Ambrose selected works 20202

Chapter II.

20202 The different ideas of philosophers on the subject of happiness. He proves, first, from the Gospel that it rests on the knowledge of God and the pursuit of good works; next, that it may not be thought that this idea was adopted from the philosophers, he adds proofs from the witness of the prophets.

4). The philosophers have made a happy life to depend, either (as Hieronymus4 ) on freedom from pain, or (as Herillus5 ) on knowledge. For Herillus, hearing knowledge very highly praised by Aristotle6 and Theophrastus,7 made it alone to be the chief good, when they really praised it as a good thing, not as the only good; others, as Epicurus,8 have called pleasure such; others, as Callipho,9 and after him Diodorus,10 understood it in such a way as to make a virtuous life go in union, the one with pleasure, the other with freedom from pain, since a happy life could not exist without it. Zeno,11 the Stoic, thought the highest and only good existed in a virtuous life. But Aristotle and Theophrastus and the other Peripatetics maintained that a happy life consisted in virtue, that is, in a virtuous life, but that its happiness was made complete by the advantages of the body and other external good things.

5. But the sacred Scriptures say that eternal life rests on a knowledge of divine things and on the fruit of good works. The Gospel bears witness to both these statements. For the Lord Jesus spoke thus of knowledge: “This is eternal life, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent,”12 About works He gives this answer: “Every one that hath forsaken house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My Name’s sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”13

6. Let no one think that this was but lately said, and that it was spoken of by the philosophers before it was mentioned in the Gospel. For the philosophers, that is to say, Aristotle and Theophrastus, as also Zeno and Hieronymus, certainly lived before the time of the Gospel; but they came after the prophets. Let them rather think how long before even the names of the philosophers were heard of, both of these seem to have found open expression through the mouth of the holy David; for it is written: “Blessed is the man whom Thou instructest, O Lord, and teachest him out of Thy law.”14 We find elsewhere also: “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, he will rejoice greatly in His commandments,”15 We have proved our point as regards knowledge, the reward for which the prophet states to be the fruit of eternity, adding that in the house of the man that feareth the Lord, or is instructed in His law and rejoices greatly in the divine commandments, “is glory and riches; and his justice abideth for ever and ever.”16 He has further also in the same psalm stated of good works, that they gain for an upright man the gift of eternal life. He speaks thus: “Blessed is the man that showeth pity and lendeth, he will guide his affairs with discretion, surely he shall not be moved for ever, the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance,”17 And further: “He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor, his justice endureth for ever.”18

7. Faith, then, has [the promise of] eternal life, for it is a good foundation. Good works, too, have the same, for an upright man is tested by his words and acts. For if a man is always busy talking and yet is slow to act, he shows by his acts how worthless his knowledge is: besides it is much worse to know what one ought to do, and yet not to do what one has learnt should be done. On the other hand, to be active in good works and unfaithful at heart is as idle as though one wanted to raise a beautiful and lofty dome upon a bad foundation. The higher one builds, the greater is the fall; for without the protection of faith good works cannot stand. A treacherous anchorage in a harbour perforates a ship, and a sandy bottom quickly gives way and cannot bear the weight of the building placed upon it. There then will be found the fulness of reward, where the virtues are perfect, and where there is a reasonable agreement between words and acts.

Chapter III.

The definition of blessedness as drawn from the Scriptures is considered and proved. It cannot be enhanced by external good fortune, nor can it be weakened by misfortune.

8). As, then, knowledge, so far as it stands alone, is put aside either as worthless, according to the superfluous discussions of the philosophers,19 or as but an imperfect idea, let us now note how clearly the divine Scriptures explain a thing about which we see the philosophers held so many involved and perplexing ideas. For the Scriptures state that nothing is good but what is virtuous, and declare that virtue is blessed in every circumstance, and that it is never enhanced by either corporal or other external good fortune, nor is it weakened by adversity. No state is so blessed as that wherein one is free from sin, is filled with innocence, and is fully supplied with the grace of God. For it is written: “Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and hath not stood in the way of sinners, and hath not sat in the seat of pestilence, but in the law of the Lord was his delight.”20 And again: “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.”21

9. Innocence, then, and knowledge make a man blessed. We have also noted already that the blessedness of eternal life is the reward for good works. It remains, then, to show that when the patronage of pleasure or the fear of pain is despised (and the first of these one abhors as poor and effeminate, and the other as unmanly and weak), that then a blessed life can rise up in the midst of pain. This can easily be shown when we read: “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you for righteousness’ sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”22 And again: “He that will come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me.”23

Chapter IV.

20204 The same argument, namely, that blessedness is not lessened or added to by external matters, is illustrated by the example of men of old.

10). There is, then, a blessedness even in pains and griefs. All which virtue with its sweetness checks and restrains, abounding as it does in natural resources for either soothing conscience or increasing grace. For Moses was blessed in no small degree when, surrounded by the Egyptians and shut in by the sea, he found by his merits a way for himself and the people to go through the waters.24 When was he ever braver than at the moment when, surrounded by the greatest dangers, he gave not up the hope of safety, but besought a triumph?

11. What of Aaron? When did he ever think himself more blessed than when he stood between the living and the dead, and by his presence stayed death from passing from the bodies of the dead to the lines of the living?25 What shall I say of the youth Daniel, who was so wise that, when in the midst of the lions enraged with hunger, he was by no means overcome with terror at the fierceness of the beasts. So free from fear was he, that he could eat, and was not afraid he might by his example excite the animals to feed on him.26

12. There is, then, in pain a virtue that can display the sweetness of a good conscience, and therefore it serves as a proof that pain does not lessen the pleasure of virtue. As, then, there is no loss of blessedness to virtue through pain, so also the pleasures of the body and the enjoyment that benefits give add nothing to it. On this the Apostle says well: “What things to me were gain, those I counted loss for Christ,” and he added: “Wherefore I count all things but loss, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”27

13. Moses, too, thought the treasures of Egypt to be his loss, and thus showed forth in his life the reproach of the Cross of the Lord. He was not rich when he had abundance of money, nor was he afterwards poor when he was in want of food, unless, perchance, there is any one who thinks he was less happy when daily food was wanting to him and his people in the wilderness. But yet manna, that is, angels’ food, which surely none will dare deny to be a mark of the greatest good and of blessedness, was given him from heaven; also the daily shower of meat was sufficient to feed the whole multitude.28

14. Bread for food also failed Elijah, that holy man, had he sought for it; but it seemed not to fail him because he sought it not. Thus by the daily service of the ravens bread was brought to him in the morning, meat in the evening.29 Was he any the less blessed because he was poor to himself? Certainly not. Nay, he was the more blessed, for he was rich toward God. It is better to be rich for others than for oneself. He was so, for in the time of famine he asked a widow for food, intending to repay it, so that the barrel of meal failed not for three years and six months, and the oil jar sufficed and served the needy widow for her daily use all that time also.30 Rightly did Peter wish to be there where he saw them. Rightly did they appear in the mount with Christ in glory,31 for He Himself became poor when He was rich.

15. Riches, then, give no assistance to living a blessed life, a fact that the Lord clearly shows in the Gospel, saying: “Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst now, for they shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh.”32 Thus it is stated as plainly as possible that poverty, hunger, and pain, which are considered to be evils, not only are not hindrances to a blessed life, but are actually so many helps toward it.

Chapter V.

Those things which are generally looked on as good are mostly hindrances to a blessed life, and those which are looked on as evil are the materials out of which virtues grow. What belongs to blessedness is shown by other examples.

16). But those things which seem to be good, as riches, abundance, joy without pain, are a hindrance to the fruits of blessedness, as is clearly stated in the Lord’s own words, when He said: “Woe to you rich, for ye have received your consolation! Woe unto you that are full, for ye shall hunger, and to those who laugh, for they shall mourn!”33 So, then, corporal or external good things are not only no assistance to attaining a blessed life, but are even a hindrance to it.

17. Wherefore Naboth was blessed, even though he was stoned by the rich; weak and poor, as opposed to the royal resources, he was rich in his aim and his religion; so rich, indeed, that he would not exchange the inheritance of the vineyard received from his father for the king’s money; and on this account was he perfect, for he defended the rights of his forefathers with his own blood. Thus, also, Ahab was wretched on his own showing, for he caused the poor man to be put to death, so as to take possession of his vineyard himself.34

18. It is quite certain that virtue is the only and the highest good; that it alone richly abounds in the fruit of a blessed life; that a blessed life, by means of which eternal life is won, does not depend on external or corporal benefits, but on virtue only. A blessed life is the fruit of the present, and eternal life is the hope of the future.

19. Some, however, there are who think a blessed life is impossible in this body, weak and fragile as it is. For in it one must suffer pain and grief, one must weep, one must be ill. So I could also say that a blessed life rests on bodily rejoicing, but not on the heights of wisdom, on the sweetness of conscience, or on the loftiness of virtue. It is not a blessed thing to be in the midst of suffering; but it is blessed to be victorious over it, and not to be cowed by the power of temporal pain.

20. Suppose that things come which are accounted terrible as regards the grief they cause, such as blindness, exile, hunger, violation of a daughter, loss of children. Who will deny that Isaac was blessed, who did not see in his old age, and yet gave blessings with his benediction?35 Was not Jacob blessed who, leaving his father’s house, endured exile as a shepherd for pay,36 and mourned for the violated chastity of his daughter,37 and suffered hunger?38 Were they not blessed on whose good faith God received witness, as it is written: “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”?39 A wretched thing is slavery, but Joseph was not wretched; nay, clearly he was blessed, when he whilst in slavery checked the lusts of his mistress.40 What shall I say of holy David who bewailed the death of three sons,41 and, what was even worse than this, his daughter’s incestuous connection?42 How could he be unblessed from whom the Author of blessedness Himself sprung, Who has made many blessed? For: “Blessed are they who have not seen yet have believed.”43 All these felt their own weakness, but they bravely prevailed over it. What can we think of as more wretched than holy Job, either in the burning of his house, or the instantaneous death of his ten sons, or his bodily pains?44 Was he less blessed than if he had not endured those things whereby he really showed himself approved?

21. True it is that in these sufferings there is something bitter, and that strength of mind cannot hide this pain. I should not deny that the sea is deep because inshore it is shallow, nor that the sky is clear because sometimes it is covered with clouds, nor that the earth is fruitful because in some places there is but barren ground, nor that the crops are rich and full because they sometimes have wild oats mingled with them. So, too, count it as true that the harvest of a happy conscience may be mingled with some bitter feelings of grief. In the sheaves of the whole of a blessed life, if by chance any misfortune or bitterness has crept in, is it not as though the wild oats were hidden, or as though the bitterness of the tares was concealed by the sweet scent of the corn? But let us now proceed again with our subject.

Chapter VI.

20206 On what is useful: not that which is advantageous, but that which is just and virtuous. It is to be found in losses, and is divided into what is useful for the body, and what is useful unto godliness.

22). In the first book we made our division in such a way as to set in the first place what is virtuous and what is seemly; for all duties are derived from these. In the second place we set what is useful. But as at the start we said that there was a difference between what is virtuous and what is seemly—which one can comprehend more easily than one can explain—so also when we are thinking of what is useful, we have to give considerable thought to what is the more useful.45

23. But we do not reckon usefulness by the value of any gain in money, but in acquiring godliness, as the Apostle says: “But godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”46 Thus in the holy Scriptures, if we look carefully we shall often find that what is virtuous is called useful: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not profitable” [useful].47 Before that he was speaking of vices, and so means: It is lawful to sin, but it is not seemly. Sins rest in one’s own power, but they are not virtuous. To live wantonly is easy, but it is not right. For food serves not God but the belly.

24. Therefore, because what is useful is also just, it is just to serve Christ, Who redeemed us. They too are just who for His Name’s sake have given themselves up to death, they are unjust who have avoided it. Of them it says: What profit is there in my blood?48 that is: what advance has my justice made? Wherefore they also say: “Let us bind the just, for he is useless to us,”49 that is: he is unjust, for he complains of us, condemns and rebukes us. This could also be referred to the greed of impious men, which closely resembles treachery; as we read in the case of the traitor Judas, who in his longing for gain and his desire for money put his head into the noose of treachery and fell.

25. We have then to speak of that usefulness which is full of what is virtuous, as the Apostle himself has laid it down in so many words, saying: “And this I speak for your own profit, not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely.”50 It is plain, then, that what is virtuous is useful, and what is useful is virtuous; also that what is useful is just, and what is just is useful. I can say this, for I am speaking, not to merchants who are covetous from a desire to make gain, but to my children. And I am speaking of the duties which I wish to impress upon and impart to you, whom I have chosen for the service of the Lord; so that those things which have been already implanted and fixed in your minds and characters by habit and training may now be further unfolded to you by explanation and instruction.

26. Therefore as I am about to speak of what is useful, I will take up those words of the Prophet: “Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies and not to covetousness,”51 that the sound of the word “useful” may not rouse in us the desire for money. Some indeed put it thus: “Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies and not to what is useful,” that is, that kind of usefulness which is always on the watch for making gains in business, and has been bent and diverted by the habits of men to the pursuit of money. For as a rule most people call that only useful which is profitable, but we are speaking of that kind of usefulness which is sought in earthly loss “that we may gain Christ,”52 whose gain is “godliness with contentment.”53 Great, too, is the gain whereby we attain to godliness, which is rich with God, not indeed in fleeting wealth, but in eternal gifts, and in which rests no uncertain trial but grace constant and unending.

27. There is therefore a usefulness connected with the body, and also one that has to do with godliness, according to the Apostle’s division: “Bodily exercise profiteth a little, but godliness is profitable unto all things.”54 And what is so virtuous as integrity? what so seemly as to preserve the body unspotted and undefiled, and its purity unsullied? What, again, is so seemly as that a widow should keep her plighted troth to her dead husband? What more useful than this whereby the heavenly kingdom is attained? For “there are some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.”55

Chapter VII.

20207 What is useful is the same as what is virtuous; nothing is more useful than love, which is gained by gentleness, courtesy, kindness, justice, and the other virtues, as we are given to understand from the histories of Moses and David. Lastly, confidence springs from love, and again love from confidence.

28). There is therefore not only a close intercourse between what is virtuous and what is useful, but the same thing is both useful and virtuous. Therefore He Who willed to open the kingdom of heaven to all sought not what was useful to Himself, but what was useful for all. Thus we must have a certain order and proceed step by step from habitual or common acts to those which are more excellent, so as to show by many examples the advancement of what is useful.

29. And first we may know there is nothing so useful as to be loved,56 nothing so useless as not to be loved; for to be hated in my opinion is simply fatal and altogether deadly. We speak of this, then, in order that we may take care to give cause for a good estimate and opinion to be formed of us, and may try to get a place in others’ affections through our calmness of mind and kindness of soul. For goodness is agreeable and pleasing to all, and there is nothing that so easily reaches human feelings. And if that is assisted by gentleness of character and willingness, as well as by moderation in giving orders and courtesy of speech, by honour in word, by a ready interchange of conversation and by the grace of modesty, it is incredible how much all this tends to an increase of love.57

30. We read, not only in the case of private individuals but even of kings, what is the effect of ready and willing courtesy, and what harm pride and great swelling words have done, so far as to make even kingdoms to totter and powers to be destroyed. If any one gains the people’s favour by advice or service, by fulfilling the duties of his ministry or office, or if he encounters danger for the sake of the whole nation, there is no doubt but that such love will be shown him by the people that they all will put his safety and welfare before their own.

31. What reproaches Moses had to bear from his people! But when the Lord would have avenged him on those who reviled him, he often used to offer himself for the people that he might save them from the divine anger.58 With what gentle words used he to address the people, even after he was wronged I He comforted them in their labours, consoled them by his prophetic declarations of the future, and encouraged them by his works. And though he often spoke with God, yet he was wont to address men gently and pleasantly. Worthily was he considered to stand above all men. For they could not even look on his face,59 and refused to believe that his sepulchre was found.60 He had captivated the minds of all the people to such an extent; that they loved him even more for his gentleness than they admired him for his deeds.

32. There is David too who followed his steps, who was chosen from among all to rule the people. How gentle and kindly he was, humble in spirit too, how diligent and ready to show affection. Before he came to the throne he offered himself in the stead of all.61 As king he showed himself an equal to all in warfare, and shared in their labours. He was brave in battle, gentle in ruling, patient under abuse, and more ready to bear than to return wrongs. So dear was he to all, that though a youth, he was chosen even against his will to rule over them, and was made to undertake the duty though he withstood it. When old he was asked by his people not to engage in battle, because they all preferred to incur danger for his sake rather than that he should undergo it for theirs.

33. He had bound the people to himself freely in doing his duty; first, when he during the division among the people preferred to live like an exile at Hebron62 rather than to reign at Jerusalem; next, when he showed that he loved valour even in an enemy. He had also thought that justice should be shown to those who had borne arms against himself the same as to his own men. Again, he admired Abner, the bravest champion of the opposing side, whilst he was their leader and was yet waging war. Nor did he despise him when suing for peace, but honoured him by a banquet.63 When killed by treachery, he mourned and wept for him. He followed him and honoured his obsequies, and evinced his good faith in desiring vengeance for the murder; for he handed on that duty to his son in the charge that he gave him,64 being anxious rather that the death of an innocent man should not be left unavenged, than that any one should mourn for his own.

34. It is no small thing, especially in the case of a king, so to perform humble duties as to make oneself like the very lowest. It is noble not to seek for food at another’s risk and to refuse a drink of water, to contless a sin, and to offer oneself to death for one’s people. This latter David did, so that the divine anger might be turned against himself, when he offered himself to the destroying angel and said: “Lo I have sinned: I the shepherd have done wickedly, but this flock, what hath it done? Let Thy hand be against me.”65

35. What further should I say? He opened not his mouth to those planning deceit, and, as though hearing not, he thought no word should be returned, nor did be answer their reproaches. When he was evil spoken of, he prayed, when he was cursed, he blessed. He walked in simplicity of heart, and fled from the proud. He was a follower of those unspotted from the world, one who mixed ashes with his food when bewailing his sins, and mingled his drink with weeping.66 Worthily, then, was he called for by all the people. All the tribes of Israel came to him saying: “Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. Also yesterday and the day before when Saul lived, and reigned, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel. And the Lord said to thee, Thou shalt feed My people!”67 And why should I say more about him of whom the word of the Lord has gone forth to say: “I have found David according to My heart”?68 Who ever walked in holiness of heart and in justice as he did, so as to fulfil the will of God; for whose sake pardon was granted to his children when they sinned, and their rights were preserved to his heirs?69

36. Who would not have loved him, when they saw how dear he was to his friends? For as he truly loved his friends, so he thought that he was loved as much in return by his own friends. Nay, parents put him even before their own children, and children loved him more than their parents. Wherefore Saul was very angry and strove to strike Jonathan his son with a spear because he thought that David’s friendship held a higher place in his esteem than either filial piety or a father’s authority.70

37. It gives a very great impetus to mutual love if one shows love in return to those who love us and proves that one does not love them less than oneself is loved, especially if one shows it by the proofs that a faithful friendship gives. What is so likely to win favour as gratitude? What more natural than to love one who loves us? What so implanted and so impressed on men’s feelings as the wish to let another, by whom we want to be loved, know that we love him? Well does the wise man say: “Lose thy money for thy brother and thy friend.”71 And again: “I will not be ashamed to defend a friend, neither will I hide myself from him.”72 If, indeed, the words in Ecclesiasticus testify that the medicine of life and immortality is in a friend;73 yet none has ever doubted that it is in love that our best defence lies. As the Apostle says: “It beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things; love never faileth.”74

38. Thus David failed not, for he was dear to all, and wished to be loved rather than feared by his subjects. Fear keeps the watch of temporal protection, but knows not how to keep guard permanently.75 And so where fear has departed, boldness often creeps in; for fear does not force confidence but affection calls it forth.

39. Love, then, is the first thing to give us a recommendation. It is a good thing therefore to have our witness in the love of many.76 Then arises confidence, so that even strangers are not afraid to trust themselves to thy kindness, when they see thee so dear to many. So likewise one goes through confidence to love, so that he who has shown good faith to one or two has an influence as it were on the minds of all, and wins the good-will of all.

Chapter VIII.

20208 Nothing has greater effect in gaining good-will than giving advice; but none can trust it unless it rests on justice and prudence. How conspicuous these two virtues were in Solomon is shown by his well-known judgment.

40). Two things, therefore, love and confidence, are the most efficacious in commending us to others; also this third quality if thou hast it, namely, what many consider to be worthy of admiration in thee, and think to be rightly worthy of honour77 [the power, in fact, of giving good advice].

41. Since the giving of good advice is a great means of gaining men’s affections, prudence and justice are much needed in every case. These are looked for by most, so that confidence at once is placed in him in whom they exist, because he can give useful and trustworthy advice to whoever wants it. Who will put himself into the hands of a man whom he does not think to be more wise than himself who asks for advice? It is necessary therefore that he of whom advice is asked should be superior to him who asks it. For why should we consult a man when we do not think that he can make anything more plain than we ourselves see it?

42. But if we have found a man that by the vigour of his character, by his strength of mind and influence, stands forth above all others, and further, is better fitted by example and experience than others; that can put an end to immediate dangers, foresee future ones, point out those close at hand, can explain a subject, bring relief in time, is ready not only to give advice but also to give help,—in such a man confidence is placed, so that he who seeks advice can say: “Though evil should happen to me through him, I will bear it.”78

43. To a man of this sort then we entrust our safety and our reputation, for he is, as we said before, just and prudent. Justice causes us to have no fear of deceit, and prudence frees us from having any suspicions of error. However, we trust ourselves more readily to a just than to a prudent man, to put it in the way people generally do. But, according to the definition of the philosophers, where there is one virtue, others exist too,79 whilst prudence cannot exist without justice. We find this stated also in our writers, for David says: “The just showeth mercy and lendeth.”80 What the just lends, he says elsewhere: “A good man is he that showeth mercy and lendeth, he will guide his words with discretion.”81

44. Is not that noble judgment of Solomon full of wisdom and justice? Let us see whether it is so.82 “Two women,” it says, “stood before King Solomon, and the one said to him, Hear me, my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house, and before the third day we gave birth and bore a son apiece, and were together, there was no witness in the house, nor any other woman with us, only we two alone. And her son died this night, because she overlaid it, and she arose at midnight, and took my son from my breast, and laid it in her bosom, and her dead child she laid at my breast, And I arose in the morning to give my child suck, and found him dead. And I considered it at dawn, and behold it was not my son. And the other woman said, Nay, but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son.”

45. This was their dispute, in which either tried to claim the living child for herself, and denied that the dead one was hers. Then the king commanded a sword to be brought and the infant to be cut in half, and either piece to be given to one, one half to the one, and one half to the other. Then the woman whose the child really was, moved by her feelings, cried out: “Dividenot the child, my lord; let it rather be given to her and live, and do not kill it.” But the other answered: “Let it be neither mine nor hers, divide it.” Then the king ordered that the infant should be given to the woman who had said: Do not kill it, but give it to that woman; “For,” as it says, “her bowels yearned upon her son.”83

46. It is not wrong to suppose that the mind of God was in him; for what is hidden from God? What can be more hidden than the witness that lies deep within; into which the mind of the wise king entered as though to judge a mother’s feelings, and elicited as it were the voice of a mother’s heart. For a mother’s feelings were laid bare, when she chose that her son should live with another, rather than that he should be killed in his mother’s sight.

47. It was therefore a sign of wisdom to distinguish between secret heart-thoughts, to draw the truth from hidden springs, and to pierce as it were with the sword of the Spirit not only the inward parts of the body, but even of the mind and soul. It was the part of justice also that she who had killed her own child should not take away another’s, but that the real mother should have her own back again. Indeed the Scriptures have declared this. “All Israel,” it says, “heard of the judgment which the king had judged, and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment.”84 Solomon also himself had asked for wisdom, so that a prudent heart might be given him to hear and to judge with justice.85

Ambrose selected works 20202