore man's nature has not been saved by the birth of Christ—an impious conclusion.[68]

But although there are many weapons strong enough to wound and demolish the Nestorian view, let us for the moment be content with this small selection from the store of arguments available.

[66] Cf. the discussion of aequiuoca=[Greek: homonumos] in Isag. Porph. Vide Brandt's Index.

[67] Vniuersalitas=[Greek: to katholou].

[68] For a similar reductio ad absurdum ending in quod nefas est see Tr. iii. (supra, p. 44) and Cons. v. 3 (infra, p. 374).


Transeundum quippe est ad Eutychen qui cum a ueterum orbitis esset euagatus, in contrarium cucurrit errorem asserens tantum abesse, ut in Christo gemina persona credatur, ut ne naturam quidem in eo duplicem oporteat confiteri; ita quippe esse adsumptum hominem, ut ea sit adunatio facta cum deo, ut natura humana non manserit. Huius error ex eodem quo Nestorii fonte prolabitur. Nam sicut Nestorius arbitratur non posse esse naturam duplicem quin persona fieret duplex, atque ideo, cum in Christo naturam duplicem confiteretur, duplicem credidit esse personam, ita quoque Eutyches non putauit naturam duplicem esse sine duplicatione personae et cum non confiteretur duplicem esse personam, arbitratus est consequens, ut una uideretur esse natura. Itaque Nestorius recte tenens duplicem in Christo esse naturam sacrilege confitetur duas esse personas; Eutyches uero recte credens unam esse personam impie credit unam quoque esse naturam. Qui conuictus euidentia rerum, quandoquidem manifestum est aliam naturam esse hominis aliam dei, ait duas se confiteri in Christo naturas ante adunationem, unam uero post adunationem. Quae sententia non aperte quod uult eloquitur. Vt tamen eius dementiam perscrutemur, adunatio haec aut tempore generationis facta est aut tempore resurrectionis. Sed si tempore generationis facta est, uidetur putare et ante generationem fuisse humanam carnem non a Maria sumptam sed aliquo modo alio praeparatam, Mariam uero uirginem appositam ex qua caro nasceretur quae ab ea sumpta non esset, illam uero carnem quae antea fuerit esse et diuisam atque a diuinitatis substantia separatam; cum ex uirgine natus est, adunatum esse deo, ut una uideretur facta esse natura. Vel si haec eius sententia non est, illa esse poterit dicentis duas ante adunationem, unam post adunationem, si adunatio generatione perfecta est, ut corpus quidem a Maria sumpserit, sed, antequam sumeret, diuersam deitatis humanitatisque fuisse naturam; sumptam uero unam factam atque in diuinitatis cessisse substantiam. Quod si hanc adunationem non putat generatione sed resurrectione factam, rursus id duobus fieri arbitrabitur modis; aut enim genito Christo et non adsumente de Maria corpus aut adsumente ab eadem carnem, usque dum resurgeret quidem, duas fuisse naturas, post resurrectionem unam factam. De quibus illud disiunctum nascitur, quod interrogabimus hoc modo: natus ex Maria Christus aut ab ea carnem humanam traxit aut minime. Si non confitetur ex ea traxisse, dicat quo homine indutus aduenerit, utrumne eo qui deciderat praeuaricatione peccati an alio? Si eo de cuius semine ductus est homo, quem uestita diuinitas est? Nam si ex semine Abrahae atque Dauid et postremo Mariae non fuit caro illa qua natus est, ostendat ex cuius hominis sit carne deriuatus, quoniam post primum hominem caro omnis humana ex humana carne deducitur. Sed si quem dixerit hominem a quo generatio sumpta sit saluatoris praeter Mariam uirginem, et ipse errore confundetur et adscribere mendacii notam summae diuinitati inlusus ipse uidebitur, quando quod Abrahae atque Dauid promittitur in sanctis diuinationibus, ut ex eorum semine toti mundo salus oriatur, aliis distribuit, cum praesertim, si humana caro sumpta est, non ab alio sumi potuerit nisi unde etiam procreabatur. Si igitur a Maria non est sumptum corpus humanum sed a quolibet alio, per Mariam tamen est procreatum quod fuerat praeuaricatione corruptum, superius dicto repellitur argumento. Quod si non eo homine Christus indutus est qui pro peccati poena sustinuerat mortem, illud eueniet ex nullius hominis semine talem potuisse nasci qui fuerit sine originalis poena peccati. Ex nullo igitur talis sumpta est caro; unde fit ut nouiter uideatur esse formata. Sed haec aut ita hominum uisa est oculis, ut humanum putaretur corpus quod reuera non esset humanum, quippe quod nulli originali subiaceret poenae, aut noua quaedam uera nec poenae peccati subiacens originalis ad tempus hominis natura formata est? Si uerum hominis corpus non fuit, aperte arguitur mentita diuinitas, quae ostenderet hominibus corpus, quod cum uerum non esset, tum fallerentur ii[69] qui uerum esse arbitrarentur. At si noua ueraque non ex homine sumpta caro formata est, quo tanta tragoedia generationis? Vbi ambitus passionis? Ego quippe ne in homine quidem non stulte fieri puto quod inutiliter factum est. Ad quam uero utilitatem facta probabitur tanta humilitas diuinitatis, si homo qui periit generatione ac passione Christi saluatus non est, quoniam negatur adsumptus? Rursus igitur sicut ab eodem Nestorii fonte Eutychis error principium sumpsit, ita ad eundem finem relabitur, ut secundum Eutychen quoque non sit saluatum genus humanum, quoniam non is qui aeger esset et saluatione curaque egeret, adsumptus est. Traxisse autem hanc sententiam uidetur, si tamen huius erroris fuit ut crederet non fuisse corpus Christi uere ex homine sed extra atque adeo in caelo formatum, quoniam cum eo in caelum creditur ascendisse. Quod exemplum continet tale: "non ascendit in caelum, nisi qui de caelo descendit."

[69] hii uel hi codd.


I must now pass to Eutyches who, wandering from the path of primitive doctrine, has rushed into the opposite error[70] and asserts that so far from our having to believe in a twofold Person in Christ, we must not even confess a double Nature; humanity, he maintains, was so assumed that the union with Godhead involved the disappearance of the human nature. His error springs from the same source as that of Nestorius. For just as Nestorius deems there could not be a double Nature unless the Person were doubled, and therefore, confessing the double Nature in Christ, has perforce believed the Person to be double, so also Eutyches deemed that the Nature was not double unless the Person was double, and since he did not confess a double Person, he thought it a necessary consequence that the Nature should be regarded as single. Thus Nestorius, rightly holding Christ's Nature to be double, sacrilegiously professes the Persons to be two; whereas Eutyches, rightly believing the Person to be single, impiously believes that the Nature also is single. And being confuted by the plain evidence of facts, since it is clear that the Nature of God is different from that of man, he declares his belief to be: two Natures in Christ before the union and only one after the union. Now this statement does not express clearly what he means. However, let us scrutinize his extravagance. It is plain that this union took place either at the moment of conception or at the moment of resurrection. But if it happened at the moment of conception, Eutyches seems to think that even before conception He had human flesh, not taken from Mary but prepared in some other way, while the Virgin Mary was brought in to give birth to flesh that was not taken from her; that this flesh, which already existed, was apart and separate from the substance of divinity, but that when He was born of the Virgin it was united to God, so that the Nature seemed to be made one. Or if this be not his opinion, since he says that there were two Natures before the union and one after, supposing the union to be established by conception, an alternative view may be that Christ indeed took a body from Mary but that before He took it the Natures of Godhead and manhood were different: but the Nature assumed became one with that of Godhead into which it passed. But if he thinks that this union was effected not by conception but by resurrection, we shall have to assume that this too happened in one of two ways; either Christ was conceived and did not assume a body from Mary or He did assume flesh from her, and there were (until indeed He rose) two Natures which became one after the Resurrection. From these alternatives a dilemma arises which we will examine as follows: Christ who was born of Mary either did or did not take human flesh from her. If Eutyches does not admit that He took it from her, then let him say what manhood He put on to come among us—that which had fallen through sinful disobedience or another? If it was the manhood of that man from whom all men descend, what manhood did divinity invest? For if that flesh in which He was born came not of the seed of Abraham and of David and finally of Mary, let Eutyches show from what man's flesh he descended, since, after the first man, all human flesh is derived from human flesh. But if he shall name any child of man beside Mary the Virgin as the cause of the conception of the Saviour, he will both be confounded by his own error, and, himself a dupe, will stand accused of stamping with falsehood the very Godhead for thus transferring to others the promise of the sacred oracles made to Abraham and David[71] that of their seed salvation should arise for all the world, especially since if human flesh was taken it could not be taken from any other but Him of whom it was begotten. If, therefore, His human body was not taken from Mary but from any other, yet that was engendered through Mary which had been corrupted by disobedience, Eutyches is confuted by the argument already stated. But if Christ did not put on that manhood which had endured death in punishment for sin, it will result that of no man's seed could ever one have been born who should be, like Him, without punishment for original sin. Therefore flesh like His was taken from no man, whence it would appear to have been new- formed for the purpose. But did this flesh then either so appear to human eyes that the body was deemed human which was not really human, because it was not subject to any primal penalty, or was some new true human flesh formed as a makeshift, not subject to the penalty for original sin? If it was not a truly human body, the Godhead is plainly convicted of falsehood for displaying to men a body which was not real and thus deceived those who thought it real. But if flesh had been formed new and real and not taken from man, to what purpose was the tremendous tragedy of the conception? Where the value of His long Passion? I cannot but consider foolish even a human action that is useless. And to what useful end shall we say this great humiliation of Divinity was wrought if ruined man has not been saved by the conception and the Passion of Christ—for they denied that he was taken into Godhead? Once more then, just as the error of Eutyches took its rise from the same source as that of Nestorius, so it hastens to the same goal inasmuch as according to Eutyches also the human race has not been saved,[72] since man who was sick and needed health and salvation was not taken into Godhead. Yet this is the conclusion he seems to have drawn, if he erred so deeply as to believe that Christ's body was not taken really from man but from a source outside him and prepared for the purpose in heaven, for He is believed to have ascended with it up into heaven. Which is the meaning of the text: none hath ascended into heaven save Him who came down from heaven.

[70] The ecclesiastical uia media, with the relegation of opposing theories to the extremes, which meet in a common fount of falsity, owes something to Aristotle and to our author. Vide infra, p. 118.

[71] The use of this kind of argument by Boethius allays any suspicion as to the genuineness of Tr. iv. which might be caused by the use of allegorical interpretation therein. Note also that in the Consolatio the framework is allegory, which is also freely applied in the details.

[72] Another reductio ad absurdum or ad impietatem, cf. supra, p. 98, note b.


Sed satis de ea parte dictum uidetur, si corpus quod Christus excepit ex Maria non credatur adsumptum. Si uero adsumptum est ex Maria neque permansit perfecta humana diuinaque natura, id tribus effici potuit modis: aut enim diuinitas in humanitatem translata est aut humanitas in diuinitatem aut utraeque in se ita temperatae sunt atque commixtae, ut neutra substantia propriam formam teneret. Sed si diuinitas in humanitatem translata est, factum est, quod credi nefas est, ut humanitate inmutabili substantia permanente diuinitas uerteretur et quod passibile atque mutabile naturaliter exsisteret, id inmutabile permaneret, quod uero inmutabile atque inpassibile naturaliter creditur, id in rem mutabilem uerteretur. Hoc igitur fieri nulla ratione contingit. Sed humana forsitan natura in deitatem uideatur esse conuersa. Hoc uero qui fieri potest, si diuinitas in generatione Christi et humanam animam suscepit et corpus? Non enim omnis res in rem omnem uerti ac transmutari potest. Nam cum substantiarum aliae sint corporeae, aliae incorporeae, neque corporea in incorpoream neque incorporea in eam quae corpus est mutari potest, nec uero incorporea in se inuicem formas proprias mutant; sola enim mutari transformarique in se possunt quae habent unius materiae commune subiectum, nec haec omnia, sed ea quae in se et facere et pati possunt. Id uero probatur hoc modo: neque enim potest aes in lapidem permutari nec uero idem aes in herbam nec quodlibet aliud corpus in quodlibet aliud transfigurari potest, nisi et eadem sit materia rerum in se transeuntium et a se et facere et pati possint, ut, cum uinum atque aqua miscentur, utraque sunt talia quae actum sibi passionemque communicent. Potest enim aquae qualitas a uini qualitate aliquid pati; potest item uini ab aquae qualitate aliquid pati. Atque idcirco si multum quidem fuerit aquae, uini uero paululum, non dicuntur inmixta, sed alterum alterius qualitate corrumpitur. Si quis enim uinum fundat in mare, non mixtum est mari uinum sed in mare corruptum, idcirco quoniam qualitas aquae multitudine sui corporis nihil passa est a qualitate uini, sed potius in se ipsam uini qualitatem propria multitudine commutauit. Si uero sint mediocres sibique aequales uel paulo inaequales naturae quae a se facere et pati possunt, illae miscentur et mediocribus inter se qualitatibus temperantur. Atque haec quidem in corporibus neque his omnibus, sed tantum quae a se, ut dictum est, et facere et pati possunt communi atque eadem materia subiecta. Omne enim corpus quod in generatione et corruptione subsistit communem uidetur habere materiam, sed non omne ab omni uel in omni uel facere aliquid uel pati potest. Corpora uero in incorporea nulla ratione poterunt permutari, quoniam nulla communi materia subiecta participant quae susceptis qualitatibus in alterutram permutetur. Omnis enim natura incorporeae substantiae nullo materiae nititur fundamento; nullum uero corpus est cui non sit materia subiecta. Quod cum ita sit cumque ne ea quidem quae communem materiam naturaliter habent in se transeant, nisi illis adsit potestas in se et a se faciendi ac patiendi, multo magis in se non permutabuntur quibus non modo communis materia non est, sed cum alia res materiae fundamento nititur ut corpus, alia omnino materiae subiecto non egeat ut incorporeum.

Non igitur fieri potest, ut corpus in incorporalem speciem permutetur, nec uero fieri potest, ut incorporalia in sese commixtione aliqua permutentur. Quorum enim communis nulla materia est, nec in se uerti ac permutari queunt. Nulla autem est incorporalibus materia rebus; non poterunt igitur in se inuicem permutari. Sed anima et deus incorporeae substantiae recte creduntur; non est igitur humana anima in diuinitatem a qua adsumpta est permutata. Quod si neque corpus neque anima in diuinitatem potuit uerti, nullo modo fieri potuit, ut humanitas conuerteretur in deum. Multo minus uero credi potest, ut utraque in sese confunderentur, quoniam neque incorporalitas transire ad corpus potest neque rursus e conuerso corpus ad incorporalitatem, quando quidem nulla his materia subiecta communis est quae alterutris substantiarum qualitatibus permutetur.

At hi ita aiunt ex duabus quidem naturis Christum consistere, in duabus uero minime, hoc scilicet intendentes, quoniam quod ex duabus consistit ita unum fieri potest, ut illa ex quibus dicitur constare non maneant; ueluti cum mel aquae confunditur neutrum manet, sed alterum alterius copulatione corruptum quiddam tertium fecit, ita illud quidem quod ex melle atque aqua tertium fit constare ex utrisque dicitur, in utrisque uero negatur. Non enim poterit in utrisque constare, quando utrorumque natura non permanet. Ex utrisque enim constare potest, licet ea ex quibus coniungitur alterutra qualitate corrupta sint; in utrisque uero huiusmodi constare non poterit, quoniam ea quae in se transfusa sunt non manent ac non sunt utraque in quibus constare uideatur, cum ex utrisque constet in se inuicem qualitatum mutatione transfusis.

Catholici uero utrumque rationabiliter confitentur, nam et ex utrisque naturis Christum et in utrisque consistere. Sed id qua ratione dicatur, paulo posterius explicabo. Nunc illud est manifestum conuictam esse Eutychis sententiam eo nomine, quod cum tribus modis fieri possit, ut ex duabus naturis una subsistat, ut aut diuinitas in humanitatem translata sit aut humanitas in diuinitatem aut utraque permixta sint, nullum horum modum fieri potuisse superius dicta argumentatione declaratur.


I think enough has been said on the supposition that we should believe that the body which Christ received was not taken from Mary. But if it was taken from Mary and the human and divine natures did not continue, each in its perfection, this may have happened in one of three ways. Either Godhead was translated into manhood, or manhood into Godhead, or both were so modified and mingled that neither substance kept its proper form. But if Godhead was translated into manhood, that has happened which piety forbids us to believe, viz. while the manhood continued in unchangeable substance Godhead was changed, and that which was by nature passible and mutable remained immutable, while that which we believe to be by nature immutable and impassible was changed into a mutable thing. This cannot happen on any show of reasoning. But perchance the human nature may seem to be changed into Godhead. Yet how can this be if Godhead in the conception of Christ received both human soul and body? Things cannot be promiscuously changed and interchanged. For since some substances are corporeal and others incorporeal, neither can a corporeal substance be changed into an incorporeal, nor can an incorporeal be changed into that which is body, nor yet incorporeals interchange their proper forms; for only those things can be interchanged and transformed which possess the common substrate of the same matter, nor can all of these so behave, but only those which can act upon and be acted on by each other. Now this is proved as follows: bronze can no more be converted into stone than it can be into grass, and generally no body can be transformed into any other body unless the things which pass into each other have a common matter and can act upon and be acted on by each other, as when wine and water are mingled both are of such a nature as to allow reciprocal action and influence. For the quality of water can be influenced in some degree by that of wine, similarly the quality of wine can be influenced by that of water. And therefore if there be a great deal of water but very little wine, they are not said to be mingled, but the one is ruined by the quality of the other. For if you pour wine into the sea the wine is not mingled with the sea but is lost in the sea, simply because the quality of the water owing to its bulk has been in no way affected by the quality of the wine, but rather by its own bulk has changed the quality of the wine into water. But if the natures which are capable of reciprocal action and influence are in moderate proportion and equal or only slightly unequal, they are really mingled and tempered by the qualities which are in moderate relation to each other. This indeed takes place in bodies but not in all bodies, but only in those, as has been said, which are capable of reciprocal action and influence and have the same matter subject to their qualities. For all bodies which subsist in conditions of birth and decay seem to possess a common matter, but all bodies are not capable of reciprocal action and influence. But corporeals cannot in any way be changed into incorporeals because they do not share in any common underlying matter which can be changed into this or that thing by taking on its qualities. For the nature of no incorporeal substance rests upon a material basis; but there is no body that has not matter as a substrate. Since this is so, and since not even those things which naturally have a common matter can pass over into each other unless they have the power of acting on each other and being acted upon by each other, far more will those things not suffer interchange which not only have no common matter but are different in substance, since one of them, being body, rests on a basis of matter, while the other, being incorporeal, cannot possibly stand in need of a material substrate.

It is therefore impossible for a body to be changed into an incorporeal species, nor will it ever be possible for incorporeals to be changed into each other by any process of mingling. For things which have no common matter cannot be changed and converted one into another. But incorporeal things have no matter; they can never, therefore, be changed about among themselves. But the soul and God are rightly believed to be incorporeal substances; therefore the human soul has not been converted into the Godhead by which it was assumed. But if neither body nor soul can be turned into Godhead, it could not possibly happen that manhood should be transformed into God. But it is much less credible that the two should be confounded together since neither can incorporality pass over to body, nor again, contrariwise, can body pass over into incorporality when these have no common matter underlying them which can be converted by the qualities of one of two substances.

But the Eutychians say that Christ consists indeed of two natures, but not in two natures, meaning, no doubt, thereby, that a thing which consists of two elements can so far become one, that the elements of which it is said to be made up disappear; just as, for example, when honey is mixed with water neither remains, but the one thing being spoilt by conjunction with the other produces a certain third thing, so that third thing which is produced by the combination of honey and water is said to consist of both, but not in both. For it can never consist in both so long as the nature of both does not continue. For it can consist of both even though each element of which it is compounded has been spoiled by the quality of the other; but it can never consist in both natures of this kind since the elements which have been transmuted into each other do not continue, and both the elements in which it seems to consist cease to be, since it consists of two things translated into each other by change of qualities.

But Catholics in accordance with reason confess both, for they say that Christ consists both of and in two natures. How this can be affirmed I will explain a little later. One thing is now clear; the opinion of Eutyches has been confuted on the ground that, although there are three ways by which the one nature can subsist of the two, viz. either the translation of divinity into humanity or of humanity into divinity or the compounding of both together, the foregoing train of reasoning proves that no one of the three ways is a possibility.


Restat ut, quemadmodum catholica fides dicat, et in utrisque naturis
Christum et ex utrisque consistere doceamus.

Ex utrisque naturis aliquid consistere duo significat: unum quidem, cum ita dicimus aliquid ex duabus naturis iungi sicut ex melle atque aqua, id autem est ut ex quolibet modo confusis, uel si una uertatur in alteram uel si utraeque in se inuicem misceantur, nullo modo tamen utraeque permaneant; secundum hunc modum Eutyches ait ex utrisque naturis Christum consistere.

Alter uero modus est ex utrisque consistendi quod ita ex duabus iunctum est, ut illa tamen ex quibus iunctum esse dicitur maneant nec in alterutra uertantur, ut cum dicimus coronam ex auro gemmisque compositam. Hic neque aurum in gemmas translatum est neque in aurum gemma conuersa, sed utraque permanent nec formam propriam derelinquunt. Talia ergo ex aliquibus constantia et in his constare dicimus ex quibus consistere praedicantur. Tunc enim possumus dicere coronam gemmis auroque consistere; sunt enim gemmae atque aurum in quibus corona consistat. Nam in priore modo non est mel atque aqua in quibus illud quod ex utrisque iungitur constet. Cum igitur utrasque manere naturas in Christo fides catholica confiteatur perfectasque easdem persistere nec alteram in alteram transmutari, iure dicit et in utrisque naturis Christum et ex utrisque consistere: in utrisque quidem, quia manent utraeque, ex utrisque uero, quia utrarumque adunatione manentium una persona fit Christi. Non autem secundum eam significationem ex utrisque naturis Christum iunctum esse fides catholica tenet, secundum quam Eutyches pronuntiat. Nam ille talem significationem coniunctionis ex utraque natura sumit, ut non confiteatur in utrisque consistere, neque enim utrasque manere; catholicus uero eam significationem ex utrisque consistendi sumit quae illi sit proxima eamque conseruet quae in utrisque consistere confitetur.

Aequiuocum igitur est "ex utrisque consistere" ac potius amphibolum et gemina significatione diuersa designans: una quidem significatione non manere substantias ex quibus illud quod copulatum est dicatur esse coniunctum, alio modo significans ita ex utrisque coniunctum, ut utraque permaneant.

Hoc igitur expedito aequiuocationis atque ambiguitatis nodo nihil est ultra quod possit opponi, quin id sit quod firma ueraque fides catholica continet; eundem Christum hominem esse perfectum, eundem deum eundemque qui homo sit perfectus atque deus unum esse deum ac dei filium, nec quaternitatem trinitati adstrui, dum homo additur supra perfectum deum, sed unam eandemque personam numerum trinitatis explere, ut cum humanitas passa sit, deus tamen passus esse dicatur, non quo ipsa deitas humanitas facta sit, sed quod a deitate fuerit adsumpta. Item qui homo est, dei filius appellatur non substantia diuinitatis sed humanitatis, quae tamen diuinitati naturali unitate coniuncta est. Et cum haec ita intellegentia discernantur permisceanturque, tamen unus idemque et homo sit perfectus et deus: deus quidem, quod ipse sit ex patris substantia genitus, homo uero, quod ex Maria sit uirgine procreatus. Itemque qui homo, deus eo quod a deo fuerit adsumptus, et qui deus, homo, quoniam uestitus homine sit. Cumque in eadem persona aliud sit diuinitas quae suscepit, aliud quam suscepit humanitas, idem tamen deus atque homo est. Nam si hominem intellegas, idem homo est atque deus, quoniam homo ex natura, deus adsumptione. Si uero deum intellegas, idem deus est atque homo, quoniam natura deus est, homo adsumptione. Fitque in eo gemina natura geminaque substantia, quoniam homo- deus unaque persona, quoniam idem homo atque deus. Mediaque est haec inter duas haereses uia sicut uirtutes quoque medium tenent. Omnis enim uirtus in medio rerum decore locata consistit. Siquid enim uel ultra uel infra quam oportuerit fiat, a uirtute disceditur. Medietatem igitur uirtus tenet.

Quocirca si quattuor haec neque ultra neque infra esse possunt, ut in Christo aut duae naturae sint duaeque personae ut Nestorius ait, aut una persona unaque natura ut Eutyches ait, aut duae naturae sed una persona ut catholica fides credit, aut una natura duaeque personae,[73] cumque duas quidem naturas duasque personas in ea quae contra Nestorium dicta est responsione conuicerimus (unam uero personam unamque naturam esse non posse Eutyche proponente monstrauimus neque tamen tam amens quisquam huc usque exstitit, ut unam in eo naturam crederet sed geminas esse personas), restat ut ea sit uera quam fides catholica pronuntiat geminam substantiam sed unam esse personam. Quia uero paulo ante diximus Eutychen confiteri duas quidem in Christo ante adunationem naturas, unam uero post adunationem, cumque hunc errorem duplicem interpretaremur celare sententiam, ut haec adunatio aut generatione fieret, cum ex Maria corpus hominis minime sumeretur aut ad sumptum[74] quidem ex Maria per resurrectionem fieret adunatio, de utrisque quidem partibus idonee ut arbitror disputatum est. Nunc quaerendum est quomodo fieri potuerit ut duae naturae in unam substantiam miscerentur.

[73] quod nullus haereticus adhuc attigit addunt codices quidam.

[74] sumptum codd.; adsumptum preli diabolus, ad sumptum nos.


  It remains for us to show how in accordance with the affirmation of
  Catholic belief Christ consists at once in and of both natures.

The statement that a thing consists of two natures bears two meanings; one, when we say that anything is a union of two natures, as e.g. honey and water, where the union is such that in the combination, however the elements be confounded, whether by one nature changing into the other, or by both mingling with each other, the two entirely disappear. This is the way in which according to Eutyches Christ consists of two natures.

The other way in which a thing can consist of two natures is when it is so combined of two that the elements of which it is said to be combined continue without changing into each other, as when we say that a crown is composed of gold and gems. Here neither is the gold converted into gems nor is the gem turned into gold, but both continue without surrendering their proper form.

Things then like this, composed of various elements, we say consist also in the elements of which they are composed. For in this case we can say that a crown is composed of gems and gold, for gems and gold are that in which the crown consists. For in the former mode of composition honey and water is not that in which the resulting union of both consists.

Since then the Catholic Faith confesses that both natures continue in Christ and that they both remain perfect, neither being transformed into the other, it says with right that Christ consists both in and of the two natures; in the two because both continue, of the two because the One Person of Christ is formed by the union of the two continuing natures.

But the Catholic Faith does not hold the union of Christ out of two natures according to that sense which Eutyches puts upon it. For the interpretation of the conjunction out of two natures which he adopts forbids him to confess consistence in two or the continuance of the two either; but the Catholic adopts an interpretation of the consistence out of two which comes near to that of Eutyches, yet keeps the interpretation which confesses consistence in two.

"To consist of two natures" is therefore an equivocal or rather a doubtful term of double meaning denoting different things; according to one of its interpretations the substances out of which the union is said to have been composed do not continue, according to another the union effected of the two is such that both natures continue.

When once this knot of doubt or ambiguity has been untied, nothing further can be advanced to shake the true and solid content of the Catholic Faith, which is that the same Christ is perfect man and God, and that He who is perfect man and God is One God and Son of Man, that, however, quaternity is not added to the Trinity by the addition of human nature to perfect Godhead, but that one and the same Person completes the number of the Trinity, so that, although it was the manhood which suffered, yet God can be said to have suffered, not by manhood becoming Godhead but by manhood being assumed by Godhead. Further, He who is man is called Son of God not in virtue of divine but of human substance, which latter none the less was conjoined to Godhead in a unity of natures. And although thought is able to distinguish and combine the manhood and the Godhead, yet one and the same is perfect man and God, God because He was begotten of the substance of the Father, but man because He was engendered of the Virgin Mary. And further He who is man is God in that manhood was assumed by God, and He who is God is man in that God was clothed with manhood. And although in the same Person the Godhead which took manhood is different from the manhood which It took, yet the same is God and man. For if you think of man, the same is man and God, being man by nature, God by assumption. But if you think of God, the same is God and man, being God by nature, man by assumption. And in Him nature becomes double and substance double because He is God- man, and One Person since the same is man and God. This is the middle way between two heresies, just as virtues also hold a middle place.[75] For every virtue has a place of honour midway between extremes. For if it stands beyond or below where it should it ceases to be virtue. And so virtue holds a middle place.

Wherefore if the following four assertions can be said to be neither beyond or below reason, viz. that in Christ are either two Natures and two Persons as Nestorius says, or one Person and one Nature as Eutyches says, or two Natures but one Person as the Catholic Faith believes, or one Nature and two Persons, and inasmuch as we have refuted the doctrine of two Natures and two Persons in our argument against Nestorius and incidentally have shown that the one Person and one Nature suggested by Eutyches is impossible—since there has never been anyone so mad as to believe that His Nature was single but His Person double—it remains that the article of belief must be true which the Catholic Faith affirms, viz. that the Nature is double, but the Person one. But as I have just now remarked that Eutyches confesses two Natures in Christ before the union, but only one after the union, and since I proved that under this error lurked two opposite opinions, one, that the union was brought about by conception although the human body was certainly not taken from Mary; the other, that the body taken from Mary formed part of the union by means of the Resurrection, I have, it seems to me, argued the twofold aspect of the case as completely as it deserves. What we have now to inquire is how it came to pass that two Natures were combined into one Substance.

[75] Vide supra, p. 100 note.


Verumtamen est etiam nunc et alia quaestio quae ab his inferri potest qui corpus humanum ex Maria sumptum esse non credunt, sed alias fuisse sequestratum praeparatumque quod in adunatione ex Mariae utero gigni ac proferri uideretur. Aiunt enim: si ex homine sumptum est corpus, homo uero omnis ex prima praeuaricatione non solum peccato et morte tenebatur, uerum etiam affectibus peccatorum erat implicitus, eaque illi fuit poena peccati, ut, cum morte teneretur obstrictus, tamen esset reus etiam uoluntate peccandi, cur in Christo neque peccatum fuit neque uoluntas ulla peccandi? Et omnino habet animaduertendam dubitationem talis quaestio. Si enim ex carne humana Christi corpus adsumptum est, dubitari potest, quaenam caro haec quae adsumpta sit esse uideatur. Eum quippe saluauit quem etiam adsumpsit; sin uero talem hominem adsumpsit qualis Adam fuit ante peccatum, integram quidem uidetur humanam adsumpsisse naturam, sed tamen quae medicina penitus non egebat. Quomodo autem fieri potest, ut talem adsumpserit hominem qualis Adam fuit, cum in Adam potuerit esse peccandi uoluntas atque affectio, unde factum est ut etiam praetergressis diuinis praeceptis inoboedientiae delictis teneretur adstrictus? In Christo uero ne uoluntas quidem ulla creditur fuisse peccandi, cum praesertim si tale corpus hominis adsumpsit quale Adae ante peccatum fuit, non debuerit esse mortalis, quoniam Adam, si non peccasset, mortem nulla ratione sensisset. Cum igitur Christus non peccauerit, quaerendum est cur senserit mortem, si Adae corpus ante quam peccaret adsumpsit. Quod si talem statum suscepit hominis qualis Adae post peccatum fuit, uidetur etiam Christo non defuisse necessitas, ut et delictis subiceretur et passionibus confunderetur obductisque iudicii regulis bonum a malo non sincera integritate discerneret, quoniam has omnes poenas Adam delicti praeuaricatione suscepit.

Contra quos respondendum est tres intellegi hominum posse status: unum quidem Adae ante delictum in quo, tametsi ab eo mors aberat nec adhuc ullo se delicto polluerat, poterat tamen in eo uoluntas esse peccandi: alter in quo mutari potuisset, si firmiter in dei praeceptis manere uoluisset, tunc enim id addendum foret ut non modo non peccaret aut peccare uellet sed ne posset quidem aut peccare aut uelle delinquere. Tertius status est post delictum in quo mors illum necessario subsecuta est et peccatum ipsum uoluntasque peccati. Quorum summitatum atque contrariorum haec loca sunt: is status qui praemium esset, si in praeceptis dei Adam manere uoluisset et is qui poenae fuit, quoniam manere noluit; in illo enim nec mors esset nec peccatum nec uoluntas ulla peccati, in hoc uero et mors et peccatum et delinquendi omnis affectio omniaque in perniciem prona nec quicquam in se opis habentia, ut post lapsum posset adsurgere. Ille uero medius status in quo praesentia quidem mortis uel peccati aberat, potestas uero utriusque constabat, inter utrumque statum est conlocatus. Ex his igitur tribus statibus Christus corporeae naturae singulas quodam modo indidit causas; nam quod mortale corpus adsumpsit ut mortem a genere humano fugaret, in eo statu ponendum est quod post Adae praeuaricationem poenaliter inflictum est. Quod uero non fuit in eo uoluntas ulla peccati, ex eo sumptum est statu qui esse potuisset, nisi uoluntatem insidiantis fraudibus applicasset. Restat igitur tertius status id est medius, ille scilicet qui eo tempore fuit, cum nec mors aderat et adesse poterat delinquendi uoluntas. In hoc igitur Adam talis fuit ut manducaret ac biberet, ut accepta digereret, ut laberetur in somnum et alia quae ei non defuerunt humana quidem sed concessa et quae nullam poenam mortis inferrent.

Quae omnia habuisse Christum dubium non est; nam et manducauit et bibit et humani corporis officio functus est. Neque enim tanta indigentia in Adam fuisse credenda est ut nisi manducasset uiuere non potuisset, sed, si ex omni quidem ligno escam sumeret, semper uiuere potuisset hisque non mori; idcirco paradisi fructibus indigentiam explebat. Quam indigentiam fuisse in Christo nullus ignorat, sed potestate non necessitate; et ipsa indigentia ante resurrectionem in eo fuit, post resurrectionem uero talis exstitit ut ita illud corpus inmutaretur humanum, sicut Adae praeter praeuaricationis uinculum mutari potuisset. Quodque nos ipse dominus Iesus Christus uotis docuit optare, ut fiat uoluntas eius sicut in caelo et in terra et ut adueniat eius regnum et nos liberet a malo. Haec enim omnia illa beatissima humani generis fideliter credentium inmutatio deprecatur.

Haec sunt quae ad te de fidei meae credulitate scripsi. Qua in re si quid perperam dictum est, non ita sum amator mei, ut ea quae semel effuderim meliori sententiae anteferre contendam. Si enim nihil est ex nobis boni, nihil est quod in nostris sententiis amare debeamus. Quod si ex illo cuncta sunt bona qui solus est bonus, illud potius bonum esse credendum est quod illa incommutabilis bonitas atque omnium bonorum causa perscribit.


Nevertheless there remains yet another question which can be advanced by those who do not believe that the human body was taken from Mary, but that the body was in some other way set apart and prepared, which in the moment of union appeared to be conceived and born of Mary's womb. For they say: if the body was taken from man while every man was, from the time of the first disobedience, not only enslaved by sin and death but also involved in sinful desires, and if his punishment for sin was that, although he was held in chains of death, yet at the same time he should be guilty because of the will to sin, why was there in Christ neither sin nor any will to sin? And certainly such a question is attended by a difficulty which deserves attention. For if the body of Christ was assumed from human flesh, it is open to doubt of what kind we must consider that flesh to be which was assumed.

In truth, the manhood which He assumed He likewise saved; but if He assumed such manhood as Adam had before sin, He appears to have assumed a human nature complete indeed, but one which was in no need of healing. But how can it be that He assumed such manhood as Adam had when there could be in Adam both the will and the desire to sin, whence it came to pass that even after the divine commands had been broken, he was still held captive to sins of disobedience? But we believe that in Christ there was never any will to sin, because especially if He assumed such a human body as Adam had before his sin, He could not be mortal, since Adam, had he not sinned, would in no wise have suffered death. Since, then, Christ never sinned, it must be asked why He suffered death if He assumed the body of Adam before sin. But if He accepted human conditions such as Adam's were after sin, it seems that Christ could not avoid being subject to sin, perplexed by passions, and, since the canons of judgment were obscured, prevented from distinguishing with unclouded reason between good and evil, since Adam by his disobedience incurred all these penalties of crime.

To whom we must reply[76] that there are three states of man to envisage: one, that of Adam before his sin, in which, though free from death and still unstained by any sin, he could yet have within him the will to sin; the second, that in which he might have suffered change had he chosen to abide steadfastly in the commands of God, for then it could have been further granted him not only not to sin or wish to sin, but to be incapable of sinning or of the will to transgress. The third state is the state after sin, into which man needs must be pursued by death and sin and the sinful will. Now the points of extreme divergence between these states are the following: one state would have been for Adam a reward if he had chosen to abide in God's laws; the other was his punishment because he would not abide in them; for in the former state there would have been no death nor sin nor sinful will, in the latter there was both death and sin and every desire to transgress, and a general tendency to ruin and a condition helpless to render possible a rise after the Fall. But that middle state from which actual death or sin was absent, but the power for both remained, is situate between the other two.

Each one, then, of these three states somehow supplied to Christ a cause for his corporeal nature; thus His assumption of a mortal body in order to drive death far from the human race belongs properly to that state which was laid on man by way of punishment after Adam's sin, whereas the fact that there was in Christ no sinful will is borrowed from that state which might have been if Adam had not surrendered his will to the frauds of the tempter. There remains, then, the third or middle state, to wit, that which was before death had come and while the will to sin might yet be present. In this state, therefore, Adam was able to eat and drink, digest the food he took, fall asleep, and perform all the other functions which always belonged to him as man, though they were allowed and brought with them no pain of death.

There is no doubt that Christ was in all points thus conditioned; for He ate and drank and discharged the bodily function of the human body. For we must not think that Adam was at the first subject to such need that unless he ate he could not have lived, but rather that, if he had taken food from every tree, he could have lived for ever, and by that food have escaped death; and so by the fruits of the Garden he satisfied a need.[77] And all know that in Christ the same need dwelt, but lying in His own power and not laid upon Him. And this need was in Him before the Resurrection, but after the Resurrection He became such that His human body was changed as Adam's might have been but for the bands of disobedience. Which state, moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught us to desire in our prayers, asking that His Will be done as in heaven so on earth, and that His Kingdom come, and that He may deliver us from evil. For all these things are sought in prayer by those members of the human family who rightly believe and who are destined to undergo that most blessed change of all.[78]

So much have I written to you concerning what I believe should be believed. In which matter if I have said aught amiss, I am not so well pleased with myself as to try to press my effusions in the face of wiser judgment. For if there is no good thing in us there is nothing we should fancy in our opinions. But if all things are good as coming from Him who alone is good, that rather must be thought good which the Unchangeable Good and Cause of all Good indites.

[76] This respondendum has the true Thomist ring.

[77] Adam did not need to eat in order to live, but if he had not eaten he would have suffered hunger, etc.

[78] The whole of this passage might be set in Tr. iv. without altering the tone.




Carmina qui quondam studio florente peregi,
  Flebilis heu maestos cogor inire modos.
Ecce mihi lacerae dictant scribenda Camenae
  Et ueris elegi fletibus ora rigant.
Has saltem nullus potuit peruincere terror, 5
  Ne nostrum comites prosequerentur iter.
Gloria felicis olim uiridisque iuuentae
  Solantur maesti nunc mea fata senis.
Venit enim properata malis inopina senectus
  Et dolor aetatem iussit inesse suam. 10
Intempestiui funduntur uertice cani
  Et tremit effeto corpore laxa cutis.
Mors hominum felix quae se nec dulcibus annis
  Inserit et maestis saepe uocata uenit.
Eheu quam surda miseros auertitur aure 15
  Et flentes oculos claudere saeua negat.
Dum leuibus male fida bonis fortuna faueret,
  Paene caput tristis merserat hora meum.
Nunc quia fallacem mutauit nubila uultum,
  Protrahit ingratas impia uita moras. 20
Quid me felicem totiens iactastis amici?
  Qui cecidit, stabili non erat ille gradu.




  I that with youthful heat did verses write,
  Must now my woes in doleful tunes indite.
  My work is framed by Muses torn and rude,
  And my sad cheeks are with true tears bedewed:
  For these alone no terror could affray
  From being partners of my weary way.
  The art that was my young life's joy and glory
  Becomes my solace now I'm old and sorry;
  Sorrow has filched my youth from me, the thief!
  My days are numbered not by time but Grief.[79]
  Untimely hoary hairs cover my head,
  And my loose skin quakes on my flesh half dead.
  O happy death, that spareth sweetest years,
  And comes in sorrow often called with tears.
  Alas, how deaf is he to wretch's cries;
  And loath he is to close up weeping eyes;
  While trustless chance me with vain favours crowned,
  That saddest hour my life had almost drowned:
  Now she hath clouded her deceitful face,
  My spiteful days prolong their weary race.
  My friends, why did you count me fortunate?
  He that is fallen, ne'er stood in settled state.

  [79] Literally "For Old Age, unlooked for, sped by evils, has come, and
  Grief has bidden her years lie on me."


Haec dum mecum tacitus ipse reputarem querimoniamque lacrimabilem stili officio signarem, adstitisse mihi supra uerticem uisa est mulier reuerendi admodum uultus, oculis ardentibus et ultra communem hominum ualentiam perspicacibus colore uiuido atque inexhausti uigoris, quamuis ita aeui plena foret ut nullo modo nostrae crederetur aetatis, statura discretionis ambiguae. Nam nunc quidem ad communem sese hominum mensuram cohibebat, nunc uero pulsare caelum summi uerticis cacumine uidebatur; quae cum altius caput extulisset, ipsum etiam caelum penetrabat respicientiumque hominum frustrabatur intuitum. Vestes erant tenuissimis filis subtili artificio, indissolubili materia perfectae quas, uti post eadem prodente cognoui, suis manibus ipsa texuerat. Quarum speciem, ueluti fumosas imagines solet, caligo quaedam neglectae uetustatis obduxerat. Harum in extrema margine [Greek: PI] Graecum, in supremo uero [Greek: THETA], legebatur intextum. Atque inter utrasque litteras in scalarum modum gradus quidam insigniti uidebantur quibus ab inferiore ad superius elementum esset ascensus. Eandem tamen uestem uiolentorum quorundam sciderant manus et particulas quas quisque potuit abstulerant. Et dextera quidem eius libellos, sceptrum uero sinistra gestabat.

Quae ubi poeticas Musas uidit nostro adsistentes toro fletibusque meis uerba dictantes, commota paulisper ac toruis inflammata luminibus: "Quis," inquit, "has scenicas meretriculas ad hunc aegrum permisit accedere quae dolores eius non modo nullis remediis fouerent, uerum dulcibus insuper alerent uenenis? Hae sunt enim quae infructuosis affectuum spinis uberem fructibus rationis segetem necant hominumque mentes assuefaciunt morbo, non liberant. At si quem profanum, uti uulgo solitum uobis, blanditiae uestrae detraherent, minus moleste ferendum putarem; nihil quippe in eo nostrae operae laederentur. Hunc uero Eleaticis atque Academicis studiis innutritum? Sed abite potius Sirenes usque in exitium dulces meisque eum Musis curandum sanandumque relinquite."

His ille chorus increpitus deiecit humi maestior uultum confessusque rubore uerecundiam limen tristis excessit. At ego cuius acies lacrimis mersa caligaret nec dinoscere possem, quaenam haec esset mulier tam imperiosae auctoritatis, obstipui uisuque in terram defixo quidnam deinceps esset actura, exspectare tacitus coepi. Tum illa propius accedens in extrema lectuli mei parte consedit meumque intuens uultum luctu grauem atque in humum maerore deiectum his uersibus de nostrae mentis perturbatione conquesta est.


While I ruminated these things with myself, and determined to set forth my woful complaint in writing, methought I saw a woman stand above my head, having a grave countenance, glistening clear eye, and of quicker sight than commonly Nature doth afford; her colour fresh and bespeaking unabated vigour, and yet discovering so many years, that she could not at all be thought to belong to our times; her stature uncertain and doubtful, for sometime she exceeded not the common height of men, and sometime she seemed to touch the heavens with her head, and if she lifted it up to the highest, she pierced the very heavens, so that she could not be seen by the beholders; her garments were made of most fine threads with cunning workmanship into an ever-during stuff, which (as I knew afterward by her own report) she had woven with her own hands. A certain duskishness caused by negligence and time had darkened their colour, as it is wont to happen when pictures stand in a smoky room. In the lower part of them was placed the Greek letter [Greek: PI], and in the upper [Greek: THETA],[80] and betwixt the two letters, in the manner of stairs, there were certain degrees made, by which there was a passage from the lower to the higher letter: this her garment had been cut by the violence of some, who had taken away such pieces as they could get. In her right hand she had certain books, and in her left hand she held a sceptre.

This woman, seeing the poetical Muses standing about my bed, and suggesting words to my tears, being moved for a little space, and inflamed with angry looks: "Who," saith she, "hath permitted these tragical harlots to have access to this sick man, which will not only not comfort his grief with wholesome remedies, but also nourish them with sugared poison? For these be they which with the fruitless thorns of affections do kill the fruitful crop of reason, and do accustom men's minds to sickness, instead of curing them. But if your flattery did deprive us of some profane fellow,[81] as commonly it happeneth, I should think that it were not so grievously to be taken, for in him our labours should receive no harm. But now have you laid hold of him who hath been brought up in Eleatical and Academical studies?[82] Rather get you gone, you Sirens pleasant even to destruction, and leave him to my Muses to be cured and healed."

That company being thus checked, overcome with grief, casting their eyes upon the ground, and betraying their bashfulness with blushing, went sadly away. But I, whose sight was dimmed with tears, so that I could not discern what this woman might be, so imperious, and of such authority, was astonished, and, fixing my countenance upon the earth, began to expect with silence what she would do afterward. Then she coming nigher, sat down at my bed's feet, and beholding my countenance sad with mourning, and cast upon the ground with grief, complained of the perturbation of my mind with these verses.

[80] Cf. "est enim philosophia genus, species uero eius duae, una quae [Greek: theoraetikae] dicitur, altera quae [Greek: praktikae], id est speculatiua et actiua." Boeth. In Porph. Dial. i.

[81] This scorn of the profanum vulgus appears again and again in the theological tractates, e.g. Tr. iii. (supra, p. 4), Tr. v. (supra, p. 74).

[82] Zeno of Elea invented Dialectic: Plato was the first to lecture on philosophy in the gymnasium of the Academia.


Heu quam praecipiti mersa profundo
Mens hebet et propria luce relicta
Tendit in externas ire tenebras,
Terrenis quotiens flatibus aucta
Crescit in inmensum noxia cura. 5
Hic quondam caelo liber aperto
Suetus in aetherios ire meatus
Cernebat rosei lumina solis,
Visebat gelidae sidera lunae
Et quaecumque uagos stella recursus 10
Exercet uarios flexa per orbes,
Comprensam numeris uictor habebat.
Quin etiam causas unde sonora
Flamina sollicitent aequora ponti,
Quis uoluat stabilem spiritus orbem 15
Vel cur hesperias sidus in undas
Casurum rutilo surgat ab ortu,
Quid ueris placidas temperet horas,
Vt terram roseis floribus ornet,
Quis dedit ut pleno fertilis anno 20
Autumnus grauidis influat uuis
Rimari solitus atque latentis
Naturae uarias reddere causas,
Nunc iacet effeto lumine mentis
Et pressus grauibus colla catenis 25
Decliuemque gerens pondere uultum
Cogitur, heu, stolidam cernere terram.


  Alas, how thy dull mind is headlong cast
  In depths of woe, where, all her light once lost,
  She doth to walk in utter darkness haste,
  While cares grow great with earthly tempests tost.
  He that through the opened heavens did freely run,
  And used to travel the celestial ways,
  Marking the rosy splendour of the sun,
  And noting Cynthia's cold and watery rays;
  He that did bravely comprehend in verse
  The different spheres and wandering course of stars,
  He that was wont the causes to rehearse
  Why sounding winds do with the seas make wars,
  What spirit moves the world's well-settled frame,
  And why the sun, whom forth the east doth bring,
  In western waves doth hide his falling flame,
  Searching what power tempers the pleasing Spring
  Which makes the earth her rosy flowers to bear,
  Whose gift it is that Autumn's fruitful season
  Should with full grapes flow in a plenteous year,
  Telling of secret Nature every reason,
  Now having lost the beauty of his mind
  Lies with his neck compassed in ponderous chains;
  His countenance with heavy weight declined,
  Him to behold the sullen earth constrains.


"Sed medicinae," inquit, "tempus est quam querelae." Tum uero totis in me intenta luminibus: "Tune ille es," ait, "qui nostro quondam lacte nutritus nostris educatus alimentis in uirilis animi robur euaseras? Atqui talia contuleramus arma quae nisi prior abiecisses, inuicta te firmitate tuerentur. Agnoscisne me? Quid taces? Pudore an stupore siluisti? Mallem pudore, sed te, ut uideo, stupor oppressit." Cumque me non modo tacitum sed elinguem prorsus mutumque uidisset, admouit pectori meo leniter manum et: "Nihil," inquit, "pericli est; lethargum patitur communem inlusarum mentium morbum. Sui paulisper oblitus est; recordabitur facile, si quidem nos ante cognouerit. Quod ut possit, paulisper lumina eius mortalium rerum nube caligantia tergamus." Haec dixit oculosque meos fletibus undantes contracta in rugam ueste siccauit.


"But it is rather time," saith she, "to apply remedies, than to make complaints." And then looking wistfully upon me: "Art thou he," saith she, "which, being long since nursed with our milk, and brought up with our nourishments, wert come to man's estate? But we had given thee such weapons as, if thou hadst not cast them away, would have made thee invincible. Dost thou not know me? Why dost thou not speak? Is it shamefastness or insensibleness that makes thee silent? I had rather it were shamefastness, but I perceive thou art become insensible." And seeing me not only silent but altogether mute and dumb, fair and easily she laid her hand upon my breast saying: "There is no danger; he is in a lethargy, the common disease of deceived minds; he hath a little forgot himself, but he will easily remember himself again, if he be brought to know us first. To which end, let us a little wipe his eyes, dimmed with the cloud of mortal things." And having thus said, with a corner of her garment she dried my eyes which were wet with tears.


Tunc me discussa liquerunt nocte tenebrae
  Luminibusque prior rediit uigor,
Vt, cum praecipiti glomerantur sidera Coro
  Nimbosisque polus stetit imbribus,
Sol latet ac nondum caelo uenientibus astris, 5
  Desuper in terram nox funditur;
Hanc si Threicio Boreas emissus ab antro
  Verberet et clausam reseret diem,
Emicat ac subito uibratus lumine Phoebus
  Mirantes oculos radiis ferit. 10


  Then fled the night and darkness did me leave.
  Mine eyes their wonted strength receive,
  As when swift Corus spreads the stars with clouds
    And the clear sky a veil of tempest shrouds
  The sun doth lurk, the earth receiveth night.
    Lacking the boon of starry light;
  But if fierce Boreas, sent from Thrace, make way
    For the restoring of the day,
  Phoebus with fresh and sudden beams doth rise,
    Striking with light our wondering eyes.


Haud aliter tristitiae nebulis dissolutis hausi caelum et ad cognoscendam medicantis faciem mentem recepi. Itaque ubi in eam deduxi oculos intuitumque defixi, respicio nutricem meam cuius ab adulescentia laribus obuersatus fueram Philosophiam. "Et quid," inquam, "tu in has exilii nostri solitudines o omnium magistra uirtutum supero cardine delapsa uenisti? An ut tu quoque mecum rea falsis criminationibus agiteris?

"An," inquit illa, "te alumne desererem nec sarcinam quam mei nominis inuidia sustulisti, communicato tecum labore partirer? Atqui Philosophiae fas non erat incomitatum relinquere iter innocentis; meam scilicet criminationem uererer et quasi nouum aliquid acciderit, perhorrescerem? Nunc enim primum censes apud inprobos mores lacessitam periculis esse sapientiam? Nonne apud ueteres quoque ante nostri Platonis aetatem magnum saepe certamen cum stultitiae temeritate certauimus eodemque superstite praeceptor eius Socrates iniustae uictoriam mortis me adstante promeruit? Cuius hereditatem cum deinceps Epicureum uulgus ac Stoicum ceterique pro sua quisque parte raptum ire molirentur meque reclamantem renitentemque uelut in partem praedae traherent, uestem quam meis texueram manibus, disciderunt abreptisque ab ea panniculis totam me sibi cessisse credentes abiere. In quibus quoniam quaedam nostri habitus uestigia uidebantur, meos esse familiares inprudentia rata nonnullos eorum profanae multitudinis errore peruertit.

Quod si nec Anaxagorae fugam nec Socratis uenenum nec Zenonis tormenta quoniam sunt peregrina nouisti, at Canios, at Senecas, at Soranos quorum nec peruetusta nec incelebris memoria est, scire potuisti. Quos nihil aliud in cladem detraxit nisi quod nostris moribus instituti studiis improborum dissimillimi uidebantur. Itaque nihil est quod admirere, si in hoc uitae salo circumflantibus agitemur procellis, quibus hoc maxime propositum est pessimis displicere. Quorum quidem tametsi est numerosus exercitus, spernendus tamen est, quoniam nullo duce regitur, sed errore tantum temere ac passim lymphante raptatur. Qui si quando contra nos aciem struens ualentior incubuerit, nostra quidem dux copias suas in arcem contrahit, illi uero circa diripiendas inutiles sarcinulas occupantur. At nos desuper inridemus uilissima rerum quaeque rapientes securi totius furiosi tumultus eoque uallo muniti quo grassanti stultitiae adspirare fas non sit.


In like manner, the mists of sadness dissolved, I came to myself and recovered my judgment, so that I knew my Physician's face; wherefore casting mine eyes upon her somewhat stedfastly, I beheld my nurse Philosophy, in whose house I had remained from my youth, and I said: "O Mistress of all virtues, for what cause art thou come from heaven into this our solitary banishment? Art thou come to bear me company in being falsely accused?"

"Should I," saith she, "forsake thee, my disciple, and not divide the burden, which thou bearest through hatred of my name, by partaking of thy labour? But Philosophy never thought it lawful to forsake the innocent in his trouble. Should I fear any accusations, as though this were any new matter? For dost thou think that this is the first time that Wisdom hath been exposed to danger by wicked men? Have we not in ancient times before our Plato's age had oftentimes great conflicts with the rashness of folly? And while he lived, had not his master Socrates the victory of an unjust death in my presence, whose inheritance, when afterward the mob of Epicures, Stoics, and others (every one for his own sect) endeavoured to usurp, and as it were in part of their prey, sought to draw me to them, exclaiming and striving against them; they tore the garment which I had woven with my own hands, and having gotten some little pieces of it, thinking me to be wholly in their possession, departed. Some of whom, because certain signs of my apparel appeared upon them, were rashly supposed to be my familiar friends, and condemned accordingly through the error of the profane multitude.

But if thou hast not heard of the flight of Anaxagoras, the poison of Socrates, nor the torments of Zeno, because they are foreign examples; yet thou mayst have heard of Canius, of Seneca, of Soranus,[83] whose memory is both fresh and famous, whom nothing else brought to their overthrow but that they had been instructed in our school and were altogether disliking to the humours of wicked men; wherefore thou hast no cause to marvel, if in the sea of this life we be tossed with boisterous storms, whose chiefest purpose is to displease the wicked; of which though there be an huge army, yet it is to be despised, because it is not governed by any captain, but is carried up and down by fantastical error without any order at all. And if at any time they assail us with great force, our captain retireth her band into a castle,[84] leaving them occupied in sacking unprofitable baggage. And from above we laugh them to scorn for seeking so greedily after most vile things, being safe from all their furious assault, and fortified with that defence which aspiring folly cannot prevail against.

[83] On Julius Kanius or Canius the Stoic cf. Seneca, De Tranq. xiv. 4-9; on Soranus cf. Tac. Annal. i. 16.

[84] Cf. arce religionis nostrae, Tr. iv. (supra, p. 54).


Quisquis composito serenus aeuo
Fatum sub pedibus egit[85] superbum
Fortunamque tuens utramque rectus
Inuictum potuit tenere uultum,
Non illum rabies minaeque ponti 5
Versum funditus exagitantis aestum
Nec ruptis quotiens uagus caminis
Torquet fumificos Vesaeuus ignes
Aut celsas soliti ferire turres
Ardentis uia fulminis mouebit. 10
Quid tantum miseri saeuos tyrannos
Mirantur sine uiribus furentes?
Nec speres aliquid nec extimescas,
Exarmaueris impotentis iram.
At quisquis trepidus pauet uel optat, 15
Quod non sit stabilis suique iuris,
Abiecit clipeum locoque motus
Nectit qua ualeat trahi catenam.

[85] Fortasse iecit; cf. Verg. Georg. ii. 491 sq.


  Who mildly can his age dispose,
  And at his feet proud destiny throws:
  Who stoutly doth each chance behold,
  Keeping his countenance uncontrolled:
  Not him the ocean's rage and threat,
  Stirring the waves with angry heat,
  Nor hot Vesuvius when he casts
  From broken hills enflaméd blasts,
  Nor fiery thunder can dismay,
  Which takes the tops of towers away.
  Why do fierce tyrants us affright,
  Whose rage is far beyond their might?
  For nothing hope, nor fear thou harm,
  So their weak wrath thou shalt disarm.
  But he whom hope or terror takes,
  Being a slave, his shield forsakes,
  And leaves his place, and doth provide
  A chain wherewith his hands are tied.


"Sentisne," inquit, "haec atque animo inlabuntur tuo, an [Greek: onos luras]? Quid fles, quid lacrimis manas?

[Greek: Exauda, mae keuthe nooi.]

Si operam medicantis exspectas, oportet uulnus detegas."

Tum ego collecto in uires animo: "Anne adhuc eget admonitione nec per se satis eminet fortunae in nos saeuientis asperitas? Nihilne te ipsa loci facies mouet? Haecine est bibliotheca, quam certissimam tibi sedem nostris in laribus ipsa delegeras? In qua mecum saepe residens de humanarum diuinarumque rerum scientia disserebas? Talis habitus talisque uultus erat, *cum tecum naturae secreta rimarer, cum mihi siderum uias radio describeres, cum mores nostros totiusque uitae rationem ad caelestis ordinis exempla formares? Haecine praemia referimus tibi obsequentes? Atqui tu hanc sententiam Platonis ore sanxisti: beatas fore res publicas, si eas uel studiosi sapientiae regerent uel earum rectores studere sapientiae contigisset. Tu eiusdem uiri ore hanc sapientibus capessendae rei publicae necessariam causam esse monuisti, ne improbis flagitiosisque ciuibus urbium relicta gubernacula pestem bonis ac perniciem ferrent.

Hanc igitur auctoritatem secutus quod a te inter secreta otia didiceram transferre in actum publicae administrationis optaui. Tu mihi et qui te sapientium mentibus inseruit deus conscii nullum me ad magistratum nisi commune bonorum omnium studium detulisse. Inde cum inprobis graues inexorabilesque discordiae et quod conscientiae libertas habet, pro tuendo iure spreta potentiorum semper offensio.

Quotiens ego Conigastum in inbecilli cuiusque fortunas impetum facientem obuius excepi, quotiens Triguillam regiae praepositum domus ab incepta, perpetrata iam prorsus iniuria deieci, quotiens miseros quos infinitis calumniis inpunita barbarorum semper auaritia uexabat, obiecta periculis auctoritate protexi! Numquam me ab iure ad iniuriam quisquam detraxit. Prouincialium fortunas tum priuatis rapinis tum publicis uectigalibus pessumdari non aliter quam qui patiebantur indolui.

Cum acerbae famis tempore grauis atque inexplicabilis indicta coemptio profligatura inopia Campaniam prouinciam uideretur, certamen aduersum praefectum praetorii communis commodi ratione suscepi, rege cognoscente contendi et ne coemptio exigeretur, euici. Paulinum consularem uirum cuius opes Palatinae canes iam spe atque ambitione deuorassent, ab ipsis hiantium faucibus traxi. Ne Albinum consularem uirum praeiudicatae accusationis poena corriperet, odiis me Cypriani delatoris opposui. Satisne in me magnas uideor exaceruasse discordias? Sed esse apud ceteros tutior debui qui mihi amore iustitiae nihil apud aulicos quo magis essem tutior reseruaui. Quibus autem deferentibus perculsi sumus? Quorum Basilius olim regio ministerio depulsus in delationem nostri nominis alieni aeris necessitate compulsus est. Opilionem uero atque Gaudentium cum ob innumeras multiplicesque fraudes ire in exilium regia censura decreuisset cumque illi parere nolentes sacrarum sese aedium defensione tuerentur compertumque id regi foret, edixit: uti ni intra praescriptum diem Rauenna urbe decederent, notas insigniti frontibus pellerentur. Quid huic seueritati posse astrui uidetur? Atqui in eo die deferentibus eisdem nominis nostri delatio suscepta est. Quid igitur? Nostraene artes ita meruerunt? An illos accusatores iustos fecit praemissa damnatio? Itane nihil fortunam puduit si minus accusatae innocentiae, at accusantium uilitatis?[86] At cuius criminis arguimur summam quaeris? Senatum dicimur saluum esse uoluisse. Modum desideras? Delatorem ne documenta deferret quibus senatum maiestatis reum faceret impedisse criminamur.

Quid igitur o magistra censes? Infitiabimur crimen, ne tibi pudor simus? At uolui nec umquam uelle desistam. Fatebimur? Sed impediendi delatoris opera cessauit. An optasse illius ordinis salutem nefas uocabo? Ille quidem suis de me decretis, uti hoc nefas esset, effecerat. Sed sibi semper mentiens inprudentia rerum merita non potest inmutare nec mihi Socratico decreto fas esse arbitror uel occuluisse ueritatem uel concessisse mendacium. Verum id quoquo modo sit, tuo sapientiumque iudicio aestimandum relinquo. Cuius rei seriem atque ueritatem, ne latere posteros queat, stilo etiam memoriaeque mandaui.

Nam de compositis falso litteris quibus libertatem arguor sperasse Romanam quid attinet dicere? Quarum fraus aperta patuisset, si nobis ipsorum confessione delatorum, quod in omnibus negotiis maximas uires habet, uti licuisset. Nam quae sperari reliqua libertas potest? Atque utinam posset ulla! Respondissem Canii uerbo, qui cum a Gaio Caesare Germanici filio conscius contra se factae coniurationis fuisse diceretur: 'Si ego,' inquit, 'scissem, tu nescisses.' Qua in re non ita sensus nostros maeror hebetauit ut impios scelerata contra uirtutem querar molitos, sed quae sperauerint effecisse uehementer admiror. Nam deteriora uelle nostri fuerit fortasse defectus, posse contra innocentiam, quae sceleratus quisque conceperit inspectante deo, monstri simile est. Vnde haud iniuria tuorum quidam familiarium quaesiuit: 'Si quidem deus,' inquit, 'est, unde mala? Bona uero unde, si non est?' Sed fas fuerit nefarios homines qui bonorum omnium totiusque senatus sanguinem petunt, nos etiam quos propugnare bonis senatuique uiderant, perditum ire uoluisse. Sed num idem de patribus quoque merebamur? Meministi, ut opinor, quoniam me dicturum quid facturumue praesens semper ipsa dirigebas, meministi, inquam, Veronae cum rex auidus exitii communis maiestatis crimen in Albinum delatae ad cunctum senatus ordinem transferre moliretur, uniuersi innocentiam senatus quanta mei periculi securitate defenderim. Scis me haec et uera proferre et in nulla umquam mei laude iactasse. Minuit enim quodam modo se probantis conscientiae secretum, quotiens ostentando quis factum recipit famae pretium. Sed innocentiam nostram quis exceperit euentus uides; pro uerae uirtutis praemiis falsi sceleris poenas subimus. Et cuius umquam facinoris manifesta confessio ita iudices habuit in seueritate concordes ut non aliquos uel ipse ingenii error humani uel fortunae condicio cunctis mortalibus incerta submitteret? Si inflammare sacras aedes uoluisse, si sacerdotes impio iugulare gladio, si bonis omnibus necem struxisse diceremur, praesentem tamen sententia, confessum tamen conuictumue punisset. Nunc quingentis fere passuum milibus procul muti atque indefensi ob studium propensius in senatum morti proscriptionique damnamur. O meritos de simili crimine neminem posse conuinci!

Cuius dignitatem reatus ipsi etiam qui detulere uiderunt, quam uti alicuius sceleris admixtione fuscarent, ob ambitum dignitatis sacrilegio me conscientiam polluisse mentiti sunt. Atqui et tu insita nobis omnem rerum mortalium cupidinem de nostri animi sede pellebas et sub tuis oculis sacrilegio locum esse fas non erat. Instillabas enim auribus cogitationibusque cotidie meis Pythagoricum illud [Greek: hepou theoi].[87] Nec conueniebat uilissimorum me spirituum praesidia captare quem tu in hanc excellentiam componebas ut consimilem deo faceres. Praeterea penetral innocens domus, honestissimorum coetus amicorum, socer etiam sanctus et aeque ac tu ipsa[88] reuerendus ab omni nos huius criminis suspitione defendunt. Sed, o nefas, illi uero de te tanti criminis fidem capiunt atque hoc ipso uidebimur affines fuisse maleficio, quod tuis inbuti disciplinis, tuis instituti moribus sumus. Ita non est satis nihil mihi tuam profuisse reuerentiam, nisi ultro tu mea potius offensione lacereris. At uero hic etiam nostris malis cumulus accedit, quod existimatio plurimorum non rerum merita sed fortunae spectat euentum eaque tantum iudicat esse prouisa quae felicitas commendauerit. Quo fit ut existimatio bona prima omnium deserat infelices. Qui nunc populi rumores, quam dissonae multiplicesque sententiae, piget reminisci. Hoc tantum dixerim ultimam esse aduersae fortunae sarcinam, quod dum miseris aliquod crimen affingitur, quae perferunt meruisse creduntur. Et ego quidem bonis omnibus pulsus, dignitatibus exutus, existimatione foedatus ob beneficium supplicium tuli.

Videre autem uideor nefarias sceleratorum officinas gaudio laetitiaque fluitantes, perditissimum quemque nouis delationum fraudibus imminentem, iacere bonos nostri discriminis terrore prostratos, flagitiosum quemque ad audendum quidem facinus impunitate, ad efficiendum uero praemiis incitari, insontes autem non modo securitate, uerum ipsa etiam defensione priuatos. Itaque libet exclamare:

[86] uilitatis Glareanus; uilitas codd.

[87] [Greek: theon] codd.

[88] ipsa Sitzmannus; ipso codd.


"Understandest thou these things," saith she, "and do they make impression in thy mind? Art thou 'like the ass, deaf to the lyre'? Why weepest thou? Why sheddest thou so many tears? Speak out; hide not thy thoughts.[89] If thou expectest to be cured, thou must discover thy wound.[90]"

Then I, collecting the forces of my mind together, made her answer in these words: "Doth the cruelty of fortune's rage need further declaration, or doth it not sufficiently appear of itself? Doth not the very countenance of this place move thee? Is this the library which thou thyself hadst chosen to sit in at my house, in which thou hast oftentimes discoursed with me of the knowledge of divine and human things? Had I this attire or countenance when I searched the secrets of nature with thee, when thou describedst unto me the course of the stars with thy geometrical rod, when thou didst frame my conversation and the manner of my whole life according to the pattern of the celestial order? Are these the rewards which thy obedient servants have? But thou didst decree that sentence by the mouth of Plato: That commonwealths should be happy, if either the students of wisdom did govern them, or those which were appointed to govern them would give themselves to the study of wisdom.[91] Thou by the same philosopher didst admonish us that it is a sufficient cause for wise men to take upon themselves the government of the commonwealth, lest, if the rule of cities were left in the hands of lewd and wicked citizens, they should work the subversion and overthrow of the good.

Wherefore, following this authority, I desired to practise that by public administration which I had learnt of thee in private conference. Thou and God Himself who had inserted thee in the minds of the wise, are my witnesses that nothing but the common desire of all good men brought me to be a magistrate. This hath been the cause of my grievous and irreconcilable disagreements with wicked men, and that which freedom of conscience carrieth with it, of ever contemning the indignation of potentates for the defence of justice.

How often have I encountered with Conigastus, violently possessing himself with poor men's goods? How often have I put back Triguilla, Provost of the King's house, from injuries which he had begun, yea, and finished also? How often have I protected, by putting my authority in danger, such poor wretches as the unpunished covetousness of the barbarous did vex with infinite reproaches? Never did any man draw me from right to wrong. It grieved me no less than them which suffered it, to see the wealth of our subjects wasted, partly by private pillage, and partly by public tributes.

When in the time of a great dearth things were set at so excessive and unreasonable a rate that the province of Campania was like to be altogether impoverished, for the common good I stuck not to contend with the chief Praetor himself, and the matter was discussed before the King, and I prevailed so far that it went not forward. I drew Paulinus, who had been Consul, out of the very mouth of the gaping courtiers, who like ravenous curs had already in hope and ambition devoured his riches. That Albinus who had likewise been Consul might not be punished upon presumptuous[92] and false accusation, I exposed myself to the hatred of Cyprian his accuser. May I seem to have provoked enmity enough against myself? But others should so much the more have procured my safety, since that for the love I bear to justice I left myself no way by the means of courtiers to be safe. But by whose accusations did I receive this blow? By theirs who, long since having put Basil out of the King's service, compelled him now to accuse me, by the necessity which he was driven to by debt. Opilio likewise and Gaudentius being banished by the King's decree, for the injuries and manifold deceits which they had committed, because they would not obey, defended themselves by taking sanctuary, of which the King hearing, gave sentence, that unless they departed out of the city of Ravenna within certain days, they should be branded in the foreheads, and put out by force. What could be added to this severity? And yet that very day their accusations against me went for current. What might be the reason of this? Did my dealing deserve it? Or did the condemnation, which went before, make them just accusers? Was not fortune ashamed, if not that innocency was accused, yet at least that it had so vile and base accusers? But what crime was laid to my charge? Wilt thou have it in one word? I am said to have desired the Senate's safety. Wilt thou know the manner how? I am blamed for having hindered their accuser to bring forth evidence by which he should prove the Senate guilty of treason.

What thinkest thou, O Mistress? Shall I deny this charge, that I may not shame thee? But it is true, I desired it, neither will I ever cease from having that desire. Shall I confess it? But I have already left hindering their accuser. Shall I call it an offence to have wished the safety of that order? Indeed the Senate with their decrees concerning me had made it an offence. But folly, always deceiving herself, cannot change the deserts of things, nor, according to the decree of Socrates,[93] do I think it is lawful either to conceal the truth or grant a lie. But how this may be, I leave to thine and Wisdom's censure. And that posterity may not be ignorant of the course and truth of the matter, I have put it down in writing.

For why should I speak of those feigned letters, in which I am charged to have hoped for Roman liberty? The deceit of which would manifestly have appeared, if it might have been lawful for me to have used the confession of my very accusers, which in all business is of greatest force. For what liberty remaineth there to be hoped for? I would to God there were any! I would have answered as Canius did, who being charged by Gaius Caesar, son to Germanicus, that he was privy to the conspiracy made against him, answered: 'If I had been made acquainted with it, thou shouldest never have known of it.'[94] Neither hath sorrow so dulled my wits in this matter that I complain of the wicked endeavours of sinful men against virtue, but I exceedingly marvel to see that they have brought to pass the things they hoped to do. For the desire of doing evil may be attributed to our weakness, but that in the sight of God the wicked should be able to compass whatsoever they contrive against the innocent, is altogether monstrous. Whence not without cause one of thy familiar friends[95] demanded: 'If,' saith he, 'there be a God, from whence proceed so many evils? And if there be no God, from whence cometh any good?' But let that pass that wicked men, which seek the blood of all good men, and of the whole Senate, would also have overthrown me, whom they saw to stand in defence of good men and of the Senate. But did I deserve the same of the Senators themselves? I suppose thou rememberest how thou being present didst alway direct me when I went about to say or do anything. Thou rememberest, I say, when at Verona the King, being desirous of a common overthrow, endeavoured to lay the treason, whereof only Albinus was accused, upon the whole order of the Senate, with how great security of my own danger I defended the innocency of the whole Senate. Thou knowest that these things which I say are true, and that I was never delighted in my own praise, for the secret of a good conscience is in some sort diminished when by declaring what he hath done a man receiveth the reward of fame. But thou seest to what pass my innocency is come; instead of the rewards of true virtue, I undergo the punishment of wickedness, wherewith I am falsely charged. Was it ever yet seen that the manifest confession of any crime made the judges so at one in severity, that either the error of man's judgment or the condition of fortune, which is certain to none, did not incline some of them to favour? If I had been accused that I would have burnt the churches, or wickedly have killed the priests, or have sought the death of all good men, yet sentence should have been pronounced against me present, having confessed, and being convicted. Now being conveyed five hundred miles off, dumb and defenceless, I am condemned to death and proscription for bearing the Senate too much good will. O Senate, which deserves that never any may be convicted of the like crime!

The dignity of which accusation even the very accusers themselves saw, which that they might obscure by adding some sort of fault, they belied me that I defiled my conscience with sacrilege, for an ambitious desire of preferment. But thou, which hadst seated thyself in me, didst repel from the seat of my mind all desire of mortal things, and within thy sight there was no place for sacrilege to harbour; for thou didst instil into my ears and thoughts daily that saying of Pythagoras, 'Follow God.'[96] Neither was it fitting for me to use the aid of most vile spirits when thou wast shaping me into that excellency to make me like to God. Besides the innocency which appeared in the most retired rooms of my house, the assembly of my most honourable friends, my holy father- in-law Symmachus, who is as worthy of reverence as thou thyself art, do clear me from all suspicion of this crime. But O detestable wickedness! they the rather credit thee with so great a crime, and think me the nigher to such mischievous dealing, because I am endued with thy knowledge, and adorned with thy virtues, so that it is not enough that I reap no commodity for thy respect, unless thou beest also dishonoured for the hatred conceived against me. And that my miseries may increase the more, the greatest part do not so much respect the value of things as the event of fortune, and they esteem only that to be providently done which the happy success commends. By which means it cometh to pass that the first loss which miserable men have is their estimation and the good opinion which was had of them. What rumours go now among the people, what dissonant and diverse opinions! I cannot abide to think of them; only this will I say, the last burden of adversity is that when they which are in misery are accused of any crime, they are thought to deserve whatsoever they suffer. And I, spoiled of all my goods, bereaved of my dignities, blemished in my good name, for benefits receive punishments.

And methinks I see the cursed crews of the wicked abounding with joy and gladness, and every lost companion devising with himself how to accuse others falsely, good men lie prostrate with the terror of my danger, and every lewd fellow is provoked by impunity to attempt any wickedness, and by rewards to bring it to effect; but the innocent are not only deprived of all security, but also of any manner of defence. Wherefore I may well exclaim:

[89] Homer, Il. i. 363.

[90] Cf. Tr. v. (supra, p. 76), quasi non deterior fiat inscientiae causa dum tegitur.

[91] Plato, Rep. v. 473.

[92] Presumptuous=founded on presumption.

  [93] Cp. Plato, Rep. vi. 485; the [Greek: philosophos] cannot be
  [Greek: philopseudaes.]

[94] Vide supra, p. 69. This seems to be the only record of Canius's retort to Caligula.

[95] i.e. Epicurus, cp. Lact. De Ira Dei xiii.

[96] Cf. [Greek: ho bios apas suntetaktai pros to akolouthein toi Theoi], Iambl. De Vita Pyth. xviii., and Seneca, De Vita Beata xv.


O stelliferi conditor orbis
Qui perpetuo nixus solio
Rapido caelum turbine uersas
Legemque pati sidera cogis,
Vt nunc pleno lucida cornu 5
Totis fratris obuia flammis
Condat stellas luna minores,
Nunc obscuro pallida cornu
Phoebo propior lumina perdat,
Et qui primae tempore noctis 10
Agit algentes Hesperos ortus,
Solitas iterum mutet habenas
Phoebi pallens Lucifer ortu.
Tu frondifluae frigore brumae
Stringis lucem breuiore mora: 15
Tu, cum feruida uenerit aestas,
Agiles nocti diuidis horas.
Tua uis uarium temperat annum
Vt quas Boreae spiritus aufert
Reuehat mites Zephyrus frondes 20
Quaeque Arcturus semina uidit
Sirius altas urat segetes.
Nihil antiqua lege solutum
Linquit propriae stationis opus.
Omnia certo fine gubernans 25
Hominum solos respuis actus
Merito rector cohibere modo.
Nam cur tantas lubrica uersat
Fortuna uices? Premit insontes
Debita sceleri noxia poena, 30
At peruersi resident celso
Mores solio sanctaque calcant
Iniusta uice colla nocentes.
Latet obscuris condita uirtus
Clara tenebris iustusque tulit 35
Crimen iniqui.
Nil periuria, nil nocet ipsis
Fraus mendaci compta colore.
Sed cum libuit uiribus uti,
Quos innumeri metuunt populi 40
Summos gaudent subdere reges.
O iam miseras respice terras
Quisquis rerum foedera nectis.
Operis tanti pars non uilis
Homines quatimur fortunae salo. 45
Rapidos rector comprime fluctus
Et quo caelum regis immensum
Firma stabiles foedere terras."


    Creator of the Sky,
  Who sittest on Thine eternal throne on high,
    Who dost quick motions cause
  In all the heavens, and givest stars their laws,
    That the pale Queen of Night,
  Sometimes receiving all her brother's light,
    Should shine in her full pride,
  And with her beams the lesser stars should hide;
    Sometimes she wants her grace,
  When the sun's rays are in less distant place;
    And Hesperus that flies,
  Driving the cold, before the night doth rise,
    And oft with sudden change
  Before the sun as Lucifer doth range.[97]
    Thou short the days dost make,
  When Winter from the trees the leaves doth take;
    Thou, when the fiery sun
  Doth Summer cause, makest the nights swiftly run.
    Thy might doth rule the year,
  As northern winds the leaves away do bear,
    So Zephyrus from west
  The plants in all their freshness doth revest;
    And Syrius burns that corn
  With which Arcturus did the earth adorn.
    None from Thy laws are free,
  Nor can forsake their place ordained by Thee.
    Thou to that certain end
  Governest all things; deniest Thou to intend
    The acts of men alone,
  Directing them in measure from Thy throne?
    For why should slippery chance
  Rule all things with such doubtful governance?
    Or why should punishments,
  Due to the guilty, light on innocents?
    But now the highest place
  Giveth to naughty manners greatest grace,
    And wicked people vex
  Good men, and tread unjustly on their necks;
    Virtue in darkness lurks,
  And righteous souls are charged with impious works,
    Deceits nor perjuries
  Disgrace not those who colour them with lies,
    For, when it doth them please
  To show their force, they to their will with ease
    The hearts of kings can steer,
  To whom so many crouch with trembling fear.
    O Thou that joinest with love
  All worldly things, look from Thy seat above
    On the earth's wretched state;
  We men, not the least work thou didst create,
    With fortune's blasts do shake;
  Thou careful ruler, these fierce tempests slake,
    And for the earth provide
  Those laws by which Thou heaven in peace dost guide."

[97] Literally, "And that he who as Hesperus, in the early hours of the night, drives the cold stars before him, should change chariot (lit. his accustomed reins) and become Lucifer, growing pale in the first rays of the sun."


Haec ubi continuato dolore delatraui, illa uultu placido nihilque meis questibus mota: "Cum te," inquit, "maestum lacrimantemque uidissem, ilico miserum exsulemque cognoui. Sed quam id longinquum esset exilium, nisi tua prodidisset oratio, nesciebam. Sed tu quam procul a patria non quidem pulsus es sed aberrasti; ac si te pulsum existimari mauis, te potius ipse pepulisti. Nam id quidem de te numquam cuiquam fas fuisset. Si enim cuius oriundo sis patriae reminiscare, non uti Atheniensium quondam multitudinis imperio regitur, sed

[Greek: heis koiranos estin, heis basileus]

qui frequentia ciuium non depulsione laetetur; cuius agi frenis atque obtemperare iustitiae summa libertas est. An ignoras illam tuae ciuitatis antiquissimam legem, qua sanctum est ei ius exulare non esse quisquis in ea sedem fundare maluerit? Nam qui uallo eius ac munimine continetur, nullus metus est ne exul esse mereatur. At quisquis eam inhabitare uelle desierit, pariter desinit etiam mereri. Itaque non tam me loci huius quam tua facies mouet nec bibliothecae potius comptos ebore ac uitro parietes quam tuae mentis sedem requiro, in qua non libros sed id quod libris pretium facit, librorum quondam meorum sententias, collocaui. Et tu quidem de tuis in commune bonum meritis uera quidem, sed pro multitudine gestorum tibi pauca dixisti. De obiectorum tibi uel honestate uel falsitate cunctis nota memorasti. De sceleribus fraudibusque delatorum recte tu quidem strictim attingendum putasti, quod ea melius uberiusque recognoscentis omnia uulgi ore celebrentur. Increpuisti etiam uehementer iniusti factum senatus. De nostra etiam criminatione doluisti, laesae quoque opinionis damna fleuisti. Postremus aduersum fortunam dolor incanduit conquestusque non aequa meritis praemia pensari. In extremo Musae saeuientis, uti quae caelum terras quoque pax regeret, uota posuisti. Sed quoniam plurimus tibi affectuum tumultus incubuit diuersumque te dolor, ira, maeror distrahunt, uti nunc mentis es, nondum te ualidiora remedia contingunt. Itaque lenioribus paulisper utemur, ut quae in tumorem perturbationibus influentibus induruerunt, ad acrioris uim medicaminis recipiendum tactu blandiore mollescant.


When I had uttered these speeches with continued grief, she, with an amiable countenance and nothing moved with my complaints, said: "When I first saw thee sad and weeping, I forthwith knew thee to be in misery and banishment. But I had not known how far off thou wert banished, if thy speech had not bewrayed it. O how far art thou gone from thy country, not being driven away, but wandering of thine own accord! Or if thou hadst rather be thought to have been driven out, it hath been only by thyself; for never could any other but thyself have done it; for if thou rememberest of what country thou art, it is not governed as Athens was wont to be, by the multitude, but 'one is its ruler, one its king,'[98] who desires to have abundance of citizens, and not to have them driven away. To be governed by whose authority, and to be subject to her laws, is the greatest freedom that can be. Art thou ignorant of that most ancient law of thy city, by which it is decreed that he may not be banished that hath made choice of it for his dwelling-place;[99] for he that is within her fort or hold need not fear lest he deserve to be banished? But whosoever ceaseth to desire to dwell in it, ceaseth likewise to deserve so great a benefit. Wherefore the countenance of this place moveth me not so much as thy countenance doth. Neither do I much require thy library adorned with ivory adornments, and its crystal walls, as the seat of thy mind, in which I have not placed books, but that which makes books to be esteemed of, I mean the sentences of my books, which were written long since. And that which thou hast said of thy deserts to the common good, is true indeed, but little in respect of the many things which thou hast done. That which thou hast reported, either of the honesty or of the falseness of those things which are objected against thee, is known to all men. Thou didst well to touch but briefly the wickedness and deceit of thy accusers, for that the common people to whose notice they are come do more fitly and largely speak of them. Thou hast also sharply rebuked the unjust Senate's deed. Thou hast also grieved at our accusation, and hast bewailed the loss or diminishing of our good name; and lastly, thy sorrow raged against fortune, and thou complainedst that deserts were not equally rewarded. In the end of thy bitter verse, thou desiredst that the earth might be governed by that peace which heaven enjoyeth. But because thou art turmoiled with the multitude of affections, grief and anger drawing thee to divers parts, in the plight thou art now, the more forcible remedies cannot be applied unto thee; wherefore, for a while, we will use the more easy, that thy affections, which are, as it were, hardened and swollen with perturbations, may by gentle handling be mollified and disposed to receive the force of sharper medicines.

[98] Hom. Il. ii. 204.

[99] Cf. Cicero, Pro domo sua. 29. 77.


Cum Phoebi radiis graue
Cancri sidus inaestuat,
Tum qui larga negantibus
Sulcis semina credidit,
Elusus Cereris fide 5
Quernas pergat ad arbores.
Numquam purpureum nemus
Lecturus uiolas petas
Cum saeuis aquilonibus
Stridens campus inhorruit, 10
Nec quaeras auida manu
Vernos stringere palmites,
Vuis si libeat frui;
Autumno potius sua
Bacchus munera contulit. 15
Signat tempora propriis
Aptans officiis deus
Nec quas ipse coercuit
Misceri patitur uices.
Sic quod praecipiti uia 20
Certum deserit ordinem
Laetos non habet exitus.


  When hot with Phoebus' beams
  The Crab casts fiery gleams,
  He that doth then with seed
  Th'unwilling furrows feed,
  Deceivéd of his bread
  Must be with acorns fed.
  Seek not the flowery woods
  For violets' sweet buds,
  When fields are overcast
  With the fierce northern blast,
  Nor hope thou home to bring
  Vine-clusters in the Spring
  If thou in grapes delight:
  In autumn Bacchus' might
  With them doth deck our clime.
  God every several time
  With proper grace hath crowned
  Nor will those laws confound
  Which He once settled hath.
  He that with headlong path
  This certain order leaves,
  An hapless end receives.


Primum igitur paterisne me pauculis rogationibus statum tuae mentis attingere atque temptare, ut qui modus sit tuae curationis intellegam?" "Tu uero arbitratu," inquam, "tuo quae uoles ut responsurum rogato." Tum illa: "Huncine," inquit, "mundum temerariis agi fortuitisque casibus putas, an ullum credis ei regimen inesse rationis?" "Atqui," inquam, "nullo existimauerim modo ut fortuita temeritate tam certa moueantur, uerum operi suo conditorem praesidere deum scio nec umquam fuerit dies qui me ab hac sententiae ueritate depellat."

"Ita est," inquit. "Nam id etiam paulo ante cecinisti, hominesque tantum diuinae exortes curae esse deplorasti. Nam de ceteris quin ratione regerentur, nihil mouebare. Papae autem! Vehementer admiror cur in tam salubri sententia locatus aegrotes. Verum altius perscrutemur; nescio quid abesse coniecto.

"Sed dic mihi, quoniam deo mundum regi non ambigis, quibus etiam gubernaculis regatur aduertis?" "Vix," inquam, "rogationis tuae sententiam nosco, nedum ad inquisita respondere queam." "Num me," inquit, "fefellit abesse aliquid, per quod, uelut hiante ualli robore, in animum tuum perturbationum morbus inrepserit? Sed dic mihi, meministine, quis sit rerum finis, quoue totius naturae tendat intentio?" "Audieram," inquam, "sed memoriam maeror hebetauit." "Atqui scis unde cuncta processerint?" "Noui," inquam, deumque esse respondi. "Et qui fieri potest, ut principio cognito quis sit rerum finis ignores? Verum hi perturbationum mores, ea ualentia est, ut mouere quidem loco hominem possint, conuellere autem sibique totum exstirpare non possint.

Sed hoc quoque respondeas uelim, hominemne te esse meministi?" "Quidni," inquam, "meminerim?" "Quid igitur homo sit, poterisne proferre?" "Hocine interrogas an esse me sciam rationale animal atque mortale? Scio et id me esse confiteor." Et illa: "Nihilne aliud te esse nouisti?" "Nihil."

"Iam scio," inquit, "morbi tui aliam uel maximam causam; quid ipse sis, nosse desisti. Quare plenissime uel aegritudinis tuae rationem uel aditum reconciliandae sospitatis inueni. Nam quoniam tui obliuione confunderis, et exsulem te et exspoliatum propriis bonis esse doluisti. Quoniam uero quis sit rerum finis ignoras, nequam homines atque nefarios potentes felicesque arbitraris. Quoniam uero quibus gubernaculis mundus regatur oblitus es, has fortunarum uices aestimas sine rectore fluitare—magnae non ad morbum modo uerum ad interitum quoque causae. Sed sospitatis auctori grates, quod te nondum totum natura destituit. Habemus maximum tuae fomitem salutis ueram de mundi gubernatione sententiam, quod eam non casuum temeritati sed diuinae rationi subditam credis. Nihil igitur pertimescas; iam tibi ex hac minima scintillula uitalis calor inluxerit. Sed quoniam firmioribus remediis nondum tempus est et eam mentium constat esse naturam, ut quotiens abiecerint ueras falsis opinionibus induantur ex quibus orta perturbationum caligo uerum illum confundit intuitum, hanc paulisper lenibus mediocribusque fomentis attenuare temptabo, ut dimotis fallacium affectionum tenebris splendorem uerae lucis possis agnoscere.


First, therefore, wilt thou let me touch and try the state of thy mind by asking thee a few questions, that I may understand how thou art to be cured?" To which I answered: "Ask me what questions thou wilt, and I will answer thee." And then she said: "Thinkest thou that this world is governed by haphazard and chance? Or rather dost thou believe that it is ruled by reason?" "I can," quoth I, "in no manner imagine that such certain motions are caused by rash chance. And I know that God the Creator doth govern His work, nor shall the day ever come to draw me from the truth of that judgment."

"It is so," saith she, "for so thou saidst in thy verse a little before, and bewailedst that only men were void of God's care; for as for the rest, thou didst not doubt but that they were governed by reason. And surely I cannot choose but exceedingly admire how thou canst be ill affected, holding so wholesome an opinion. But let us search further; I guess thou wantest something, but I know not what.

Tell me, since thou doubtest not that the world is governed by God, canst thou tell me also by what means it is governed?" "I do scarcely," quoth I, "understand what thou askest, and much less am I able to make thee a sufficient answer." "Was I," quoth she, "deceived in thinking that thou wantedst something by which, as by the breach of a fortress, the sickness of perturbations hath entered into thy mind? But tell me, dost thou remember what is the end of things? Or to what the whole intention of nature tendeth?" "I have heard it," quoth I, "but grief hath dulled my memory." "But knowest thou from whence all things had their beginning?" "I know," quoth I, and answered, that from God. "And how can it be that, knowing the beginning, thou canst be ignorant of the end? But this is the condition and force of perturbations, that they may alter a man, but wholly destroy, and as it were root him out of himself, they cannot.

But I would have thee answer me to this also; dost thou remember that thou art a man?" "Why should I not remember it?" quoth I. "Well then, canst thou explicate what man is?" "Dost thou ask me if I know that I am a reasonable and mortal living creature? I know and confess myself to be so." To which she replied: "Dost thou not know thyself to be anything else?" "Not anything."

"Now I know," quoth she, "another, and that perhaps the greatest, cause of thy sickness: thou hast forgotten what thou art. Wherefore I have fully found out both the manner of thy disease and the means of thy recovery; for the confusion which thou art in, by the forgetfulness of thyself, is the cause why thou art so much grieved at thy exile and the loss of thy goods. And because thou art ignorant what is the end of things, thou thinkest that lewd and wicked men be powerful and happy; likewise, because thou hast forgotten by what means the world is governed, thou imaginest that these alternations of fortune do fall out without any guide, sufficient causes not only of sickness, but also of death itself. But thanks be to the author of thy health, that Nature hath not altogether forsaken thee. We have the greatest nourisher of thy health, the true opinion of the government of the world, in that thou believest that it is not subject to the events of chance, but to divine reason. Wherefore fear nothing; out of this little sparkle will be enkindled thy vital heat. But because it is not yet time to use more solid remedies, and it is manifest that the nature of minds is such that as often as they cast away true opinions they are possessed with false, out of which the darkness of perturbations arising doth make them that they cannot discern things aright, I will endeavour to dissolve this cloud with gentle and moderate fomentations; that having removed the obscurity of deceitful affections, thou mayest behold the splendour of true light.


Nubibus atris
Condita nullum
Fundere possunt
Sidera lumen.
Si mare uoluens 5
Turbidus Auster
Misceat aestum,
Vitrea dudum
Parque serenis
Vnda diebus 10
Mox resoluto
Sordida caeno
Visibus obstat.
Quique uagatur
Montibus altis 15
Defluus amnis,
Saepe resistit
Rupe soluti
Obice saxi.
Tu quoque si uis 20
Lumine claro
Cernere uerum,
Tramite recto
Carpere callem,
Gaudia pelle, 25
Pelle timorem
Spemque fugato
Nec dolor adsit.
Nubila mens est
Vinctaque frenis, 30
Haec ubi regnant."


  When stars are shrouded
  With dusky night,
  They yield no light
  Being so clouded.
  When the wind moveth
  And churneth the sea,
  The flood, clear as day,
  Foul and dark proveth.
  And rivers creeping
  Down a high hill
  Stand often still,
  Rocks them back keeping.
  If thou wouldst brightly
  See Truth's clear rays,
  Or walk those ways
  Which lead most rightly,
  All joy forsaking
  Fear must thou fly,
  And hopes defy,
  No sorrow taking.
  For where these terrors
  Reign in the mind,
  They it do bind
  In cloudy errors."




Post haec paulisper obticuit atque ubi attentionem meam modesta taciturnitate collegit, sic exorsa est: "Si penitus aegritudinis tuae causas habitumque cognovi, fortunae prioris affectu desiderioque tabescis. Ea tantum animi tui sicuti tu tibi fingis mutata peruertit. Intellego multiformes illius prodigii fucos et eo usque cum his quos eludere nititur blandissimam familiaritatem, dum intolerabili dolore confundat quos insperata reliquerit. Cuius si naturam mores ac meritum reminiscare, nec habuisse te in ea pulchrum aliquid nec amisisse cognosces, sed ut arbitror haud multum tibi haec in memoriam reuocare laborauerim. Solebas enim praesentem quoque blandientemque uirilibus incessere uerbis eamque de nostro adyto prolatis insectabare sententiis. Verum omnis subita mutatio rerum non sine quodam quasi fluctu contingit animorum; sic factum est ut tu quoque paulisper a tua tranquillitate descisceres. Sed tempus est haurire te aliquid ac degustare molle atque iucundum quod ad interiora transmissum ualidioribus haustibus uiam fecerit. Adsit igitur Rhetoricae suadela dulcedinis quae tum tantum recto calle procedit, cum nostra instituta non deserit cumque hac Musica laris nostri uernacula nunc leuiores nunc grauiores modos succinat.

Quid est igitur o homo quod te in maestitiam luctumque deiecit? Nouum, credo, aliquid inusitatumque uidisti. Tu fortunam putas erga te esse mutatam; erras. Hi semper eius mores sunt ista natura. Seruauit circa te propriam potius in ipsa sui mutabilitate constantiam. Talis erat cum blandiebatur, cum tibi falsae inlecebris felicitatis alluderet. Deprehendisti caeci numinis ambiguos uultus. Quae sese adhuc uelat aliis, tota tibi prorsus innotuit. Si probas, utere moribus; ne queraris. Si perfidiam perhorrescis, sperne atque abice perniciosa ludentem. Nam quae nunc tibi est tanti causa maeroris, haec eadem tranquillitatis esse debuisset, Reliquit enim te quam non relicturam nemo umquam poterit esse securus. An uero tu pretiosam aestimas abituram felicitatem? Et cara tibi est fortuna praesens nec manendi fida et cum discesserit adlatura maerorem. Quod si nec ex arbitrio retineri potest et calamitosos fugiens facit, quid est aliud fugax quam futurae quoddam calamitatis indicium? Neque enim quod ante oculos situm est, suffecerit intueri; rerum exitus prudentia metitur eademque in alterutro mutabilitas nec formidandas fortunae minas nec exoptandas facit esse blanditias. Postremo aequo animo toleres oportet quidquid intra fortunae aream geritur, cum semel iugo eius colla submiseris. Quod si manendi abeundique scribere legem uelis ei quam tu tibi dominam sponte legisti, nonne iniurius fueris et inpatientia sortem exacerbes quam permutare non possis? Si uentis uela committeres, non quo uoluntas peteret sed quo flatus impellerent, promoueres; si aruis semina crederes, feraces inter se annos sterilesque pensares. Fortunae te regendum dedisti; dominae moribus oportet obtemperes. Tu uero uoluentis rotae impetum retinere conaris? At, omnium mortalium stolidissime, si manere incipit, fors esse desistit.



After this she remained silent for a while; and, having by that her modesty made me attentive, began in this wise: "If I be rightly informed of the causes and condition of thy disease, thou languishest with the affection of thy former fortune, and the change of that alone, as thou imaginest, hath overthrown so much of thy mind. I know the manifold illusions of that monster, exercising most alluring familiarity with them whom she meaneth to deceive, to the end she may confound them with intolerable grief, by forsaking them upon the sudden, whose nature, customs, and desert, if thou rememberest, thou shalt know that thou neither didst possess nor hast lost anything of estimation in it; and, as I hope, I shall not need to labour much to bring these things to thy remembrance, for thou wert wont, when she was present, and flattered thee most, to assail her with manful words, and pursue her with sentences taken forth of our most hidden knowledge. But every sudden change of things happeneth not without a certain wavering and disquietness of mind. And this is the cause that thou also for a while hast lost thy former tranquillity and peace. But it is time for thee to take and taste some gentle and pleasant thing which being received may prepare thee for stronger potions. Wherefore let us use the sweetness of Rhetoric's persuasions, which then only is well employed when it forsaketh not our ordinances; and with this, let Music, a little slave belonging to our house, chant sometime lighter and sometime sadder notes.

Wherefore, O man, what is it that hath cast thee into sorrow and grief? Thou hast, methinks, seen something new and unwonted. If thou thinkest that fortune hath altered her manner of proceeding toward thee, thou art in an error. This was alway her fashion; this is her nature. She hath kept that constancy in thy affairs which is proper to her, in being mutable; such was her condition when she fawned upon thee and allured thee with enticements of feigned happiness. Thou hast discovered the doubtful looks of this blind goddess. She, which concealeth herself from others, is wholly known to thee. If thou likest her, frame thyself to her conditions, and make no complaint. If thou detestest her treachery, despise and cast her off, with her pernicious flattery. For that which hath caused thee so much sorrow should have brought thee to great tranquillity. For she hath forsaken thee, of whom no man can be secure. Dost thou esteem that happiness precious which thou art to lose? And is the present fortune dear unto thee, of whose stay thou art not sure, and whose departure will breed thy grief? And if she can neither be kept at our will, and maketh them miserable whom she at last leaveth, what else is fickle fortune but a token of future calamity? For it is not sufficient to behold that which we have before our eyes; wisdom pondereth the event of things, and this mutability on both sides maketh the threats of fortune not to be feared, nor her flatterings to be desired. Finally, thou must take in good part whatsoever happeneth unto thee within the reach of fortune, when once thou hast submitted thy neck to her yoke. And if to her whom, of thine own accord, thou hast chosen for thy mistress, thou wouldest prescribe a law how long she were to stay, and when to depart, shouldst thou not do her mighty wrong, and with thy impatience make thy estate more intolerable, which thou canst not better? If thou settest up thy sails to the wind, thou shalt be carried not whither thy will desirest, but whither the gale driveth. If thou sowest thy seed, thou considerest that there are as well barren as fertile years. Thou hast yielded thyself to fortune's sway; thou must be content with the conditions of thy mistress. Endeavourest thou to stay the force of the turning wheel? But thou foolishest man that ever was, if it beginneth to stay, it ceaseth to be fortune.


Haec cum superba uerterit uices dextra
Et aestuantis more fertur Euripi,
Dudum tremendos saeua proterit reges
Humilemque uicti subleuat fallax uultum.
Non illa miseros audit aut curat fletus 5
Vltroque gemitus dura quos fecit ridet.
Sic illa ludit, sic suas probat uires
Magnumque suis demonstrat [100] ostentum, si quis
Visatur una stratus ac felix hora.

[100] monstrat codd.


  The pride of fickle fortune spareth none,
  And, like the floods of swift Euripus borne, [101]
  Oft casteth mighty princes from their throne,
  And oft the abject captive doth adorn.
  She cares not for the wretch's tears and moan,
  And the sad groans, which she hath caused, doth scorn.
  Thus doth she play, to make her power more known,
  Showing her slaves a marvel, when man's state
  Is in one hour both downcast and fortunate.

[101] Literally, "When fortune with proud right hand plies her changes and ebbs and flows like foaming Euripus." Euripus was proverbial for irregular tides.


Vellem autem pauca tecum fortunae ipsius uerbis agitare. Tu igitur an ius postulet, animaduerte. 'Quid tu homo ream me cotidianis agis querelis? Quam tibi fecimus iniuriam? Quae tua tibi detraximus bona? Quouis iudice de opum dignitatumque mecum possessione contende. Et si cuiusquam mortalium proprium quid horum esse monstraueris, ego iam tua fuisse quae repetis, sponte concedam.

Cum te matris utero natura produxit, nudum rebus omnibus inopemque suscepi, meis opibus foui et quod te nunc inpatientem nostri facit, fauore prona indulgentius educaui, omnium quae mei iuris sunt affluentia et splendore circumdedi. Nunc mihi retrahere manum libet. Habes gratiam uelut usus alienis, non habes ius querelae tamquam prorsus tua perdideris. Quid igitur ingemiscis? Nulla tibi a nobis est allata uiolentia. Opes honores ceteraque talium mei sunt iuris. Dominam famulae cognoscunt; mecum ueniunt, me abeunte discedunt. Audacter adfirmem, si tua forent quae amissa conquereris nullo modo perdidisses. An ego sola meum ius exercere prohibebor? Licet caelo proferre lucidos dies eosdemque tenebrosis noctibus condere. Licet anno terrae uultum nunc floribus frugibusque redimire, nunc nimbis frigoribusque confundere. Ius est mari nunc strato aequore blandiri, nunc procellis ac fluctibus inhorrescere. Nos ad constantiam nostris moribus alienam inexpleta hominum cupiditas alligabit? Haec nostra uis est, hunc continuum ludum ludimus; rotam uolubili orbe uersamus, infima summis summa infimis mutare gaudemus. Ascende si placet, sed ea lege ne utique[102] cum ludicri mei ratio poscet, descendere iniuriam putes. An tu mores ignorabas meos? Nesciebas Croesum regem Lydorum Cyro paulo ante formidabilem mox deinde miserandum rogi flammis traditum misso caelitus imbre defensum? Num te praeterit Paulum Persi regis a se capti calamitatibus pias inpendisse lacrimas? Quid tragoediarum clamor aliud deflet nisi indiscreto ictu fortunam felicia regna uertentem? Nonne adulescentulus [Greek: doious pithous ton men hena kakon ton d'heteron eaon] in Iouis limine iacere didicisti? Quid si uberius de bonorum parte sumpsisti? Quid si a te non tota discessi? Quid si haec ipsa mei mutabilitas iusta tibi causa est sperandi meliora? Tamen ne animo contabescas et intra commune omnibus regnum locatus proprio uiuere iure desideres.

[102] utique Klussmann; uti codd.


But I would urge thee a little with Fortune's own speeches. Wherefore consider thou if she asketh not reason. 'For what cause, O man, chargest thou me with daily complaints? What injury have I done thee? What goods of thine have I taken from thee? Contend with me before any judge about the possession of riches and dignities; and if thou canst show that the propriety of any of these things belong to any mortal wight, I will forthwith willingly grant that those things which thou demandest were thine. When Nature produced thee out of thy mother's womb, I received thee naked and poor in all respects, cherished thee with my wealth, and (which maketh thee now to fall out with me) being forward to favour thee, I had most tender care for thy education, and adorned thee with the abundance and splendour of all things which are in my power. Now it pleaseth me to withdraw my hand, yield thanks, as one that hath had the use of that which was not his own. Thou hast no just cause to complain, as though thou hadst lost that which was fully thine own. Wherefore lamentest thou? I have offered thee no violence. Riches, honours, and the rest of that sort belong to me. They acknowledge me for their mistress, and themselves for my servants, they come with me, and when I go away they likewise depart. I may boldly affirm, if those things which thou complainest to be taken from thee had been thine own, thou shouldst never have lost them. Must I only be forbidden to use my right? It is lawful for the heaven to bring forth fair days, and to hide them again in darksome nights. It is lawful for the year sometime to compass the face of the earth with flowers and fruits, and sometime to cover it with clouds and cold. The sea hath right sometime to fawn with calms, and sometime to frown with storms and waves. And shall the insatiable desire of men tie me to constancy, so contrary to my custom? This is my force, this is the sport which I continually use. I turn about my wheel with speed, and take a pleasure to turn things upside down. Ascend, if thou wilt, but with this condition, that thou thinkest it not an injury to descend when the course of my sport so requireth. Didst thou not know my fashion? Wert thou ignorant how Croesus, King of the Lydians, not long before a terror to Cyrus, within a while after came to such misery that he should have been burnt had he not been saved by a shower sent from heaven?[103] Hast thou forgotten how Paul piously bewailed the calamities of King Perses his prisoner?[104] What other thing doth the outcry of tragedies lament, but that fortune, having no respect, overturneth happy states? Didst thou not learn in thy youth that there lay two barrels, the one of good things and the other of bad,[105] at Jupiter's threshold? But what if thou hast tasted more abundantly of the good? What if I be not wholly gone from thee? What if this mutability of mine be a just cause for thee to hope for better? Notwithstanding, lose not thy courage, and, living in a kingdom which is common to all men, desire not to be governed by peculiar laws proper only to thyself.

[103] Cf. Herod, i. 87.

[104] Cf. Livy xlv. 8. Paul=Aemilius Paulus surnamed Macedonius for his defeat of Perses last king of Macedonia in 168 B.C.

[105] Il. xxiv. 527.


Si quantas rapidis flatibus incitus
  Pontus uersat harenas
Aut quot stelliferis edita noctibus
  Caelo sidera fulgent
Tantas fundat opes nec retrahat manum 5
  Pleno copia cornu,
Humanum miseras haud ideo genus
  Cesset flere querellas.
Quamuis uota libens excipiat deus
  Multi prodigus auri 10
Et claris auidos ornet honoribus,
  Nil iam parta uidentur,
Sed quaesita uorans saeua rapacitas
  Altos[106] pandit hiatus.
Quae iam praecipitem frena cupidinem 15
  Certo fine retentent,
Largis cum potius muneribus fluens
  Sitis ardescit habendi?
Numquam diues agit qui trepidus gemens
  Sese credit egentem.' 20

[106] altos vulg.; alios codd. opt.


  If Plenty as much wealth should give, ne'er holding back her hand,
  As the swift winds in troubled seas do toss up heaps of sand,
  Or as the stars in lightsome nights shine forth on heaven's face,
  Yet wretched men would still accuse their miserable case.
  Should God, too liberal of His gold, their greedy wishes hear,
  And with bright honour them adorn; yet all that nothing were,
  Since ravenous minds, devouring all, for more are ready still.
  What bridle can contain in bounds this their contentless will,
  When filled with riches they retain the thirst of having more?
  He is not rich that fears and grieves, and counts himself but poor.'


His igitur si pro se tecum fortuna loqueretur, quid profecto contra hisceres non haberes, aut si quid est quo querelam tuam iure tuearis, proferas oportet. Dabimus dicendi locum." Tum ego: "Speciosa quidem ista sunt," inquam, "oblitaque Rhetoricae ac Musicae melle dulcedinis; tum tantum, cum audiuntur, oblectant. Sed miseris malorum altior sensus est. Itaque cum haec auribus insonare desierint, insitus animum maeror praegrauat." Et illa: "Ita est," inquit. "Haec enim nondum morbi tui remedia sed adhuc contumacis aduersum curationem doloris fomenta quaedam sunt. Nam quae in profundum sese penetrent, cum tempestiuum fuerit admouebo. Verumtamen ne te existimari miserum uelis, an numerum modumque tuae felicitatis oblitus es?

Taceo quod desolatum parente summorum te uirorum cura suscepit delectusque in affinitatem principum ciuitatis, quod pretiosissimum propinquitatis genus est, prius carus quam proximus esse coepisti. Quis non te felicissimum cum tanto splendore socerorum, cum coniugis pudore, cum masculae quoque prolis opportunitate praedicauit? Praetereo, libet enim praeterire communia, sumptas in adulescentia negatas senibus dignitates; ad singularem felicitatis tuae cumulum uenire delectat. Si quis rerum mortalium fructus ullum beatitudinis pondus habet, poteritne illius memoria lucis quantalibet ingruentium malorum mole deleri, cum duos pariter consules liberos tuos domo prouehi sub frequentia patrum, sub plebis alacritate uidisti, cum eisdem in curia curules insidentibus tu regiae laudis orator ingenii gloriam facundiaeque meruisti, cum in circo duorum medius consulum circumfusae multitudinis expectationem triumphali largitione satiasti? Dedisti ut opinor uerba fortunae, dum te illa demulcet, dum te ut delicias suas fouet. Munus quod nulli umquam priuato commodauerat abstulisti. Visne igitur cum fortuna calculum ponere? Nunc te primum liuenti oculo praestrinxit. Si numerum modumque laetorum tristiumue consideres, adhuc te felicem negare non possis. Quod si idcirco te fortunatum esse non aestimas, quoniam quae tunc laeta uidebantur abierunt, non est quod te miserum putes, quoniam quae nunc creduntur maesta praetereunt. An tu in hanc uitae scaenam nunc primum subitus hospesque uenisti? Vllamne humanis rebus inesse constantiam reris, cum ipsum saepe hominem uelox hora dissoluat? Nam etsi rara est fortuitis manendi fides, ultimus tamen uitae dies mors quaedam fortunae est etiam manentis. Quid igitur referre putas, tune illam moriendo deseras an te illa fugiendo?


Wherefore if fortune should plead with thee thus in her own defence, doubtless thou wouldst not have a word to answer her. But if there be anything which thou canst allege in thy own defence, thou must utter it. We will give thee full liberty to speak." Then I said: "These things make a fair show and, being set out with pleasant rhetoric and music, delight only so long as they are heard. But those which are miserable have a deeper feeling of their miseries. Therefore, when the sound of these things is past, hidden sorrow oppresseth the mind." "It is so indeed," quoth she, "for these be not the remedies of thy disease, but certain fomentations to assuage thy grief, which as yet resisteth all cure. But when it shall be time, I will apply that which shall pierce to the quick. And yet there is no cause why thou shouldst think thyself miserable. Hast thou forgotten how many ways, and in what degree thou art happy?

I pass over with silence that, having lost thy father, thou wert provided for by men of the best sort, and, being chosen to have affinity with the chiefest of the city, thou begannest sooner to be dear unto them than to be akin, which is the most excellent kind of kindred. Who esteemed thee not most happy, having so noble a father-in-law, so chaste a wife, and so noble sons? I say nothing (for I will not speak of ordinary matters) of the dignities denied to others in their age, and granted to thee in thy youth. I desire to come to the singular top of thy felicity. If any fruit of mortal things hath any weight of happiness, can the remembrance of that light be destroyed with any cloud of miseries that can overcast thee? When thou sawst thy two sons being both Consuls together carried from their house, the Senators accompanying them, and the people rejoicing with them; when, they sitting in the Senate in their chairs of state, thou making an oration in the King's praise deservedst the glory of wit and eloquence. When in public assembly, thou, standing betwixt thy two sons, didst satisfy with thy triumphant liberality the expectation of the multitudes gathered together, I suppose thou flatteredst fortune, while she fawned thus upon thee, as her dearest friend. Thou obtainedst more at her hands than ever private man had before thee. Wilt thou then reckon with fortune? This is the first time that ever she frowned upon thee. If thou considerest the number and measure of thy joyful and sad accidents, thou canst not choose but think thyself fortunate hitherto; and if thou esteemest not thyself fortunate because those things which seemed joyful are past, there is no cause why thou shouldst think thyself miserable, since those things which thou now takest to be sorrowful do pass. Comest thou now first as a pilgrim and stranger into the theatre of this life? Supposest thou to find any constancy in human affairs, since that man himself is soon gone? For although things subject to fortune seldom keep touch in staying, yet the end of life is a certain death, even of that fortune which remaineth. Wherefore, what matter is it whether thou by dying leavest it, or it forsaketh thee by flying?


Cum polo Phoebus roseis quadrigis
  Lucem spargere coeperit,
Pallet albentes hebetata uultus
  Flammis stella prementibus.
Cum nemus flatu Zephyri tepentis 5
  Vernis inrubuit rosis,
Spiret insanum nebulosus Auster:
  Iam spinis abeat decus.
Saepe tranquillo radiat sereno
  Immotis mare fluctibus, 10
Saepe feruentes Aquilo procellas
  Verso concitat aequore.
Rara si constat sua forma mundo,
  Si tantas uariat uices,
Crede fortunis hominum caducis, 15
  Bonis crede fugacibus.
Constat aeterna positumque lege est
  Vt constet genitum nihil."


  When Phoebus with his rosy team
    Showeth his lightsome beam,
  The dull and darkened stars retire
    Yielding to greater fire.
  When Zephyrus his warmth doth bring,
    Sweet roses deck the spring;
  Let noisome Auster blow apace,
    Plants soon will lose their grace.
  The sea hath often quiet stood
    With an unmoved flood,
  And often is turmoiled with waves,
    When boisterous Boreas raves.
  If thus the world never long tarry
    The same, but often vary,
  On fading fortunes then rely,
    Trust to those goods that fly.
  An everlasting law is made,
    That all things born shall fade."


Tum ego: "Vera," inquam, "commemoras, o uirtutum omnium nutrix, nec infitiari possum prosperitatis meae uelocissimum cursum. Sed hoc est quod recolentem uehementius coquit. Nam in omni aduersitate fortunae infelicissimum est genus infortunii fuisse felicem." "Sed quod tu," inquit, "falsae opinionis supplicium luas, id rebus iure imputare non possis. Nam si te hoc inane nomen fortuitae felicitatis mouet, quam pluribus maximisque abundes mecum reputes licet. Igitur si quod in omni fortunae tuae censu pretiosissimum possidebas, id tibi diuinitus inlaesum adhuc inuiolatumque seruatur, poterisne meliora quaeque retinens de infortunio iure causari?

Atqui uiget incolumis illud pretiosissimum generis humani decus Symmachus socer et quod uitae pretio non segnis emeres, uir totus ex sapientia uirtutibusque factus suarum securus tuis ingemiscit iniuriis. Viuit uxor ingenio modesta, pudicitia pudore praecellens et, ut omnes eius dotes breuiter includam, patri similis. Viuit inquam tibique tantum uitae huius exosa spiritum seruat quoque uno felicitatem minui tuam uel ipsa concesserim, tui desiderio lacrimis ac dolore tabescit.

Quid dicam liberos consulares quorum iam, ut in id aetatis pueris, uel paterni uel auiti specimen elucet ingenii? Cum igitur praecipua sit mortalibus uitae cura retinendae, o te si tua bona cognoscas felicem, cui suppetunt etiam nunc quae uita nemo dubitat esse cariora! Quare sicca iam lacrimas. Nondum est ad unum omnes exosa fortuna nec tibi nimium ualida tempestas incubuit, quando tenaces haerent ancorae quae nec praesentis solamen nec futuri spem temporis abesse patiantur."

"Et haereant," inquam, "precor; illis namque manentibus, utcumque se res habeant, enatabimus. Sed quantum ornamentis nostris decesserit, uides." Et illa: "Promouimus," inquit, "aliquantum, si te nondum totius tuae sortis piget. Sed delicias tuas ferre non possum qui abesse aliquid tuae beatitudini tam luctuosus atque anxius conqueraris. Quis est enim tam conpositae felicitatis ut non aliqua ex parte cum status sui qualitate rixetur? Anxia enim res est humanorum condicio bonorum et quae uel numquam tota proueniat uel numquam perpetua subsistat. Huic census exuberat, sed est pudori degener sanguis; hunc nobilitas notum facit, sed angustia rei familiaris inclusus esse mallet ignotus. Ille utroque circumfluus uitam caelibem deflet; ille nuptiis felix orbus liberis alieno censum nutrit heredi. Alius prole laetatus filii filiaeue delictis maestus inlacrimat. Idcirco nemo facile cum fortunae suae condicione concordat; inest enim singulis quod inexpertus ignoret, expertus exhorreat. Adde quod felicissimi cuiusque delicatissimus sensus est et nisi ad nutum cuncta suppetant, omnis aduersitatis insolens minimis quibusque prosternitur; adeo perexigua sunt quae fortunatissimis beatitudinis summam detrahunt. Quam multos esse coniectas qui sese caelo proximos arbitrentur, si de fortunae tuae reliquiis pars eis minima contingat? Hic ipse locus quem tu exilium uocas, incolentibus patria est; adeo nihil est miserum nisi cum putes contraque beata sors omnis est aequanimitate tolerantis. Quis est ille tam felix qui cum dederit inpatientiae manus, statum suum mutare non optet? Quam multis amaritudinibus humanae felicitatis dulcedo respersa est! Quae si etiam fruenti iucunda esse uideatur, tamen quo minus cum uelit abeat retineri non possit. Liquet igitur quam sit mortalium rerum misera beatitudo quae nec apud aequanimos perpetua perdurat necanxios tota delectat.

Quid igitur o mortales extra petitis intra uos positam felicitatem? Error uos inscitiaque confundit. Ostendam breuiter tibi summae cardinem felicitatis. Estne aliquid tibi te ipso pretiosius? Nihil inquies. Igitur si tui compos fueris, possidebis quod nec tu amittere umquam uelis nec fortuna possit auferre. Atque ut agnoscas in his fortuitis rebus beatitudinem constare non posse, sic collige. Si beatitudo est summum naturae bonum ratione degentis nec est summum bonum quod eripi ullo modo potest, quoniam praecellit id quod nequeat auferri, manifestum est quoniam[107] ad beatitudinem percipiendam fortunae instabilitas adspirare non possit. Ad haec quem caduca ista felicitas uehit uel scit eam uel nescit esse mutabilem. Si nescit, quaenam beata sors esse potest ignorantiae caecitate? Si scit, metuat necesse est, ne amittat quod amitti posse non dubitat; quare continuus timor non sinit esse felicem. An uel si amiserit, neglegendum putat? Sic quoque perexile bonum est quod aequo animo feratur amissum. Et quoniam tu idem es cui persuasum atque insitum permultis demonstrationibus scio mentes hominum nullo modo esse mortales cumque clarum sit fortuitam felicitatem corporis morte finiri, dubitari nequit, si haec afferre beatitudinem potest, quin omne mortalium genus in miseriam mortis fine labatur. Quod si multos scimus beatitudinis fructum non morte solum uerum etiam doloribus suppliciisque quaesisse, quonam modo praesens facere beatos potest quae miseros transacta non efficit?

[107] quin codices.


To which I answered: "The things which thou reportest are true, O nurse of all virtues, and I cannot deny the most speedy course of my prosperity. But this is that which vexeth me most, when I remember it. For in all adversity of fortune it is the most unhappy kind of misfortune to have been happy." "But," quoth she, "thou canst not justly impute to the things themselves that thou art punished for thy false opinion. For if this vain name of casual felicity moveth thee, let us make accompt with how many and how great things thou aboundest. Wherefore, if that which in all thy revenues of fortune thou esteemest most precious doth still by God's providence remain safe and untouched, canst thou, retaining the best, justly complain of misfortune?

But thy father-in-law, Symmachus (that most excellent ornament of mankind) liveth in safety, and for the obtaining of which thou wouldst willingly spend thy life, that man wholly framed to wisdom and virtues, being secure of his own, mourneth for thy injuries. Thy wife liveth, modest in disposition, eminent in chastity, and, to rehearse briefly all her excellent gifts, like her father. She liveth, I say, and weary of her life reserveth her breath only for thee. In which alone even I must grant that thy felicity is diminished, she consumeth herself with tears and grief for thy sake.

What should I speak of thy children, which have been Consuls, in whom already, as in children of that age, their father's or grandfather's good disposition appeareth? Wherefore, since the greatest care that mortal men have is to save their lives, O happy man that thou art, if thou knowest thine own wealth, who still hast remaining those things which no man doubteth to be dearer than life itself? And therefore cease weeping. Fortune hath not hitherto showed her hatred against you all, neither art thou assailed with too boisterous a storm, since those anchors hold fast which permit neither the comfort of the time present nor the hope of the time to come to be wanting."

"And I pray God," quoth I, "that they may hold fast, for so long as they remain, howsoever the world goeth we shall escape drowning. But thou seest how great a part of our ornaments is lost." "We have gotten a little ground," quoth she, "if thy whole estate be not irksome unto thee. But I cannot suffer thy daintiness, who with such lamentation and anxiety complaineth that something is wanting to thy happiness. For who hath so entire happiness that he is not in some part offended with the condition of his estate? The nature of human felicity is doubtful and uncertain, and is neither ever wholly obtained, or never lasteth always. One man hath great revenues, but is contemned for his base lineage. Another's nobility maketh him known, but, oppressed with penury, had rather be unknown. Some, abounding with both, bewail their life without marriage. Some other, well married but wanting children, provideth riches for strangers to inherit. Others, finally, having children, mournfully bewail the vices which their sons or daughters are given to. So that scarce any man is pleased with the condition of his fortune. For there is something in every estate, which without experience is not known, and being experienced doth molest and trouble. Besides that, those which are most happy are most sensible,[108] and unless all things fall out to their liking, impatient of all adversity, every little cross overthrows them, so small are the occasions which take from the most fortunate the height of their happiness. How many are there, thinkest thou, which would think themselves almost in Heaven if they had but the least part of the remains of thy fortune? This very place, which thou callest banishment, is to the inhabitants thereof their native land. So true it is that nothing is miserable but what is thought so, and contrariwise, every estate is happy if he that bears it be content. Who is so happy that if he yieldeth to discontent, desireth not to change his estate? How much bitterness is mingled with the sweetness of man's felicity, which, though it seemeth so pleasant while it is enjoyed, yet can it not be retained from going away when it will. And by this it appeareth how miserable is the blessedness of mortal things, which neither endureth alway with the contented, nor wholly delighteth the pensive.

Wherefore, O mortal men, why seek you for your felicity abroad, which is placed within yourselves? Error and ignorance do confound you. I will briefly show thee the centre of thy chiefest happiness. Is there anything more precious to thee than thyself? I am sure thou wilt say, nothing. Wherefore, if thou enjoyest thyself, thou shalt possess that which neither thou wilt ever wish to lose nor fortune can take away. And that thou mayst acknowledge that blessedness cannot consist in these casual things, gather it thus. If blessedness be the chiefest good of nature endued with reason, and that is not the chiefest good which may by any means be taken away, because that which cannot be taken away is better, it is manifest that the instability of fortune cannot aspire to the obtaining of blessedness. Moreover, he that now enjoyeth this brittle felicity, either knoweth it to be mutable or no. If not, what estate can be blessed by ignorant blindness? And if he knoweth it, he must needs fear lest he lose that which he doubteth not may be lost, wherefore continual fear permitteth him not to be happy. Or though he should lose it, doth he think that a thing of no moment? But so it were a very small good which he would be content to lose. And because thou art one whom I know to be fully persuaded and convinced by innumerable demonstrations that the souls of men are in no wise mortal, and since it is clear that casual felicity is ended by the body's death, there is no doubt, if this can cause blessedness, but that all mankind falleth into misery by death. But if we know many who have sought to reap the fruit of blessedness, not only by death, but also by affliction and torments, how can present happiness make men happy, the loss of which causeth not misery?

[108] i.e. sensitive.


Quisquis uolet perennem
  Cautus ponere sedem
Stabilisque nec sonori
  Sterni flatibus Euri
Et fluctibus minantem 5
  Curat spernere pontum,
Montis cacumen alti,
  Bibulas uitet harenas.
Illud proteruus Auster
  Totis uiribus urget, 10
Hae pendulum solutae
  Pondus ferre recusant.
Fugiens periculosam
  Sortem sedis amoenae
Humili domum memento 15
  Certus figere saxo.
Quamuis tonet ruinis
  Miscens aequora uentus,
Tu conditus quieti
  Felix robore ualli 20
Duces serenus aeuum
  Ridens aetheris iras.


  Who with an heedful care
  Will an eternal seat prepare,
  Which cannot be down cast
  By force of windy blast,
  And will the floods despise,
  When threatening billows do arise,
  He not on hills must stand,
  Nor on the dangerous sinking sand.
  For there the winds will threat,
  And him with furious tempests beat,
  And here the ground too weak
  Will with the heavy burden break.[109]
  Fly then the dangerous case
  Of an untried delightful place,
  And thy poor house bestow
  In stony places firm and low.
  For though the winds do sound,
  And waves of troubled seas confound:
  Yet thou to rest disposed
  In thy safe lowly vale inclosed,
  Mayst live a quiet age,
  Scorning the air's distempered rage.

[109] Literally, "These shifting sands refuse to bear the weight laid upon them."


Sed quoniam rationum iam in te mearum fomenta descendunt, paulo ualidioribus utendum puto. Age enim si iam caduca et momentaria fortunae dona non essent, quid in eis est quod aut uestrum umquam fieri queat aut non perspectum consideratumque uilescat? Diuitiaene uel uestra uel sui natura pretiosae sunt? Quid earum potius, aurumne an uis congesta pecuniae? Atqui haec effundendo magis quam coaceruando melius nitent, si quidem auaritia semper odiosos, claros largitas facit. Quod si manere apud quemque non potest quod transfertur in alterum, tunc est pretiosa pecunia cum translata in alios largiendi usu desinit possideri. At eadem si apud unum quanta est ubique gentium congeratur, ceteros sui inopes fecerit. Et uox quidem tota pariter multorum replet auditum; uestrae uero diuitiae nisi comminutae in plures transire non possunt. Quod cum factum est, pauperes necesse est faciant quos relinquunt. O igitur angustas inopesque diuitias quas nec habere totas pluribus licet et ad quemlibet sine ceterorum paupertate non ueniunt! An gemmarum fulgor oculos trahit? Sed si quid est in hoc splendore praecipui, gemmarum est lux illa non hominum, quas quidem mirari homines uehementer admiror. Quid est enim carens animae motu atque compage quod animatae rationabilique naturae pulchrum esse iure uideatur? Quae tametsi conditoris opera suique distinctione postremae aliquid pulchritudinis trahunt, infra uestram tamen excellentiam conlocatae admirationem uestram nullo modo merebantur. An uos agrorum pulchritudo delectat? Quidni? Est enim pulcherrimi operis pulchra portio. Sic quondam sereni maris facie gaudemus; sic caelum sidera lunam solemque miramur. Num te horum aliquid attingit? Num audes alicuius talium splendore gloriari? An uernis floribus ipse distingueris aut tua in aestiuos fructus intumescit ubertas? Quid inanibus gaudiis raperis? Quid externa bona pro tuis amplexaris? Numquam tua faciet esse fortuna quae a te natura rerum fecit aliena. Terrarum quidem fructus animantium procul dubio debentur alimentis. Sed si, quod naturae satis est, replere indigentiam uelis, nihil est quod fortunae affluentiam petas. Paucis enim minimisque natura contenta est, cuius satietatem si superfluis urgere uelis, aut iniucundum quod infuderis fiet aut noxium. Iam uero pulchrum uariis fulgere uestibus putas, quarum si grata intuitu species est, aut materiae naturam aut ingenium mirabor artificis. An uero te longus ordo famulorum facit esse felicem? Qui si uitiosi moribus sint, perniciosa domus sarcina et ipsi domino uehementer inimica; sin uero probi, quonam modo in tuis opibus aliena probitas numerabitur? Ex quibus omnibus nihil horum quae tu in tuis conputas bonis tuum esse bonum liquido monstratur. Quibus si nihil inest appetendae pulchritudinis, quid est quod uel amissis doleas uel laeteris retentis? Quod si natura pulchra sunt, quid id tua refert? Nam haec per se a tuis quoque opibus sequestrata placuissent. Neque enim idcirco sunt pretiosa quod in tuas uenere diuitias, sed quoniam pretiosa uidebantur, tuis ea diuitiis adnumerare maluisti. Quid autem tanto fortunae strepitu desideratis? Fugare credo indigentiam copia quaeritis. Atqui hoc uobis in contrarium cedit. Pluribus quippe adminiculis opus est ad tuendam pretiosae supellectilis uarietatem, uerumque illud est permultis eos indigere qui permulta possideant contraque minimum qui abundantiam suam naturae necessitate non ambitus superfluitate metiantur. Itane autem nullum est proprium uobis atque insitum bonum ut in externis ac sepositis rebus bona uestra quaeratis? Sic rerum uersa condicio est ut diuinum merito rationis animal non aliter sibi splendere nisi inanimatae supellectilis possessione uideatur? Et alia quidem suis contenta sunt; uos autem deo mente consimiles ab rebus infimis excellentis naturae ornamenta captatis nec intellegitis quantam conditori uestro faciatis iniuriam. Ille genus humanum terrenis omnibus praestare uoluit; uos dignitatem uestram infra infima quaeque detruditis. Nam si omne cuiusque bonum eo cuius est constat esse pretiosius, cum uilissima rerum uestra bona esse iudicatis, eisdem uosmet ipsos uestra existimatione submittitis; quod quidem haud inmerito cadit. Humanae quippe naturae ista condicio est ut tum tantum ceteris rebus cum se cognoscit excellat, eadem tamen infra bestias redigatur, si se nosse desierit. Nam ceteris animantibus sese ignorare naturae est; hominibus uitio uenit. Quam uero late patet uester hic error qui ornari posse aliquid ornamentis existimatis alienis? At id fieri nequit. Nam si quid ex appositis luceat, ipsa quidem quae sunt apposita laudantur; illud uero his tectum atque uelatum in sua nihilo minus foeditate perdurat. Ego uero nego ullum esse bonum quod noceat habenti. Num id mentior? 'Minime,' inquis. Atqui diuitiae possidentibus persaepe nocuerunt, cum pessimus quisque eoque alieni magis auidus quidquid usquam auri gemmarumque est se solum qui habeat dignissimum putat. Tu igitur qui nunc contum gladiumque sollicitus pertimescis, si uitae huius callem uacuus uiator intrasses, coram latrone cantares. O praeclara opum mortalium beatitudo quam cum adeptus fueris securus esse desistis!


But since the soothing of my reasons begins to sink into thee, I will use those which are somewhat more forcible. Go to the*n, if the gifts of fortune were not brittle and momentary, what is there in them which can either ever be made your own, or, well weighed and considered, seemeth not vile and of no accompt? Are riches precious in virtue either of their own nature or of yours? What part of them can be so esteemed of? The gold or the heaps of money? But these make a fairer show when they are spent than when they are kept. For covetousness alway maketh men odious, as liberality famous. And if a man cannot have that which is given to another, then money is precious when, bestowed upon others, by the use of liberality it is not possessed any longer. But if all the money in the whole world were gathered into one man's custody, all other men should be poor. The voice at the same time wholly filleth the ears of many, but your riches cannot pass to many, except they be diminished, which being done, they must needs make them poor whom they leave. O scant and poor riches, which neither can be wholly possessed of many, and come to none without the impoverishment of others! Doth the glittering of jewels draw thy eyes after them? But if there be any great matter in this show, not men but the jewels shine, which I exceedingly marvel that men admire. For what is there wanting life and members that may justly seem beautiful to a nature not only endued with life but also with reason? Which, though by their maker's workmanship and their own variety they have some part of basest beauty, yet it is so far inferior to your excellency that it did in no sort deserve your admiration. Doth the pleasant prospect of the fields delight you? Why not? For it is a fair portion of a most fair work. So we are delighted with a calm sea, so we admire the sky, the stars, the sun, and the moon. Do any of these belong to thee? Darest thou boast of the beauty which any of them have? Art thou thyself adorned with May flowers? Or doth thy fertility teem with the fruits of summer? Why rejoicest thou vainly? Why embracest thou outward goods as if they were thine own? Fortune will never make those things thine which by the appointment of Nature belong not to thee. The fruits of the earth are doubtless appointed for the sustenance of living creatures. But if thou wilt only satisfy want, which sufficeth Nature, there is no cause to require the superfluities of fortune. For Nature is contented with little and with the smallest things, and, if, being satisfied, thou wilt overlay it with more than needs, that which thou addest will either become unpleasant or hurtful. But perhaps thou thinkest it a fine thing to go decked in gay apparel, which, if they make a fair show, I will admire either the goodness of the stuff or the invention of the workman. Or doth the multitude of servants make thee happy? Who, if they be vicious, they are a pernicious burden to thy house, and exceedingly troublesome to their master; and if they be honest, how shall other men's honesty be counted amongst thy treasures? By all which is manifestly proved that none of these goods which thou accountest thine, are thine indeed. And if there is nothing in these worthy to be desired, why art thou either glad when thou hast them or sorry when thou losest them? Or what is it to thee, if they be precious by nature? For in this respect they would have pleased thee, though they had belonged to others. For they are not precious because they are come to be thine, but because they seemed precious thou wert desirous to have them. Now, what desire you with such loud praise of fortune? Perhaps you seek to drive away penury with plenty. But this falleth out quite contrary, for you stand in need of many supplies, to protect all this variety of precious ornaments. And it is true that they which have much, need much; and contrariwise, that they need little which measure not their wealth by the superfluity of ambition, but by the necessity of nature. Have you no proper and inward good, that you seek your goods in those things which are outward and separated from you? Is the condition of things so changed that a living creature, deservedly accounted divine for the gift of reason, seemeth to have no other excellency than the possession of a little household stuff without life? All other creatures are content with that they have of their own; and you, who in your mind carry the likeness of God, are content to take the ornaments of your excellent nature from the most base and vile things, neither understand you what injury you do your Creator. He would have mankind to excel all earthly things; you debase your dignity under every meanest creature. For if it be manifest that the good of everything is more precious than that whose good it is, since you judge the vilest things that can be to be your goods, you deject yourselves under them in your own estimation, which questionless cometh not undeservedly to pass; for this is the condition of man's nature, that then only it surpasseth other things when it knoweth itself, and it is worse than beasts when it is without that knowledge. For in other living creatures the ignorance of themselves is nature, but in men it is vice. And how far doth this error of yours extend, who think that any can be adorned with the ornaments of another? Which can in no wise be. For if any adjoined thing seem precious, it is that which is praised, but that which is covered and enwrapped in it remaineth, notwithstanding, with the foul baseness which it hath of itself. Moreover, I deny that to be good which hurteth the possessor. Am I deceived in this? I am sure thou wilt say no. But riches have often hurt their possessors, since every lewdest companion, who are consequently most desirous of that which is not their own, think themselves most worthy to possess alone all the gold and jewels in the world. Wherefore thou, who with much perturbation fearest now to be assailed and slain, if thou hadst entered the path of this life like a poor passenger, needest not be afraid, but mightest rejoice and sing even in the sight of most ravenous thieves.[110] O excellent happiness of mortal riches, which, when thou hast gotten, thou hast lost thy safety!

[110] Cf. Juvenal, Sat. x. 19-22.


Felix nimium prior aetas
Contenta fidelibus aruis
Nec inerti perdita luxu,
Facili quae sera solebat
Ieiunia soluere glande. 5
Non Bacchica munera norant
Liquido confundere melle
Nec lucida uellera Serum
Tyrio miscere ueneno.
Somnos dabat herba salubres, 10
Potum quoque lubricus amnis,
Vmbras altissima pinus.
Nondum maris alta secabat
Nec mercibus undique lectis
Noua litora uiderat hospes. 15
Tunc classica saeua tacebant,
Odiis neque fusus acerbis
Cruor horrida tinxerat arua.
Quid enim furor hosticus ulla
Vellet prior arma mouere, 20
Cum uulnera saeua uiderent
Nec praemia sanguinis ulla?
Vtinam modo nostra redirent
In mores tempora priscos!
Sed saeuior ignibus Aetnae 25
Feruens amor ardet habendi.
Heu primus quis fuit ille
Auri qui pondera tecti
Gemmasque latere uolentes
Pretiosa pericula fodit? 30


    Too much the former age was blest,
  When fields their pleaséd owners failéd not,
    Who, with no slothful lust opprest,
  Broke their long fasts with acorns eas'ly got.
    No wine with honey mixéd was,
  Nor did they silk in purple colours steep;
    They slept upon the wholesome grass,
  And their cool drink did fetch from rivers deep.
    The pines did hide them with their shade,
  No merchants through the dangerous billows went,
    Nor with desire of gainful trade
  Their traffic into foreign countries sent.
    Then no shrill trumpets did amate
  The minds of soldiers with their daunting sounds,
    Nor weapons were with deadly hate
  Dyed with the dreadful blood of gaping wounds.
    For how could any fury draw
  The mind of man to stir up war in vain,
    When nothing but fierce wounds he saw,
  And for his blood no recompense should gain?
    O that the ancient manners would
  In these our latter hapless times return!
    Now the desire of having gold
  Doth like the flaming fires of Aetna burn.
    Ah, who was he that first did show
  The heaps of treasure which the earth did hide,
    And jewels which lay close below,
  By which he costly dangers did provide?


Quid autem de dignitatibus potentiaque disseram quae uos uerae dignitatis ac potestatis inscii caelo exaequatis? Quae si in improbissimum quemque ceciderunt, quae flammis Aetnae eructuantibus, quod diluuium tantas strages dederint? Certe, uti meminisse te arbitror, consulare imperium, quod libertatis principium fuerat, ob superbiam consulum uestri ueteres abolere cupiuerunt, qui ob eandem superbiam prius regium de ciuitate nomen abstulerant. At si quando, quod perrarum est, probis deferantur, quid in eis aliud quam probitas utentium placet? Ita fit ut non uirtutibus ex dignitate sed ex uirtute dignitatibus honor accedat. Quae uero est ista uestra expetibilis ac praeclara potentia? Nonne, o terrena animalia, consideratis quibus qui praesidere uideamini? Nunc si inter mures uideres unum aliquem ius sibi ac potestatem prae ceteris uindicantem, quanto mouereris cachinno! Quid uero, si corpus spectes, inbecillius homine reperire queas quos saepe muscularum quoque uel morsus uel in secreta quaeque reptantium necat introitus? Quo uero quisquam ius aliquod in quempiam nisi in solum corpus et quod infra corpus est, fortunam loquor, possit exserere? Num quidquam libero imperabis animo? Num mentem firma sibi ratione cohaerentem de statu propriae quietis amouebis? Cum liberum quendam uirum suppliciis se tyrannus adacturum putaret, ut aduersum se factae coniurationis conscios proderet, linguam ille momordit atque abscidit et in os tyranni saeuientis abiecit; ita cruciatus, quos putabat tyrannus materiam crudelitatis, uir sapiens fecit esse uirtutis. Quid autem est quod in alium facere quisquam[111] possit, quod sustinere ab alio ipse non possit? Busiridem accipimus necare hospites solitum ab Hercule hospite fuisse mactatum. Regulus plures Poenorum bello captos in uincla coniecerat, sed mox ipse uictorum catenis manus praebuit. Vllamne igitur eius hominis potentiam putas, qui quod ipse in alio potest, ne id in se alter ualeat efficere non possit? Ad haec si ipsis dignitatibus ac potestatibus inesset aliquid naturalis ac proprii boni, numquam pessimis prouenirent. Neque enim sibi solent aduersa sociari; natura respuit ut contraria quaeque iungantur. Ita cum pessimos plerumque dignitatibus fungi dubium non sit, illud etiam liquet natura sui bona non esse quae se pessimis haerere patiantur. Quod quidem de cunctis fortunae muneribus dignius existimari potest, quae ad improbissimum quemque uberiora perueniunt. De quibus illud etiam considerandum puto, quod nemo dubitat esse fortem, cui fortitudinem inesse conspexerit, et cuicumque uelocitas adest manifestum est esse uelocem. Sic musica quidem musicos medicina medicos rhetorice rhetores facit. Agit enim cuiusque rei natura quod proprium est nec contrariarum rerum miscetur effectibus et ultro quae sunt auersa depellit. Atqui nec opes inexpletam restinguere auaritiam queunt nec potestas sui compotem fecerit quem uitiosae libidines insolubilibus adstrictum retinent catenis, et collata improbis dignitas non modo non efficit dignos, sed prodit potius et ostentat indignos. Cur ita prouenit? Gaudetis enim res sese aliter habentes falsis compellare nominibus quae facile ipsarum rerum redarguuntur effectu; itaque nec illae diuitiae nec illa potentia nec haec dignitas iure appellari potest. Postremo idem de tota concludere fortuna licet in qua nihil expetendum, nihil natiuae bonitatis inesse manifestum est, quae nec se bonis semper adiungit et bonos quibus fuerit adiuncta non efficit.

[111] quisque codd. optimi.


Now, why should I discourse of dignities and power which you, not knowing what true dignity and power meaneth, exalt to the skies? And if they light upon wicked men, what Aetnas, belching flames, or what deluge can cause so great harms? I suppose thou rememberest how your ancestors, by reason of the consuls' arrogancy, desired to abolish that government which had been the beginning of their freedom, who before, for the same cause, had removed the government of kings from their city. And if sometime, which is very seldom, good men be preferred to honours,[112] what other thing can give contentment in them but the honesty of those which have them? So that virtues are not honoured by dignities, but dignities by virtue. But what is this excellent power which you esteemed so desirable? Consider you not, O earthly wights, whom you seem to excel? For if among mice thou shouldst see one claim jurisdiction and power to himself over the rest, to what a laughter it would move thee! And what, if thou respectest the body, canst thou find more weak than man, whom even the biting of little flies or the entering of creeping worms doth often kill? Now, how can any man exercise jurisdiction upon anybody except upon their bodies, and that which is inferior to their bodies, I mean their fortunes? Canst thou ever imperiously impose anything upon a free mind? Canst thou remove a soul settled in firm reason from the quiet state which it possesseth? When a tyrant thought to compel a certain free man by torments to bewray his confederates of a conspiracy attempted against him, he bit off his tongue, and spit it out upon the cruel tyrant's face,[113] by that means wisely making those tortures, which the tyrant thought matter of cruelty, to be to him occasion of virtue. Now, what is there that any can enforce upon another which he may not himself be enforced to sustain by another? We read that Busiris, wont to kill his guests, was himself slain by his guest Hercules.[114] Regulus had laid fetters upon many Africans taken in war, but ere long he found his own hands environed with his conqueror's chains.[115] Wherefore thinkest thou the power of that man to be anything worth, who cannot hinder another from doing that to him which he can do to another? Moreover, if dignities and power had any natural and proper good in them, they would never be bestowed upon the worst men, for one opposite useth not to accompany another; nature refuseth to have contraries joined. So that, since there is no doubt but that men of the worst sort often enjoy dignities, it is also manifest that they are not naturally good which may follow most naughty men. Which may more worthily be thought of all fortune's gifts which are more plentifully bestowed upon every lewd companion. Concerning which, I take that also to be worthy consideration, that no man doubteth him to be a valiant man in whom he seeth valour, and it is manifest that he which hath swiftness is swift. So, likewise, music maketh musicians, physic physicians, and rhetoric rhetoricians. For the nature of everything doth that which is proper unto it, and is not mixed with contrary effects but repelleth all opposites. But neither can riches extinguish unsatiable avarice, nor power make him master of himself whom vicious lusts keep chained in strongest fetters. And dignity bestowed upon wicked men doth not only not make them worthy but rather bewrayeth and discovereth their unworthiness. How cometh this to pass? Because in miscalling things that are otherwise, you take a pleasure which is easily refuted by the effect of the things themselves. Wherefore, by right, these things are not to be called riches, this is not to be called power, that is not to be called dignity. Lastly, we may conclude the same of all fortunes in which it is manifest there is nothing to be desired, nothing naturally good, which neither are always bestowed upon good men, nor do make them good whom they are bestowed upon.

[112] The subject of deferantur is dignitates potentiaque.

[113] The free man was the philosopher Anaxarchus: the tyrant, Nicocreon the Cypriote. For the story see Diogenes Laertius ix. 59.

[114] Cf. Apollod. ii. 5. 11; Claudian xviii. 159; Virg. Georg. iii. 4.

[115] Cf. Cicero, De Off. iii. 99.


Nouimus quantas dederit ruinas
Vrbe flammata patribusque caesis
Fratre qui quondam ferus interempto
Matris effuso maduit cruore
Corpus et uisu gelidum pererrans 5
Ora non tinxit lacrimis, sed esse
Censor extincti potuit decoris.
Hic tamen sceptro populos regebat
Quos uidet condens radios sub undas
Phoebus extremo ueniens ab ortu, 10
Quos premunt septem gelidi triones,
Quos Notus sicco uiolentus aestu
Torret ardentes recoquens harenas.
Celsa num tandem ualuit potestas
Vertere praui rabiem Neronis? 15
Heu grauem sortem, quotiens iniquus
Additur saeuo gladius ueneno!"


    We know what stirs he made
  Who did the Senate slay and Rome with fire invade,
    Who did his brother kill,
  And with his mother's blood his moistened hand did fill;
    Who looked on that cold face
  Tearless, and nicely marked her members' several grace.[116]
    Yet his dread power controlled
  Those people whom the sun doth in the east behold,
    And those who do remain
  In western lands or dwell under Boötes' wain
    And those whose skins are tanned
  With southern winds, which roast and burn the parched sand.
    What? Could this glorious might
  Restrain the furious rage of wicked Nero's spite?
    But oh! mishap most bad,
  Which doth the wicked sword to cruel poison add!"

[116] Literally, "but could be the critic of her dead beauty." Cf. Suet. Nero 24; Tac. Ann. xiv. 9.


Tum ego: "Scis," inquam, "ipsa minimum nobis ambitionem mortalium rerum fuisse dominatam. Sed materiam gerendis rebus optauimus quo ne uirtus tacita consenesceret." Et illa: "Atqui hoc unum est quod praestantes quidem natura mentes sed nondum ad extremam manum uirtutum perfectione perductas allicere possit, gloriae scilicet cupido et optimorum in rem publicam fama meritorum; quae quam sit exilis et totius uacua ponderis, sic considera. Omnem terrae ambitum, sicuti astrologicis demonstrationibus accepisti, ad caeli spatium puncti constat obtinere rationem, id est ut, si ad caelestis globi magnitudinem conferatur, nihil spatii prorsus habere iudicetur. Huius igitur tam exiguae in mundo regionis quarta fere portio est, sicut Ptolomaeo probante didicisti, quae nobis cognitis animantibus incolatur. Huic quartae, si quantum maria paludesque premunt quantumque siti uasta regio distenditur cogitatione subtraxeris, uix angustissima inhabitandi hominibus area relinquetur. In hoc igitur minimo puncti quodam puncto circumsaepti atque conclusi de peruulganda fama, de proferendo nomine cogitatis? Aut quid habeat amplum magnificumque gloria tam angustis exiguisque limitibus artata? Adde quod hoc ipsum breuis habitaculi saeptum plures incolunt nationes lingua, moribus, totius uitae ratione distantes, ad quas tum difficultate itinerum tum loquendi diuersitate tum commercii insolentia non modo fama hominum singulorum sed ne urbium quidem peruenire queat. Aetate denique Marci Tullii, sicut ipse quodam loco significat, nondum Caucasum montem Romanae rei publicae fama transcenderat, et erat tunc adulta Parthis etiam ceterisque id locorum gentibus formidolosa. Videsne igitur quam sit angusta, quam compressa gloria quam dilatare ac propagare laboratis? An ubi Romani nominis transire fama nequit, Romani hominis gloria progredietur? Quid quod diuersarum gentium mores inter se atque instituta discordant, ut quod apud alios laude apud alios supplicio dignum iudicetur. Quo fit ut si quem famae praedicatio delectat, huic in plurimos populos nomen proferre nullo modo conducat. Erit igitur peruagata inter suos gloria quisque contentus et intra unius gentis terminos praeclara illa famae inmortalitas coartabitur.

Sed quam multos clarissimos suis temporibus uiros scriptorum inops deleuit obliuio! Quamquam quid ipsa scripta proficiant, quae cum suis auctoribus premit longior atque obscura uetustas? Vos uero inmortalitatem uobis propagare uidemini, cum futuri famam temporis cogitatis. Quod si aeternitatis infinita spatia pertractes, quid habes quod de nominis tui diuturnitate laeteris? Vnius etenim mora momenti, si decem milibus conferatur annis, quoniam utrumque spatium definitum est, minimam, licet, habet tamen aliquam portionem. At hic ipse numerus annorum eiusque quamlibet multiplex ad interminabilem diuturnitatem ne comparari quidem potest. Etenim finitis ad se inuicem fuerit quaedam, infiniti uero atque finiti nulla umquam poterit esse collatio. Ita fit ut quamlibet prolixi temporis fama, si cum inexhausta aeternitate cogitetur, non parua sed plane nulla esse uideatur. Vos autem nisi ad populares auras inanesque rumores recte facere nescitis et relicta conscientiae uirtutisque praestantia de alienis praemia sermunculis postulatis. Accipe in huiusmodi arrogantiae leuitate quam festiue aliquis inluserit. Nam cum quidam adortus esset hominem contumeliis, qui non ad uerae uirtutis usum sed ad superbam gloriam falsum sibi philosophi nomen induerat, adiecissetque iam se sciturum, an ille philosophus esset, si quidem illatas iniurias leniter patienterque tolerasset, ille patientiam paulisper adsumpsit acceptaque contumelia uelut insultans: 'Iam tandem,' inquit, 'intellegis me esse philosophum?' Tum ille nimium mordaciter: 'Intellexeram,' inquit, 'si tacuisses.' Quid autem est quod ad praecipuos uiros, de his enim sermo est, qui uirtute gloriam petunt, quid, inquam, est quod ad hos de fama post resolutum morte suprema corpus attineat? Nam si, quod nostrae rationes credi uetant, toti moriuntur homines, nulla est omnino gloria, cum is cuius ea esse dicitur non exstet omnino. Sin uero bene sibi mens conscia terreno carcere resoluta caelum libera petit, nonne omne terrenum negotium spernat quae se caelo fruens terrenis gaudet exemptam?


Then I said: "Thou thyself knowest that the ambition of mortal things hath borne as little sway with me as with any, but I desired matter of action, lest old age should come upon me ere I had done anything." To which she answered: "This is the only thing which is able to entice such minds as, being well qualified by nature, are not yet fully brought to full excellence by the perfecting of virtues, I mean desire of glory, and fame of best deserts towards their commonwealth, which how slender it is, and void of all weight, consider this: thou hast learnt by astronomical demonstrations that the compass of the whole earth compared to the scope of heaven is no bigger than a pin's point, which is as much as to say that, if it be conferred with the greatness of the celestial sphere, it hath no bigness at all. And of this so small a region in the world only the fourth part is known to be inhabited by living creatures known to us, as Ptolemy[117] proveth. From which fourth part, if thou takest away in imagination the seas, the marsh grounds, and all other desert places, there will scarcely be left any room at all for men to inhabit. Wherefore, enclosed and shut up in this smallest point of that other point, do you think of extending your fame and enlarging your name? But what great or heroical matter can that glory have, which is pent up in so small and narrow bounds? Besides that the little compass of this small habitation is inhabited by many nations, different in language, fashions, and conversation, to which by reason of the difficulties in travelling, the diversity of speech, and the scarcity of traffic, not only the Fame of particular men but even of cities can hardly come. Finally, in the age of Marcus Tullius, as he himself writeth,[118] the fame of the Roman Commonwealth had not passed the mountain Caucasus, and yet it was then in the most flourishing estate, fearful even to the Parthians and to the rest of the nations about. Seest thou therefore how strait and narrow that glory is which you labour to enlarge and increase? Where the fame of the Roman name could not pass, can the glory of a Roman man penetrate? Moreover, the customs and laws of diverse nations do so much differ the one from the other, that the same thing which some commend as laudable, others condemn as deserving punishment. So that if a man be delighted with the praise of fame, it is no way convenient for him to be named in many countries. Wherefore, every man must be content with that glory which he may have at home, and that noble immortality of fame must be comprehended within the compass of one nation.

Now, how many, most famous while they lived, are altogether forgotten for want of writers! Though what do writings themselves avail which perish, as well as their authors, by continuance and obscurity of time? But you imagine that you make yourselves immortal when you cast your eyes upon future fame. Whereas, if thou weighest attentively the infinite spaces of eternity, what cause hast thou to rejoice at the prolonging of thy name? For if we compare the stay of one moment with ten thousand years, since both be limited, they have some proportion, though it be but very small. But this number of years, how oft so ever it be multiplied, is no way comparable to endless eternity. For limited things may in some sort be compared among themselves, but that which is infinite admitteth no comparison at all with the limited. So that the fame of never so long time, if it be compared with everlasting eternity, seemeth not little but none at all. But without popular blasts and vain rumours you know not how to do well, and, rejecting the excellency of a good conscience and of virtue, you choose to be rewarded with others' tattling. Hear how pleasantly one jested at this vain and contemptible arrogancy. For having assaulted with reproachful speeches a certain fellow who had falsely taken upon him the name of a philosopher, not for the use of virtue but for vainglory, and having added that now he would know whether he were a philosopher or no by his gentle and patient bearing of injuries, the other took all patiently for a while, and having borne his contumely, as it were, triumphing, said: 'Dost thou now at length think me a philosopher?' To which he bitingly replied: 'I would have thought thee one if thou hadst holden thy peace.' But what have excellent men (for of these I speak) who seek for glory by virtue, what have we, I say, to expect for these by fame after final death hath dissolved the body? For if, contrary to our belief, men wholly perish, there is no glory at all, since he to whom it is said to belong is nowhere extant. But if a guiltless mind freed from earthly imprisonment goeth forthwith to heaven, will she not despise all earthly traffic who, enjoying heaven, rejoiceth to see herself exempted from earthly affairs?

[117] Claudius Ptolemaeus, mathematician, astronomer, geographer, fl. A.D. 139-161.

[118] Cf. Somn. Scip. 6. 14 ap. Macr. Comment. ii. 10.


Quicumque solam mente praecipiti petit
  Summumque credit gloriam,
Late patentes aetheris cernat plagas
  Artumque terrarum situm.
Breuem replere non ualentis ambitum 5
  Pudebit aucti nominis.
Quid o superbi colla mortali iugo
  Frustra leuare gestiunt?
Licet remotos fama per populos means
  Diffusa linguas explicet 10
Et magna titulis fulgeat claris domus,
  Mors spernit altam gloriam,
Inuoluit humile pariter et celsum caput
  Aequatque summis infima.
Vbi nunc fidelis ossa Fabricii manent, 15
  Quid Brutus aut rigidus Cato?
Signat superstes fama tenuis pauculis
  Inane nomen litteris.
Sed quod decora nouimus uocabula,
  Num scire consumptos datur? 20
Iacetis ergo prorsus ignorabiles
  Nec fama notos efficit.
Quod si putatis longius uitam trahi
  Mortalis aura nominis,
Cum sera uobis rapiet hoc etiam dies, 25
  Iam uos secunda mors manet.


  He that to honour only seeks to mount
    And that his chiefest end doth count,
  Let him behold the largeness of the skies
    And on the strait earth cast his eyes;
  He will despise the glory of his name,
    Which cannot fill so small a frame.
  Why do proud men scorn that their necks should bear
    That yoke which every man must wear?
  Though fame through many nations fly along
    And should be blazed by every tongue,
  And houses shine with our forefathers' stories,
    Yet Death contemns these stately glories,
  And, summoning both rich and poor to die,
    Makes the low equal with the high.
  Who knows where faithful Fabrice' bones are pressed,
    Where Brutus and strict Cato rest?[119]
  A slender fame consigns their titles vain
    In some few letters to remain.
  Because their famous names in books we read,
    Come we by them to know the dead?
  You dying, then, remembered are by none,
    Nor any fame can make you known.
  But if you think that life outstrippeth death,
    Your names borne up with mortal breath,
  When length of time takes this away likewise,
    A second death shall you surprise.

  [119] Caius Luscinus Fabricius, Consul 282 B.C., opponent of Pyrrhus;
  Lucius Iunius Brutus, Consul 509 B.C., founder of the Republic; Marcus
  Porcius Cato (Cato maior). Consul 195 B.C., great-grandfather of M.
  Porcius Cato (Uticensis).


Sed ne me inexorabile contra fortunam gerere bellum putes, est aliquando cum de hominibus illa, fallax illa nihil, bene mereatur, tum scilicet cum se aperit, cum frontem detegit moresque profitetur. Nondum forte quid loquar intellegis. Mirum est quod dicere gestio, eoque sententiam uerbis explicare uix queo. Etenim plus hominibus reor aduersam quam prosperam prodesse fortunam. Illa enim semper specie felicitatis cum uidetur blanda, mentitur; haec semper uera est, cum se instabilem mutatione demonstrat. Illa fallit, haec instruit, illa mendacium specie bonorum mentes fruentium ligat, haec cognitione fragilis felicitatis absoluit. Itaque illam uideas uentosam, fluentem suique semper ignaram, hanc sobriam succinctamque et ipsius aduersitatis exercitatione prudentem. Postremo felix a uero bono deuios blanditiis trahit, aduersa plerumque ad uera bona reduces unco retrahit. An hoc inter minima aestimandum putas quod amicorum tibi fidelium mentes haec aspera, haec horribilis fortuna detexit, haec tibi certos sodalium uultus ambiguosque secreuit, discedens suos abstulit, tuos reliquit? Quanti hoc integer, ut uidebaris tibi fortunatus, emisses! Nunc et amissas opes querere; quod pretiosissimum diuitiarum genus est amicos inuenisti.


But lest thou shouldst think that I am at implacable war with Fortune, there is a time when this thy goddess ceasing to deceive deserveth of men, to wit, when she declareth herself, when she discovereth her face and showeth herself in her own colours. Perhaps thou understandest not yet what I say. I would utter a wonderful thing, insomuch as I can scarcely explicate my mind in words. For I think that Fortune, when she is opposite, is more profitable to men than when she is favourable. For in prosperity, by a show of happiness and seeming to caress, she is ever false, but in adversity when she showeth herself inconstant by changing, she is ever true. In that she deceiveth, in this she instructeth; in that she imprisoneth the minds of men with falsely seeming goods, which they enjoy, in this she setteth them at liberty by discovering the uncertainty of them. Wherefore, in that thou shalt alway see her puffed up, and wavering, and blinded with a self-conceit of herself, in this thou shalt find her sober, settled, and, with the very exercise of adversity, wise. Finally, prosperity with her flatterings withdraweth men from true goodness, adversity recalleth and reclaimeth them many times by force[120] to true happiness. Dost thou esteem it a small benefit that this rough and harsh Fortune hath made known unto thee the minds of thy faithful friends? She hath severed thy assured from thy doubtful friends; prosperity at her departure took away with her those which were hers, and left thee thine. How dearly wouldst thou have bought this before thy fall, and when thou seemedst to thyself fortunate! Now thou dost even lament thy lost riches; thou hast found friends, the most precious treasure in the world.

[120] Literally, "pulleth them back with a hook."


Quod mundus stabili fide
Concordes uariat uices,
Quod pugnantia semina
Foedus perpetuum tenent,
Quod Phoebus roseum diem 5
Curru prouehit aureo,
Vt quas duxerit Hesperos
Phoebe noctibus imperet,
Vt fluctus auidum mare
Certo fine coerceat, 10
Ne terris liceat uagis
Latos tendere terminos,
Hanc rerum seriem ligat
Terras ac pelagus regens
Et caelo imperitans amor. 15
Hic si frena remiserit,
Quidquid nunc amat inuicem
Bellum continuo geret
Et quam nunc socia fide
Pulchris motibus incitant*, 20
Certent soluere machinam.
Hic sancto populos quoque
Iunctos foedere continet,
Hic et coniugii sacrum
Castis nectit amoribus, 25
Hic fidis etiam sua
Dictat iura sodalibus.
O felix hominum genus,
Si uestros animos amor
Quo caelum regitur regat." 30


  That this fair world in settled course her several forms should vary,
  That a perpetual law should tame the fighting seeds of things,
  That Phoebus should the rosy day in his bright chariot carry,
  That Phoebe should govern the nights which Hesperus forth brings,
  That to the floods of greedy seas are certain bounds assigned,
  Which them, lest they usurp too much upon the earth, debar,
  Love ruling heaven, and earth, and seas, them in this course doth bind.
  And if it once let loose their reins, their friendship turns to war,
  Tearing the world whose ordered form their quiet motions bear.
  By it all holy laws are made and marriage rites are tied,
  By it is faithful friendship joined. How happy mortals were,
  If that pure love did guide their minds, which heavenly spheres
    doth guide!"




Iam cantum illa finiuerat, cum me audiendi auidum stupentemque arrectis adhuc auribus carminis mulcedo defixerat. Itaque paulo post: "O," inquam, "summum lassorum solamen animorum quam tu me uel sententiarum pondere uel canendi etiam iucunditate refouisti! Adeo ut iam me post haec inparem fortunae ictibus esse non arbitrer. Itaque remedia quae paulo acriora esse dicebas, non modo non perhorresco, sed audiendi auidus uehementer efflagito." Tum illa "Sensi," inquit, "cum uerba nostra tacitus attentusque rapiebas, eumque tuae mentis habitum uel exspectaui uel, quod est uerius, ipsa perfeci. Talia sunt quippe quae restant, ut degustata quidem mordeant, interius autem recepta dulcescant. Sed quod tu te audiendi cupidum dicis, quanto ardore flagrares, si quonam te ducere aggrediamur agnosceres!" "Quonam?" inquam. "Ad ueram," inquit, "felicitatem, quam tuus quoque somniat animus, sed occupato ad imagines uisu ipsam illam non potest intueri." Tum ego: "Fac obsecro et quae illa uera sit, sine cunctatione demonstra." "Faciam," inquit illa, "tui causa libenter. Sed quae tibi causa notior est, eam prius designare uerbis atque informare conabor ut ea perspecta cum in contrariam partem flexeris oculos, uerae beatitudinis speciem possis agnoscere.



Though she had ended her verse, yet the sweetness of it made me remain astonished, attentive, and desirous to hear her longer. Wherefore, after a while, I said: "O most effectual refreshment of wearied minds, how have I been comforted with thy weighty sentences and pleasing music! Insomuch that I begin to think myself not unable to encounter the assaults of Fortune. Wherefore, I am not now afraid, but rather earnestly desire to know those remedies, which before thou toldest me were too sharp." To which she answered: "I perceived as much as thou sayest, when I saw thee hearken to my speeches with so great silence and attention, and I expected this disposition of thy mind, or rather more truly caused it myself. For the remedies which remain are of that sort that they are bitter to the taste, but being inwardly received wax sweet. And whereas thou sayest that thou art desirous to hear; how much would this desire increase if thou knewest whither we go about to bring thee!" "Whither?" quoth I. "To true felicity," quoth she, "which thy mind also dreameth of, but thy sight is so dimmed with phantasies that thou canst not behold it as it is." Then I beseeched her to explicate without delay wherein true happiness consisteth. To which she answered: "I will willingly do so for thy sake, but first I will endeavour to declare in words and to give shape to that which is better known unto thee, that, having thoroughly understood it, by reflecting of the contrary thou mayest discover the type of perfect blessedness.


Qui serere ingenuum uolet agrum,
Liberat arua prius fruticibus,
Falce rubos filicemque resecat,
Vt noua fruge grauis Ceres eat.
Dulcior est apium mage labor, 5
Si malus ora prius sapor edat.
Gratius astra nitent ubi Notus
Desinit imbriferos dare sonos.
Lucifer ut tenebras pepulerit
Pulchra dies roseos agit equos. 10
Tu quoque falsa tuens bona prius
Incipe colla iugo retrahere.
Vera dehinc animum subierint."


  He that a fruitful field will sow,
  Doth first the ground from bushes free,
  All fern and briars likewise mow,
  That he his harvest great may see.
  Honey seems sweeter to our taste,
  If cloyed with noisome food it be.
  Stars clearer shine when Notus' blast
  Hath ceased the rainy storms to breed.
  When Lucifer hath night defaced,
  The day's bright horses then succeed.
  So thou, whom seeming goods do feed,
  First shake off yokes which so thee press
  That Truth may then thy mind possess."


Tum defixo paululum uisu et uelut in augustam suae mentis sedem recepta sic coepit: "Omnis mortalium cura quam multiplicium studiorum labor exercet, diuerso quidem calle procedit, sed ad unum tamen beatitudinis finem nititur peruenire. Id autem est bonum quo quis adepto nihil ulterius desiderare queat. Quod quidem est omnium summum bonorum cunctaque intra se bona continens, cui si quid aforet summum esse non posset, quoniam relinqueretur extrinsecus quod posset optari. Liquet igitur esse beatitudinem statum bonorum omnium congregatione perfectum. Hunc, uti diximus, diuerso tramite mortales omnes conantur adipisci. Est enim mentibus hominum ueri boni naturaliter inserta cupiditas, sed ad falsa deuius error abducit. Quorum quidem alii summum bonum esse nihilo indigere credentes ut diuitiis affluant elaborant; alii uero bonum quod sit dignissimum ueneratione iudicantes adeptis honoribus reuerendi ciuibus suis esse nituntur. Sunt qui summum bonum in summa potentia esse constituant; hi uel regnare ipsi uolunt uel regnantibus adhaerere conantur. At quibus optimum quiddam claritas uidetur, hi uel belli uel pacis artibus gloriosum nomen propagare festinant. Plurimi uero boni fructum gaudio laetitiaque metiuntur; hi felicissimum putant uoluptate diffluere. Sunt etiam qui horum fines causasque alterutro permutent, ut qui diuitias ob potentiam uoluptatesque desiderant uel qui potentiam seu pecuniae causa seu proferendi nominis appetunt. In his igitur ceterisque talibus humanorum actuum uotorumque uersatur intentio, ueluti nobilitas fauorque popularis quae uidentur quandam claritudinem comparare, uxor ac liberi quae iucunditatis gratia petuntur; amicorum uero quod sanctissimum quidem genus est, non in fortuna sed in uirtute numeratur, reliquum uero uel potentiae causa uel delectationis assumitur. Iam uero corporis bona promptum est ut ad superiora referantur. Robur enim magnitudoque uidetur praestare ualentiam, pulchritudo atque uelocitas celebritatem, salubritas uoluptatem; quibus omnibus solam beatitudinem desiderari liquet. Nam quod quisque prae ceteris petit, id summum esse iudicat bonum. Sed summum bonum beatitudinem esse definiuimus; quare beatum esse iudicat statum quem prae ceteris quisque desiderat.

Habes igitur ante oculos propositam fere formam felicitatis humanae—opes, honores, potentiam, gloriam, uoluptates. Quae quidem sola considerans Epicurus consequenter sibi summum bonum uoluptatem esse constituit, quod cetera omnia iucunditatem animo uideantur afferre. Sed ad hominum studia reuertor, quorum animus etsi caligante memoria tamen bonum suum repetit, sed uelut ebrius domum quo tramite reuertatur ignorat. Num enim uidentur errare hi qui nihilo indigere nituntur? Atqui non est aliud quod aeque perficere beatitudinem possit quam copiosus bonorum omnium status nec alieni egens sed sibi ipse sufficiens. Num uero labuntur hi qui quod sit optimum, id etiam reuerentiae cultu dignissimum putent? Minime. Neque enim uile quiddam contemnendumque est quod adipisci omnium fere mortalium laborat intentio. An in bonis non est numeranda potentia? Quid igitur? Num imbecillum ac sine uiribus aestimandum est, quod omnibus rebus constat esse praestantius? An claritudo nihili pendenda est? Sed sequestrari nequit quin omne quod excellentissimum sit id etiam uideatur esse clarissimum. Nam non esse anxiam tristemque beatitudinem nec doloribus molestiisque subiectam quid attinet dicere, quando in minimis quoque rebus id appetitur quod habere fruique delectet? Atqui haec sunt quae adipisci homines uolunt eaque de causa diuitias, dignitates, regna, gloriam uoluptatesque desiderant quod per haec sibi sufficientiam, reuerentiam, potentiam, celebritatem, laetitiam credunt esse uenturam. Bonum est igitur quod tam diuersis studiis homines petunt; in quo quanta sit naturae uis facile monstratur, cum licet uariae dissidentesque sententiae tamen in diligendo boni fine consentiunt.


Then, for a while looking steadfastly upon the ground, and, as it were, retiring herself to the most secret seat of her soul, she began in this manner: "All men's thoughts, which are turmoiled with manifold cares, take indeed divers courses, but yet endeavour to attain the same end of happiness, which is that good which, being once obtained, nothing can be further desired. Which is the chiefest of all goods, and containeth in itself whatsoever is good, and if it wanted anything it could not be the chiefest, because there would something remain besides it which might be wished for. Wherefore, it is manifest that blessedness is an estate replenished with all that is good. This, as we said, all men endeavour to obtain by divers ways. For there is naturally ingrafted in men's minds an earnest desire of that which is truly good; but deceitful error withdraweth it to that which falsely seemeth such. So that some, esteeming it their greatest good to want nothing, labour by all means to abound with riches; others, deeming that to be good which is most deserving of honour, hunt after preferments, to be respected by their fellow-citizens. Others think it the greatest felicity to have great power and authority, and these will either reign themselves or at least procure to be great with princes. But they who think fame better than all these, make all speed possible to spread their names far and near, by achieving some worthy enterprise either in war or peace. Many measure good by joy and mirth, and their chiefest care is how they may abound with pleasure. Some interchange the ends and means of these things one with the other, wanting now riches for the sake of power and pleasure, now power for the sake of wealth and fame. At these and such other do men's actions and desires aim, as nobility and popularity, which make men esteemed; wife and children, which bring pleasure and delight. But friendship, that most sacred thing, is rather to be attributed to virtue than to fortune. Other things for the most part are desired either for power or pleasure. And it is an easy matter to reduce all corporal goods to the former heads. For strength and greatness give ability; beauty and swiftness, fame; and health yieldeth pleasure. By all which we manifestly seek for nothing else but happiness. For that which every man seeketh most after, is by him esteemed his greatest good. Which is all one with happiness. Wherefore he esteemeth that estate happy which he preferreth before all other.

And thus thou hast in a manner seen the form of human felicity—riches, honour, power, glory, pleasure. Which Epicurus only considering, consequently took pleasure for his chiefest good, because all the rest seemed to delight the mind. But I return to the careful thoughts of men, whose minds, though obscured, yet seek after the greatest good, but like a drunken man know not the way home. For seem they to err who endeavour to want nothing? But nothing can cause happiness so much as the plentiful possession of all that is good, needing the help of none, but is sufficient of itself. Or do they err who take that which is best to be likewise most worthy of respect? No. For it is no vile or contemptible thing which almost all men labour to obtain. Or is not power to be esteemed good? Why, then, is that to be accounted feeble and of no force, which manifestly surpasses all other things? Or is fame to be contemned? But it cannot be ignored that the most excellent is also most famous. For to what purpose should I say that happiness is not sad or melancholy, or subject to grief and trouble, when even in smallest matters we desire that which we delight to have and enjoy? And these be the things which men desire to obtain, and to this end procure riches, dignities, kingdoms, glory, and pleasures, because by them they think to have sufficiency, respect, power, fame, delight, and joy. Wherefore, that is good which men seek after by divers desires, in which the force of nature is easily descried, since though there be many and different opinions, yet they agree in choosing for their end that which is good.


Quantas rerum flectat habenas
Natura potens, quibus inmensum
Legibus orbem prouida seruet
Stringatque ligans inresoluto
Singula nexu, placet arguto 5
Fidibus lentis promere cantu.
Quamuis Poeni pulchra leones
Vincula gestent manibusque datas
Captent escas metuantque trucem
Soliti uerbera ferre magistrum, 10
Si cruor horrida tinxerit ora,
Resides olim redeunt animi
Fremituque graui meminere sui;
Laxant nodis colla solutis
Primusque lacer dente cruento 15
Domitor rabidas imbuit iras.
Quae canit altis garrula ramis
Ales caueae clauditur antro;
Huic licet inlita pocula melle
Largasque dapes dulci studio 20
Ludens hominum cura ministret,
Si tamen arto saliens texto
Nemorum gratas uiderit umbras,
Sparsas pedibus proterit escas,
Siluas tantum maesta requirit, 25
Siluas dulci uoce susurrat.
Validis quondam uiribus acta
Pronum flectit uirga cacumen;
Hanc si curuans dextra remisit,
Recto spectat uertice caelum. 30
Cadit Hesperias Phoebus in undas,
Sed secreto tramite rursus
Currum solitos uertit ad ortus.
Repetunt proprios quaeque recursus
Redituque suo singula gaudent 35
Nec manet ulli traditus ordo
Nisi quod fini iunxerit ortum
Stabilemque sui fecerit orbem.


  How the first reins of all things guided are
  By powerful Nature as the chiefest cause,
  And how she keeps, with a foreseeing care,
  The spacious world in order by her laws,
  And to sure knots which nothing can untie,
  By her strong hand all earthly motions draws—
  To show all this we purpose now to try
  Our pliant string, our musick's thrilling sound.
  Although the Libyan lions often lie
  Gentle and tame in splendid fetters bound,[121]
  And fearing their incensed master's wrath,
  With patient looks endure each blow and wound,
  Yet if their jaws they once in blood do bathe,
  They, gaining courage,[122] with fierce noise awake
  The force which Nature in them seated hath,
  And from their necks the broken chains do shake;
  Then he that tamed them first doth feel their rage,
  And torn in pieces doth their fury slake.
  The bird shut up in an unpleasing cage,
  Which on the lofty trees did lately sing,
  Though men, her want of freedom to assuage,
  Should unto her with careful labour bring
  The sweetest meats which they can best devise,
  Yet when within her prison fluttering
  The pleasing shadows of the groves she spies,
  Her hated food she scatters with her feet,
  In yearning spirit to the woods she flies,
  The woods' delights do tune her accents sweet.
  When some strong hand doth tender plant constrain
  With his debased top the ground to meet,
  If it let go, the crooked twig again
  Up toward Heaven itself it straight doth raise.
  Phoebus doth fall into the western main,
  Yet doth he back return by secret ways,
  And to the earth doth guide his chariot's race.
  Each thing a certain course and laws obeys,
  Striving to turn back to his proper place;
  Nor any settled order can be found,
  But that which doth within itself embrace
  The births and ends of all things in a round.

[121] Literally, "and take food offered by the hand."

[122] Literally, "their spirits, hitherto sluggish, return."


Vos quoque, o terrena animalia, tenui licet imagine uestrum tamen principium somniatis uerumque illum beatitudinis finem licet minime perspicaci qualicumque tamen cogitatione prospicitis eoque uos et ad uerum bonum naturalis ducit intentio et ab eodem multiplex error abducit. Considera namque an per ea quibus se homines adepturos beatitudinem putant ad destinatum finem ualeant peruenire. Si enim uel pecuniae uel honores ceteraque tale quid afferunt cui nihil bonorum abesse uideatur, nos quoque fateamur fieri aliquos horum adeptione felices. Quod si neque id ualent efficere quod promittunt bonisque pluribus carent, nonne liquido falsa in eis beatitudinis species deprehenditur? Primum igitur te ipsum qui paulo ante diuitiis affluebas, interrogo: Inter illas abundantissimas opes numquamne animum tuum concepta ex qualibet iniuria confudit anxietas?" "Atqui," inquam, "libero me fuisse animo quin aliquid semper angerer reminisci non queo." "Nonne quia uel aberat quod abesse non uelles uel aderat quod adesse noluisses?" "Ita est," inquam. "Illius igitur praesentiam huius absentiam desiderabas?" "Confiteor," inquam. "Eget uero," inquit, "eo quod quisque desiderat?" "Eget," inquam. "Qui uero eget aliquo, non est usquequaque sibi ipse sufficiens?" "Minime," inquam. "Tu itaque hanc insufficientiam plenus," inquit, "opibus sustinebas?" "Quidni?" inquam. "Opes igitur nihilo indigentem sufficientemque sibi facere nequeunt et hoc erat quod promittere uidebantur. Atqui hoc quoque maxime considerandum puto quod nihil habeat suapte natura pecunia ut his a quibus possidetur inuitis nequeat auferri." "Fateor," inquam. "Quidni fateare, cum eam cotidie ualentior aliquis eripiat inuito? Vnde enim forenses querimoniae nisi quod uel ui uel fraude nolentibus pecuniae repetuntur ereptae?" "Ita est," inquam. "Egebit igitur," inquit, "extrinsecus petito praesidio quo suam pecuniam quisque tueatur?" "Quis id," inquam, "neget?" "Atqui non egeret eo, nisi possideret pecuniam quam posset amittere?" "Dubitari," inquam, "nequit." "In contrarium igitur relapsa res est; nam quae sufficientes sibi facere putabantur opes, alieno potius praesidio faciunt indigentes. Quis autem modus est quo pellatur diuitiis indigentia? Num enim diuites esurire nequeunt? Num sitire non possunt? Num frigus hibernum pecuniosorum membra non sentiunt? Sed adest, inquies, opulentis quo famem satient, quo sitim frigusque depellant. Sed hoc modo consolari quidem diuitiis indigentia potest, auferri penitus non potest. Nam si haec hians semper atque aliquid poscens opibus expletur, maneat necesse est quae possit expleri. Taceo quod naturae minimum, quod auaritiae nihil satis est. Quare si opes nec submouere possunt indigentiam et ipsae suam faciunt, quid est quod eas sufficientiam praestare credatis?


You also, O earthly creatures, though slightly and as it were in a dream acknowledge your beginning, and though not perspicuously yet in some sort behold that true end of happiness, so that the intention of nature leadeth you to the true good, and manifold error withdraweth you from it. For consider whether those things, by which men think to obtain happiness, can bring them to their desired end. For if either money, or honour, or any of the rest be of that quality that they want nothing which is good, we will also confess that they are able to make men happy. But if they neither be able to perform that they promise, and want many things which are good, are they not manifestly discovered to have a false appearance of happiness? First then, I ask thee thyself, who not long since didst abound with wealth; in that plenty of riches, was thy mind never troubled with any injuries?" "I cannot remember," quoth I, "that ever my mind was so free from trouble but that something or other still vexed me." "Was it not because thou either wantedst something which thou wouldst have had, or else hadst something which thou wouldst have wanted?" "It is true," quoth I. "Then thou desiredst the presence of that, and the absence of this?" "I confess I did," quoth I. "And doth not a man want that," quoth she, "which he desireth?" "He doth," quoth I. "But he that wanteth anything is not altogether sufficient of himself?" "He is not," quoth I. "So that thou feltest this insufficiency, even the height of thy wealth?" "Why not?" quoth I. "Then riches cannot make a man wanting nothing nor sufficient of himself, and this was that they seemed to promise. But this is most of all to be considered, that money hath nothing of itself which can keep it from being taken from them which possess it, against their will." "I grant it," quoth I. "Why shouldst thou not grant it, since that every day those which are more potent take it from others perforce? For from whence proceed so many complaints in law, but that money gotten either by violence or deceit is sought to be recovered by that means?" "It is so indeed," quoth I. "So that every man needeth some other help to defend his money?" "Who denies that?" quoth I. "But he should not need that help, unless he had money which he might lose?" "There is no doubt of that," quoth I. "Now then the matter is fallen out quite contrary; for riches, which are thought to suffice of themselves, rather make men stand in need of other helps. And after what manner do riches expel penury? For are not rich men hungry? Are they not thirsty? Or doth much money make the owners senseless of cold in winter? But thou wilt say, wealthy men have wherewithal to satisfy their hunger, slake their thirst, and defend themselves from cold. But in this sort, though want may be somewhat relieved by wealth, yet it cannot altogether be taken away. For if ever gaping and craving it be satiated by riches, there must needs always remain something to be satiated. I omit, that to nature very little, to covetousness nothing is sufficient. Wherefore if riches can neither remove wants, and cause some themselves, why imagine you that they can cause sufficiency?


Quamuis fluente diues auri gurgite
  Non expleturas cogat auarus opes
Oneretque bacis colla rubri litoris
  Ruraque centeno scindat opima boue,
Nec cura mordax deseret superstitem, 5
  Defunctumque leues non comitantur opes.


  Although the rich man from his mines of gold
  Dig treasure which his mind can never fill,
  And lofty neck with precious pearls enfold,
  And his fat fields with many oxen till,
  Yet biting cares will never leave his head,
  Nor will his wealth attend him being dead.


Sed dignitates honorabilem reuerendumque cui prouenerint reddunt. Num uis ea est magistratibus ut utentium mentibus uirtutes inserant uitia depellant? Atqui non fugare sed illustrare potius nequitiam solent; quo fit ut indignemur eas saepe nequissimis hominibus contigisse, unde Catullus licet in curuli Nonium sedentem strumam tamen appellat. Videsne quantum malis dedecus adiciant dignitates? Atqui minus eorum patebit indignitas, si nullis honoribus inclarescant. Tu quoque num tandem tot periculis adduci potuisti ut cum Decorato gerere magistratum putares, cum in eo mentem nequissimi scurrae delatorisque respiceres? Non enim possumus ob honores reuerentia dignos iudicare quos ipsis honoribus iudicamus indignos. At si quem sapientia praeditum uideres, num posses eum uel reuerentia uel ea qua est praeditus sapientia non dignum putare? Minime. Inest enim dignitas propria uirtuti, quam protinus in eos quibus fuerit adiuncta transfundit. Quod quia populares facere nequeunt honores, liquet eos propriam dignitatis pulchritudinem non habere.

In quo illud est animaduertendum magis. Nam si eo abiectior est quo magis a pluribus quisque contemnitur, cum reuerendos facere nequeat quos pluribus ostentat, despectiores potius improbos dignitas facit. Verum non impune; reddunt namque improbi parem dignitatibus uicem quas sua contagione commaculant. Atque ut agnoscas ueram illam reuerentiam per has umbratiles dignitates non posse contingere; si qui multiplici consulatu functus in barbaras nationes forte deuenerit, uenerandumne barbaris honor faciet? Atqui si hoc naturale munus dignitatibus foret, ab officio suo quoquo gentium nullo modo cessarent, sicut ignis ubique terrarum numquam tamen calere desistit, sed quoniam id eis non propria uis sed hominum fallax adnectit opinio, uanescunt ilico, cum ad eos uenerint qui dignitates eas esse non aestimant.

Sed hoc apud exteras nationes. Inter eos uero apud quos ortae sunt, num perpetuo perdurant? Atqui praetura magna olim potestas nunc inane nomen et senatorii census grauis sarcina; si quis populi quondam curasset annonam, magnus habebatur, nunc ea praefectura quid abiectius? Vt enim paulo ante diximus, quod nihil habet proprii decoris, opinione utentium nunc splendorem accipit nunc amittit. Si igitur reuerendos facere nequeunt dignitates, si ultro improborum contagione sordescunt, si mutatione temporum splendere desinunt, si gentium aestimatione uilescunt, quid est quod in se expetendae pulchritudinis habeant, nedum aliis praestent?


But dignities make him honourable and reverend on whom they light. Have offices that force to plant virtues and expel vices in the minds of those who have them? But they are not wont to banish, but rather to make wickedness splendid. So that we many times complain because most wicked men obtain them. Whereupon Catullus called Nonius a scab or impostume though he sat in his chair of estate.[123] Seest thou what great ignominy dignities heap upon evil men? For their unworthiness would less appear if they were never advanced to any honours. Could so many dangers ever make thee think to bear office with Decoratus,[124] having discovered him to be a very varlet and spy? For we cannot for their honours account them worthy of respect whom we judge unworthy of the honours themselves. But if thou seest any man endued with wisdom, canst thou esteem him unworthy of that respect or wisdom which he hath? No, truly. For virtue hath a proper dignity of her own, which she presently endueth her possessors withal. Which since popular preferments cannot do, it is manifest that they have not the beauty which is proper to true dignity.

In which we are farther to consider that, if to be contemned of many make men abject, dignities make the wicked to be despised the more by laying them open to the view of the world. But the dignities go not scot-free, for wicked men do as much for them, defiling them with their own infection. And that thou mayst plainly see that true respect cannot be gotten by these painted dignities, let one that hath been often Consul go among barbarous nations; will that honour make those barbarous people respect him? And yet, if this were natural to dignities, they would never forsake their function in any nation whatsoever; as fire, wheresoever it be, always remaineth hot. But because not their own nature, but the deceitful opinion of men attributeth that to them, they forthwith come to nothing, being brought to them who esteem them not to be dignities.

And this for foreign nations. But do they always last among them where they had their beginning? The Praetorship, a great dignity in time past, is now an idle name, and an heavy burden of the Senate's fortune. If heretofore one had care of the people's provision, he was accounted a great man; now what is more abject than that office? For as we said before, that which hath no proper dignity belonging unto it sometime receiveth and sometime loseth his value at the users' discretion. Wherefore if dignities cannot make us respected, if they be easily defiled with the infection of the wicked, if their worth decays by change of times, if diversities of nations make them contemptible, what beauty have they in themselves, or can they afford to others, worth the desiring?

[123] Cf. Catull. lii.

[124] Decoratus was quaestor circa 508; cf. Cassiod. Ep. v. 3 and 4.


Quamuis se Tyrio superbus ostro
  Comeret et niueis lapillis,
Inuisus tamen omnibus uigebat
  Luxuriae Nero saeuientis.
Sed quondam dabat improbus uerendis 5
  Patribus indecores curules.
Quis illos igitur putet beatos
  Quos miseri tribuunt honores?


  Though fierce and lustful Nero did adorn
  Himself with purple robes, which pearls did grace,
  He did but gain a general hate and scorn.
  Yet wickedly he officers most base
  Over the reverend Senators did place.
  Who would esteem of fading honours then
  Which may be given thus by the wickedest men?


An uero regna regumque familiaritas efficere potentem ualet? Quidni, quando eorum felicitas perpetuo perdurat? Atqui plena est exemplorum uetustas, plena etiam praesens aetas, qui reges felicitatem calamitate mutauerint. O praeclara potentia quae ne ad conseruationem quidem sui satis efficax inuenitur! Quod si haec regnorum potestas beatitudinis auctor est, nonne si qua parte defuerit, felicitatem minuat, miseriam inportet? Sed quamuis late humana tendantur imperia, plures necesse est gentes relinqui quibus regum quisque non imperet. Qua uero parte beatos faciens desinit potestas, hac inpotentia subintrat quae miseros facit; hoc igitur modo maiorem regibus inesse necesse est miseriae portionem. Expertus sortis suae periculorum tyrannus regni metus pendentis supra uerticem gladii terrore simulauit. Quae est igitur haec potestas quae sollicitudinum morsus expellere, quae formidinum aculeos uitare nequit? Atqui uellent ipsi uixisse securi, sed nequeunt; dehinc de potestate gloriantur. An tu potentem censes quem uideas uelle quod non possit efficere? Potentem censes qui satellite latus ambit, qui quos terret ipse plus metuit, qui ut potens esse uideatur, in seruientium manu situm est? Nam quid ego de regum familiaribus disseram, cum regna ipsa tantae inbecillitatis plena demonstrem? Quos quidem regia potestas saepe incolumis saepe autem lapsa prosternit. Nero Senecam familiarem praeceptoremque suum ad eligendae mortis coegit arbitrium. Papinianum diu inter aulicos potentem militum gladiis Antoninus obiecit. Atqui uterque potentiae suae renuntiare uoluerunt, quorum Seneca opes etiam suas tradere Neroni seque in otium conferre conatus est; sed dum ruituros moles ipsa trahit, neuter quod uoluit effecit. Quae est igitur ista potentia quam pertimescunt habentes, quam nec cum habere uelis tutus sis et cum deponere cupias uitare non possis? An praesidio sunt amici quos non uirtus sed fortuna conciliat? Sed quem felicitas amicum fecit, infortunium faciet inimicum. Quae uero pestis efficacior ad nocendum quam familiaris inimicus?


But can kingdoms and the familiarity of kings make a man mighty? Why not, when their felicity lasteth always? But both former and present times are full of examples that many kings have changed their happiness with misery. O excellent power, which is not sufficient to uphold itself! And if this strength of kingdoms be the author of blessedness, doth it not diminish happiness and bring misery, when it is in any way defective? But though some empires extend themselves far, there will still remain many nations out of their dominions. Now, where the power endeth which maketh them happy, there entereth the contrary which maketh them miserable, so that all kings must needs have less happiness than misery. That Tyrant, knowing by experience the dangers of his estate, signified the fears incident to a kingdom, by the hanging of a drawn sword over a man's head.[125] What power is this, then, which cannot expel nor avoid biting cares and pricking fears? They would willingly have lived securely, but could not, and yet they brag of their power. Thinkest thou him mighty whom thou seest desire that which he cannot do? Thinkest thou him mighty who dareth not go without his guard; who feareth others more than they fear him; who cannot seem mighty, except his servants please? For what should I speak of kings' followers, since I show that kingdoms themselves are so full of weakness? Whom the power of kings often standing, but many times falling, doth overthrow. Nero compelled Seneca, his familiar friend and master, to make choice of his own death.[126] Antoninus called Papinianus, who had been long a gallant courtier, to be cut in pieces with his soldiers' swords.[127] Yet they would both have renounced their power, yea Seneca endeavoured to deliver up his riches also to Nero, and to give himself to a contemplative life. But their very greatness drawing them to their destruction, neither of them could compass that which they desired. Wherefore what power is this that the possessors fear, which when thou wilt have, thou art not secure, and when thou wilt leave, thou canst not avoid? Are we the better for those friends which love us not for our virtue but for our prosperity? But whom prosperity maketh our friend, adversity will make our enemy. And what plague is able to hurt us more than a familiar enemy?

[125] Cic. Tusc. Disp. v. 21. 62.

[126] Cf. Tac. Ann. xiv. 53, 54.

[127] Cf. Spartian. Caracallus 8.


Qui se uolet esse potentem
Animos domet ille feroces
Nec uicta libidine colla
Foedis submittat habenis.
Etenim licet Indica longe 5
Tellus tua iura tremescat
Et seruiat ultima Thyle,
Tamen atras pellere curas
Miserasque fugare querelas
Non posse potentia non est. 10


  Who would be powerful, must
  His own affections check,
  Nor let foul reins of lust
  Subdue his conquered neck.
  For though the Indian land
  Should tremble at thy beck,
  And though thy dread command
  Far Thule's isle obey,
  Unless thou canst withstand
  And boldly drive away
  Black care and wretched moan,
  Thy might is small or none.


Gloria uero quam fallax saepe, quam turpis est! Vnde non iniuria tragicus exclamat:

  [Greek: O doxa doxa murioisi dae broton
  ouden gegosi bioton onkosas megan.]

Plures enim magnum saepe nomen falsis uulgi opinionibus abstulerunt; quo quid turpius excogitari potest? Nam qui falso praedicantur, suis ipsi necesse est laudibus erubescant. Quae si etiam meritis conquisita sit, quid tamen sapientis adiecerit conscientiae qui bonum suum non populari rumore, sed conscientiae ueritate metitur? Quod si hoc ipsum propagasse nomen pulchrum uidetur, consequens est ut foedum non extendisse iudicetur. Sed cum, uti paulo ante disserui, plures gentes esse necesse sit ad quas unius fama hominis nequeat peruenire, fit ut quem tu aestimas esse gloriosum, pro maxima parte terrarum uideatur inglorius. Inter haec uero popularem gratiam ne commemoratione quidem dignam puto, quae nec iudicio prouenit nec umquam firma perdurat. Iam uero quam sit inane quam futtile nobilitatis nomen, quis non uideat? Quae si ad claritudinem refertur, aliena est. Videtur namque esse nobilitas quaedam de meritis ueniens laus parentum. Quod si claritudinem praedicatio facit, illi sint clari necesse est qui praedicantur. Quare splendidum te, si tuam non habes, aliena claritudo non efficit. Quod si quid est in nobilitate bonum, id esse arbitror solum, ut inposita nobilibus necessitudo uideatur ne a maiorum uirtute degeneret.


As for glory, how deceitful it is oftentimes, and dishonest! For which cause the tragical poet deservedly exclaimeth: "O glory, glory, thou hast raised to honour and dignity myriads of worthless mortals!"[128] For many have often been much spoken of through the false opinions of the common people. Than which what can be imagined more vile? For those who are falsely commended must needs blush at their own praises. Which glory though it be gotten by deserts, yet what adds it to a wise man's conscience who measureth his own good, not by popular rumours, but by his own certain knowledge? And if it seemeth a fair thing to have dilated our fame, consequently we must judge it a foul thing not to have it extended. But since, as I showed a little before, there must needs be many nations to which the fame of one man cannot arrive, it cometh to pass that he whom thou esteemeth glorious, in the greater part of the world seemeth to have no glory at all. And here now I think popular glory not worth the speaking of, which neither proceedeth from judgment, nor ever hath any firmness. Likewise, who seeth not what a vain and idle thing it is to be called noble? Which insofar as it concerneth fame, is not our own. For nobility seemeth to be a certain praise proceeding from our parents' deserts. But if praising causeth fame, they must necessarily be famous who are praised. Wherefore the fame of others, if thou hast none of thine own, maketh not thee renowned. But if there be anything good in nobility, I judge it only to be this, that it imposeth a necessity upon those which are noble, not to suffer their nobility to degenerate from the virtue of their ancestors.

[128] Eurip. Androm. 319.


Omne hominum genus in terris simili surgit ab ortu.
Vnus enim rerum pater est, unus cuncta ministrat.
Ille dedit Phoebo radios dedit et cornua lunae,
Ille homines etiam terris dedit ut sidera caelo,
Hic clausit membris animos celsa sede petitos. 5
Mortales igitur cunctos edit nobile germen.
Quid genus et proauos strepitis? Si primordia uestra
Auctoremque deum spectes, nullus degener exstat,
Ni uitiis peiora fouens proprium deserat ortum.


  The general race of men from a like birth is born.
  All things one Father have, Who doth them all adorn,
  Who gave the sun his rays, and the pale moon her horn,
  The lofty heaven for stars, low earth for mortals chose;
  He souls fetched down from high in bodies did enclose;
  And thus from noble seed all men did first compose.
  Why brag you of your stock? Since none is counted base,
  If you consider God the author of your race,
  But he that with foul vice doth his own birth deface.


Quid autem de corporis uoluptatibus loquar, quarum appetentia quidem plena est anxietatis; satietas uero poenitentiae? Quantos illae morbos, quam intolerabiles dolores quasi quendam fructum nequitiae fruentium solent referre corporibus! Quarum motus quid habeat iucunditatis, ignoro. Tristes uero esse uoluptatum exitus, quisquis reminisci libidinum suarum uolet, intelleget. Quae si beatos explicare possunt, nihil causae est quin pecudes quoque beatae esse dicantur quarum omnis ad explendam corporalem lacunam festinat intentio. Honestissima quidem coniugis foret liberorumque iucunditas, sed nimis e natura dictum est nescio quem filios inuenisse tortorem; quorum quam sit mordax quaecumque condicio, neque alias expertum te neque nunc anxium necesse est admonere. In quo Euripidis mei sententiam probo, qui carentem liberis infortunio dixit esse felicem.


Now what should I speak of bodily pleasures, the desire of which is full of anxiety, and the enjoying of them breeds repentance? How many diseases, how intolerable griefs bring they forth in the bodies of their possessors, as it were the fruits of their own wickedness! I know not what sweetness their beginnings have, but whosoever will remember his lusts shall understand that the end of pleasure is sadness. Which if it be able to cause happiness, there is no reason why beasts should not be thought blessed, whose whole intention is bent to supply their corporal wants. That pleasure which proceedeth from wife and children should be most honest; but it was too naturally spoken, that some tormentor invented children, whose condition, whatsoever it be, how biting it is, I need not tell thee, who hast had experience heretofore, and art not now free from care. In which I approve the opinion of Euripides, who said that they which had no children are happy by being unfortunate.[129]

[129] Cf. Androm. 420.


Habet hoc uoluptas omnis,
Stimulis agit fruentes
Apiumque par uolantum
Vbi grata mella fudit,
Fugit et nimis tenaci 5
Ferit icta corda morsu.


  All pleasure hath this property,
  She woundeth those who have her most.
  And, like unto the angry bee
  Who hath her pleasant honey lost,
  She flies away with nimble wing
  And in our hearts doth leave her sting.


Nihil igitur dubium est quin hae ad beatitudinem uiae deuia quaedam sint nec perducere quemquam eo ualeant ad quod se perducturas esse promittunt. Quantis uero implicitae malis sint, breuissime monstrabo. Quid enim? Pecuniamne congregare conaberis? Sed eripies habenti. Dignitatibus fulgere uelis? Danti supplicabis et qui praeire ceteros honore cupis, poscendi humilitate uilesces. Potentiamne desideras? Subiectorum insidiis obnoxius periculis subiacebis. Gloriam petas? Sed per aspera quaeque distractus securus esse desistis. Voluptariam uitam degas? Sed quis non spernat atque abiciat uilissimae fragilissimaeque rei corporis seruum? Iam uero qui bona prae se corporis ferunt, quam exigua, quam fragili possessione nituntur! Num enim elephantos mole, tauros robore superare poteritis, num tigres uelocitate praeibitis? Respicite caeli spatium, firmitudinem, celeritatem et aliquando desinite uilia mirari. Quod quidem caelum non his potius est quam sua qua regitur ratione mirandum. Formae uero nitor ut rapidus est, ut uelox et uernalium florum mutabilitate fugacior! Quod si, ut Aristoteles[130] ait, Lynceis oculis homines uterentur, ut eorum uisus obstantia penetraret, nonne introspectis uisceribus illud Alcibiadis superficie pulcherrimum corpus turpissimum uideretur? Igitur te pulchrum uideri non tua natura sed oculorum spectantium reddit infirmitas. Sed aestimate quam uultis nimio corporis bona, dum sciatis hoc quodcumque miramini triduanae febris igniculo posse dissolui! Ex quibus omnibus illud redigere in summam licet, quod haec quae nec praestare quae pollicentur bona possunt nec omnium bonorum congregatione perfecta sunt, ea nec ad beatitudinem quasi quidam calles ferunt nec beatos ipsa perficiunt.

[130] Probably from the lost Protrepticus of Aristotle. See Bywater, Journal of Philology, ii. (1869), 59, and Hartlich, Leipz. Stud. xi. (1889), 250.


Wherefore there is no doubt but that these ways to happiness are only certain by-paths, which can never bring any man thither whither they promise to lead him. And with how great evils they are beset, I will briefly show. For what? Wilt thou endeavour to gather money? But thou shalt take it away from him who hath it. Wilt thou excel in dignities? Thou shalt crouch to the giver, and thou who desirest to surpass others in honour shalt become vile by thy baseness in begging. Wishest thou for power? Thou shalt be in danger of thy subjects' treacheries. Seekest thou for glory? But, drawn into many dangers, thou shalt lose thy safety. Wilt thou live a voluptuous life? But who would not despise and neglect the service of so vile and frail a thing as his body? Now they who boast of the habilities of their body, upon how unsteadfast a possession do they ground themselves! For can you be bigger than elephants, or stronger than bulls? Or swifter than tigers? Look upon the space, firmness, and speedy motion of the heavens, and cease at length to have in admiration these base things. Which heavens are not more to be admired for these qualities than for the manner of their government. As for the glittering of beauty, how soon and swiftly doth it vanish away! As suddenly decaying and changing as the frail flowers in the spring. And if, as Aristotle saith, men had Lynceus's eyes, that they could see through stone walls, would not they judge that body of Alcibiades, seeming outwardly most fair, to be most foul and ugly by discovering his entrails? Wherefore not thy nature but the weakness of the beholders' eyes maketh thee seem fair. But esteem the goods of the body as much as you will, so that you acknowledge this, that whatsoever you admire may be dissolved with the burning of an ague of three days. Out of which we may briefly collect this sum; that these goods, which can neither perform that they promise, nor are perfect by having all that is good, do neither, as so many paths, lead men to happiness, nor make men happy of themselves.


Eheu quae miseros tramite deuios
  Abducit ignorantia!
Non aurum in uiridi quaeritis arbore
  Nec uite gemmas carpitis,
Non altis laqueos montibus abditis 5
  Vt pisce ditetis dapes
Nec uobis capreas si libeat sequi,
  Tyrrhena captatis uada.
Ipsos quin etiam fluctibus abditos
  Norunt recessus aequoris, 10
Quae gemmis niueis unda feracior
  Vel quae rubentis purpurae
Nec non quae tenero pisce uel asperis
  Praestent echinis litora.
Sed quonam lateat quod cupiunt bonum, 15
  Nescire caeci sustinent,
Et quod stelliferum trans abiit polum,
  Tellure demersi petunt.
Quid dignum stolidis mentibus inprecer?
  Opes honores ambiant; 20
Et cum falsa graui mole parauerint,
  Tum uera cognoscant bona.


  Alas, how ignorance makes wretches stray
        Out of the way!
  You from green trees expect no golden mines
        Nor pearls from vines,
  Nor use you on mountains to lay your net
        Fishes to get,
  Nor, if the pleasant sport of hunting please,
        Run you to seas.
  Men will be skilful in the hidden caves
        Of the ocean waves,
  And in what coasts the orient pearls are bred,
        Or purple red,
  Also, what different sorts of fishes store
        Each several shore.
  But when they come their chiefest good to find,
        Then are they blind,
  And search for that under the earth, which lies
        Above the skies.
  How should I curse these fools? Let thirst them hold
        Of fame and gold,
  That, having got false goods with pain, they learn
        True to discern.


"Hactenus mendacis formam felicitatis ostendisse suffecerit, quam si perspicaciter intueris, ordo est deinceps quae sit uera monstrare." "Atqui uideo," inquam, "nec opibus sufficientiam nec regnis potentiam nec reuerentiam dignitatibus nec celebritatem gloria nec laetitiam uoluptatibus posse contingere." "An etiam causas, cur id ita sit, deprehendisti?" "Tenui quidem ueluti rimula mihi uideor intueri, sed ex te apertius cognoscere malim."

"Atqui promptissima ratio est. Quod enim simplex est indiuisumque natura, id error humanus separat et a uero atque perfecto ad falsum imperfectumque traducit. An tu arbitraris quod nihilo indigeat egere potentia?" "Minime," inquam. "Recte tu quidem. Nam si quid est quod in ulla re inbecillioris ualentiae sit, in hac praesidio necesse est egeat alieno." "Ita est," inquam. "Igitur sufficientiae potentiaeque una est eademque natura." "Sic uidetur." "Quod uero huiusmodi sit, spernendumne esse censes an contra rerum omnium ueneratione dignissimum?" "At hoc," inquam, "ne dubitari quidem potest." "Addamus igitur sufficientiae potentiaeque reuerentiam, ut haec tria unum esse iudicemus." "Addamus, si quidem uera uolumus confiteri."

"Quid uero," inquit, "obscurumne hoc atque ignobile censes esse an omni celebritate clarissimum? Considera uero, ne quod nihilo indigere, quod potentissimum, quod honore dignissimum esse concessum est, egere claritudine quam sibi praestare non possit atque ob id aliqua ex parte uideatur abiectius." "Non possum," inquam, "quin hoc uti est ita etiam celeberrimum esse confitear." "Consequens igitur est ut claritudinem superioribus tribus nihil differre fateamur." "Consequitur," inquam. "Quod igitur nullius egeat alieni, quod suis cuncta uiribus possit, quod sit clarum atque reuerendum, nonne hoc etiam constat esse laetissimum?" "Sed unde huic," inquam, "tali maeror ullus obrepat ne cogitare quidem possum; quare plenum esse laetitiae, si quidem superiora manebunt, necesse est confiteri." "Atqui illud quoque per eadem necessarium est sufficientiae, potentiae, claritudinis, reuerentiae, iucunditatis nomina quidem esse diuersa, nullo modo uero discrepare substantiam." "Necesse est," inquam. "Hoc igitur quod est unum simplexque natura, prauitas humana dispertit et dum rei quae partibus caret partem conatur adipisci, nec portionem quae nulla est nec ipsam quam minime affectat assequitur." "Quonam," inquam, "modo?" "Qui diuitias," inquit, "petit penuriae fuga, de potentia nihil laborat, uilis obscurusque esse mauult, multas etiam sibi naturales quoque subtrahit uoluptates, ne pecuniam quam parauit amittat. Sed hoc modo ne sufficientia quidem contingit ei quem ualentia deserit, quem molestia pungit, quem uilitas abicit, quem recondit obscuritas. Qui uero solum posse desiderat, profligat opes, despicit uoluptates honoremque potentia carentem gloriam quoque nihili pendit. Sed hunc quoque quam multa deficiant uides. Fit enim ut aliquando necessariis egeat, ut anxietatibus mordeatur cumque haec depellere nequeat, etiam id quod maxime petebat potens esse desistat. Similiter ratiocinari de honoribus, gloria, uoluptatibus licet. Nam cum unumquodque horum idem quod cetera sit, quisquis horum aliquid sine ceteris petit, ne illud quidem quod desiderat apprehendit." "Quid igitur?" inquam. "Si qui cuncta simul cupiat adipisci, summam quidem ille beatitudinis uelit. Sed num in his eam reperiet, quae demonstrauimus id quod pollicentur non posse conferre?" "Minime," inquam. "In his igitur quae singula quaedam expetendorum praestare creduntur, beatitudo nullo modo uestiganda est." "Fateor," inquam, "et hoc nihil dici uerius potest." "Habes igitur," inquit, "et formam falsae felicitatis et causas. Deflecte nunc in aduersum mentis intuitum; ibi enim ueram quam promisimus statim uidebis." "Atqui haec," inquam, "uel caeco perspicua est eamque tu paulo ante monstrasti, dum falsae causas aperire conaris. Nam nisi fallor ea uera est et perfecta felicitas quae sufficientem, potentem, reuerendum, celebrem laetumque perficiat. Atque ut me interius animaduertisse cognoscas, quae unum horum, quoniam idem cuncta sunt, ueraciter praestare potest hanc esse plenam beatitudinem sine ambiguitate cognosco." "O te alumne hac opinione felicem, si quidem hoc," inquit, "adieceris…." "Quidnam?" inquam. "Essene aliquid in his mortalibus caducisque rebus putas quod huiusmodi statum possit afferre?" "Minime," inquam, "puto idque a te, nihil ut amplius desideretur, ostensum est." "Haec igitur uel imagines ueri boni uel inperfecta quaedam bona dare mortalibus uidentur, uerum autem atque perfectum bonum conferre non possunt." "Assentior," inquam. "Quoniam igitur agnouisti quae uera illa sit, quae autem beatitudinem mentiantur, nunc superest ut unde ueram hanc petere possis agnoscas." "Id quidem," inquam, "iam dudum uehementer exspecto." "Sed cum, ut in Timaeo[131] Platoni," inquit, "nostro placet, in minimis quoque rebus diuinum praesidium debeat implorari, quid nunc faciendum censes, ut illius summi boni sedem reperire mereamur?" "Inuocandum," inquam, "rerum omnium patrem, quo praetermisso nullum rite fundatur exordium." "Recte," inquit, ac simul ita modulata est.

[131] uti Timaeo codd. optimi.


"Let it suffice that we have hitherto discovered the form of false felicity, which if thou hast plainly seen, order now requireth that we show thee in what true happiness consisteth." "I see," quoth I, "that neither sufficiency by riches, nor power by kingdoms, nor respect by dignities, nor renown by glory, nor joy can be gotten by pleasures." "Hast thou also understood the causes why it is so?" "Methink I have a little glimpse of them, but I had rather thou wouldst declare them more plainly."

"The reason is manifest, for that which is simple and undivided of itself, is divided by men's error, and is translated from true and perfect to false and unperfect. Thinkest thou that which needeth nothing, to stand in need of power?" "No," quoth I. "Thou sayest well, for if any power in any respect be weak, in this it must necessarily stand in need of the help of others." "It is true," quoth I. "Wherefore sufficiency and power have one and the same nature." "So it seemeth." "Now thinkest thou, that which is of this sort ought to be despised, or rather that it is worthy to be respected above all other things?" "There can be no doubt of this," quoth I. "Let us add respect then to sufficiency and power, so that we judge these three to be one." "We must add it if we confess the truth."

"What now," quoth she, "thinkest thou this to be obscure and base, or rather most excellent and famous? Consider whether that which thou hast granted to want nothing, to be most potent, and most worthy of honour, may seem to want fame, which it cannot yield itself, and for that cause be in some respect more abject." "I must needs confess," quoth I, "that, being what it is, this is also most famous." "Consequently then we must acknowledge that fame differeth nothing from the former three." "We must so," quoth I. "Wherefore that which wanteth nothing, which can perform all things by its own power, which is famous and respected, is it not manifest that it is also most pleasant?" To which I answered: "How such a man should fall into any grief, I can by no means imagine. Wherefore if that which we have said hitherto be true, we must needs confess that he is most joyful and content." "And by the same reason it followeth that sufficiency, power, fame, respect, pleasure have indeed divers names, but differ not in substance." "It followeth indeed," quoth I. "This then, which is one and simple by nature, man's wickedness divideth, and while he endeavoureth to obtain part of that which hath no parts, he neither getteth a part, which is none, nor the whole, which he seeketh not after." "How is this?" quoth I. "He who seeketh after riches," quoth she, "to avoid want, taketh no thought for power, he had rather be base and obscure, he depriveth himself even of many natural pleasures that he may not lose the money which he hath gotten. But by this means he attaineth not to sufficiency, whom power forsaketh, whom trouble molesteth, whom baseness maketh abject, whom obscurity overwhelmeth. Again, he that only desireth power, consumeth wealth, despiseth pleasures, and setteth light by honour or glory, which is not potent. But thou seest how many things are wanting to this man also. For sometimes he wanteth necessaries, and is perplexed with anxieties, and being not able to rid himself, ceaseth to be powerful, which was the only thing he aimed at. The like discourse may be made of honours, glory, pleasures. For since every one of these things is the same with the rest, whosoever seeketh for any of them without the rest obtaineth not that which he desireth." "What then?" quoth I. "If one should desire to have them all together, he should wish for the sum of happiness, but shall he find it in these things which we have showed cannot perform what they promise?" "No," quoth I. "Wherefore we must by no means seek for happiness in these things which are thought to afford the several portions of that which is to be desired." "I confess it," quoth I, "and nothing can be more true than this." "Now then," quoth she, "thou hast both the form and causes of false felicity; cast but the eyes of thy mind on the contrary, and thou shalt presently espy true happiness, which we promised to show thee." "This," quoth I, "is evident, even to him that is blind, and thou showedst it a little before, while thou endeavouredst to lay open the causes of the false. For, if I be not deceived, that is true and perfect happiness which maketh a man sufficient, potent, respected, famous, joyful. And that thou mayest know that I understood thee aright, that which can truly perform any one of these because they are all one, I acknowledge to be full and perfect happiness." "O my scholar, I think thee happy by having this opinion, if thou addest this also." "What?" quoth I. "Dost thou imagine that there is any mortal or frail thing which can cause this happy estate?" "I do not," quoth I, "and that hath been so proved by thee, that more cannot be desired." "Wherefore these things seem to afford men the images of the true good, or certain unperfect goods, but they cannot give them the true and perfect good itself." "I am of the same mind," quoth I. "Now then, since thou knowest wherein true happiness consisteth, and what have only a false show of it, it remaineth that thou shouldst learn where thou mayest seek for this which is true." "This is that," quoth I, "which I have long earnestly expected." "But since, as Plato teacheth (in Timaeus),[132] we must implore God's assistance even in our least affairs, what, thinkest thou, must we do now, that we may deserve to find the seat of that sovereign good?" "We must," quoth I, "invocate the Father of all things, without whose remembrance no beginning hath a good foundation." "Thou sayest rightly," quoth she, and withal sung in this sort.

[132] Cf. Tim. 27.


"O qui perpetua mundum ratione gubernas
Terrarum caelique sator qui tempus ab aeuo
Ire iubes stabilisque manens das cuncta moueri.
Quem non externae pepulerunt fingere causae
Materiae fluitantis opus, uerum insita summi 5
Forma boni liuore carens, tu cuncta superno
Ducis ab exemplo, pulchrum pulcherrimus ipse
Mundum mente gerens similique in imagine formans
Perfectasque iubens perfectum absoluere partes.
Tu numeris elementa ligas ut frigora flammis 10
Arida conueniant liquidis, ne purior ignis
Euolet aut mersas deducant pondera terras.
Tu triplicis mediam naturae cuncta mouentem
Conectens animam per consona membra resoluis.
Quae cum secta duos motum glomerauit in orbes, 15
In semet reditura meat mentemque profundam
Circuit et simili conuertit imagine caelum.
Tu causis animas paribus uitasque minores
Prouehis et leuibus sublimes curribus aptans
In caelum terramque seris quas lege benigna 20
Ad te conuersas reduci facis igne reuerti.
Da pater augustam menti conscendere sedem,
Da fontem lustrare boni, da luce reperta
In te conspicuos animi defigere uisus.
Dissice terrenae nebulas et pondera molis 25
Atque tuo splendore mica! Tu namque serenum,
Tu requies tranquilla piis, te cernere finis,
Principium, uector, dux, semita, terminus idem.


  "O Thou, that dost the world in lasting order guide,
  Father of heaven and earth, Who makest time swiftly slide,
  And, standing still Thyself, yet fram'st all moving laws,
  Who to Thy work wert moved by no external cause:
  But by a sweet desire, where envy hath no place,
  Thy goodness moving Thee to give each thing his grace,
  Thou dost all creatures' forms from highest patterns take,
  From Thy fair mind the world fair like Thyself doth make.
  Thus Thou perfect the whole perfect each part dost frame.
  Thou temp'rest elements, making cold mixed with flame
  And dry things join with moist, lest fire away should fly,
  Or earth, opprest with weight, buried too low should lie.
  Thou in consenting parts fitly disposed hast
  Th'all-moving soul in midst of threefold nature placed,
  Which, cut in several parts that run a different race,
  Into itself returns, and circling doth embrace
  The highest mind, and heaven with like proportion drives.
  Thou with like cause dost make the souls and lesser lives,
  Fix them in chariots swift, and widely scatterest
  O'er heaven and earth; then at Thy fatherly behest
  They stream, like fire returning, back to Thee, their God.
  Dear Father, let my mind Thy hallowed seat ascend,
  Let me behold the spring of grace and find Thy light,
  That I on Thee may fix my soul's well clearéd sight.
  Cast off the earthly weight wherewith I am opprest,
  Shine as Thou art most bright, Thou only calm and rest
  To pious men whose end is to behold Thy ray,
  Who their beginning art, their guide, their bound, and way.[134]

[133] This poem is a masterly abridgment of the first part of the Timaeus, and was eagerly fastened on by commentators of the early Middle Ages whose direct knowledge of Plato was confined to the translation of that dialogue by Chalcidius.

[134] Cf. the string of nouns in Tr. iv. (supra, p. 70 ad fin.).


Quoniam igitur quae sit imperfecti, quae etiam perfecti boni forma uidisti, nunc demonstrandum reor quonam haec felicitatis perfectio constituta sit. In quo illud primum arbitror inquirendum, an aliquod huiusmodi bonum quale paulo ante definisti in rerum natura possit exsistere, ne nos praeter rei subiectae ueritatem cassa cogitationis imago decipiat. Sed quin exsistat sitque hoc ueluti quidam omnium fons bonorum negari nequit. Omne enim quod inperfectum esse dicitur, id inminutione perfecti inperfectum esse perhibetur. Quo fit, ut si in quolibet genere inperfectum quid esse uideatur, in eo perfectum quoque aliquid esse necesse sit. Etenim perfectione sublata, unde illud quod inperfectum perhibetur exstiterit ne fingi quidem potest. Neque enim ab deminutis inconsummatisque natura rerum coepit exordium, sed ab integris absolutisque procedens in haec extrema atque effeta dilabitur. Quod si, uti paulo ante monstrauimus, est quaedam boni fragilis inperfecta felicitas, esse aliquam solidam perfectamque non potest dubitari." "Firmissime," inquam, "uerissimeque conclusum est." "Quo uero," inquit, "habitet, ita considera. Deum rerum omnium principem bonum esse communis humanorum conceptio probat animorum. Nam cum nihil deo melius excogitari queat, id quo melius nihil est bonum esse quis dubitet? Ita uero bonum esse deum ratio demonstrat, ut perfectum quoque in eo bonum esse conuincat. Nam ni tale sit, rerum omnium princeps esse non poterit. Erit enim eo praestantius aliquid perfectum possidens bonum, quod hoc prius atque antiquius esse uideatur; omnia namque perfecta minus integris priora esse claruerunt. Quare ne in infinitum ratio prodeat, confitendum est summum deum summi perfectique boni esse plenissimum. Sed perfectum bonum ueram esse beatitudinem constituimus; ueram igitur beatitudinem in summo deo sitam esse necesse est." "Accipio," inquam, "nec est quod contradici ullo modo queat." "Sed quaeso," inquit, "te uide quam id sancte atque inuiolabiliter probes quod boni summi summum deum diximus esse plenissimum." "Quonam," inquam, "modo?" "Ne hunc rerum omnium patrem illud summum bonum quo plenus esse perhibetur uel extrinsecus accepisse uel ita naturaliter habere praesumas, quasi habentis dei habitaeque beatitudinis diuersam cogites esse substantiam. Nam si extrinsecus acceptum putes, praestantius id quod dederit ab eo quod acceperit existimare possis. Sed hunc esse rerum omnium praecellentissimum dignissime confitemur. Quod si natura quidem inest, sed est ratione diuersum, cum de rerum principe loquamur deo, fingat qui potest: quis haec diuersa coniunxerit? Postremo quod a qualibet re diuersum est, id non est illud a quo intellegitur esse diuersum. Quare quod a summo bono diuersum est sui natura, id summum bonum non est—quod nefas est de eo cogitare quo nihil constat esse praestantius. Omnino enim nullius rei natura suo principio melior poterit exsistere, quare quod omnium principium sit, id etiam sui substantia summum esse bonum uerissima ratione concluserim." "Rectissime," inquam. "Sed summum bonum beatitudinem esse concessum est." "Ita est," inquam. "Igitur," inquit, "deum esse ipsam beatitudinem necesse est confiteri." "Nec propositis," inquam, "prioribus refragari queo et illis hoc inlatum consequens esse perspicio."

"Respice," inquit, "an hinc quoque idem firmius approbetur, quod duo summa bona quae a se diuersa sint esse non possunt. Etenim quae discrepant bona, non esse alterum quod sit alterum liquet; quare neutrum poterit esse perfectum, cum alterutri alterum deest. Sed quod perfectum non sit, id summum non esse manifestum est; nullo modo igitur quae summa sunt bona ea possunt esse diuersa. Atqui et beatitudinem et deum summum bonum esse collegimus; quare ipsam necesse est summam esse beatitudinem quae sit summa diuinitas." "Nihil," inquam, "nec reapse uerius[135] nec ratiocinatione firmius nec deo dignius concludi potest." "Super haec," inquit, "igitur ueluti geometrae solent demonstratis propositis aliquid inferre quae porismata ipsi uocant, ita ego quoque tibi ueluti corollarium dabo. Nam quoniam beatitudinis adeptione fiunt homines beati, beatitudo uero est ipsa diuinitas, diuinitatis adeptione beatos fieri manifestum est: sed uti iustitiae adeptione iusti, sapientiae sapientes fiunt, ita diuinitatem adeptos deos fieri simili ratione necesse est. Omnis igitur beatus deus, sed natura quidem unus; participatione uero nihil prohibet esse quam plurimos." "Et pulchrum," inquam, "hoc atque pretiosum, siue porisma siue corollarium uocari mauis." "Atqui hoc quoque pulchrius nihil est, quod his annectendum esse ratio persuadet." "Quid?" inquam.

"Cum multa," inquit, "beatitudo continere uideatur, utrumne haec omnia unum ueluti corpus beatitudinis quadam partium uarietate coniungant an sit eorum aliquid quod beatitudinis substantiam compleat, ad hoc uero cetera referantur?" "Vellem," inquam, "id ipsarum rerum commemoratione patefaceres." "Nonne," inquit, "beatitudinem bonum esse censemus?" "Ac summum quidem," inquam. "Addas," inquit, "hoc omnibus licet. Nam eadem sufficientia summa est, eadem summa potentia, reuerentia quoque, claritas ac uoluptas beatitudo esse iudicatur. Quid igitur? Haecine omnia bonum—sufficientia potentia ceteraque—ueluti quaedam beatitudinis membra sunt an ad bonum ueluti ad uerticem cuncta referuntur?" "Intellego," inquam, "quid inuestigandum proponas, sed quid constituas audire desidero." "Cuius discretionem rei sic accipe. Si haec omnia beatitudinis membra forent, a se quoque inuicem discreparent. Haec est enim partium natura ut unum corpus diuersa componant. Atqui haec omnia idem esse monstrata sunt; minime igitur membra sunt. Alioquin ex uno membro beatitudo uidebitur esse coniuncta—quod fieri nequit." "Id quidem," inquam, "dubium non est, sed id quod restat exspecto." "Ad bonum uero cetera referri palam est. Idcirco enim sufficientia petitur quoniam bonum esse iudicatur, idcirco potentia quoniam id quoque esse creditur bonum; idem de reuerentia, claritudine, iucunditate coniectare licet. Omnium igitur expetendorum summa atque causa bonum est. Quod enim neque re neque similitudine ullum in se retinet bonum, id expeti nullo modo potest. Contraque etiam quae natura bona non sunt, tamen si esse uideantur, quasi uere bona sint appetuntur. Quo fit uti summa, cardo atque causa expetendorum omnium bonitas esse iure credatur. Cuius uero causa quid expetitur, id maxime uidetur optari, ueluti si salutis causa quispiam uelit equitare, non tam equitandi motum desiderat quam salutis effectum. Cum igitur omnia boni gratia petantur, non illa potius quam bonum ipsum desideratur ab omnibus. Sed propter quod cetera optantur, beatitudinem esse concessimus; quare sic quoque sola quaeritur beatitudo. Ex quo liquido apparet ipsius boni et beatitudinis unam atque eandem esse substantiam." "Nihil uideo cur dissentire quispiam possit." "Sed deum ueramque beatitudinem unum atque idem esse monstrauimus." "Ita," inquam. "Securo igitur concludere licet dei quoque in ipso bono nec usquam alio sitam esse substantiam.

[135] reapse uerius Schepss: re ab seuerius uel re ipsa uerius codd. opt.


Wherefore since thou hast seen what is the form of perfect and imperfect good, now I think we must show in what this perfection of happiness is placed. And inquire first whether there can be any such good extant in the world, as thou hast defined; lest, contrary to truth, we be deceived with an empty show of thought. But it cannot be denied that there is some such thing extant which is as it were the fountain of all goodness. For all that is said to be imperfect is so termed for the want it hath of perfection. Whence it followeth that if in any kind we find something imperfect, there must needs be something perfect also in the same kind. For if we take away perfection we cannot so much as devise how there should be any imperfection. For the nature of things began not from that which is defective and not complete, but, proceeding from entire and absolute, falleth into that which is extreme and enfeebled. But if, as we showed before, there be a certain imperfect felicity of frail goods, it cannot be doubted but that there is some solid and perfect happiness also." "Thou hast," quoth I, "concluded most firmly and most truly." "Now where this good dwelleth," quoth she, "consider this. The common conceit of men's minds proveth that God the Prince of all things is good. For, since nothing can be imagined better than God, who doubteth but that is good than which is nothing better? And reason doth in such sort demonstrate God to be good that it convinceth Him to be perfectly good. For unless He were so, He could not be the chief of all things. For there would be something better than He, having perfect goodness, which could seem to be of greater antiquity and eminence than He. For it is already manifest that perfect things were before the imperfect. Wherefore, lest our reasoning should have no end, we must confess that the Sovereign God is most full of sovereign and perfect goodness. But we have concluded that perfect goodness is true happiness, wherefore true blessedness must necessarily be placed in the most high God." "I agree," quoth I, "neither can this be any way contradicted." "But I pray thee," quoth she, "see how boldly and inviolably thou approvest that which we said, that the Sovereign God is most full of sovereign goodness." "How?" quoth I. "That thou presumest not that this Father of all things hath either received from others that sovereign good with which He is said to be replenished, or hath it naturally in such sort that thou shouldst think that the substance of the blessedness which is had, and of God who hath it, were diverse. For if thou thinkest that He had it from others, thou mayest also infer that he who gave it was better than the receiver. But we most worthily confess that He is the most excellent of all things. And if He hath it by nature, but as a diverse thing, since we speak of God the Prince of all things, let him that can, invent who united these diverse things. Finally, that which is different from anything, is not that from which it is understood to differ. Wherefore that which is naturally different from the sovereign good, is not the sovereign good itself. Which it were impious to think of God, than whom, we know certainly, nothing is better. For doubtless the nature of nothing can be better than the beginning of it. Wherefore I may most truly conclude that which is the beginning of all things to be also in His own substance the chiefest good." "Most rightly," quoth I. "But it is granted that the chiefest good is blessedness?" "It is," quoth I. "Wherefore," quoth she, "we must needs confess that blessedness itself is God." "I can neither contradict," quoth I, "thy former propositions, and I see this illation followeth from them."

"Consider," saith she, "if the same be not more firmly proved hence, because there cannot be two chief goods, the one different from the other. For it is manifest that of those goods which differ, the one is not the other, wherefore neither of them can be perfect, wanting the other. But manifestly that which is not perfect, is not the chiefest, wherefore the chief goods cannot be diverse. Now we have proved that both blessedness and God are the chiefest good, wherefore that must needs be the highest blessedness which is the highest divinity." "There can be nothing," quoth I, "concluded more truly than this, nor more firmly in arguing, nor more worthy God himself." "Upon this then," quoth she, "as the geometricians[136] are wont, out of their propositions which they have demonstrated, to infer something which they call porismata (deductions) so will I give thee as it were a corollarium. For since that men are made blessed by the obtaining of blessedness, and blessedness is nothing else but divinity, it is manifest that men are made blessed by the obtaining of divinity. And as men are made just by the obtaining of justice, and wise by the obtaining of wisdom, so they who obtain divinity must needs in like manner become gods. Wherefore everyone that is blessed is a god, but by nature there is only one God; but there may be many by participation." "This is," quoth I, "an excellent and precious porisma or corollarium." "But there is nothing more excellent than that which reason persuadeth us to add." "What?" quoth I.

"Since," quoth she, "blessedness seemeth to contain many things, whether do they all concur as divers parts to the composition of one entire body of blessedness, or doth some one of them form the substance of blessedness to which the rest are to be referred?" "I desire," quoth I, "that thou wouldst declare this point, by the enumeration of the particulars." "Do we not think," quoth she, "that blessedness is good?" "Yea, the chiefest good," quoth I. "Thou mayest," quoth she, "add this to them all. For blessedness is accounted the chiefest sufficiency, the chiefest power, respect, fame, and pleasure. What then? Are all these— sufficiency, power, and the rest—the good, in the sense that they are members of it, or rather are they referred to good as to the head?" "I understand," quoth I, "what thou proposest, but I desire to hear what thou concludest." "This is the decision of this matter. If all these were members of blessedness, they should differ one from another. For this is the nature of parts, that being divers they compose one body. But we have proved that all these are one and the same thing. Wherefore they are no members, otherwise blessedness should be compacted of one member, which cannot be." "There is no doubt of this," quoth I, "but I expect that which is behind." "It is manifest that the rest are to be referred to goodness; for sufficiency is desired, because it is esteemed good, and likewise power, because that likewise is thought to be good. And we may conjecture the same of respect, fame, and pleasure. Wherefore goodness is the sum and cause of all that is desired. For that which is neither good indeed, nor beareth any show of goodness, can by no means be sought after. And contrariwise those things which are not good of their own nature, yet, if they seem such, are desired as if they were truly good. So that the sum, origin, and cause of all that is sought after is rightly thought to be goodness. And that on account of which a thing is sought, seemeth to be the chief object of desire. As if one would ride for his health, he doth not so much desire the motion of riding, as the effect of health. Wherefore, since all things are desired in respect of goodness, they are not so much wished for as goodness itself. But we granted that to be blessedness for which other things are desired, wherefore in like manner only blessedness is sought after; by which it plainly appeareth, that goodness and blessedness have one and the self-same substance." "I see not how any man can dissent." "But we have showed that God and true blessedness are one and the self-same thing." "It is so," quoth I. "We may then securely conclude that the substance of God consisteth in nothing else but in goodness.

[136] Vide supra, Tr. iii. p. 40.


Huc omnes pariter uenite capti
Quos fallax ligat improbis catenis
Terrenas habitans libido mentes,
Haec erit uobis requies laborum,
Hic portus placida manens quiete, 5
Hoc patens unum miseris asylum,
Non quidquid Tagus aureis harenis
Donat aut Hermus rutilante ripa
Aut Indus calido propinquus orbi
Candidis miscens uirides lapillos, 10
Inlustrent aciem magisque caecos
In suas condunt animos tenebras.
Hoc quidquid placet excitatque mentes,
Infimis tellus aluit cauernis;
Splendor quo regitur uigetque caelum, 15
Vitat obscuras animae ruinas.
Hanc quisquis poterit notare lucem,
Candidos Phoebi radios negabit."


    Come hither, all you that are bound,
    Whose base and earthly minds are drowned
  By lust which doth them tie in cruel chains:
    Here is a seat for men opprest,
    Here is a port of pleasant rest;
  Here may a wretch have refuge from his pains.
    No gold, which Tagus' sands bestow,
    Nor which on Hermus' banks doth flow,
  Nor precious stones which scorched Indians get[138],
    Can clear the sharpness of the mind,
    But rather make it far more blind,
  And in the farther depth of darkness set.
    For this that sets our souls on work
    Buried in caves of earth doth lurk.
  But heaven is guided by another light,
    Which causeth us to shun the dark[139],
    And who this light doth truly mark,
  Must needs deny that Phoebus' beams are bright."

  [137] For the discussion on the nature of good in this poem and the next
  piece of prose cf. supra, pp. 38 ff.

  [138] Literally, "Nor Indus, neighbour of the torrid zone, blending its
  green and white pebbles."

[139] Literally, "The light which gives guidance and vigour to the sky shuns the darkness of ruined minds."


"Assentior," inquam, "cuncta enim firmissimis nexa rationibus constant." Tum illa, "Quanti," inquit, "aestimabis, si bonum ipsum quid sit agnoueris?" "Infinito," inquam, "si quidem mihi pariter deum quoque qui bonum est continget agnoscere." "Atqui hoc uerissima," inquit, "ratione patefaciam, maneant modo quae paulo ante conclusa sunt." "Manebunt." "Nonne," inquit, "monstrauimus ea quae appetuntur pluribus idcirco uera perfectaque bona non esse quoniam a se inuicem discreparent cumque alteri abesset alterum, plenum absolutumque bonum afferre non posse? Tum autem uerum bonum fieri cum in unam ueluti formam atque efficientiam colliguntur, ut quae sufficientia est, eadem sit potentia, reuerentia, claritas atque iucunditas, nisi uero unum atque idem omnia sint, nihil habere quo inter expetenda numerentur?" "Demonstratum," inquam, "nec dubitari ullo modo potest." "Quae igitur cum discrepant minime bona sunt, cum uero unum esse coeperint, bona fiunt; nonne haec ut bona sint, unitatis fieri adeptione contingit?" "Ita," inquam, "uidetur." "Sed omne quod bonum est boni participatione bonum esse concedis an minime?" "Ita est." "Oportet igitur idem esse unum atque bonum simili ratione concedas; eadem namque substantia est eorum quorum naturaliter non est diuersus effectus." "Negare," inquam, "nequeo." "Nostine igitur," inquit, "omne quod est tam diu manere atque subsistere quam diu sit unum, sed interire atque dissolui pariter atque unum destiterit?" "Quonam modo?" "Vt in animalibus," inquit, "cum in unum coeunt ac permanent anima corpusque, id animal uocatur; cum uero haec unitas utriusque separatione dissoluitur, interire nec iam esse animal liquet. Ipsum quoque corpus cum in una forma membrorum coniunctione permanet, humana uisitur species; at si distributae segregataeque partes corporis distraxerint unitatem, desinit esse quod fuerat. Eoque modo percurrenti cetera procul dubio patebit subsistere unumquodque, dum unum est, cum uero unum esse desinit, interire." "Consideranti," inquam, "mihi plura minime aliud uidetur." "Estne igitur," inquit, "quod in quantum naturaliter agat relicta subsistendi appetentia uenire ad interitum corruptionemque desideret?" "Si animalia," inquam, "considerem quae habent aliquam uolendi nolendique naturam, nihil inuenio quod nullis extra cogentibus abiciant manendi intentionem et ad interitum sponte festinent. Omne namque animal tueri salutem laborat, mortem uero perniciemque deuitat. Sed quid de herbis arboribusque, quid de inanimatis omnino consentiam rebus prorsus dubito."

"Atqui non est quod de hoc quoque possis ambigere, cum herbas atque arbores intuearis primum sibi conuenientibus innasci locis, ubi quantum earum natura queat cito exarescere atque interire non possint. Nam aliae quidem campis aliae montibus oriuntur, alias ferunt paludes, aliae saxis haerent, aliarum fecundae sunt steriles harenae, quas si in alia quispiam loca transferre conetur, arescant. Sed dat cuique natura quod conuenit et ne, dum manere possunt, intereant, elaborat. Quid quod omnes uelut in terras ore demerso trahunt alimenta radicibus ac per medullas robur corticemque diffundunt? Quid quod mollissimum quidque, sicuti medulla est, interiore semper sede reconditur, extra uero quadam ligni firmitate, ultimus autem cortex aduersum caeli intemperiem quasi mali patiens defensor opponitur? Iam uero quanta est naturae diligentia, ut cuncta semine multiplicato propagentur! Quae omnia non modo ad tempus manendi uerum generatim quoque quasi in perpetuum permanendi ueluti quasdam machinas esse quis nesciat? Ea etiam quae inanimata esse creduntur nonne quod suum est quaeque simili ratione desiderant? Cur enim flammas quidem sursum leuitas uehit, terras uero deorsum pondus deprimit, nisi quod haec singulis loca motionesque conueniunt? Porro autem quod cuique consentaneum est, id unumquodque conseruat, sicuti ea quae sunt inimica corrumpunt. Iam uero quae dura sunt ut lapides, adhaerent tenacissime partibus suis et ne facile dissoluantur resistunt. Quae uero liquentia ut aer atque aqua, facile quidem diuidentibus cedunt, sed cito in ea rursus a quibus sunt abscisa relabuntur, ignis uero omnem refugit sectionem. Neque nunc nos de uoluntariis animae cognoscentis motibus, sed de naturali intentione tractamus, sicuti est quod acceptas escas sine cogitatione transigimus, quod in somno spiritum ducimus nescientes; nam ne in animalibus quidem manendi amor ex animae uoluntatibus, uerum ex naturae principiis uenit. Nam saepe mortem cogentibus causis quam natura reformidat uoluntas amplectitur, contraque illud quo solo mortalium rerum durat diuturnitas gignendi opus, quod natura semper appetit, interdum coercet uoluntas. Adeo haec sui caritas non ex animali motione sed ex naturali intentione procedit. Dedit enim prouidentia creatis a se rebus hanc uel maximam manendi causam ut quoad possunt naturaliter manere desiderent; quare nihil est quod ullo modo queas dubitare cuncta quae sunt appetere naturaliter constantiam permanendi, deuitare perniciem."

"Confiteor," inquam, "nunc me indubitato cernere quae dudum incerta uidebantur." "Quod autem," inquit, "subsistere ac permanere petit, id unum esse desiderat; hoc enim sublato ne esse quidem cuiquam permanebit." "Verum est," inquam. "Omnia igitur," inquit, "unum desiderant." Consensi. "Sed unum id ipsum monstrauimus esse quod bonum." "Ita quidem." "Cuncta igitur bonum petunt, quod quidem ita describas licet: ipsum bonum esse quod desideretur ab omnibus." "Nihil," inquam, "uerius excogitari potest. Nam uel ad nihil unum cuncta referuntur et uno ueluti uertice destituta sine rectore fluitabunt, aut si quid est ad quod uniuersa festinent, id erit omnium summum bonorum." Et illa: "Nimium," inquit, "o alumne laetor, ipsam enim mediae ueritatis notam mente fixisti. Sed in hoc patuit tibi quod ignorare te paulo ante dicebas." "Quid?" inquam. "Quis esset," inquit, "rerum omnium finis. Is est enim profecto, quod desideratur ab omnibus, quod quia bonum esse collegimus, oportet rerum omnium finem bonum esse fateamur.


"I consent," quoth I, "for all is grounded upon most firm reasons." "But what account wilt thou make," quoth she, "to know what goodness itself is?" "I will esteem it infinitely," quoth I, "because by this means I shall come to know God also, who is nothing else but goodness." "I will conclude this," quoth she, "most certainly, if those things be not denied which I have already proved." "They shall not," quoth I. "Have we not proved," quoth she, "that those things which are desired of many, are not true and perfect goods, because they differ one from another and, being separated, cannot cause complete and absolute goodness, which is only found when they are united as it were into one form and causality, that the same may be sufficiency, power, respect, fame, and pleasure? And except they be all one and the same thing, that they have nothing worth the desiring?" "It hath been proved," quoth I, "neither can it be any way doubted of." "Those things, then, which, when they differ, are not good and when they are one, become good, are they not made good by obtaining unity?" "So methink," quoth I. "But dost thou grant that all that is good is good by partaking goodness?" "It is so." "Thou must grant then likewise that unity and goodness are the same. For those things have the same substance, which naturally have not diverse effects." "I cannot deny it," quoth I. "Knowest thou then," quoth she, "that everything that is doth so long remain and subsist as it is one, and perisheth and is dissolved so soon as it ceaseth to be one?" "How?" "As in living creatures," quoth she, "so long as the body and soul remain united, the living creature remaineth. But when this unity is dissolved by their separation, it is manifest that it perisheth, and is no longer a living creature. The body also itself, so long as it remaineth in one form by the conjunction of the parts, appeareth the likeness of a man. But if the members of the body, being separated and sundered, have lost their unity, it is no longer the same. And in like manner it will be manifest to him that will descend to other particulars, that everything continueth so long as it is one, and perisheth when it loseth unity." "Considering more particulars, I find it to be no otherwise." "Is there anything," quoth she, "that in the course of nature, leaving the desire of being, seeketh to come to destruction and corruption?" "If," quoth I, "I consider living creatures which have any nature to will and nill, I find nothing that without extern compulsion forsake the intention to remain, and of their own accord hasten to destruction. For every living creature laboureth to preserve his health, and escheweth death and detriment. But what I should think of herbs, and trees, and of all things without life, I am altogether doubtful."

"But there is no cause why thou shouldst doubt of this, if thou considerest first that herbs and trees grow in places agreeable to their nature, where, so much as their constitution permitteth, they cannot soon wither and perish. For some grow in fields, other upon hills, some in fenny, other in stony places, and the barren sands are fertile for some, which if thou wouldst transplant into other places they die. But nature giveth every one that which is fitting, and striveth to keep them from decaying so long as they can remain. What should I tell thee, if all of them, thrusting as it were their lips into the ground, draw nourishment by their roots, and convey substance and bark by the inward pith? What, that always the softest, as the pith, is placed within, and is covered without by the strength of the wood, and last of all the bark is exposed to the weather, as being best able to bear it off? And how great is the diligence of nature that all things may continue by the multiplication of seed; all which who knoweth not to be, as it were, certain engines, not only to remain for a time, but successively in a manner to endure for ever? Those things also which are thought to be without all life, doth not every one in like manner desire that which appertaineth to their own good? For why doth levity lift up flames, or heaviness weigh down the earth, but because these places and motions are convenient for them? And that which is agreeable to everything conserveth it, as that which is opposite causeth corruption. Likewise those things which are hard, as stones, stick most firmly to their parts, and make great resistance to any dissolution. And liquid things, as air and water, are indeed easily divided, but do easily also join again. And fire flieth all division. Neither do we now treat of the voluntary motions of the understanding soul, but only of natural operations. Of which sort is, to digest that which we have eaten, without thinking of it, to breathe in our sleep not thinking what we do. For even in living creatures the love of life proceedeth not from the will of the soul, but from the principles of nature. For the will many times embraceth death upon urgent occasions, which nature abhorreth; and contrariwise the act of generation, by which alone the continuance of mortal things is maintained, is sometimes bridled by the will, though nature doth always desire it. So true it is that this self-love proceedeth not from any voluntary motion, but from natural intention. For providence gave to her creatures this as the greatest cause of continuance, that they naturally desire to continue so long as they may, wherefore there is no cause why thou shouldst any way doubt that all things which are desire naturally stability of remaining, and eschew corruption."

"I confess," quoth I, "that I now see undoubtedly that which before seemed very doubtful." "Now that," quoth she, "which desireth to continue and remain seeketh to have unity. For if this be taken away, being itself cannot remain." "It is true," quoth I. "All things then," quoth she, "desire unity." I granted it to be so. "But we have showed that unity is the same as goodness." "You have indeed." "All things then desire goodness, which thou mayest define thus: Goodness is that which is desired of all things." "There can be nothing imagined more true. For either all things have reference to no one principle and, being destitute as it were of one head, shall be in confusion without any ruler: or if there be anything to which all things hasten, that must be the chiefest of all goods." "I rejoice greatly O scholar," quoth she, "for thou hast fixed in thy mind the very mark of verity. But in this thou hast discovered that which a little before thou saidest thou wert ignorant of." "What is that?" quoth I. "What the end of all things is," quoth she. "For certainly it is that which is desired of all things, which since we have concluded to be goodness, we must also confess that goodness is the end of all things.


Quisquis profunda mente uestigat uerum
Cupitque nullis ille deuiis falli,
In se reuoluat intimi lucem uisus
Longosque in orbem cogat inflectens motus
Animumque doceat quidquid extra molitur 5
Suis retrusum possidere thesauris.
Dudum quod atra texit erroris nubes
Lucebit ipso perspicacius Phoebo.
Non omne namque mente depulit lumen
Obliuiosam corpus inuehens molem. 10
Haeret profecto semen introrsum ueri
Quod excitatur uentilante doctrina.
Nam cur rogati sponte recta censetis,
Ni mersus alto uiueret fomes corde?
Quod si Platonis Musa personat uerum, 15
Quod quisque discit immemor recordatur."


  He that would seek the truth with thoughts profound
  And would not stray in ways that are not right,
  He to himself must turn his inward sight,
  And guide his motions in a circled round,
  Teaching his mind that ever she design
  Herself in her own treasures to possess:
  So that which late lay hidden in cloudiness
  More bright and clear than Phoebus' beams shall shine.
  Flesh hath not quenched all the spirit's light,
  Though this oblivion's lump holds her opprest.
  Some seed of truth remaineth in our breast,
  Which skilful learning eas'ly doth excite.
  For being askt how can we answer true
  Unless that grace within our hearts did dwell?
  If Plato's heavenly muse the truth us tell,
  We learning things remember them anew."[140]

[140] For Plato's doctrine of Reminiscence cf. Meno 81-86, and Phaedo 72-76.


Tum ego: "Platoni," inquam, "uehementer assentior, nam me horum iam secundo commemoras, primum quod memoriam corporea contagione, dehinc cum maeroris mole pressus amisi." Tum illa: "Si priora," inquit, "concessa respicias, ne illud quidem longius aberit quin recorderis quod te dudum nescire confessus es." "Quid?" inquam. "Quibus," ait illa, "gubernaculis mundus regatur." "Memini," inquam, "me inscitiam meam fuisse confessum, sed quid afferas, licet iam prospiciam, planius tamen ex te audire desidero." "Mundum," inquit, "hunc deo regi paulo ante minime dubitandum putabas." "Ne nunc quidem arbitror," inquam, "nec umquam dubitandum putabo quibusque in hoc rationibus accedam breuiter exponam. Mundus hic ex tam diuersis contrariisque partibus in unam formam minime conuenisset, nisi unus esset qui tam diuersa coniungeret. Coniuncta uero naturarum ipsa diuersitas inuicem discors dissociaret atque diuelleret, nisi unus esset qui quod nexuit contineret. Non tam uero certus naturae ordo procederet nec tam dispositos motus locis, temporibus, efficientia, spatiis, qualitatibus explicarent, nisi unus esset qui has mutationum uarietates manens ipse disponeret. Hoc quidquid est quo condita manent atque agitantur, usitato cunctis uocabulo deum nomino."

Tum illa: "Cum haec," inquit, "ita sentias, paruam mihi restare operam puto ut felicitatis compos patriam sospes reuisas. Sed quae proposuimus intueamur. Nonne in beatitudine sufficientiam numerauimus deumque beatitudinem ipsam esse consensimus?" "Ita quidem." "Et ad mundum igitur," inquit, "regendum nullis extrinsecus adminiculis indigebit; alioquin si quo egeat, plenam sufficientiam non habebit." "Id," inquam, "ita est necessarium." "Per se igitur solum cuncta disponit." "Negari," inquam, "nequit." "Atqui deus ipsum bonum esse monstratus est." "Memini," inquam. "Per bonum igitur cuncta disponit, si quidem per se regit omnia quem bonum esse consensimus et hic est ueluti quidam clauus atque gubernaculum quo mundana machina stabilis atque incorrupta seruatur." "Vehementer assentior," inquam, "et id te paulo ante dicturam tenui licet suspicione prospexi." "Credo;" inquit, "iam enim ut arbitror uigilantius ad cernenda uera oculos deducis. Sed quod dicam non minus ad contuendum patet." "Quid?" inquam. "Cum deus," inquit, "omnia bonitatis clauo gubernare iure credatur eademque omnia sicuti docui ad bonum naturali intentione festinent, num dubitari potest quin uoluntaria regantur seque ad disponentis nutum ueluti conuenientia contemperataque rectori sponte conuertant?" "Ita," inquam, "necesse est; nec beatum regimen esse uideretur, si quidem detrectantium iugum foret, non obtemperantium salus." "Nihil est igitur quod naturam seruans deo contraire conetur." "Nihil," inquam. "Quod si conetur," ait, "num tandem proficiet quidquam aduersus eum quem iure beatitudinis potentissimum esse concessimus?" "Prorsus," inquam, "nihil ualeret." "Non est igitur aliquid quod summo huic bono uel uelit uel possit obsistere." "Non," inquam, "arbitror." "Est igitur summum," inquit, "bonum quod regit cuncta fortiter suauiterque disponit." Tum ego: "Quam," inquam, "me non modo ea quae conclusa est summa rationum, uerum multo magis haec ipsa quibus uteris uerba delectant, ut tandem aliquando stultitiam magna lacerantem sui pudeat."

"Accepisti," inquit, "in fabulis lacessentes caelum Gigantas; sed illos quoque, uti condignum fuit, benigna fortitudo disposuit. Sed uisne rationes ipsas inuicem collidamus? Forsitan ex huiusmodi conflictatione pulchra quaedam ueritatis scintilla dissiliat." "Tuo," inquam, "arbitratu." "Deum," inquit, "esse omnium potentem nemo dubitauerit." "Qui quidem," inquam, "mente consistat, nullus prorsus ambigat." "Qui uero est," inquit, "omnium potens, nihil est quod ille non possit." "Nihil," inquam. "Num igitur deus facere malum potest?" "Minime," inquam. "Malum igitur," inquit, "nihil est, cum id facere ille non possit, qui nihil non potest." "Ludisne," inquam, "me inextricabilem labyrinthum rationibus texens, quae nunc quidem qua egrediaris introeas, nunc uero quo introieris egrediare, an mirabilem quendam diuinae simplicitatis orbem complicas? Etenim paulo ante beatitudine incipiens eam summum bonum esse dicebas quam in summo deo sitam loquebare. Ipsum quoque deum summum esse bonum plenamque beatitudinem disserebas; ex quo neminem beatum fore nisi qui pariter deus esset quasi munusculum dabas. Rursus ipsam boni formam dei ac beatitudinis loquebaris esse substantiam ipsumque unum id ipsum esse bonum docebas quod ab omni rerum natura peteretur. Deum quoque bonitatis gubernaculis uniuersitatem regere disputabas uolentiaque cuncta parere nec ullam mali esse naturam. Atque haec nullis extrinsecus sumptis sed ex altero altero fidem trahente insitis domesticisque probationibus explicabas."

Tum illa: "Minime," inquit, "ludimus remque omnium maximam dei munere quem dudum deprecabamur exegimus. Ea est enim diuinae forma substantiae ut neque in externa dilabatur nec in se externum aliquid ipsa suscipiat, sed, sicut de ea Parmenides ait:

[Greek: Pantothen eukuklou sphairaes enalinkion onkoi],

rerum orbem mobilem rotat, dum se immobilem ipsa conseruat. Quod si rationes quoque non extra petitas sed intra rei quam tractabamus ambitum collocatas agitauimus, nihil est quod admirere, cum Platone sanciente didiceris cognatos de quibus loquuntur rebus oportere esse sermones.


Then I said that I did very well like of Plato's doctrine, for thou dost bring these things to my remembrance now the second time, first, because I lost their memory by the contagion of my body, and after when I was oppressed with the burden of grief. "If," quoth she, "thou reflectest upon that which heretofore hath been granted, thou wilt not be far from remembering that which in the beginning thou confessedst thyself to be ignorant of." "What?" quoth I. "By what government," quoth she, "the world is ruled." "I remember," quoth I, "that I did confess my ignorance, but though I foresee what thou wilt say, yet I desire to hear it more plainly from thyself." "Thou thoughtest a little before that it was not to be doubted that this world is governed by God." "Neither do I think now," quoth I, "neither will I ever think, that it is to be doubted of, and I will briefly explicate the reasons which move me to think so. This world could never have been compacted of so many divers and contrary parts, unless there were One that doth unite these so different things; and this disagreeing diversity of natures being united would separate and divide this concord, unless there were One that holdeth together that which He united. Neither would the course of nature continue so certain, nor would the different parts hold so well- ordered motions in due places, times, causality, spaces and qualities, unless there were One who, Himself remaining quiet, disposeth and ordereth this variety of motions. This, whatsoever it be, by which things created continue and are moved, I call God, a name which all men use."[141]

"Since," quoth she, "thou art of this mind, I think with little labour thou mayest be capable of felicity, and return to thy country in safety. But let us consider what we proposed. Have we not placed sufficiency in happiness, and granted that God is blessedness itself?" "Yes truly." "Wherefore," quoth she, "He will need no outward helps to govern the world, otherwise, if He needed anything, He had not full sufficiency." "That," quoth I, "must necessarily be so." "Wherefore He disposeth all things by Himself." "No doubt He doth," quoth I. "But it hath been proved that God is goodness itself." "I remember it very well," quoth I. "Then He disposeth all things by goodness: since He governeth all things by Himself, whom we have granted to be goodness. And this is as it were the helm and rudder by which the frame of the world is kept steadfast and uncorrupted." "I most willingly agree," quoth I, "and I foresaw a little before, though only with a slender guess, that thou wouldst conclude this." "I believe thee," quoth she, "for now I suppose thou lookest more watchfully about thee to discern the truth. But that which I shall say is no less manifest." "What?" quoth I. "Since that God is deservedly thought to govern all things with the helm of goodness, and all these things likewise, as I have showed, hasten to goodness with their natural contention, can there be any doubt made but that they are governed willingly, and that they frame themselves of their own accord to their disposer's beck, as agreeable and conformable to their ruler?" "It must needs be so," quoth I, "neither would it seem an happy government, if it were an imposed yoke, not a desired health." "There is nothing then which, following nature, endeavoureth to resist God." "Nothing," quoth I. "What if anything doth endeavour," quoth she, "can anything prevail against Him, whom we have granted to be most powerful by reason of His blessedness?" "No doubt," quoth I, "nothing could prevail." "Wherefore there is nothing which either will or can resist this sovereign goodness." "I think not," quoth I. "It is then the sovereign goodness which governeth all things strongly, and disposeth them sweetly." "How much," quoth I, "doth not only the reason which thou allegest, but much more the very words which thou usest, delight me, that folly which so much vexed me may at length be ashamed of herself."

"Thou hast heard in the poets' fables," quoth she, "how the giants provoked heaven, but this benign fortitude put them also down, as they deserved. But wilt thou have our arguments contend together? Perhaps by this clash there will fly out some beautiful spark of truth." "As it pleaseth thee," quoth I. "No man can doubt," quoth she, "but that God is almighty." "No man," quoth I, "that is well in his wits." "But," quoth she, "there is nothing that He who is almighty cannot do." "Nothing," quoth I. "Can God do evil?" "No," quoth I, "Wherefore," quoth she, "evil is nothing, since He cannot do it who can do anything." "Dost thou mock me," quoth I, "making with thy reasons an inextricable labyrinth, because thou dost now go in where thou meanest to go out again, and after go out, where thou camest in, or dost thou frame a wonderful circle of the simplicity of God? For a little before taking thy beginning from blessedness, thou affirmedst that to be the chiefest good which thou saidst was placed in God, and likewise thou provedst, that God Himself is the chiefest good and full happiness, out of which thou madest me a present of that inference, that no man shall be happy unless he be also a God. Again thou toldest me that the form of goodness is the substance of God and of blessedness, and that unity is the same with goodness, because it is desired by the nature of all things; thou didst also dispute that God governeth the whole world with the helm of goodness, and that all things obey willingly, and that there is no nature of evil, and thou didst explicate all these things with no foreign or far-fetched proofs, but with those which were proper and drawn from inward principles, the one confirming the other."

"We neither play nor mock," quoth she, "and we have finished the greatest matter that can be by the assistance of God, whose aid we implored in the beginning. For such is the form of the Divine substance that it is neither divided into outward things, nor receiveth any such into itself, but as Parmenides saith of it:

In body like a sphere well-rounded on all sides,[142]

it doth roll about the moving orb of things, while it keepeth itself unmovable. And if we have used no far-fetched reasons, but such as were placed within the compass of the matter we handled, thou hast no cause to marvel, since thou hast learned in Plato's school that our speeches must be like and as it were akin to the things we speak of.

[141] Vide supra, Tr. iv. (pp. 56 ff.).

[142] Cf. Frag. 8. 43 (Diels, Vorsokratiker, i. p. 158).


Felix qui potuit boni
Fontem uisere lucidum,
Felix qui potuit grauis
Terrae soluere uincula.
Quondam funera coniugis 5
Vates Threicius gemens
Postquam flebilibus modis
Siluas currere mobiles,
Amnes stare coegerat,
Iunxitque intrepidum latus 10
Saeuis cerua leonibus,
Nec uisum timuit lepus
Iam cantu placidum canem,
Cum flagrantior intima
Feruor pectoris ureret, 15
Nec qui cuncta subegerant
Mulcerent dominum modi,
Inmites superos querens
Infernas adiit domos.
Illic blanda sonantibus 20
Chordis carmina temperans
Quidquid praecipuis deae
Matris fontibus hauserat,
Quod luctus dabat impotens,
Quod luctum geminans amor, 25
Deflet Taenara commouens
Et dulci ueniam prece
Vmbrarum dominos rogat.
Stupet tergeminus nouo
Captus carmine ianitor, 30
Quae sontes agitant metu
Vltrices scelerum deae
Iam maestae lacrimis madent.
Non Ixionium caput
Velox praecipitat rota 35
Et longa site perditus
Spernit flumina Tantalus.
Vultur dum satur est modis,
Non traxit Tityi iecur.
Tandem, 'Vincimur,' arbiter 40
Vmbrarum miserans ait,
'Donamus comitem uiro
Emptam carmine coniugem.
Sed lex dona coerceat,
Ne, dum Tartara liquerit, 45
Fas sit lumina flectere.'
Quis legem det amantibus?
Maior lex amor est sibi.
Heu, noctis prope terminos
Orpheus Eurydicen suam 50
Vidit, perdidit, occidit.
Vos haec fabula respicit
Quicumque in superum diem
Mentem ducere quaeritis.
Nam qui Tartareum in specus 55
Victus lumina flexerit,
Quidquid praecipuum trahit
Perdit, dum uidet inferos."


  Happy is he that can behold
  The well-spring whence all good doth rise,
  Happy is he that can unfold
  The bands with which the earth him ties.
  The Thracian poet whose sweet song
  Performed his wife's sad obsequies,
  And forced the woods to run along
  When he his mournful tunes did play,
  Whose powerful music was so strong
  That it could make the rivers stay;
  The fearful hinds not daunted were,
  But with the lions took their way,
  Nor did the hare behold with fear
  The dog whom these sweet notes appease.
  When force of grief drew yet more near,
  And on his heart did burning seize,
  Nor tunes which all in quiet bound
  Could any jot their master ease,
  The gods above too hard he found,
  And Pluto's palace visiting.
  He mixed sweet verses with the sound
  Of his loud harp's delightful string,
  All that he drank with thirsty draught
  From his high mother's chiefest spring,
  All that his restless grief him taught,
  And love which gives grief double aid,
  With this even hell itself was caught,
  Whither he went, and pardon prayed
  For his dear spouse (unheard request).
  The three-head porter was dismayed,
  Ravished with his unwonted guest,
  The Furies, which in tortures keep
  The guilty souls with pains opprest,
  Moved with his song began to weep.
  Ixion's wheel now standing still
  Turns not his head with motions steep.
  Though Tantalus might drink at will,
  To quench his thirst he would forbear.
  The vulture full with music shrill
  Doth not poor Tityus' liver tear.
  'We by his verses conquered are,'
  Saith the great King whom spirits fear.
  'Let us not then from him debar
  His wife whom he with songs doth gain.
  Yet lest our gift should stretch too far,
  We will it with this law restrain,
  That when from hell he takes his flight,
  He shall from looking back refrain.'
  Who can for lovers laws indite?
  Love hath no law but her own will.
  Orpheus, seeing on the verge of night
  Eurydice, doth lose and kill
  Her and himself with foolish love.
  But you this feigned tale fulfil,
  Who think unto the day above
  To bring with speed your darksome mind.
  For if, your eye conquered, you move
  Backward to Pluto left behind,
  All the rich prey which thence you took,
  You lose while back to hell you look."






Haec cum Philosophia dignitate uultus et oris grauitate seruata leniter suauiterque cecinisset, tum ego nondum penitus insiti maeroris oblitus intentionem dicere adhuc aliquid parantis abrupi. Et: "O," inquam, "ueri praeuia luminis quae usque adhuc tua fudit oratio, cum sui speculatione diuina tum tuis rationibus inuicta patuerunt, eaque mihi etsi ob iniuriae dolorem nuper oblita non tamen antehac prorsus ignorata dixisti. Sed ea ipsa est uel maxima nostri causa maeroris, quod, cum rerum bonus rector exsistat, uel esse omnino mala possint uel impunita praetereant; quod solum quanta dignum sit admiratione profecto consideras. At huic aliud maius adiungitur. Nam imperante florenteque nequitia uirtus non solum praemiis caret, uerum etiam sceleratorum pedibus subiecta calcatur et in locum facinorum supplicia luit. Quae fieri in regno scientis omnia, potentis omnia sed bona tantummodo uolentis dei nemo satis potest nec admirari nec conqueri."

Tum illa: "Et esset," inquit, "infiniti stuporis omnibusque horribilius monstris, si, uti tu aestimas, in tanti uelut patrisfamilias dispositissima domo uilia uasa colerentur, pretiosa sordescerent. Sed non ita est. Nam si ea quae paulo ante conclusa sunt inconuulsa seruantur, ipso de cuius nunc regno loquimur auctore cognosces semper quidem potentes esse bonos, malos uero abiectos semper atque inbecillos nec sine poena umquam esse uitia nec sine praemio uirtutes, bonis felicia, malis semper infortunata contingere multaque id genus quae sopitis querelis firma te soliditate corroborent. Et quoniam uerae formam beatitudinis me dudum monstrante uidisti, quo etiam sita sit agnouisti, decursis omnibus quae praemittere necessarium puto, uiam tibi quae te domum reuehat ostendam. Pennas etiam tuae menti quibus se in altum tollere possit adfigam, ut perturbatione depulsa sospes in patriam meo ductu, mea semita, meis etiam uehiculis reuertaris.



When Philosophy had sung these verses with a soft and sweet voice, observing due dignity and gravity in her countenance and gesture, I, not having altogether forgotten my inward grief, interrupted her speech which she was about to continue, and said: "O thou who bringest us to see true light, those things which hitherto thou hast treated of have manifestly appeared both to be divine when contemplated apart, and invincible when supported by thy reasons, and what thou hast uttered, though the force of grief had made me forget it of late, yet heretofore I was not altogether ignorant of it. But this is the chiefest cause of my sorrow, that since the governor of all things is so good, there can either be any evil at all, or that it pass unpunished. Which alone I beseech thee consider, how much admiration it deserveth. But there is another greater than this; for wickedness bearing rule and sway, virtue is not only without reward, but lieth also trodden under the wicked's feet, and is punished instead of vice. That which things should be done in the kingdom of God, who knoweth all things, can do all things, but will do only that which is good, no man can sufficiently admire nor complain."

To which she answered: "It were indeed infinitely strange, and surpassing all monsters, if, as thou conceivest, in the best-ordered house of so great an householder the vilest vessels were made account of and the precious neglected; but it is not so. For if those things which were a little before concluded be kept unviolated, thou shalt by His help, of whose kingdom we speak, know that the good are always powerful, and the evil always abject and weak, and that vices are never without punishment, nor virtue without reward, and that the good are always prosperous, and the evil unfortunate, and many things of that sort, which will take away all cause of complaint, and give thee firm and solid strength. And since by my means thou hast already seen the form of true blessedness, and known where it is placed, running over all those things which I think necessary to rehearse, I will show thee the way which will carry thee home. And I will also fasten wings upon thy mind, with which she may rouse herself, that, all perturbation being driven away, thou mayest return safely into thy country by my direction, by my path, and with my wings.


Sunt etenim pennae uolucres mihi
  Quae celsa conscendant poli.
Quas sibi cum uelox mens induit,
  Terras perosa despicit,
Aeris inmensi superat globum, 5
  Nubesque postergum uidet,
Quique agili motu calet aetheris,
  Transcendit ignis uerticem,
Donec in astriferas surgat domos
  Phoeboque coniungat uias 10
Aut comitetur iter gelidi senis
  Miles corusci sideris,
Vel quocumque micans nox pingitur,
  Recurrat astri circulum
Atque ubi iam exhausti fuerit satis, 15
  Polum relinquat extimum
Dorsaque uelocis premat aetheris
  Compos uerendi luminis.
Hic regum sceptrum dominus tenet
  Orbisque habenas temperat 20
Et uolucrem currum stabilis regit
  Rerum coruscus arbiter.
Huc te si reducem referat uia,
  Quam nunc requiris immemor:
'Haec,' dices, 'memini, patria est mihi, 25
  Hinc ortus; hic sistam gradum."
Quod si terrarum placeat tibi
  Noctem relictam uisere,
Quos miseri toruos populi timent
  Cernes tyrannos exules." 30


  For I have swift and nimble wings which will ascend the lofty skies,
  With which when thy quick mind is clad, it will the loathéd earth
  And go beyond the airy globe, and watery clouds behind thee leave,
  Passing the fire which scorching heat doth from the heavens' swift
      course receive,
  Until it reach the starry house, and get to tread bright Phoebus' ways,
  Following the chilly sire's path,[143] companion of his flashing rays,
  And trace the circle of the stars which in the night to us appear,
  And having stayed there long enough go on beyond the farthest sphere,
  Sitting upon the highest orb partaker of the glorious light,
  Where the great King his sceptre holds, and the world's reins doth guide
  And, firm in his swift chariot, doth everything in order set.
  Unto this seat when thou art brought, thy country, which thou didst
  Thou then wilt challenge to thyself, saying: 'This is the glorious land
  Where I was born, and in this soil my feet for evermore shall stand.
  Whence if thou pleasest to behold the earthly night which thou hast
  Those tyrants which the people fear will seem of their true home

[143] Cf. "frigida Saturni sese quo Stella receptet," Virg. Georg. i. 336.


Tum ego: "Papae," inquam, "ut magna promittis! Nec dubito quin possis efficere; tu modo quem excitaueris ne moreris." "Primum igitur," inquit, "bonis semper adesse potentiam, malos cunctis uiribus esse desertos agnoscas licebit, quorum quidem alterum demonstratur ex altero. Nam cum bonum malumque contraria sint, si bonum potens esse constiterit, liquet inbecillitas mali; at si fragilitas clarescat mali, boni firmitas nota est. Sed uti nostrae sententiae fides abundantior sit, alterutro calle procedam nunc hinc nunc inde proposita confirmans.

Duo sunt quibus omnis humanorum actuum constat effectus, uoluntas scilicet ac potestas, quorum si alterutrum desit, nihil est quod explicari queat. Deficiente etenim uoluntate ne aggreditur quidem quisque quod non uult; at si potestas absit, uoluntas frustra sit. Quo fit ut si quem uideas adipisci uelle quod minime adipiscatur, huic obtinendi quod uoluerit defuisse ualentiam dubitare non possis." "Perspicuum est," inquam, "nec ullo modo negari potest." "Quem uero effecisse quod uoluerit uideas, num etiam potuisse dubitabis?" "Minime." "Quod uero quisque potest, in eo ualidus, quod uero non potest, in hoc imbecillis esse censendus est." "Fateor," inquam. "Meministine igitur," inquit, "superioribus rationibus esse collectum intentionem omnem uoluntatis humanae quae diuersis studiis agitur ad beatitudinem festinare?" "Memini," inquam, "illud quoque esse demonstratum." "Num recordaris beatitudinem ipsum esse bonum eoque modo, cum beatitudo petitur, ab omnibus desiderari bonum?" "Minime," inquam, "recordor, quoniam id memoriae fixum teneo." "Omnes igitur homines boni pariter ac mali indiscreta intentione ad bonum peruenire nituntur?" "Ita," inquam, "consequens est." "Sed certum est adeptione boni bonos fieri." "Certum." "Adipiscuntur igitur boni quod appetunt?" "Sic uidetur." "Mali uero si adipiscerentur quod appetunt bonum, mali esse non possent." "Ita est." "Cum igitur utrique bonum petant, sed hi quidem adipiscantur, illi uero minime, num dubium est bonos quidem potentes esse, qui uero mali sunt imbecillos?" "Quisquis," inquam, "dubitat, nec rerum naturam nec consequentiam potest considerare rationum." "Rursus," inquit, "si duo sint quibus idem secundum naturam propositum sit eorumque unus naturali officio id ipsum agat atque perficiat, alter uero naturale illud officium minime administrare queat, alio uero modo quam naturae conuenit non quidem impleat propositum suum sed imitetur implentem, quemnam horum ualentiorem esse decernis?" "Etsi coniecto," inquam, "quid uelis, planius tamen audire desidero." "Ambulandi," inquit, "motum secundum naturam esse hominibus num negabis?" "Minime," inquam. "Eiusque rei pedum officium esse naturale num dubitas?" "Ne hoc quidem," inquam. "Si quis igitur pedibus incedere ualens ambulet aliusque cui hoc naturale pedum desit officium, manibus nitens ambulare conetur, quis horum iure ualentior existimari potest?" "Contexe," inquam, "cetera; nam quin naturalis officii potens eo qui idem nequeat ualentior sit, nullus ambigat." "Sed summum bonum, quod aeque malis bonisque propositum, boni quidem naturali officio uirtutum petunt, mali uero uariam per cupiditatem, quod adipiscendi boni naturale officium non est, idem ipsum conantur adipisci. An tu aliter existimas?" "Minime," inquam, "nam etiam quod est consequens patet. Ex his enim quae concesserim, bonos quidem potentes, malos uero esse necesse est imbecillos."

"Recte," inquit, "praecurris idque, uti medici sperare solent, indicium est erectae iam resistentisque naturae. Sed quoniam te ad intellegendum promptissimum esse conspicio, crebras coaceruabo rationes. Vide enim quanta uitiosorum hominum pateat infirmitas qui ne ad hoc quidem peruenire queunt ad quod eos naturalis ducit ac paene compellit intentio. Et quid si hoc tam magno ac paene inuicto praeeuntis naturae desererentur auxilio? Considera uero quanta sceleratos homines habeat impotentia. Neque enim leuia aut ludicra praemia petunt, quae consequi atque obtinere non possunt, sed circa ipsam rerum summam uerticemque deficiunt nec in eo miseris contingit effectus quod solum dies noctesque moliuntur; in qua re bonorum uires eminent. Sicut enim eum qui pedibus incedens ad eum locum usque peruenire potuisset, quo nihil ulterius peruium iaceret incessui, ambulandi potentissimum esse censeres, ita eum qui expetendorum finem quo nihil ultra est apprehendit, potentissimum necesse est iudices. Ex quo fit quod huic obiacet, ut idem scelesti, idem uiribus omnibus uideantur esse deserti. Cur enim relicta uirtute uitia sectantur? Inscitiane bonorum? Sed quid eneruatius ignorantiae caecitate? An sectanda nouerunt? Sed transuersos eos libido praecipitat. Sic quoque intemperantia fragiles qui obluctari uitio nequeunt. An scientes uolentesque bonum deserunt, ad uitia deflectunt? Sed hoc modo non solum potentes esse sed omnino esse desinunt. Nam qui communem omnium quae sunt finem relinquunt, pariter quoque esse desistunt. Quod quidem cuipiam mirum forte uideatur, ut malos, qui plures hominum sunt, eosdem non esse dicamus; sed ita sese res habet. Nam qui mali sunt eos malos esse non abnuo; sed eosdem esse pure atque simpliciter nego.

Nam uti cadauer hominem mortuum dixeris, simpliciter uero hominem appellare non possis, ita uitiosos malos quidem esse concesserim, sed esse absolute nequeam confiteri. Est enim quod ordinem retinet seruatque naturam; quod uero ab hac deficit, esse etiam quod in sua natura situm est derelinquit. 'Sed possunt,' inquies, 'mali.' Ne ego quidem negauerim, sed haec eorum potentia non a uiribus sed ab imbecillitate descendit. Possunt enim mala quae minime ualerent, si in bonorum efficientia manere potuissent. Quae possibilitas eos euidentius nihil posse demonstrat. Nam si, uti paulo ante collegimus, malum nihil est, cum mala tantummodo possint, nihil posse improbos liquet." "Perspicuum est." "Atque ut intellegas quaenam sit huius potentiae uis, summo bono nihil potentius esse paulo ante definiuimus." "Ita est," inquam. "Sed idem," inquit, "facere malum nequit." "Minime." "Est igitur," inquit, "aliquis qui omnia posse homines putet?" "Nisi quis insaniat, nemo." "Atqui idem possunt mala." "Vtinam quidem," inquam, "non possent." "Cum igitur bonorum tantummodo potens possit omnia, non uero queant omnia potentes etiam malorum, eosdem qui mala possunt minus posse manifestum est. Huc accedit quod omnem potentiam inter expetenda numerandam omniaque expetenda referri ad bonum uelut ad quoddam naturae suae cacumen ostendimus. Sed patrandi sceleris possibilitas referri ad bonum non potest; expetenda igitur non est. Atqui omnis potentia expetenda est; liquet igitur malorum possibilitatem non esse potentiam. Ex quibus omnibus bonorum quidem potentia, malorum uero minime dubitabilis apparet infirmitas ueramque illam Platonis esse sententiam liquet solos quod desiderent facere posse sapientes, improbos uero exercere quidem quod libeat, quod uero desiderent explere non posse. Faciunt enim quaelibet, dum per ea quibus delectantur id bonum quod desiderant se adepturos putant; sed minime adipiscuntur, quoniam ad beatitudinem probra non ueniunt.


"Oh!" quoth I. "How great things dost thou promise! And I doubt not but thou canst perform them, wherefore stay me not now that thou hast stirred up my desires." "First then," quoth she, "that good men are always powerful, and evil men of no strength, thou mayest easily know, the one is proved by the other. For since that good and evil are contraries, if it be convinced that goodness is potent, the weakness of evil will be also manifest; and contrariwise if we discern the frailty of evil, we must needs acknowledge the firmness of goodness. But that our opinions may be more certainly embraced, I will take both ways, confirming my propositions, sometime from one part, sometime from another.

There be two things by which all human actions are effected, will and power, of which if either be wanting, there can nothing be performed. For if there want will, no man taketh anything in hand against his will, and if there be not power, the will is in vain. So that, if thou seest any willing to obtain that which he doth not obtain, thou canst not doubt but that he wanted power to obtain what he would." "It is manifest," quoth I, "and can by no means be denied." "And wilt thou doubt that he could, whom thou seest bring to pass what he desired?" "No." "But every man is mighty in that which he can do, and weak in that which he cannot do." "I confess it," quoth I. "Dost thou remember then," quoth she, "that it was inferred by our former discourses that all the intentions of man's will doth hasten to happiness, though their courses be divers?" "I remember," quoth I, "that that also was proved." "Dost thou also call to mind that blessedness is goodness itself, and consequently when blessedness is sought after, goodness must of course be desired?" "I call it not to mind, for I have it already fixed in my memory." "Wherefore all men both good and bad without difference of intentions endeavour to obtain goodness." "It followeth," quoth I. "But it is certain that men are made good by the obtaining of goodness." "It is so." "Wherefore good men obtain what they desire." "So it seemeth." "And if evil men did obtain the goodness they desire, they could not be evil." "It is true." "Wherefore since they both desire goodness, but the one obtaineth it and the other not, there is no doubt but that good men are powerful, and the evil weak." "Whosoever doubteth of this," quoth I, "he neither considereth the nature of things, nor the consequence of thy reasons." "Again," quoth she, "if there be two to whom the same thing is proposed according to nature, and the one of them bringeth it perfectly to pass with his natural function, but the other cannot exercise that natural function but after another manner than is agreeable to nature, and doth not perform that which he had proposed, but imitateth the other who performeth it: which of these two wilt thou judge to be more powerful?" "Though I conjecture," quoth I, "at thy meaning, yet I desire to hear it more plainly." "Wilt thou deny," quoth she, "that the motion of walking is agreeable to the nature of men?" "No," quoth I. "And makest thou any doubt that the function of it doth naturally belong to the feet?" "There is no doubt of this neither," quoth I. "Wherefore if one that can go upon his feet doth walk, and another who hath not this natural function of his feet endeavoureth to walk by creeping upon his hands, which of these two is deservedly to be esteemed the stronger?" "Infer the rest," quoth I, "for no man doubteth but that he which can use that natural function is stronger than he which cannot." "But," quoth she, "the good seek to obtain the chiefest good, which is equally proposed to bad and good, by the natural function of virtues, but the evil endeavour to obtain the same by divers concupiscences, which are not the natural function of obtaining goodness. Thinkest thou otherwise?" "No," quoth I, "for it is manifest what followeth. For by the force of that which I have already granted, it is necessary that good men are powerful and evil men weak."

"Thou runnest before rightly," quoth she, "and it is (as physicians are wont to hope) a token of an erected and resisting nature. Wherefore, since I see thee most apt and willing to comprehend, I will therefore heap up many reasons together. For consider the great weakness of vicious men, who cannot come so far as their natural intention leadeth and almost compelleth them. And what if they were destitute of this so great and almost invincible help of the direction of nature? Ponder likewise the immense impotency of wicked men. For they are no light or trifling rewards[145] which they desire, and cannot obtain: but they fail in the very sum and top of things: neither can the poor wretches compass that which they only labour for nights and days: in which thing the forces of the good eminently appear. For as thou wouldst judge him to be most able to walk who going on foot could come as far as there were any place to go in: so must thou of force judge him most powerful who obtaineth the end of all that can be desired, beyond which there is nothing. Hence that which is opposite also followeth, that the same men are wicked and destitute of all forces. For why do they follow vices, forsaking virtues? By ignorance of that which is good? But what is more devoid of strength than blind ignorance? Or do they know what they should embrace, but passion driveth them headlong the contrary way? So also intemperance makes them frail, since they cannot strive against vice. Or do they wittingly and willingly forsake goodness, and decline to vices? But in this sort they leave not only to be powerful, but even to be at all. For they which leave the common end of all things which are, leave also being. Which may perhaps seem strange to some, that we should say that evil men are not at all, who are the greatest part of men: but yet it is so. For I deny not that evil men are evil, but withal I say that purely and simply they are not.

For as thou mayest call a carcase a dead man, but not simply a man, so I confess that the vicious are evil, but I cannot grant that they are absolutely. For that is which retaineth order, and keepeth nature, but that which faileth from this leaveth also to be that which is in his own nature. But thou wilt say that evil men can do many things, neither will I deny it, but this their power proceedeth not from forces but from weakness. For they can do evil, which they could not do if they could have remained in the performance of that which is good. Which possibility declareth more evidently that they can do nothing. For if, as we concluded a little before, evil is nothing, since they can only do evil, it is manifest that the wicked can do nothing." "It is most manifest." "And that thou mayest understand what the force of this power is; we determined a little before that there is nothing more powerful than the Sovereign Goodness." "It is true," quoth I. "But He cannot do evil." "No." "Is there any then," quoth she, "that think that men can do all things?" "No man, except he be mad, thinketh so." "But yet men can do evil." "I would to God they could not," quoth I. "Since therefore he that can only do good, can do all things, and they who can do evil, cannot do all things, it is manifest that they which can do evil are less potent. Moreover, we have proved that all power is to be accounted among those things which are to be wished for, and that all such things have reference to goodness, as to the very height of their nature. But the possibility of committing wickedness cannot have reference to goodness. Wherefore it is not to be wished for. Yet all power is to be wished for; and consequently it is manifest, possibility of evil is no power. By all which the power of the good and the undoubted infirmity of evil appeareth. And it is manifest that the sentence of Plato is true: that only wise men can do that which they desire, and that the wicked men practise indeed what they list, but cannot perform what they would. For they do what they list, thinking to obtain the good which they desire by those things which cause them delight; but they obtain it not, because shameful action cannot arrive to happiness.[146]

[144] The whole of this and of the following chapter is a paraphrase of Plato's Gorgias.

[145] Cf. Virgil, Aen. xii. 764.

[146] Cf. Plato, Gorgias, 468, 469; Alcibiades I. 134 c.


Quos uides sedere celsos solii culmine reges
Purpura claros nitente saeptos tristibus armis
Ore toruo comminantes rabie cordis anhelos,
Detrahat si quis superbis uani tegmina cultus,
Iam uidebit intus artas dominos ferre catenas. 5
Hinc enim libido uersat auidis corda uenenis,
Hinc flagellat ira mentem fluctus turbida tollens
Maeror aut captos fatigat aut spes lubrica torquet
Ergo cum caput tot unum cernas ferre tyrannos,
Non facit quod optat ipse dominis pressus iniquis. 10


  The kings whom we behold
  In highest glory placed,
  And with rich purple graced,
  Compassed with soldiers bold;
  Whose countenance shows fierce threats,
  Who with rash fury chide,
  If any strip the pride
  From their vainglorious feats;
  He'll see them close oppressed
  Within by galling chains
  For filthy lust there reigns
  And poisoneth their breast,
  Wrath often them perplexeth
  Raising their minds like waves,
  Sorrow their power enslaves
  And sliding hope them vexeth.
  So many tyrants still
  Dwelling in one poor heart,
  Except they first depart
  She cannot have her will.


Videsne igitur quanto in caeno probra uoluantur, qua probitas luce resplendeat? In quo perspicuum est numquam bonis praemia numquam sua sceleribus deesse supplicia. Rerum etenim quae geruntur illud propter quod unaquaeque res geritur, eiusdem rei praemium esse non iniuria uideri potest, uti currendi in stadio propter quam curritur iacet praemium corona. Sed beatitudinem esse idem ipsum bonum propter quod omnia geruntur ostendimus. Est igitur humanis actibus ipsum bonum ueluti praemium commune propositum. Atqui hoc a bonis non potest separari neque enim bonus ultra iure uocabitur qui careat bono; quare probos mores sua praemia non relinquunt. Quantumlibet igitur saeuiant mali, sapienti tamen corona non decidet, non arescet. Neque enim probis animis proprium decus aliena decerpit improbitas. Quod si extrinsecus accepto laetaretur, poterat hoc uel alius quispiam uel ipse etiam qui contulisset auferre; sed quoniam id sua cuique probitas confert, tum suo praemio carebit, cum probus esse desierit. Postremo cum omne praemium idcirco appetatur quoniam bonum esse creditur, quis boni compotem praemii iudicet expertem? At cuius praemii? Omnium pulcherrimi maximique. Memento etenim corollarii illius quod paulo ante praecipuum dedi ac sic collige: cum ipsum bonum beatitudo sit, bonos omnes eo ipso quod boni sint fieri beatos liquet. Sed qui beati sint deos esse conuenit. Est igitur praemium bonorum quod nullus. deterat dies, nullius minuat potestas, nullius fuscet improbitas, deos fieri. Quae cum ita sint, de malorum quoque inseparabili poena dubitare sapiens nequeat. Nam cum bonum malumque item poenae atque praemium aduersa fronte dissideant, quae in boni praemio uidemus accedere eadem necesse est in mali poena contraria parte respondeant. Sicut igitur probis probitas ipsa fit praemium, ita improbis nequitia ipsa supplicium est. Iam uero quisquis afficitur poena, malo se affectum esse non dubitat. Si igitur sese ipsi aestimare uelint, possuntne sibi supplicii expertes uideri quos omnium malorum extrema nequitia non affecit modo uerum etiam uehementer infecit? Vide autem ex aduersa parte bonorum, quae improbos poena comitetur. Omne namque quod sit unum esse ipsumque unum bonum esse paulo ante didicisti, cui consequens est ut omne quod sit id etiam bonum esse uideatur. Hoc igitur modo quidquid a bono deficit esse desistit; quo fit ut mali desinant esse quod fuerant, sed fuisse homines adhuc ipsa humani corporis reliqua species ostentat. Quare uersi in malitiam humanam quoque amisere naturam. Sed cum ultra homines quemque prouehere sola probitas possit, necesse est ut quos ab humana condicione deiecit, infra hominis meritum detrudat improbitas. Euenit igitur, ut quem transformatum uitiis uideas hominem aestimare non possis. Auaritia feruet alienarum opum uiolentus ereptor? Lupi similem dixeris. Ferox atque inquies linguam litigiis exercet? Cani comparabis. Insidiator occultus subripuisse fraudibus gaudet? Vulpeculis exaequetur. Irae intemperans fremit? Leonis animum gestare credatur. Pauidus ac fugax non metuenda formidat? Ceruis similis habeatur. Segnis ac stupidus torpit? Asinum uiuit. Leuis atque inconstans studia permutat? Nihil auibus differt. Foedis inmundisque libidinibus immergitur? Sordidae suis uoluptate detinetur. Ita fit ut qui probitate deserta homo esse desierit, cum in diuinam condicionem transire non possit, uertatur in beluam.


Seest thou then in what mire wickedness wallows, and how clearly honesty shineth? By which it is manifest that the good are never without rewards, nor the evil without punishments. For in all things that are done that for which anything is done may deservedly seem the reward of that action, as to him that runneth a race, the crown for which he runneth is proposed as a reward. But we have showed that blessedness is the selfsame goodness for which all things are done. Wherefore this goodness is proposed as a common reward for all human actions, and this cannot be separated from those who are good. For he shall not rightly be any longer called good, who wanteth goodness; wherefore virtuous manners are not left without their due rewards. And how much so ever the evil do rage, yet the wise man's crown will not fade nor wither. For others' wickedness depriveth not virtuous minds of their proper glory. But if he should rejoice at anything which he hath from others, either he who gave it, or any other might take it away. But because every man's virtue is the cause of it, then only he shall want his reward when he leaveth to be virtuous. Lastly, since every reward is therefore desired because it is thought to be good, who can judge him to be devoid of reward, which hath goodness for his possession? But what reward hath he? The most beautiful and the greatest that can be. For remember that corollarium [147] which I presented thee with a little before, as with a rare and precious jewel, and infer thus: Since that goodness itself is happiness, it is manifest that all good men even by being good are made happy. But we agreed that happy men are gods. Wherefore the reward of good men, which no time can waste, no man's power diminish, no man's wickedness obscure, is to become gods. Which things being so, no wise man can any way doubt of the inseparable punishment of the evil. For since goodness and evil, punishment and reward, are opposite the one to the other, those things which we see fall out in the reward of goodness must needs be answerable in a contrary manner in the punishment of evil. Wherefore as to honest men honesty itself is a reward, so to the wicked their very wickedness is a punishment. And he that is punished doubteth not but that he is afflicted with the evil. Wherefore if they would truly consider their own estate, can they think themselves free from punishment, whom wickedness, the worst of all evils, doth not only touch but strongly infect? But weigh the punishment which accompanieth the wicked, by comparing it to the reward of the virtuous. For thou learnedst not long before that whatsoever is at all is one, and that unity is goodness, by which it followeth that whatsoever is must also be good. And in this manner, whatsoever falleth from goodness ceaseth to be, by which it followeth that evil men leave to be that which they were, but the shape of men, which they still retain, showeth them to have been men: wherefore by embracing wickedness they have lost the nature of men. But since virtue alone can exalt us above men, wickedness must needs cast those under the desert of men, which it hath bereaved of that condition. Wherefore thou canst not account him a man whom thou seest transformed by vices. Is the violent extorter of other men's goods carried away with his covetous desire? Thou mayest liken him to a wolf. Is the angry and unquiet man always contending and brawling? Thou mayest compare him to a dog. Doth the treacherous fellow rejoice that he hath deceived others with his hidden frauds? Let him be accounted no better than a fox. Doth the outrageous fret and fume? Let him be thought to have a lion's mind. Is the fearful and timorous afraid without cause? Let him be esteemed like to hares and deer. Is the slow and stupid always idle? He liveth an ass's life. Doth the light and unconstant change his courses? He is nothing different from the birds. Is he drowned in filthy and unclean lusts? He is entangled in the pleasure of a stinking sow. So that he who, leaving virtue, ceaseth to be a man, since he cannot be partaker of the divine condition, is turned into a beast.

[147] Vide supra, p. 270.


Vela Neritii ducis
Et uagas pelago rates
Eurus appulit insulae,
Pulchra qua residens dea
Solis edita semine 5
Miscet hospitibus nouis
Tacta carmine pocula.
Quos ut in uarios modos
Vertit herbipotens manus,
Hunc apri facies tegit, 10
Ille Marmaricus leo
Dente crescit et unguibus.
Hic lupis nuper additus,
Flere dum parat, ululat.
Ille tigris ut Indica 15
Tecta mitis obambulat.
Sed licet uariis malis
Numen Arcadis alitis
Obsitum miserans ducem
Peste soluerit hospitis, 20
Iam tamen mala remiges
Ore pocula traxerant,
Iam sues Cerealia
Glande pabula uerterant
Et nihil manet integrum 25
Voce corpore perditis.
Sola mens stabilis super
Monstra quae patitur gemit.
O leuem nimium manum
Nec potentia gramina, 30
Membra quae ualeant licet,
Corda uertere non ualent!
Intus est hominum uigor
Arce conditus abdita.
Haec uenena potentius 35
Detrahunt hominem sibi
Dira quae penitus meant
Nec nocentia corpori
Mentis uulnere saeuiunt."


  The sails which wise Ulysses bore,
  And ships which in the seas long time did stray
  The eastern wind drave to that shore
  Where the fair Goddess Lady Circe lay,
  Daughter by birth to Phoebus bright,
  Who with enchanted cups and charms did stay
  Her guests, deceived with their delight
  And into sundry figures them did change,
  Being most skilful in the might
  And secret force of herbs and simples strange;
  Some like to savage boars, and some
  Like lions fierce, which daily use to range
  Through Libya,[148] in tooth and claw become.
  Others are changed to the shape and guise
  Of ravenous wolves, and waxing dumb
  Use howling in the stead of manly cries.
  Others like to the tiger rove[149]
  Which in the scorched Indian desert lies.
  And though the winged son of Jove[150]
  From these bewitchéd cups' delightful taste
  To keep the famous captain strove,
  Yet them the greedy mariners embraced
  With much desire, till turned to swine
  Instead of bread they fed on oaken mast.
  Ruined in voice and form, no sign
  Remains to them of any human grace;
  Only their minds unchanged repine
  To see their bodies in such ugly case.
  O feeble hand and idle art
  Which, though it could the outward limbs deface,
  Yet had no force to change the heart.
  For all the force of men given by God's arm
  Lies hidden in their inmost part.
  The poisons therefore which within them swarm
  More deeply pierce, and with more might,
  For to the body though they do no harm,
  Yet on the soul they work their spite."

[148] Literally "Marmaric," i.e. properly, the region between Egypt and the great Syrtis; generally, African, cf. Lucan iii. 293.

[149] Literally, "rove tame round the house."

[150] i.e. Mercury who was born in Arcadia; cf. Virg. Aen. viii. 129-138.


Tum ego: "Fateor," inquam, "nec iniuria dici uideo uitiosos, tametsi humani corporis speciem seruent, in beluas tamen animorum qualitate mutari; sed quorum atrox scelerataque mens bonorum pernicie saeuit, id ipsum eis licere noluissem." "Nec licet," inquit, "uti conuenienti monstrabitur loco. Sed tamen si id ipsum quod eis licere creditur auferatur, magna ex parte sceleratorum hominum poena releuetur. Etenim quod incredibile cuiquam forte uideatur, infeliciores esse necesse est malos, cum cupita perfecerint, quam si ea quae cupiunt implere non possint. Nam si miserum est uoluisse praua, potuisse miserius est, sine quo uoluntatis miserae langueret effectus. Itaque cum sua singulis miseria sit, triplici infortunio necesse est urgeantur quos uideas scelus uelle, posse, perficere." "Accedo," inquam, "sed uti hoc infortunio cito careant patrandi sceleris possibilitate deserti uehementer exopto." "Carebunt," inquit, "ocius quam uel tu forsitan uelis uel illi sese aestiment esse carituros. Neque enim est aliquid in tam breuibus uitae metis ita serum quod exspectare longum immortalis praesertim animus putet: quorum magna spes et excelsa facinorum machina repentino atque insperato saepe fine destruitur, quod quidem illis miseriae modum statuit.

Nam si nequitia miseros facit, miserior sit necesse est diuturnior nequam; quos infelicissimos esse iudicarem, si non eorum malitiam saltem mors extrema finiret. Etenim si de prauitatis infortunio uera conclusimus, infinitam liquet esse miseriam quam esse constat aeternam." Tum ego: "Mira quidem," inquam, "et concessu difficilis inlatio, sed his eam quae prius concessa sunt nimium conuenire cognosco." "Recte," inquit, "aestimas. Sed qui conclusioni accedere durum putat, aequum est uel falsum aliquid praecessisse demonstret uel collocationem propositionum non esse efficacem necessariae conclusionis ostendat; alioquin concessis praecedentibus nihil prorsus est quod de inlatione causetur. Nam hoc quoque quod dicam non minus mirum uideatur, sed ex his quae sumpta sunt aeque est necessarium." "Quidnam?" inquam. "Feliciores," inquit, "esse improbos supplicia luentes quam si eos nulla iustitiae poena coerceat. Neque id nunc molior quod cuiuis ueniat in mentem, corrigi ultione prauos mores et ad rectum supplicii terrore deduci, ceteris quoque exemplum esse culpanda fugiendi, sed alio quodam modo infeliciores esse improbos arbitror impunitos, tametsi nulla ratio correctionis, nullus respectus habeatur exempli." "Et quis erit," inquam, "praeter hos alius modus?" Et illa: "Bonos," inquit, "esse felices, malos uero miseros nonne concessimus?" "Ita est," inquam. "Si igitur," inquit, "miseriae cuiuspiam bonum aliquid addatur, nonne felicior est eo cuius pura ac solitaria sine cuiusquam boni admixtione miseria est?" "Sic," inquam, "uidetur." "Quid si eidem misero qui cunctis careat bonis, praeter ea quibus miser est malum aliud fuerit adnexum, nonne multo infelicior eo censendus est cuius infortunium boni participatione releuatur?" "Quidni?" inquam. "Sed puniri improbos iustum, impunitos uero elabi iniquum esse manifestum est." "Quis id neget?" "Sed ne illud quidem," ait, "quisquam negabit bonum esse omne quod iustum est contraque quod iniustum est malum." Liquere, respondi.[151] "Habent igitur improbi, cum puniuntur, quidem boni aliquid adnexum poenam ipsam scilicet quae ratione iustitiae bona est, idemque cum supplicio carent, inest eis aliquid ulterius mali ipsa impunitas quam iniquitatis merito malum esse confessus es." "Negare non possum." "Multo igitur infeliciores improbi sunt iniusta impunitate donati quam iusta ultione puniti." Tum ego: "Ista quidem consequentia sunt eis quae paulo ante conclusa sunt.

Sed quaeso," inquam, "te, nullane animarum supplicia post defunctum morte corpus relinquis?" "Et magna quidem," inquit, "quorum alia poenali acerbitate, alia uero purgatoria clementia exerceri puto. Sed nunc de his disserere consilium non est. Id uero hactenus egimus, ut quae indignissima tibi uidebatur malorum potestas eam nullam esse cognosceres quosque impunitos querebare, uideres numquam improbitatis suae carere suppliciis, licentiam quam cito finiri precabaris nec longam esse disceres infelicioremque fore, si diuturnior, infelicissimam uero, si esset aeterna; post haec miseriores esse improbos iniusta impunitate dimissos quam iusta ultione punitos. Cui sententiae consequens est ut tum demum grauioribus suppliciis urgeantur, cum impuniti esse creduntur."

Tum ego: "Cum tuas," inquam, "rationes considero, nihil dici uerius puto. At si ad hominum iudicia reuertar, quis ille est cui haec non credenda modo sed saltem audienda uideantur?" "Ita est," inquit illa. "Nequeunt enim oculos tenebris assuetos ad lucem perspicuae ueritatis attollere, similesque auibus sunt quarum intuitum nox inluminat dies caecat. Dum enim non rerum ordinem, sed suos intuentur affectus, uel licentiam uel impunitatem scelerum putant esse felicem. Vide autem quid aeterna lex sanciat. Melioribus animum conformaueris, nihil opus est iudice praemium deferente tu te ipse excellentioribus addidisti. Studium ad peiora deflexeris, extra ne quaesieris ultorem. Tu te ipse in deteriora trusisti, ueluti si uicibus sordidam humum caelumque respicias, cunctis extra cessantibus ipsa cernendi ratione nunc caeno nunc sideribus interesse uidearis. At uulgus ista non respicit. Quid igitur? Hisne accedamus quos beluis similes esse monstrauimus? Quid si quis amisso penitus uisu ipsum etiam se habuisse obliuisceretur intuitum nihilque sibi ad humanam perfectionem deesse arbitraretur, num uidentes eadem caecos putaremus? Nam ne illud quidem adquiescent quod aeque ualidis rationum nititur firmamentis: infeliciores eos esse qui faciant quam qui patiantur iniuriam." "Vellem," inquam, "has ipsas audire rationes." "Omnem," inquit, "improbum num supplicio dignum negas?" "Minime." "Infelices uero esse qui sint improbi multipliciter liquet." "Ita," inquam. "Qui igitur supplicio digni sunt miseros esse non dubitas?" "Conuenit," inquam. "Si igitur cognitor," ait, "resideres, cui supplicium inferendum putares, eine qui fecisset an qui pertulisset iniuriam?" "Nec ambigo," inquam, "quin perpesso satisfacerem dolore facientis." "Miserior igitur tibi iniuriae inlator quam acceptor esse uideretur." "Consequitur," inquam. "Hinc igitur aliis de causis ea radice nitentibus, quod turpitudo suapte natura miseros faciat, apparet inlatam cuilibet iniuriam non accipientis sed inferentis esse miseriam." "Atqui nunc," ait, "contra faciunt oratores. Pro his enim qui graue quid acerbumque perpessi sunt miserationem iudicum excitare conantur, cum magis admittentibus iustior miseratio debeatur; quos non ab iratis sed a propitiis potius miserantibusque accusatoribus ad iudicium ueluti aegros ad medicum duci oportebat, ut culpae morbos supplicio resecarent. Quo pacto defensorum opera uel tota frigeret, uel si prodesse hominibus mallet, in accusationis habitum uerteretur, Ipsi quoque improbi, si eis aliqua rimula uirtutem relictam fas esset aspicere uitiorumque sordes poenarum cruciatibus se deposituros uiderent compensatione adipiscendae probitatis, nec hos cruciatus esse ducerent defensorumque operam repudiarent ac se totos accusatoribus iudicibusque permitterent. Quo fit ut apud sapientes nullus prorsus odio locus relinquatur. Nam bonos quis nisi stultissimus oderit? Malos uero odisse ratione caret. Nam si, uti corporum languor, ita uitiositas quidam est quasi morbus animorum, cum aegros corpore minime dignos odio sed potius miseratione iudicemus, multo magis non insequendi sed miserandi sunt quorum mentes omni languore atrocior urget improbitas.

[151] Sed puniri … respondi quae infra (in pag. 328 l. 73) post ultioni puniti in codicibus habentur huc transponenda esse censuit P. Langenus, demonstrauit A. Engelbrecht.


Then said I, "I confess and perceive that thou affirmest not without cause that the vicious, though they keep the outward shape of men, are in their inward state of mind changed into brute beasts. But I would have had them whose cruel and wicked heart rageth to the harm of the good, restrained from executing their malice." "They are restrained," quoth she, "as shall be proved in convenient place. But yet if this liberty which they seem to have be taken away, their punishment also is in great part released. For (which perhaps to some may seem incredible) evil men must necessarily be more unhappy when they have brought to pass their purposes than if they could not obtain what they desire. For if it be a miserable thing to desire that which is evil, it is more miserable to be able to perform it, without which the miserable will could not have any effect. Wherefore since everyone of these hath their peculiar misery, they must of force be oppressed with a threefold wretchedness, whom thou seest desire, be able, and perform wickedness." "I grant it," quoth I, "but earnestly wish that they may soon be delivered from this misery, having lost the power to perform their malice." "They will lose it," quoth she, "sooner than perhaps either thou wouldst, or they themselves suppose. For in the short compass of this life there is nothing so late that any one, least of all an immortal soul, should think it long in coming; so that the great hope and highest attempts of the wicked are many times made frustrate with a sudden and unexpected end, which in truth setteth some end to their misery.

For if wickedness make men miserable, the longer one is wicked, the more miserable he must needs be; and I should judge them the most unhappy men that may be, if death at least did not end their malice. For if we have concluded truly of the misery of wickedness, it is manifest that the wretchedness which is everlasting must of force be infinite." "A strange illation," quoth I, "and hard to be granted; but I see that those things which were granted before agree very well with these." "Thou thinkest aright," quoth she, "but he that findeth difficulty to yield to the conclusion must either show that something which is presupposed is false, or that the combination of the propositions makes not a necessary conclusion; otherwise, granting that which went before, he hath no reason to doubt of the inference. For this also which I will conclude now will seem no less strange, and yet followeth as necessarily out of those things which are already assumed." "What?" quoth I. "That wicked men," quoth she, "are more happy being punished than if they escaped the hands of justice. Neither do I now go about to show that which may come into every man's mind, that evil customs are corrected by chastisement, and are reduced to virtue by the terror of punishment, and that others may take example to avoid evil, but in another manner also I think vicious men that go unpunished to be more miserable, although we take no account of correction and pay no regard to example." "And what other manner shall this be," quoth I, "besides these?" "Have we not granted," quoth she, "that the good are happy, and the evil miserable?" "We have," quoth I. "If then," quoth she, "something that is good be added to one's misery, is he not happier than another whose misery is desolate and solitary, without any participation of goodness?" "So it seemeth," quoth I. "What if there be some other evil annexed to this miserable man who is deprived of all goodness, besides those which make him miserable, is he not to be accounted much more unhappy than he whose misery is lightened by partaking of goodness?" "Why not?" quoth I. "But it is manifest that it is just that the wicked be punished, and unjust that they should go unpunished." "Who can deny that?" "But neither will any man deny this," quoth she, "that whatsoever is just, is good, and contrariwise, that whatsoever is unjust, is evil." "Certainly," I answered. "Then the wicked have some good annexed when they are punished, to wit, the punishment itself, which by reason of justice is good, and when they are not punished, they have a further evil, the very impunity which thou hast deservedly granted to be an evil because of its injustice." "I cannot deny it." "Wherefore the vicious are far more unhappy by escaping punishment unjustly, than by being justly punished." "This followeth," quoth I, "out of that which hath been concluded before.

But I pray thee, leavest thou no punishments for the souls after the death of the body?" "And those great too," quoth she. "Some of which I think to be executed as sharp punishments, and others as merciful purgations.[152] But I purpose not now to treat of those. But we have hitherto laboured that thou shouldest perceive the power of the wicked, which to thee seemed intolerable, to be none at all, and that thou shouldest see, that those whom thou complainedst went unpunished, do never escape without punishment for their wickedness. And that thou shouldest learn that the licence which thou wishedst might soon end, is not long, and yet the longer the more miserable, and most unhappy if it were everlasting. Besides, that the wicked are more wretched being permitted to escape with unjust impunity, than being punished with just severity. Out of which it followeth that they are then more grievously punished, when they are thought to go scot-free."

"When I consider thy reasons," quoth I, "I think nothing can be said more truly. But if I return to the judgments of men, who is there that will think them worthy to be believed or so much as heard?" "It is true," quoth she, "for they cannot lift up their eyes accustomed to darkness, to behold the light of manifest truth, and they are like those birds whose sight is quickened by the night, and dimmed by the day. For while they look upon, not the order of things, but their own affections, they think that licence and impunity to sin is happy. But see what the eternal law establisheth. If thou apply thy mind to the better, thou needest no judge to reward thee: thou hast joined thyself to the more excellent things. If thou declinest to that which is worse, never expect any other to punish thee: thou hast put thyself in a miserable estate; as if by turns thou lookest down to the miry ground, and up to heaven, setting aside all outward causes, by the very law of sight thou seemest sometime to be in the dirt, and sometime present to the stars. But the common sort considereth not these things. What then? Shall we join ourselves to them whom we have proved to be like beasts? What if one having altogether lost his sight should likewise forget that he ever had any, and should think that he wanted nothing which belongeth to human perfection: should we likewise think them blind, that see as well as they saw before? For they will not grant that neither, which may be proved by as forcible reasons, that they are more unhappy that do injury than they which suffer it." "I would," quoth I, "hear these reasons." "Deniest thou," quoth she, "that every wicked man deserveth punishment?" "No." "And it is many ways clear that the vicious are miserable?" "Yes," quoth I. "Then you do not doubt that those who deserve punishment are wretched?" "It is true," quoth I. "If then," quoth she, "thou wert to examine this cause, whom wouldest thou appoint to be punished, him that did or that suffered wrong?" "I doubt not," quoth I, "but that I would satisfy him that suffered with the sorrow of him that did it." "The offerer of the injury then would seem to thee more miserable than the receiver?" "It followeth," quoth I. "Hence therefore, and for other causes grounded upon that principle that dishonesty of itself maketh men miserable, it appeareth that the injury which is offered any man is not the receiver's but the doer's misery." "But now-a-days," quoth she, "orators take the contrary course. For they endeavour to draw the judges to commiseration of them who have suffered any grievous afflictions; whereas pity is more justly due to the causers thereof, who should be brought, not by angry, but rather by favourable and compassionate accusers to judgment, as it were sick men to a physician, that their diseases and faults might be taken away by punishments; by which means the defenders' labour would either wholly cease, or if they had rather do their clients some good, they would change their defence into accusations. And the wicked themselves, if they could behold virtue abandoned by them, through some little rift, and perceive that they might be delivered from the filth of sin by the affliction of punishments, obtaining virtue in exchange, they would not esteem of torments, and would refuse the assistance of their defenders, and wholly resign themselves to their accusers and judges. By which means it cometh to pass, that in wise men there is no place for hatred. For who but a very fool would hate the good? And to hate the wicked were against reason. For as faintness is a disease of the body, so is vice a sickness of the mind. Wherefore, since we judge those that have corporal infirmities to be rather worthy of compassion than of hatred, much more are they to be pitied, and not abhorred, whose minds are oppressed with wickedness, the greatest malady that may be.

[152] See discussion of this passage in Boethius, An Essay, H. F. Stewart (1891), pp. 98 ff.


Quod tantos iuuat excitare motus
  Et propria fatum sollicitare manu?
Si mortem petitis, propinquat ipsa
  Sponte sua uolucres nec remoratur equos.
Quos serpens leo tigris ursus aper 5
  Dente petunt, idem se tamen ense petunt.
An distant quia dissidentque mores,
  Iniustas acies et fera bella mouent
Alternisque uolunt perire telis?
  Non est iusta satis saeuitiae ratio. 10
Vis aptam meritis uicem referre?
  Dilige iure bonos et miseresce malis."


  Why should we strive to die so many ways,
    And slay ourselves with our own hands?
    If we seek death, she ready stands,
  She willing comes, her chariot never stays.
  Those against whom the wild beasts arméd be,
    Against themselves with weapons rage.[153]
    Do they such wars unjustly wage,
  Because their lives and manners disagree,
  And so themselves with mutual weapons kill?
    Alas, but this revenge is small.
    Wouldst thou give due desert to all?
  Love then the good, and pity thou the ill."

[153] Literally, "Men whom serpent, lion, tiger, bear, and boar attack with tooth, yet attack each other with the sword."


Hic ego: "Video," inquam, "quae sit uel felicitas uel miseria in ipsis proborum atque improborum meritis constituta. Sed in hac ipsa fortuna populari non nihil boni maliue inesse perpendo. Neque enim sapientum quisquam exul inops ignominiosusque esse malit, potius quam pollens opibus, honore reuerendus, potentia ualidus, in sua permanens urbe florere. Sic enim clarius testatiusque sapientiae tractatur officium, cum in contingentes populos regentium quodam modo beatitudo transfunditur, cum praesertim carcer, nex[154] ceteraque legalium tormenta poenarum perniciosis potius ciuibus propter quos etiam constituta sunt debeantur. Cur haec igitur uersa uice mutentur scelerumque supplicia bonos premant, praemia uirtutum mali rapiant, uehementer admiror, quaeque tam iniustae confusionis ratio uideatur ex te scire desidero. Minus etenim mirarer, si misceri omnia fortuitis casibus crederem. Nunc stuporem meum deus rector exaggerat. Qui cum saepe bonis iucunda, malis aspera contraque bonis dura tribuat, malis optata concedat, nisi causa deprehenditur, quid est quod a fortuitis casibus differre uideatur?" "Nec mirum," inquit, "si quid ordinis ignorata ratione temerarium confusumque credatur. Sed tu quamuis causam tantae dispositionis ignores, tamen quoniam bonus mundum rector temperat, recte fieri cuncta ne dubites.

[154] lex plerique codd.


"I see," quoth I, "what felicity or misery is placed in the deserts of honest and dishonest men. But I consider that there is somewhat good or evil even in this popular fortune. For no wise man had rather live in banishment, poverty, and ignominy, than prosper in his own country, being rich, respected, and powerful. For in this manner is the office of wisdom performed with more credit and renown, when the governors' happiness is participated by the people about them; so chiefly because prisons, death, and other torments of legal punishments are rather due to pernicious subjects, for whom they were also ordained. Wherefore I much marvel why these things are thus turned upside down, and the punishments of wickedness oppress the good, while evil men obtain the rewards of the good. And I desire to know of thee what may seem to be the reason of so unjust confusion. For I would marvel less if I thought that all things were disordered by casual events. Now God being the Governor, my astonishment is increased. For since that He distributeth oftentimes that which is pleasant to the good, and that which is distasteful to the bad, and contrariwise adversity to the good, and prosperity to the evil, unless we find out the cause hereof, what difference may there seem to be betwixt this and accidental chances?" "It is no marvel," quoth she, "if anything be thought temerarious and confused, when we know not the order it hath. But although thou beest ignorant of the causes why things be so disposed, yet because the world hath a governor, doubt not but all things are well done.


Si quis Arcturi sidera nescit
  Propinqua summo cardine labi,
Cur legat tardus plaustra Bootes
  Mergatque seras aequore flammas,
Cum nimis celeres explicet ortus, 5
  Legem stupebit aetheris alti.
Palleant plenae cornua lunae
  Infecta metis noctis opacae
Quaeque fulgenti texerat ore
  Confusa Phoebe detegat astra, 10
Commouet gentes publicus error
  Lassantque crebris pulsibus aera.
Nemo miratur flamina Cori
  Litus frementi tundere fluctu
Nec niuis duram frigore molem 15
  Feruente Phoebi soluier aestu.
Hic enim causas cernere promptum est,
  Illic latentes pectora turbant.
Cuncta quae rara prouehit aetas
  Stupetque subitis mobile uulgus, 20
Cedat inscitiae nubilus error,
  Cessent profecto mira uideri."


  Who knows not how the stars near to the poles do slide,
    And how Boötes his slow wain doth guide,
  And why he sets so late, and doth so early rise,
    May wonder at the courses of the skies.
  If when the moon is full her horns seem pale to sight,
    Infested with the darkness of the night,
  And stars from which all grace she with her brightness took,
    Now show themselves, while she doth dimly look,
  A public error straight through vulgar minds doth pass,
    And they with many strokes beat upon brass.[155]
  None wonders why the winds upon the waters blow.
    Nor why hot Phoebus' beams dissolve the snow.
  These easy are to know, the other hidden lie,
    And therefore more our hearts they terrify.
  All strange events which time to light more seldom brings,
    And the vain people count as sudden things,
  If we our clouded minds from ignorance could free,
    No longer would by us admired be."

[155] See Tylor's Primitive Culture, pp. 296 ff. Cf "carmina uel caelo possunt deducere lunam," Virg. Ecl. viii. 69, and Juvenal, Sat. vi. 440 sq.


"Ita est," inquam; "sed cum tui muneris sit latentium rerum causas euoluere uelatasque caligine explicare rationes, quaeso uti quae hinc decernas. quoniam hoc me miraculum maxime perturbat, edisseras." Tum illa paulisper arridens: "Ad rem me," inquit, "omnium quaesitu maximam uocas, cui uix exhausti quicquam satis sit. Talis namque materia est ut una dubitatione succisa innumerabiles aliae uelut hydrae capita succrescant, nec ullus fuerit modus, nisi quis eas uiuacissimo mentis igne coerceat. In hac enim de prouidentiae simplicitate, de fati serie, de repentinis casibus, de cognitione ac praedestinatione diuina, de arbitrii libertate quaeri solet, quae quanti oneris sint ipse perpendis. Sed quoniam haec quoque te nosse quaedam medicinae tuae portio est, quamquam angusto limite temporis saepti tamen aliquid delibare[156] conabimur. Quod si te musici carminis oblectamenta delectant, hanc oportet paulisper differas uoluptatem, dum nexas sibi ordine contexo rationes." "Vt libet," inquam. Tunc uelut ab alio orsa principio ita disseruit: "Omnium generatio rerum cunctusque mutabilium naturarum progressus et quidquid aliquo mouetur modo, causas, ordinem, formas ex diuinae mentis stabilitate sortitur. Haec in suae simplicitatis arce composita multiplicem rebus regendis modum statuit. Qui modus cum in ipsa diuinae intellegentiae puritate conspicitur, prouidentia nominatur; cum uero ad ea quae mouet atque disponit refertur, fatum a ueteribus appellatum est. Quae diuersa esse facile liquebit, si quis utriusque uim mente conspexerit. Nam prouidentia est ipsa illa diuina ratio in summo omnium principe constituta quae cuncta disponit; fatum uero inhaerens rebus mobilibus dispositio per quam prouidentia suis quaeque nectit ordinibus. Prouidentia namque cuncta pariter quamuis diuersa quamuis infinita complectitur; fatum uero singula digerit in motum locis formis ac temporibus distributa, ut haec temporalis ordinis explicatio in diuinae mentis adunata prospectum prouidentia sit, eadem uero adunatio digesta atque explicata temporibus fatum uocetur. Quae licet diuersa sint, alterum tamen pendet ex altero. Ordo namque fatalis ex prouidentiae simplicitate procedit. Sicut enim artifex faciendae rei formam mente praecipiens mouet operis effectum, et quod simpliciter praesentarieque prospexerat, per temporales ordines ducit, ita deus prouidentia quidem singulariter stabiliterque facienda disponit, fato uero haec ipsa quae disposuit multipliciter ac temporaliter administrat. Siue igitur famulantibus quibusdam prouidentiae diuinis spiritibus fatum exercetur seu anima seu tota inseruiente natura seu caelestibus siderum motibus seu angelica uirtute seu daemonum uaria sollertia seu aliquibus horum seu omnibus fatalis series texitur, illud certe manifestum est immobilem simplicemque gerendarum formam rerum esse prouidentiam, fatum uero eorum quae diuina simplicitas gerenda disposuit mobilem nexum atque ordinem temporalem. Quo fit ut omnia quae fato subsunt prouidentiae quoque subiecta sint cui ipsum etiam subiacet fatum, quaedam uero quae sub prouidentia locata sunt fati seriem superent. Ea uero sunt quae primae propinqua diuinitati stabiliter fixa fatalis ordinem mobilitatis excedunt. Nam ut orbium circa eundem cardinem sese uertentium qui est intimus ad simplicitatem medietatis accedit ceterorumque extra locatorum ueluti cardo quidam circa quem uersentur exsistit, extimus uero maiore ambitu rotatus quanto a puncti media indiuiduitate discedit tanto amplioribus spatiis explicatur, si quid uero illi se medio conectat et societ, in simplicitatem cogitur diffundique ac diffluere cessat, simili ratione quod longius a prima mente discedit maioribus fati nexibus implicatur ac tanto aliquid fato liberum est quanto illum rerum cardinem uicinius petit. Quod si supernae mentis haeserit firmitati, motu carens fati quoque supergreditur necessitatem. Igitur uti est ad intellectum ratiocinatio, ad id quod est id quod gignitur, ad aeternitatem tempus, ad punctum medium circulus, ita est fati series mobilis ad prouidentiae stabilem simplicitatem. Ea series caelum ac sidera mouet, elementa in se inuicem temperat et alterna commutatione transformat; eadem nascentia occidentiaque omnia per similes fetuum seminumque renouat progressus. Haec actus etiam fortunasque hominum indissolubili causarum conexione constringit, quae cum ab immobilis prouidentiae proficiscatur exordiis, ipsas quoque immutabiles esse necesse est. Ita enim res optime reguntur, si manens in diuina mente simplicitas indeclinabilem causarum ordinem promat. Hic uero ordo res mutabiles et alioquin temere fluituras propria incommutabilitate coerceat. Quo fit ut tametsi uobis hunc ordinem minime considerare ualentibus confusa omnia perturbataque uideantur, nihilo minus tamen suus modus ad bonum dirigens cuncta disponat. Nihil est enim quod mali causa ne ab ipsis quidem improbis fiat; quos, ut uberrime demonstratum est, bonum quaerentes prauus error auertit, nedum ordo de summi boni cardine proficiscens a suo quoquam deflectat exordio.

Quae uero, inquies, potest ulla iniquior esse confusio, quam ut bonis tum aduersa tum prospera, malis etiam tum optata tum odiosa contingant? Num igitur ea mentis integritate homines degunt, ut quos probos improbosue censuerunt eos quoque uti existimant esse necesse sit? Atqui in hoc hominum iudicia depugnant, et quos alii praemio alii supplicio dignos arbitrantur. Sed concedamus ut aliquis possit bonos malosque discernere; num igitur potent intueri illam intimam temperiem, uelut in corporibus dici solet, animorum? Non enim dissimile est miraculum nescienti cur sanis corporibus his quidem dulcia illis uero amara conueniant, cur aegri etiam quidam lenibus quidam uero acribus adiuuentur? At hoc medicus, qui sanitatis ipsius atque aegritudinis modum temperamentumque dinoscit, minime miratur. Quid uero aliud animorum salus uidetur esse quam probitas? Quid aegritudo quam uitia? Quis autem alius uel seruator bonorum uel malorum depulsor quam rector ac medicator mentium deus? Qui cum ex alta prouidentiae specula respexit, quid unicuique conueniat agnoscit et quod conuenire nouit accommodat. Hic iam fit illud fatalis ordinis insigne miraculum, cum ab sciente geritur quod stupeant ignorantes. Nam ut pauca quae ratio ualet humana de diuina profunditate perstringam, de hoc quem tu iustissimum et aequi seruantissimum putas omnia scienti prouidentiae diuersum uidetur; et uictricem quidem causam dis, uictam uero Catoni placuisse familiaris noster Lucanus admonuit. Hic igitur quidquid citra spem uideas geri, rebus quidem rectus ordo est, opinioni uero tuae peruersa confusio. Sed sit aliquis ita bene moratus ut de eo diuinum iudicium pariter et humanum consentiat, sed est animi uiribus infirmus; cui si quid eueniat aduersi, desinet colere forsitan innocentiam per quam non potuit retinere fortunam. Parcit itaque sapiens dispensatio ei quem deteriorem facere possit aduersitas, ne cui non conuenit laborare patiatur. Est alius cunctis uirtutibus absolutus sanctusque ac deo proximus; hunc contingi quibuslibet aduersis nefas prouidentia iudicat adeo ut ne corporeis quidem morbis agitari sinat. Nam ut quidam me quoque excellentior:

[Greek: Andros dae ierou demas aitheres oikodomaesan.]

Fit autem saepe, uti bonis summa rerum regenda deferatur, ut exuberans retundatur improbitas. Aliis mixta quaedam pro animorum qualitate distribuit; quosdam remordet ne longa felicitate luxurient, alios duris[157] agitari ut uirtutes animi patientiae usu atque exercitatione confirment. Alii plus aequo metuunt quod ferre possunt, alii plus aequo despiciunt quod ferre non possunt; hos in experimentum sui tristibus ducit. Nonnulli uenerandum saeculi nomen gloriosae pretio mortis emerunt: quidam suppliciis inexpugnabiles exemplum ceteris praetulerunt inuictam malis esse uirtutem. Quae quam recte atque disposite et ex eorum bono quibus accedere uidentur fiant, nulla dubitatio est. Nam illud quoque, quod improbis nunc tristia nunc optata proueniunt, ex eisdem ducitur causis; ac de tristibus quidem nemo miratur, quod eos male meritos omnes existimant. Quorum quidem supplicia tum ceteros ab sceleribus deterrent, tum ipsos quibus inuehuntur emendant; laeta uero magnum bonis argumentum loquuntur, quid de huiusmodi felicitate debeant iudicare quam famulari saepe improbis cernant. In qua re illud etiam dispensari credo, quod est forsitan alicuius tam praeceps atque inportuna natura ut eum in scelera potius exacerbare possit rei familiaris inopia; huius morbo prouidentia collatae pecuniae remedio medetur. Hic foedatam probris conscientiam exspectans et se cum fortuna sua comparans, forsitan pertimescit ne cuius ei iucundus usus est, sit tristis amissio. Mutabit igitur mores ac dum fortunam metuit amittere; nequitiam derelinquit. Alios in cladem meritam praecipitauit indigne acta felicitas; quibusdam permissum puniendi ius, ut exercitii bonis et malis esset causa supplicii. Nam ut probis atque improbis nullum foedus est, ita ipsi inter se improbi nequeunt conuenire. Quidni, cum a semet ipsis discerpentibus conscientiam uitiis quisque dissentiat faciantque saepe, quae cum gesserint non fuisse gerenda decernant? Ex quo saepe summa illa prouidentia protulit insigne miraculum, ut malos mali bonos facerent. Nam dum iniqua sibi a pessimis quidam perpeti uidentur, noxiorum odio flagrantes ad uirtutis frugem rediere, dum se eis dissimiles student esse quos oderant. Sola est enim diuina uis cui mala quoque bona sint, cum eis competenter utendo alicuius boni elicit effectum. Ordo enim quidam cuncta complectitur, ut quod adsignata ordinis ratione decesserit, hoc licet in alium, tamen ordinem relabatur, ne quid in regno prouidentiae liceat temeritati.

[Greek: Argaleon de me tauta theon hos pant agoreuein.]

Neque enim fas est homini cunctas diuinae operae machinas uel ingenio comprehendere uel explicare sermone. Hoc tantum perspexisse sufficiat, quod naturarum omnium proditor deus idem ad bonum dirigens cuncta disponat, dumque ea quae protulit in sui similitudinem retinere festinat, malum omne de reipublicae suae terminis per fatalis seriem necessitatis eliminet. Quo fit ut quae in terris abundare creduntur, si disponentem prouidentiam spectes, nihil usquam mali esse perpendas. Sed uideo te iam dudum et pondere quaestionis oneratum et rationis prolixitate fatigatum aliquam carminis exspectare dulcedinem. Accipe igitur haustum quo refectus firmior in ulteriora contendas.

[156] deliberare codd.; delibare coni. Pulmannus.

[157] Fortasse sinit post duris addendum est.


"It is true," quoth I, "but since it is thy profession to explicate the causes of hidden things, and to unfold the reasons which are covered with darkness, I beseech thee vouchsafe to declare what conclusion thou drawest from these things, for this miracle troubleth me above all others." Then she smiling a little said: "Thou invitest me to a matter which is most hardly found out, and can scarcely be sufficiently declared; for it is such that, one doubt being taken away, innumerable others, like the heads of Hydra, succeed, neither will they have any end unless a man repress them with the most lively fire of his mind. For in this matter are wont to be handled these questions: of the simplicity of Providence; of the course of Fate; of sudden chances; of God's knowledge and predestination, and of free will; which how weighty they are, thou thyself discerneth. But because it is part of thy cure to know these things also, though the time be short, yet we will endeavour to touch them briefly. But if the sweetness of verse delight thee, thou must forbear this pleasure for a while, until I propose unto thee some few arguments." "As it pleaseth thee," quoth I.

Then taking as it were a new beginning, she discoursed in this manner: "The generation of all things, and all the proceedings of mutable natures, and whatsoever is moved in any sort, take their causes, order, and forms from the stability of the Divine mind. This, placed in the castle of its own simplicity, hath determined manifold ways for doing things; which ways being considered in the purity of God's understanding, are named Providence, but being referred to those things which He moveth and disposeth, they are by the ancients called Fate. The diversity of which will easily appear if we weigh the force of both. For Providence is the very Divine reason itself, seated in the highest Prince, which disposeth all things. But Fate is a disposition inherent in changeable things, by which Providence connecteth all things in their due order. For Providence embraceth all things together, though diverse, though infinite; but Fate putteth every particular thing into motion being distributed by places, forms, and time; so that this unfolding of temporal order being united into the foresight of God's mind is Providence, and the same uniting, being digested and unfolded in time, is called Fate. Which although they be diverse yet the one dependeth on the other. For fatal order proceedeth from the simplicity of Providence. For as a workman conceiving the form of anything in his mind taketh his work in hand, and executeth by order of time that which he had simply and in a moment foreseen, so God by His Providence disposeth whatsoever is to be done with simplicity and stability, and by Fate effecteth by manifold ways and in the order of time those very things which He disposeth. Wherefore, whether Fate be exercised by the subordination of certain Divine spirits to Providence, or this fatal web be woven by a soul or by the service of all nature, or by the heavenly motions of the stars, by angelical virtue, or by diabolical industry, or by some or all of these, that certainly is manifest that Providence is an immoveable and simple form of those things which are to be done, and Fate a moveable connexion and temporal order of those things which the Divine simplicity hath disposed to be done. So that all that is under Fate is also subject to Providence, to which also Fate itself obeyeth. But some things which are placed under Providence are above the course of Fate. And they are those things which nigh to the first Divinity, being stable and fixed, exceed the order of fatal mobility. For as of orbs which turn about the same centre, the inmost draweth nigh to the simplicity of the midst, and is as it were the hinge of the rest, which are placed without it, about which they are turned, and the outmost, wheeled with a greater compass, by how much it departeth from the middle indivisibility of the centre, is so much the more extended into larger spaces, but that which is joined and coupled to that middle approacheth to simplicity, and ceaseth to spread and flow abroad, in like manner that which departeth farthest from the first mind is involved more deeply in the meshes of Fate, and everything is so much the freer from Fate, by how much it draweth nigh to the hinge of all things. And if it sticketh to the stability of the Sovereign mind, free from motion, it surpasseth also the necessity of Fate. Wherefore in what sort discourse of reason is compared to pure understanding, that which is produced to that which is, time to eternity, a circle to the centre, such is the course of moveable Fate to the stable simplicity of Providence. That course moveth the heaven and stars, tempereth the elements one with another, and transformeth them by mutual changing. The same reneweth all rising and dying things by like proceeding of fruits and seeds. This comprehendeth also the actions and fortunes of men by an unloosable connexion of causes, which since it proceeds from the principles of unmovable Providence, the causes also must needs be immutable. For in this manner things are best governed, if the simplicity which remaineth in the Divine mind produceth an inflexible order of causes, and this order restraineth with its own immutability things otherwise mutable, and which would have a confused course. Whereof it ensueth that though all things seem confused and disordered to you, who are not able to consider this order, notwithstanding all things are disposed by their own proper measure directing them to good. For there is nothing which is done for the love of evil, even by the wicked themselves: whom, as hath been abundantly proved, lewd error carrieth away while they are seeking after that which is good, so far is it that order proceeding from the hinge of the Sovereign Goodness should avert any from his first beginning.

But, thou wilt say, what more unjust confusion can there be than that both adversity and prosperity should happen to the good, and in like manner both desired and hateful things to the wicked? But are men so completely wise that whomsoever they judge wicked or honest must needs be so? How then are their censures contrary one to another, so that to divers the same men seem worthy of reward and punishment! But let us grant that some are able to discern the good from the evil. Can they therefore behold, as is wont to be said of bodies, that inward complexion of souls? For he that knoweth not the cause may marvel in like manner why some sound bodies agree better with sweet things and other with tart; and why some sick men are healed with gentle and some with sharper physic. But to a physician who knoweth the manner and temper both of health and sickness this is nothing strange. Now, what is the health of souls but virtue? What sickness have they but vices? And who either conserveth goodness or expelleth evils, but God the Ruler and Governor of men's minds? Who beholding from His high turret of providence seeth what is fitting for everyone, and applieth that which He knoweth to be most convenient. Here ariseth that strange wonder of fatal order, to wit that He that knoweth what is best, doth that which the ignorant admire. For to touch briefly some few things of the divine depth, which human reason is able to attain, he whom thou thinketh most just and most observant of equity, seemeth otherwise in the eyes of Providence which knoweth all. And our disciple Lucan noteth that the cause of conquerers pleased the gods, and that of the conquered, Cato.[158] Wherefore whatsoever thou seest done here against thy expectation is right order in the things themselves, but a perverse confusion in thy opinion. But let there be one so well conditioned that God and men approve and praise him; yet perhaps he is so weak a minded man, that if he falleth into adversity, he will forsake his innocency, which was not able to keep him in prosperity. Wherefore God's wise dispensation spareth him that adversity might make worse, lest he should suffer to whom difficulties are dangerous.

There is another complete in all virtues, a saint and high to God; Providence judgeth it a sacrilege to lay affliction on him, insomuch that she permitteth him not to be troubled so much as with corporal sickness. For as one that excelleth me saith 'the body of an holy man is builded of pure ether.'[159] It happeneth often also that the chief command is given to good men, that wickedness, which otherwise would overflow all, may be kept down. She mixeth for others sour and sweet according to the disposition of their souls; she troubles some lest they should fall to dissolution by long prosperity, others are vexed with hardships, that they may confirm the forces of their mind with the use and exercise of patience. Some are too much afraid of that which they are able to bear. Others make less account than there is cause of that which they cannot endure. All these she affrayeth with afflictions that they make trial of themselves. Many have bought the renown of this world with a glorious death. Some, overcoming all torments, have showed by their example that virtues cannot be conquered by miseries, which things how well and orderly they are done, and how much to their good upon whom they are seen to fall, there can be no doubt. For that sometime grievous, sometime pleasant things befall in like manner the wicked, proceedeth from the same causes. And as for adversity no man marvelleth because all think they deserve ill. Whose punishments do both terrify others from the like courses, and move them to amend themselves. And their prosperity is a great argument to the good, what they ought to judge of this happiness which they see oftentimes bestowed upon the wicked. In which thing also is to be considered that peradventure some have so headlong and untoward a disposition, that poverty would rather make him worse; whose disease is cured by Providence, with giving him store of money. Another, knowing his own guilty conscience, and comparing his character with his own estate, is afraid lest the loss of that should be grievous unto him, the use of which is pleasant. Wherefore he resolveth to change his customs, and whiles he feareth to lose his prosperity, he forsaketh wickedness. The increase of honour undeservedly obtained hath thrown some headlong into their deserved destruction. Others are permitted to have authority to punish others, that they may exercise the good and punish the bad. For as there is no league between virtuous and wicked men, so neither can the wicked agree among themselves. Why not? Since they disagree within themselves by reason of their vices which tear their conscience, so that they many times do that which afterwards they wish undone. From whence that highest Providence often worketh that wonderful miracle, that evil men make those which are evil good. For some, considering the injustice done them by most wicked men, inflamed with hatred of evildoers have returned to the practice of virtue, procuring to be contrary to them whom they hate. For it is only a divine strength to which even evil things are good, when, by using them in due sort, it draweth some good effect out of them. For a certain order embraceth all things, so that even that which departeth from the order appointed to it, though it falleth into another, yet that is order also, lest confused rashness should bear any sway in the kingdom of Providence. 'But it is hard for me to rehearse all this as if I were a God.'[160] For it is impossible for any man either to comprehend by his wit or to explicate in speech all the frame of God's work. Be it sufficient that we have seen thus much, that God, the author of all natures, directeth and disposeth all things to goodness, and while He endeavoureth to retain in His own likeness those things which He hath produced, He banisheth all evil from the bounds of His commonwealth, by the course of fatal necessity. So that if thou considerest the disposition of Providence, thou wilt perceive that evil, which is thought so to abound upon earth, hath no place left for it at all. But I see that long since burdened with so weighty a question, and wearied with my long discourse, thou expectest the delight of verses; wherefore take a draught, that, being refreshed, thou mayest be able to go forward.

[158] Pharsal. i. 126.

[159] Source unknown.

[160] Homer, Il. xii. 176.


Si uis celsi iura tonantis
Pura sollers cernere mente,
Aspice summi culmina caeli.
Illic iusto foedere rerum
Veterem seruant sidera pacem. 5
Non sol rutilo concitus igne
Gelidum Phoebes impedit axem
Nec quae summo uertice mundi
Flectit rapidos Vrsa meatus.
Numquam occiduo lota profundo 10
Cetera cernens sidera mergi
Cupit oceano tingere flammas.
Semper uicibus temporis aequis
Vesper seras nuntiat umbras
Reuehitque diem Lucifer almum. 15
Sic aeternos reficit cursus
Alternus amor, sic astrigeris
Bellum discors exulat oris.
Haec concordia temperat aequis
Elementa modis, ut pugnantia 20
Vicibus cedant umida siccis
Iungantque fidem frigora flammis
Pendulus ignis surgat in altum
Terraeque graues pondere sidant.
Isdem causis uere tepenti 25
Spirat florifer annus odores,
Aestas Cererem feruida siccat,
Remeat pomis grauis autumnus,
Hiemem defluus inrigat imber.
Haec temperies alit ac profert 30
Quidquid uitam spirat in orbe.
Eadem rapiens condit et aufert
Obitu mergens orta supremo.
Sedet interea conditor altus
Rerumque regens flectit habenas 35
Rex et dominus fons et origo
Lex et sapiens arbiter aequi
Et quae motu concitat ire,
Sistit retrahens ac uaga firmat.
Nam nisi rectos reuocans itus 40
Flexos iterum cogat in orbes,
Quae nunc stabilis continet ordo
Dissaepta suo fonte fatiscant.
Hic est cunctis communis amor
Repetuntque boni fine teneri, 45
Quia non aliter durare queant,
Nisi conuerso rursus amore
Refluant causae quae dedit esse.


      If thou would'st see
    God's laws with purest mind,
    Thy sight on heaven must fixéd be,
  Whose settled course the stars in peace doth bind.
      The sun's bright fire
    Stops not his sister's team,
    Nor doth the northern bear desire
  Within the ocean's wave to hide her beam.
      Though she behold
    The other stars there couching,
    Yet she uncessantly is rolled
  About high heaven, the ocean never touching.
      The evening light
    With certain course doth show
    The coming of the shady night,
  And Lucifer before the day doth go.
      This mutual love
    Courses eternal makes,
    And from the starry spheres above
  All cause of war and dangerous discord takes.
      This sweet consent
    In equal bands doth tie
    The nature of each element,
  So that the moist things yield unto the dry,
      The piercing cold
    With flames doth friendship keep,
    The trembling fire the highest place doth hold,
  And the gross earth sinks down into the deep.
      The flowery year
    Breathes odours in the spring
    The scorching summer corn doth bear,
  The autumn fruit from laden trees doth bring.
      The falling rain
    Doth winter's moisture give.
    These rules thus nourish and maintain
  All creatures which we see on earth to live.
      And when they die,
    These bring them to their end,
    While their Creator sits on high,
  Whose hand the reins of the whole world doth bend.
      He as their King
    Rules them with lordly might.
    From Him they rise, flourish, and spring,
  He as their law and judge decides their right.
      Those things whose course
    Most swiftly glides away
    His might doth often backward force,
  And suddenly their wandering motion stay.
      Unless His strength
    Their violence should bound,
    And them which else would run at length,
  Should bring within the compass of a round,
      That firm decree
    Which now doth all adorn
    Would soon destroyed and broken be,
  Things being far from their beginning borne.
      This powerful love
    Is common unto all,
    Which for desire of good do move
  Back to the springs from whence they first did fall.
      No worldly thing
    Can a continuance have
    Unless love back again it bring
  Unto the cause which first the essence gave.


Iamne igitur uides quid haec omnia quae diximus consequatur?" "Quidnam?" inquam. "Omnem," inquit, "bonam prorsus esse fortunam." "Et qui id," inquam, "fieri potest?" "Attende," inquit. "Cum omnis fortuna uel iucunda uel aspera tum remunerandi exercendiue bonos tum puniendi corrigendiue improbos causa deferatur, omnis bona quam uel iustam constat esse uel utilem." "Nimis quidem," inquam, "uera ratio et si quam paulo ante docuisti prouidentiam fatumue considerem, firmis uiribus nixa sententia. Sed eam si placet inter eas quas inopinabiles paulo ante posuisti numeremus." "Qui?" inquit. "Quia id hominum sermo communis usurpat et quidem crebro quorundam malam esse fortunam." "Visne igitur," inquit, "paulisper uulgi sermonibus accedamus, ne nimium uelut ab humanitatis usu recessisse uideamur?" "Vt placet," inquam. "Nonne igitur bonum censes esse quod prodest?" "Ita est," inquam, "Quae uero aut exercet aut corrigit, prodest?" "Fateor," inquam. "Bona igitur?" "Quidni?" "Sed haec eorum est qui uel in uirtute positi contra aspera bellum gerunt, uel a uitiis declinantes uirtutis iter arripiunt." "Negare," inquam, "nequeo." "Quid uero iucunda, quae in praemium tribuitur bonis, num uulgus malam esse decernit?" "Nequaquam; uerum uti est ita quoque esse optimam censet." "Quid reliqua, quae cum sit aspera, iusto supplicio malos coercet, num bonam populus putat?" "Immo omnium," inquam, "quae excogitari possunt, iudicat esse miserrimam." "Vide igitur ne opinionem populi sequentes quiddam ualde inopinabile confecerimus." "Quid?" inquam. "Ex his enim," ait, "quae concessa sunt, euenit eorum quidem qui uel sunt uel in possessione uel in prouectu uel in adeptione uirtutis, omnem quaecumque sit bonam, in improbitate uero manentibus omnem pessimam esse fortunam." "Hoc," inquam, "uerum est, tametsi nemo audeat confiteri." "Quare," inquit, "ita uir sapiens moleste ferre non debet, quotiens in fortunae certamen adducitur, ut uirum fortem non decet indignari, quotiens increpuit bellicus tumultus; utrique enim, huic quidem gloriae propagandae illi uero conformandae sapientiae, difficultas ipsa materia est. Ex quo etiam uirtus uocatur quod suis uiribus nitens non superetur aduersis. Neque enim uos in prouectu positi uirtutis diffluere deliciis et emarcescere uoluptate uenistis. Proelium cum omni fortuna nimis[161] acre conseritis, ne uos aut tristis opprimat aut iucunda corrumpat. Firmis medium uiribus occupate! Quidquid aut infra subsistit aut ultra progreditur, habet contemptum felicitatis, non habet praemium laboris. In uestra enim situm manu qualem uobis fortunam formare malitis; omnis enim quae uidetur aspera nisi aut exercet aut corrigit punit.

[161] animis codd. meliores.


Perceivest thou now what followeth of all that we have hitherto said?" "What?" quoth I. "That," quoth she, "all manner of fortune is good." "How can that be?" quoth I. "Be attentive," quoth she; "since that all fortune, be it pleasing or unpleasing, is directed to the reward or exercise of the good, and to the punishment and direction of the wicked, it is manifest it is all good, since all is just or profitable." "Thy reason is very true," quoth I, "and if I consider Providence and Fate, which thou didst explicate a little before, thy opinion is well grounded. But if thou pleasest let us account it among those which thou not long since supposest incredible." "Why?" quoth she. "Because men commonly use to say and repeat that some have ill fortune." "Shall we," quoth she, "frame our speech to the vulgar phrase, lest we seem to have as it were forsaken the use of human conversation?" "As it pleaseth thee," quoth I. "Dost thou not think then that that is good which is profitable?" "Yes," quoth I. "But that fortune which either exerciseth or correcteth is profitable?" "It is true," quoth I. "It is good then?" "Why not?" "But this is the estate of them who being either virtuous strive with adversity, or forsaking vices betake themselves to the way of virtue." "I cannot deny it," quoth I. "Now, what sayest thou to that pleasing fortune which is given in reward to the good, doth the common people account it bad?" "No, but judgeth it exceeding good, as it is indeed." "And what of the other which, being unpleasing, restraineth the evil with just punishment, doth not the people think it good?" "Nay," quoth I, "they think it the most miserable that can be." "Look then," quoth she, "how, following the people's opinion, we have concluded a very incredible matter." "What?" quoth I. "For it followeth," quoth she, "out of that which is granted, that all their fortune, whatsoever it be, who are either in the possession or increase or entrance of virtue, is good: and theirs, which remain in vices, the worst that may be." "This," quoth I, "is true, though none dare say so." "Wherefore," quoth she, "a wise man must be no more troubled when he is assaulted with adversity, than a valiant captain dismayed at the sound of an alarum. For difficulties are the matter by which the one must extend his glory, and the other increase his wisdom. For which cause virtue is so called, because it hath sufficient strength to overcome adversity.[162] For you, that are proficients in virtue, are not come hither to be dissolute with dainties or to languish in pleasures. You skirmish fiercely with any fortune, lest either affliction oppress you or prosperity corrupt you. Stay yourselves strongly in the mean! For whatsoever cometh either short, or goeth beyond, may well contemn felicity, but will never obtain any reward of labour. For it is placed in your power to frame to yourselves what fortune you please. For all that seemeth unsavoury either exerciseth or correcteth or punisheth.

[162] Boethius shows his independence in adopting for uirtus a different etymology from that given by Cicero, viz. uir (of. 2 Tusoul. xviii.).


Bella bis quinis operatus annis
Vltor Atrides Phrygiae ruinis
Fratris amissos thalamos piauit;
Ille dum Graiae dare uela classi
Optat et uentos redimit cruore, 5
Exuit patrem miserumque tristis
Foederat natae iugulum sacerdos.
Fleuit amissos Ithacus sodales
Quos ferus uasto recubans in antro
Mersit inmani Polyphemus aluo; 10
Sed tamen caeco furibundus ore
Gaudium maestis lacrimis rependit.
Herculem duri celebrant labores.
Ille Centauros domuit superbos,
Abstulit saeuo spolium leoni 15
Fixit et certis uolucres sagittis,
Poma cernenti rapuit draconi
Aureo laeuam grauior metallo,
Cerberum traxit triplici catena.
Victor immitem posuisse fertur 20
Pabulum saeuis dominum quadrigis.
Hydra combusto periit ueneno,
Fronte turpatus Achelous amnis
Ora demersit pudibunda ripis.
Strauit Antaeum Libycis harenis, 25
Cacus Euandri satiauit iras
Quosque pressurus foret altus orbis
Saetiger spumis umeros notauit.
Vltimus caelum[163] labor inreflexo
Sustulit collo pretiumque rursus 30
Vltimi caelum meruit laboris.
Ite nunc fortes ubi celsa magni
Ducit exempli uia! Cur inertes
Terga nudatis? Superata tellus
Sidera donat." 35

[163] caelo codd. mellores.


    Revengeful Atreus' son did ten whole years employ
  In wars, till he his brother's loss repaid with ransacked Troy.
    He setting forth the fleet of Greece upon the seas,
  And knowing well that only blood the angry winds would please,
    Forgot a father's part, and with his cruel knife
  Unto the gods did sacrifice his dearest daughter's life.
    Ulysses wailed the loss of his most faithful men,
  Whom Polyphemus did devour enclosed in his den
    But when his hands by sleight had made the Cyclops blind,
  Most pleasant joy instead of former tears possessed his mind.
    Hercules famous is for his laborious toil,
  Who tamed the Centaurs and did take the dreadful lion's spoil.
    He the Stymphalian birds with piercing arrows strook,
  And from the watchful dragon's care the golden apples took.[164]
    He in a threefold chain the hellish porter led,
  And with their cruel master's flesh the savage horses fed.
    He did th' increasing heads of poisonous Hydra burn,
  And breaking Achelous' horns, did make him back return.[165]*
    He on the Libyan sands did proud Antaeus kill,
  And with the mighty Cacus' blood Euander's wrath fulfil.
    That world-uplifting back the boar's white foam did fleck.
  To hold on high the sphere of heaven with never bending neck
    Of all his many toils the last was, and most hard,
  And for this last and greatest toil the heaven was his reward.
    You gallant men pursue this way of high renown,
  Why yield you? Overcome the earth, and you the stars shall crown,"

[164] Literally, "his left hand weighted with the golden metal."

[165] Lit. "The river Achelous dishonoured in his brow (by the loss of his horns) buried his shame-stricken face in his banks."




Dixerat orationisque cursum ad alia quaedam tractanda atque expedienda uertebat. Tum ego: "Recta quidem," inquam, "exhortatio tuaque prorsus auctoritate dignissima, sed quod tu dudum de prouidentia quaestionem pluribus aliis implicitam esse dixisti, re experior. Quaero enim an esse aliquid omnino et quidnam esse casum arbitrere." Tum illa: "Festino," inquit; "debitum promissionis absoluere uiamque tibi qua patriam reueharis aperire. Haec autem etsi perutilia cognitu tamen a propositi nostri tramite paulisper auersa sunt, uerendumque est ne deuiis fatigatus ad emetiendum rectum iter sufficere non possis." "Ne id," inquam, "prorsus uereare. Nam quietis mihi loco fuerit ea quibus maxime delector agnoscere, simul cum omne disputationis tuae latus indubitata fide constiterit, nihil de sequentibus ambigatur." Tum illa: "Morem," inquit, "geram tibi," simulque sic orsa est: "Si quidem," inquit, "aliquis euentum temerario motu nullaque causarum conexione productum casum esse definiat, nihil omnino casum esse confirmo et praeter subiectae rei significationem inanem prorsus uocem esse decerno. Quis enim coercente in ordinem cuncta deo locus esse ullus temeritati reliquus potest? Nam nihil ex nihilo exsistere uera sententia est cui nemo umquam ueterum refragatus est, quamquam id illi non de operante principio, sed de materiali subiecto hoc omnium de natura rationum quasi quoddam iecerint fundamentum. At si nullis ex causis aliquid oriatur, id de nihilo ortum esse uidebitur. Quod si hoc fieri nequit, ne casum quidem huiusmodi esse possibile est qualem paulo ante definiuimus." "Quid igitur," inquam, "nihilne est quod uel casus uel fortuitum iure appellari queat? An est aliquid, tametsi uulgus lateat, cui uocabula ista conueniant?" "Aristoteles meus id," inquit, "in Physicis et breui et ueri propinqua ratione definiuit." "Quonam," inquam "modo?" "Quotiens," ait, "aliquid cuiuspiam rei gratia geritur aliudque quibusdam de causis quam quod intendebatur obtingit, casus uocatur, ut si quis colendi agri causa fodiens humum defossi auri pondus inueniat. Hoc igitur fortuito quidem creditur accidisse, uerum non de nihilo est; nam proprias causas habet quarum inprouisus inopinatusque concursus casum uidetur operatus. Nam nisi cultor agri humum foderet, nisi eo loci pecuniam suam depositor obruisset, aurum non esset inuentum. Haec sunt igitur fortuiti causa compendii, quod ex obuiis sibi et confluentibus causis, non ex gerentis intentione prouenit. Neque enim uel qui aurum obruit uel qui agrum exercuit ut ea pecunia reperiretur intendit; sed uti dixi, quo ille obruit hunc fodisse conuenit atque concurrit. Licet igitur definire casum esse inopinatum ex confluentibus causis in his quae ob aliquid geruntur euentum; concurrere uero atque confluere causas facit ordo ille ineuitabili conexione procedens; qui de prouidentiae fonte descendens cuncta suis locis temporibusque disponit.



Having said thus, she began to turn her speech to treat and explicate certain other questions, when I interrupted her, saying: "Thy exhortation is very good, and well-seeming thy authority. But I find it true by experience, as thou affirmedst, that the question of Providence is entangled with many other. For I desire to know whether thou thinkest chance to be anything at all, and what it is." "I make haste," quoth she, "to perform my promise, and to show thee the way by which thou mayest return to thy country. But these other questions, though they be very profitable, yet they are somewhat from our purpose, and it is to be feared lest being wearied with digressions thou beest not able to finish thy direct journey." "There is no fear of that," quoth I, "for it will be a great ease to me to understand those things in which I take great delight, and withal, when thy disputation is fenced in on every side with sure conviction, there can be no doubt made of anything thou shalt infer." "I will," quoth she, "do as thou wouldst me have," and withal began in this manner. "If any shall define chance to be an event produced by a confused motion, and without connexion of causes, I affirm that there is no such thing, and that chance is only an empty voice that hath beneath it no real signification. For what place can confusion have, since God disposeth all things in due order? For it is a true sentence that of nothing cometh nothing, which none of the ancients denied, though they held not that principle of the efficient cause, but of the material subject, laying it down as in a manner the ground of all their reasonings concerning nature. But if anything proceedeth from no causes, that will seem to have come from nothing, which if it cannot be, neither is it possible there should be any such chance as is defined a little before." "What then," quoth I, "is there nothing that can rightly be called chance or fortune? Or is there something, though unknown to the common sort, to which these names agree?" "My Aristotle," quoth she, "in his Books of Nature[166] declared this point briefly and very near the truth." "How?" quoth I. "When," quoth she, "anything is done for some certain cause, and some other thing happeneth for other reasons than that which was intended, this is called chance; as if one digging his ground with intention to till it, findeth an hidden treasure. This is thought to have fallen thus out by fortune, but it is not of nothing, for it hath peculiar causes whose unexpected and not foreseen concourse seemeth to have brought forth a chance. For unless the husbandman had digged up his ground, and unless the other had hidden his money in that place, the treasure had not been found. These are therefore the causes of this fortunate accident, which proceedeth from the meeting and concourse of causes, and not from the intention of the doer. For neither he that hid the gold nor he that tilled his ground had any intention that the money should be found, but, as I said, it followed and concurred that this man should dig up in the place where the other hid. Wherefore, we may define chance thus: That it is an unexpected event of concurring causes in those things which are done to some end and purpose. Now the cause why causes so concur and meet so together, is that order proceeding with inevitable connexion, which, descending from the fountain of Providence, disposeth all things in their places and times.

[166] Phys. ii. 4.


Rupis Achaemeniae scopulis ubi uersa sequentum
  Pectoribus figit spicula pugna fugax,
Tigris et Euphrates uno se fonte resoluunt
  Et mox abiunctis dissociantur aquis.
Si coeant cursumque iterum reuocentur in unum, 5
  Confluat alterni quod trahit unda uadi;
Conuenient puppes et uulsi flumine trunci
  Mixtaque fortuitos implicet unda modos,
Quos tamen ipsa uagos terrae decliuia casus
  Gurgitis et lapsi defluus ordo regit. 10
Sic quae permissis fluitare uidetur habenis
  Fors patitur frenos ipsaque lege meat."


  In the Achaemenian rocks, where Parthians with their darts
  In their dissembled flight do wound their enemies,
  Tigris from the same head doth with Euphrates rise,
  And forthwith they themselves divide in several parts;
  But if they join again, and them one channel bound,
  Bringing together all that both their waves do bear;
  The ships and trees, whose roots they from the bank do tear,
  Will meet, and they their floods will mingle and confound,
  Yet run this wandering course in places which are low,
  And in these sliding streams a settled law remains.[167]
  So fortune, though it seems to run with careless reins,
  Yet hath it certain rule, and doth in order flow."

[167] Lit. "Yet all these (apparently) random happenings are governed by the shelving ground and the flowing course of the stream as it runs."


"Animaduerto," inquam, "idque, uti tu dicis, ita esse consentio. Sed in hac haerentium sibi serie causarum estne ulla nostri arbitrii libertas an ipsos quoque humanorum motus animorum fatalis catena constringit?" "Est," inquit, "neque enim fuerit ulla rationalis natura quin eidem libertas adsit arbitrii. Nam quod ratione uti naturaliter potest id habet iudicium quo quidque discernat; per se igitur fugienda optandaue dinoscit. Quod uero quis optandum esse iudicat petit; refugit uero quod aestimat esse fugiendum. Quare quibus in ipsis inest ratio, inest etiam uolendi nolendique libertas. Sed hanc non in omnibus aequam esse constituo. Nam supernis diuinisque substantiis et perspicax iudicium et incorrupta uoluntas et efficax optatorum praesto est potestas. Humanas uero animas liberiores quidem esse necesse est cum se in mentis diuinae speculatione conseruant, minus uero cum dilabuntur ad corpora, minusque etiam, cum terrenis artubus colligantur. Extrema uero est seruitus, cum uitiis deditae rationis propriae possessione ceciderunt. Nam ubi oculos a summae luce ueritatis ad inferiora et tenebrosa deiecerint, mox inscitiae nube caligant, perniciosis turbantur affectibus quibus accedendo consentiendoque quam inuexere sibi adiuuant seruitutem et sunt quodam modo propria libertate captiuae. Quae tamen ille ab aeterno cuncta prospiciens prouidentiae cernit intuitus et suis quaeque meritis praedestinata disponit.


"I observe it," quoth I, "and I acknowledge it to be as thou sayest. But in this rank of coherent causes, have we any free-will, or doth the fatal chain fasten also the motions of men's minds?" "We have," quoth she, "for there can be no reasonable nature, unless it be endued with free-will. For that which naturally hath the use of reason hath also judgment by which it can discern of everything by itself, wherefore of itself it distinguished betwixt those things which are to be avoided, and those which are to be desired. Now every one seeketh for that which he thinketh is to be desired, and escheweth that which in his judgment is to be avoided. Wherefore, they which have reason in themselves have freedom to will and nill. But yet I consider not this equal in all. For the supreme and divine substances have both a perspicuous judgment and an uncorrupted will, and an effectual power to obtain their desires. But the minds of men must needs be more free when they conserve themselves in the contemplation of God, and less when they come to their bodies, and yet less when they are bound with earthly fetters. But their greatest bondage is when, giving themselves to vices, they lose possession of their own reason. For, having cast their eyes from the light of the sovereign truth to inferior obscurities, forthwith they are blinded with the cloud of ignorance, molested with hurtful affections, by yielding and consenting to which they increase the bondage which they laid upon themselves, and are, after a certain manner, captives by their own freedom. Which notwithstanding that foresight of Providence which beholdeth all things from eternity, foreseeth, and by predestination disposeth of everything by their merits.


[Greek: Pant' ephoran kai pant' epakouein][168]
Puro clarum lumine Phoebum
Melliflui canit oris Homerus:
Qui tamen intima uiscera terrae
Non ualet aut pelagi radiorum 5
Infirma perrumpere luce.
Haud sic magni conditor orbis;
Huic ex alto cuncta tuenti
Nulla terrae mole resistunt,
Non nox atris nubibus obstat. 10
Quae sint, quae fuerint ueniantque
Vno mentis cernit in ictu;
Quem, quia respicit omnia solus,
Verum possis dicere solem."

[168] disponit [Greek: Pant' ephoron kai pant' epakogon] sic Peiper et similiter editores priores. Versum in rectum locum Engelbrecht restituit, quam quidem emendationem noster interpres uidetur praesensisse.


    Sweet Homer[169] sings the praise
    Of Phoebus clear and bright,
    And yet his strongest rays
    Cannot with feeble light
    Cast through the secret ways
    Of earth and seas his sight,
  Though 'all lies open to his eyes.'[170]
  But He who did this world devise—

    The earth's vast depths unseen
    From his sight are not free,
    No clouds can stand between,
    He at one time doth see
    What are, and what have been,
    And what shall after be.
  Whom, since he only vieweth all,
  You rightly the true Sun may call."

[169] Cf. Il. iv. 277, Od. xii. 323.

[170] This line renders the Greek with which Boethius begins the poem, adapting Homer's phrase "all surveying, all o'erhearing." See the critical note on p. 372.


Tum ego: "En," inquam, "difficiliore rursus ambiguitate confundor." "Quaenam," inquit, "ista est? Iam enim quibus perturbere coniecto." "Nimium," inquam, "aduersari ac repugnare uidetur praenoscere uniuersa deum et esse ullum libertatis arbitrium. Nam si cuncta prospicit deus neque falli ullo modo potest, euenire necesse est quod prouidentia futurum esse praeuiderit. Quare si ab aeterno non facta hominum modo sed etiam consilia uoluntatesque praenoscit, nulla erit arbitrii libertas; neque enim uel factum aliud ullum uel quaelibet exsistere poterit uoluntas nisi quam nescia falli prouidentia diuina praesenserit. Nam si aliorsum quam prouisae sunt detorqueri ualent, non iam erit futuri firma praescientia, sed opinio potius incerta, quod de deo credere nefas iudico. Neque enim illam probo rationem qua se quidam credunt hunc quaestionis nodum posse dissoluere. Aiunt enim non ideo quid esse euenturum, quoniam id prouidentia futurum esse prospexerit, sed e contrario potius, quoniam quid futurum est, id diuinam prouidentiam latere non posse eoque modo necessarium hoc in contrariam relabi partem, neque enim necesse esse contingere quae prouidentur, sed necesse esse quae futura sunt prouideri—quasi uero quae cuius rei causa sit praescientiane futurorum necessitatis an futurorum necessitas prouidentiae laboretur, ac non illud demonstrare nitamur, quoquo modo sese habeat ordo causarum, necessarium esse euentum praescitarum rerum, etiam si praescientia futuris rebus eueniendi necessitatem non uideatur inferre. Etenim si quispiam sedeat, opinionem quae eum sedere coniectat ueram esse necesse est; atque e conuerso rursus, si de quopiam uera sit opinio quoniam sedet, eum sedere necesse est. In utroque igitur necessitas inest, in hoc quidem sedendi, at uero in altero ueritatis. Sed non idcirco quisque sedet quoniam uera est opinio, sed haec potius uera est quoniam quempiam sedere praecessit. Ita cum causa ueritatis ex altera parte procedat, inest tamen communis in utraque necessitas.

Similia de prouidentia futurisque rebus ratiocinari patet. Nam etiam si idcirco quoniam futura sunt, prouidentur, non uero ideo quoniam prouidentur eueniunt, nihilo minus tamen ab deo uel uentura prouideri uel prouisa necesse est euenire,[171] quod ad perimendam arbitrii libertatem solum satis est. Iam uero quam praeposterum est ut aeternae praescientiae temporalium rerum euentus causa esse dicatur! Quid est autem aliud arbitrari ideo deum futura quoniam sunt euentura prouidere, quam putare quae olim acciderunt causam summae illius esse prouidentiae? Ad haec sicuti cum quid esse scio, id ipsum esse necesse est, ita cum quid futurum noui, id ipsum futurum esse necesse est. Sic fit igitur ut euentus praescitae rei nequeat euitari. Postremo si quid aliquis aliorsum atque sese res habet existimet, id non modo scientia non est, sed est opinio fallax ab scientiae ueritate longe diuersa. Quare si quid ita futurum est ut eius certus ac necessarius non sit euentus, id euenturum esse praesciri qui poterit? Sicut enim scientia ipsa impermixta est falsitati, ita id quod ab ea concipitur esse aliter atque concipitur nequit. Ea namque causa est cur mendacio scientia careat, quod se ita rem quamque habere necesse est uti eam sese habere scientia comprehendit. Quid igitur? Quonam modo deus haec incerta futura praenoscit? Nam si ineuitabiliter euentura censet quae etiam non euenire possibile est, fallitur; quod non sentire modo nefas est, sed etiam uoce proferre. At si ita uti sunt, ita ea futura esse decernit, ut aeque uel fieri ea uel non fieri posse cognoscat, quae est haec praescientia quae nihil certum nihil stabile comprehendit? Aut quid hoc refert uaticinio illo ridiculo Tiresiae?

Quidquid dicam, aut erit aut non.

Quid etiam diuina prouidentia humana opinione praestiterit; si uti homines incerta iudicat quorum est incertus euentus? Quod si apud illum rerum omnium certissimum fontem nihil incerti esse potest, certus eorum est euentus quae futura firmiter ille praescierit. Quare nulla est humanis consiliis actionibusque libertas quas diuina mens sine falsitatis errore cuncta prospiciens ad unum alligat et constringit euentum. Quo semel recepto quantus occasus humanarum rerum consequatur liquet. Frustra enim bonis malisque praemia poenaeue proponuntur quae nullus meruit liber ac uoluntarius motus animorum. Idque omnium uidebitur iniquissimum quod nunc aequissimum iudicatur uel puniri improbos uel remunerari probos quos ad alterutrum non propria mittit uoluntas, sed futuri cogit certa necessitas. Nec uitia igitur nec uirtutes quidquam fuerint, sed omnium meritorum potius mixta atque indiscreta confusio. Quoque nihil sceleratius excogitari potest, cum ex prouidentia rerum omnis ordo ducatur nihilque consiliis liceat humanis, fit ut uitia quoque nostra ad bonorum omnium referantur auctorem. Igitur nec sperandi aliquid nec deprecandi ulla ratio est. Quid enim uel speret quisque uel etiam deprecetur, quando optanda omnia series indeflexa conectit? Auferetur igitur unicum illud inter homines deumque commercium sperandi scilicet ac deprecandi. Si quidem iustae humilitatis pretio inaestimabilem uicem diuinae gratiae promeremur, qui solus modus est quo cum deo colloqui homines posse uideantur illique inaccessae luci prius quoque quam impetrent ipsa supplicandi ratione coniungi. Quae si recepta futurorum necessitate nihil uirium habere credantur, quid erit quo summo illi rerum principi conecti atque adhaerere possimus? Quare necesse erit humanum genus, uti paulo ante cantabas, dissaeptum atque disiunctum suo fonte fatiscere.

[171] euenire prouisa codd. meliores.


Then I complained that I was now in a greater confusion and more doubtful difficulty than before. "What is that?" quoth she, "for I already conjecture what it is that troubleth thee." "It seemeth," quoth I, "to be altogether impossible and repugnant that God foreseeth all things, and that there should be any free-will. For if God beholdeth all things and cannot be deceived, that must of necessity follow which His providence foreseeth to be to come. Wherefore, if from eternity he doth not only foreknow the deeds of men, but also their counsels and wills, there can be no free-will; for there is not any other deed or will, but those which the divine providence, that cannot be deceived, hath foreseen. For if things can be drawn aside to any other end than was foreknown, there will not be any firm knowledge of that which is to come, but rather an uncertain opinion, which in my opinion were impious to believe of God. Neither do I allow of that reason with which some suppose that they can dissolve the difficulty of this question. For they say that nothing is therefore to come to pass because Providence did foresee it, but rather contrariwise, because it shall be, it could not be unknown to Providence, and in this manner the necessity passes over to the other side. For it is not necessary, they argue, that those things should happen which are foreseen, but it is necessary that those things should be foreseen that are to come—as though our problem were this, which of them is the cause of a thing, the foreknowledge of the necessity of things to come, or the necessity of the foreknowledge of things to come, and we were not trying to prove that, howsoever these causes be ordered, the event of the things which are foreknown is necessary, even though the foreknowledge seemeth not to confer necessity of being upon the things themselves. For if any man sitteth the opinion which thinketh so must needs be true, and again on the other side, if the opinion that one sitteth be true, he must needs sit. Wherefore, there is necessity in both, in the one of sitting and in the other of truth. But one sitteth not because the opinion is true, but rather this is true because one hath taken his seat. So that though the cause of truth proceedeth from one part, yet there is a common necessity in both.

And the like is to be inferred of Providence and future things. For even though they be foreseen because they shall be, yet they do not come to pass because they are foreseen, notwithstanding it is necessary that either things to come be foreseen by God, or that things foreseen do fall out, which alone is sufficient to overthrow free-will. But see how preposterous it is that the event of temporal things should be said to be the cause of the everlasting foreknowledge! And what else is it to think that God doth therefore foresee future things, because they are to happen, than to affirm that those things which happened long since, are the cause of that sovereign providence? Furthermore, as when I know anything to be, it must needs be; so when I know that anything shall be, it must needs be to come. And so it followeth that the event of a thing foreknown cannot be avoided. Finally, if any man thinketh otherwise than the thing is, that is not only no knowledge, but it is a deceitful opinion far from the truth of knowledge; wherefore, if anything is to be in such sort that the event of it is not certain or necessary, how can that be foreknown that it shall happen? For as knowledge is without mixture of falsity, so that which is conceived by it cannot be otherwise than it is conceived. For this is the cause why knowledge is without deceit, because everything must needs be so as the knowledge apprehendeth it to be. What then? How doth God foreknow that these uncertain things shall be? For if He judgeth that those things shall happen inevitably, which it is possible shall not happen, He is deceived, which is not only impious to think, but also to speak. But if He supposeth that they shall happen in such sort as they are, so that He knoweth that they may equally be done and not be done, what foreknowledge is this which comprehendeth no certain or stable thing? Or in what is this better than that ridiculous prophecy of Tiresias "Whatsoever I say shall either be or not be"[172]? or in what shall the divine providence exceed human opinion, if, as men, God judgeth those things to be uncertain the event of which is doubtful? But if nothing can be uncertain to that most certain fountain of all things, the occurrence of those things is certain, which He doth certainly know shall be. Wherefore there is no freedom in human counsels and actions, which the divine mind, foreseeing all things without error or falsehood, tieth and bindeth to one event. Which once admitted, it is evident what ruin of human affairs will ensue. For in vain are rewards and punishments proposed to good and evil, which no free and voluntary motion of their minds hath deserved. And that will seem most unjust which is now judged most just, that either the wicked should be punished or the good rewarded, since their own will leadeth them to neither, but they are compelled by the certain necessity of that which is to come. By which means virtues and vices shall be nothing, but rather there will follow a mixed confusion of all deserts. And—than which there can be nothing invented more impious—since that all order of things proceedeth from Providence, and human counsels can do nothing, it followeth that our vices also shall be referred to the author of goodness. Wherefore there is no means left to hope or pray for anything, since an unflexible course connecteth all things that can be desired! Wherefore that only traffic betwixt God and men of hope and prayer shall be taken away: if indeed by the price of just humility we deserve the unestimable benefit of God's grace; for this is the only manner by which it seemeth that men may talk with God, and by the very manner of supplication be joined to that inaccessible light before they obtain anything; which if by the admitting the necessity of future things, they be thought to have no force, by what shall we be united and cleave to that Sovereign Prince of all things? Wherefore mankind must needs (as thou saidest in thy verse a little before), being separated and severed from its source, fail and fall away.

[172] Hor. Sat. ii. 5. 59.


Quaenam discors foedera rerum
Causa resoluit? Quis tanta deus
Veris statuit bella duobus,
Vt quae carptim singula constent
Eadem nolint mixta iugari? 5
An nulla est discordia ueris
Semperque sibi certa cohaerent?
Sed mens caecis obruta membris
Nequit oppressi luminis igne
Rerum tenues noscere nexus. 10
Sed cur tanto flagrat amore
Veri tectas reperire notas?
Scitne quod appetit anxia nosse?
Sed quis nota scire laborat?
At si nescit, quid caeca petit? 15
Quis enim quidquam nescius optet
Aut quis ualeat nescita sequi?
Quoue inueniat, quisque[173] repertam
Queat ignarus noscere formam?
An cum mentem cerneret altam, 20
Pariter summam et singula norat?
Nunc membrorum condita nube
Non in totum est oblita sui
Summamque tenet singula perdens.
Igitur quisquis uera requirit, 25
Neutro est habitu; nam neque nouit
Nec penitus tamen omnia nescit,
Sed quam retinens meminit summam
Consulit alte uisa retractans,
Vt seruatis queat oblitas 30
           Addere partes."

[173] quisque codex Bambergensis s. xi.: quis codd. meliores.


  What cause of discord breaks the bands of love?
  What God between two truths such wars doth move?
  That things which severally well settled be
  Yet joined in one will never friendly prove?
  Or in true things can we no discord see,
  Because all certainties do still agree?
  But our dull soul, covered with members blind,
  Knows not the secret laws which things do bind,
  By the drowned light of her oppressed fire.
  Why then, the hidden notes of things to find,
  Doth she with such a love of truth desire?
  If she knows that which she doth so require,
  Why wisheth she known things to know again?
  If she knows not, why strives she with blind pain?
  Who after things unknown will strive to go?
  Or will such ignorant pursuit maintain?
  How shall she find them out? Or having so,
  How shall she then their forms and natures know?
  Because this soul the highest mind did view,
  Must we needs say that it all nature knew?
  Now she, though clouds of flesh do her debar,
  Forgets not all that was her ancient due,
  But in her mind some general motions are,
  Though not the skill of things particular.
  He that seeks truth in neither course doth fall;
  Not knowing all, nor ignorant of all,
  He marketh general things which he retains,
  And matters seen on high doth back recall,
  And things forgotten to his mind regains,
  And joins them to that part which there remains."


Tum illa: "Vetus," inquit, "haec est de prouidentia querela Marcoque Tullio, cum diuinationem distribuit, uehementer agitata tibique ipsi res diu prorsus multumque quaesita, sed haud quaquam ab ullo uestrum hactenus satis diligenter ac firmiter expedita. Cuius caliginis causa est, quod humanae ratiocinationis motus ad diuinae praescientiae simplicitatem non potest admoueri, quae si ullo modo cogitari queat, nihil prorsus relinquetur ambigui. Quod ita demum patefacere atque expedire temptabo, si prius ea quibus moueris expendero. Quaero enim, cur illam soluentium rationem minus efficacem putes, quae quia praescientiam non esse futuris rebus causam necessitatis existimat, nihil impediri praescientia arbitrii libertatem putat. Num enim tu aliunde argumentum futurorum necessitatis trahis, nisi quod ea quae praesciuntur non euenire non possunt? Si igitur praenotio nullam futuris rebus adicit necessitatem, quod tu etiam paulo ante fatebare, quid est quod uoluntarii exitus rerum ad certum cogantur euentum? Etenim positionis gratia, ut quid consequatur aduertas, statuamus nullam esse praescientiam. Num igitur quantum ad hoc attinet, quae ex arbitrio eueniunt ad necessitatem cogantur?" "Minime." "Statuamus iterum esse, sed nihil rebus necessitatis iniungere; manebit ut opinor eadem uoluntatis integra atque absoluta libertas.

Sed praescientia, inquies, tametsi futuris eueniendi necessitas non est, signum tamen est necessario ea esse uentura. Hoc igitur modo, etiam si praecognitio non fuisset, necessarios futurorum exitus esse constaret. Omne etenim signum tantum quid sit ostendit, non uero efficit quod designat. Quare demonstrandum prius est nihil non ex necessitate contingere, ut praenotionem signum esse huius necessitatis appareat. Alioquin si haec nulla est, ne illa quidem eius rei signum poterit esse quae non est. Iam uero probationem firma ratione subnixam constat non ex signis neque petitis extrinsecus argumentis sed ex conuenientibus necessariisque causis esse ducendam. Sed qui fieri potest ut ea non proueniant quae futura esse prouidentur? Quasi uero nos ea quae prouidentia futura esse praenoscit non esse euentura credamus ac non illud potius arbitremur, licet eueniant, nihil tamen ut euenirent sui natura necessitatis habuisse; quod hinc facile perpendas licebit. Plura etenim dum fiunt subiecta oculis intuemur, ut ea quae in quadrigis moderandis atque flectendis facere spectantur aurigae atque ad hunc modum cetera. Num igitur quidquam illorum ita fieri necessitas ulla compellit?" "Minime. Frustra enim esset artis effectus, si omnia coacta mouerentur." "Quae igitur cum fiunt carent exsistendi necessitate, eadem prius quam fiant sine necessitate futura sunt. Quare sunt quaedam euentura quorum exitus ab omni necessitate sit absolutus. Nam illud quidem nullum arbitror esse dicturum, quod quae nunc fiunt, prius quam fierent, euentura non fuerint. Haec igitur etiam praecognita liberos habent euentus. Nam sicut scientia praesentium rerum nihil his quae fiunt, ita praescientia futurorum nihil his quae uentura sunt necessitatis importat. Sed hoc, inquis, ipsum dubitatur, an earum rerum quae necessarios exitus non habent ulla possit esse praenotio. Dissonare etenim uidentur putasque si praeuideantur consequi necessitatem, si necessitas desit minime praesciri nihilque scientia comprehendi posse nisi certum; quod si quae incerti sunt exitus ea quasi certa prouidentur, opinionis id esse caliginem non scientiae ueritatem. Aliter enim ac sese res habeat arbitrari ab integritate scientiae credis esse diuersum. Cuius erroris causa est, quod omnia quae quisque nouit ex ipsorum tantum ui atque natura cognosci aestimat quae sciuntur; quod totum contra est Omne enim quod cognoscitur non secundum sui uim sed secundum cognoscentium potius comprehenditur facultatem. Nam ut hoc breui liqueat exemplo, eandem corporis rotunditatem aliter uisus aliter tactus agnoscit. Ille eminus manens totum simul iactis radiis intuetur; hic uero cohaerens orbi atque coniunctus circa ipsum motus ambitum rotunditatem partibus comprehendit. Ipsum quoque hominem aliter sensus, aliter imaginatio, aliter ratio, aliter intellegentia contuetur. Sensus enim figuram in subiecta materia constitutam, imaginatio uero solam sine materia iudicat figuram. Ratio uero hanc quoque transcendit speciemque ipsam quae singularibus inest uniuersali consideratione perpendit. Intellegentiae uero celsior oculus exsistit; supergressa namque uniuersitatis ambitum ipsam illam simplicem formam pura mentis acie contuetur.

In quo illud maxime considerandum est: nam superior comprehendendi uis amplectitur inferiorem, inferior uero ad superiorem nullo modo consurgit. Neque enim sensus aliquid extra materiam ualet uel uniuersales species imaginatio contuetur uel ratio capit simplicem formam, sed intellegentia quasi desuper spectans concepta forma quae subsunt etiam cuncta diiudicat, sed eo modo quo formam ipsam, quae nulli alii nota esse poterat, comprehendit. Nam et rationis uniuersum et imaginationis figuram et materiale sensibile cognoscit nec ratione utens nec imaginatione nec sensibus, sed illo uno ictu mentis formaliter, ut ita dicam, cuncta prospiciens. Ratio quoque cum quid uniuersale respicit, nec imaginatione nec sensibus utens imaginabilia uel sensibilia comprehendit. Haec est enim quae conceptionis suae uniuersale ita definiuit: homo est animal bipes rationale. Quae cum uniuersalis notio sit, tum imaginabilem sensibilemque esse rem nullus ignorat, quod illa non imaginatione uel sensu sed in rationali conceptione considerat. Imaginatio quoque tametsi ex sensibus uisendi formandique figuras sumpsit exordium, sensu tamen absente sensibilia quaeque conlustrat non sensibili sed imaginaria ratione iudicandi. Videsne igitur ut in cognoscendo cuncta sua potius facultate quam eorum quae cognoscuntur utantur? Neque id iniuria; nam cum omne iudicium iudicantis actus exsistat, necesse est ut suam quisque operam non ex aliena sed ex propria potestate perficiat.


"This," quoth she, "is an ancient complaint of providence, vehemently pursued by Marcus Tullius in his Distribution of Divination,[174] and a thing which thou thyself hast made great and long search after. But hitherto none of you have used sufficient diligence and vigour in the explication thereof. The cause of which obscurity is for that the motion of human discourse cannot attain to the simplicity of the divine knowledge, which if by any means we could conceive, there would not remain any doubt at all; which I will endeavour to make manifest and plain when I have first explicated that which moveth thee. For I demand why thou thinkest their solution unsufficient, who think that free-will is not hindered by foreknowledge, because they suppose that foreknowledge is not the cause of any necessity in things to come. For fetchest thou any proof for the necessity of future things from any other principle, but only from this, that those things which are foreknown cannot choose but happen? Wherefore if foreknowledge imposeth no necessity upon future events, which thou didst grant not long before, why should voluntary actions be tied to any certain success? For example's sake, that thou mayest see what will follow, let us suppose that there were no providence or foresight at all. Would those things which proceed from free-will be compelled to any necessity by this means?" "No." "Again, let us grant it to be, but that it imposeth no necessity upon anything; no doubt the same freedom of will will remain whole and absolute.

But thou wilt say, even though foreknowledge be not a necessity for things to happen, yet it is a sign that they shall necessarily come to pass. Wherefore now, even if there had been no foreknowledge, the events of future things would have been necessary. For all signs only show what is, but cause not that which they design. And consequently it must first be proved that all things fall out by necessity, that it may appear that foreknowledge is a sign of this necessity. For otherwise, if there be no necessity, neither can foreknowledge be the sign of that which is not. Besides it is manifest that every firm proof must be drawn from intrinsical and necessary causes and not from signs and other farfetched arguments. But how is it possible those things should not happen which are foreseen to be to come? As though we did believe that those things will not be which providence hath foreknown and do not rather judge that although they happen, yet by their own nature they had no necessity of being, which thou mayest easily gather hence. For we see many things with our eyes while they are in doing, as those things which the coachmen do while they drive and turn their coaches and in like manner other things. Now doth necessity compel any of these things to be done in this sort?" "No. For in vain should art labour if all things were moved by compulsion." "Wherefore, as these things are without necessity when they are in doing, so likewise they are to come without necessity before they be done. And consequently there are some things to come whose event is free from all necessity. For I suppose no man will say that those things which are done now were not to come before they were done. Wherefore these things even being foreseen come freely to effect. For as the knowledge of things present causeth no necessity in things which are in doing, so neither the foreknowledge in things to come. But thou wilt say: This is the question, whether there can be any foreknowledge of those things whose events are not necessary. For these things seem opposite, and thou thinkest that, if future things be foreseen, there followeth necessity, if there be no necessity, that they that are not foreknown, and that nothing can be perfectly known unless it be certain. But if uncertain events be foreseen as certain, it is manifest that this is the obscurity of opinion and not the truth of knowledge. For thou thinkest it to be far from the integrity of knowledge to judge otherwise than the thing is. The cause of which error is because thou thinkest that all that is known is known only by the force and nature of the things themselves, which is altogether otherwise. For all that is known is not comprehended according to the force which it hath in itself, but rather according to the faculty of them which know it. For to explicate it with a brief example: the sight and the feeling do diversely discern the same roundness of a die. The sight standing aloof beholdeth it altogether by his beams; but the feeling united and joined to the orb, being moved about the compass of it, comprehendeth the roundness by parts. Likewise sense, imagination, reason and understanding do diversely behold a man. For sense looketh upon his form as it is placed in matter or subject, the imagination discerneth it alone without matter, reason passeth beyond this also and considereth universally the species or kind which is in particulars. The eye of the understanding is higher yet. For surpassing the compass of the whole world it beholdeth with the clear eye of the mind that simple form in itself.

In which that is chiefly to be considered, that the superior force of comprehending embraceth the inferior; but the inferior can by no means attain to the superior; for the sense hath no force out of matter, neither doth the imagination conceive universal species, nor is reason capable of the simple form, but the understanding, as it were looking downward, having conceived that form, discerneth of all things which are under it, but in that sort in which it apprehendeth that form which can be known by none of the other. For it knoweth the universality of reason, and the figure of imagination, and the materiality of sense, neither using reason, nor imagination, nor senses, but as it were formally beholding all things with that one twinkling of the mind. Likewise reason, when it considereth any universality, comprehendeth both imagination and sensible things without the use of either imagination or senses. For she defineth the universality of her conceit thus: Man is a reasonable, two-footed, living creature, which being an universal knowledge, no man is ignorant that it is an imaginable and sensible thing, which she considereth by a reasonable conceiving and not by imagination or sense. Imagination also, although it began by the senses of seeing and forming figures, yet when sense is absent it beholdeth sensible things, not after a sensible, but after an imaginary manner of knowledge. Seest thou now how all these in knowing do rather use their own force and faculty than the force of those things which are known? Nor undeservedly; for since all judgment is the act of him who judgeth, it is necessary that every one should perfect his operation by his own power and not by the force of any other.

[174] De diuin, ii.


Quondam porticus attulit
Obscuros nimium senes
Qui sensus et imagines
E corporibus extimis
Credant mentibus imprimi, 5
Vt quondam celeri stilo
Mos est aequore paginae,
Quae nullas habeat notas,
Pressas figere litteras.
Sed mens si propriis uigens 10
Nihil motibus explicat,
Sed tantum patiens iacet
Notis subdita corporum
Cassasque in speculi uicem
Rerum reddit imagines, 15
Vnde haec sic animis uiget
Cernens omnia notio?
Quae uis singula perspicit
Aut quae cognita diuidit?
Quae diuisa recolligit 20
Alternumque legens iter
Nunc summis caput inserit,
Nunc decedit in infima,
Tum sese referens sibi
Veris falsa redarguit? 25
Haec est efficiens magis
Longe causa potentior
Quam quae materiae modo
Impressas patitur notas.
Praecedit tamen excitans 30
Ac uires animi mouens
Viuo in corpore passio.
Cum uel lux oculos ferit
Vel uox auribus instrepit,
Tum mentis uigor excitus 35
Quas intus species tenet
Ad motus similes uocans
Notis applicat exteris
Introrsumque reconditis
Formis miscet imagines. 40


  Cloudy old prophets of the Porch[175] once taught
  That sense and shape presented to the thought
    From outward objects their impression take,
  As when upon a paper smooth and plain
  On which as yet no marks of ink have lain
    We with a nimble pen do letters make.
  But if our minds to nothing can apply
  Their proper motions, but do patient lie
    Subject to forms which do from bodies flow,
  As a glass renders empty[176] shapes of things,
  Who then can show from whence that motion springs
    By force of which the mind all things doth know?
  Or by what skill are several things espied?
  And being known what power doth them divide,
    And thus divided doth again unite,
  And with a various journey oft aspires
  To highest things, and oft again retires
    To basest, nothing being out of sight,
  And when she back unto herself doth move,
  Doth all the falsehoods by the truth reprove?
    This vigour needs must be an active cause,
  And with more powerful forces must be deckt,
  Than that which from those forms, that do reflect
    From outward matter, all her virtue draws.
  And yet in living bodies passion's might
  Doth go before, whose office is to incite,
    And the first motions in the mind to make.
  As when the light unto our eyes appears,
  Or some loud voice is sounded in our ears,
    Then doth the strength of the dull mind awake
  Those phantasies which she retains within;
  She stirreth up such notions to begin,
    Whose objects with their natures best agree,
  And thus applying them to outward things,
  She joins the external shapes which thence she brings
    With forms which in herself included be.

[175] The Porch, i.e. the Painted Porch ([Greek: stoa poikilae]) at Athens, the great hall adorned with frescoes of the battle of Marathon, which served as lecture-room to Zeno, the founder of the Stoic sect.

[176] Cf. Quin potius noscas rerum simulacra uagari Multa modis multis nulla ui cassaque sensu.

"But rather you are to know that idols or things wander about many in number in many ways, of no force, powerless to excite sense."—Lucr. iv. 127, 128 (trans. Munro).


Quod si in corporibus sentiendis, quamuis afficiant instrumenta sensuum forinsecus obiectae qualitates animique agentis uigorem passio corporis antecedat quae in se actum mentis prouocet excitetque interim quiescentes intrinsecus formas, si in sentiendis, inquam, corporibus animus non passione insignitur, sed ex sua ui subiectam corpori iudicat passionem, quanto magis ea quae cunctis corporum affectionibus absoluta sunt, in discernendo non obiecta extrinsecus sequuntur, sed actum suae mentis expediunt? Hac itaque ratione multiplices cognitiones diuersis ac differentibus cessere substantiis. Sensus enim solus cunctis aliis cognitionibus destitutus immobilibus animantibus cessit quales sunt conchae maris quaeque alia saxis haerentia nutriuntur, imaginatio uero mobilibus beluis quibus iam inesse fugiendi appetendiue aliquis uidetur affectus, ratio uero humani tantum generis est sicut intellegentia sola diuini. Quo fit ut ea notitia ceteris praestet quae suapte natura non modo proprium sed ceterarum quoque notitiarum subiecta cognoscit. Quid igitur, si ratiocinationi sensus imaginatioque refragentur, nihil esse illud uniuersale dicentes quod sese intueri ratio putet? Quod enim sensibile uel imaginabile est, id uniuersum esse non posse; aut igitur rationis uerum esse iudicium nec quidquam esse sensibile, aut quoniam sibi notum sit plura sensibus et imaginationi esse subiecta, inanem conceptionem esse rationis quae quod sensibile sit ac singulare quasi quiddam uniuersale consideret. Ad haec, si ratio contra respondeat se quidem et quod sensibile et quod imaginabile sit in uniuersitatis ratione conspicere, illa uero ad uniuersitatis cognitionem adspirare non posse, quoniam eorum notio corporales figuras non possit excedere, de rerum uero cognitione firmiori potius perfectiorique iudicio esse credendum, in huiusmodi igitur lite nos quibus tam ratiocinandi quam imaginandi etiam sentiendique uis inest nonne rationis potius causam probaremus? Simile est quod humana ratio diuinam intellegentiam futura, nisi ut ipsa cognoscit, non putat intueri. Nam ita disseris: Si qua certos ac necessarios habere non uideantur euentus, ea certo euentura praesciri nequeunt. Harum igitur rerum nulla est praescientia, quam si etiam in his esse credamus, nihil erit quod non ex necessitate proueniat. Si igitur uti rationis participes sumus ita diuinae iudicium mentis habere possemus, sicut imaginationem sensumque rationi cedere oportere iudicauimus, sic diuinae sese menti humanam submittere rationem iustissimum censeremus. Quare in illius summae intellegentiae cacumen, si possumus, erigamur; illic enim ratio uidebit quod in se non potest intueri, id autem est, quonam modo etiam quae certos exitus non habent, certa tamen uideat ac definita praenotio neque id sit opinio sed summae potius scientiae nullis terminis inclusa simplicitas.


And if in sentient bodies, although the qualities of outward objects do move the organs of sense, and the passion of the body goeth before the vigour of the active mind, provoking her action to itself and exciting the inward forms which before lay quiet; if, I say, in perceiving these corporal objects the mind taketh not her impression from passion, but by her own force judgeth of the passion itself, which is objected to the body; how much more do those powers exercise the action of their mind and not only follow the outward objects in their judgment, which are free from all affections of the body? Wherefore in this sort have diverse and different substances knowledges of many kinds. For only sense destitute of all other means of knowledge is in those living creatures which are unmovable, as some shell-fish and other which stick to stones and so are nourished; and imagination in movable beasts who seem to have some power to covet and fly. But reason belongeth only to mankind, as understanding to things divine. So that that knowledge is most excellent which of itself doth not only know her own object, but also those which belong to others. What then, if sense and imagination repugn to discourse and reason, affirming that universality to be nothing which reason thinketh herself to see? For that cannot be universal, they argue, which is either sensible or imaginable; wherefore either the judgment of reason must be true and nothing at all sensible, or because they know that many things are subject to the senses and imagination, the conceit of reason is vain, which considereth that which is sensible and singular as if it were universal. Moreover if reason should answer that she beholdeth in her universality all that which is sensible or imaginable, but they cannot aspire to the knowledge of universality, because their knowledge cannot surpass corporal figures and shapes, and that we must give more credit to the firmer and more perfect judgment about the knowledge of things, in this contention should not we, who have the power of discoursing as well as of imagination and sense, rather take reason's part? The very like happeneth when human reason doth not think that the divine understanding doth behold future things otherwise than she herself doth. For thus thou arguest: If any things seem not to have certain and necessary events, they cannot be certainly foreknown to be to come. Wherefore there is no foreknowledge of these things, and if we think that there is any, there shall be nothing which happeneth not of necessity. If, therefore, as we are endued with reason, we could likewise have the judgment proper to the divine mind, as we have judged that imagination and sense must yield to reason, so likewise we would think it most reasonable and just that human reason should submit herself to the divine mind. Wherefore let us be lifted up as much as we can to that height of the highest mind; for there reason shall see that which she cannot behold in herself. And that is, how a certain and definite foreknowledge seeth even those things which have no certain issue, and that this is no opinion, but rather the simplicity of the highest knowledge enclosed within no bounds.


Quam uariis terras animalia permeant figuris!
Namque alia extento sunt corpore pulueremque uerrunt
Continuumque trahunt ui pectoris incitata sulcum
Sunt quibus alarum leuitas uaga uerberetque uentos
Et liquido longi spatia aetheris enatet uolatu, 5
Haec pressisse solo uestigia gressibusque gaudent
Vel uirides campos transmittere uel subire siluas.
Quae uariis uideas licet omnia discrepare formis,
Prona tamen facies hebetes ualet ingrauare sensus.
Vnica gens hominum celsum leuat altius cacumen 10
Atque leuis recto stat corpore despicitque terras.
Haec nisi terrenus male desipis, admonet figura,
Qui recto caelum uultu petis exserisque frontem,
In sublime feras animum quoque, ne grauata pessum
Inferior sidat mens corpore celsius leuata. 15


  What several figures things that live upon the earth do keep!
  Some have their bodies stretched in length by which the dust they sweep
  And do continual furrows make while on their breasts they creep.
  Some lightly soaring up on high with wings the wind do smite
  And through the longest airy space pass with an easy flight.
  Some by their paces to imprint the ground with steps delight,
  Which through the pleasant fields do pass or to the woods do go,
  Whose several forms though to our eyes they do a difference show,
  Yet by their looks cast down on earth their senses heavy grow.
  Men only with more stately shape to higher objects rise,
  Who with erected bodies stand and do the earth despise.
  These figures warn (if baser thoughts blind not thine earthly eyes)
  That thou who with an upright face dost look upon the sky,
  Shouldst also raise thy mind aloft, lest while thou bearest high
  Thine earthly head, thy soul opprest beneath thy body lie.


Quoniam igitur, uti paulo ante monstratum est, omne quod scitur non ex sua sed ex conprehendentium natura cognoscitur, intueamur nunc quantum fas est, quis sit diuinae substantiae status, ut quaenam etiam scientia eius sit, possimus agnoscere. Deum igitur aeternum esse cunctorum ratione degentium commune iudicium est. Quid sit igitur aeternitas consideremus; haec enim nobis naturam pariter diuinam scientiamque patefacit. Aeternitas igitur est interminabilis uitae tota simul et perfecta possessio, quod ex collatione temporalium clarius liquet. Nam quidquid uiuit in tempore id praesens a praeteritis in futura procedit nihilque est in tempore constitutum quod totum uitae suae spatium pariter possit amplecti. Sed crastinum quidem nondum adprehendit; hesternum uero iam perdidit; in hodierna quoque uita non amplius uiuitis quam in illo mobili transitorioque momento. Quod igitur temporis patitur condicionem, licet illud, sicuti de mundo censuit Aristoteles, nec coeperit umquam esse nec desinat uitaque eius cum temporis infinitate tendatur, nondum tamen tale est ut aeternum esse iure credatur. Non enim totum simul infinitae licet uitae spatium comprehendit atque complectitur, sed futura nondum transacta iam non habet. Quod igitur interminabilis uitae plenitudinem totam pariter comprehendit ac possidet, cui neque futuri quidquam absit nec praeteriti fluxerit, id aeternum esse iure perhibetur, idque necesse est et sui compos praesens sibi semper adsistere et infinitatem mobilis temporis habere praesentem. Vnde non recte quidam, qui cum audiunt uisum Platoni mundum hunc nec habuisse initium temporis nec habiturum esse defectum, hoc modo conditori conditum mundum fieri coaeternum putant. Aliud est enim per interminabilem duci uitam, quod mundo Plato tribuit, aliud interminabilis uitae totam pariter complexum esse praesentiam, quod diuinae mentis proprium esse manifestum est. Neque deus conditis rebus antiquior uideri debet temporis quantitate sed simplicis potius proprietate naturae. Hunc enim uitae immobilis praesentarium statum infinitus ille temporalium rerum motus imitatur cumque eum effingere atque aequare non possit, ex immobilitate deficit in motum, ex simplicitate praesentiae decrescit in infinitam futuri ac praeteriti quantitatem; et cum totam pariter uitae suae plenitudinem nequeat possidere, hoc ipso quod aliquo modo numquam esse desinit; illud quod implere atque exprimere non potest, aliquatenus uidetur aemulari alligans se ad qualemcumque praesentiam huius exigui uolucrisque momenti, quae, quoniam manentis illius praesentiae quandam gestat imaginem, quibuscumque contigerit id praestat ut esse uideantur. Quoniam uero manere non potuit, infinitum temporis iter arripuit eoque modo factum est ut continuaret eundo uitam cuius plenitudinem complecti non ualuit permanendo. Itaque si digna rebus nomina uelimus imponere, Platonem sequentes deum quidem aeternum, mundum uero dicamus esse perpetuum. Quoniam igitur omne iudicium secundum sui naturam quae sibi subiecta sunt comprehendit, est autem deo semper aeternus ac praesentarius status; scientia quoque eius omnem temporis supergressa motionem in suae manet simplicitate praesentiae infinitaque praeteriti ac futuri spatia complectens omnia quasi iam gerantur in sua simplici cognitione considerat. Itaque si praesentiam pensare uelis qua cuncta dinoscit, non esse praescientiam quasi futuri sed scientiam numquam deficientis instantiae rectius aestimabis; unde non praeuidentia sed prouidentia potius dicitur, quod porro ab rebus infimis constituta quasi ab excelso rerum cacumine cuncta prospiciat. Quid igitur postulas ut necessaria fiant quae diuino lumine lustrentur, cum ne homines quidem necessaria faciant esse quae uideant? Num enim quae praesentia cernis, aliquam eis necessitatem tuus addit intuitus?" "Minime." "Atqui si est diuini humanique praesentis digna collatio, uti uos uestro hoc temporario praesenti quaedam uidetis, ita ille omnia suo cernit aeterno. Quare haec diuina praenotio naturam rerum proprietatemque non mutat taliaque apud se praesentia spectat qualia in tempore olim futura prouenient. Nec rerum iudicia confundit unoque suae mentis intuitu tam necessarie quam non necessarie uentura dinoscit; sicuti uos cum pariter ambulare in terra hominem et oriri in caelo solem uidetis, quamquam simul utrumque conspectum tamen discernitis et hoc uoluntarium illud esse necessarium iudicatis, ita igitur cuncta despiciens diuinus intuitus qualitatem rerum minime perturbat apud se quidem praesentium, ad condicionem uero temporis futurarum. Quo fit ut hoc non sit opinio sed ueritate potius nixa cognitio, cum exstaturum quid esse cognoscit quod idem exsistendi necessitate carere non nesciat. Hic si dicas quod euenturum deus uidet id non euenire non posse, quod autem non potest non euenire id ex necessitate contingere, meque ad hoc nomen necessitatis adstringas; fatebor rem quidem solidissimae ueritatis sed cui uix aliquis nisi diuini speculator accesserit. Respondebo namque idem futurum, cum ad diuinam notionem refertur, necessarium, cum uero in sua natura perpenditur, liberum prorsus atque absolutum uideri. Duae sunt etenim necessitates, simplex una, ueluti quod necesse est omnes homines esse mortales, altera condicionis, ut si aliquem ambulare scias, eum ambulare necesse est; quod enim quisque nouit, id esse aliter ac notum est nequit, sed haec condicio minime secum illam simplicem trahit. Hanc enim necessitatem non propria facit natura sed condicionis adiectio; nulla enim necessitas cogit incedere uoluntate gradientem, quamuis eum tum cum graditur incedere necessarium sit. Eodem igitur modo, si quid prouidentia praesens uidet, id esse necesse est, tametsi nullam naturae habeat necessitatem. Atqui deus ea futura quae ex arbitrii libertate proueniunt praesentia contuetur. Haec igitur ad intuitum relata diuinum necessaria fiant per condicionem diuinae notionis; per se uero considerata ab absoluta naturae suae libertate non desinunt. Fient igitur procul dubio cuncta quae futura deus esse praenoscit, sed eorum quaedam de libero proficiscuntur arbitrio; quae quamuis eueniant, exsistendo tamen naturam propriam non amittunt, qua priusquam fierent etiam non euenire potuissent. Quid igitur refert non esse necessaria, cum propter diuinae scientiae condicionem modis omnibus necessitatis instar eueniet? Hoc scilicet quod ea quae paulo ante proposui, sol oriens et gradiens homo. Quae dum fiunt, non fieri non possunt; eorum tamen unum prius quoque quam fieret, necesse erat exsistere, alterum uero minime. Ita etiam quae praesentia deus habet, dubio procul exsistent, sed eorum hoc quidem de rerum necessitate descendit, illud uero de potestate facientium. Haud igitur iniuria diximus haec si ad diuinam notitiam referantur necessaria, si per se considerentur necessitatis esse nexibus absoluta; sicuti omne quod sensibus patet, si ad rationem referas, uniuersale est, si ad se ipsa respicias, singulare. 'Sed si in mea,' inquies, 'potestate situm est mutare propositum, euacuabo prouidentiam, cum quae illa praenoscit forte mutauero.' Respondebo: propositum te quidem tuum posse deflectere, sed quoniam et id te posse et an facias quoue conuertas praesens prouidentiae ueritas intuetur, diuinam te praescientiam non posse uitare, sicuti praesentis oculi effugere non possis intuitum, quamuis te in uarias actiones libera uoluntate conuerteris. Quid igitur inquies? Ex meane dispositione scientia diuina mutabitur, ut cum ego nunc hoc nunc aliud uelim, illa quoque noscendi uices alternare uideatur? Minime. Omne namque futurum diuinus praecurrit intuitus et ad praesentiam propriae cognitionis retorquet ac reuocat nec alternat, ut aestimas, nunc hoc nunc illud praenoscendi uice, sed uno ictu mutationes tuas manens praeuenit atque complectitur. Quam comprehendendi omnia uisendique praesentiam non ex futurarum prouentu rerum, sed ex propria deus simplicitate sortitus est. Ex quo illud quoque resoluitur quod paulo ante posuisti indignum esse, si scientiae dei causam futura nostra praestare dicantur. Haec enim scientiae uis praesentaria notione cuncta complectens rebus modum omnibus ipsa constituit, nihil uero posterioribus debet. Quae cum ita sint, manet intemerata mortalibus arbitrii libertas nec iniquae leges solutis omni necessitate uoluntatibus praemia poenasque proponunt. Manet etiam spectator desuper cunctorum praescius deus uisionisque eius praesens semper aeternitas cum nostrorum actuum futura qualitate concurrit bonis praemia malis supplicia dispensans. Nec frustra sunt in deo positae spes precesque; quae cum rectae sunt, inefficaces esse non possunt. Auersamini igitur uitia, colite uirtutes, ad rectas spes animum subleuate, humiles preces in excelsa porrigite. Magna uobis est, si dissimulare non uultis, necessitas indicta probitatis, cum ante oculos agitis iudicis cuncta cernentis."


Seeing, therefore, as hath been showed, all that is known is not comprehended by its own nature but by the power of him which comprehendeth it, let us see now, as much as we may, what is the state of the divine substance that we may also know what His knowledge is. Wherefore it is the common judgment of all that live by reason that God is everlasting, and therefore let us consider what eternity is. For this declareth unto us both the divine nature and knowledge. Eternity therefore is a perfect possession altogether of an endless life, which is more manifest by the comparison of temporal things, for whatsoever liveth in time, that being present proceedeth from times past to times to come, and there is nothing placed in time which can embrace all the space of its life at once. But it hath not yet attained to-morrow and hath lost yesterday. And you live no more in this day's life than in that movable and transitory moment. Wherefore, whatsoever suffereth the condition of time, although, as Aristotle thought of the world, it never began nor were ever to end, and its life did endure with infinite time, yet it is not such that it ought to be called everlasting. For it doth not comprehend and embrace all the space of its life together, though that life be infinite, but it hath not the future time which is yet to come. That then which comprehendeth and possesseth the whole fulness of an endless life together, to which neither any part to come is absent, nor of that which is past hath escaped, is worthy to be accounted everlasting, and this is necessary, that being no possession in itself, it may always be present to itself, and have an infinity of movable time present to it. Wherefore they are deceived who, hearing that Plato thought that this world had neither beginning of time nor should ever have any end, think that by this means the created world should be coeternal with the Creator. For it is one thing to be carried through an endless life, which Plato attributed to the world, another thing to embrace the whole presence of an endless life together, which is manifestly proper to the divine mind. Neither ought God to seem more ancient than the things created, by the quantity of time, but rather by the simplicity of His divine nature. For that infinite motion of temporal things imitateth the present state of the unmovable life, and since it cannot express nor equal it, it falleth from immobility to motion, and from the simplicity of presence, it decreaseth to an infinite quantity of future and past, and since it cannot possess together all the fulness of its life, by never leaving to be in some sort, it seemeth to emulate in part that which it cannot fully obtain and express, tying itself to this small presence of this short and swift moment, which because it carrieth a certain image of that abiding presence, whosoever hath it, seemeth to be. But because it could not stay it undertook an infinite journey of time, and so it came to pass that it continued that life by going whose plenitude it could not comprehend by staying. Wherefore, if we will give things their right names, following Plato, let us say that God is everlasting and the world perpetual. Wherefore, since every judgment comprehendeth those things which are subject unto it, according to its own nature, and God hath always an everlasting and present state, His knowledge also surpassing all motions of time, remaineth in the simplicity of His presence, and comprehending the infinite spaces of that which is past and to come, considereth all things in His simple knowledge as though they were now in doing. So that, if thou wilt weigh His foreknowledge with which He discerneth all things, thou wilt more rightly esteem it to be the knowledge of a never fading instant than a foreknowledge as of a thing to come. For which cause it is not called praevidence or foresight, but rather providence, because, placed far from inferior things, it overlooketh all things, as it were, from the highest top of things. Why, therefore, wilt thou have those things necessary which are illustrated by the divine light, since that not even men make not those things necessary which they see? For doth thy sight impose any necessity upon those things which thou seest present?" "No." "But the present instant of men may well be compared to that of God in this: that as you see some things in your temporal instant, so He beholdeth all things in His eternal present. Wherefore this divine foreknowledge doth not change the nature and propriety of things, and it beholdeth them such in His presence as they will after come to be, neither doth He confound the judgment of things, and with one sight of His mind He discerneth as well those things which shall happen necessarily as otherwise. As you, when at one time you see a man walking upon the earth and the sun rising in heaven, although they be both seen at once, yet you discern and judge that the one is voluntary, and the other necessary, so likewise the divine sight beholding all things disturbeth not the quality of things which to Him are present, but in respect of time are yet to come. And so this is not an opinion but rather a knowledge grounded upon truth, when He knoweth that such a thing shall be, which likewise He is not ignorant that it hath no necessity of being. Here if thou sayest that cannot choose but happen which God seeth shall happen, and that which cannot choose but happen, must be of necessity, and so tiest me to this name of necessity, I will grant that it is a most solid truth, but whereof scarce any but a contemplator of divinity is capable. For I will answer that the same thing is necessary when it is referred to the Divine knowledge; but when it is weighed in its own nature that it seemeth altogether free and absolute. For there be two necessities: the one simple, as that it is necessary for all men to be mortal; the other conditional, as if thou knowest that any man walketh, he must needs walk. For what a man knoweth cannot be otherwise than it is known. But this conditional draweth not with it that simple or absolute necessity. For this is not caused by the nature of the thing, but by the adding a condition. For no necessity maketh him to go that goeth of his own accord, although it be necessary that he goeth while he goeth. In like manner, if providence seeth anything present, that must needs be, although it hath no necessity of nature. But God beholdeth those future things, which proceed from free-will, present. These things, therefore, being referred to the divine sight are necessary by the condition of the divine knowledge, and, considered by themselves, they lose not absolute freedom of their own nature. Wherefore doubtless all those things come to pass which God foreknoweth shall come, but some of them proceed from free-will, which though they come to pass, yet do not, by coining into being, lose, since before they came to pass, they might also not have happened. But what importeth it that they are not necessary, since that by reason of the condition of the divine knowledge they come to pass in all respects as if they were necessary? It hath the same import as those things which I proposed a little before—the sun rising and the man going. While they are in doing, they cannot choose but be in doing; yet one of them was necessarily to be before it was, and the other not. Likewise those things which God hath present, will have doubtless a being, but some of them proceed from the necessity of things, other from the power of the doers. And therefore we said not without cause that these, if they be referred to God's knowledge, are necessary; and if they be considered by themselves, they are free from the bonds of necessity. As whatsoever is manifest to senses, if thou referrest it to reason, is universal; if thou considerest the things themselves, it is singular or particular. But thou wilt say, 'If it is in my power to change my purpose, shall I frustrate providence if I chance to alter those things which she foreknoweth?' I answer that thou mayest indeed change thy purpose, but because the truth of providence, being present, seeth that thou canst do so, and whether thou wilt do so or no, and what thou purposest anew, thou canst not avoid the divine foreknowledge, even as thou canst not avoid the sight of an eye which is present, although thou turnest thyself to divers actions by thy free-will.

But yet thou wilt inquire whether God's knowledge shall be changed by thy disposition, so that when thou wilt now one thing, and now another, it should also seem to have divers knowledges. No. For God's sight preventeth all that is to come and recalleth and draweth it to the presence of His own knowledge; neither doth He vary, as thou imaginest, now knowing one thing and now another, but in one instant without moving preventeth and comprehendeth thy mutations. Which presence of comprehending and seeing all things, God hath not by the event of future things but by His own simplicity. By which that doubt is also resolved which thou didst put a little before, that it is an unworthy thing that our future actions should be said to cause the knowledge of God. For this force of the divine knowledge comprehending all things with a present notion appointeth to everything its measure and receiveth nothing from ensuing accidents. All which being so, the free-will of mortal men remaineth unviolated, neither are the laws unjust which propose punishments and rewards to our wills, which are free from all necessity. There remaineth also a beholder of all things which is God, who foreseeth all things, and the eternity of His vision, which is always present, concurreth with the future quality of our actions, distributing rewards to the good and punishments to the evil. Neither do we in vain put our hope in God or pray to Him; for if we do this well and as we ought, we shall not lose our labour or be without effect. Wherefore fly vices, embrace virtues, possess your minds with worthy hopes, offer up humble prayers to your highest Prince. There is, if you will not dissemble, a great necessity of doing well imposed upon you, since you live in the sight of your Judge, who beholdeth all things."


Fortunae et uirtutis opus, Seuerine Boethi,
  E patria pulsus non tua per scelera,
Tandem ignotus habes qui te colat, ut tua uirtus
  Vt tua fortuna promeruitque [Greek: sophos].
Post obitum dant fata locum, post fata superstes
  Vxoris propriae te quoque fama colit.


Boethius! model of all weal and worth,
Unjustly from thy country driven forth,
Thy fame, unfamed at last, yet one shall praise,
One voice the cry of approbation raise;
What life denied, through death kind heaven giveth;
Thine honour in thy wife's for ever liveth.

[177] This epigram was found by Barth in a Merseburg codex, and first printed in his Adversaria (1624). If genuine (and the faithful reproduction the error SYMMACHIVS for SYMMACHI VS or VR, i.e. VERSVS, is in its favour), the author may be either the son or the father-in-law of Boethius. Some readers may prefer to rank this poem with the epitaph on Elpis, the supposititious first wife of Boethius, on whom see Obbarius, De cons. p. xii. At any rate it is as old as the times of Hrabanus Maurus, who imitated it in a poem also first published by Barth. See Peiper, Cons. p. xxxviiii.


Aaron. Abel. Abraham. abstraction. academical studies. Achaemenian rocks. Achelous. Achilles, statue of. Adam. [Greek: aeides, to]. Aemilius Paulus. aequiuocus. aeternitas. Agamemnon, see Atrides. age, the former. Agrippina. Albinus. Alcibiades. Alexander Aphrod.. allegorical method. Anaxagoras. Anaxarchus. angels. Antaeus. Antoninus (Caracalla). Apollodorus. Apuleius. Arcturus. Arians Aristotle, on nature; De physicis; Protrepticus; Arius. Atrides. Augustine, St. Auster.

Basil, informer.
  the first scholastic;
  an independent philosopher;
  his philosophic ambition;
  his achievement;
  a Christian;
  perhaps a martyr;
  son-in-law of Symmachus;
  his wife;
  his sons;
  early training;
  youthful poetry;
  premature old age;
  his learning;
  his library;
  his lofty position;
  his principles;
  the champion of the oppressed;
  of the Senate;
  his accusers;
  his accusation;

Cacus. Caesar, see Gaius. Campania. Canius. Cassiodorus. categories, the ten. Catholic Church, faith; religion. Catholics. Cato. Catullus. Caucasus. Centaurs. Cerberus. Ceres. Chremes. Christ, advent of; baptism; life and death; resurrection and ascension; nature; person; divinity; humanity; Perfect Man and Perfect God. Christian faith, religion. Cicero, De diuinatione; Tusc. Circe. Claudian. Claudianus, Mamertus, coemptio. Conigastus, consistere, Consolation of Philosophy, method and object. consulate. corollary, see porisma. Corus. Crab. Croesus. Cyclops. Cynthia. Cyprian, informer. Cyrus.

Dante. David. Decoratus. demons. Devil. dialectic. difference. Diogenes Laertius. Dionysius. divine nature, eternal, substance. divinity of Christ, see Christ, diuisio. Dorset, Countess of.

[Greek: Eisagogae], Porphyry's. Eleatic studies. elements. Elpis. Enneades. Epicureans. Epicurus. esse. essentia. eternity. Etna. Euphrates. Euripides. Euripus. Eurus. Eutyches. Eutychian error. Eutychians. Evander. Eve. evil is nothing.

Fabricius. Fame. fatal order. Fate. fire, nature of. Flood. form. Fortune. free-will. Furies.

Gaius Caesar (Caligula).
Gilbert de la Porrée.
God, categories applied to,
  without difference;
  is what He is;
  is Pure Form;
  is [Greek: ousia, ousiosis, huphistasthai];
  is good;
  one Father;
  true Sun;
  sees all things;
  foresees all things;
  His knowledge;
  His providence;
  cannot do evil;
  wills only good;
  prayer to Him not vain.
good, the prime.
good, all seek.
goodness is happiness, is God.

Happiness is God. Hauréau. Hebdomads. Hecuba. Hercules. heresy, see Arius, Eutyches, Nestorius, Sabellians. Hermus. Herodotus. Hesperus. Holder. Homer. Horace. human nature, humanity of Christ, see Christ. humanity.

Iamblichus. id quod est. id quod est esse. Indus. instrumentum. Isaac. Ishmael. Ixion.

Iohannes Scottus.
John the Deacon.

Kanius, see Canius.
[Greek: kata parathesin].

Lybian lions.

Macedonius. see Aemilius Paulus.
Mary, the Blessed Virgin,.
mathematical method.
  Boethius on.

Nature, phenomenal; nature; nature of plants. Neoplatonism. Neritius, son of, see Ulysses. Nero. Nestorius. Nicocreon. Nicomachus. nihilo, ex.. Noah. Nonius. Notus. number.

[Greek: oion epei].
[Greek: onos luras].
[Greek: ousia].
[Greek: ousiosis].
[Greek: ousiosthai].

[Greek: PI]. Palatini canes. Papinianus. Parmenides. Parthiaus. Paulinus. Paulus, see Aemilius Paulus. Pelagius. Perses. persona. Person defined. Pharaoh. Philosophy, appearance of; character; function; power. Phoebe. Phoebus. physics. Plato, and Boethius; and S. Thomas; and the Academy; his muse; Reminiscence; quoted or referred to, Gorg.; Tim; Meno; Phaedo; Rep. Plotinus. Plurality. Pluto. Polyphemus. Porch. porisma. Porphyry. praetorship. praevidence. predicaments, see categories. Providence. Ptolemy. purgation. Pythagoras.

Ravenna. realism. Red Sea. reductio ad absurdum. Regulus. relation, category of. religion, the Christian. Resurrection. rhetoric. Roman liberty, republic. Rusticiana.

Sabellians. Sackville, Thomas. sacrilegium. saints. Saturn. Saul. scripture. sempiternitas. senate. Seneca. Simon. Sinai. Sirius. Socrates. Son, the, see Trinity. Soranus. Spartianus. Spirit, Holy, see Trinity, procession of; a substance. statue of Achilles. Stoics. Stymphalian birds. subsisistentia, subsistere. substance, divine. substantia, substare. Suetonius. sun, see Phoebus. Symmachus, Q. Aurel., Q. Aur. Memmius; Boethius; Pope. Syrtes.

Testament, Old and New.
[Greek: THETA].
Thomas, St.
Thorie, J.
Timaeus, see Plato.
  the unity of;
  cannot be substantially predicated of God.

[Greek: ulae, apoios].
unity of Trinity.
[Greek: upostasis].
[Greek: upostaenai].
ut quia.
[Greek: uphistasthai].

UEL = et. Verona. Vesuvius. uia media. Virgil. uirtus.

Will, see free-will.
Wulf, H. de.