Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK I: WHETHER TEMPORAL MONARCHY IS NECESSARY FOR THE WELL-BEING OF THE WORLD - De Monarchia
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BOOK I: WHETHER TEMPORAL MONARCHY IS NECESSARY FOR THE WELL-BEING OF THE WORLD - Dante Alighieri, De Monarchia 
The De Monarchia of Dante Alighieri, edited with translation and notes by Aurelia Henry (Boston and New York: Houghton, Miflin and Company, 1904).
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WHETHER TEMPORAL MONARCHY IS NECESSARY FOR THE WELL-BEING OF THE WORLD
1.All men on whom the Higher Nature1 has stamped the love of truth should especially concern themselves in laboring for posterity, in order that future generations may be enriched by their efforts, as they themselves were made rich by the efforts of generations past. For that man who is imbued with public teachings, but cares not to contribute something to the public good, is far in arrears of his duty, let him be assured; he is, indeed, not “a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season,”2 but rather a destructive whirlpool, always engulfing, and never giving back what it has devoured. Often meditating with myself upon these things, lest I should some day be found guilty of the charge of the buried talent,3 I desire for the public weal, not only to burgeon, but to bear fruit,4 and to establish truths unattempted by others. For he who should demonstrate again a theorem of Euclid, who should attempt after Aristotle to set forth anew the nature of happiness, who should undertake after Cicero to defend old age a second time—what fruit would such a one yield? None, forsooth; his tedious superfluousness would merely occasion disgust.
2. Now, inasmuch as among other abstruse and important truths, knowledge of temporal Monarchy is most important and most obscure, and inasmuch as the subject has been shunned by all because it has no direct relation to gain, therefore my purpose is to bring it out from its hiding-place, that I may both keep watch for the good of the world, and be the first to win the palm of so great a prize for my own glory.5 Verily, I undertake a difficult task and one beyond my powers, but my trust is not so much in my own worth as in the light of the Giver “that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.”6
To what end does government exist among all men?
1. First, we must ascertain what temporal Monarchy is in its idea, as I may say, and in its purpose. Temporal Monarchy, called also the Empire, we define as a single Principality extending over all peoples in time, or in those things and over those things which are measured by time.1 Concerning it three main questions arise. First, we may ask and seek to prove whether it is necessary for the well-being of the world; secondly, whether the Roman people rightfully appropriated the office of Monarchy; and thirdly, whether the authority of Monarchy derives from God directly, or from another, a minister or vicar of God.
2. But as every truth which is not a first principle is manifested by the truth of some first principle, it is necessary in every investigation to know the first principle to which we may return, in analysis, for the proof of all propositions which are subsequently assumed. And as the present treatise is an investigation, we must before all else search out a basic principle, on the validity of which will depend whatever follows.2 Be it known, therefore, that certain things exist which are not at all subject to our control, and which we can merely speculate upon, but cannot cause to be or to do: such are mathematics, physics, and divinity. On the other hand, certain things exist which are subject to our control, and which are matter not only for speculation, but for execution.3 In these things the action is not performed for the sake of the speculation, but the latter for the sake of the former, because in them action is the end. Since the matter under consideration is governmental,4 nay, is the very source and first principle of right governments, and since everything governmental is subject to our control, it is clear that our present theme is primarily adapted for action rather than for speculation. Again, since the first principle and cause of all actions is their ultimate end,5 and since the ultimate end first puts the agent in motion, it follows that the entire procedure of the means toward an end must derive from the end itself. For the manner of cutting wood to build a house will be other than that of cutting wood to build a ship. So if there exists an end for universal government among men, that end will be the basic principle through which all things to be proved hereafter may be demonstrated satisfactorily. But to believe that there is an end for this government and for that government, and that there is no single end common to all, would indeed be irrational.
To actualize the whole capacity of the possible intellect in speculation and action.
1. We must now determine what is the end of human society as a whole, and having determined that, we shall have accomplished more than half of our labor, according to the Philosopher in his writings to Nicomachus.1 In order to discern the point in question more clearly, observe that as Nature fashions the thumb for one purpose, the whole hand for another, then the arm for a purpose differing from both, and the entire man for one differing from all, so she creates for one end the individual, for another the family, for another the village, for still another end the city, for another the kingdom, and finally for an ultimate end, by means of His art which is Nature, the Eternal God brings into being the human race in its totality. And this last is what we are in search of as the directive first principle of our investigation.
2. In beginning, then, let it be recognized that God and Nature make2 nothing in vain; but that whatever comes into being comes with a definite function. For, according to the intention of the creator, as creator, the ultimate end of a created being is not the being itself but its proper function.3 Wherefore a proper function exists not for the sake of the being, but contrariwise. There is, then, some distinct function for which humanity as a whole is ordained, a function which neither an individual nor a household, neither a village, nor a city, nor a particular kingdom, has power to perform.4 What this function is will be evident if we point out the distinctive capacity of humanity as a whole. I say, therefore, that no faculty shared by many things diverse in species is the differentiating characteristic of any one of them. For since the differentiating characteristic determines species, it would follow that one essence would be specific to many species, which is impossible. So the differentiating characteristic in man is not simple existence, for that is shared by the elements;5 nor existence in combination, for that is met with in minerals;6 nor existence animate, for that is found in plants;7 nor existence intelligent, for that is participated in by the brutes;8 but the characteristic competent to man alone, and to none other above or below him, is existence intelligent through the possible intellect.9 Although other beings possess intellect, it is not intellect distinguished by potentiality, as is man’s. Such beings are intelligent species in a limited sense, and their existence is no other than the uninterrupted act of understanding;10 they would otherwise not be eternal. It is evident, therefore, that the differentiating characteristic of humanity is a distinctive capacity or power of intellect.
3. And since this capacity as a whole cannot be reduced to action at one time through one man, or through any one of the societies discriminated above, multiplicity is necessary in the human race in order to actualize its capacity in entirety. Likewise multiplicity is necessary in creatable things in order to exercise continually the capacity of primal matter. Were it not so, we should be granting the existence of unactualized potentiality, which is impossible. With this belief Averroës11 accords in his commentary on the treatise concerning the Soul.12 Further, the intellectual capacity of which I speak has reference not only to universal forms or species, but, by a sort of extension, to particular ones. Wherefore it is a common saying that the speculative intellect becomes by extension the practical, whose end is to do and to make. I speak of things to be done, which are controlled by political sagacity, and things to be made, which are controlled by art,13 because they are all handmaids of speculation, that supreme end for which the Primal Good brought into being the human race.14 From this now grows clear the saying in the Politics that “the vigorous in intellect naturally govern other men.”15
To attain this end humanity requires universal peace.
1. It has now been satisfactorily explained that the proper function of the human race, taken in the aggregate, is to actualize continually the entire capacity of the possible intellect, primarily in speculation, then, through its extension and for its sake, secondarily in action. And since it is true that whatever modifies a part modifies the whole, and that the individual man seated1 in quiet grows perfect in knowledge and wisdom,2 it is plain that amid the calm and tranquillity of peace the human race accomplishes most freely and easily its given work. How nearly divine this function is revealed in the words, “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels.”3 Whence it is manifest that universal peace is the best of those things which are ordained for our beatitude. And hence to the shepherds sounded from on high the message not of riches, nor pleasures, nor honors, nor length of life, nor health, nor beauty; but the message of peace. For the heavenly host said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.”4 Likewise, “Peace be unto you”5 was the salutation of the Saviour of men. It befitted the supreme Saviour to utter the supreme salutation. It is evident to all that the disciples desired to preserve this custom; and Paul likewise in his words of greeting.6
2. From these things which have been expounded we perceive through what better, nay, through what best means the human race may fulfill its proper office. Consequently we perceive the nearest way through which may be reached that universal peace toward which all our efforts are directed as their ultimate end, and which is to be assumed as the basic principle of subsequent reasoning. This principle was necessary, we have said, as a predetermined formula, into which, as into a most manifest truth, must be resolved all things needing to be proved.7
When several things are ordained for one end, one must rule and the others obey.
1. Resuming what was said in the beginning, I repeat, there are three main questions asked and debated in regard to temporal Monarchy, which is more commonly termed the Empire, and it is my purpose to make inquiry concerning these in the order cited, according to the principle now enunciated. And so let the first question be whether temporal Monarchy is necessary for the well-being of the world. The necessity of temporal Monarchy can be gainsaid with no force of reason or authority, and can be proved by the most powerful and patent arguments, of which the first is taken on the testimony of the Philosopher in the Politics. There this venerable authority asserts that when several things are ordained for one end, one of them must regulate or rule, and the others submit to regulation or rule.1 This, indeed, not only because of the author’s glorious name, but because of inductive reasoning, demands credence.2
2. If we consider the individual man, we shall see that this applies to him, for, when all his faculties are ordered for his happiness, the intellectual faculty itself is regulator and ruler of all others; in no way else can man attain to happiness. If we consider the household, whose end is to teach its members to live rightly, there is need for one called the pater-familias, or for some one holding his place, to direct and govern, according to the Philosopher when he says, “Every household is ruled by its eldest.”3 It is for him, as Homer says, to guide and make laws for those dwelling with him. From this arises the proverbial curse, “May you have an equal in your house.”4 If we consider the village, whose aim is adequate protection of persons and property, there is again needed for governing the rest either one chosen for them by another, or one risen to prëeminence from among themselves by their consent; otherwise, they not only obtain no mutual support, but sometimes the whole community is destroyed by many striving for first place. Again, if we consider the city, whose end is to insure comfort and sufficiency in life, there is need for undivided rule in rightly directed governments, and in those wrongly directed5 as well; else the end of civil life is missed, and the city ceases to be what it was. Finally, if we consider the individual kingdom, whose end is that of the city with greater promise of tranquillity, there must be one king to direct and govern. If not, not only the inhabitants of the kingdom fail of their end, but the kingdom lapses into ruin, in agreement with that word of infallible truth, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation.”6 If, then, this is true of these instances, and of all things ordained for a single end,7 it is true of the statement assumed above.
3. We are now agreed that the whole human race is ordered for one end, as already shown. It is meet, therefore, that the leader and lord be one, and that he be called Monarch, or Emperor. Thus it becomes obvious that for the well-being of the world there is needed a Monarchy, or Empire.
The order which is found in the parts of the human race should be found in the race as a whole.
1. As the part is related to the whole,1 so is the partial order related to the total order. The relation of the part to the whole is as to its end and supreme good, and so the relation of the partial order to the total order is as to its end and supreme good.2 We see from this that the excellence of partial order does not exceed the excellence of total order, but rather the converse. A dual order is therefore discernible in the world, namely, the order of parts among themselves, and the order of parts with reference to a third entity which is not a part. For example, in the army there is an order among its divisions, and an order of the whole with reference to the general. The order of the parts with reference to the third entity is superior, for partial order has its end in total order, and exists for the latter’s sake. Wherefore, if the form of the order is discernible in the parts of the human aggregate, it should, by virtue of the previous syllogism, be much more discernible in the aggregate or totality, because total order or form of order is superior. Now, as is sufficiently manifest from what was said in the preceding chapter, it is discernible in all the units of the human race, and therefore must be or ought to be discernible in the totality itself. And so all parts which we have designated as included in kingdoms, and kingdoms themselves, should be ordered with reference to one Prince or Principality, that is, to one Monarch or Monarchy.3
The relation of kingdoms and nations to the monarch should be that of humanity to God.
1. Further, mankind is a whole with relation to certain parts, and is a part with relation to a certain whole. It is a whole, of course, with relation to particular kingdoms and nations, as was shown above, and it is a part with relation to the whole universe, as is self-evident. Therefore, in the manner in which the constituent parts of collective humanity correspond to humanity as a whole, so, we say, collective humanity corresponds as a part to its larger whole. That the constituent parts of collective humanity correspond to humanity as a whole through the one only principle of submission to a single Prince, can be easily gathered from what has gone before. And therefore humanity corresponds to the universe itself, or to its Prince, who is God and Monarch,1 simply through one only principle, namely, the submission to a single Prince. We conclude from this that Monarchy is necessary to the world for its well-being.
Men are made in the image of God; but God is one.
1. And everything is well, nay, best disposed which acts in accordance with the intention of the first agent, who is God. This is self-evident, save to such as deny that divine goodness attains the summit of perfection. It is of the intention of God that all things should represent the divine likeness in so far as their peculiar nature is able to receive it.1 For this reason it was said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”2 Although “in our image” cannot be said of things inferior to man, nevertheless, “after our likeness” can be said of all things, for the entire universe is nought else than a footprint of divine goodness. The human race, therefore, is ordered well, nay, is ordered for the best, when according to the utmost of its power it becomes like unto God.3 But the human race is most like unto God when it is most one, for the principle of unity dwells in Him alone. Wherefore it is written, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.”4
2. But the human race is most one when all are united together, a state which is manifestly impossible unless humanity as a whole becomes subject to one Prince, and consequently comes most into accordance with that divine intention which we showed at the beginning of this chapter is the good, nay, is the best disposition of mankind.
Men, as the sons of Heaven, should follow in the footprints of Heaven.
1. Likewise, every son acts well and for the best when, as far as his individual nature permits, he follows in the footprints of a perfect father.1 As “Man and the sun generate man,”2 according to the second book of Natural Learning, the human race is the son of heaven, which is absolutely perfect in all its works. Therefore mankind acts for the best when it follows in the footprints of heaven, as far as its distinctive nature permits. Now, human reason apprehends most clearly through philosophy3 that the entire heaven in all its parts, its movements, and its motors, is controlled by a single motion, the primum mobile,4 and by a single mover, God; then, if our syllogism is correct, the human race is best ordered when in all its movements and motors it is controlled by one Prince as by one mover, by one law as by one motion. On this account it is manifestly essential for the well-being of the world that there should exist a Monarchy or unified Principality, which men call the Empire. This truth Boethius sighed for in the words, “O race of men how blessed, did the love which rules the heavens rule likewise your minds!”5
In order to settle all disputes a supreme judge is necessary.
1. Wherever strife is a possibility, in that place must be judgment; otherwise imperfection would exist without its perfecting agent.1 This could not be, for God and Nature are not wanting in necessary things.2 It is self-evident that between any two princes, neither of whom owes allegiance to the other, controversy may arise either by their own fault or by the fault of their subjects. For such, judgment is necessary. And inasmuch as one owing no allegiance to the other can recognize no authority in him (for an equal cannot control an equal), there must be a third prince with more ample jurisdiction, who may govern both within the circle of his right. This prince will be or will not be a Monarch. If he is, our purpose is fulfilled; if not, he will again have a coequal beyond the circle of his jurisdiction, and again a third prince will be required. And thus either the process will be carried to infinity, which is impossible, or that primal and highest judge will be reached, by whose judgments all disputes are settled mediately or immediately. And this judge will be Monarch, or Emperor. Monarchy is therefore indispensable to the world, and this truth the Philosopher saw when he said, “Things have no desire to be wrongly ordered; inasmuch as a multitude of Princedoms is wrong, let there be one Prince.”3
The world is best ordered when in it Justice is preëminent.
1. Further, the world is disposed for the best when Justice reigns therein; wherefore, desiring to glorify that age which seemed to be dawning in his own day, Virgil sang in his Bucolics, “Now doth the Virgin return and the kingdoms of Saturn.”1 For they called Justice the Virgin, and called her also Astraea. The kingdoms of Saturn meant those happiest times which men named the Age of Gold. Justice is preëminent only under a Monarch; therefore, that the world may be disposed for the best, there is needed a Monarchy, or Empire.
2. To make the assumption plain, it must be understood that Justice, considered in itself and in its distinctive nature, is a certain directness or rule of action avoiding the oblique on either side, and refusing the comparison of more or less in degree, as whiteness considered in the abstract.2 Certain forms3 of this kind, though present in compounds, consist in themselves of simple and invariable essence, as the Master of the Six Principles4 rightly claims; yet such qualities admit the comparison of more or less in degree as regards the subjects5 in which they are mingled, when more or less of the qualities’ opposites are mixed therein. Therefore, when with Justice is intermixed a minimum of its opposite, both as to disposition and operation, there Justice reigns. Truly, then may be applied to her the words of the Philosopher: “Neither Hesperus, the star of evening, nor Lucifer, the star of morning, is so wonderfully fair.”6 Then, indeed, she is like to Phœbe beholding her brother across the circle of the heavens, from the purple of morn’s serene.7
3. Man’s disposition to Justice may meet opposition in the will;8 for when will is not wholly unstained by cupidity, even if Justice be present, she may not appear in the perfect splendor of her purity, having encountered a quality which resists her to some degree, be it never so little. So it is right to repulse those who attempt to impassion a judge. In its operation, man’s justice may meet opposition through want of power; for since Justice is a virtue involving other persons, how can one act according to its dictates without the power of allotting to each man what belongs to him?9 It is obvious from this that in proportion to the just man’s power will be the extent of his exercise of Justice.
4. From our exposition we may proceed to argue thus: Justice is most effective in the world when present in the most willing and powerful man; only a Monarch is such a man; therefore Justice subsisting in a sole Monarch is the most effective in the world. This prosyllogism runs through the second figure10 with intrinsic negation, and is like this: All B is A; only C is A; therefore only C is B. That is, All B is A; nothing except C is A; therefore nothing except C is B.
5. The former statement11 is apparent from the forerunning explanation; the latter, first, in regard to the will, second, in regard to the power, is unfolded thus. In regard to the will, it must first be noted that the worst enemy of Justice is cupidity, as Aristotle signifies in the fifth book to Nicomachus.12 When cupidity is removed altogether, nothing remains inimical to Justice; hence, fearful of the influence of cupidity which easily distorts men’s minds, the Philosopher grew to believe that whatever can be determined by law should in no wise be relegated to a judge.13 Cupidity is impossible when there is nothing to be desired, for passions cease to exist with the destruction of their objects. Since his jurisdiction is bounded only by the ocean,14 there is nothing for a Monarch to desire. This is not true of the other princes, whose realms terminate in those of others, as does the King of Castile’s in that of the King of Aragon. So we conclude that among mortals the purest subject for the indwelling of Justice is the Monarch.
6. Moreover, to the extent however small that cupidity clouds the mental attitude toward Justice, charity or right love clarifies and brightens it. In whomever, therefore, right love can be present to the highest degree, in him can Justice find the most effective place. Such is the Monarch, in whose person Justice is or may be most effective. That right love acts as we have said, may be shown in this way: avarice, scorning man’s competency,15 seeks things beyond him; but charity, scorning all else, seeks God and man, and therefore the good of man. And since to live in peace is chief of man’s blessings, as we said before, and since this is most fully and easily accomplished by Justice, charity will make Justice thrive greatly; with her strength will the other grow strong.16
7. That right love should indwell in the Monarch more than in all men beside reveals itself thus: Everything loved is the more loved the nearer it is to him who loves; men are nearer to the Monarch than to other princes; therefore they are or ought to be most loved by him.17 The first statement is obvious if we call to mind the nature of patients and agents; the second if we perceive that men approach other princes in their partial aspect, but a Monarch in their totality. And again, men approach other princes through the Monarch, and not conversely; and thus the guardianship of the world is primary and immediate with the Monarch, but with other princes it is mediate, deriving from the supreme care of the Monarch.
8. Moreover, the more universal a cause, the more does it possess the nature of a cause, for the lower cause is one merely by virtue of the higher, as is patent from the treatise on Causes.18 The more a cause is a cause, the more it loves its effect, for such love pursues its cause for its own sake. As we have said, other princes are causes merely by virtue of the Monarch; then among mortals he is the most universal cause of man’s well-being, and the good of man is loved by him above all others.19
9. Who doubts now that a Monarch is most powerfully equipped for the exercise of Justice?20 None save he who understands not the significance of the word, for a Monarch can have no enemies.
10. The assumed proposition21 being therefore sufficiently explained, the conclusion is certain that Monarchy is indispensable for the best ordering of the world.
Humanity is ordered for the best when most free.
1. If the principle of freedom is explained, it will be apparent that the human race is ordered for the best when it is most free. Observe, then, those words which are on the lips of many but in the minds of few, that the basic principle of our freedom is freedom of the will.1 Men come even to the point of saying that free will is free judgment in matters of will, and they say true; but the import of their words is far from them, as from our logicians who work daily with certain propositions used as examples in books of logic; for instance, that “a triangle has three angles equaling two right angles.”2
2. Judgment, I affirm, stands between apprehension and desire; for first a thing is apprehended; then the apprehension is adjudged good or bad; and finally he who so judges pursues or avoids it.3 So if judgment entirely controls desire, and is hindered by it in no way, judgment is free; but if desire influences judgment by hindering it in some manner, judgment cannot be free, for it acts not of itself, but is dragged captive by another. Thus brutes cannot have free judgment, for their judgments are always hindered by appetite. And thus intellectual substances whose wills are immutable,4 and disembodied souls5 who have departed in peace, do not lose freedom of the will by reason of this immutability, but retain it in greatest perfection and power.
3. With this in mind we may understand that this freedom, or basic principle of our freedom, is, as I said, the greatest gift bestowed by God upon human nature, for through it we attain to joy here as men, and to blessedness there as gods.6 If this is so, who will not admit that mankind is best ordered when able to use this principle most effectively? But the race is most free under a Monarch. Wherefore let us know that the Philosopher holds in his book concerning simple Being, that whatever exists for its own sake and not for the sake of another is free.7 For whatever exists for the sake of another is conditioned by that other, as a road by its terminus. Only if a Monarch rules can the human race exist for its own sake; only if a Monarch rules can the crooked policies8 be straightened, namely democracies, oligarchies, and tyrannies which force mankind into slavery,9 as he sees who goes among them, and under which kings, aristocrats called the best men, and zealots of popular liberty play at politics.10 For since a Monarch loves men greatly, a point already touched upon, he desires all men to do good, which cannot be among players at crooked policies. Whence the Philosopher in his Politics says, “Under bad government the good man is a bad citizen; but under upright government ‘good man’ and ‘good citizen’ have the same meaning.”11 Upright governments have liberty as their aim, that men may live for themselves; not citizens for the sake of the consuls, nor a people for a king, but conversely, consuls for the sake of the citizens, and a king for his people.12 As governments are not all established for the sake of laws, but laws for governments, so those living under the laws are not ordered for the sake of the legislator, but rather he for them, as the Philosopher maintains in what he has left us concerning the present matter.13 Wherefore it is also evident that although consul or king may be lord of others with respect to means of governing, they are servants with respect to the end of governing; and without doubt the Monarch must be held the chief servant of all. Now it becomes clear that a Monarch is conditioned in the making of laws by his previously determined end. Therefore the human race existing under a Monarch is best ordered, and from this it follows that a Monarchy is essential to the well-being of the world.
He who is best adapted for ruling is the best director of other men.
1. He who is capable of the best qualification for ruling can best qualify others. In every action the chief intent of the agent, whether it act by necessity of nature or by choice, is to unfold its own likeness;1 whence it is that every agent, in so far as it acts in this way, delights in action. Since every existent thing desires its existence, and since an agent in action amplifies its existence to a certain extent, delight necessarily ensues, for delight is bound up in the thing desired.2 Nothing can act, therefore, unless existing already as that which the thing acted upon is to become; and therefore the Philosopher states in his writings of simple Being: “Every reduction from potentiality to actuality is accomplished by an actuality of like kind;”3 for if anything attempted to act under other conditions, it would try in vain. Thus may be destroyed the error of those men who believe by speaking good and doing evil they can inform others with life and character; and who forget that the hands of Jacob, though false witnesses, were more persuasive than his words, though true.4 Hence the Philosopher to Nicomachus: “In matters of passion and action, words are less trustworthy than deeds.”5 And hence the message from heaven to the sinner David: “What hast thou to do to declare my statutes?”6 As if it had said, “In vain thou speakest, being other than thy words.” From which we may gather that he who would best qualify others must himself be supremely qualified.
2. That only a Monarch can be supremely qualified for ruling is thus proved. Everything is more easily and perfectly adapted to any state or activity as there is present in it less of opposition to such adaptation. So those who have never heard of philosophy come more easily to a comprehension of philosophic truth than those who have heard often thereof, but are imbued with false opinions. So Galen7 says with right: “Such men need double time for gaining knowledge.” Now, as was shown above, a Monarch can have no occasion for cupidity, or rather less occasion than any other men, even other princes,8 and cupidity is the sole corrupter of judgment and hindrance to Justice; so the Monarch is capable of the highest degree of judgment and Justice, and is therefore perfectly qualified, or especially well qualified, to rule. Those two qualities are most befitting a maker and executor of the law, as that holiest of kings testifies by his petition to God for the attributes meet for a king and the son of a king, praying: “Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son.”9
3. It was rightly assumed, then, that the Monarch alone is capable of supreme qualification to rule. Hence the Monarch is best able to direct others. Therefore it follows that for the best ordering of the world. Monarchy is necessary.
What one agent can do is better done by one than by many.
1. When it is possible to do a thing through one agent, it is better done through one than through more.1 We prove it in this way: Let A be one agent able to accomplish a given end, and let A and B be two through whom the same thing can be accomplished. If the end accomplished through A and B can be accomplished through A alone, B is added uselessly, as nothing results from the addition of B which would not have resulted from A alone. Now inasmuch as every addition is idle and superfluous,2 and every superfluity is displeasing to God and Nature, and everything displeasing to God and Nature is evil, as is self-evident; it follows not only that whatever can be done through one agent is better done through one than through more, but that whatever done through one is good, done through more becomes manifestly evil. Further, a thing is said to be better the nearer it approaches the best. Its end partakes of the character of the best. But what is done by one agent is nearer its end, and therefore better. That it is nearer its end we see thus: Let there be an end C to be reached by a single agent A, or by a dual agent A and B. Evidently the way from A through B to C is longer than from A straight to C. Now humanity can be ruled by one supreme Prince who is Monarch.
2. But it must be noted well that when we assert that the human race is capable of being ruled by one supreme Prince, it is not to be understood that the petty decisions of every municipality can issue from him directly, for municipal laws do fail at times and have need of regulation, as the Philosopher shows in his commendation of equity3 in the fifth book to Nicomachus. Nations, kingdoms, and cities have individual conditions which must be governed by different laws. For law is the directive principle of life. The Scythians,4 living beyond the seventh clime,5 suffering great inequality of days and nights, and oppressed by a degree of cold almost intolerable, need laws other than the Garamantes,6 dwelling under the equinoctial circle, who have their days always of equal length with their nights, and because of the unbearable heat of the air cannot endure the useless burden of clothing. But rather let it be understood that the human race will be governed by him in general matters pertaining to all peoples, and through him will be guided to peace by a government common to all. And this rule, or law, individual princes should receive from him, just as for any operative conclusion the practical intellect receives the major premise from the speculative intellect, adds thereto the minor premise peculiarly its own, and draws the conclusion for the particular operation. This government common to all not only may proceed from one; it must do so, that all confusion be removed from principles of universal import. Moses himself wrote in the law that he had done this; for when he had taken the chiefs of the children of Israel, he relinquished to them minor decisions, always reserving for himself those more important and of larger application; and in their tribes the chiefs made use of those of larger application according as they might be applied to each tribe.7
3. Therefore it is better that the human race should be ruled by one than by more, and that the one should be the Monarch who is a unique Prince. And if it is better, it is more acceptable to God, since God always wills what is better. And inasmuch as between two things, that which is better will be likewise best, between this rule by “one” and this rule by “more,” rule by “one” is acceptable to God not only in a comparative but in a superlative degree. Wherefore the human race is ordered for the best when ruled by one sovereign. And so Monarchy must exist for the welfare of the world.
In every sort of thing that is best which is most one.
1. Likewise I affirm that being and unity and goodness exist seriatim according to the fifth mode of priority.1 Being is naturally antecedent to unity, and unity to goodness; that which has completest being has completest unity and completest goodness. And as far as anything is from completest being, just so far is it from unity and also from goodness. That in every class of objects the best is the most unified, the Philosopher maintains in his treatise on simple Being.2 From this it would seem that unity is the root of goodness, and multiplicity is the root of evil. Wherefore Pythagoras in his Correlations3 placed unity on the side of good and multiplicity on the side of evil, as appears in the first book on simple Being.4 We can thus see that to sin is naught else than to despise unity, and to depart therefrom to multiplicity; which the Psalmist surely felt when he said, “By the fruit of their corn and wine and oil are they multiplied.”5
2. Therefore it is established that every good thing is good because it subsists in unity. As concord is a good thing in itself, it must subsist in some unity as its proper root, and this proper root must appear if we consider the nature or meaning of concord. Now concord is the uniform movement of many wills; and unity of will, which we mean by uniform movement, is the root of concord, or rather concord itself. For just as we should call many clods concordant because all descend together toward the centre, and many flames concordant because they ascend together to the circumference, if they did this voluntarily, so we call many men concordant because they move together by their volition to one end formally present in their wills; while in the case of the clods is formally present the single attribute of gravity, and in the flames the single attribute of levity.6 For power of willing is a certain potentiality, but the species of goodness which it apprehends is its form, which, like other forms, is a unity multiplied in itself according to the multiplicity of the receiving material, just as soul, number, and other forms subject to composition.7
3. These things being premised, we may argue as follows for the proposed exposition of the original assumption: All concord depends upon unity in wills; mankind at its best is a concord of a certain kind. For just as one man at his best in body and spirit is a concord of a certain kind,8 and as a household, a city, and a kingdom is likewise a concord, so it is with mankind in its totality. Therefore the human race for its best disposition is dependent on unity in wills. But this state of concord is impossible unless one will dominates and guides all others into unity, for as the Philosopher teaches in the last book to Nicomachus, mortal wills need directing because of the alluring delights of youth.9 Nor is this directing will a possibility unless there is one common Prince whose will may dominate and guide the wills of all others.10 If the conclusions above are true, as they are, Monarchy is essential for the best disposition of mankind; and therefore for the well-being of the world Monarchy should exist therein.
Christ willed to be born in the fullness of time when Augustus was Monarch.
1. A phenomenon not to be forgotten attests the truth of all the arguments placed in order above, namely, that condition of mortals which the Son of God, when about to become man for the salvation of man, either awaited, or ordained at such time as He willed.1 For if from the fall of our first parents, at which point of departure began all our error,2 we survey the ordering of men and times, we shall find no perfect Monarchy, nor the world everywhere at peace, save under the divine Monarch Augustus.3 That men were then blessed with the tranquillity of universal peace all historians testify, and all illustrious poets; this the writer of the gentleness of Christ4 felt it meet to confirm, and last of all Paul, who called that most happy condition “the fulness of the time.”5 Verily, time and all temporal things were full, for no ministry to our happiness lacked its minister. But what has been the condition of the world since that day the seamless robe6 first suffered mutilation by the claws of avarice, we can read—would that we could not also see! O human race! what tempests must need toss thee, what treasure be thrown into the sea, what shipwrecks must be endured,7 so long as thou, like a beast of many heads,8 strivest after diverse ends! Thou art sick in either intellect,9 and sick likewise in thy affection. Thou healest not thy high understanding by argument irrefutable, nor thy lower by the countenance of experience. Nor dost thou heal thy affection by the sweetness of divine persuasion, when the voice of the Holy Spirit breathes upon thee, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”10
[1. ] God is “miglior natura” in Purg. 16. 79: “To a greater power and a better nature, ye are free subjects.”
Par. 10. 28: “The greatest minister of nature, that stamps the world with the goodness of heaven.”
Par. 13. 79: “But if the burning love disposes and stamps the clear view of the prime virtue, all perfection is there acquired.”
Cf. S. T. 1. 66. 3; De Trinit. 3. 4.
[2. ]Ps. 1. 3.
[3. ]Matt. 25. 25.
[4. ]Num. 17. 8.
[5. ]1 Cor. 9. 24; cf. Phil. 3. 14.
[6. ]James 1. 5. In Conv. 1. 8. 2 God is called the “Universal Benefactor.”
Conv. 3. 7. 2: “The Primal Goodness sendeth His bounties unto all things in an affluence.”
[1. ]Conv. 4. 4. 1: “Wherefore, in order to put an end to these wars and their causes, the whole earth should be under a monarchy, that is, should be a single principality under one prince, who, possessing everything, and therefore incapable of further desire, would keep the kings content within the limits of their kingdoms, so that peace should abide among them.”
[2. ] Each book of the De Mon. is likewise founded on the rock of a basic principle. See 2. 2; 3. 2.
Conv. 4. 15. 7: “The third infirmity in the minds of men is caused by levity of nature; for many have so light a fancy, that they fly from one thing to another in their reasoning, and before they have finished their syllogism have formed a conclusion, and from that conclusion have flown to another, and think they are arguing most subtly, while they have no principle to start from, and see nothing in their imagination that is really there.”
Par. 2. 124: “Regard me well, how I am going through this topic to the truth thou desirest.”
[3. ]Conv. 4. 9. 2: “There are things which it [the reason] only considers and does not originate, . . . such as natural and supernatural things, i. e. laws and mathematics; and actions which it considers and performs by its own proper act, which are called rational, such as the arts of speech; and actions which it considers and executes in material outside of itself, as in the mechanical arts.”
[4. ] “The word politia may be used either for a general form of government, such as monarchy or democracy; or for a concrete organ of government, such as some specific monarchy; or for some function of government as exercised by such an organ, i. e. the actual governing done by the monarch; or for the ideal goal and purpose of government, i. e. the right ordering of a state.” Wicksteed. It has seemed best to translate this oft-recurring word in its various forms by “government,” “governmental,” etc.
[5. ] The identification of cause and end, or effect, is complete in Letter 11. 33: “When the Source or First, which is God, hath been found, there is nothing to be sought beyond (since He is the Alpha and Omega, which is the Beginning and the End).” See note 1, De Mon. 1. 13. For this notion of cause and effect see also Arist. Metaphys. 1, and De Causis.
[1. ]Eth. 1. 7. 21: “For the principle seems to be more than half the whole.” Dante almost without exception refers to Aristotle as “the Philosopher.” In Conv. 3. 5. 5 he is “That glorious Philosopher to whom Nature has most completely revealed her secrets;” “The master of human reason,” Conv. 4. 2. 7; “That master of philosophers,” Conv. 4. 8. 5; “The master of those who know,” Inf. 4. 131. For Dante’s relation to Aristotle see Moore, Studies in Dante, Vol. 1. pp. 92-156. For the translations of Aristotle which he used, l. c. pp. 305-318. Throughout the De Mon. the Ethics are called “the writings to Nicomachus,” a title given them because they had been addressed by the philosopher to his son of that name.
[2. ]De Caelo 1. 4. Dante uses a singular verb with two coördinate subjects, thus, “Deus et natura facit.” So infra, 1. 11. 1.
[3. ]Conv. 3. 15. 4: “Nature would have made it in vain, because it would have been created without any end.”
Par. 8. 97: “The Good which sets in revolution and contents all the realm thou art scaling makes its foresight to be virtue in these great bodies. And not only the natures are foreseen in this mind which is of itself perfect, but they together with their preservation. Wherefore whatsoever this bow discharges falls disposed to a foreseen end, just as a thing aimed right upon its mark. If this were not so, the heaven where thou journeyest would so produce its effects that they would not be an artist’s works, but ruins. And this cannot be, if the intellects which move these stars are not maimed and maimed the First, in that He has not perfected them. . . . I see it is impossible for nature, in that which is necessary, to fail.”
Cf. De Mon. 2. 7. 1; 3. 15. 1; 1. 10. 1.
[4. ]Pol. 1. 2. 5-8.
Conv. 4. 4. 1: “The radical foundation of imperial majesty according to the truth is the necessity of human society, which is ordained to one end, that is a happy life; to which no one is capable of attaining without the aid of others, because man has many needs, which one person alone is unable to satisfy.”
[5. ]Conv. 3. 3. 1: “Simple bodies, the elements, have a natural love for their own place; wherefore earth always falls toward the centre, and fire is drawn toward the circumference above.”
[6. ]Conv. 3. 3. 2: “The primary composed bodies, such as minerals.” Cf. Par. 7. 124: “I see the air, and I see the fire, the earth, and the water and all their combinations come to destruction and endure but a little.”
[7. ]Conv. 3. 3. 3: “Plants, which are the first of animate things.”
[8. ]Conv. 3. 2. 3: “The sensitive soul is found without the rational, as in beasts and birds and fishes.”
[9. ] For the origin of the idea see De Anima 3; Metaphys. 12; Ethics 1. 7. 12: “The work of man is an energy of soul according to reason. Man’s chief good is an energy of soul according to virtue.” For the mediaeval explanation, S. T. 1. 154. 4, and 1. 79. 1, 2, 10.
“Intellectus possibilis” or “passibilis,” and “intellectus agens,” that is, the passive, apprehending intellect, and the active intelligence, are the two intellects of man. Cf. De Mon. 1. 16. The emphasis here is on the fact that at no given time is the potentiality of man’s intellect realized.
[10. ] Dante discusses the hierarchies, Conv. 2. 5, 6, and Par. 28, 29. Cf. S. T. 1. 54-59. Conv. 2. 5. 1: “These are substances separate from matter, that is intelligences, whom the common people call angels;” l. c. 2. 5. 3: “Their intellect is one and perpetual;” 4. 19. 2: “Human nobility, as far as the variety of its fruits is considered, excels that of the angels, although the angelic may be more divine in its unity.” That is, while the angelic nature is an uninterrupted realization of the knowledge of which each order of these beings is capable, man always approximates through a variety of ways to the knowledge that is his heritage.
Par. 29. 70: “But whereas on earth through your schools it is taught that the angelic nature is such as understands and remembers and wills, . . . the truth is there below confused.” Dante’s actus or formus is typified in angelic natures, his materia or potentia in matter, while both form and matter are found in created things.
[11. ] Averroës was an Arabian philosopher of the twelfth century, and author of the famous commentary upon Aristotle here alluded to. He is mentioned in Conv. 4. 13. 3, and placed among the great thinkers in Limbo, Inf. 4. 144.
[12. ] “Ad libr. tertium Ed. Venet. 1552, p. 164.” Witte.
[13. ]Metaphys. 1. 1: “An art comes into being when, out of many conceptions of experience, one universal opinion is evolved with respect to similar cases.”
[14. ]Conv. 3. 15. 2: “In this gaze or contemplation alone is human perfection to be gained, that is, the perfection of the reason, on which, as on its most important part, all our being depends; and all our other actions, feelings, nourishment—all exist for it alone, and it exists for itself and not for others.” L. c. 4. 4. 1: “Peace should abide among them, . . . which done, man lives happily, for which end he was born.” L. c. 4. 17. 16: “We must know that we can have two kinds of happiness in this life, according to two different ways, one good, one best, which lead us thereto; one is the active life, and the other the contemplative.” L. c. 4. 22. 5-10: “The use of the mind is double, that is, practical and speculative, and both are delightful; although that of contemplation is most so. . . . Its practical use is to act through us virtuously, that is, righteously by temperance, fortitude, and justice; the speculative is not to operate actively in us, but to consider the works of God and of nature; and the one and the other make up our beatitude and supreme happiness.”
Purg. 27. 93, Dante dreams of Leah and Rachael, who typify the contemplative and active life; “to see satisfies her, but me to work.”
Purg. 28 realizes the dream of the active life in the person of Matilda, and Purg. 30 that of the contemplative in the person of Beatrice. It is for abandoning the contemplative life, and “following false images of good,” that Beatrice reproves Dante, Purg. 30. 131.
[15. ]Pol. 1. 2. 2: “By nature too some beings command, and others obey, for the sake of mutual safety; for a being endowed with discernment and forethought is by nature the superior and governor.”
[1. ] “Sedendo et quiescendo.” Dante often used the figure of the seated person to portray the life of contemplation.
S. T. 2-2. 182. 2: “Contemplative life consists in a certain stillness and rest according to the text, ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ ” Ps. 46. 10. Also S. T. 1-2. 3. 4, 5.
Conv. 4. 17. 16: “And Mary . . . sitting at the feet of Christ, took no heed to the service of the house. . . . For if we explain this morally, our Lord wished thereby to show us that the contemplative life is the best, although the active life is good.” L. c. 1. 1. 4: “Blessed are the few that are seated at the table where the bread of the angels is eaten.”
Purg. 27. 105: “My sister Rachel never is drawn from her mirror, and sits all day.”
[2. ]Eccles. 38. 25 (Vulg.): “The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure; and he that hath little business shall become wise.”
[3. ]Ps. 8. 6; cf. Heb. 2. 7. Quoted Conv. 4. 19. 3.
[4. ]Luke 2. 14.
[5. ]Luke 24. 36; John 20. 21, 26.
[6. ]Rom. 1. 7.
[7. ] Some of Dante’s most eloquent exhortations in prose and some of the most perfect music of his verse are touching that peace which he knew should make man happy on earth and blessed in heaven, that peace which he went to seek “from world to world,” and which he found at last in complete obedience to the will of God.
Purg. 3. 74: Virgil conjures the spirits “By that peace which I think is awaited by you all.”
Purg. 5. 61: Dante here tells of “that peace, which makes me, following the feet of a guide thus fashioned, seek it from world to world.”
Purg. 10. 34: “The angel that came on earth with the decree of the many years wept-for peace . . . opened Heaven from its long interdict.”
Purg. 11. 7: “Let the peace of thy kingdom come to us.”
Purg. 21. 13: “My brethren, God give you peace,” is the greeting of Statius.
Purg. 28. 91: “The highest Good, which does only its own pleasure, made the man good and for good, and gave him this place for an earnest to him of eternal peace.”
Purg. 30. 7: “That truthful folk . . . turned them to the car as to their peace.”
Par. 2. 112: “Within the heaven of the divine peace revolves a body in whose virtue lies the being of all that is contained in it.”
Par. 3. 85: “In His will is our peace.”
Par. 27. 8: “A life complete of joy and peace.”
Par. 30. 100: “Light is there on high, which makes visible the Creator to that creation which only in seeing Him has its peace.”
Par. 31. 110: St. Bernard “in this world by contemplation tasted of that peace.”
Par. 33. 1: “Virgin Mother . . . in thy womb was rekindled the Love, through whose warmth in the eternal peace this flower has thus sprung.”
[1. ]Pol. 1. 5. 3: “Whatsoever is composed of many parts, which together make up one whole, . . . shows the marks of some one thing governing and another thing governed.”
Conv. 4. 4. 2: “And with these reasons we may compare the words of the Philosopher, when he says in the Politics that when many things are ordained for one purpose, one of them should be governor or ruler, and all others should be governed or ruled.”
[2. ] For Dante’s idea of the deference due to authority, philosophical and imperial, see Conv. 4. 8. 9.
[3. ]Pol. 1. 2. 6.
[4. ] Homer, Od. 9. 114, quoted by Arist. Pol. 1. 2. 6.
[5. ] “Politia obliqua.”
[6. ]Luke 11. 17.
[7. ]Conv. 4. 4. 2: “Even as we see a ship, where her divers duties and their divers purposes are ordained for one end, that is, to bring her by a safe course to the desired haven, where, as each officer performs his own duty with regard to the proper end, so there is one person who considers all these, and adapts them all to the final end, and this one is the pilot whose voice all must obey. And this we see in religious bodies, and in armies, and in all things, which, as we have said, are ordained for some one purpose.”
[1. ]Conv. 4. 29. 5: “Every whole is made up of its parts, . . . and what is said of a part, in the same way may be said of a whole.”
[2. ]Par. 1. 103: “All things whatsoever have an order among themselves; and this is form, which makes the universe in the likeness of God. Here the created beings on high see the traces of eternal goodness, which is the end whereunto the rule aforesaid has been made.”
Par. 10. 3: “The first and unspeakable Goodness made all that revolves in mind or in place with such order that he who observes this cannot be without tasting of Him.”
Par. 29. 31: “Order and structure were concrete in the substances.”
Cf. De Mon. 2. 7. 1, and note 3.
S. T. 1. 47. 3: “Ipse ordo in rebus sic a Deo creatis existens unitatem mundi manifestat. Mundus enim iste unus dicitur unitate ordinis, secundum quod quaedam ad alia ordinantur. Quaecumque autem sunt a Deo, ordinem habent ad invicem et ad ipsum Deum.”
[3. ]Conv. 4. 4. 1: “The whole earth should be under one prince, who . . . would keep the kings content within the limits of their kingdoms, so that peace should abide among them, wherein the cities should repose, and in this repose the neighbors should love one another, and in this love the families should supply all their wants; which done, man lives happily; for which end he was born.”
Conv. 4. 4. 2: “And this office, for reason of its excellence, is called Empire, without any qualification, because it is the government of all governments. And so he who holds the office is called emperor, because he is a law to all and must be obeyed by all, and all others take their force and authority from him. And thus it is evident that the imperial majesty and authority is the highest in human society.”
[1. ] Dante applies to the Deity the names denoting governmental supremacy, not only in the De Mon. but elsewhere. See Conv. 2. 6. 1; 2. 16. 6; “Imperadore dell’ universo;” also Emperor, Inf. 1. 124; Par. 12. 40, etc.; De Mon. 3. 16. 1.
[1. ]Conv. 3. 14. 1: “The sun . . . sending his rays here below, makes all things to resemble his own brightness, as far as they, of their own nature, are capable of receiving light. Thus . . . God brings this love to His own likeness, in so far as it is possible for it to resemble Him.”
Par. 1. 104: “Form . . . makes the universe in the likeness of God.” Cf. De Mon. 2. 2. 2, and note 3.
[2. ]Gen. 1. 26. Used in Conv. 4. 12. 6: “God is the source of our soul and has made it like unto Himself (as it is written, ‘Let us make man in our image and likeness’).”
[3. ]Eth. 10. 8. 13: “The energy of the deity, as it surpasses all others in blessedness, must be contemplative: and therefore, of human energies, that which is nearest allied to this must be the happiest.”
[4. ]Deut. 6. 4.
[1. ]Conv. 4. 24. 8: “All children look more closely to the paternal footprints than any others.”
[2. ]Phys. 2. 2: “Homo hominem generat ex materia et sol,” Witte quotes from an old Latin version. Dante quotes three times in De Mon. from De Naturali Auditu, as he calls the Physics of Aristotle. Cf. infra, 2. 7. 3; 3. 15. 2.
[3. ]Inf. 11. 97: “Philosophy . . . to whoso looks narrowly on her, notes, not in one place only, how nature takes her course from the understanding of God, and from His workmanship; and if thou well observe thy Physics, thou wilt find after not many pages, that your workmanship, as far as it can, follows her as the learner does the master, so that your workmanship is as it were second in descent from God.”
[4. ] The “primum mobile” is the ninth heaven, and the source of motion in the other eight movable heavens. The heavens are treated of in Conv. 2. 3-6; the “primum mobile” in 2. 4. 1: “The fervent longing of all its parts to be united to those of this tenth and most divine heaven, makes it revolve with so much desire that its velocity is almost incomprehensible.” Dante’s theory of motion is to some extent explained in Letter 11. 26: “Everything that moveth hath some defect, and hath not its whole being complete in itself.”
Conv. 2. 15. 5: “The said heaven directs by its movements the daily revolution of all the others, by which they all daily receive and transmit here below the virtue of all their parts.”
Par. 27. 106: “The nature of the world that holds the centre quiet, and moves all else around, begins hence as from its starting-point. And this heaven has no other Where than in the mind of God, in which is kindled the love that turns it and the virtue that it showers down. Light and love comprehend it with one circle, as it does the rest; and of that girth He only who girt it is the intelligence. Its movement is not marked out by any other, the others are measured by it.” Cf. Par. 1. 76, where God is called “Love who orderest the heavens,” and De Mon. 2. 2. 3 note.
Par. 28. 70: “The one which sweeps along with it the universe sublime.”
[5. ]De Cons. Philos. 2. Metr. 8. ll. 28-30. See pp. 282-288 of Moore’s Studies, Vol. 1, for an account of Dante’s relation to Boethius, one of his “favorite authors.”
[1. ] “Sine proprio perfectivo.”
[2. ]De Anima 3. 9. This idea Dante often repeats. See infra, 2. 7. 2, and 3. 15. 1.
[3. ]Metaphys. 11. 10, at the end. Moore points out the original source as Homer, Il. 2. 204.
Par. 20. 76: “Such seemed to me the image of the imprint of the eternal pleasure, according to its desire for which each thing becomes what sort it is.”
[1. ]Ecl. 4. 6. Statius in his eulogy of Virgil, Purg. 22. 70, paraphrases this passage of the Fourth Eclogue: “The world renews itself; Justice returns, and the first age of man; and a new progeny descends from Heaven.” Use is made of the same in Letter 7. 1.
[2. ] One of the books of the Convito, which was never written, was to have been devoted to this “moral virtue.” Conv. 1. 12. 4: “Of this subject I shall treat fully in the fourteenth book.” So Dante affirms again, l. c. 4. 27. 5: “Justice will be treated of in the last book but one of this volume.” The word “justitia,” used in the De Mon. according to the definition here of “regula sive rectitudo,” is employed elsewhere by Dante with varying meanings, ranging even to a synonym of perfect goodness and God Himself.
Conv. 4. 17. 13: “The eleventh [moral virtue] is Justice, which disposes us to love and practice righteousness in all things.”
Inf. 29. 56: “Justice that cannot err” punishes those in hell. In Purg. 19. 77 the sufferings endured “both hope and justice make less hard.” Again in Purg. 16. 71, it is “Justice to have for good joy, and for evil woe.”
Par. 4. 67: “That our justice should appear unjust in the eyes of mortals is argument of faith and pertains not to heretic depravity.”
Par. 6. 103: “Let the Ghibellines . . . work their arts under another ensign, for he ever follows that amiss who separates justice and it.” L. c. 121: “The living justice makes our affection sweet within us, so that it can never be wrested to any unrighteousness.”
Par. 18. 115: “O sweet star, what manner and what number of what gems showed me that our justice is an effect of the heaven wherein thou art set.” In this same canto Dante sees the motto of the empire, 90 ff., “Diligite justitiam . . . qui judicatis terram,” in the words which open the Book of Wisdom. For Thomas Aquinas on Justice, see S. T. 2-2. 57. 1, 58. 1.
[3. ] Forms may be substantial or accidental; substantial, when they give things being or essence; accidental, when they give things qualities or attributes. Whiteness is an accidental form which is intrinsically absolute. More or less whiteness is only possible when some other accidental form is mixed with it. Cf. infra, par. 3.
[4. ] Gilbertus Porretanus was a scholastic logician, a theologian, and Bishop of Poitiers, a pupil of Bernard of Chartres and of Anselm of Laon. His chief logical work was De Sex Principiis, and it gave him the name by which Dante designates him. A criticism of the ten Aristotelian Categories, it drew a distinction between the first four (formae inhaerentes), substance, quality, quantity, and relation, and the other six (formae assistentes), and it became one of the most popular works in the schools.
[5. ] Dante uses “subject” to mean either an entity or an underlying element.
[6. ]Eth. 5. 1. 12.
[7. ] The sun and moon are again referred to in this way, Par. 29. 1: “When both the children of Latona, brooded over by the Ram and Scales, together make of the horizon a belt.”
[8. ]Par. 15. 1: Into “a benign will . . . is dissolved always the love which inspires righteously, as evil concupiscence is unto the unjust will.”
[9. ]Eth. 5. 1. 15, 17, 20.
[10. ]Analyt. Prior. 1. 5. The second figure is characterized by having the common term (A in this case) in the predicate, both in the major and minor premise, and by having one premise positive and one negative.
[11. ] That is, Justice is most powerful in the world when present in the most powerful and willing subject.
[12. ]Eth. 5. 2. 5.
Covetousness, cupidity, or avarice, the desire for other than that which is the intention of God, Dante makes the root of every wrong. Individual self-seeking destroys the form, or order, of the universe. It is related to the evil of multiplicity treated of in De Mon. 1. 15. Those guilty of avarice were punished in the fourth circle of Inferno, canto 7; Simoniacs in the eighth circle, Malebolge, canto 19; and usurers just above in the seventh circle, Inf. 17.
Inf. 12. 49: “O blind covetousness! O foolish wrath! that dost so spur us in our short life, and afterward in the life eternal dost in such evil wise steep us!” Purg. 19. 121; 22. 23, 34.
Purg. 20. 82: “O avarice, what canst thou do more with us, since thou hast so drawn my race to thee that it cares not for its own flesh!”
Par. 27. 121-124: “O covetousness, which dost so whelm mortals under thee that none has power to draw his eyes forth of thy waves! Well flowers in men their wills; but the rain unbroken turns to sloes the true plums.”
Par. 30. 138: Henry came before his time to Italy because “The blind covetousness which bewitches you has made you like the child who is dying of hunger and drives away his nurse.”
For further reference to cupidity, see note, Aquinas Ethicus, Vol. 2. p. 396. Rickaby.
[13. ]Rhetoric 1. 1. 7. Conv. 4. 4. 1: “The whole earth . . . should be under one prince, . . . possessing everything, and therefore incapable of further desire.”
[14. ]Aen. 1. 287: “Imperium Oceano, famam qui terminet astris.”
In the letter to Henry VII, Letter 5. 3, the idea is amplified: “The power of the Romans is limited neither by the confines of Italy, nor by the shores of three-horned Europe. For although through violence its dominions may have been narrowed on all sides, none the less, since it extends to the waves of Amphitrite by inviolable right, it barely deigns to be girded round about by the ineffectual billows of the ocean. For to us it was written: ‘Of illustrious origin shall Trojan Caesar be born: his empire shall end with the ocean, his fame with the stars.’ ”
[15. ] “Perseitate hominum.” Witte instances the same word, Ockham, Quatuor Libros Senten. 1. 2. 4: “Omnis propositio, in qua praedicatur passio de suo subiecto cum nomine perseitatis, esset falsa, quodest absurdum.” Ducange defines it thus: “Perseitas hominum = facultas per se subsistandi.”
[16. ]Purg. 15. 71: “In proportion as charity extends, increases upon it the eternal goodness.”
Par. 3. 43: “Our charity locks not its doors upon a just wish.” L. c. 70: “A virtue of charity sets at rest our will, which makes us wish that only which we have.”
[17. ]Conv. 1. 12. 2: “Proximity and goodness are the causes that engender love.”
Conv. 3. 10. 1: “The closer the thing desired comes to him who desires it, the greater the desire is.”
Purg. 27. 109: “And already, through the brightness before the light, which arises the more grateful to pilgrims, as on their return they lodge less far away.”
More, Utopia: “The king . . . should love his people, and be loved of them; . . . he should live among them, govern them gently.”
[18. ]De Causis, Lect. 1. This pseudo-Aristotelian treatise, probably of Arabic origin, was regarded with great reverence in the Middle Ages, and commentaries were written upon it by Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, and Aegidius Romanus. Prantl, Geschichte der Logik im Abendlande, Vol. 3. pp. 8-10.
[19. ]Conv. 4. 4. 3: “Before the coming of the aforesaid officer [the emperor] no one had at heart the good of all.” Cf. l. c. 4. 5. 3.
Utopia: “A prince ought to take more care of his people’s happiness than of his own, as a shepherd is to take more care of his flock than of himself.”
[20. ] In Par. 18 occurs what Butler calls the “apotheosis of the personified empire,” and there its relation to justice is made plain. See note 2 in the present chapter of De Mon.
[21. ] That “Justice is preëminent only under a Monarch.”
[1. ] Freedom of the will is discussed in Par. 5. 19 ff.
[2. ] Moore says that this thought is repeated more than twenty times in Aristotle, e. g. Analyt. Prior. 2. 21; Magna Moral. 1. 1: “It would be absurd if a man wishing to prove that the angles of a triangle were equal to two right angles assumed that the soul is immortal.”
[3. ]Conv. 1. 12. 4: “Although all virtue is lovable in man, that is most so which is most peculiarly human; and this is justice which belongs only to the reason or intellect, that is, the will.”
Conv. 4. 9. 3: “There are actions . . . which our reason considers as within the province of the will, such as to offend or to help; . . . and these are entirely under the control of our will, and therefore from them are we called good or wicked, because they are all our own.”
Conv. 4. 18. 1: “All the moral virtues come from one principle, which is a good and habitual choice.”
Purg. 18. 19: “The mind which is created ready to love is quick to move to everything which pleases it so soon as by the pleasure it is aroused to action. Your apprehensive power draws an intention from an essence which speaks true, and displays it within you, so that it makes the mind turn to that.”
Par. 13. 118: “It occurs that oftentimes the current opinion swerves in a false direction, and afterwards the desire binds the understanding.”
[4. ] Cf. supra, 1. 3. 2, and note 10. Conv. 2. 6. 7: “These motive powers guide by their thought alone the revolutions over which each one presides.”
[5. ]Conv. 2. 9. 3: “The soul . . . having left it [the body], it endures forever in a nature more than human.”
Conv. 2. 1. 4: “The soul, in forsaking its sins, becomes holy and free in its powers.” So Virgil assures Dante when he has reached the Earthly Paradise, Purg. 27. 140: “Await no more my word or my sign; free, right, and sound is thy judgment, and it were a fault not to act according to its thought, wherefore, thee over thyself I crown and mitre.”
And of children, Par. 32. 40: “Spirits set free before that they had true power of choice.”
[6. ]Purg. 18. 55: “Man knows not whence comes the understanding of the first cognitions, and the affection of the first objects of appetite, for they are in you, as in the bee the desire of making its honey; and this first volition admits not desert of praise or blame. Now, whereas about this every other gathers itself, there is innate in you the faculty which counsels, and which should hold the threshold of assent. This is the principle whereto occasion of desert in you is attracted, according as it gathers up and winnows out good or guilty love. They who in reasoning have gone to the foundation have taken note of that innate liberty, wherefore they have left morality to the world. Whence let us lay down that of necessity arises every love which kindles itself in you; of keeping it in check the power is in you. The noble faculty Beatrice understands for free will.”
Par. 5. 19: “The greatest gift which God of His bounty made in creating, and the most conformed to His goodness, and that which He most values, was the freedom of the will, wherewith the creatures that have intelligence all, and they only, were and are endowed.” Giuliani says that some MSS. add to these lines of the De Mon., “sicut in Paradiso comediae jam dixi.” Whatever scribe originally inserted them found their pronounced relationship to Par. 5. 19.
See also S. T. 1. 59. 3: “Only that which has intellect can act by free judgment; . . . wherever intellect is, there is judgment.”
[7. ]Metaphys. 1. 2. This treatise Dante calls de simpliciter Ente, here and 1. 13. 1; 1. 15. 1; 3. 14. 4, but Prima Philosophia in 3. 12. 1.
Conv. 3. 14. 3: “The noble and intellectual soul, free in her special power, which is reason; . . . and the Philosopher says in the first of the Metaphysics, that that thing is free which exists for itself and not for another.”
[8. ] “Crooked policies;” in the Latin, “politiae obliquae.”
[9. ] Reference to political servitude is common in Dante, e. g. Purg. 6. 76: “Ah Italy! thou slave, hostel of woe!”
[10. ] In Pol. 3. 7. 2-5, we find: “A tyranny is a monarchy where the good of one man only is the object of government, an oligarchy considers only the rich, and a democracy only the poor, but no one of them has the common good of all in view.”
The word “politizant,” occurring here, Witte defines as “regnare et civitati praeesse.” Wicksteed translates it “have a real policy.” I find that Milton used an Anglicized form of the word in his Reformation in England, 2: “Let me not for fear of a scarecrow, or else through hatred to be reformed, stand hankering and politizing, when God with spread hands testifies to us.” So I translate the word “play at politics.”
[11. ]Pol. 3. 4. 3, 4.
[12. ] “It is impossible to conceive a people without a prince, but not a prince without a people.” In his essay on Dante Lowell quotes this saying of Calvin’s.
[13. ]Pol. 4. 1. 9.
[1. ]Conv. 3. 2. 2: “Each effect contains something of the nature of its cause.” L. c. 3. 14. 1: “For the virtue of one thing to descend upon another, that other thing must be brought to the first one’s likeness; as we see plainly in all natural agencies, whose descending upon passive things brings them to resemble those agencies in so far as they are capable of so doing.” So in Conv. 4. 22. 4. And see note 5, De Mon. 1. 2.
[2. ]Conv. 2. 9. 2: “Every cause loves its effect.”
[3. ]Metaphys. 8. 8. See Par. 29. 34: “Pure potency held the lowest place; in the midst clasped potency with act such a withe as never is untwisted.” S. T. 1. 54-59; 1-2. 3. 2. Also note 10, De Mon. 1. 3.
[4. ]Gen. 27. 22: “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” Cf. De Mon. 2. 12. 5.
[5. ]Eth. 10. 1. 3: “Arguments about matters of feeling and action are less convincing than facts.”
[6. ]Ps. 50. 16. Note that the “sinner” may yet be “holiest of kings” in the following paragraph. See article on David, Toynbee’s Dante Dictionary.
[7. ] Claudius Galen (130-200 ad), the celebrated physician of Pergamum in Asia, was up to the sixteenth century the most famous physician of antiquity with the exception of Hippocrates. Some eighty-three treatises, medical and philosophical, written by him are still extant. See Inf. 4. 143. The quotation about the difficulty of unlearning false knowledge is from De Cognoscendis Animi Morbis, c. 10.
[8. ]De Mon. 1. 11. 5.
[9. ]Ps. 72. 1. Par. 13. 94: “I have not so spoken that thou canst not well see that he was a king who asked wisdom, to the end that he might be a competent king.”
[1. ] Moore shows that the basic idea of this chapter is found in many places in Aristotle: De Part. Anim. 3. 4; Phys. 7. 6, etc. This idea reappears in Quaestio de Aqua et Terra 13. 34 (Oxford ed.): “Quia quod potest fieri per unum, melius est quod fiat per unum quam per plura.”
[2. ] Another common Aristotelian notion. See De Caelo 1. 4; De Gen. Anim. 2. 6.
[3. ] “Equity.” Dante writes ἐπιείχειαν—one of the Greek words that found their way into mediaeval translations of Aristotle, and were “cruelly mauled by the scribes,” says Wicksteed. The reference is to Eth. 5. 10: “And this is the nature of the equitable, that it is the correction of law, wherever it is defective owing to its universality.”
[4. ] The Scythians were vaguely understood to be the nomad tribes north of the Black Sea and the Caspian. Dante speaks of them again, De Mon. 2. 9. 3; 3. 3. 1.
[5. ] Ptolemy’s κλίματα or climates were belts of the earth’s surface, divided by lines parallel to the equator. The length of day determined the position of each terrestrial climate, each having half an hour more than the preceding one. The seven climates of the northern hemisphere are described by Alfraganus in his Elementa Astronomica. The system of climates developed into that of the present parallels of latitude. Our word “climate” came from the application of a place name to the temperature of the region. See Toynbee’s Dict. s. v. “Garamantes.” Cf. Conv. 3. 5. 8.
[6. ] The tribes south of the Great Desert were known as the Garamantes. See Lucan, Phar. 4. 334; 9. 369. In Conv. 3. 5. 8 they are described as men “who go almost always naked.”
[7. ]Exod. 18. 17-26; Deut. 1. 10-18. Moses as lawgiver is frequently quoted in this treatise on Monarchy: 2. 4. 1; 2. 13. 2; 3. 5. 1, etc. Moses is honored together with Samuel and John in Par. 4. 29 as those who “have most part in God.”
[1. ] “Priority” translates the Latin word prius. See Arist. Categ. 12. Moore. Conv. 3. 2. 2: “The first of all things is being, and before it is nothing.”
[2. ]Metaphys. 1. 5.
[3. ] The central thought in the Pythagorean philosophy is number, it being the principle and essence of everything. The theory of opposites gave rise to the Pythagorean συστοιχία, parallel tables, or correlations:—
See the article on Pythagoras in Toynbee, Studies, pp. 87-96. Conv. 3. 11. 2: “In the time of Numa Pompilius . . . there lived a most noble philosopher, called Pythagoras.”
[4. ]Metaphys. as in note 2. Cf. Conv. 2. 14. 10: “Pythagoras . . . puts odd and even as the principles of natural things, considering all things as number.”
The unity of goodness is one of the cardinal points in Dante’s philosophy. It is his theory of form and his theory of justice. So the poet of the Divine Comedy makes God in the Empyrean visualized unity, as Satan in Hell is visualized multiplicity. Par. 28. 16: “I saw a point which radiated light so keen that the sight which it fires must needs close itself. . . . From that point depends the heaven and all nature.”
Par. 33. 85: “I saw how there enters, bound with love in one volume, that which is distributed through the universe; substance and accident and their fashion, as though fused together in such wise that that which I tell of is one single light. The universal form of this knot I believe I saw.” See Inf. 34. 37 for the description of Satan.
[5. ]Ps. 4. 7.
[6. ]Eth. 2. 1. 2: “The stone which by nature goes downward could never be accustomed to go upward, . . . nor could fire be accustomed to burn downward.”
Conv. 3. 3. 1: “Everything . . . has its special love; as simple bodies have a natural love for their own place; wherefore earth always falls toward the centre, and fire is drawn toward the circumference above.”
Inf. 32. 73: “We were going toward the centre, to which all gravity is collected.” L. c. 34. 110: “The point to the which from every part the weights are drawn.”
Purg. 18. 28: “As the fire moves on high, by reason of its form, so . . . the mind seized enters into desire, which is a motion of the spirit.” Also Purg. 32. 109.
Par. 1. 115: “This bears away the fire toward the moon; this is the motive power in the hearts of men; this binds the earth together and makes it one.” Cf. Par. 1. 133, 141; 4. 77; 23. 42.
[7. ] The species of good which anything apprehends is its form, that principle which makes it what it is. In this case the volitional power of willing is the material or matter, while the species or sort of goodness which is the end of the volition is the form. So it makes no difference how many people will, so long as they will the same thing, for the form is then the same, if the material is various.
The composite character of the soul is treated Conv. 3. 2. 3, where it is shown to have three powers, vegetable, sensitive, and rational according to Arist. De Caelo 2. See Purg. 25. 74.
[8. ]Conv. 3. 8. 1: “Of all the works of Divine wisdom, man is the most wonderful, considering how Divine power has united three natures under one form, and how subtly harmonized must his body be with that form.”
Conv. 3. 15. 5: “The beauty of the body results from the proper ordering of its members.”
Conv. 4. 25. 7: “The proper ordering of our members produces a pleasure of I know not what wonderful harmony.”
[9. ]Eth. 10. 9. 8: “To live temperately and patiently is not pleasant to the majority, and especially to the young.”
[10. ]Conv. 4. 9. 3: “We may almost say of the Emperor, wishing to represent his office by a figure, that he is the rider of human will. And it is very evident how wildly this horse goes over the field without a rider.”
[1. ] For the outline of the argument in this chapter see Orosius, Hist. 6. 22. 5.
Conv. 4. 5. 2: “The immeasurable Divine Goodness, wishing to bring back to Itself the human creature, which by the sin of the transgression of the first man had become separated from God and unlike Him, it was decreed . . . that the Son of God should descend to earth to bring about this reunion. And since at His . . . coming it behoved not only the heavens, but the earth, to be in the best condition, and the best condition of the earth is under a monarchy . . . therefore Divine Providence ordained the people and the city wherein this should be fulfilled, that is, Rome the glorious.” De Mon. Book 2 is devoted to this subject of Rome’s foreordination.
[2. ] The result of Adam’s sin Matilda touches on in her discourse with Dante on the nature of the terrestrial Paradise, Purg. 28. 91: “The highest Good, which does only its own pleasure, made the man good and for good, and gave him this place for an earnest to him of eternal peace. Through his own default he abode here little time; through his own default he changed to weeping and toil honest laughter and sweet mirth.”
Par. 7. 26: “For not enduring to the faculty that wills any curb for its own advantage, that man who was never born, in damning himself, damned all his progeny.” See De Mon. 2. 13. 1, and notes.
[3. ] In the image symbolic of human history, Inf. 14. 94 ff., Dante identifies the golden age with the reign of Augustus. Line 112: “Every part beside the gold is burst with a cleft which drips tears.”
Par. 6. 55: “Hard upon that time when the heaven wholly willed to bring back the world to its tranquil order, Caesar by the will of Rome bare it. . . . It laid the world in such a peace that Janus had his shrine locked up.”
Conv. 4. 5. 3: “Nor ever was, nor ever will be, this world so perfectly disposed as then. . . . Universal peace reigned, which never was before nor ever will be again, because the ship of human society sped over a smooth sea straight to its destined port.”
[4. ]Luke 2. 1, 14.
[5. ]Gal. 4. 4: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” Cf. Eph. 1. 10.
[6. ]John 19. 23: “Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.” Dante uses the figure here to denote the undivided empire. The papal party used the same figure in their arguments to denote undivided ecclesiastical authority. De Mon. 3. 10. 4.
[7. ] This figure of the ship of human society is found in Conv. 4. 5. 3 (see note 3 of the present chapter), Purg. 6. 77: “Ah, Italy . . . ship without a pilot in a great tempest,” etc.
[8. ] This mixed metaphor of Dante’s, “dum bellua multo-rum capitum factum,” is a further illustration of the evil of multiplicity and lack of concord in men’s wills. Cf. De Mon. 1. 15. 1, and note. Beside the evil of many discordant wills, there is reference to the evils that may be included under the term “bestial.” See Conv. 4. 5. 3: “Vile beasts that pasture in the shape of men.” See especially Inf., cantos 12-17. Also note 14, De Mon. 2. 3.
[9. ] The two intellects were the possible or apprehensive intellect, and the active intelligence. Cf. De Mon. 1. 3. 2. To these two powers Dante adds that of affection.
Purg. 18. 55: “Man knows not whence comes the understanding of the first cognitions, and the affection of the first objects of appetite.”
Par. 1. 120: “Creatures . . . that have intellect and love.”
Par. 6. 122; 13. 120; 15. 43: “When the bow of his ardent affection was so slackened that his speech descended towards the mark of our understanding, the first thing that was by me understood was, ‘Blessed be Thou, threefold and one.’ ” L. c. 15. 73: “The affection and the thought when as the first Equality appeared to you, became of one weight for each of you.”
The two intellects and the affection are the threefold means given to man by which he may arrive at the unity which is goodness in completeness, and there may see and know God. This suggests the means by which Dante achieves his vision in the Divine Comedy—Virgil, Beatrice, and St. Bernard.
[10. ]Ps. 133. 1.