Augustin: City of God 36
36 If this kingdom was so great and lasting without the aid of the gods, why is the ample territory and long duration of the Roman empire to be ascribed to the Roman gods? For whatever is the cause in it, the same is in the other also. But if they contend that the prosperity of the other also is to be attributed to the aid of the gods, I ask of which? For the other nations whom Ninus overcame, did not then worship other gods. Or if the Assyrians had gods of their own, who, so to speak, were more skillful workmen in the construction and preservation of the empire, whether are they dead, since they themselves have also lost the empire; or, having been defrauded of their pay, or promised a greater, have they chosen rather to go over to the Medes, and from them again to the Persians, because Cyrus invited them, and promised them something still more advantageous? This nation, indeed, since the time of the kingdom of Alexander the Macedonian, which was as brief in duration as it was great in extent, has preserved its own empire, and at this day occupies no small territories in the East. If this is so, then either the gods are unfaithful, who desert their own and go over to their enemies, which Camillus, who was but a man, did not do, when, being victor and subduer of a most hostile state, although he had felt that Rome, for whom he had done so much, was ungrateful, yet afterwards, forgetting the injury and remembering his native land, he freed her again from the Gauls; or they are not so strong as gods ought to be, since they can be overcome by human skill or strength. Or if, when they carry on war among themselves. the gods are not overcome by men, but some gods who are peculiar to certain cities are perchance overcome by other gods, it follows that they have quarrels among themselves which they uphold, each for his own part. Therefore a city ought not to worship its own gods, but rather others who aid their own worshippers. Finally, whatever may have been the case as to this change of sides, or flight, or migration, or failure in battle on the part of the gods, the name of Christ had not yet been proclaimed in those parts of the earth when these kingdoms were lost and transferred through great destructions in war. For if, after more than twelve hundred years, when the kingdom was taken away from the Assyrians, the Christian religion had there already preached another eternal kingdom, and put a stop to the sacrilegious worship of false gods, what else would the foolish men of that nation have said, but that the kingdom which had been so long preserved, could be lost for no other cause than the desertion of their own religions and the reception of Christianity? In which foolish speech that might have been uttered, let those we speak of observe their own likeness, and blush, if there is any sense of shame in them, because they have uttered similar complaints; although the Roman empire is afflicted rather than changed,—a thing which has befallen it in other times also, before the name of Christ was heard, and it has been restored after such affliction,—a thing which even in these times is not to be despaired of. For who knows the will of God concerning this matter?
When They Have Believed that Even the Care of Single Things Could Scarcely Be Committed to Single Gods.
Next let us ask, if they please, out of so great a crowd of gods which the Romans worship, whom in especial, or what gods they believe to have extended and preserved that empire. Now, surely of this work, which is so excellent and so very full of the highest dignity, they dare not ascribe any part to the goddess Cloacina;7 or to Volupia, who has her appellation from voluptuousness; or to Libentina, who has her name from lust; or to Vaticanus, who presides over the screaming of infants; or to Cunina, who rules over their cradles. But how is it possible to recount in one part of this book all the names of gods or goddesses, which they could scarcely comprise in great volumes, distributing among these divinities their peculiar offices about single things? They have not even thought that the charge of their lands should be committed to any one god: but they have entrusted their farms to Rusina; the ridges of the mountains to Jugatinus; over the downs they have set the goddess Collatina; over the valleys, Vallonia. Nor could they even find one Segetia so competent, that they could commend to her care all their corn crops at once; but so long as their seed-corn was still under the ground, they would have the goddess Seia set over it; then, whenever it was above ground and formed straw, they set over it the goddess Segetia; and when the grain was collected and stored, they set over it the goddess Tutilina, that it might be kept safe. Who would not have thought that goddess Segetia sufficient to take care of the standing corn until it had passed from the first green blades to the dry ears? Yet she was not enough for men, who loved a multitude of gods, that the miserable soul, despising the chaste embrace of the one true God, should be prostituted to a crowd of demons. Therefore they set Proserpina over the germinating seeds; over the joints and knots of the stems, the god Nodotus; over the sheaths enfolding the ears, the goddess Voluntina; when the sheaths opened that the spike might shoot forth, it was ascribed to the goddess Patelana; when the stems stood all equal with new ears, because the ancients described this equalizing by the term hostire, it was ascribed to the goddess Hostilina; when the grain was in flower, it was dedicated to the goddess Flora; when full of milk, to the god Lacturnus; when maturing, to the goddess Matuta; when the crop was runcated,—that is, removed from the soil,—to the goddess Runcina. Nor do I yet recount them all, for I am sick of all this, though it gives them no shame. Only, I have said these very few things, in order that it may be understood they dare by no means say that the Roman empire has been established, increased, and preserved by their deities, who had all their own functions assigned to them in such a way, that no general oversight was entrusted to any one of them. When, therefore, could Segetia take care of the empire, who was not allowed to take care of the corn and the trees? When could Cunina take thought about war, whose oversight was not allowed to go beyond the cradles of the babies? When could Nodotus give help in battle, who had nothing to do even with the sheath of the ear, but only with the knots of the joints? Every one sets a porter at the door of his house, and because he is a man, he is quite sufficient; but these people have set three gods, Forculus to the doors, Cardea to the hinge, Limentinus to the threshold.8 Thus Forculus could not at the same time take care also of the hinge and the threshold.
Therefore omitting, or passing by for a little, that crowd of petty gods, we ought to inquire into the part performed by the great gods, whereby Rome has been made so great as to reign so long over so many nations. Doubtless, therefore, this is the work of love. For they will have it that he is the king of all the gods and goddesses, as is shown by his sceptre and by the Capitol on the lofty hill. Concerning that god they publish a saying which, although that of a poet, is most apt, “All things are full of Jove.”9 Varro believes that this god is worshipped, although called by another name, even by those who worship one God alone without any image. But if this is so, why has he been so badly used at Rome (and indeed by other nations too), that an image of him should be made?—a thing which was so displeasing to Varro himself, that although he was overborne by the perverse custom of so great a city, he had not the least hesitation in both saying and writing, that those who have appointed images for the people have both taken away fear and added error.
Why, also, is Juno united to him as his wife, who is called at once “sister and yoke-fellow?”10 Because, say they, we have Jove in the ether, Juno in the air; and these two elements are united, the one being superior, the other inferior. It is not he, then, of whom it is said, “All things are full of Jove,” if Juno also fills some part. Does each fill either, and are both of this couple in both of these elements, and in each of them at the same time? Why, then, is the ether given to Jove, the air to Juno? Besides, these two should have been enough. Why is it that the sea is assigned to Neptune, the earth to Pluto? And that these also might not be left without mates, Salacia is joined to Neptune, Proserpine to Pluto. For they say that, as Juno possesses the lower part of the heavens,—that is, the air,—so Salacia possesses the lower part of the sea, and Proserpine the lower part of the earth. They seek how they may patch up these fables, but they find no way. For if these things were so, their ancient sages would have maintained that there are three chief elements of the world, not four, in order that each of the elements might have a pair of gods. Now, they have positively affirmed that the ether is one thing, the air another. But water, whether higher or lower, is surely water. Suppose it ever so unlike, can it ever be so much so as no longer to be water? And the lower earth, by whatever divinity it may be distinguished, what else can it be than earth? Lo, then, since the whole physical world is complete in these four or three elements, where shall Minerva be? What should she possess, what should she fill? For she is placed in the Capitol along with these two, although she is not the offspring of their marriage. Or if they say that she possesses the higher part of the ether,—and on that account the poets have feigned that she sprang from the head of Jove,—why then is she not rather reckoned queen of the gods, because she is superior to Jove? Is it because it would be improper to set the daughter before the father? Why, then, is not that rule of justice observed concerning Jove himself toward Saturn? Is it because he was conquered? Have they fought then? By no means, say they; that is an old wife’s fable. Lo, we are not to believe fables, and must hold more worthy opinions concerning the gods! Why, then, do they not assign to the father of Jove a seat, if not of higher, at least of equal honor? Because Saturn, say they, is length of time.11 Therefore they who worship Saturn worship Time; and it is insinuated that Jupiter, the king of the gods, was born of Time. For is anything unworthy said when Jupiter and Juno are said to have been sprung from Time, if he is the heaven and she is the earth, since both heaven and earth have been made, and are therefore not eternal? For their learned and wise men have this also in their books. Nor is that saying taken by Virgil out of poetic figments, but out of the books of philosophers,
“Then Ether, the Father Almighty, in copious showers descended
Into his spouse’s glad bosom, making it fertile,”12
—that is, into the bosom of Tellus, or the earth. Although here, also, they will have it that there are some differences, and think that in the earth herself Terra is one thing, Tellus another, and Tellumo another. And they have all these as gods, called by their own names distinguished by their own offices, and venerated with their own altars and rites. This same earth also they call the mother of the gods, so that even the fictions of the poets are more tolerable, if, according, not to their poetical but sacred books, Juno is not only the sister and wife, but also the mother of Jove. The same earth they worship as Ceres, and also as Vests; while yet they more frequently affirm that Vests is nothing else than fire, pertaining to the hearths, without which the city cannot exist; and therefore virgins are wont to serve her, because as nothing is born of a virgin, so nothing is born of fire;—but all this nonsense ought to be completely abolished and extinguished by Him who is born of a virgin. For who can bear that, while they ascribe to the fire so much honor, and, as it were, chastity, they do not blush sometimes even to call Vests Venus, so that honored virginity may vanish in her hand-maidens? For if Vests is Venus, how can virgins rightly serve her by abstaining from venery? Are there two Venuses, the one a virgin, the other not a maid? Or rather, are there three, one the goddess of virgins, who is also called Vesta, another the goddess of wives, and another of harlots? To her also the Phenicians offered a gift by prostituting their daughters before they united them to husbands.13 Which of these is the wife of Vulcan? Certainly not the virgin, since shehas a husband. Far be it from us to say it is the harlot, lest we should seem to wrong the son of Juno and fellow-worker of Minerva. Therefore it is to be understood that she belongs to the married people; but we would not wish them to imitate her in what she did with Mars. “Again,” say they, “you return to fables.” What sort of justice is that, to be angry with us because we say such things of their gods, and not to be angry with themselves, who in their theatres most willingly behold the crimes of their gods? And,—a thing incredible, if it were not thoroughly well proved,—these very theatric representations of the crimes of their gods have been instituted in honor of these same gods.
37 Let them therefore assert as many things as ever they please in physical reasonings and disputations. One while let Jupiter be the soul of this corporeal world, who fills and moves that whole mass, constructed and compacted out of four, or as many elements as they please; another while, let him yield to his sister and brothers their parts of it: now let him be the ether, that from above he may embrace Juno, the air spread out beneath; again, let him be the whole heaven along with the air, and impregnate with fertilizing showers and seeds the earth, as his wife, and, at the same time, his mother (for this is not vile in divine beings); and yet again (that it may not be necessary to run through them all), let him, the one god, of whom many think it has been said by a most noble poet,
“For God pervadeth all things,
All lands, and the tracts of the sea, and the depth of the heavens,”14
—let it be him who in the ether is Jupiter; in the air, Juno; in the sea, Neptune; in the lower parts of the sea, Salacia; in the earth, Pluto; in the lower part of the earth, Proserpine; on the domestic hearths, Vesta; in the furnace of the workmen, Vulcan; among the stars, Sol and Luna, and the Stars; in divination, Apollo; in merchandise, Mercury; in Janus, the initiator; in Terminus, the terminator; Saturn, in time; Mars and Bellona, in war; Liber, in vineyards; Ceres, in cornfields; Diana, in forests; Minerva, in learning. Finally, let it be him who is in that crowd, as it were, of plebeian gods: let him preside under the name of Liber over the seed of men, and under that of Libera over that of women: let him be Diespiter, who brings forth the birth to the light of day: let him be the goddess Mena, whom they set over the menstruation of women: let him be Lucina, who is invoked by women in childbirth: let him bring help to those who are being born, by taking them up from the bosom of the earth, and let him be called Opis: let him open the mouth in the crying babe, and be called the god Vaticanus: let him lift it from the earth, and be called the goddess Levana; let him watch over cradles, and be called the goddess Cunina: let it be no other than he who is in those goddesses, who sing the fates of the new born, and are called Carmentes: let him preside over fortuitous events, and be called Fortuna: in the goddess Rumina, let him milk out the breast to the little one, because the ancients termed the breast ruma: in the goddess Potina, let him administer drink: in the goddess Educa, let him supply food: from the terror of infants, let him be styled Paventia: from the hope which comes, Venilia: from voluptuousness, Volupia: from action, Agenor: from the stimulants by which man is spurred on to much action, let him be named the goddess Stimula: let him be the goddess Strenia, for making strenuous; Numeria, who teaches to number; Camoena, who teaches to sing: let him be both the god Consus for granting counsel, and the goddess Sentia for inspiring sentences: let him be the goddess Juventas, who, after the robe of boyhood is laid aside, takes charge of the beginning of the youthful age: let him be Fortuna barbata, who endues adults with a beard, whom they have not chosen to honor; so that this divinity, whatever it may be, should at least be a male god, named either barbatus, from barba, like Nodotus, from nodus; or, certainly, not Fortuna, but because he has beards, Fortunius: let him, in the god Jugatinus, yoke couples in marriage; and when the girdle of the virgin wife is loosed, let him be invoked as the goddess Virginiensis: let him be Mutunus or Tuternus, who, among the Greeks, is called Priapus. If they are not ashamed of it, let all these which I have named, and whatever others I have not named (for I have not thought fit to name all), let all these gods and goddesses be that one Jupiter, whether, as some will have it, all these are parts of him, or are his powers, as those think who are pleased to consider him the soul of the world, which is the opinion of most of their doctors, and these the greatest. If these things are so (how evil they may be I do not yet meanwhile inquire), what would they lose, if they, by a more prudent abridgment, should worship one god? For what part of him could be contemned if he himself should be worshipped? But if they are afraid lest parts of him should be angry at being passed by or neglected, then it is not the case, as they will have it, that this whole is as the life of one living being, which contains all the gods together, as if they were its virtues, or members, or parts; but each part has its own life separate from the rest, if it is so that one can be angered, appeased, or stirred up more than another. But if it is said that all together,—that is, the whole Jove himself,—would be offended if his parts were not also worshipped singly and minutely, it is foolishly spoken. Surely none of them could be passed by if he who singly possesses them all should be worshipped. For, to omit other things which are innumerable, when they say that all the stars are parts of Jove, and are all alive, and have rational souls, and therefore without controversy are gods, can they not see how many they do not worship, to how many they do not build temples or set up altars, and to how very few, in fact, of the stars they have thought of setting them up and offering sacrifice? If,therefore, those are displeased who are not severally worshipped, do they not fear to live with only a few appeased, while all heaven is displeased? But if they worship all the stars because they are part of Jove whom they worship, by the same compendious method they could supplicate them all in him alone. For in this way no one would be displeased, since in him alone all would be supplicated. No one would be contemned, instead of there being just cause of displeasure given to the much greater number who are passed by in the worship offered to some; especially when Priapus, stretched out in vile nakedness, is preferred to those who shine from their supernal abode.
Ought not men of intelligence, and indeed men of every kind, to be stirred up to examine the nature of this opinion? For there is no need of excellent capacity for this task, that putting away the desire of contention, they may observe that if God is the soul of the world, and the world is as a body to Him, who is the soul, He must be one living being consisting of soul and body, and that this same God is a kind of womb of nature containing all things in Himself, so that the lives and souls of all living things are taken, according to the manner of each one’s birth, out of His soul which vivifies that whole mass, and therefore nothing at all remains which is not a part of God. And if this is so, who cannot see what impious and irreligious consequences follow, such as that whatever one may trample, he must trample a part of God, and in slaying any living creature, a part of God must be slaughtered? But I am unwilling to utter all that may occur to those who think of it, Vet cannot be spoken without irreverence.
But if they contend that only rational animals, such as men, are parts of God, I do not really see how, if the whole world is God, they can separate beasts from being parts of Him. But what need is there of striving about that? Concerning the rational animal himself,—that is, man,—what more unhappy belief can be entertained than that a part of God is whipped when a boy is whipped? And who, unless he is quite mad, could bear the thought that parts of God can become lascivious, iniquitous, impious, and altogether damnable? In brief, why is God angry at those who do not worship Him, since these offenders are parts of Himself? It remains, therefore, that they must say that all the gods have their own lives; that each one lives for himself, and none of them is a part of any one; but that all are to be worshipped,—at least as many as can be known and worshipped; for they are so many it is impossible that all can be so. And of all these, I believe that Jupiter, because he presides as king, is thought by them to have both established and extended the Roman empire. For if he has not done it, what other god do they believe could have attempted so great a work, when they must all be occupied with their own offices and works, nor can one intrude on that of another? Could the kingdom of men then be propagated and increased by the king of the gods?
Here, first of all, I ask, why even the kingdom itself is not some god. For why should not it also be so, if Victory is a goddess? Or what need is there of Jove himself in this affair, if Victory favors and is propitious, and always goes to those whom she wishes to be victorious? With this goddess favorable and propitious, even if Jove was idle and did nothing, what nations could remain unsubdued, what kingdom would not yield? But perhaps it is displeasing to good men to fight with most wicked unrighteousness, and provoke with voluntary war neighbors who are peaceable and do no wrong, in order to enlarge a kingdom? If they feel thus, I entirely approve and praise them.
38 Let them ask, then, whether it is quite fitting for good men to rejoice in extended empire. For the iniquity of those with whom just wars are carried on favors the growth of a kingdom, which would certainly have been small if the peace and justice of neighbors had not by any wrong provoked the carrying on of war against them; and human affairs being thus more happy, all kingdoms would have been small, rejoicing in neighborly concord; and thus there would have been very many kingdoms of nations in the world, as there are very many houses of citizens in a city. Therefore, to carry on war and extend a kingdom over wholly subdued nations seems to bad men to be felicity, to good men necessity. But because it would be worse that the injurious should rule over those who are more righteous, therefore even that is not unsuitably called felicity. But beyond doubt it is greater felicity to have a good neighbor at peace, than to conquer a bad one by making war. Your wishes are bad, when you desire that one whom you hate or fear should be in such a condition that you can conquer him. If, therefore, by carrying on wars that were just, not impious or unrighteous, the Romans could have acquired so great an empire, ought they not to worship as a goddess even the injustice of foreigners? For we see that this has cooperated much in extending the empire, by making foreigners so unjust that they became people with whom just wars might be carried on, and the empire increased And why may not injustice, at least that of foreign nations, also be a goddess, if Fear and Dread and Ague have deserved to be Roman gods? By these two, therefore,—that is, by foreign injustice, and the goddess Victoria, for injustice stirs up causes of wars, and Victoria brings these same wars to a happy termination,—the empire has increased, even although Jove has been idle. For what part could Jove have here, when those things which might be thought to be his benefits are held to be gods, called gods, worshipped as gods, and are themselves invoked for their own parts? He also might have some part here, if he himself might be called Empire, just as she is called Victory. Or if empire is the gift of ove, why may not victory also be held to be his gift? And it certainly would have been held to be so, had he been recognized and worshipped, not as a stone in the Capitol, but as the true King of kings and Lord of lords.
But I wonder very much, that while they assigned to separate gods single things, and (well nigh) all movements of the mind; that while they invoked the goddess Agenoria, who should excite to action; the goddess Stimula, who should stimulate to unusual action; the goddess Murcia, who should not move men beyond measure, but make them, as Pomponius says, murcid—that is, too slothful and inactive; the goddess Strenua, who should make them strenuous; and that while they offered to all these gods and goddesses solemn and public worship, they should yet have been unwilling to give public acknowledgment to her whom they name Quies because she makes men quiet, but built her temple outside the Colline gate. Whether was this a symptom of an unquiet mind, or rather was it thus intimated that he who should persevere in worshipping that crowd, not, to be sure, of gods, but of demons, could not dwell with quiet; to which the true Physician calls, saying, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls?”
Or do they say, perhaps, that Jupiter sends the goddess Victoria, and that she, as it were acting in obedience to the king of the gods, comes to those to whom he may have despatched her, and takes up her quarters on their side? This is truly said, not of Jove, whom they, according to their own imagination, feign to be king of the gods, but of Him who is the true eternal King, because he sends, not Victory, who is no person, but His angel, and causes whom He pleases to conquer; whose counsel may be hidden, but cannot be unjust. For if Victory is a goddess, why is not Triumph also a god, and joined to Victory either as husband, or brother, or son? Indeed, they have imagined such things concerning the gods, that if the poets had reigned the like, and they should have been discussed by us, they would have replied that they were laughable figments of the poets not to be attributed to true deities: And yet they themselves did not laugh when they were, not reading in the poets, but worshipping in the temples such doating follies. Therefore they should entreat Jove atone for all things, and supplicate him only. For if Victory is a goddess, and is under him as her king, wherever he might have sent her, she could not dare to resist and do her own will rather than his.
What shall we say, besides, of the idea that Felicity also is a goddess? She has received a temple; she has merited an altar; suitable rites of worship are paid to her. She alone, then, should be worshipped. For where she is present, what good thing can be absent? But what does a man wish, that he thinks Fortune also a goddess and worships her? Is felicity one thing, fortune another? Fortune, indeed, may be bad as well as good; but felicity, if it could be bad, would not be felicity. Certainly we ought to think all the gods of either sex (if they also have sex) are only good. This says Plato; this say other philosophers; this say all estimable rulers of the republic and the nations. How is it, then, that the goddess Fortune is sometimes good, sometimes bad? Is it perhaps the case that when she is bad she is not a goddess, but is suddenly changed into a malignant demon? How many Fortunes are there then? Just as many as there are men who are fortunate, that is, of good fortune. But since there must also be very many others who at the very same time are men of bad fortune, could she, being one and the same Fortune, be at the same time both bad and good—the one to these, the other to those? She who is the goddess, is she always good? Then she herself is felicity. Why, then, are two names given her? Yet this is tolerable; for it is customary that one thing should be called by two names. But why different temples, different altars, different rituals? There is a reason, say they, because Felicity is she whom the good have by previous merit; but fortune, which is termed good without any trial of merit, befalls both good and bad men fortuitously, whence also she is named Fortune. How, therefore, is she good, who without any discernment comes—both to the good and to the bad? Why is she worshipped, who is thus blind, running at random on any one whatever, so that for the most part she passes by her worshippers, and cleaves to those who despise her? Or if her worshippers profit somewhat, so that they are seen by her and loved, then she follows merit, and does not come fortuitously. What, then, becomes Of that definition of fortune? What becomes of the opinion that she has received her very name from fortuitous events? For it profits one nothing to worship her if she is truly fortune. But if she distinguishes her worshippers, so that she may benefit them, she is not fortune. Or does, Jupiter send her too, whither he pleases? Then let him alone be worshipped; because Fortune is not able to resist him when he commands her, and sends her where he pleases. Or, at least, let the bad worship her, who do not choose to have merit by which the goddess Felicity might be invited.
To this supposed deity, whom they call Fortuna, they ascribe so much, indeed, that they have a tradition that the image of her, which was dedicated by the Roman matrons, and called Fortuna Muliebris, has spoken, and has said, once and again, that the matrons pleased her by their homage; which, indeed, if it is true, ought not to excite our wonder. For it is not so difficult for malignant demons to deceive, and they ought the rather to advert to their wits and wiles, because it is that goddess who comes by haphazard who has spoken, and not she who comes to reward merit. For Fortuna was loquacious, and Felicitas mute; and for what other reason but that men might not care to live rightly, having made Fortuna their friend, who could make them fortunate without any good desert? And truly, if Fortuna speaks, she should at least speak, not with a womanly, but with a manly voice; lest they themselves who have dedicated the image should think so great a miracle has been wrought by feminine loquacity.
Passing by Other Good Qualities, Which Ought Likewise to Have Been Worshipped, If Deity Was Rightly Attributed to These.
Augustin: City of God 36