Augustin: City of God 141

During those times the kingdom of Argos came to an end; being transferred to Mycene, from which Agamemnon came, and the kingdom of Laurentum arose, of which Picus son of Saturn was the first king, when the woman Deborah judged the Hebrews; bill it was the Spirit of God who used her as His agent, for she was also a prophetess, although her prophecy is so obscure that we could not demonstrate, without a long discussion, that it was uttered concerning Christ. Now the Laurentes already reigned in Italy, from whom the origin of the Roman people is quite evidently derived after the Greeks; yet the kingdom of Assyria still lasted, in which Lampares was the twenty-third king when Picus first began to reign at Laurentum. The worshippers of such gods may see what they are to think of Saturn the father of Picus, who deny that he was a man; of whom some also have written that he himself reigned in Italy before Picus his son; and Virgil in his well-known book says,

“That race indocile, and through mountains highDispersed, he settled, and endowed with laws, And named their country Latium, becauseLatent within their coasts he dwelt secure.Tradition says the golden ages pureBegan when he was king.”7

 But they regard these as poetic fancies, and assert that the father of Picus was Sterces rather, and relate that, being a most skillful husbandman, he discovered that the fields could be fertilized by the dung of animals, which is called stercus from his name. Some say he was called Stercutius. But for whatever reason they chose to call him Saturn, it is yet certain they made this Sterces or Stercutius a god for his merit in agriculture; and they likewise received into the number of these gods Picus his son, whom they affirm to have been a famous augur and warrior. Picus begot Faunus, the second king of Laurentum; and he too is, or was, a god with them. These divine honors they gave to dead men before the Trojan war.

Chapter 16.—Of Diomede, Who After the Destruction of Troy Was Placed Among the Gods, While His Companions are Said to Have Been Changed into Birds.

Troy was overthrown, and its destruction was everywhere sung and made well known even to boys; for it was signally published and spread abroad, both by its own greatness and by writers of excellent style. And this was done in the reign of Latinus the son of Faunus, from whom the kingdom began to be called Latium instead of Laurentum. The victorious Greeks, on leaving Troy destroyed and returning to their own countries, were torn and crushed by divers and horrible calamities. Yet even from among them they increased the number of their gods for they made Diomede a god. They allege that his return home was prevented by a divinely imposed punishment, and they prove, not by fabulous and poetic falsehood, but by historic attestation, that his companions were turned into birds. Yet they think that, even although he was made a god, he could neither restore them to the human form by his own power, nor yet obtain it from Jupiter his king, as a favor granted to a new inhabitant of heaven. They also say that his temple is in the island of Diomedaea, not far from Mount Garganus in Apulia, and that these birds fly round about this temple, and worship in it with such wonderful obedience, that they fill their beaks with water and sprinkle it; and if Greeks, or those born of the Greek race, come there, they are not only still, but fly to meet them; but if they are foreigners, they fly up at their heads, and wound them with such severe strokes as even to kill them. For they are said to be well enough armed for these combats with their hard and large beaks.

Chapter 17.—What Varro Says of the Incredible Transformations of Men.

In support of this story, Varro relates others no less incredible about that most famous sorceress Circe, who changed the companions of Ulysses into beasts, and about the Arcadians, who, by lot, swam across a certain pool, and were turned into wolves there, and lived in the deserts of that region with wild beasts like themselves. But if they never fed on human flesh for nine years, they were restored to the human form on swimming back again through the same pool. Finally, he expressly names one Demaenetus, who, on tasting a boy offered up in sacrifice by the Arcadians to their god Lycaeus according to their custom, was changed into a wolf, and, being restored to his proper form in the tenth year, trained himself as a pugilist, and was victorious at the Olympic games. And the same historian thinks that the epithet Lycaeus was applied in Arcadia to Pan and Jupiter for no other reason than this metamorphosis of men into wolves, because it was thought it could not be wrought except by a divine power. For a wolf is called in Greek luko;", from which the name Lycaeus appears to be formed. He says also that the Roman Luperci were as it were sprung of the seed of these mysteries.

1 Not extant).
2 In the Hebrew text, Gn 25,7, a hundred and seventy-five years).
3 (Gn 49,10).
4 Arh" and pavgo".
5 (1Co 15,46-47.
6 The priests who officiated at the Lupercalia).
7 Aeneid, 8,321.

Chapter 18.—What We Should Believe Concerning the Transformations Which Seem to Happen to Men Through the Art of Demons.

Perhaps our readers expect us to say something about this so great delusion wrought by the demons; and what shall we say but that men must fly out of the midst of Babylon? (Is 48,20) For this prophetic precept is to be understood spiritually in this sense, that by going forward in the living God, by the steps of faith, which worketh by love, we must flee out of the city of this world, which is altogether a society of ungodly angels and men. Yea, the greater we see the power of the demons to be in these depths, so much the more tenaciously must we cleave to the Mediator through whom we ascend from these lowest to the highest places. For if we should say these things are not to be credited, there are not wanting even now some who would affirm that they had either heard on the best authority, or even themselves experienced, something of that kind. Indeed we ourselves, when in Italy, heard such things about a certain region there where landladies of inns, imbued with these wicked arts, were said to be in the habit of giving to such travellers as they chose, or could manage, something in a piece of cheese by which they were changed on the spot into beasts of burden, and carried whatever was necessary, and were restored to their own form when the work was done. Yet their mind did not become bestial, but remained rational and human, just as Apuleius, in the books he wrote with the title of The Golden Ass, has told, or feigned, that it happened to his own self that, on taking poison, he became an ass, while retaining his human mind.

These things are either false, or so extraordinary as to be with good reason disbelieved. But it is to be most firmly believed that Almighty God can do whatever He pleases, whether in punishing or favoring, and that the demons can accomplish nothing by their natural power (for their created being is itself angelic, although made malign by their own fault), except what He may permit, whose judgments are often hidden, but never unrighteous. And indeed the demons, if they really do such things as these on which this discussion turns, do not create real substances, but only change the appearance of things created by the true God so as to make them seem to be what they are not. I cannot therefore believe that even the body, much less the mind, can really be changed into bestial forms and lineaments by any reason, art, or power of the demons; but the phantasm of a man which even in thought or dreams goes through innumerable changes may, when the man’s senses are laid asleep or overpowered, be presented to the senses of others in a corporeal form, in some indescribable way unknown to me, so that men’s bodies themselves may lie somewhere, alive, indeed, yet with their senses locked up much more heavily and firmly than by sleep, while that phantasm, as it were embodied in the shape of some animal, may appear to the senses of others, and may even seem to the man himself to be changed, just as he may seem to himself in sleep to be so changed, and to bear burdens; and these burdens, if they are real substances, are borne by the demons, that men may be deceived by beholding at the same time the real substance of the burdens and the simulated bodies of the beasts of burden. For a certain man called Praestantius used to tell that it had happened to his father in his own house, that he took that poison in a piece of cheese, and lay in his bed as if sleeping, yet could by no means be aroused. But he said that after a few days he as it were woke up and related the things he had suffered as if they had been dreams, namely, that he had been made a sumpter horse, and, along with other beasts of burden, had carried provisions for the soldiers of what is called the Rhoetian Legion, because it was sent to Rhoetia. And all this was found to have taken place just as he told, yet it had seemed to him to be his own dream. And another man declared that in his own house at night, before he slept, he saw a certain philosopher, whom he knew very well, come to him and explain to him some things in the Platonic philosophy which he had previously declined to explain when asked. And when he had asked this philosopher why he did in his house what he had refused to do at home, he said, “I did not do it, but I dreamed I had done it.” And thus what the one saw when sleeping was shown to the other when awake by a phantasmal image.

These things have not come to us from persons we might deem unworthy of credit, but from informants we could not suppose to be deceiving us. Therefore what men say and have committed to writing about the Arcadians being often changed into wolves by the Arcadian gods, or demons rather, and what is told in song about Circe transforming the companions of Ulysses,9 if they were really done, may, in my opinion, have been done in the way I have said. As for Diomede’s birds, since their race is alleged to have been perpetuated by constant propagation, I believe they were not made through the metamorphosis of men, but were slyly substituted for them on their removal, just as the hind was for Iphigenia, the daughter of king Agamemnon. For juggleries of this kind could not be difficult for the demons if permitted by the judgment of God; and since that virgin was afterwards, found alive it is easy to see that a hind had been slyly substituted for her. But because the companions of Diomede were of a sudden nowhere to be seen, and afterwards could nowhere be found, being destroyed by bad avenging angels, they were believed to have been changed into those birds, which were secretly brought there from other places where such birds were, and suddenly substituted for them by fraud. But that they bring water in their beaks and sprinkle it on the temple of Diomede, and that they fawn on men of Greek race and persecute aliens, is no wonderful thing to be done by the inward influence of the demons, whose interest it is to persuade men that Diomede was made a god, and thus to beguile them into worshipping many false gods, to the great dishonor of the true God; and to serve dead men, who even in their lifetime did not truly live, with temples, altars, sacrifices, and priests, all which, when of the right kind, are due only to the one living and true God.

9 Virgil, Eclogue, 8,70).

Chapter 19.—That Aeneas Came into Italy When Abdon the Judge Ruled Over the Hebrews.

142 After the capture and destruction of Troy, Aeneas, with twenty ships laden with the Trojan relics, came into Italy, when Latinus reigned there, Menestheus in Athens, Polyphidos in Sicyon, and Tautanos in Assyria, and Abdon was judge of the Hebrews. On the death of Latinus, Aeneas reigned three years, the same kings continuing in the above-named places, except that Pelasgus was now king in Sicyon, and Samson was judge of the Hebrews, who is thought to be Hercules, because of his wonderful strength. Now the Latins made Aeneas one of their gods, because at his death he was nowhere to be found. The Sabines also placed among the gods their first king, Sancus, [Sangus], or Sanctus, as some call him. At that time Codrus king of Athens exposed himself incognito to be slain by the Peloponnesian foes of that city, and so was slain. In this way, they say, he delivered his country. For the Peloponnesians had received a response from the oracle, that they should overcome the Athenians only on condition that they did not slay their king. Therefore he deceived them by appearing in a poor man’s dress, and provoking them, by quarrelling, to murder him. Whence Virgil says, “Or the quarrels of Codrus.”10 And the Athenians worshipped this man as a god with sacrificial honors. The fourth king of the Latins was Silvius the son of Aeneas, not by Creusa, of whom Ascanius the third king was born, but by Lavinia the daughter of Latinus, and he is said to have been his posthumous child. Oneus was the twenty-ninth king of Assyria, Melanthus the sixteenth of the Athenians, and Eli the priest was judge of the Hebrews; and the kingdom of Sicyon then came to an end, after lasting, it is said, for nine hundred and fifty-nine years.

10 Virgil, Eclogue, 5,11.

Chapter 20.—Of the Succession of the Line of Kings Among the Israelites After the Times of the Judges.

While these kings reigned in the places mentioned, the period of the judges being ended, the kingdom of Israel next began with king Saul, when Samuel the prophet lived. At that date those Latin kings began who were surnamed Silvii, having that surname, in addition to their proper name, from their predecessor, that son of Aeneas who was called Silvius; just as, long afterward, the successors of Caesar Augustus were surnamed Caesars. Saul being rejected, so that none of his issue should reign, on his death David succeeded him in the kingdom, after he had reigned forty years. Then the Athenians ceased to have kings after the death of Codrus, and began to have a magistracy to rule the republic. After David, who also reigned forty years, his son Solomon was king of Israel, who built that most noble temple of God at Jerusalem. In his time Alba was built among the Latins, from which thereafter the kings began to be styled kings not of the Latins, but of the Albans, although in the same Latium. Solomon was succeeded by his son Rehoboam, under whom that people was divided into two kingdoms, and its separate parts began to have separate kings.

Chapter 21.—Of the Kings of Latium, the First and Twelfth of Whom, Aeneas and Aventinus, Were Made Gods.

After Aeneas, whom they deified, Latium had eleven kings, none of whom was deified. But Aventinus, who was the twelfth after Aeneas, having been laid low in war, and buried in that hill still called by his name, was added to the number of such gods as they made for themselves. Some, indeed, were unwilling to write that he was slain in battle, but said he was nowhere to be found, and that it was not from his name, but from the alighting of birds, that hill was called Aventinus.11 After this no god was made in Latium except Romulus the founder of Rome. But two kings are found between these two, the first of whom I shall describe in the Virgilian verse:

“Next came that Procas, glory of the Trojan race.”12

That greatest of all kingdoms, the Assyrian, had its long duration brought to a close in his time, the time of Rome’s birth drawing nigh. For the Assyrian empire was transferred to the Medes after nearly thirteen hundred and five years, if we include the reign of Belus, who begot Ninus, and, content with a small kingdom, was the first king there. Now Procas reigned before Amulius. And Amulius had made his brother Numitor’s daughter, Rhea by name, who was also called Ilia, a vestal virgin, who conceived twin sons by Mars, as they will have it, in that way honoring or excusing her adultery, adding as a proof that a she-wolf nursed the infants when exposed. For they think this kind of beast belongs to Mars so that the she-wolf is believed to have given her teats to the infants, because she knew they were the sons of Mars her lord; although there are not wanting persons who say that when the crying babes lay exposed, they were first of all picked up by I know not what harlot, and sucked her breasts first (now harlots were called lupae, she-wolves, from which their vile abodes are even yet called lupanaria), and that afterwards they came into the hands of the shepherd Faustulus, and were nursed by Acca his wife. Yet what wonder is it, if, to rebuke the king who had cruelly ordered them to be thrown into the water, God was pleased, after divinely delivering them from the water, to succor, by means of a wild beast giving milk, these infants by whom so great a city was to be rounded? Amulius was succeeded in the Latian kingdom by his brother Numitor, the grandfather of Romulus; and Rome was rounded in the first year of this Numitor, who from that time reigned along with his grandson Romulus.

11 Varro, De Lingua Latina, 5, 43.
12 Aeneid, 6,767).

Chapter 22.—That Rome Was Founded When the Assyrian Kingdom Perished, at Which Time Hezekiah Reigned in Judah.

To be brief, the city of Rome was rounded, like another Babylon, and as it were the daughter of the former Babylon, by which God was pleased to conquer the whole world, and subdue it far and wide by bringing it into one fellowship of government and laws. For there were already powerful and brave peoples and nations trained to arms, who did not easily yield, and whose subjugation necessarily involved great danger and destruction as well as great and horrible labor. For when the Assyrian kingdom subdued almost all Asia, although this was done by fighting, yet the wars could not be very fierce or difficult, because the nations were as yet untrained to resist, and neither so many nor so great as afterward; forasmuch as, after that greatest and indeed universal flood, when only eight men escaped in Noah’s ark, not much more than a thousand years had passed when Ninus subdued all Asia with the exception of India. But Rome did not with the same quickness and facility wholly subdue all those nations of the east and west which we see brought under the Roman empire, because, in its gradual increase, in whatever direction it was extended, it found them strong and warlike. At the time when Rome was rounded, then, the people of Israel had been in the land of promise seven hundred and eighteen years. Of these years twenty-seven belong to Joshua the son of Nun, and after that three hundred and twenty-nine to the period of the judges. But from the time when the kings began to reign there, three hundred and sixty-two years had passed. And at that time there was a king in Judah called Ahaz, or, as others compute, Hezekiah his successor, the best and most pious king, who it is admitted reigned in the times of Romulus. And in that part of the Hebrew nation called Israel, Hoshea had begun to reign.

Chapter 23.—Of the Erythraean Sibyl, Who is Known to Have Sung Many Things About Christ More Plainly Than the Other Sibyls.

143 13

Some say the Erythraean sibyl prophesied at this time. Now Varro declares there were many sibyls, and not merely one. This sibyl of Erythraecertainly wrote some things concerning Christ which are quite manifest, and we first read them in the Latin tongue in verses of bad Latin, and unrhythmical, through the unskillfulness, as we afterwards learned, of some interpreter unknown to me. For Flaccianus, a very famous man, who was also a proconsul, a man of most ready eloquence and much learning, when we were speaking about Christ, produced a Greek manuscript, saying that it was the prophecies of the Erythraean sibyl, in which he pointed out a certain passage which had the initial letters of the lines so arranged that these words could be read in them: AEIhsou`" Cristo" Qeou` uio;" swthr, which means, “Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Saviour.” And these verses, of which the initial letters yield that meaning, contain what follows as translated by some one into Latin in good rhythm:

I Judgment shall moisten the earth with the sweatof its standard,

H Ever enduring, behold the King shall comethrough the ages,

S Sent to be here in the flesh, and Judge at the lastof the world.

O O God, the believing and faithless alike shall behold Thee

U Uplifted with saints, when at last the ages areended.

S Seated before Him are souls in the flesh for Hisjudgment).

C Hid in thick vapors, the while desolate lieth theearth.

R Rejected by men are the idols and long hiddentreasures;

E Earth is consumed by the fire, and it searcheth theocean and heaven;

I Issuing forth, it destroyeth the terrible portals ofhell.

S Saints in their body and soul freedom and lightshall inherit:

144 T Those who are guilty shall burn in fire and brimstone for ever.

O Occult actions revealing, each one shall publishhis secrets;

S Secrets of every man’s heart God shall reveal inthe light.

Q Then shall be weeping and wailing, yea, andgnashing of teeth;

E Eclipsed is the sun, and silenced the stars in theirchorus.

O Over and gone is the splendor of moonlight,melted the heaven,

U Uplifted by Him are the valleys, and east downthe mountains.

U Utterly gone among men are distinctions of loftyand lowly.

I Into the plains rush the hills, the skies and oceansare mingled.

O Oh, what an end of all things! earth broken inpieces shall perish;

S Swelling together at once shall the waters andflames flow in rivers.

145 S Sounding the archangel’s trumpet shall peal downfrom heaven,

W Over the wicked who groan in their guilt and theirmanifold sorrows.

T Trembling, the earth shall be opened, revealingchaos and hell.

H Every king before God shall stand in that day tobe judged.

R Rivers of fire and brimstone shall fall from theheavens.

In these Latin verses the meaning of the Greek is correctly given, although not in the exact order of the lines as connected with the initial letters; for in three of them, the fifth, eighteenth, and nineteenth, where the Greek letter g occurs, Latin words could not be found beginning with the corresponding letter, and yielding a suitable meaning. So that, if we note down together the initial letters of all the lines in our Latin translation except those three in which we retain the letter T in the proper place, they will express in five Greek words this meaning, “Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Saviour.” And the verses are twenty-seven, which is the cube of three. For three times three are nine; and nine itself, if tripled, so as to rise from the superficial square to the cube, comes to twenty-seven. But if you join the initial letters of these five Greek words, `Ihsou" cristo" Qeou uio" swthr, which mean, “Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Saviour,” they will make the word ikdu", that is, “fish,” in which word Christ is mystically understood, because He was able to live, that is, to exist, without sin in the abyss of this mortality as in the depth of waters.”14

But this sibyl, whether she is the Erythraean, or, as some rather believe, the Cumaean, in her whole poem, of which this is a very small portion, not only has nothing that can relate to the worship of the false or reigned gods, but rather speaks against them and their worshippers in such a way that we might even think she ought to be reckoned among those who belong to the city of God. Lactantius also inserted in his work the prophecies about Christ of a certain sibyl, he does not say which. But I have thought fit to combine in a single extract, which may seem long, what he has set down in many short quotations. She says; “Afterward He shall come into the injurious hands of the unbelieving, and they will give God buffets with profane hands, and with impure mouth will spit out envenomed spittle; but He will with simplicity yield His holy back to stripes. And He will hold His peace when struck with the fist, that no one may find out what word, or whence, He comes to speak to hell; and He shall be crowned with a crown of thorns. And they gave Him gall for meat, and vinegar for His thirst: they will spread this table of inhospitality. For thou thyself, being foolish, hast not understood thy God, deluding the minds of mortals, but hast both crowned Him with thorns and mingled for Him bitter gall. But the veil of the temple shall be rent; and at midday it shall be darker than night for three hours. And He shall die the death, taking sleep for three days; and then returning from hell, He first shall come to the light, the beginning of the resurrection being shown to the recalled.” Lactantius made use of these sibylline testimonies, introducing them bit by bit in the course of his discussion as the things he intended to prove seemed to require, and we have set them down in one connected series, uninterrupted by comment, only taking care to mark them by capitals, if only the transcribers do not neglect to preserve them hereafter. Some writers, indeed, say that the Erythraean sibyl was not in the time of Romulus, but of the Trojan war).

13 The Sibylline Oracles are a collection of prophecies and religious teachings in Greek hexameter under the assumed authority and inspiration of a Sibyl, i.e., a female prophet. They are partly of heathen, partly of Jewish-Christian origin. They were used by the fathers against the heathen as genuine prophecies without critical discrimination, and they appear also in the famous Dies irae alongside with David as witnesses of the future judgment (“teste David cum Sibylla.”) They were edited by Alexander, Paris, 2d. ed. 1869, and by Friedlieb (in Greek and German). Leipzig, 1852. Comp. Ewald: Ueber Entstehung, Inhalt und Werth der sibyll. Bucher, 1858, and Schürer, Geschichte der jüd Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu (Leipzig, 1885), ii. § 33, pp. 700 sqq., Engl. transl. (Hist. of the Jews in the times of Jesus. Edinburgh and New York, 1886), vol. 3,271 sqq.—P. S.]
14 [Hence the fish was a favorite symbol of the ancient Christians. See Schaff, Church Hist.(revised ed)., vol. 2,279 sq.—P. S.]

Chapter 24.—That the Seven Sages Flourished in the Reign of Romulus,

When the Ten Tribes Which Were Called Israel Were Led into Captivity by the Chaldeans, and Romulus, When Dead, Had Divine Honors Conferred on Him.

While Romulus reigned, Thales the Milesian is said to have lived, being one of the seven sages, who succeeded the theological poets, of whom Orpheus was the most renowned, and were called Sofoi, that is, sages. During that time the ten tribes, which on the division of the people were called Israel, were conquered by the Chaldeans and led captive into their lands, while the two tribes which were called Judah, and had the seat of their kingdom in Jerusalem, remained in the land of Judea. As Romulus, when dead, could nowhere be found, the Romans, as is everywhere notorious, placed him among the gods,—a thing which by that time had already ceased to be done, and which was not done afterwards till the time of the Caesars, and then not through error, but in flattery; so that Cicero ascribes great praises to Romulus, because he merited such honors not in rude and unlearned times, when men were easily deceived, but in times already polished and learned, although the subtle and acute loquacity of the philosophers had not yet culminated. But although the later times did not deify dead men, still they did not cease to hold and worship as gods those deified of old; nay, by images, which the ancients never had, they even increased the allurements of vain and impious superstition, the unclean demons effecting this in their heart, and also deceiving them by lying oracles, so that even the fabulous crimes of the gods, which were not once imagined by a more polite age, were yet basely acted in the plays in honor of these same false deities. Numa reigned after Romulus; and although he had thought that Rome would be better defended the more gods there were, yet on his death he himself was not counted worthy of a place among them, as if it were supposed that he had so crowded heaven that a place could not be found for him there. They report that the Samian sibyl lived while he reigned at Rome, and when Manasseh began to reign over the Hebrews,—an impious king, by whom the prophet Isaiah is said to have been slain.

Chapter 25.—What Philosophers Were Famous When Tarquinius Priscus Reigned Over the Romans, and Zedekiah Over the Hebrews, When Jerusalem Was Taken and the Temple Overthrown.

When Zedekiah reigned over the Hebrews, and Tarquinius Priscus, the successor of Ancus Martius, over the Romans, the Jewish people was led captive into Babylon, Jerusalem and the temple built by Solomon being overthrown. For the prophets, in chiding them for their iniquity and impiety, predicted that these things should come to pass, especially Jeremiah, who even stated the number of years. Pittacus of Mitylene, another of the sages, is reported to have lived at that time. And Eusebius writes that, while the people of God were held captive in Babylon, the five other sages lived, who must be added to Thales, whom we mentioned above, and Pittacus, in order to make up the seven. These are Solon of Athens, Chilo of Lacedaemon, Periander of Corinth, Cleobulus of Lindus, and Bias of Priene. These flourished after the theological poets, and were called sages, because they excelled other men in a certain laudable line of life, and summed up some moral precepts in epigrammatic sayings. But they left posterity no literary monuments, except that Solon is alleged to have given certain laws to the Athenians, and Thales was a natural philosopher, and left books of his doctrine in short proverbs. In that time of the Jewish captivity, Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Xenophanes, the natural philosophers, flourished. Pythagoras also lived then, and at this time the name philosopher was first used.


Chapter 26.—That at the Time When the Captivity of the Jews Was Brought to an End, on the Completion of Seventy Years, the Romans Also Were Freed from Kingly Rule.

At this time, Cyrus king of Persia, who also ruled the Chaldeans and Assyrians, having somewhat relaxed the captivity of the Jews, made fifty thousand of them return in order to rebuild the temple. They only began the first foundations and built the altar; but, owing to hostile invasions, they were unable to go on, and the work was put off to the time of Darius. During the same time also those things were done which are written in the book of Judith, which, indeed, the Jews are said not to have received into the canon of the Scriptures. Under Darius king of Persia, then, on the completion of the seventy years predicted by Jeremiah the prophet, the captivity of the Jews was brought to an end, and they were restored to liberty. Tarquin then reigned as the seventh king of the Romans. On his expulsion, they also began to be free from the rule of their kings. Down to this time the people of Israel had prophets; but, although they were numerous, the canonical writings of only a few of them have been preserved among the Jews and among us. In closing the previous book, I promised to set down something in this one about them, and I shall now do so.

Chapter 27.—Of the Times of the Prophets Whose Oracles are Contained in Books

and Who Sang Many Things About the Call of the Gentiles at the Time When the Roman Kingdom Began and the Assyrian Came to an End.

In order that we may be able to consider these times, let us go back a little to earlier times. At the beginning of the book of the prophet Hosea, who is placed first of twelve, it is written, “The word of the Lord which came to Hoses in the days of Uzziah, Jothan, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.”15 Am also writes that he prophesied in the days of Uzziah, and adds the name of Jeroboam king of Israel, who lived at the same time.16 Isaiah the son of Amos—either the above-named prophet, or, as is rather affirmed, another who was not a prophet, but was called by the same name—also puts at the head of his book these four kings named by Hosea, saying by way of preface that he prophesied in their days.17 Mi also names the same times as those of his prophecy, after the days of Uzziah;18 for he names the same three kings as Hosea named,—Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. We find from their own writings that these men prophesied contemporaneously. To these are added Jonah in the reign of Uzziah, and Jl in that of Jotham, who succeeded Uzziah. But we can find the date of these two prophets in the chronicles,19 Dot in their own writings, for they say nothing about it themselves. Now these days extend from Procas king of the Latins. or his predecessor Aventinus, down to Romulus king of the Romans, or even to the beginning of the reign of his successor Numa Pompilius. Hezekiah king of Judah certainly reigned till then. So that thus these fountains of prophecy, as I may call them, burst forth at once during those times when the Assyrian kingdom failed and the Roman began; so that, just as in the first period of the Assyrian kingdom Abraham arose, to whom the most distinct promises were made that all nations should be blessed in his seed, so at the beginning of the western Babylon, in the time of whose government Christ was to come in whom these promises were to be fulfilled, the oracles of the prophets were given not only in spoken but in written words, for a testimony that so great a thing should come to pass. For although the people of Israel hardly ever lacked prophets from the time when they began to have kings, these were only for their own use, not for that of the nations. But when the more manifestly prophetic Scripture began to be formed, which was to benefit the nations too, it was fitting that it should begin when this city was founded which was to rule the nations.

15 (Os 1,1,
16 (Am 1,1,
17 (Is 1,1, father was Amoz, a different name.
18 (Mi 1,1,
19 The chronicles of Eusebius and Jerome.

Chapter 28.—Of the Things Pertaining to the Gospel of Christ Which Hosea and Am Prohesied.

The prophet Hosea speaks so very profoundly that it is laborious work to penetrate his meaning. But, according to promise, we must insert something from his book. He says, “And it shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there they shall be called the sons of the living God.”20 Even the apostles understood this as a prophetic testimony of the calling of the nations who did not formerly belong to God; and because this same people of the Gentiles is itself spiritually among the children of Abraham, and for that reason is rightly called Israel, therefore he goes on to say, “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together in one, and shall appoint themselves one headship, and shall ascend from the earth.”21 We should but weaken the savor of this prophetic oracle if we set ourselves to expound it. Let the reader but call to mind that cornerstone and those two walls of partition, the one of the Jews, the other of the Gentiles,22 and he will recognize them, the one under the term sons of Judah, the other as sons of Israel, supporting themselves by one and the same headship, and ascending from the earth. But that those carnal Israelites who are sow unwilling to believe in Christ shall afterward believe, that is, their children shall (for they themselves, of course, shall go to their own place by dying), this same prophet testifies, saying, “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, without a prince, without a sacrifice, without an altar, without a priesthood, without manifestations.”23 Who does not see that the Jews are now thus? But let us hear what he adds: “And afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall be amazed at the Lord and at His goodness in the latter days.”24 Nothing is clearer than this prophecy, in which by David, as distinguished by the title of king, Christ is to be understood, “who is made,” as the apostle says, “of the seed of David according to the flesh.”25 This prophet has also foretold the resurrection of Christ on the third day, as it behoved to be foretold, with prophetic loftiness, when he says, “He will heal us after two days, and in the third day we shall rise again.”26 In agreement with this the apostle says to us, “If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.”27 Am also prophesies thus concerning such things: “Prepare thee, that thou mayst invoke thy God, O Israel; for lo, I am binding the thunder, and creating the spirit, and announcing to men their Christ.”28 And in another place he says, “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and build up the breaches thereof: and I will raise up his ruins, and will build them up again as in the days of old: that the residue of men may inquire for me, and all the nations upon whom my name is invoked, saith the Lord that doeth this.”29

20 (Os 1,10).
21 (Os 1,11,
22 (Ga 2,14-20).
23 (Os 3,4,
24 (Os 3,5).
25 (Rm 1,3).
26 (Os 6,2,
27 (Col 3,1).
28  Am 4,12-13.
29 (Am 9,11-12 Ac 15,15-17.

Chapter 29.—What Things are Predicted by Isaiah Concerning Christ and the Church.

The prophecy of Isaiah is not in the book of the twelve prophets, who are called the minor from the brevity of their writings, as compared with those who are called the greater prophets because they published larger volumes. Isaiah belongs to the latter, yet I connect him with the two above named, because he prophesied at the same time. Isaiah, then, together with his rebukes of wickedness, precepts of righteousness, and predictions of evil, also prophesied much more than the rest about Christ and the Church, that is, about the King and that city which he founded; so that some say he should be called an evangelist rather than a prophet. But, in order to finish this work, I quote only one out of many in this place. Speaking in the person of the Father, he says, “Behold, my servant shall understand, and shall be exalted and glorified very much. As many shall be astonished at Thee.”30 This is about Christ.

But let us now hear what follows about the Church. He says, “Rejoice, O barren, thou that barest not; break forth and cry, thou that didst not travail with child: for many more are the children of the desolate than of her that has an husband.”31 But these must suffice; and some things in them ought to be expounded; yet I think those parts sufficient which are so plain that even enemies must be compelled against their will to understand them.

30 (Is 52,13, quotes these passages in full.
31 (Is 54,1-5).

Chapter 30.—What Micah, Jonah, and Joel Prophesied in Accordance with the New Testament.

The prophet Micah, representing Christ under the figure of a great mountain, speaks thus: “It shall come to pass in the last days, that the manifested mountain of the Lord shall be prepared on the tops of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall hasten unto it. Many nations shall go, and shall say, Come, let us go up into the mountain of the Lord, and into the house of the God of Jacob; and He will show us His way, and we will go in His paths: for out of Zion shall proceed the law, and the word of the Lord out of Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off.”32 This prophet predicts the very place in which Christ was born, saying, “And thou, Bethlehem, of the house of Ephratah, art the least that can be reckoned among the thousands of Judah; out of thee shall come forth unto me a leader, to be the prince in Israel; and His going forth is from the beginning, even from the days of eternity. Therefore will He give them [up] even until the time when she that travaileth shall bring forth; and the remnant of His brethren shall be converted to the sons of Israel. And He shall stand, and see, and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, and in the dignity of the name of the Lord His God: for now shall He be magnified even to the utmost of the earth.”33

The prophet Jonah, not so much by speech as by his own painful experience, prophesied Christ’s death and resurrection much more clearly than if he had proclaimed them with his voice. For why was he taken into the whale’s belly and restored on the third day, but that he might be a sign that Christ should return from the depths of hell on the third day?

I should be obliged to use many words in explaining all that Joel prophesies in order to make clear those that pertain to Christ and the Church. But there is one passage I must not pass by, which the apostles also quoted when the Holy Spirit came down from above on the assembled believers according to Christ’s promise. He says, “And it shall come to pass after these things, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your old men shall dream, and your young men shall see visions: and even on my servants and mine handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit.”34

32 (Mi 4,1-3.
33 (Mi 5,2-4).
34 (Jl 2,28-29).

Augustin: City of God 141