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The De Monarchia of Dante Alighieri, edited with translation and notes by Aurelia Henry (Boston and New York: Houghton, Miflin and Company, 1904).
The great Italian poet turns his hand to political thought and defends the reign of a single monarch ruling over a universal empire. He believed that peace was only achievable when a single monarch replaced divisive and squabbling princes and kings. However, he also believed in a separation of powers in that the Emperor has jurisdiction over temporal matters, whilst the Pope administered over things spiritual.
The text is in the public domain.
TO MY MOTHER
this little volume of first fruits is affectionately dedicated
TheDe Monarchia is easily accessible in Latin editions, but an English version is practically unobtainable, at least by the American student of Dante. To be sure, it has twice been done into English, once by Mr. F. J. Church (Macmillan, 1878), and again by Mr. P. H. Wicksteed (Hull, 1896). If the former translation had not been long out of print, and the latter had not been published for private circulation only, the present volume would have less excuse for being. But with the growing interest in Dante, and the increasing number of Dante students in this country, the demand for ready access to all the poet’s work becomes imperative. It is in response to this demand of the American student of Dante in and out of college that this translation has been undertaken.
In the notes which accompany the text the translator has had in mind chiefly the needs and interests of the literary student. Although the purpose of the annotation is to make the treatise clear in whole and in part by explanation and citation, it includes the effort to indicate at every possible point the relation existing between the De Monarchia and the Divine Comedy, the Convito, and the Letters. Many of the notes may be of little use to the student of civil government or to the general reader, but it is believed their value to the literary student will prove sufficient reason for their presence. The source of Dante’s theories is noted wherever practicable, his debt to Aristotle, to the Hebrew Scriptures, and to Thomas Aquinas needing most frequent mention. In the cross-references to Dante’s other works the translator has endeavored to point out as exhaustively as possible the recurrence of favorite ideas, and even of favorite figures of speech, as in the case of the metaphor of the seal and the wax.
The references to Aristotle, and quotations from him, are almost without exception based on the Bohn translations of Aristotle. Biblical references are to the Authorized Version, except where indication is made to the contrary. In citations from the Summa Theologiae, the Latin text (Bloud and Barral, Paris, 1880) has been used, save in the few cases where the translation of the Ethics by Joseph Rickaby (New York, 1896) is indicated. In the quotations from the Divine Comedy, the edition and translation of A. J. Butler (Macmillan, 1891-92) has invariably been made use of; in quotations from the Convito, the translation of Miss Katharine Hillard (Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1889), and in those from the Letters, that of C. L. Latham (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1891).
The principal Latin texts of the De Monarchia are those edited by Fraticelli, Florence, 1860; Witte, Vienna, 1874; Giuliani, Florence, 1878; and Moore, Oxford, 1894. The Oxford text has been followed without exception, though in a few cases variant readings have been given in the notes. The earliest edition of the De Monarchia was printed at Basle in 1559. It had been translated into Italian in the fifteenth century by Marsilio Ficino. There are two German versions, that of Kannegiesser, Leipzig, 1845, and that of Hubatsch, Berlin, 1872. The two English translations have already been mentioned. Of them it only remains to add that a part of Church’s translation is reprinted in Old South Leaflets, No. 123.
The Bibliography includes books likely to be helpful to the reader of the De Monarchia or the more general Dante student.
In the notes I am indebted to many commentaries and reference books. Moore’s Studies in Dante, First Series, was indispensable for classical sources, Witte’s Latin edition of 1874 for mediaeval sources, and Toynbee’s Dante Dictionary for general reference.
I wish to express my gratitude to Mr. Charles Allen Dinsmore of Boston for his kindly interest and assistance in this translation, and to Dr. Albert S. Cook of Yale University, from whom came the first suggestion of the undertaking, and a continued encouragement and aid without which its completion would not have been possible.
Yale University, August, 1903.
He who was “the spokesman of the Middle Ages,” who saw and told of his fellow-men and their destiny, uttered a message not for one century of time only, nor of one significance. In each of Dante’s larger works, the Vita Nuova, the Convito, the De Monarchia, and the Divine Comedy, this message is pronounced in one or all of its three phases, the religious, the philosophical, and the political. Because no author ever wrote with such singleness of purpose, nor through such diverse mediums carried to completion a solemn intent, the series of his productions are bound together as inevitably as the links of a chain, lending to one another meaning and value. And because these productions are so similar in purpose, if various in manner of expression, we may call them a unified message, and may apply to them all the words of explanation the poet sent to Can Grande when he presented to him “the sublime Canticle of the Comedy which is graced with the title of Paradiso.” “The aim of the whole and the part,” he wrote, “is to remove those living in this life from a state of misery, and to guide them to a state of happiness.”
The recognition by the student of this desire to know and to help his brother man, which gives to Dante’s writings a loftiness of tone and elevation of character that six centuries have failed to obscure, is the preventer of much misunderstanding, and the first essential to appreciative interpretation. The keynote of philanthropic endeavor Dante strikes early in the Convito, where he says, “I, knowing the miserable life of those whom I have left behind me, and moved to mercy by the sweetness of that which I have gained little by little, while not forgetting myself, have reserved for those wretched ones something which I have already for some time held before their eyes.” And again in the De Monarchia the author determines to concern himself “in laboring for posterity, in order that future generations may be enriched” by his efforts. The message that Dante felt called upon to deliver to the world is, then, virtually the same in the four works we have mentioned, but in the Vita Nuova the religious aspect is paramount, in the Convito the philosophical, in the De Monarchia the political, while the Divine Comedy concerns itself with the message as a whole. We might say that each of the first three writings has its own melody, a simple motif; in the Comedy the three themes combining swell into a movement of wondrous and complex harmony. And we might sum up the thought of the entire message in the words of Matthew: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Lowell, recognizing the ministering spirit of Dante, has said: “There is proof upon proof that he believed himself invested with a divine mission. Like the Hebrew prophets, with whose writings his whole soul was imbued, it was back to the old worship and the God of the fathers that he called his people; and not Isaiah himself was more destitute of that humor, that sense of ludicrous contrast, which is an essential in the composition of a sceptic.”
Or, to put the matter more concretely, Dante had looked abroad on mediæval society, had engaged in the practical affairs of Italy, had grown to feel that he understood conditions better than other men, and so believed that he was called of God to point out to men the right road. He beheld the two institutions that had for centuries striven to unite all Europe in a common interest—the Empire that had been revived under Charles the Great, and the Church that had attained to supremacy under Gregory VII—and he realized how sadly each had failed of its ambition. He saw, further, that despite these efforts there had come about in Europe the formation of nationalities, each differing in language and character, each having its own peculiar government, each torn by internecine strife, and each at times warring with the others. And he, together with other thinkers of that period, longed for unity among men, for unity that seemed never to be made a reality. Yet Dante believed and proclaimed that such a unity could come about, but in one way only, through a regeneration of society and a uniting of political interests under one head independent of the Church. This is the political aspect of Dante’s message.
But the De Monarchia, though it embodies Dante’s political ideals, can be read understandingly and sympathetically only when these political ideals are related to those of his religion as set forth in his other works. These in turn depend upon his theory of the universe and of moral order. To make this matter clear, we will state briefly the fundamental principles upon which Dante constructed his theory. For him the universe begins and ends with God: it begins with God the First Cause, the Primal Motor, the Maker, the Alpha of all things; it terminates in God the Ultimate End, the Great Arbiter, the Chief Good, the Omega of all things. The earth, on which dwells man, is at the centre of the created universe. About it are the nine moving heavens, according to the Ptolemaic astronomy, comprehended in the tenth, the Empyrean, the heaven which is at perfect rest because therein dwells God and Divine Love, and nothing is left for this heaven to desire. The Empyrean “is the sovereign edifice of the universe, in which all the world is included, and beyond which is nothing; and it is not in space, but was formed solely in the Primal Mind.” Not less fundamental than the unitary concept of the universe is that of the duality of man’s nature. This duality is not only in man’s nature, but in all things pertaining to him, his mode of existence, his mode of acquiring knowledge. That is, man is endowed with a twofold nature, a perishable and an imperishable, a soul and a body. He therefore lives for two ends, happiness on earth and happiness to be attained in heaven. Earthly beatitude is reached by the right ordering of temporal affairs; heavenly beatitude is made possible by Papal guidance in matters of the spiritual realm. Moreover, his life is active or contemplative, governed by reason or faith, enlightened by philosophy or revelation. Armed with these two ideas, we can approach the work under consideration.
Starting from man’s dual nature, the De Monarchia sets forth the manner in which the earthly happiness of the human race may be acquired by the right ordering of temporal affairs, the overlordship of a sole Monarch, the presence in the world of a Universal Empire. The body of the work is divided into three books, in each of which is expounded one side of the question at issue: first, the necessity of Universal Empire is proved; second, the right of the Romans to imperial authority; third, the direct bequeathing by God of this authority to the Romans without the mediation of the Church. In the first chapter the author says, “The knowledge of temporal Monarchy, one of the most important and most obscure of subjects, is brought forth from its hiding-place and explained for the good of the world.”
The first book of the De Monarchia pronounces that that which is the purpose or end of the human race is “to actualize continually the entire capacity of the possible intellect, primarily in speculation, . . . secondarily in action;” that “in the calm and tranquillity of peace the human race fulfills most freely and easily its given work;” that “universal peace is the best of those things ordained for our beatitude;” that “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 peace.” Peace can come, Dante insists, only when there is one Monarch to own all, to rule all, to embrace in his dominion all kingdoms and states, to harmonize opposing princes and factions, and to judge with justice all temporal questions. And let us not forget that Dante’s passionate plea for peace arises amid the uninterrupted turbulence and strife of the never-to-be-pacified Italy of his day.
In taking up in the second book the question of Rome’s foreordination for supremacy, Dante makes use of what was in his day a startling premise—that, in the same manner in which the Jews were the chosen race for receiving and dispensing the religion of God to the peoples of the earth, so the Romans were the race chosen to receive and dispense the knowledge of law and justice. And in the proof at various points evidence is adduced as indisputably correct from Roman as well as Jew, from Virgil and Ovid, Lucan and Livy, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. History and poetic fiction have equal consideration and equal weight. To question his authorities never occurs to Dante. Especially from Virgil, “our divine poet,” he takes his idea of the Roman Empire—from Virgil, who in his Aeneid and Georgics sang of Rome, the conqueror and civilizer of the world; Rome, of origin divine, of antiquity great, of duration eternal, of jurisdiction universal. That Dante’s reasoning throughout this second division of the treatise is often based on unauthentic statements, that therefore some of his proofs are of no lasting value, it is unnecessary to emphasize. Nor less strange than those that precede it is the final statement, the climax of the argument of the second book, that Christ by His birth under the edict of the Emperor Augustus, and by His death under the vicar of the Emperor Tiberius, confirmed the universal jurisdiction of the Roman Empire.
It is easy to object to the conclusions of the De Monarchia thus far, and to say that the end of man’s being and God’s foreordination of the Roman supremacy were fine subjects for theorizing, but that they could not carry any remedy for the evils in mediaeval Italy. It is easy to answer to them that peace was practically impossible when the Roman and Teutonic elements of society were not yet fused in the peoples of Europe; that the Roman Empire in its ancient sense had died when Romulus Augustulus laid down the sceptre in 476; that Dante entirely misapprehended the spirit of the ancient Roman supremacy; that, except under emperors of extraordinary talents, the Holy Roman Empire ever since its revival had been “a tradition, a fancied revival of departed glories;” and that, despite the endeavors of Imperialists and Papists, practically all power was in the hands of the nations as such, so that during Dante’s life the Empire was growing more German, and the Papacy more French. As Mr. Bryce says, “In the days of Charles and Otto, the Empire, in so far as it was anything more than a tradition from times gone by, rested solely upon the belief that with the visible Church there must be coextensive a single Christian state under one head and governor.” Yet in the first two books, whatever quaint absurdities be present, Dante promulgates the doctrine of international peace, a doctrine that even the twentieth century does not despise.
But the invaluable part of Dante’s political message, and the pith of the De Monarchia, lies in the third division, where are discussed the relations of the Empire and Papacy, and where Dante publishes his belief in the separate existence of the Church and State. Having recognized the presence of two chief governmental elements in Europe, having accounted for their presence by the design of God to meet the requirements of man’s dual nature, and having acknowledged that these two elements are wrongfully at constant war the one with the other, Dante proceeds to show that they are both from God for the good of man, but with functions distinct and different. Especially does he prove that the one in no way depends for its right to exist upon the other. The Papacy, he maintains, is a spiritual power, sovereign over the souls and the spiritual welfare of men, and the Empire is a temporal power, sovereign over the lives and bodily welfare of men. If Empire and Papacy exercised their authority in their own realms, the world would have no more war, than which there is nothing more to be desired in this world.
So much for the argument of this treatise, which has been called “the creed of Dante’s Ghibellinism.” This designation is only true in part, for, as Cacciaguida prophesies in the seventeenth canto of the Paradiso, “To thee it shall be honorable to have made thee a party by thyself.” And Dante, though a Ghibelline, was not so in all details of his political creed. Much that this party did was beyond the pale of his sympathy, and he rebukes them harshly more than once in the Divine Comedy. Seeing that they have used the Imperial ensign and influence in contests where there was no question of Empire, he writes, “Let the Ghibellines work, let them work under another ensign, for he ever follows that amiss, who separates Justice and it.”
The names Guelf and Ghibelline stand for the two parties that in the name of Pope and Emperor fought so strenuously on the soil of Italy for political supremacy. On the one side, the highest power, the right of investiture, was claimed by the Emperor, who was the nominal leader of the Ghibellines; on the other, the Popes, since the eleventh century and the strengthening of Papal control under Gregory VII, had persistently claimed that right for the Church, and the Guelf party fought to establish this claim. But it must be borne in mind that in the Italy of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries these party names were often used on occasions and in disturbances where the principles for which they stood had no place, and where the purpose and end of the strife were purely selfish and personal.
In general, however, the tendencies of the two parties were clear enough. The Imperial power, looking back toward its greater day, remembering that the Roman Emperor had once been Pontifex Maximus, and that authority must stay with the few, and those by precedent the nobles of ancient name, arrogated to itself all power, and maintained in all contests the cause of the nobles against the commons, the claims of antique titles against those of new-won wealth. The Church, moved by the true democracy of Christianity, as well as by the selfish wish to keep her hand on the pulse of the nations, and to prevent a centralizing influence in northern Italy, maintained the cause of the municipalities, fostered the independence of the cities, discouraged unity of action and aim among them, and at times sought to release whole nations from allegiance to their king.
The clearest statement of the claims of the Church in the fourteenth century is found in the Unam Sanctam of Boniface VIII, published in 1302. Boniface put his theory into practice more than once, and sometimes with amazing success. It is said that, seated upon the throne of Constantine and arrayed in crown, sceptre, and sword, he announced himself to the throngs of pilgrims that flocked to Rome at the jubilee in 1300, as “Caesar and Emperor.” He arbitrated difficulties between Edward of England and Philip of France, and finally declared the latter excommunicate and offered his throne to Albert of Hapsburg, then Emperor.
The Imperial rights are best enunciated in the De Monarchia, which, as we shall try to show, was written in all probability to help establish over Italy, independently of the Church, a rightful ruler in the temporal affairs of men, a ruler pictured as ideal in an ideal condition of society. The Golden Bull issued by Charles IV at Frankfort in 1356 takes up constitutional and legal points that our treatise never pauses to consider. We learn much, besides, of Imperial rights from the rulings of various Emperors. The career of such a man as Frederick II in the preceding century shows how much the Empire could demand and how much obtain under a powerful leader. That of Henry VII in the fourteenth shows that the time had gone by for Imperial dominion, and how much the Empire could ask and how little obtain even under the leadership of a great man.
So Dante’s De Monarchia is Ghibelline, inasmuch as it denies to the Church supreme command in temporal things, and recognizes a universal Monarch in temporal affairs; but it is a purer Ghibellinism than that of the party at large, for he saw Church and State only as separate powers, viewed Pope and Emperor as equal in rank but as wielding authority in different realms; and under this twofold rule he prophesied, with enthusiasm his party could not share, that the human race would live in the calm and tranquillity of universal peace.
Turning from the treatise for a moment to a consideration of Dante himself, there is something of deep pathos in the thought that, from the solitude of an exile brought upon him by the warring of his countrymen, he should so continually and earnestly plead for peace—that its blessings, now denied to him and to all the human race, might come upon the world. How far he traveled in search of “the best of those things ordained for our beatitude,” we learn in another work. He declares to the spirits in Ante-Purgatory, “If aught that I can do pleases you, O spirits born to bliss, do ye say it, and I will do it for the sake of that peace which makes me, following the feet of a guide thus fashioned, seek it from world to world.” And though he could not bring peace to self-willed Italy, he found it for himself in unquestioning obedience to the will of God, and sang forth his triumph and joy in the immortal line, “In His will is our peace.” It is not strange that a sympathetic and imaginative mind should have drawn the famous picture of the seeker of peace among the mountains, at the Monastery of Santa Croce del Corvo. Though Fra Ilario’s apocryphal letter is so well known, I quote the description given therein: “Hither he came, passing through the diocese of Luni, moved either by the religion of the place, or by some other feeling. And seeing him, as yet unknown to me and to all my brethren, I questioned him of his wishings and his seekings there. He moved not; but stood silently contemplating the columns and arches of the cloister. And again I asked him what he wished, and whom he sought. Then, slowly turning his head, and looking at the friars and at me, he answered ‘Peace.’ ”
The date of the De Monarchia is uncertain as far as historical evidence is concerned, and any attempt to establish unquestionably the time of its composition is met with insurmountable obstacles. To be sure, the earliest biographers of Dante mention the work, and Boccaccio gives some interesting notes of its history, but Boccaccio is also the only one of them who attempts to assign a period for its composition. He writes in his Life of Dante: —
“At the coming of Henry VII, this illustrious author wrote another book, in Latin prose, called the De Monarchia. This he divided into three books, in accordance with three questions which he settled therein. . . . This book, several years after the death of its author, was condemned by Cardinal Beltrando of Poggetto, papal legate in the parts of Lombardy, during the pontificate of John XXII. The reason of the condemnation was this. Louis, Duke of Bavaria, had been chosen King of the Romans by the electors of Germany, and came to Rome for his coronation, against the pleasure of the aforenamed Pope John. And while there, against ecclesiastical ordinances he created pope a minor friar called Brother Piero della Corvara, besides many cardinals and bishops; and had himself crowned there by this new Pontiff.
“Now inasmuch as his authority was questioned in many cases, he and his followers, having found this book by Dante, began to make use of its arguments to defend themselves and their authority; whereby the book, which was scarcely known up to this time, became very famous. Afterwards, however, when Louis had returned to Germany, and his followers, especially the clergy, began to decline and disperse, the aforesaid Cardinal, since there was none to oppose him therein, seized the book and condemned it in public to the flames, charging that it contained heretical matters.
“In like manner he attempted to burn the bones of the author, and would have done so, to the eternal infamy and confusion of his own memory, had he not been opposed by a good and noble Florentine knight, by name Pino della Tosa. This man and Messer Ostagio da Polenta were great in the sight of the Cardinal, and happened to be in Bologna, where this matter was being mooted.”
But if Boccaccio unhesitatingly names the occasion and approximate date of the De Monarchia, Lionardo Bruni (1368-1444), who wrote a biography of Dante somewhat later, dismisses the treatise with brief but unfavorable comment. “He also wrote in Latin prose and verse: in prose, a book entitled De Monarchia, written in unadorned fashion, with no beauty of style.” We will not stop to contradict Bruni’s criticism, but merely note that his statement has no chronological value.
Giovanni Villani, the first historian of Florence, gives a most appreciative but far too brief account of the poet in his Cronica: “He also wrote the Monarchia, where he treats of the offices of popes and emperors.” That is all the information Villani vouchsafes on our subject.
If we could believe Boccaccio implicitly, any further search for the date of the De Monarchia would be idle; but Boccaccio has proved himself untrustworthy in many instances, and in this case, whether his statement rests on his own assumption, whether he took it from current tradition, or whether he knew whereof he spoke, we shall never be able to prove absolutely. However, we can to some extent strengthen or weaken Boccaccio’s claim to belief by internal evidence in the writing itself. Unfortunately, there is a singular absence of such evidence in the De Monarchia. This book stands unique among the works of Dante in its impersonal nature, whereas his writings generally are marked by their strongly autobiographic character. In it is no personal reference definite enough to indicate any certain time in the author’s life; there is no unmistakable allusion to contemporary events; nor is there mention of any other of his own writings either finished or planned. Nevertheless, the fact that the book is in Latin and is of polemical nature, the parallelism of expression between this and other works, the confession of political experience in the first book, of changed political views in the second, and the indirect allusion to his own exile in the third, are clues which various scholars have followed up with zest, and from which they have arrived at three differing conclusions as to the time of its composition.
Some Dante students think the work was written previous to Dante’s exile, January 27, 1302, most probably during his political life in Florence; others believe it to be a heralding or commemoration of the coming of Henry of Luxemburg to Italy, and would place it between 1308 and 1314; a third class consider it more probable that it is one of the last labors of the author, and assign it to some period between 1318 and 1321.
Scartazzini has stated very clearly the points in favor of each of the three views, and commented on each in turn. But before we review his line of argument, let us notice some of the more general facts of this internal evidence.
That the language of the De Monarchia is Latin puts it at once into comparison with the uncompleted Latin writing De Vulgari Eloquentia. But as the date of this second treatise is as uncertain as the first, it can in no way help us. The second treatise must have been in process of writing as late as 1308, while Villani and others date it 1321. Next, is there any marked change in opinion or power between this and Dante’s other works, any differences that would betray immaturity of judgment, growth of insight, or even retrogression? No; as might be drawn from our generalizations at the beginning of this introduction, the content agrees in all essentials with the author’s other writings. In the maturity of its religious faith; in the knowledge of classic and Hebrew authors; in the ideal civil polity outlined; in the concept of the universe and moral order; in the theory which makes cupidity the basic sin of mankind, and free will his most divine gift, this political document agrees with the Convito and the Divine Comedy. So much alike are they that, especially in the case of the Convito, the order of ideas is at times the same. The phraseology is in some places identical with that of Dante’s three letters written during Henry’s sojourn in Italy, those written To the Princes and Peoples of Italy, To the Florentines, and To Henry VII.
Now for Scartazzini’s opinion. He gives six reasons for the theory that the date was prior to the exile in 1302. (1) As in the Vita Nuova, some scholars see in the De Monarchia no allusion to Dante’s banishment, in a failure to mention which it would differ from the Convito, the De Vulgari Eloquentia, and the Comedy. (2) The opening paragraph is too modest for Dante, unless at the beginning of his literary career. (3) The reference made in the first canto of the Inferno to Dante’s beautiful style must have been to the De Monarchia. (4) If written subsequent to 1302, the treatise would certainly contain an allusion to the Unam Sanctam of that year. (5) The discussion of nobility differs from that of the Convito, while the view in the Convito accords with that expressed in the Paradiso. (6) Were it not true that Dante’s work was written before or very early in the fourteenth century, his assertion would be false that the subject of Monarchy had been treated by no one hitherto.
Scartazzini answers each of these objections:—
(1) In De Monarchia 3. 3. 12, Dante says of those who “boast themselves white sheep of the Master’s flock,” that “in order to carry out their crimes, these sons of iniquity defile their mother, banish their brethren, and scorn judgments brought against them.” We can find no excuse for the bitterness of this statement unless the writing was after his exile, prompted by the sting of present pain.
(2) To boast of one’s experience in public affairs, to undertake to enrich posterity from one’s store of wisdom, as Dante does in the first paragraph to the De Monarchia, Scartazzini thinks can scarcely be called overwhelming modesty. Besides, the Convito and the De Vulgari Eloquentia were not brought to their present state of completion until the coming of Henry VII in 1311, and Dante’s literary achievement would not be large until such time as these writings were known. This would allow the De Monarchia a date as late as this in which to have made its appearance, and yet precede them. But is it probable that both these works would fail to mention the De Monarchia, had it been completed prior to them? Besides, we must not forget that the author’s change from Guelfism to Ghibellinism took place before this writing, as is evident from the first chapter of the second book. And though it is impossible to assert at what time such a change took place, it could not have been in the author’s early years.
(3) The allusion to Dante’s beautiful style in the first canto of the Inferno, and to the fame it had brought him, is doubtless not to the De Monarchia, but to the early and beautiful lyrics.
(4) The whole argument of the third book is virtually a reply to the Unam Sanctam, though that bull is not and could not well have been mentioned by name.
(5) As for the alleged contradiction in the treatment of the nature of nobility, it is evident that the writer’s purpose was not the same in both contexts. In the De Monarchia he is speaking of nobility that gives the possessor power, which is surely a hereditary nobility. In the Convito he speaks of nobility of soul, which cannot be hereditary.
(6) Dante’s declaration that no one else had treated of the subject of temporal Monarchy simply means that no one whose work was worthy his consideration had done so.
Scartazzini treats, secondly, of the theory that the De Monarchia was written between 1318 and 1321, passing rapidly over the facts advanced in its support. Of first importance are the words found in so many of the manuscripts, in the discussion of free will, “Sicut in Paradiso Comediae iam dixi.” Were these words genuine, and not spurious as the best students of the texts affirm, we could be certain that the fifth canto of the Paradiso was composed before this prose work. The interesting fact that Dante’s theory of the markings on the moon agrees with that of the Paradiso, and not with that of the Convito, is no indication that the later opinion was arrived at in the very last years of the author’s life, but merely that it was later than that of the Convito. The last reason in favor of a very late composition is the similarity in diction and phrase with Can Grande’s letter and various parts of the Paradiso. The similarity cannot be gainsaid, but even so the De Monarchia bears yet stronger likeness to the language of the letters To Henry VII, To the Florentines, and To the Princes and Peoples of Italy.
The third date suggested for the writing of the work under discussion is that of the coming of Henry VII to Italy as Emperor. And there is much in favor of this last belief. From the purely polemical nature of the De Monarchia it is apparent that it was brought into being by some urgent and present motive. But even as late as the Convito, Dante wrote hopelessly of the condition of the Empire and those “who sat in the saddle.” He calls Frederick of Swabia “the last Emperor of the Romans, last, I say, as regards this present time, although Rudolph and Adolphus and Albert were elected after his death and from among his descendants.”
There was one time in Dante’s life when a motive urgent and present existed, one time when he saw with perfect clearness that his dream of Universal Empire was about to be fulfilled, and in the intensity of his belief he spoke to the rulers of Italy words that glowed with ardor and intense faith: “Behold, now is the acceptable time in which the signs of consolation and peace arise, for a new day grows bright, revealing a dawn that lessens the gloom of long calamity. . . . Henceforth let thy heart be joyful, O Italy! who deserveth to be pitied even by the Saracens, but who straightway shalt be looked on with envy throughout the world, because thy bridegroom, the solace of the earth, and the glory of thy people, the most clement Henry, Divine, Augustus, and Caesar, hastens to the nuptials.” And this man whose way Dante, like another John the Baptist, prepared in Italy; whose feet he ran to kiss as a most humble subject; whose actions he forbore not to rebuke or praise in words a father might have used, was Henry of Luxemburg, elected after the death of Albert to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire.
As we have said, the three letters written by Dante concerning this occasion are in their reasoning and phraseology remarkably like the De Monarchia. Especially is that To the Princes and Peoples of Italy like the second division of our treatise. Space cannot be given here for quoting such parallel passages, but they are indicated in due place in the notes to the translation.
We may add to this evidence drawn from immediate purpose and similarity of language Boccaccio’s assertion to the effect that Henry’s election inspired Dante to attempt to bring from its hiding-place the knowledge of temporal Monarchy, in order “to keep watch for the good of the world.” In summing up the testimony for the probable date of the De Monarchia, we would say that the reasons for ascribing it to a time previous to 1302 are about as slight as those that place it at the end of the poet’s life. Because it is so distinctly a work of occasion, because Boccaccio has pointed out that occasion, and no internal evidence can be found to disprove his statement, and, finally, because it is so akin to the letters of the occasion named, we ascribe it to those years when Henry’s accession to the Imperial throne promised to bring mankind to the calm and tranquillity of universal peace.
And may we strengthen this conclusion by the witnessing of Dante’s epitaph, which, though of minor import, should not be omitted? This epitaph was long thought to be of Dante’s composition, but now is believed to have been the work of Bernardo Canaccio about 1353, and is interesting at this juncture merely for the fact that as first in the list of the poet’s achievements is named “the rights of Monarchy.”
Does it seem probable that if the De Monarchia were one of the first of Dante’s productions, ranking with the Vita Nuova in its youthfulness, it would have been coupled over his grave with his supreme achievement?
When we realize that the bud of Dante’s hope was blighted, that his brave efforts depicted in the De Monarchia and the letters of the same period were utterly vain, we feel that a sorrow not to be borne had come to him who had known for so many years “how tastes of salt another’s bread, and how it is a hard path to go down and up over another’s stairs;” we feel that a final failure had crowned him whose life was outwardly all defeat, and inwardly all victory. Except in earnestness of purpose and courageousness of spirit, Henry in no particular fulfilled the prophecies of Dante. “Tumults and revolts broke out in Lombardy; at Rome the King of Naples held St. Peter’s, and the coronation must take place in St. John Lateran, on the southern bank of the Tiber. The hostility of the Guelfic league, headed by the Florentines, Guelfs even against the Pope, obliged Henry to depart from his impartial and republican policy, and to purchase the aid of the Ghibelline chiefs by granting them the government of cities. With few troops and encompassed by enemies, the heroic Emperor sustained an unequal struggle for a year longer, till in ad 1313, he sank beneath the fevers of the deadly Tuscan summer. His German followers believed, nor has history wholly rejected the tale, that poison was given him by a Dominican monk in sacramental wine. With Henry the Seventh ends the history of the Empire in Italy, and Dante’s book is an epitaph instead of a prophecy.”
Yet when it was all over, with what splendid courage and unfaltering devotion Dante eulogizes the man in whom had died all promised political unity, and the hope of peace for blood-soaked Italy! The praise of the Emperor who had failed is spoken by Beatrice in the Empyrean heaven, where she and Dante, rising into the yellow of the everlasting rose, behold the host of those who sit in glory: “Look how great is the assembly of the white garments. Behold our city, how great is its circuit; behold there our stalls so full, that few folk hereafter are awaited. In that great seat on which thou hast thine eyes, by reason of the crown which already is placed over it, ere thou shalt sup at this wedding-feast, will sit the soul, which on earth shall be Imperial, of the high Henry who will come to set Italy straight before that she shall be ready.” Dante believed with a more modern poet that, after all, “’t is not what man does which exalts him, but what man would do.”
We conclude this inadequate consideration of the De Monarchia, its significance, content, history, and probable date of composition, by saying that if on perusal the subject of the De Monarchia seem antiquated and of small import, if many arguments adduced are based on unhistoric assumptions, if the style is marred by logical devices and bare syllogisms, nevertheless it will be found to contain ideals of life more perfect than man yet boasts of attaining except in dreams. Never has ideal civil polity been imaged forth in more simplicity and beauty, and never perhaps has one been more utterly impracticable. Yet in some of its principles, in the necessary disinterestedness of the supreme ruler in political matters, in the mutual independence of Church and State, in its strong advocacy of peace, it has rightly been compared to the United States under its President, and to the Netherlands under a supreme Stadtholder. To quote Mr. Dinsmore: “His essential aspiration is that of many minds to-day, and we are beginning to see its realization. The code of international law is a source of universal order; the recent Peace Congress at the Hague, in establishing an international tribunal, took a long step toward extending the area of peace for which the soul of Dante longed; in America the Church is separated from the State, a precedent which is exerting a wide influence in Europe.”
Besides, the De Monarchia is an indispensable part of the work of a man whose whole life was devoted to one end, and whose work was a unified expression of his great, unified life. It is a manifestation of that gift in Dante which Mr. Bryce so praised in Hildebrand; that gift whose manifestations the world cannot afford to lose, wherever they come into being; “that rarest and grandest of gifts, an intellectual courage and power of imagination in belief, which, when it has convinced itself of aught, accepts it fully with all its consequences.”
Without the De Monarchia the threefold message of Dante would be incomplete; without the De Monarchia it would be far less true that for us as well as for Italy Dante is the thirteenth century.
Allen, Fragments of Latin Christianity: “The fond dream of universal sovereignty, its allied ideal Empire and Church, had its completed expression and defense in Dante’s treatise on the Divine Right of Monarchy.”
Bryce, Holy Roman Empire, chap. 15: “The career of Henry the Seventh in Italy is the most remarkable illustration of the Emperor’s position: and imperialist doctrines are set forth most strikingly in the treatise which the greatest spirit of the age wrote to herald or commemorate the advent of that hero, the De Monarchia of Dante.”
Church, Dante, p. 94: “The idea of the De Monarchia . . . holds a place in the great scheme of the Commedia; it is prominent there also—an idea seen but in fantastic shape, encumbered and confused with most grotesque imagery, but the real idea of polity and law, which the experience of modern Europe has attained to.”
Hallam, Middle Ages, chap. 8, part 2: “Some who were actively engaged in these transactions took more extensive views, and assailed the whole edifice of temporal power which the Roman see had been constructing for more than two centuries. Several men of learning, among whom Dante, Ockham, and Marsilius of Padua are the most conspicuous, investigated the foundations of this superstructure, and exposed their insufficiency.”
Milman, Latin Christianity, bk. 12, chap. 4: “The ideal sovereign of Dante’s famous treatise on Monarchy was Henry of Luxemburg. Neither Dante nor his time can be understood but through this treatise.”
Lowell, Dante, Riverside Edition, Vol. 4. p. 151: “It is to be looked on as a purely scholastic demonstration of a speculative thesis, in which the manifold exceptions and modifications essential in practical application are necessarily left aside.”
1.All men on whom the Higher Nature 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,” 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, I desire for the public weal, not only to burgeon, but to bear fruit, 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. 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.”
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. 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. 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. 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, 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, 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.
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. 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 make 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. 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. 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; nor existence in combination, for that is met with in minerals; nor existence animate, for that is found in plants; nor existence intelligent, for that is participated in by the brutes; but the characteristic competent to man alone, and to none other above or below him, is existence intelligent through the possible intellect. 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; 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 Averroës accords in his commentary on the treatise concerning the Soul. 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, because they are all handmaids of speculation, that supreme end for which the Primal Good brought into being the human race. From this now grows clear the saying in the Politics that “the vigorous in intellect naturally govern other men.”
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 seated in quiet grows perfect in knowledge and wisdom, 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.” 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.” Likewise, “Peace be unto you” 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.
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.
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. This, indeed, not only because of the author’s glorious name, but because of inductive reasoning, demands credence.
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.” 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.” 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 directed 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.” If, then, this is true of these instances, and of all things ordained for a single end, 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.
1. As the part is related to the whole, 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. 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.
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, 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.
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. For this reason it was said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” 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. 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.”
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.
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. As “Man and the sun generate man,” 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 philosophy that the entire heaven in all its parts, its movements, and its motors, is controlled by a single motion, the primum mobile, 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!”
1. Wherever strife is a possibility, in that place must be judgment; otherwise imperfection would exist without its perfecting agent. This could not be, for God and Nature are not wanting in necessary things. 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.”
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.” 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. Certain forms of this kind, though present in compounds, consist in themselves of simple and invariable essence, as the Master of the Six Principles rightly claims; yet such qualities admit the comparison of more or less in degree as regards the subjects 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.” Then, indeed, she is like to Phœbe beholding her brother across the circle of the heavens, from the purple of morn’s serene.
3. Man’s disposition to Justice may meet opposition in the will; 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? 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 figure 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 statement 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. 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. 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, 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, 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.
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. 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. 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.
9. Who doubts now that a Monarch is most powerfully equipped for the exercise of Justice? None save he who understands not the significance of the word, for a Monarch can have no enemies.
10. The assumed proposition being therefore sufficiently explained, the conclusion is certain that Monarchy is indispensable for the best ordering of the world.
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. 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. 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. 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, and disembodied souls 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. 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. 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 policies be straightened, namely democracies, oligarchies, and tyrannies which force mankind into slavery, as he sees who goes among them, and under which kings, aristocrats called the best men, and zealots of popular liberty play at politics. 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.” 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. 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. 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.
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; 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. 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;” 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. Hence the Philosopher to Nicomachus: “In matters of passion and action, words are less trustworthy than deeds.” And hence the message from heaven to the sinner David: “What hast thou to do to declare my statutes?” 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 Galen 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, 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.”
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.
1. When it is possible to do a thing through one agent, it is better done through one than through more. 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, 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 equity 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, living beyond the seventh clime, suffering great inequality of days and nights, and oppressed by a degree of cold almost intolerable, need laws other than the Garamantes, 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.
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.
1. Likewise I affirm that being and unity and goodness exist seriatim according to the fifth mode of priority. 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. From this it would seem that unity is the root of goodness, and multiplicity is the root of evil. Wherefore Pythagoras in his Correlations placed unity on the side of good and multiplicity on the side of evil, as appears in the first book on simple Being. 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.”
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. 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.
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, 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. Nor is this directing will a possibility unless there is one common Prince whose will may dominate and guide the wills of all others. 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.
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. For if from the fall of our first parents, at which point of departure began all our error, 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. 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 Christ felt it meet to confirm, and last of all Paul, who called that most happy condition “the fulness of the time.” 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 robe 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, so long as thou, like a beast of many heads, strivest after diverse ends! Thou art sick in either intellect, 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!”
1. “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their yoke from us.’ ”
2. We are wont to marvel at any strange effect when we have never beheld the face of its cause, and, when we have learned to know the cause, to look down with a sort of derision on those still lost in astonishment. I, in truth, at one time marveled that without resistance the Roman people had become sovereign throughout the earth; for, looking merely superficially at the matter, I believe they had obtained sovereignty not by right, but by force of arms alone. However, after the eyes of my mind had pierced to the marrow thereof, and I had come to understand by most convincing tokens that Divine Providence had effected this thing, my wonder vanished, and in its place rises a certain derisive contempt when I hear the heathen raging against the preëminence of the Roman race; when I see people, as I was wont, imagining a vain thing; when, more than all, I find to my grief kings and princes concordant only in the error of taking counsel together against their Lord and His one Roman Prince. Wherefore, on behalf of this glorious people and of Caesar I exclaim, in derision that is also sorrow, with him who cried aloud on behalf of the Prince of heaven, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed.”
3. Yet lasting derision is not compatible with natural love, but as the summer sun, rising splendid above the scattered mists of morning, sheds abroad its beams, so love, dispelling its derision, would send forth an amending light. To break asunder, then, the bonds of ignorance for those kings and princes, to prove the human race free from their yoke, I will exhort myself, as did that most holy prophet whom I follow, with the words that come in order after, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
4. These two things will be done well enough if I proceed with the second part of my main proposition, and reveal the truth of the question now pending. For when it is proved that the Roman Empire existed by right, not only will the clouds of ignorance be cleared from the eyes of kings and princes who usurp to themselves public guidance, falsely believing that the Roman people had done so, but all mortals will know that they are free from the yoke of usurpers. Nor will the truth be revealed in the light of human reason alone, but also in the radiance of divine authority. And when these two unite together, heaven and earth must together give approval. Resting, therefore, in that trust of which I have previously spoken, and supported by the testimony of reason and authority, I enter upon the solution of the second question.
1. Now that the truth of the first question has been investigated as adequately as the subject-matter permitted, the second question urges us to investigate its truth as to whether the Roman people appropriated the dignity of empire by Right. The starting-point of this investigation is that verity to which the arguments of the present inquiry may be referred as to their own first principle.
2. It must be understood, therefore, that as art exists in a threefold degree, in the mind of the artist, in the instrument, and in the matter informed by the art, so may Nature be looked upon as threefold. For Nature exists in the mind of the Primal Motor, who is God, and then in heaven, as in the instrument through whose mediation the likeness of eternal goodness is unfolded on fluid matter. When the artist is perfect, and his instrument without fault, any flaw that may appear in the form of the art can then be imputed to the matter only. Thus, since God is ultimate perfection, and since heaven, his instrument, suffers no defect in its required perfectness (as a philosophic study of heaven makes clear), it is evident that whatever flaw mars lesser things is a flaw in the subjected material, and outside the intention of God working through Nature, and of heaven; and that whatever good is in lesser things cannot come from the material itself, which exists only potentially, but must come first from the artist, God, and secondly from the instrument of divine art, heaven, which men generally call Nature.
3. From these things it is plain that inasmuch as Right is good, it dwells primarily in the mind of God; and as according to the words, “What was made was in Him life,” everything in the mind of God is God, and as God especially wills what is characteristic of Himself, it follows that God wills Right according as it is in Him. And since with God the will and the thing willed are the same, it follows further that the divine will is Right itself. And the further consequence of this is, that Right is nothing other than likeness to the divine will. Hence whatever is not consonant with divine will is not right, and whatever is consonant with divine will is right. So to ask whether something is done with Right, although the words differ, is the same as to ask whether it is done according to the will of God. Let this therefore base our argument, that whatever God wills in human society must be accepted as right, true, and pure.
4. Moreover, that should be remembered which the Philosopher teaches in the first book to Nicomachus, “Like certainty is not to be sought in every matter, but according as the nature of the subject admits it.” Wherefore our arguments will advance adequately under the principle established, if we investigate the Right of this great people through visible signs and the authority of the wise. The will of God is in itself an invisible attribute, but by means of things which are made the invisible attributes of God become perceptible to the intellect. For, though a seal be hidden, the wax impressed therewith bears manifest evidence of the unseen signet; nor is it remarkable that the divine will must be sought in signs, for the human will, except to him who wills, is discerned no way else than in signs.
1. I say with regard to this question, that the Roman people by Right and not by usurpation took to itself over all mortals the office of Monarchy, which men call the Empire. This may first be proved thus: It was meet that the noblest people should have precedence over all others; the Roman people was the noblest; therefore it was meet that it should have precedence over all others. The major premise is demonstrable, for, since honor is the reward of virtue, and all precedence is honor, all precedence is a reward of virtue. It is agreed that men are ennobled as virtues of their own or their ancestors make them worthy. Nobility is “virtue and ancient wealth,” according to the Philosopher in the Politics; but according to Juvenal, “Virtue is the one and only nobility of soul.” These two definitions grant two kinds of nobility, one’s own and that of one’s ancestors.
2. By reason of the cause inherent in nobility the reward of precedence is befitting the noble. And as rewards should be commensurate with merits, in consonance with that saying of the Gospel, “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again,” the foremost rank should be to the noblest. As for the minor premise, the testimony of the ancients is convincing, since Virgil, our divine Poet, throughout his Aeneid testifies in everlasting remembrance that the father of the Roman people was Aeneas, the famous king; and Titus Livius, illustrious writer of Roman deeds, confirms this testimony in the first part of his volume which begins with the capture of Troy. So great was the nobleness of this man, our ancestor most invincible and most pious, nobleness not only of his own considerable virtue, but that of his progenitors and consorts, which was transferred to him by hereditary right, that I cannot unfold it in detail, “I can but trace the main outlines of truth.”
3. As to his personal nobility, hearken to our poet in the first book of the Aeneid, introducing Ilioneus with the plea, “Aeneas was our king, than whom none other was more just and pious, none other greater in war and arms.” Hearken to him again in the sixth, when, speaking of the dead Misenus, Hector’s attendant in war, who entered the service of Aeneas after Hector’s death, he says, Misenus “had followed no lesser fortunes.” This compares Aeneas with Hector, whom Homer honors above all men, as the Philosopher affirms in that part of the writings to Nicomachus on “types of conduct to be avoided.”
4. As to his hereditary nobility, it accrues to him from the three continents of the earth through his ancestors and his consorts.
5. Asia ennobled him through his most immediate ancestors, Assaracus and those who had ruled over Phrygia, a region of Asia, as our poet records in these lines of the third book: “After it had seemed good to the gods to overturn the might of Asia and the race of Priam unmeriting their fate.” Europe ennobled him through Dardanus, most ancient of his ancestors, and Africa through Electra, his most ancient ancestress, daughter of King Atlas of great renown. Concerning both of these facts our poet renders testimony in the eighth book, where Aeneas speaks thus to Evander: “Dardanus, the first founder of the city and father of Ilium, descended as the Greeks deem from Atlantian Electra, came among the Teucrians. Electra was sprung from Atlas the mighty, who sustains the heavenly orbs upon his shoulders.”
6. The bard sings in the third book of Dardanus taking his origin from Europe, saying, “There is a place the Greeks have named Hesperia, an ancient country powerful in arms and fertile in soil, where dwell the Oenotrians. Rumor has it that later generations called the country Italy from the name of their leader. Here is our fatherland; from hence came Dardanus.” That Atlas came from Africa, the mountain is witness which there bears his name. This mountain Orosius locates in Africa in his description of the world, where he says, “Now its uttermost bound is Mt. Atlas and the Islands which they call the Fortunate.” “Its” refers to Africa, of which he was speaking.
7. I find also that nobility accrued to Aeneas through marriage. His first wife Creusa, daughter of Priam, was from Asia, as may be gathered from the facts quoted above. And that she was his wife our poet implies in the third book, when Andromache thus questions Aeneas concerning his son Ascanius: “What of the boy Ascanius, he whom Creusa bore to thee while Troy was yet smoking? Lives he still? Breathes he the vital air?” His second wife was Dido, queen and mother of the Carthaginians in Africa, of whom as Aeneas’ wife the poet sings in the fourth book: “Nor longer Dido dreams of secret love; she calls it marriage, hiding her sin beneath a name.” His third wife was Lavinia, mother alike of Albanians and Romans, daughter and also heir of King Latinus, if the testimony of our Poet be true in the last book, where he introduces Turnus conquered, supplicating Aeneas with this prayer: “Thou hast triumphed; and the Ausonians have beheld me vanquished lifting up my hands. Lavinia shall be thy wife.” This last consort was of Italy, most excellent region of Europe.
8. With these facts pointed out in evidence of our minor premise, who is not sufficiently convinced that the father of the Roman race, and therefore the race itself, was the noblest under heaven? Or from whom will still be hidden divine predestination in the twofold meeting in one man of blood from every part of the world?
1. Furthermore, whatever is brought to its perfection by the help of miracles is willed of God, and therefore comes to pass by Right. The truth of this is patent from what Thomas says in his third book against the Heathen: “A miracle is that which is done through divine agency beyond the commonly instituted order of things.” Here he proves that the working of miracles is competent to God alone, and he is corroborated by the word of Moses, that when the magicians of Pharaoh artfully used natural principles to bring forth lice and failed, they cried, “This is the finger of God.” If a miracle, then, is the immediate operation of the First Agent without the coöperation of secondary agents, which Thomas himself proves clearly enough in the book just cited, then when portents are sent in favor of anything, it is wicked to deny that that thing comes to pass foreseen of God and well pleasing to Him. Hence piety accepts the contradictory, that the Roman Empire gained its perfection with the approval of miracles, that it was therefore willed of God, and consequently that it was and is by Right.
2. And it is established through the testimony of illustrious authors that God revealed His will in miracles in order that the Roman Empire might be brought to completion. For Livy states in the first part of his work that when Numa Pompilius, second king of the Romans, was sacrificing according to the religious rite of the Gentiles, a shield fell from heaven into the chosen city of God. Lucan recalls this miracle in the ninth book of the Pharsalia in describing the incredible violence which Libya suffers from the south wind, where he says, “It was thus, surely, that to Numa as he sacrificed dropped the shield which the chosen youth of the patricians bears upon his neck in solemn march; south wind or north wind had robbed the peoples wearing our shields.”
3. And when the Gauls, having taken the rest of the city, trusted in the darkness of night to move stealthily to the Capitol, which alone stood between them and utter annihilation of the Roman name, Livy and many other distinguished chroniclers agree that the guards were awakened to defend the Capitol from the approach of the Gauls by the warning cry of a goose, unseen there previously. This was remembered by Virgil when he described the shield of Aeneas in the eighth book: “On the summit of the Tarpeian citadel, before the temple, Manlius stood guard and held the heights of the Capitol, while the newly builded palace of Romulus was rough with thatch. And here a silver goose flying through golden portals sang the presence of the Gauls on the very threshold.”
4. Also Livy tells among the gests of the Punic Wars that, when the nobility of Rome, overwhelmed by Hannibal, had sunk to such depths that nothing remained for the final destruction of the Roman power but the sacking of the city by the Carthaginians, a sudden and intolerable storm of hail made it impossible for the victors to follow up their triumph.
5. Was not the flight of Cloelia a miracle? A woman, and captive during the siege of Porsenna, by the wonderful aid of God she rent her fetters asunder and swam the Tiber, as almost all historians of Rome’s affairs remember to that city’s glory. Truly it behooved Him so to do, who through eternity foresees all things in the beauty of order. Invisible He wrought wonders in behalf of things seen, in order that when He should be made visible He might do likewise in behalf of things unseen.
1. Whoever contemplates the good of the state contemplates the end of Right, as may be explained thus. Right is a real and personal relation of man to man, which maintained preserves society, and infringed upon destroys it. That account in the Digests does not teach what the essence of Right is; it simply describes Right in terms of practice. If our definition truly comprehends what Right is and wherefore, and if the end of all society is the common good of the individuals associated, then the end of all Right must be the common good, and no Right is possible which does not contemplate the common good. Tully justly notes in the first book of the Rhetoric that “The laws should always be interpreted for the good of the state.” For if the laws are not directed for the benefit of those under the laws, they are laws merely in name, they cannot be laws in reality. Law ought to bind men together for general advantage. Wherefore Seneca says truly in his book on the Four Virtues, “Law is the bond of human society.” So it is clear that whoever contemplates the good of the state contemplates the end of Right. If, therefore, the Romans had in view the good of the state, the assertion is true that they had in view the end of Right.
2. That in subduing the world the Roman people had in view the aforesaid good, their deeds declare. We behold them as a nation holy, pious, and full of glory, putting aside all avarice, which is ever adverse to the general welfare, cherishing universal peace and liberty, and disregarding private profit to guard the public weal of humanity. Rightly was it written, then, that “The Roman Empire takes its rise in the fountain of pity.”
3. But inasmuch as external signs alone manifest to others the intention of all agents of free choice, and inasmuch as statements must be investigated according to the subject-matter, as we have said before, we shall have evidence enough on the present point if we bring forth indubitable proofs of the intention of the Roman people both in corporate assemblies and in individual persons.
4. Concerning corporate assemblies, in which individuals seem in a measure bound to the state, the solitary authority of Cicero in the second book of Moral Duties is sufficient. “So long,” he says, “as the dominion of the Republic was upheld by benefits, not by injuries, war was waged in behalf either of allies or dominion, for a conclusion either beneficent or necessary. The Senate was a harbor of refuge for kings, peoples, and nations. Our magistrates and generals strove for praise in defending with equity and fidelity the provinces and the allies; so this government might rather have been called a defense than a dominion of the whole world.” So wrote Cicero.
5. Of individual persons I shall speak briefly. Can we say they were not intent on the common weal who in sweat, in poverty, in exile, in deprivation of children, in loss of limbs, and even in the sacrifice of their lives, strove to augment the public good?
6. Did not the renowned Cincinnatus leave to us a sacred example, when he freely chose the time to lay aside that dignity which, as Livy says, took him from the plough to make him dictator? After his victory, after his triumph, he gave back to the consuls the imperial sceptre, and voluntarily returned to toil at the plough handle behind his oxen. Cicero, disputing with Epicurus in his volume of the Chief Good, remembered and lauded this excellent action, saying, “And thus our ancestors took great Cincinnatus from the plough that he might become dictator.”
7. Did not Fabricius give us a lofty example of withstanding avarice, when, in the fidelity which held him to the Republic, though living in poverty he scorned with fitting words the great mass of proffered gold, repudiated, and refused it? Our poet has made the memory of this deed sure by singing in the sixth book of “Fabricius powerful in penury.”
8. Was not the example of Camillus memorable, valuing as he did laws above individual profit? According to Livy, while condemned to exile he liberated his harassed fatherland, restored to Rome what the Romans had been despoiled of in war, and left the sacred city, though called back by the whole people; nor did he return thither until, by the authority of the senate, was sent to him his permit of repatriation. And the poet commends this large-souled man in the sixth book, where he calls him “Camillus, the restorer of our ensigns.”
9. And did not Brutus first teach that the love of sons and of all others should be subordinated to the love of national liberty? When he was consul, Livy says, he delivered up to death his own sons for conspiring with the enemy. In the sixth book our Poet revives the glory of this hero: “In behalf of beauteous liberty shall the father doom to death his own sons instigating new wars.”
10. Has not Mucius persuaded us that all things should be ventured for one’s country? He surprised the incautious Porsenna, but at the last his own hand, which had failed of its task, he watched as it burned, with a countenance one might wear who gazed upon an enemy in torture. To this Livy also bears testimony, marveling.
11. Now we name those most sacred martyrs of the Decii, who dedicated their lives an offering for the public good, as Livy recounts, extolling them to the extent not of their worth but of his power. And next that ineffable sacrifice of Marcus Cato, the most austere defender of true liberty. Because of their country’s safety the darkness of death had no terror for the former two. The latter proved what liberty meant to him, when, in order that the love of freedom might blaze up in the world, he chose rather to depart from this life a free man than without freedom to abide therein. The lustre of all these names shines renewed in the words of Cicero in his writings of the chief Good. Here Tully says of the Decii: “When Publius Decius, chief of his house, a consul, devoted himself to liberty and charged at full speed into the Roman ranks, thought he at all of his own pleasure, when he should take it, and where? Or when, knowing he must die forthwith, he sought his death more ardently than Epicurus believed men should seek pleasure? Had his action not been justly lauded, his son would not in his fourth consulship have followed his example; nor afterwards his son’s son waging war against Pyrrhus have fallen in that battle, a consul, offering himself to the Republic the third sacrifice in uninterrupted succession.” And in the Moral Duties he said of Cato: “The cause of Marcus Cato was one with those who in Africa surrendered themselves to Caesar; and perchance with them it had been judged a crime had they taken their own lives, seeing that life was a lighter thing to them, and rules of conduct easier. But Cato, who had been endowed by nature with incredible seriousness, who strengthened this with unremitting constancy, and who persevered to the end in any resolution made or purpose undertaken, such a one must rather meet death than look upon the face of a tyrant.”
1. We have then demonstrated two things: one, that whoever purposes the good of the commonwealth purposes the end of Right; the other, that the Roman people in subduing the world purposed the public good. We may now further our argument in this wise: Whoever has in view the end of Right proceeds according to Right; the Roman people in subjecting the world to itself had in view the end of Right, as we plainly proved in the chapter above; therefore the Roman people in subjecting the world to itself acted with Right, and consequently appropriated with Right the dignity of Empire.
2. That this conclusion may be reached by all manifest premises, it must be reached by the one that affirms that whoever purposes the end of Right proceeds according to Right. For clearness in this matter, notice that everything exists because of some end, otherwise it would be useless, which we have said before is not possible. And just as every object exists for its proper end, so every end has its proper object whereof it is the end. Hence it cannot be that any two objects, in as far as they are two, each expressing its individuality, should have in view the same end, for the same untenable conclusion would follow that one or the other exists in vain. Since, as we have proved, there is a certain end of Right, to postulate that end is to postulate the Right, seeing it is the proper and intrinsic effect of Right. And since, as is clear by construction and destruction, in any sequence an antecedent is impossible without its consequent (as “man” without “animal”), so it is impossible to attain a good condition of one’s members without health; and so it is impossible to seek the end of Right without Right as a means, for each thing has toward its end the relation of consequent to antecedent. Wherefore it is very obvious that he who has in view the end of Right must proceed by the right means. Nor is that objection valid which is generally drawn from the Philosopher’s words concerning “good counsel.” He says indeed, “There is a kind of false syllogism in which a true conclusion may be drawn by means of a false middle.” Now if a true conclusion is sometimes reached through false premises, it is by accident, because the true conclusion is conveyed in the words of the inference. Of itself the true never follows from the false, though symbols of truth may follow from symbols of falsehood. And so it is in actions. Should a thief aid a poor man with stolen goods, he yet could not be said to be giving alms; rather is his action one which would have the form of alms had it been performed with the man’s own substance. Likewise with the end of Right. For if anything calling itself the end of Right be reached other than by means of Right, it would be the end of Right, that is, the common good, only as the offering made from ill-gotten gains is an alms. Since in this proposition we are considering the existent, not the apparent ends of Right, the objection is invalid. The point we are seeking is therefore established.
1. What nature has ordained comes to pass by Right, for nature in her providence is not inferior to man in his; if she were, the effect would exceed the cause in goodness, which cannot be. Now we know that in instituting corporate assemblies, not only is the relation of members among themselves taken into account, but also their capacities for exercising office. This is a consideration of the limit of Right in a public body or order, seeing that Right does not extend beyond the possible. Nature, then, in her ordinances does not fail of this provision, but clearly ordains things with reference to their capacities, and this reference is the foundation of Right on which things are based by nature. From this it follows that natural order in things cannot come to pass without Right, since the foundation of Right is inseparably bound to the foundation of order. The preservation of this order is therefore necessarily Right.
2. The Roman people were by nature ordained for Empire, as may be proved in this wise. Just as he would fail of perfection in his art who, intent upon the form alone, had no care for the means by which to attain to form; so would nature if, intent upon the single universal form of the Divine similitude, she were to neglect the means thereto. But nature, being the work of the Divine Intelligence, lacks no element of perfection; therefore she has in view all media to the ultimate realization of her intent.
3. As the human race, then, has an end, and this end is a means necessary to the universal end of nature, it follows that nature must have the means in view. Wherefore the Philosopher well demonstrates in the second book of Natural Learning that the action of nature is governed by its end. And as nature cannot attain through one man an end necessitating a multiplicity of actions and a multitude of men in action, nature must produce many men ordained for diverse activities. To this, beside the higher influence, the virtues and properties of the lower sphere contribute much. Hence we find individual men and whole nations born apt for government, and others for subjection and service, according to the statement of the Philosopher in his writings concerning Politics; as he says, it is not only expedient that the latter should be governed, but it is just, although they be coerced thereto.
4. If these things are true, there is no doubt but that nature set apart in the world a place and a people for universal sovereignty; otherwise she would be deficient in herself, which is impossible. What was this place, and who this people, moreover, is sufficiently obvious in what has been said above, and in what shall be added further on. They were Rome and her citizens or people. On this subject our Poet has touched very subtly in his sixth book, where he brings forward Anchises prophesying in these words to Aeneas, father of the Romans: “Verily, that others shall beat out the breathing bronze more finely, I grant you; they shall carve the living feature in the marble, plead causes with more eloquence, and trace the movements of the heavens with a rod, and name the rising stars: thine, O Roman, be the care to rule the peoples with authority; be thy arts these, to teach men the way of peace, to show mercy to the subject, and to overcome the proud.” And the disposition of place he touches upon lightly in the fourth book, when he introduces Jupiter speaking of Aeneas to Mercury in this fashion: “Not such a one did his most beautiful mother promise to us, nor for this twice rescue him from Grecian arms; rather was he to be the man to govern Italy teeming with empire and tumultuous with war.” Proof enough has been given that the Romans were by nature ordained for sovereignty. Therefore the Roman people, in subjecting to itself the world, attained the Empire by Right.
1. For hunting down adequately the truth of our inquiry, it is essential to know that Divine judgment in human affairs is sometimes manifest to men, and sometimes hidden. And it may be manifested in two ways, namely, by reason and by faith. To certain of the judgments of God human reason can climb on its own feet, as to this one, that a man should endanger himself for his country’s safety. For if a part should endanger itself for the safety of the whole, man, being a part of the state according to the Philosopher in his Politics, ought to endanger himself for the sake of his fatherland, as a less good for a better. Hence the Philosopher to Nicomachus: “To act in behalf of one alone is admirable; but it is better and more nearly divine to act in behalf of nation and state.” And this is the judgment of God; in any other case human reason in its rectitude would not follow the intention of nature, which is impossible.
2. But to certain of the judgments of God, to which human reason cannot climb on its own feet, it may be lifted by the aid of faith in those things which are related to us in the Holy Scriptures. Such is this one, that no man without faith can be saved, though he had never heard of Christ, and yet was perfect in moral and intellectual virtues, both in thought and act. While human reason by itself cannot recognize this as just, aided by faith it can do so. It is written to the Hebrews: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” And in Leviticus: “What man soever there be of the house of Israel that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat in the camp, or out of the camp, and bringeth it not to the door of the tabernacle, an offering unto the Lord, blood shall be imputed to that man.” The door of the tabernacle is a figure for Christ, who is the entrance-way to the eternal mansions, as can be learned from the Gospel; the slaying of animals is a figure for human deeds.
3. Now that judgment of God is hidden to which human reason cannot attain either by laws of nature or scripture, but to which it may sometimes attain by special grace. This grace is gained in various ways, at times by simple revelation, at times by revelation through the medium of judicial award. Simple revelation comes to pass in two ways, either as the spontaneous act of God, or as an answer to prayer. The spontaneous act of God may be expressed directly or by a sign. It was expressed directly, for instance, in the judgment against Saul revealed to Samuel; it was expressed by signs in the revelation to Pharaoh of God’s will concerning the liberation of the children of Israel. It came as an answer to prayer, as he knew who said in Second Chronicles: “When we know not what we ought to do, this alone we have left, to raise our eyes to thee.”
4. Revelation through the medium of judicial award may be first by lot, and secondly by contest (certamen). Indeed, “to contend” (certare) is derived from “to make certain” (certum facere). That the judgment of God is revealed sometimes by lot is obvious from the substitution of Matthias in the Acts of the Apostles.
5. And the judgment of God is made known by contests of two sorts—either the trial of strength between champions in duels, or the struggle of many to come first to a mark, as in contests run by athletes for a prize. The first of these modes was represented among the Gentiles in the strife of Hercules and Antaeus, which Lucan recalls in the fourth book of the Pharsalia, and Ovid in the ninth of the Metamorphoses. The second was represented among them by Atalanta and Hippomenes, in the tenth book of the Metamorphoses.
6. Likewise, the fact must not be disregarded that in the former of these two sorts of contests the combatants—for instance, champions in a duel—may impede each other without injustice, but in the latter they may not. Indeed, athletes must put no impediment in one another’s way, although our poet seems to think otherwise in his fifth book, when he causes Euryalus to be rewarded. Tully, following the opinion of Chrysippus, does better to forbid this in the third book of Moral Duties, where he says: “Chrysippus, wise in this as in most matters, declares that ‘Whoever runs a race should endeavor with most strenuous effort to come off victor, but in no way should he trip up the one with whom he contends.’ ”
7. From the distinction drawn in this chapter we may grant two effective modes by which the hidden decree of God is revealed: one, a contest of athletes; the other, a contest of champions. Both of these modes I will discuss in the chapter immediately following.
1. That people, then, which was victorious over all the contestants for Empire gained its victory by the decree of God. For as it is of deeper concern to God to adjust a universal contention than a particular one, and as even in particular contentions the decree of God is sought by the contestants, according to the familiar proverb, “To him whom God grants aught, let Peter give his blessing,” therefore undoubtedly among the contestants for the Empire of the world, victory ensued from a decree of God. That among the rivals for world-Empire the Roman people came off victor will be clear if we consider the contestants and the prize or goal toward which they strove. This prize or goal was sovereign power over all mortals, or what we mean by Empire. This was attained by none save by the Roman people, not only the first but the sole contestant to reach the goal contended for, as will be at once explained.
2. The first man to pant after the prize was Ninus, king of the Assyrians, who, as Orosius records, together with his consort Semiramis, through more than ninety years gave battle for world-supremacy, and subdued all Asia to himself; nevertheless, the western portion of the earth never became subject to him or his queen. Both of these Ovid commemorates in his fourth book in the story of Pyramus: “Semiramis girded the city with walls of burnt brick;” and below: “They are to meet at the tomb of Ninus, and hide beneath its shadow.”
3. Vesoges, king of Egypt, was the second to strain after this prize, but though he harassed the South and North of Asia, as Orosius narrates, he never achieved the first part of the world. Nay, between umpires and goal, as it were, he was turned back from his rash undertaking by the Scythians.
4. Next Cyrus, king of the Persians, undertook the same thing, but after destroying Babylon and transferring Babylonian sovereignty to the Persians, before he had tested his strength in western regions, he laid down his life and ambition at once before Tomyris, queen of the Scythians.
5. Then after these Xerxes, son of Darius and king among the Persians, invaded the world with so vast and mighty a multitude of nations that he spanned with a bridge between Sestos and Abydos that passage of the sea separating Asia from Europe. This astonishing work Lucan extols thus in the second book of the Pharsalia: “Such roads, fame signs, did haughty Xerxes build across the seas.” But at last miserably repulsed from his enterprise, he failed to reach his goal.
6. Beside these and in later times, Alexander, the Macedonian king, came nearest of all to the palm of Monarchy, through ambassadors forewarning the Romans to surrender. But, as Livy recounts, before their answer came, he fell as in the midst of a course in Egypt. Of his tomb there Lucan renders testimony in the eighth book, in an invective against Ptolemy, king of Egypt: “Thou last offspring of the Lagaean line, swiftly to perish in thy degeneracy and yield the sceptre to thy incestuous sister, while for thee the Macedonian is guarded in the sacred cave.”
7. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God,” who will not pause in amazement before thee? For thou, when Alexander strove to entangle the feet of his Roman rival in the course, didst snatch him from the contest, lest his rashness wax more great.
8. But that Rome gained the palm of so magnificent a prize is confirmed by many witnessings. Our Poet says in his first book: “Verily, with the passing of the years shall one day come from hence the Romans, rulers sprung of the blood of Teucer called again to life, who shall hold the sea and land in undivided sovereignty.” And Lucan in his first book: “The kingdom is apportioned by the sword, and the fortune of the mighty nation that is master over sea, over land, and over all the globe, suffers not two in command.” And Boethius in his second book speaks thus of the Prince of the Romans: “Nay, he was ruler of the peoples whom the sun looks on from the time he rises in the east until he hides his rays beneath the waves, and those whom the chilling northern wain o’errules, and those whom the southern gale burns with its dry blasts, as it beats the burning sands.” And Luke, the scribe of Christ, who speaketh all things true, offers the same testimony in the part of his writtings which says, “There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.” From these words we can clearly see that the jurisdiction of the Romans embraced the whole world.
9. It is proved by all these facts that the Romans were victorious among the contestants for world-Empire; therefore they were victorious by divine decree; and consequently they gained the Empire by divine decree, that is, they gained it with Right.
1. Whatever is acquired by single combat is acquired with Right. For when human judgment fails, either because it is wrapped in the darkness of ignorance or because it has not the aid of a judge, then, lest judgment should remain forsaken, recourse must be had to Him who so loved her that, by the shedding of His own blood, He met her full demands in death. Hence the Psalm: “The righteous Lord loveth righteousness.” This end is accomplished when, with the free consent of the participants, in love and not in hatred of justice, the judgment of God is sought through a mutual trial of bodily and spiritual strength. Because it was first used in single combat of man to man, this trial of strength we call the duel.
2. But always in quarrels threatening to become matters of war, every effort should be made to settle the dispute through conference, and only as a last resort through battle. Tully and Vegetius both advance this opinion, the former in Moral Duties, and the latter in his book on The Art of War. And as in medical treatment everything is tried before final recourse is had to the knife or fire, so when we have exhausted all other ways of obtaining judgment in a dispute, we may finally turn to this remedy by single combat, compelled thereto by the necessity of justice.
3. There are obviously two fixed rules of single combat, one of which we have just now spoken, and another of which we made mention above, that not in hatred, nor in love, but in pure zeal for justice, the contestants or champions should enter the field by common consent. Touching this matter Tully well said: “Wars engaged in for the crown of Empire should be waged without bitterness.”
4. Provided that in single combat these rules are observed without which single combat ceases to be, and that men necessitated by justice and in zeal for justice meet by common consent, are they not met in the name of God? And if they are met in the name of God, is not God in the midst of them, as He Himself promises in the Gospel? And if God is present, is it not a sin to imagine that Justice can fail—Justice, which we have shown He so greatly loved? And if Justice cannot fail in single combat, is not that which is acquired by single combat acquired by Right?
5. Even before the trumpet-call of the Gospel, the Gentiles recognized this truth, and sought judgment in the fortune of single combat. Pyrrhus, noble in the virtues as well as in the blood of the Aeacidae, answered nobly the legates of the Romans sent to him for redeeming their captives: “I demand no gold, nor shall you render me a price; we are not barterers in war, but fighters; with steel, not with gold, let each decide the issue of life. Whether Hera wills that you or I shall reign, or whatever fate may bring, let us determine by prowess. And at the same time know this: to those whose valor the fortunes of war has preserved, it is my will to grant liberty. Receive them as a gift.” So Pyrrhus spoke, referring by “Hera” to fortune, that agency which we more wisely and rightly name Divine Providence. Let combatants, then, forbear to settle disputes for a price, for that would not be a single combat, but a game of blood and injustice; nor would God then be present as arbiter, but rather that ancient enemy who had been persuader to the quarrel. And let those who desire to be champions, and not hucksters of blood and injustice, have ever before their eyes in entering the field that Pyrrhus who in fighting for Empire, as we have said, held gold in such contempt.
6. If to contradict the truth thus manifested, the usual objection be raised concerning the inequality of men’s strength, it may be refuted by the instance of David’s victory over Goliath. And if the Gentiles seek another instance, they may refute it by the victory of Hercules over Antaeus. It is the height of folly, indeed, to fear that the strength which God confers may be weaker than that of a human antagonist.
7. By this time it is demonstrated clearly enough that whatever is acquired by single combat is acquired with Right and Justice.
1. That the Roman people acquired Empire by single combat is confirmed by witnesses worthy of belief. In citing witnesses, not only shall we prove this, but we shall show that, from the founding of the Roman Empire, the decision of all questions whatsoever was reached through contests of man to man.
2. At the very outset, when contention arose in regard to the colonization of Italy by father Aeneas, who was first parent of the Roman people, and Turnus, king of the Rutilians, stood out against him; finally, as is sung in the last book of the Aeneid, both kings agreed to seek the good pleasure of God in a combat singly between themselves. The closing verses of our Poet testify how great was the clemency of Aeneas, victor in the contest, and how as vanquisher he would have bestowed life and peace at one time on the vanquished, had he not espied on Turnus the belt stripped by him from Pallas slain.
3. And when two peoples, the Romans and Albanians, had grown up in Italy from the same Trojan root, and when they had long striven for the ensign of the eagle, the household gods of the Trojans, and the honor of supreme command, at length with mutual consent they determined the question by a combat between the three Horatian and the three Curiatian brethren, in the view of the kings and people waiting anxiously on either side. The three champions of the Albanians and two of the Romans fell, and the victory went to the Romans, in the reign of Hostilius. And to this, which Livy narrates in detail in his first book, Orosius also bears witness.
4. Livy tells that they then strove for Empire with their neighbors, Sabines and Samnites, observing every rule of war, and preserving the characteristics of contests man to man, although the contestants were a multitude. During the struggle carried on in this wise with the Samnites, Fortune seemed, as it were, almost to repent of her undertaking. And this Lucan uses as an example in his second book, saying: “Or how many heaps of slain choked up the Colline Gate, what time the headship of the world and authority in earthly things were well-nigh transferred to other realms, and the Samnites overtopped the Caudine Forks with Roman dead.”
5. After these troubles with Italy were quieted, but the decree of God was not yet certain in regard to the Greeks and the Phoenicians aspiring to Empire, Fabricius for the Romans and Pyrrhus for the Greeks contended with a multitude of soldiery for the glory of sovereignty, and Rome was triumphant. Then Scipio for the Italians and Hannibal for the Africans did battle in the form of single combat, and Africa succumbed to Italy, as Livy and other writers of Roman affairs endeavor to show.
6. Who is then so dull of wit he fails to see that this splendid people gained the crown of a world-wide realm by right of single combat? Verily, a Roman might say with the Apostle addressing Timothy, “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” —that is to say, laid up in the eternal providence of God. Now let presumptuous jurists behold how far they stand beneath that watch-tower of reason whence the human mind looks out upon these principles, and let them be silent, content to give counsel and judgment according to the import of the law.
7. And now the main proposition of the present book is proved, that the Roman people attained imperial power through single combat, and that therefore they attained it by Right.
8. Thus far the argument has progressed through reason based chiefly on rational principles, but from now on it shall be re-demonstrated through the principles of Christian faith.
1. And especially those who call themselves zealots for the Christian faith have “raged” and “imagined vain things” against Roman dominion; they have no pity for the poor of Christ, but defraud them in the church revenues, even stealing their patrimony daily, and render the Church destitute; pretending to Justice, they yet permit no executor of Justice to do his duty.
2. Nor is this impoverishment accomplished without the judgment of God, for the church revenues are neither given to relieve the poor whose patrimony they are, nor are held with gratitude to the Empire which bestowed them. Let them return whence they came. They came justly, they return unjustly, for though they were rightly given, they are wrongfully held. What should be said of such shepherds? What, if with the depletion of the Church’s substance the estates of relatives wax great? Belike it were better to follow out the argument and await our Saviour’s aid in pious silence.
3. I affirm, therefore, that if the Roman Empire did not come to be with Right, Christ in His birth authorized an injustice. This consequent is false; therefore the contradictory of the antecedent is true, since contradictory propositions are of such a nature that the falseness of a statement argues for the truth of its opposite.
4. The falsity of this consequent need not be proved to those of the faith; for he who is of the faith will concede its falsity; if he does not do so, he is not of the faith; and if he is not of the faith, this argument concerns him not.
5. I demonstrate the consequent thus: Whoever of his own free will fulfills an edict urges its justice by so doing; and since deeds are more persuasive than words, as the Philosopher states in his last book to Nicomachus, he is more convincing than if his approbation were verbal. Now Christ willed to be born of a Virgin Mother under an edict of Roman authority, according to the testimony of Luke, his scribe, in order that the Son of Man, made man, might be numbered as a man in that unique census. This fulfilled the edict. It were perhaps more reverent to believe that the Divine Will caused the edict to go forth through Caesar, in order that God might number Himself among the society of mortals who had so many ages awaited His coming.
6. So Christ in His action established as just the edict of Augustus, exerciser of Roman authority. Since to decree justly presupposes jurisdictional power, whoever confirms the justice of an edict confirms also the jurisdictional power whence it issued. Did this power not exist by Right, it would be unjust.
7. And observe that the argument employed to disprove the consequent, though it holds to a certain degree, nevertheless, if reduced, shows its force in the second figure, just as the argument based on the assumption of the antecedent shows its force in the first figure. The reduction is made as follows: Every unjust thing is established unjustly; Christ established nothing unjustly; therefore Christ established no unjust thing. And thus by the assumption of the antecedent: Every unjust thing is established unjustly; Christ established an unjust thing; therefore Christ established things unjustly.
1. And if the Roman Empire did not exist by Right, the sin of Adam was not punished in Christ. This, however, is false; so the contradictory from which it follows is true. The falsity of the consequent is apparent in this. By the sin of Adam we are all sinners, according to the Apostle: “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” If satisfaction had not been given for this sin through the death of Christ, we, owing to our depraved nature, should still be children of wrath. But this is not so, for the Apostle speaks in Ephesians of the Father “having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved, in whom we have redemption by His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace, wherein He has abounded toward us.” And Christ Himself, suffering in Himself the punishment, says in John, “It is finished.” And when a thing is finished, nothing remains to be done.
2. For greater clearness, let it be understood that punishment is not simply penalty visited upon the doer of wrong, but penalty visited upon the doer of wrong by one having penal jurisdiction. Wherefore unless punishment is inflicted by a lawful judge, it is no punishment; rather must it be called a wrong. Hence the man of the Hebrews said to Moses, “Who made thee a judge over us?”
3. If therefore Christ did not suffer under a lawful judge, his penalty was not punishment. Lawful judge meant in that case one having jurisdiction over the entire human race, since all humanity was punished in the flesh of Christ, who, as the Prophet says, “hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” And Tiberius Caesar, whose vicar was Pilate, would not have possessed jurisdiction over the entire human race had not the Roman Empire existed by Right. Herod, albeit as ignorant of what he did as Caiaphas of what truth he spake concerning the heavenly decree, for this reason sent Christ to be judged by Pilate, as Luke writes in his Gospel. For Herod was not an official of Tiberius under the ensign of the eagle or the Senate, but a king appointed by him to a particular kingdom, and governing it under the ensign of the kingdom committed to him.
4. Wherefore let those who pretend they are sons of the Church cease to defame the Roman Empire, to which Christ the Bridegroom gave His sanction both at the beginning and at the close of His warfare. And now, I believe, it is sufficiently obvious that the Roman people appropriated the Empire of the world by Right.
5. O people, how blessed hadst thou been, O Ausonia how glorious, had he who enfeebled thy sovereignty never been born, or never been deceived by the piety of his purpose!
1. “He has shut the lions’ mouths and they have not hurt me; inasmuch as before Him righteousness was found in me.” In beginning this work I proposed to investigate three questions as far as the subject-matter would allow. For the first two questions this has been done satisfactorily in the foregoing books, I believe. We must now consider the third, the truth of which may, however, be a cause of indignation against me, since it cannot be brought forth without causing certain men to blush. But since Truth from her immutable throne demands it; and Solomon entering his forest of Proverbs, and marking out his own conduct, entreats that we “meditate upon truth and abhor wickedness;” and our teacher of morals, the Philosopher, admonishes us to sacrifice whatever is most precious for truth’s sake: therefore, gaining assurance from the words of Daniel, wherein the power of God is shown as a shield for defenders of truth, and “putting on the breast-plate of faith” according to the admonition of Paul, in the warmth of that coal taken from the heavenly altar by one of the Seraphim and touched to the lips of Isaiah, I will engage in the present conflict, and by the arm of Him who with His blood liberated us from the power of darkness, I will cast the ungodly and the liar from the arena, while the world looks on. Wherefore should I fear, when the Spirit, coeternal with the Father and the Son, says by the mouth of David, “The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance, he shall not be afraid of evil tidings”?
2. The question pending investigation, then, concerns two great luminaries, the Roman Pontiff and the Roman Prince: and the point at issue is whether the authority of the Roman Monarch, who, as proved in the second book, is rightful Monarch of the world, derives from God directly, or from some vicar or minister of God, by whom I mean the successor of Peter, veritable keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
1. As in the previous questions, so in the present one, we must assume some principle for informing the arguments which are to reveal the truth. For of what avail is it to labor even in speaking truth, if one have no basic principle? And the principle is the sole root of the assumptions, which are the mediums of proof.
2. Let us set up, then, this indisputable truth, that whatever is repugnant to the intention of nature is contrary to the will of God. If this were not true, its contrary would not be false, that whatever is repugnant to the intention of nature is not contrary to the will of God. And if this is not false, its consequences are not false. For in necessary consequences a false consequent is impossible without a false antecedent.
3. But “not contrary to the will of” means one of two things, “to will” or “not to will;” just as “not to hate” means either “to love” or “not to love;” for “not to love” does not mean “to hate,” neither does “not to will” mean “to be contrary to the will of,” as is self-evident. If these statements are not false, neither will it be false to assert that “God wills what He does not will,” than which no greater fallacy exists.
4. I demonstrate as follows the verity of what has been said. That God wills an end for nature is manifest; otherwise the heavens would move to no purpose, which it is not possible to claim. If God should will an obstruction to this end, He would also will an end for the obstruction, or He would will to no purpose. Now the end of an obstruction is that the thing obstructed may exist no longer, so it follows that God wills the end of nature to exist no longer, when we have already said that He wills it to exist.
5. But if God did not will the obstruction to the end, it would follow from His not willing it that He cared nothing for the obstruction, whether it existed or not. Now he who cares nothing for the obstruction cares nothing for the end obstructed, and therefore has it not in his will, and what he has not in his will, he does not will. Hence if the end of nature can be impeded, and it can, it necessarily follows that God does not will an end of nature, and follows further, as before, that God wills what He does not will. That principle is therefore most true from the contradictory of which results such an absurdity.
1. In entering on this third question, let us bear in mind that the truth of the first was made manifest in order to abolish ignorance rather than contention. But the investigation of the second had reference alike to ignorance and contention. Indeed, we are ignorant of many things concerning which we do not contend: the geometrician does not know the square of the circle, but he does not contend about it; the theologian does not know the number of the angels, but he renders it no cause for quarrel; the Egyptian knows naught of the civilization of Scythia, but does not therefore make the civilization a source of strife.
2. Now the truth of the third question has to do with so keen a contention that, whereas ignorance generally causes the discord, here the discord causes ignorance. For it always happens to men who will things before rationally considering them that, their desire being evil, they put behind them the light of reason; as blind men they are led about by their desire, and stubbornly deny their blindness. Whence it often occurs not only that falsehood has her own patrimony, but that many men going out from her boundaries run through strange camps, where, neither understanding nor being understood at all, they provoke some to wrath, some to disdain, and not a few to laughter.
3. Three classes of men struggle hardest against the truth which we would establish.
4. First the Chief Pontiff, Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ and successor to Peter, he to whom we should render not what is due to Christ but what is due to Peter, he, perchance in his zeal for the keys, together with some pastors of Christian flocks, and others moved solely, I believe, by their zeal for Mother Church, contradict the truth I am about to declare. They contradict it, perchance, from zeal, I repeat, not from pride.
5. But others in their inveterate cupidity have quenched the light of reason, and call themselves sons of the Church, although they are of their father the devil. Not only do they arouse controversy in regard to this question, but, despising the very name of the most sacred Princehood, impudently deny the first principles of this and the previous questions.
6. The third class, called Decretalists, utterly ignorant and unregardful of Theology and Philosophy, depending entirely on the Decretals (which, I grant, are deserving of veneration), and I presume trusting in the ultimate supremacy of these, derogate from the imperial power. Nor is it to be wondered at, for I have heard one of them aver and insolently maintain that ecclesiastical traditions are the foundation of faith. Let those dispel this error of thought from mortal minds whom the world doubts not to have believed in Christ, the Son of God, ere ecclesiastical traditions were, believed in Him either to come, or present, or having already suffered, and believing hoped, and hoping burned with love, and burning with love were made co-heirs with Him.
7. And that such mistaken thinkers may be wholly shut out from the present discussion, it must be observed that some of the Scriptures take precedence of the Church, some are equivalent to the Church, and some subordinate to it.
8. Those taking precedence of the Church are the Old and New Testaments, which, as the Prophet says, “were commanded for ever,” and to which the Church refers in saying to the Bridegroom, “Draw me after thee.”
9. Equivalent to the Church are those Councils so worthy of reverence, and in the midst of which no believer doubts the presence of Christ; for we have, according to Matthew’s testimony, the words spoken to His disciples at His ascension into heaven: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” In addition, there are the writings of the Doctors, Augustine, and others, and whosoever doubts the aid of the Holy Spirit therein has never seen their fruits, or if he has seen, has never tasted them.
10. Subordinate to the Church are the traditions called Decretals, which, while they must be revered for their apostolic authority, must nevertheless be held unquestionably inferior to the fundamental Scriptures, seeing that Christ rebuked the priests for not so doing. When they had inquired, “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?” (for they had omitted the washing of hands) Christ answered, as Matthew testifies, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” Here the inferiority of tradition is clearly implied.
11. If, as we believe, traditions of the Church are subordinate to the Church, authority necessarily accrues not to the Church through traditions, but to traditions through the Church. And I repeat, those who have faith in traditions alone are excluded from this discussion. For they who would hunt down this truth must start in their search from those writings whence the authority of the Church emanates.
12. Others must likewise be excluded who, decked in the plumage of ravens, boast themselves white sheep of the Master’s flock. In order to carry out their crimes, these sons of impiety defile their mother, banish their brethren, and scorn judgments brought against them. Why should reason be sought in behalf of these whose passions prevent them from understanding our basic principle?
13. There remains, then, the controversy with those only who, led by a certain zeal for their Mother the Church, are blind to the truth we are seeking. And with them, confident in that reverence which a loyal and loving son owes to father and mother, to Christ and the Church, to the Shepherd and all who profess the Christian religion, I enter in this book into combat for the preservation of truth.
1. Those men to whom the entire subsequent discussion is directed assert that the authority of the Empire depends on the authority of the Church, just as the inferior artisan depends on the architect. They are drawn to this by divers opposing arguments, some of which they take from Holy Scripture, and some from certain acts performed by the Chief Pontiff, and by the Emperor himself; and they endeavor to make their conviction reasonable.
2. For, first, they maintain that according to Genesis God made two mighty luminaries, a greater and a less, the former to hold supremacy by day and the latter by night. These they interpret allegorically to be the two rulers —spiritual and temporal. Whence they argue that as the lesser luminary, the moon, has no light but that gained from the sun, so the temporal ruler has no authority but that gained from the spiritual ruler.
3. Let it be noted for the refutation of this and their other arguments that, as the Philosopher holds in his writings on Sophistry, “the destruction of an argument is the exposure of error.” And because error can occur in both the matter and the form of an argument, a two-fold fallacy is possible—that arising from a false assumption, and that from a failure to syllogize. The two objections brought by the Philosopher against Parmenides and Melissus were: “They accept what is false, and syllogize incorrectly.” “False” I use here with large significance, embracing the improbable, which in matters of probability becomes the false element. He who would destroy a conclusion where there is error in the form of the argument must show a failure to comply with the rules of syllogizing. Where the error is material, he must show that an assumption has been made, either false in itself, or false in relation to something else. Absolute falsity may be destroyed by destroying the assumption, relative falsity by distinction of meanings.
4. Granting this, let us observe, in order to comprehend more clearly the fallacy of this and other arguments, that with regard to mystical interpretation a twofold error may arise, either by seeking one where it is not, or by explaining it other than it ought to be.
5. Of the first error Augustine says in The City of God: “Not all deeds recounted should be thought to have special significance, because for the sake of significant things insignificant details are interwoven. The plowshare by itself cuts the land into furrows, but that this may be accomplished the other parts of the plow are needed.”
6. Of the second error he speaks in his Christian Doctrine, saying that the man who attempts to find in the Scriptures other things than the writer’s meaning “is deceived as one who abandons a certain road, only by a long detour to reach the goal whither the road led directly.” And he adds, “Such a man should be shown that a habit of leaving his path may lead him into cross-roads and tortuous ways.” Then he gives the reason why this error should be avoided in the Scriptures, saying, “Shake the authority of the divine writings, and you shake all faith.” However, I believe that when such errors are due to ignorance they should be pardoned after correction has been carefully administered, just as he should be pardoned who is terrified at a supposed lion in the clouds. But when such errors are due to design, the erring one should be treated like tyrants who never apply public laws for the general welfare, but endeavor to turn them to individual profit.
7. O unparalleled crime, though committed but in dreams, of turning into evil the intention of the Eternal Spirit! Such a sin would not be against Moses, or David, or Job, or Matthew, or Paul, but against the Holy Spirit that speaketh in them. For although the writers of the divine word are many, the dictator of the word is one, even God, who has deigned to make known his purpose to us through divers pens.
8. From these prefatory remarks I proceed to refute the above assumption that the two luminaries of the world typify its two ruling powers. The whole force of their argument lies in the interpretation; but this we can prove indefensible in two ways. First, since these ruling powers are as it were accidents necessitated by man himself, God would seem to have used a distorted order in creating first accidents, and then the subject necessitating them. It is absurd to speak thus of God, but it is evident from the Word that the two lights were created on the fourth day, and man on the sixth.
9. Secondly, the two ruling powers exist as the directors of men toward certain ends, as will be shown further on; but had man remained in the state of innocence in which God made him, he would have required no such direction. These ruling powers are therefore remedies against the infirmity of sin. Since on the fourth day man not only was not a sinner, but was not even existent, the creation of a remedy would have been purposeless, which is contrary to divine goodness. Foolish indeed would be the physician who should make ready a plaster for the future abscess of a man not yet born. Therefore it cannot be asserted that God made the two ruling powers on the fourth day; and consequently the meaning of Moses cannot have been what it is supposed to be.
10. Also, in order to be tolerant, we may refute this fallacy by distinction. Refutation by distinction deals more gently with an adversary, for it shows him to be not absolutely wrong, as does refutation by destruction. I say, then, that although the moon may have abundant light only as she receives it from the sun, it does not follow on that account that the moon herself owes her existence to the sun. It must be recognized that the essence of the moon, her strength, and her function are not one and the same thing. Neither in her essence, her strength, nor her function taken absolutely, does the moon owe her existence to the sun, for her movement is impelled by her own motor and her influence by her own rays. Besides, she has a certain light of her own, as is shown in eclipse. It is in order to fulfill her function better and more potently that she borrows from the sun abundance of light, and works thereby more efficaciously.
11. In like manner, I say, the temporal power receives from the spiritual neither its existence, nor its strength, which is its authority, nor even its function taken absolutely. But well for her does she receive therefrom, through the light of grace which the benediction of the Chief Pontiff sheds upon it in heaven and on earth, strength to fulfill her function more perfectly. So the argument was at fault in form, because the predicate of the conclusion is not a term of the major premise, as is evident. The syllogism runs thus: The moon receives light from the sun, which is the spiritual power; the temporal ruling power is the moon; therefore the temporal receives authority from the spiritual. They introduce “light” as the term of the major, but “authority” as predicate of the conclusion, which two things we have seen to be diverse in subject and significance.
1. They also abstract an argument from the word of Moses, declaring that in Levi and Judah sprang from Jacob’s loins the types of these two sovereignties, the one being father of the priesthood, and the other father of temporal rulers. From this they argue: The relation of Levi to Judah is that of the Church to the Empire; Levi preceded Judah in birth according to Scripture; therefore the Church precedes the Empire in authority.
2. Refutation is here easy, for I might as before overthrow by positive denial the assertion that Levi and Judah, the sons of Jacob, typified these sovereignties; but I will concede that point. When, however, they proceed to infer from their argument that as Levi had precedence in birth, so has the Church in authority, I repeat that the predicate of the conclusion is not the term of the major premise, for the one is “authority” and the other “birth,” things different in subject and meaning. There is an error, therefore, in the form of the syllogism, which is as follows: A precedes B in C; D is related to E as A is to B; therefore D precedes E in F. But F and C are dissimilar.
3. If they become insistent, saying that F follows from C (that is, “authority” from “birth”), and that in an inference a consequent may replace an antecedent (as “animal” might replace “man”), I answer that it is untrue. Many are older in years who have no precedence in authority, but are superseded by their juniors; for instance, when bishops are younger than their arch-presbyters. And so the insistence is misplaced, for they have named as cause that which is none.
1. Moreover, they take from the first book of Kings the election and deposition of Saul, and declare that, according to the text, Saul, an enthroned king, was dethroned by Samuel executing God’s command as His Vicar. And they reason from this that as the Vicar of God then had authority to give temporal power, to take it away, and to transfer it to another, so now God’s Vicar, High Priest of the Church Universal, has like authority to bestow, to withdraw, and even to consign to another the sceptre of temporal dominion. From this would follow undoubtedly, as they claim, that the Empire is a derived power.
2. But to destroy the premise that Samuel was Vicar of God, we need only reply that he was not Vicar; he acted merely as a special envoy for this commission, or as a messenger bringing an express command from his Lord. This is evident from the fact that what God bade him, that alone he did and that alone recounted.
3. Wherefore let it be understood that it is one thing to be a vicar, and another to be a messenger or minister; as it is one thing to be a doctor, and another to be an interpreter. Now a vicar is one to whom has been assigned jurisdiction according to law or to his arbitrary judgment; and so within the boundaries of the jurisdiction assigned to him he may determine legally or arbitrarily matters of which his lord has no knowledge. But an envoy, in so far as he is an envoy, cannot do so, for as the hammer operates only through the strength of the smith, so the envoy acts only through the will of the person who delegates him. Nor does it follow, though God did this when Samuel was His envoy, that the Vicar of God can do it. For through His angels God has achieved, is achieving, and will achieve, many things which the Vicar of God, the successor of Peter, was powerless to do.
4. Their argument is constructed from the whole to the part like this: Man can hear and see; therefore the eye can hear and see. However, it would hold negatively: Man cannot fly; therefore the arms of man cannot fly. And in the same way, according to the belief of Agathon, God cannot through a messenger undo what has been done; therefore His Vicar is unable to do so.
1. From the book of Matthew they also cite the oblation of the Magi, claiming that Christ accepted both frankincense and gold, in order to signify that He was Lord and Governor of the spiritual and temporal domains. They draw as inference from this that the Vicar of Christ is lord and governor of these realms, and consequently has authority over both.
2. In answering this I grant the text of Matthew and their interpretation, but the inference they try to draw from it is false through deficiency in the terms. Their syllogism is this: God is Lord of the spiritual and temporal domains; the Pope is the Vicar of God; therefore he is lord of the spiritual and temporal domains. While each proposition is true, the middle term is changed to admit four terms to the argument, thereby impairing the syllogistic form. This is plain from the writings on Syllogizing considered simply. For one term is “God,” the subject of the major premise, and the other term is “Vicar of God,” the predicate of the minor.
3. And if any one insists on the equivalence of God and Vicar, his insistence is useless, for no vicar, divine or human, can be coördinate with His authority, as is easily seen. And we know that the successor of Peter is not coequal with divine power, at least not in the operation of nature. He could not by virtue of the office committed to him make earth rise up, or fire fall. It is impossible that God should have intrusted all things to him, for God was in no way able to delegate the power of creation or of baptism, as is plainly proved despite the contrary statement of the Master in his fourth book.
4. We know, too, that a man’s deputy, in so far as he is a deputy, is not of coördinate power with him, because no one can bestow what does not belong to him. Princely authority belongs to a prince only for his employment, since no prince can authorize himself; he has power to receive and to reject it, but no power to create it in another, seeing that the creation of a prince is not effected by a prince. If this is true, it is evident that no prince can substitute for himself a regent equal in all things to himself. Wherefore the protest is of no avail.
1. From the same gospel they quote the saying of Christ to Peter, “Whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,” and understand this saying to refer alike to all the Apostles, according to the text of Matthew and John. They reason from this that the successor of Peter has been granted of God power to bind and loose all things, and then infer that he has power to loose the laws and decrees of the Empire, and to bind the laws and decrees of the temporal kingdom. Were this true, their inference would be correct.
2. But we must reply to it by making a distinction against the major premise of the syllogism which they employ. Their syllogism is this: Peter had power to bind and loose all things; the successor of Peter has like power with him; therefore the successor of Peter has power to loose and bind all things. From this they infer that he has power to loose and bind the laws and decrees of the Empire.
3. I concede the minor premise, but the major only with distinction. Wherefore I say that “all,” the symbol of the universal, which is implied in “whatsoever,” is never distributed beyond the scope of the distributed term. When I say, “All animals run,” the distribution of “all” comprehends whatever comes under the genus “animal.” But when I say, “All men run,” the symbol of the universal only refers to whatever comes under the term “man.” And when I say, “All grammarians run,” the distribution is narrowed still further.
4. Therefore we must always determine what it is over which the symbol of the universal is distributed; then, from the recognized nature and scope of the distributed term, will be easily apparent the extent of the distribution. Now, were “whatsoever” to be understood absolutely when it is said, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind,” he would certainly have the power they claim; nay, he would have even greater power, he would be able to loose a wife from her husband, and, while the man still lived, bind her to another—a thing he can in no wise do. He would be able to absolve me, while impenitent—a thing which God himself cannot do.
5. So it is evident that the distribution of the term under discussion is to be taken, not absolutely, but relatively to something else. A consideration of the concession to which the distribution is subjoined will make manifest this related something. Christ said to Peter, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven;” that is, I will make thee doorkeeper of the kingdom of heaven. Then he adds, “and whatsoever,” that is, “everything which,” and He means thereby, “Everything which pertains to that office thou shalt have power to bind and loose.” And thus the symbol of the universal which is implied in “whatsoever” is limited in its distribution to the prerogative of the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Understood thus, the proposition is true, but understood absolutely, it is obviously not. Therefore I conclude that although the successor of Peter has authority to bind and loose in accordance with the requirements of the prerogative granted to Peter, it does not follow, as they claim, that he has authority to bind and loose the decrees or statutes of Empire, unless they prove that this also belongs to the office of the keys. But we shall demonstrate farther on that the contrary is true.
1. They quote also the words in Luke which Peter addressed to Christ, saying, “Behold, here are two swords,” and they assert that the two ruling powers were predicted by those two swords, and because Peter declared they were “where he was,” that is, “with him,” they conclude that according to authority these two ruling powers abide with Peter’s successor.
2. To refute this we must show the falsity of the interpretation on which the argument is based. Their assertion that the two swords which Peter designated signify the two ruling powers before spoken of, we deny outright, because such an answer would have been at variance with Christ’s meaning, and because Peter replied in haste, as usual, with regard to the mere external significance of things.
3. A consideration of the words preceding it and of the cause of the words will show that such an answer would have been inconsistent with Christ’s meaning. Let it be called to mind that this response was made on the day of the feast, which Luke mentions earlier, saying, “Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.” At this feast Christ had already foretold His impending passion, in which He must be parted from His disciples. Let it be remembered also that when these words were uttered, all the twelve disciples were together; wherefore a little after the words just quoted Luke says, “And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve Apostles with him.” Continuing the discourse from this place he reaches the words, “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything?” And they answered, “Nothing.” Then said He unto them, “But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” The meaning of Christ is clear enough here. He did not say, “Buy or procure two swords,” but “twelve;” for it was in order that each of the twelve disciples might have one that He said to them, “He that hath no sword, let him buy one.” And He spake thus to forewarn them of the persecution and contempt the future should bring, as though he would say, “While I was with you ye were welcomed, now shall ye be turned away. It behooves you, therefore, to prepare for yourselves those things which before I denied to you, but for which there is present need.” If Peter’s reply to these words had carried the meaning ascribed to it, the meaning would have been at variance with that of Christ, and Christ would have censured Him, as he did oftentimes, for his witless answers. However, He did not do so, but assented, saying to him, “It is enough,” meaning, “I speak because of necessity; but if each cannot have a sword, two will suffice.”
4. And that Peter usually spoke of the external significance of things is shown in his quick and unthinking presumption, impelled, I believe, not only by the sincerity of his faith, but by the purity and simplicity of his nature. To this characteristic presumption all those who write of Christ bear witness.
5. First, Matthew records that when Jesus had inquired of the disciples: “Whom say ye that I am?” before all the others Peter replied, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.” He also records that when Christ was telling His disciples how He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things, Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Then Christ, turning to him, said in reproof, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Matthew also writes that on the Mount of Transfiguration, in the presence of Christ, Moses, and Elias, and the two sons of Zebedee, Peter said, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias.” Matthew further writes that when the disciples were on the ship in the night, and Christ walked on the water, Peter said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” And that when Christ predicted how all His disciples should be offended because of Him, Peter answered, “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” And afterwards, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” And this statement Mark confirms, while Luke writes that, just before the words we have quoted concerning the swords, Peter had said to Christ, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison and to death.”
6. John tells of him, that when Christ desired to wash his feet, Peter asked, “Lord, dost thou wash my feet?” and then said, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” He further relates how Peter smote with his sword the servant of the High Priest, an account in which the four Evangelists agree. And John tells how when Peter came to the sepulchre and saw the other disciples lingering at the door, he entered in straightway; and again when after the resurrection Jesus stood on the shore and Peter “heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him (for he was naked), and did cast himself into the sea.” Lastly, he recounts that when Peter saw John, he said to Jesus, “Lord, and what shall this man do?”
7. It is a source of joy to have summed up this evidence of our Head Shepherd, in praise of his singleness of purpose. From all this it is obvious that when he spoke of the two swords, his answer to Christ was unambiguous in meaning.
8. Even if the words of Christ and Peter are to be accepted typically, they cannot be interpreted in the sense these men claim, but rather as referring to the sword concerning which Matthew writes: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father,” and what follows. This He accomplished in word and deed, wherefore Luke tells Theophilus of all “that Jesus began to do and teach.” Such was the sword Christ enjoined them to buy, and Peter made answer that already they had two with them. As we have shown, they were ready for words and for works to bring to pass those things which Christ proclaimed He had come to do by the sword.
1. In addition, some persons affirm that the Emperor Constantine, healed of leprosy by the intercession of Sylvester, then the Supreme Pontiff, gave to the Church the very seat of Empire, Rome, together with many imperial dignities. Wherefore they argue that no one has power to assume these dignities except he receives them from the Church, to whom it is asserted they belong. And from this it would fairly follow, as they desire, that one authority is dependent on the other.
2. So having stated and refuted the arguments which seemed to be rooted in divine communications, it now remains to set forth and disprove those rooted in Roman deeds and human reason. We have just spoken of the first of these, whose syllogism runs thus: Those things which belong to the Church no one can rightly possess, unless granted them by the Church; and this we concede. The ruling power of Rome belongs to the Church; therefore no one can rightly possess it unless granted it by the Church. And the minor premise they prove by the facts mentioned above concerning Constantine.
3. This minor premise, then, I deny. Their proof is no proof, for Constantine had not the power to alienate the imperial dignity, nor had the Church power to receive it. Their insistent objection to what I say can be met thus. No one is free to do through an office assigned him anything contrary to the office, for thereby the same thing, in virtue of being the same, would be contrary to itself, which is impossible. But to divide the Empire would be contrary to the office assigned the Emperor, for as is easily seen from the first book of the treatise, his office is to hold the human race subject to one will in all things. Therefore, division of his Empire is not allowed an Emperor. If, as they claim, certain dignities were alienated by Constantine from the Empire and ceded to the power of the Church, the “seamless coat” would have been rent, which even they had not dared to mutilate who with their spears pierced Christ, the very God. Moreover, as the Church has its own foundation, so has the Empire its own. The foundation of the Church is Christ, as the Apostle writes to the Corinthians: “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” He is the rock on which the Church is founded, but the foundation of the Empire is human Right. Now I say that as the Church cannot act contrary to its foundation, but must be supported thereby, according to that verse of the Canticles: “Who is she that cometh up from the desert, abounding in delights, leaning on her beloved?” so the Empire cannot act in conflict with human Right. Therefore the Empire may not destroy itself, for, should it do so, it would act in conflict with human Right. Inasmuch as the Empire consists in the indivisibility of universal Monarchy, and inasmuch as an apportionment of the Empire would destroy it, it is evident that division is not allowed to him who discharges imperial duty. And it is proved, from what has been previously said, that to destroy the Empire would be contrary to human Right.
4. Besides, every jurisdiction exists prior to its judge, since the judge is ordained for the jurisdiction, and not conversely. As the Empire is a jurisdiction embracing in its circuit the administration of justice in all temporal things, so it is prior to its judge, who is Emperor; and the Emperor is ordained for it, and not conversely. Clearly the Emperor, as Emperor, cannot alter the Empire, for from it he receives his being and state. So I say, either he was Emperor when he made the concession they speak of to the Church, or he was not. If he was not, it is plain that he had no power to grant anything with regard to the Empire. And if he was, then as Emperor he could not have done this, for the concession would have narrowed his jurisdiction.
5. Further, if one Emperor has power to cut away one bit from the jurisdiction of the Empire, another may do the same for like reason. And since temporal jurisdiction is finite, and every finite thing may be consumed by finite losses, the possibility of annihilating primal jurisdiction would follow. But this is inconceivable.
6. And since he who confers a thing has the relation of agent, and he on whom it is conferred the relation of patient, according to the Philosopher in the fourth book to Nicomachus, then in order for a grant to be legal, proper qualification is essential not only in the giver, but in the recipient. Indeed, it seems that the acts of agents exist potentially in a properly qualified patient. But the Church was utterly disqualified for receiving temporal power by the express prohibitive command in Matthew: “Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey,” etc. For although we learn from Luke of the mitigation of this order regarding certain things, yet I am unable to find that sanction was given the Church to possess gold and silver, subsequent to the prohibition. Wherefore if the Church had not power to receive, even had Constantine power to bestow, temporal authority, the action would nevertheless be impossible, because of the disqualification of the patient. It is demonstrated, then, that neither could the Church accept by way of possession, nor could Constantine confer by way of alienation. However, the Emperor did have power to depute to the protectorship of the Church a patrimony and other things, as long as his supreme command, the unity of which suffers no impairment, remained unchanged. And the Vicar of God had power to receive such things, not for possession, but for distribution on behalf of the Church of its fruits to the poor of Christ. We are not ignorant that thus the Apostles did.
1. Still further, our opponents say that Pope Hadrian called Charles the Great to the aid of himself and the Church, because of oppression by the Lombards in the reign of Desiderius their king, and that from the Pope Charles received the dignity of Empire, notwithstanding the fact that Michael held imperial sway at Constantinople. Wherefore they declare that after Charles all Roman Emperors were advocates of the Church, and must be called to office by the Church. From this would follow the relationship between the Church and Empire which they desire to prove.
2. To refute this argument, I answer that their premise in it is a mere nullity, for usurpation of right does not create a right. If it did, the same method would show the dependency of ecclesiastical authority on the Empire, after the Emperor Otto restored Pope Leo, and deposed Benedict, sending him in exile to Saxony.
1. Their argument from reason, however, is this. They lay down the principle advanced in the tenth book of the First Philosophy, that “all things of one genus are reducible to a type which is the standard of measurement for all within the genus.” Since all men are of one genus, they ought to be reducible to a type as a standard for all others. And since the Supreme Pontiff and the Emperor are men, they must therefore, if our conclusion is true, be reducible to one man. And since the Pope cannot be subordinated to another, it remains for the Emperor and all others to be subordinated to the Pope as their measure and rule; whence results the conclusion they desire.
2. That this reasoning may be invalidated, I agree that their statement is true that all things of one genus ought to be reduced to some one member of that genus as a standard of measurement. Likewise is it true that all men are of one genus. Also is true their conclusion drawn from these that all men ought to be subordinated to one standard for the genus. But when from this conclusion they draw the further inference concerning Pope and Emperor, they deceive themselves with the fallacy of accidental attributes.
3. To make this evident, be it known that it is one thing to be a man and another thing to be a Pope. And just so it is one thing to be a man and another thing to be an Emperor, as it is one thing to be a man and another to be a father or master. Man is man because of his substantial form, which is the determinant of his species and genus, and which places him under the category of substance. But a father is such because of an accidental form, that of relation, which is the determinant of a certain species and genus, and which places him under the category of relation. Otherwise everything would be reduced to the category of substance, since no accidental form exists in itself, apart from the basis of underlying substance. But this is false. Therefore since the Pope and Emperor are what they are because of certain relations, the former through the Papacy, a relation in the province of fatherhood, and the latter through the Empire, a relation in the province of government, it is manifest that the Pope and the Emperor, in so far as they are such, must have place under the category of relation, and consequently must be subordinated to something in that genus.
4. Whence, I repeat, they are to be measured by one standard in so far as they are men, and by another in so far as they are Pope and Emperor. Now, in so far as they are men, they have to be measured by the best man (whoever he may be ), that is, by him who is the standard and ideal of all men, and who has the most perfect unity among his kind, as we may learn from the last book to Nicomachus. But in as far as they are relative, it is evident that one must be measured by the other, if one is subordinate; or they must unite in a common species from the nature of their relation; or they must be measured by a third something as their common ground of unity. But it cannot be maintained that one is subordinate to the other; that is, it is false to predicate one of the other, to call the Emperor the Pope, or to call the Pope the Emperor. Nor is it possible to maintain that they unite in a common species, for the relation of Pope, as such, is other than the relation of Emperor as Emperor. Therefore they must be measured by something beyond themselves in which they shall find a ground of unity.
5. At this point it must be understood that as relation stands to relation, so stands related thing to related thing. Hence if the Papacy and Empire, being relations of authority, must be measured with regard to the supreme authority from which they and their characteristic differences are derived, the Pope and Emperor, being relative, must be referred to some unity wherein may be found the supreme authority without these characteristic differences. And this will be either God Himself, in whom every relation is universally united, or in some substance inferior to God, in whom is found a supreme authority differentiated and derived from His perfect supremacy. And so it is evident that the Pope and Emperor, as men, are to be measured by one standard, but as Pope and Emperor by another. And this demonstration is from the argument according to reason.
1. Now that we have stated and rejected the errors on which those chiefly rely who declare that the authority of the Roman Prince is dependent on the Roman Pontiff, we must return and demonstrate the truth of that third question, which we propounded for discussion at the beginning. The truth will be evident enough if it can be shown, under the principle of inquiry agreed upon, that Imperial authority derives immediately from the summit of all being, which is God. And this will be shown, whether we prove that Imperial authority does not derive from that of the Church (for the dispute concerns no other authority), or whether we simply prove that it derives immediately from God.
2. That ecclesiastical authority is not the source of Imperial authority is thus verified. A thing non-existent or devoid of active force cannot be the cause of active force in a thing possessing that quality in full measure. But before the Church existed, or while it lacked power to act, the Empire had active force in full measure. Hence the Church is the source neither of acting power nor of authority in the Empire, where power to act and authority are identical. Let A be the Church, B the Empire, and C the power or authority of the Empire. If, A being non-existent, C is in B, the cause of C’s relation to B cannot be A, since it is impossible that an effect should exist prior to its cause. Moreover, if, A being inoperative, C is in B, the cause of C’s relation to B cannot be A, since it is indispensable for the production of effect that the cause should be in operation previously, especially the efficient cause which we are considering here.
3. The major premise of this demonstration is intelligible from its terms; the minor is confirmed by Christ and the Church. Christ attests it, as we said before, in His birth and death. The Church attests it in Paul’s declaration to Festus in the Acts of the Apostles: “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged;” and in the admonition of God’s angel to Paul a little later: “Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar;” and again still later in Paul’s words to the Jews dwelling in Italy: “And when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had aught to accuse my nation of,” but “that I might deliver my soul from death.” If Caesar had not already possessed the right to judge temporal matters, Christ would not have implied that he did, the angel would not have uttered such words, nor would he who said, “I desire to depart and be with Christ,” have appealed to an unqualified judge.
4. And if Constantine had no authority over the resources of the Church, that which he transferred to her from the Empire could not have been so transferred with Right, and the Church would be utilizing an unrighteous gift. But God desires that offerings be spotless, according to the text of Leviticus: “No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the Lord, shall be made with leaven;” and this command, though it seem to concern givers, refers nevertheless to recipients. For it is folly to believe that God desires that to be accepted which He forbids to be given. Indeed, in the same book is the command to the Levites: “Contaminate not your souls, nor touch anything of theirs, lest ye be unclean.” But it is highly improper to say that the Church uses unrighteously the patrimony deputed to her, therefore what followed from such a saying is false.
1. Besides, if the Church has power to confer authority on the Roman Prince, she would have it either from God, or from herself, or from some Emperor, or from the unanimous consent of mankind, or at least, from the consent of the most influential. There is no other least crevice through which the power could have diffused itself into the Church. But from none of these has it come to her, and therefore the aforesaid power is not hers at all.
2. Here is the proof that it has come from none of these sources. If she had received it from God, it would have been by divine or natural law, for what is received from nature is received from God, though the converse is not true. But this ecclesiastical right came not by natural law, for nature imposes no law save for her own effects, and inadequacy is not possible to God where He brings something into being without secondary agents. Since the Church is an effect not of nature, but of God, who said, “Upon this rock I will build my Church,” and in another place, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” it is indisputable that nature gave not this law to the Church.
3. Neither did this power come by divine law; for in the bosom of the two Testaments, wherein is embodied every divine law, I am unable to discover any command for the early or later priesthood to have care or solicitude in temporal things. Nay, I find rather that the early priests were released from such care by precept, as in the words God spake to Moses; and the same of later priests as in the words of Christ to His disciples. Nor would it have been possible to have been thus released, if the authority of temporal power originated with the priesthood; for at least anxiety concerning right provision would be with them in conferring authority, and then continual precaution, lest the authorized might deviate from the path of rectitude.
4. Also, that this power came not from the Church is easily seen. Nothing can give what it does not possess, so everything must be in act what it intends to do, as is held in the treatise on simple Being. But if the Church gave to herself that power, it was not hers before she gave it, and she thus would have given herself that which she did not possess, which cannot be.
5. That the power came not from some Emperor is sufficiently explained by what has gone before.
6. And, indeed, who doubts that it came not from the unanimous consent of men, or from that of the most influential? Not only all the people of Asia and Africa, but even the greater part of those inhabiting Europe, are averse to her. Truly, it is bootless to adduce proofs in matters perfectly evident.
1. Again, that which is contrary to the nature of anything is not numbered among its peculiar powers, since the powers of anything correspond to its nature for the attainment of its end. But the power to confer authority over the kingdom of our mortal life is contrary to the nature of the Church, and is therefore not numbered among her prerogatives.
2. To prove the minor premise, it must be known that the nature of the Church is the informing principle of the Church. For though the word “nature” may be used of material and form, yet it is used more properly of form, as is shown in the book on Natural Learning. But the form of the Church is naught else than the life of Christ as it is comprised in His teachings and in His deeds. Truly, His life was the ideal and exemplar of the Church militant, particularly of its pastors, and more than all of its Head Shepherd, whose duty it is to feed His sheep and lambs. Hence, when in the Gospel of John He bequeathed to men the informing principle of His life, He said, “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” And especially, as we learn from the same Gospel, when He said to Peter, after He had conferred upon Him the function of shepherd, “Peter, follow me.” But before Pilate, Christ disclaimed any ruling power of a temporal kind, saying, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence.”
3. This must not be understood to imply that Christ, who is God, is not Lord of the temporal kingdom, seeing that the Psalmist says, “The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land;” but rather to mean that, as exemplar of the Church, He had not charge of this kingdom. Similarly, if a golden seal were to say, “I am not the standard for any class of objects,” it would not speak truly, in so far as it is gold, the standard of all metals. It would speak truly only in so far as it is a particular stamp, capable of being received by impression.
4. Therefore it is the formal principle of the Church to declare and to believe Christ’s saying. To declare and to believe the opposite is manifestly contrary to the formal principle, or, what is the same thing, to the nature of the Church. We may gather from this that the prerogative to grant authority to the temporal domain is contrary to the nature of the Church, for contrariety in thought or in saying follows from contrariety in the thing spoken or thought. Just so truth or falsity in speech originates from the existence or non-existence of a thing, as the teaching of the Categories shows us. Through the above arguments, leading to an absurdity, has it been sufficiently demonstrated that the authority of Empire is not at all dependent upon the Church.
1. Although by the method of reduction to absurdity it has been shown in the foregoing chapter that the authority of Empire has not its source in the Chief Pontiff, yet it has not been fully proved, save by an inference, that its immediate source is God, seeing that if the authority does not depend on the Vicar of God, we conclude that it depends on God Himself. For a perfect demonstration of the proposition we must prove directly that the Emperor, or Monarch, of the world has immediate relationship to the Prince of the universe, who is God.
2. In order to realize this, it must be understood that man alone of all beings holds the middle place between corruptibility and incorruptibility, and is therefore rightly compared by philosophers to the horizon which lies between the two hemispheres. Man may be considered with regard to either of his essential parts, body or soul. If considered in regard to the body alone, he is perishable; if in regard to the soul alone, he is imperishable. So the Philosopher spoke well of its incorruptibility when he said in the second book on the Soul, “And this only can be separated as a thing eternal from that which perishes.”
3. If man holds a middle place between the perishable and imperishable, then, inasmuch as every mean shares the nature of the extremes, man must share both natures. And inasmuch as every nature is ordained for a certain ultimate end, it follows that there exists for man a two-fold end, in order that as he alone of all beings partakes of the perishable and the imperishable, so he alone of all beings should be ordained for two ultimate ends. One end is for that in him which is perishable, the other for that which is imperishable.
4. Ineffable Providence has thus designed two ends to be contemplated of man: first, the happiness of this life, which consists in the activity of his natural powers, and is prefigured by the terrestrial Paradise; and then the blessedness of life everlasting, which consists in the enjoyment of the countenance of God, to which man’s natural powers may not attain unless aided by divine light, and which may be symbolized by the celestial Paradise.
5. To these states of blessedness, just as to diverse conclusions, man must come by diverse means. To the former we come by the teachings of philosophy, obeying them by acting in conformity with the moral and intellectual virtues; to the latter through spiritual teachings which transcend human reason, and which we obey by acting in conformity with the theological virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity. Now the former end and means are made known to us by human reason, which the philosophers have wholly explained to us; and the latter by the Holy Spirit, which has revealed to us supernatural but essential truth through the Prophets and Sacred Writers, through Jesus Christ, the coeternal Son of God, and through His disciples. Nevertheless, human passion would cast all these behind, were not men, like horses astray in their brutishness, held to the road by bit and rein.
6. Wherefore a twofold directive agent was necessary to man, in accordance with the twofold end; the Supreme Pontiff to lead the human race to life eternal by means of revelation, and the Emperor to guide it to temporal felicity by means of philosophic instruction. And since none or few—and these with exceeding difficulty—could attain this port, were not the waves of seductive desire calmed, and mankind made free to rest in the tranquillity of peace, therefore this is the goal which he whom we call the guardian of the earth and Roman Prince should most urgently seek; then would it be possible for life on this mortal threshing-floor to pass in freedom and peace. The order of the world follows the order inherent in the revolution of the heavens. To attain this order it is necessary that instruction productive of liberality and peace should be applied by the guardian of the realm, in due place and time, as dispensed by Him who is the ever present Watcher of the whole order of the heavens. And He alone foreordained this order, that by it in His providence He might link together all things, each in its own place.
7. If this is so, and there is none higher than He, only God elects and only God confirms. Whence we may further conclude that neither those who are now, nor those who in any way whatsoever have been, called Electors, have the right to be so called; rather should they be entitled heralds of divine providence. Whence it is that those in whom is vested the dignity of proclamation suffer dissension among themselves at times, when, all or part of them being shadowed by the clouds of passion, they discern not the face of God’s dispensation.
8. It is established, then, that the authority of temporal Monarchy descends without mediation from the fountain of universal authority. And this fountain, one in its purity of source, flows into multifarious channels out of the abundance of its excellence.
9. Methinks I have now approached close enough to the goal I had set myself, for I have taken the kernels of truth from the husks of falsehood, in that question which asked whether the office of Monarchy was essential to the welfare of the world, and in the next which made inquiry whether the Roman people rightfully appropriated the Empire, and in the last which sought whether the authority of the Monarch derived from God immediately, or from some other. But the truth of this final question must not be restricted to mean that the Roman Prince shall not be subject in some degree to the Roman Pontiff, for felicity that is mortal is ordered in a measure after felicity that is immortal. Wherefore let Caesar honor Peter as a first-born son should honor his father, so that, refulgent with the light of paternal grace, he may illumine with greater radiance the earthly sphere over which he has been set by Him who alone is Ruler of all things spiritual and temporal.
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