|Dante Alighieri - Opera Omnia >> Monarchia|
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Translated by Prue Shaw
For the man who is steeped in the teachings which form our common heritage, yet has no interest in contributing something to the community, is failing in his duty: let him be in no doubt of that; for he is not "a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in due season", but rather a destructive whirlpool which forever swallows things down and never gives back what it has swallowed.
Thinking often about these things, lest some day I be accused of burying my talent, I wish not just to put forth buds but to bear fruit for the benefit of all, and to reveal truths that have not been attempted by others.
For what fruit would a man bear who proved once again a theorem of Euclid's? or who sought to show once again the nature of happiness, which has already been shown by Aristotle? or who took up the defence of old age which has already been defended by Cicero? None at all; indeed the tiresome pointlessness of the exercise would arouse distaste.
Now since among other truths which are hidden and useful, a knowledge of temporal monarchy is both extremely useful and most inaccessible, and since no one has attempted to elucidate it (on account of its not leading directly to material gain), I propose to draw it forth from where it lies hidden, so that my wakeful nights may be of benefit to the world, and so that I may be the first to win for my own glory the honour of so great a prize.
It is indeed an arduous task, and one beyond my strength, that I embark on, trusting not so much in my own powers as in the light of that Giver who "giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not".
Temporal monarchy, then, which men call "empire", is a single sovereign authority set over all others in time, that is to say over all authorities which operate in those things and over those things which are measured by time.
Now there are three main points of inquiry which have given rise to perplexity on this subject: first, is it is necessary to the well-being of the world? second, did the Roman people take on the office of the monarch by right? and third, does the monarch's authority derive directly from God or from someone else (his minister or vicar)?
Now since every truth which is not itself a first principle must be demonstrated with reference to the truth of some first principle, it is necessary in any inquiry to know the first principle to which we refer back in the course of strict deductive argument in order to ascertain the truth of all the propositions which are advanced later. And since this present treatise is a kind of inquiry, we must at the outset investigate the principle whose truth provides a firm foundation for later propositions.
For it must be noted that there are certain things (such as mathematics, the sciences and divinity) which are outside human control, and about which we can only theorise, but which we cannot affect by our actions; and then there are certain things which are within our control, where we can not only theorise but also act, and in these action is not for the sake of theory, but theorising is for the sake of taking action, since in these the objective is to take action.
Now since our present subject is political, indeed is the source and starting-point of just forms of government, and everything in the political sphere comes under human control, it is clear that the present subject is not directed primarily towards theoretical understanding but towards action.
Again, since in actions it is the final objective which sets in motion and causes everything - for that is what first moves a person who acts - it follows that the whole basis of the means for attaining an end is derived from the end itself. For there will be one way of cutting wood to build a house, and another to build a ship.
Therefore whatever constitutes the purpose of the whole of human society (if there is such a purpose) will be here the first principle, in terms of which all subsequent propositions to be proved will be demonstrated with sufficient rigour; for it would be foolish to suppose that there is one purpose for this society and another for that, and not a common purpose for all of them.
And to throw light on the matter we are inquiring into, it should be borne in mind that, just as there is a particular purpose for which nature produces the thumb, and a different one for which she produces the whole hand, and again a purpose different from both of these for which she produces the arm, and a purpose different from all of these for which she produces the whole person; in the same way there is one purpose for which the individual person is designed, another for the household, another for the small community, yet another for the city, and another for the kingdom; and finally the best purpose of all is the one for which God Everlasting with his art, which is nature, brings into being the whole of mankind. And it is this purpose we are seeking here as the guiding principle in our inquiry.
Consequently the first point to bear in mind is that God and nature do nothing in vain; on the contrary whatever they bring into being is designed for a purpose. For in the intention of its creator qua creator the essential nature of any created being is not an ultimate end in itself; the end is rather the activity which is proper to that nature; and so it is that the activity does not exist for the sake of the essential nature, but the essential nature for the sake of that activity.
There is therefore some activity specific to humanity as a whole, for which the whole human race in all its vast number of individual human beings is designed; and no single person, or household, or small community, or city, or individual kingdom can fully achieve it. Now what this activity is will become clear when once we clarify what is the highest potentiality of the whole of mankind.
I say therefore that no faculty shared by many different species is the highest potentiality of any one of them; because, since it is precisely that highest potentiality which is the defining characteristic of the species, it would follow that one and the same essential nature was specific to several species; and this is impossible.
So the highest faculty in a human being is not simply to exist, because the elements too share in the simple fact of existence; nor is it to exist in compound form, for that is found in minerals; nor is it to exist as a living thing, for plants too share in that; nor is it to exist as a creature with sense perception, for that is also shared by the lower animals; but it is to exist as a creature who apprehends by means of the potential intellect: this mode of existence belongs to no creature (whether higher or lower) other than human beings.
For while there are indeed other beings who like us are endowed with intellect, nonetheless their intellect is not "potential" in the way that man's is, since such beings exist only as intelligences and nothing else, and their very being is simply the act of understanding that their own nature exists; and they are engaged in this ceaselessly, otherwise they would not be eternal. It is thus clear that the highest potentiality of mankind is his intellectual potentiality or faculty.
And since that potentiality cannot be fully actualised all at once in any one individual or in any one of the particular social groupings enumerated above, there must needs be a vast number of individual people in the human race, through whom the whole of this potentiality can be actualised; just as there must be a great variety of things which can be generated so that the whole potentiality of prime matter can continuously be actualised; otherwise one would be postulating a potentiality existing separately from actualisation, which is impossible.
And Averroes is in agreement with this opinion in his commentary on the De anima. Now the intellectual potentiality of which I am speaking is not only concerned with universal ideas or classes, but also (by extension as it were) with particulars; and so it is often said that the theoretical intellect by extension becomes practical, its goal then being doing and making.
I am referring to actions, which are regulated by political judgment, and to products, which are shaped by practical skill; all of these are subordinate to thinking as the best activity for which the Primal Goodness brought mankind into existence. This sheds light on that statement in the Politics that "men of vigorous intellect naturally rule over others".
And since what holds true for the part is true for the whole, and an individual human being "grows perfect in judgment and wisdom when he sits at rest", it is apparent that mankind most freely and readily attends to this activity - an activity which is almost divine, as we read in the psalm: "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels" - in the calm or tranquillity of peace. Hence it is clear that universal peace is the best of those things which are ordained for our human happiness.
That is why the message which rang out from on high to the shepherds was not wealth, nor pleasures, nor honours, not long life, nor health, nor strength, nor beauty, but peace; for the heavenly host said: "Glory to God on high, and on earth peace to men of good will".
And that is why the Saviour of men used the greeting "Peace be with you", for it was fitting that the supreme Saviour should utter the supreme salutation; and his disciples and Paul chose to preserve this custom in their own greetings, as everybody can verify.
From the arguments developed so far, it is clear what is the better, indeed the best, way of enabling mankind to engage in the activity proper to humanity; and consequently we see the most direct means of achieving the goal to which all our human actions are directed as to their final end. That means is universal peace, which is to be taken as the first principle for the arguments which follow.
As we said, it was necessary to have such a principle to serve as an agreed point of reference to which anything which had to be proved might be referred back, as to a self-evident truth.
So the first question is this: is temporal monarchy necessary for the well-being of the world? That it is necessary can be shown with powerful and persuasive arguments, and neither reason nor authority provides any strong counter-argument. The first of these arguments may be taken from the authority of Aristotle in his Politics.
Now this revered authority states in that work that when a number of things are ordered to a single end, one of them must guide or direct, and the others be guided or directed; and it is not only the authors illustrious name which requires us to believe this, but inductive reasoning as well.
For if we consider a single person, we shall see that what happens in the individual is this: while all the faculties are directed towards happiness, it is the intellectual faculty which guides and directs all the others; otherwise happiness is unattainable.
If we consider a household, whose purpose is to prepare its members to live the good life, there must be one person who guides and directs, who is called the "pater familias" or his representative, in line with Aristotle's observation that "Every household is governed by the eldest"; and his role, as Homer says, is to guide everyone and impose rules on the others. Hence the proverbial curse: "May you have an equal in your house".
If we consider a small community, whose purpose is neighbourly support in relation both to people and to goods, there must be one person who guides the others, either appointed by someone from outside or emerging as leader from among their number with the agreement of the others; otherwise not only will they fail to achieve that neighbourly collaboration, but sometimes, if a number of people contest the leadership, the whole community is destroyed.
If we consider a city, whose purpose is to be self-sufficient in living the good life, there must be one ruling body, and this is so not only in just government, but in perverted forms of government as well; if this should not be the case, not only is the purpose of social life thwarted, but the city itself ceases to be what it was.
Lastly, if we consider an individual kingdom - and the purpose of a kingdom is the same as that of a city, but with greater confidence that peace can be maintained - there must be one king who rules and governs; otherwise not only do those who live in the kingdom not achieve that purpose, but the kingdom itself falls to ruin, in accordance with those words of the infallible Truth: "Every kingdom divided against itself shall be laid waste".
If this holds true in these cases and in individuals who are ordered to one particular goal, then the proposition advanced above is true; now it is agreed that the whole of mankind is ordered to one goal, as has already been demonstrated: there must therefore be one person who directs and rules mankind, and he is properly called "Monarch" or "Emperor".
And thus it is apparent that the well-being of the world requires that there be a monarchy or empire.
Now since there are two kinds of order observable in things, i.e. the order which relates part to part, and the order which relates the parts to some other entity which is not a part (thus the component parts of an army are interrelated one to another, and they are related to their commander), the order of the parts in relation to that single entity is better, for it constitutes the end or purpose of their interrelationship; their interrelationship exists for the sake of their relationship to the single entity, and not vice versa.
So if this second kind of order is discernible in the constituent parts which make up the human race, then with all the more reason must it be observable (by the force of our earlier syllogism) in the human race considered as a whole or totality, given that it is a better order or kind of order; but it is found in all the parts which make up the human race, as is quite clear from what was said in the previous chapter: therefore it must be observable in the totality.
And thus all the parts we have enumerated which are lower than kingdoms, and those kingdoms themselves, must be ordered to one ruler or one rule, that is to a monarch or monarchy.
So much is self-evident. And just as the lesser parts which make up the human race are well adapted to it, so it too can be described as being well adapted to its whole; for its parts are well adapted to it in relation to a single principle, as can easily be deduced from what was said earlier: and so absolutely speaking it too is well adapted to the universe (or to its ruler, who is God and Monarch) in relation to a single principle, i.e. one ruler.
And thus it follows that monarchy is necessary to the well-being of the world.
It is God's intention that every created thing should show forth His likeness in so far as its own nature can receive it. For this reason it is said: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness"; for although "in our image" cannot be said of things lower than man, "after our likeness" can be said of anything, since the whole universe is simply an imprint of divine goodness. So mankind is in a good (indeed, ideal) state when, to the extent that its nature allows, it resembles God.
But mankind most closely resembles God when it is most a unity, since the true measure of unity is in him alone; and for this reason it is written: "Hear, o Israel, the Lord thy God is one".
But mankind is most a unity when it is drawn together to form a single entity, and this can only come about when it is ruled as one whole by one ruler, as is self-evident.
Therefore mankind is most like God when it is ruled by one ruler, and consequently is most in harmony with God's intention; and this is what it means to be in a good (indeed, ideal) state, as we established at the beginning of this chapter.
And since the whole sphere of heaven is guided by a single movement (i.e. that of the Primum Mobile), and by a single source of motion (who is God), in all its own parts, movements and causes of movement, as human understanding perceives quite clearly through philosophical reasoning, then if our argument is sound, mankind is in its ideal state when it is guided by a single ruler (as by a single source of motion) and in accordance with a single law (as by a single movement) in its own causes of movement and in its own movements.
Hence it is clear that monarchy (or that undivided rule which is called "empire") is necessary to the well-being of the world. Boethius expressed this view when he sighed:
"O happy race of men, if only the love by which the heavens are ruled might rule your minds".
There is always the possibility of conflict between two rulers where one is not subject to the other's control; such conflict may come about either through their own fault or the fault of their subjects (the point is self-evident); therefore there must be judgment between them.
And since neither can judge the other (since neither is under the other's control, and an equal has no power over an equal) there must be a third party of wider jurisdiction who rules over both of them by right. And this person will either be the monarch or not.
If he is, then our point is proved; if he is not, he in his turn will have an equal who is outside the sphere of his jurisdiction, and then it will once again be necessary to have recourse to a third party.
And so either this procedure will continue ad infinitum, which is not possible, or else we must come to a first and supreme judge, whose judgment resolves all disputes either directly or indirectly; and this man will be the monarch or emperor. Thus monarchy is necessary to the world.
And Aristotle saw the force of this argument when he said: "Things do not wish to be badly ordered; a plurality of reigns is bad; therefore let there be one ruler".
"Now the Virgin returns, the reign of Saturn returns".For "the virgin" was their name for justice, whom they also called "Astrea"; the "reign of Saturn" was their name for the best of times, which they also called "golden". Justice is at its strongest only under a monarch; therefore for the best ordering of the world there must be a monarchy or empire. To clarify the minor premiss, it must be understood that justice, considered in itself and in its own nature, is a kind of rectitude or rule which spurns deviation from the straight path to either side; and thus it does not admit of a more and a less - just like whiteness considered in the abstract.
There are forms of this kind, in fact, which are to be found in composites, but which in themselves consist of a simple and unchangeable essence, as the Master of the Six Principles rightly says. Such qualities are present to a greater or lesser degree depending on the subjects in which they are given concrete form, according as these subjects contain more or less of their opposites.
Therefore justice is at its strongest where there is least of what is opposed to justice both in the disposition and in the actions of an agent; and then truly it can be said of her, as Aristotle says, "neither Hesperus nor Lucifer is so wondrous". For she is then like Phoebe gazing across the heavens at her brother from the rosy flush of the clear morning sky, from a point on the horizon diametrically opposite.
As far as disposition is concerned, justice is sometimes impeded in the will; for where the will is not entirely free of all greed, even if justice is present, nonetheless it is not entirely present in the splendour of its purity; for the subject has something, however slight, which is in some way resistant to it; and this is why those who try to stir up a judge's emotions are rightly rebuffed.
As far as actions are concerned, justice is sometimes impeded with regard to power; for since justice is a virtue that operates in relation to other people, if someone does not have the power to give to each person what is his, how will he act in accordance with justice? From this it is clear that the more powerful a just man is, the more effectively will justice be brought about by his actions.
Building on this exposition we can argue as follows: justice is at its strongest in the world when it resides in a subject who has in the highest degree possible the will and the power to act; only the monarch is such a subject; therefore justice is at its strongest in the world when it is located in the monarch alone.
This prosyllogism is of the second figure with intrinsic negation, and it takes this form: all B is A; only C is A; therefore only C is B. That is: all B is A; nothing except C is A; therefore nothing except C is B.
And the first proposition is established by the preceding exposition; the second is shown as follows, firstly in relation to volition, and then in relation to power.
To clarify the first of these it must be noted that the thing most contrary to justice is greed, as Aristotle states in the fifth book of the Ethics. When greed is entirely eliminated, nothing remains which is opposed to justice; hence Aristotle's opinion that those things which can be resolved by law should in no way be left to the judge's discretion. And it is fear of greed which makes this necessary, for greed easily leads men's minds astray. But where there is nothing which can be coveted, it is impossible for greed to exist, for emotions cannot exist where their objects have been destroyed.
But there is nothing the monarch could covet, for his jurisdiction is bounded only by the ocean; whereas this is not the case with other rulers, whose sovereignty extends only as far as the neighbouring kingdom, as is the case, for instance, with the kings of Castille and of Aragon. From this it follows that of all men the monarch can be the purest embodiment of justice.
Moreover, just as greed, however slight, dulls the habit of justice in some way, so charity or rightly ordered love makes it sharper and brighter. So the man in whom rightly ordered love can be strongest is the one in whom justice can have its principal abode; the monarch is such a man; therefore justice is or can be at its strongest when he exists.
That rightly ordered love does what has been stated can be deduced from this: greed, scorning the intrinsic nature of man, seeks other things; whereas love, scorning all other things, seeks God and man, and hence the true good of man. Since among the other goods available to man living in peace is supremely important (as we saw earlier), and justice principally and most effectively brings this about, love most of all will strengthen justice, and the stronger love is the more it will do so.
And that the monarch more than all other men should feel rightly ordered love can be shown as follows: the closer any loved object is to the lover the more it is loved; but men are closer to the monarch than to other princes; therefore they are more loved by him, or ought to be. The first premiss is clear if we take into consideration the nature of agents and patients; the second becomes clear if we bear in mind this fact, that men are close to other rulers only as parts, but they are close to the monarch as a totality.
Again, they are close to other rulers by virtue of the monarch, and not vice versa; and thus concern for all men's welfare is primarily and directly the monarch's concern; other rulers share in it through the monarch, since their concern derives from that higher concern of his.
Besides, the more universal a cause is, the more truly it is a cause, because the lower is not a cause except by virtue of the higher, as is clear from the De causis; and the more truly a cause is a cause, the more it loves its own effect, since this love follows from the cause as such.
Therefore, since the monarch is the most universal cause among mortals that men should live the good life (for other rulers are a cause only by virtue of him, as we have seen), it follows that the good of mankind is dear to him above all else.
Who doubts that the monarch is most strongly disposed to the working of justice, except those who do not understand the meaning of the word, since, if he is monarch, he cannot have enemies?
The minor premiss of the main syllogism has been sufficiently proved and the conclusion is certain, namely that the best ordering of the world requires the existence of a monarchy.
Therefore it must be borne in mind that the first principle of our freedom is free will, which many people talk about but few understand. For they go so far as to say that free will is free judgment in matters of volition. And what they say is true, but they are very far from understanding what the words mean, just like our logicians who daily enunciate certain propositions by way of example in their discussions on logic, such as "a triangle has three angles equal to two right angles".
And therefore I say that judgment is the link between perception and appetition: for first a thing is perceived, then it is judged to be good or evil, and finally the person who judges pursues it or shuns it.
Now if judgment controls desire completely and is in no way pre-empted by it, it is free; but if judgment is in any way at all pre-empted and thus controlled by desire, it cannot be free, because it does not act under its own power, but is dragged along in the power of something else.
And that is why the lower animals cannot have free will, because their judgments are always pre-empted by desire. And from this it is also clear that non-material beings, whose wills are unchangeable, as well as human souls who leave this world of ours in a state of grace, do not lose free will on account of the fact that their wills are unchangeable; in fact they retain it in its most perfect and true form.
When this has been grasped, it can also be seen that this freedom (or this principle of all our freedom) is the greatest gift given by God to human nature - as I have already said in the Paradiso of the Comedy - since by virtue of it we become happy here as men, by virtue of it we become happy elsewhere as gods.
If this is the case, who will not agree that the human race is at its best when it is able to make fullest use of this principle?
But living under a monarch it is supremely free. Thus it must be borne in mind that a thing is free which exists "for its own sake and not for the sake of something else", as Aristotle states in the Metaphysics. For a thing which exists for the sake of something else is necessarily conditioned by that other for whose sake it exists, as a route is necessarily conditioned by its terminus.
Mankind exists for its own sake and not for the sake of something else only when it is under the rule of a monarch, for only then are perverted forms of government (i.e. democracies, oligarchies and tyrannies), which force mankind into slavery, set right - as is clear to anyone who examines them all; and only then do kings, aristocrats (known as the great and the good), and those zealous for the freedom of the people govern justly; for since the monarch loves men most, as we have already noted, he wants all men to become good; and this cannot happen under perverted forms of government.
Hence Aristotle in the Politics says that in bad government the good man is a bad citizen, whereas in good government the good man and the good citizen are one and the same thing. And these just forms of government aim at freedom, i.e. that men should exist for their own sake.
For citizens do not exist for the sake of consuls, nor the people for the sake of the king, but on the contrary consuls exist for the sake of the citizens and the king for the people; for just as a political community is not formed for the sake of the laws, but the laws are framed for the benefit of the political community, in the same way those whose lives are governed by the law are not there for the sake of the legislator, but rather he is there for their sake, as Aristotle says in those writings he left to us on this subject.
Thus it is apparent that, although a consul or a king are masters over others with respect to means, with respect to ends they are the servants of others; and this is especially true of the monarch, who is to be considered without doubt the servant of all men. Thus it is already clear that the very same goal which requires the formulation of laws requires also that there be a monarch.
Therefore mankind living under a monarch is in its ideal state; from this it follows that monarchy is necessary for the well-being of the world.
Hence every agent, precisely as agent, takes pleasure in its own action; for since everything which exists desires its own being, and in acting the agent's being is in some sense enhanced, of necessity pleasure ensues, since pleasure is always connected to something which is desired.
Therefore nothing acts unless it has the qualities which are to be communicated to the thing acted upon; hence Aristotle in the Metaphysics says: "The movement from potentiality to actuality comes about by means of something which is already actual"; any attempt to do otherwise would be a vain attempt.
And thus we can refute the error of those who, expressing worthy sentiments and doing wrong, nonetheless believe they can influence the lives and behaviour of others, not realising that Jacob's hands carried more weight than his words, even though his hands deceived and his words revealed the truth. Hence Aristotle in the Ethics says: "In matters where passions and actions are involved, words carry less conviction than actions".
Hence a voice from heaven asked the sinner David: "Why do you tell of my righteousness?", as if to say: "You speak in vain, since your words are belied by what you are". From which it can be deduced that a person who wishes to dispose others for the best must himself be disposed for the best.
But only the monarch can be best disposed for ruling. This can be explained as follows: any thing is the more easily and perfectly disposed to acquire a particular disposition and to act in accordance with it, the less there is in it which is opposed to that disposition; thus those who have never studied philosophy acquire the habit of philosophical truth more easily and perfectly than those who have studied for a long time and become familiar with false notions. So that Galen rightly comments that such people take twice as long to acquire knowledge.
Therefore since the monarch can have no occasion for greed (or in any event of all men the very least occasion), as we saw earlier, (and this is not the case with other rulers), and since it is greed alone which perverts judgment and obstructs justice, it follows that he alone, or he more than anyone else, can be well disposed to rule, since of all men he can have judgment and justice in the highest degree. These are the two chief qualities needed by the legislator and the executor of the law, as that holy king bore witness when he asked God for those things needed by the king and the king's son: "God", he said, "give your judgment to the king and your justice to the king's son".
What was affirmed in the minor premiss is therefore quite correct, i.e. that the monarch alone is the person who can be best disposed to rule: therefore the monarch alone can best dispose other people. It follows from this that monarchy is necessary to the well-being of the world.
And since the introduction of any such means is unnecessary and pointless, and everything which is pointless is displeasing to God and to nature, and everything which is displeasing to God and to nature is evil (as is self-evident), it follows that not only is it better that something should be brought about by a single agent, where that is possible, rather than by several, but that being brought about by a single agent is good, by more than one is in absolute terms bad.
Moreover, a thing is said to be better the closer it is to the best; and the goal itself is the measure of what is best; but to be brought about by a single agent is closer to the goal; therefore it is better. And that it is closer can be shown as follows: let the goal be C; let the achieving of that goal by a single agent be A, and by several agents be A and B; it is clear that to go from A through B to C is a longer route than to go from A directly to C.
But mankind can be ruled by one supreme ruler, who is the monarch. On this point it must of course be noted that when we say "mankind can be ruled by one supreme ruler", this is not to be taken to mean that trivial decisions in every locality can be made directly by him - even though it can happen that local laws are sometimes defective and there may be a need for guidance in implementing them, as is clear from what Aristotle says in the fifth book of the Ethics when he commends the principle of equity.
For nations, kingdoms and cities have characteristics of their own, which need to be governed by different laws; for law is a rule which governs life.
Thus the Scythians, who live beyond the seventh zone and are exposed to nights and days of very unequal length, and who endure an almost unbearable intensity of cold, need to have one set of laws, while the Garamantes require different laws, since they live in the equatorial zone and always have days and nights of equal length, and because of the excessive heat of the air cannot bear to cover themselves with clothes.
It is rather to be understood in this sense, that mankind is to be ruled by him in those matters which are common to all men and of relevance to all, and is to be guided towards peace by a common law. This rule or law should be received from him by individual rulers, just as the practical intellect, in order to proceed to action, receives the major premiss from the theoretical intellect, and then derives the minor premiss appropriate to its own particular case, and then proceeds to the action in question.
And it is not only possible for one person to do this, but necessary for this to come from one person, to avoid any confusion about universal principles.
Moses himself writes in the Law that he did just this when, having chosen certain leaders from the tribes of the sons of Israel, he left less important judgments to them, retaining for himself alone the more important ones which concerned all of them; these judgments of more general relevance were then applied by the leaders to their tribes, according to what was appropriate for each particular tribe.
Therefore it is better for mankind to be ruled by one person than by several, and thus by a monarch who is the only ruler; and if this is better, then it is more acceptable to God, since God always wills what is better. And since when there are only two things being compared, the better is the best, it follows that when the choice is between "one" and "more than one", not only is the first of these more acceptable to God, but it is entirely acceptable.
It follows from this that mankind is in its ideal state when it is ruled by one person; and thus monarchy is necessary to the well-being of the world.
Therefore in every species of thing the best is that which is perfectly one, as Aristotle says in the Metaphysics. This is how it comes about that unity seems to be the root of what it is to be good, and plurality the root of what it is to be evil; that is why Pythagoras in his correlations placed unity on the side of goodness and plurality on the side of evil, as is clear in the first book of the Metaphysics.
Hence it can be seen that to sin is nothing other than to spurn unity and move towards plurality; the Psalmist saw this when he said: "From the fruit of the corn, the wine and the oil they have been multiplied".
It is clear then that everything which is good is good for this reason: that it constitutes a unity. And since concord, in itself, is a good, it is clear that it consists in some unity as in its root.
What this root is will appear if we consider the nature or meaning of concord, for concord is a uniform movement of several wills; from this definition it is clear that unity of wills, which is what is signified by "uniform movement", is the root of concord or indeed is concord itself.
For just as we would describe a number of clods of earth as being "in concord" because of their all falling towards the centre of the world, and a number of flames as in concord because of their all rising towards its circumference, if they did this of their own free will; in the same way we describe a number of people as being in concord when they move all together and of their own free will towards one thing which is in their wills formally, just as there is one quality (heaviness) formally in the clods of earth, and another (lightness) in the flames.
For the capacity to will is a potentiality, and its form is the image of good which is perceived; and this form, just like other forms, is one in itself and becomes multiple according to the multiplicity of the material which receives it - just like soul, number and other forms which are found in composites.
Having made these preliminary points in order to clarify the proposition to be advanced for our purposes, we may reason as follows: all concord depends on the unity which is in wills; mankind in its ideal state represents a kind of concord; for just as one man in his ideal state spiritually and physically is a kind of concord (and the same holds true of a household, a city, and a kingdom), so is the whole of mankind; thus the whole of mankind in its ideal state depends on the unity which is in men's wills.
But this cannot be unless there is one will which controls and directs all the others towards one goal, since the wills of mortals require guidance on account of the seductive pleasures of youth, as Aristotle teaches at the end of the Ethics. Nor can such a single will exist, unless there is one ruler who rules over everybody, whose will can control and guide all the other wills.
Now if all the above conclusions are true - as they are - for mankind to be in its ideal state there must be a monarch in the world, and consequently the well-being of the world requires a monarchy.
That mankind was then happy in the calm of universal peace is attested by all historians and by famous poets; even the chronicler of Christ's gentleness deigned to bear witness to it; and finally Paul called that most happy state "the fullness of time". Truly that time was "full", as were all temporal things, for no ministry to our happiness lacked its minister.
What the state of the world has been since that seamless garment was first rent by the talon of cupidity we can read about - would that we might not witness it.
O human race, how many storms and misfortunes and shipwrecks must toss you about while, transformed into a many-headed beast, you strive after conflicting things.
You are sick in your intellects, both of them, and in your affections; you do not nurture your higher intellect with inviolable principles, nor your lower intellect with the lessons of experience, nor your affections with the sweetness of divine counsel, when it is breathed into you by the trumpet of the holy spirit: "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity".
When confronted with an unfamiliar phenomenon whose cause we do not comprehend we usually feel amazement; and equally, when we do understand the cause, we look down almost mockingly on those who continue to be amazed. For my own part, I used once to be amazed that the Roman people had set themselves as rulers over the whole world without encountering any resistance, for I looked at the matter only in a superficial way and I thought that they had attained their supremacy not by right but only by force of arms.
But when I penetrated with my mind''s eye to the heart of the matter and understood through unmistakable signs that this was the work of divine providence, my amazement faded and a kind of scornful derision took its place, on seeing how the nations raged against the supremacy of the Roman people, on seeing the peoples meditate vain things, as I myself once did; and I grieved too that kings and princes should be united only in this one thing: in opposing their Lord and his Anointed, the Roman prince.
For this reason I can cry out in defence of that glorious people and of Caesar - mockingly, yet not without some feeling of grief - along with him who cried out for the prince of Heaven: "Why did the nations rage, and the peoples meditate vain things? The kings of the earth have arisen, and the princes have gathered together, against their Lord and against his Christ".
But since natural love does not allow scorn to last long, preferring (like the summer sun which as it rises disperses the morning clouds and shines forth radiantly) to cast scorn aside and to pour forth the light of correction, I too then, in order to break the chains of ignorance of kings and princes such as these, and to show that the human race is free of their yoke, shall take heart along with the most holy prophet, by making my own the words of his which follow: "Let us burst their chains, and cast their yoke from us".
These two things will be sufficiently accomplished when I have brought to completion the second part of my present project and shown the truth of the question we are now considering. For showing that the Roman empire is founded on right will not only disperse the fog of ignorance from the eyes of kings and princes who usurp control of public affairs for themselves, falsely believing the Roman people to have done the same thing, but it will make all men understand that they are free of the yoke of usurpers of this kind.
The truth of the matter can be revealed not only by the light of human reason but also by the radiance of divine authority; when these two are in agreement, heaven and earth must of necessity both give their assent.
Relying therefore on the faith of which I spoke earlier and trusting in the testimony of reason and authority, I proceed to resolve the second question.
We must bear in mind then that, just as art is found at three levels, in the mind of the craftsman, in his instrument, and in the material shaped by his craft, so too we can consider nature at three levels. For nature is in the mind of the first mover, who is God; then in the heavens, as in the instrument by means of which the image of eternal goodness is set forth in fluctuating matter.
And just as, when the craftsman is perfect and his instrument is in excellent order, if a flaw occurs in the work of art it is to be imputed exclusively to the material; in the same way, since God attains the highest perfection and his instrument (i.e. the heavens) cannot fall short of the perfection appropriate to it (as is clear from those things philosophy teaches us about the heavens), our conclusion is this: whatever flaws there are in earthly things are flaws due to the material of which they are constituted, and are no part of the intention of God the creator and the heavens; and whatever good there is in earthly things, since it cannot come from the material (which exists only as a potentiality), comes primarily from God the maker and secondarily from the heavens, which are the instrument of Gods handiwork, which is commonly called nature.
From what has been said it is now clear that right, being a good, exists firstly in the mind of God; and since everything which is in the mind of God is God (in conformity with that saying "Whatever was made was life in him"), and since God principally wills himself, it follows that right is willed by God as being something which is in him. And since in God will and what is willed are one and the same thing, it further follows that divine will is right itself.
And again it follows from this that in the created world right is simply the image of divine will; and thus it follows that whatever is not in harmony with divine will cannot be right, and whatever is in harmony with divine will is by that very fact right.
And so to ask whether something happened by right, even though the words are different, is the same thing as asking whether it happened in accordance with God's will. Let us therefore formulate this principle: that what God wills in human society must be considered true and pure right.
Besides it must be remembered that, as Aristotle teaches at the beginning of the Ethics, certainty is not to be sought in the same way in every subject, but according as the nature of the subject-matter allows. Therefore our arguments will be derived with sufficient rigour from the principle we have formulated, if we seek proof of the right of that glorious people in clear signs and the authoritative statements of wise men.
For the will of God in itself is indeed invisible; but the invisible things of God "are clearly perceived by being understood through the things he has made"; for although the seal is hidden, the wax stamped by the seal (hidden though it is) yields clear knowledge of it. Nor is it a cause for amazement if God's will is to be sought through signs, since even the will of a human being is discernible to the outside world only through signs.
This can be proved firstly as follows: it is appropriate that the noblest race should rule over all the others; the Roman people was the noblest; therefore it was appropriate that they should rule over all the others.
The major premiss is proved by an argument from reason: for since "honour is the reward for virtue" and every position of authority is an honour, every position of authority is the reward of virtue. But we know that men become noble through virtue, either their own virtue or that of their forebears.
For "nobility is virtue and ancient wealth", as Aristotle says in the Politics; and according to Juvenal: "nobility of mind is the sole and only virtue". These two sayings refer to two kinds of nobility, i.e. a man's own nobility and that of his ancestors. Therefore the reward of a position of authority is appropriate to the noble by reason of the cause of their nobility.
And since rewards should be commensurate with deserts, as we read in the words of the Gospel: "With the same measure you have applied to others you will be measured", it is appropriate that the most noble should have the highest position of authority over others.
The minor premiss is supported by the testimony of the ancients; for our divine poet Virgil bears witness throughout the whole of the Aeneid, to his everlasting memory, that the father of the Roman people was that most glorious king Aeneas; and Titus Livy, the illustrious chronicler of Roman deeds, confirms this in the first part of his book, which takes as its starting-point the capture of Troy.
It would be beyond me to give a full account of just how noble this supremely victorious and supremely dutiful father was, taking into account not only his own virtue but that of his forebears and his wives, whose nobility flowed into him by hereditary right: "but I shall trace the main outlines of the facts".
Now as far as his own nobility is concerned, we must listen to our poet when in the first book he introduces Ileoneus as he petitions in this manner:
"Aeneas was our king; no man more just In piety, nor greater in war and arms".Let us listen to him too in the sixth book, when he speaks of the dead Misenus, who had served Hector in battle and who after Hector's death had entered the service of Aeneas; he says that Misenus "followed no less a hero", comparing Aeneas with Hector, whom Homer glorifies above all others, as Aristotle relates in that book of the Ethics which deals with behaviour to be avoided.
As far as hereditary nobility is concerned, we find that each of the three regions into which the world is divided made him noble, both through his ancestors and through his wives. For Asia did so through his more immediate forebears, such as Assaracus and the others who ruled over Phrygia, a region of Asia; hence our poet says in the third book:
"After the Gods saw fit to overthrow The might of Asia and Priam's guiltless race".Europe did so with his most ancient male forebear, i.e. Dardanus; Africa did so too with his most ancient female forebear Electra, daughter of King Atlas of great renown; our poet bears witness concerning both of them in his eighth book, where Aeneas speaks in these words to Evander:
"Dardanus, First father and founder of the city of Troy, Born of Electra, as the Greeks maintain, Comes to the Teucrians; mighty Atlas begat her, Who bears the spheres of heaven on his shoulders".That Dardanus was of European birth our bard proclaims in the third book:
"There is a land the Greeks call Hesperia, Ancient, mighty in arms and fertile soil. Oenotrians lived there; a later generation Has called the nation Italy after their leader: This is our homeland; Dardanus was born here".That Atlas came from Africa is confirmed by the mountain there which bears his name. Orosius in his description of the world tells us it is in Africa in these words: "Its furthest boundary is Mount Atlas and the islands they call Fortunate" ("its" meaning "Africa's", because he is talking about Africa).
In similar fashion I find that he was also made noble by marriage. For his first wife, Creusa, the daughter of king Priam, was from Asia, as may be gathered from what was said earlier. And that she was his wife our poet bears witness in his third book, where Andromache questions Aeneas as a father about his son Ascanius in this way:
"What of your boy Ascanius, Whom Creusa bore when Troy was smouldering? Is he alive and does he breathe earth's air?"His second wife was Dido, queen and mother of the Carthaginians in Africa; and that she was his wife our bard proclaims in the fourth book, for he says there of Dido:
"Dido no longer thinks of a secret love: She calls it marriage; this name conceals her sin".The third was Lavinia, mother of the Albans and the Romans, the daughter of King Latinus and his heir as well, if our poet is to be believed in his last book, where he introduces the defeated Turnus making supplication to Aeneas in these words:
"You have won; the Ausonians have seen The vanquished man stretch forth his upturned hands: Lavinia is your wife".This last wife was from Italy, the most noble region of Europe. When these facts in support of the minor premiss are borne in mind, who is not satisfied that the father of the Roman people, and as a consequence that people itself, was the noblest in the world? Or who will fail to recognise divine predestination in that double confluence of blood from every part of the world into a single man?
And thus he proves that only God has the power to perform miracles; and this is corroborated by the authority of Moses, where he tells how, when confronted with the gnats, Pharoah's magicians, using natural principles in the service of their arts and failing, said: "This is the finger of God".
Now if a miracle is a direct action by the First Cause without the mediation of secondary agents - as Thomas himself proves with sufficient rigour in the book just cited - then when a portent takes place in favour of something, it is wicked to say that the thing so favoured is not ordained by God as something pleasing to him.
It is therefore holy to acknowledge the converse: the Roman empire was aided by the help of miracles to achieve supremacy; therefore it was willed by God; and consequently it was and is founded on right.
That God performed miracles so that the Roman empire might be supreme is confirmed by the testimony of illustrious authors. For Livy tells in the first part of his work that in the time of Numa Pompilius, the second king of the Romans, a shield fell from heaven into God's chosen city as he was sacrificing according to the pagan rite.
Lucan recalls this miracle in the ninth book of the Pharsalia where he describes the incredible force of the South wind to which Libya is exposed; for he says:
"No doubt the shields, Which chosen youths bore on patrician necks, Fell before Numa as he sacrificed; The South wind or the North had robbed their bearers Of shields which now are ours".When the Gauls, having captured the rest of the city, and trusting to the shadows of night, secretly stole up to the Capitol (whose fall would have meant the annihilation of the very name of Rome), a goose never seen there before cried warning that the Gauls had come and roused the guardians to defend the Capitol (Livy and many other illustrious writers concur in their testimony).
Our poet recalled this incident when he described Aeneas' shield in the eighth book; for he writes as follows:
"At the top before the temple stood Manlius, guardian of the Tarpeian rock, And held the lofty heights of the Capitol; The new-built palace was rough with Romulus' thatch. Here flying through the golden colonnades A silver goose cried warning that the Gauls Were at the gate".And when the nobility of Rome, under siege by Hannibal, was fallen so low that all that remained to complete the destruction of Roman might was the onslaught of the Carthaginians on the city, the victors were unable to complete their victory because of a sudden unbearably violent hailstorm which threw them into confusion. Livy recounts this among other events in the Punic wars.
And when, during the siege of Porsenna, Cloelia - a woman, and a prisoner - broke her chains and swam across the Tiber with the miraculous help of God, as almost all Roman historians relate to her glory, was her crossing not miraculous?
It was utterly fitting that he who ordained all things from eternity in harmonious order should operate in this manner: that just as he would, when visibile, perform miracles as testimony for invisible things, so he should, while still invisible, perform them as testimony for visible things.
If therefore our definition correctly embraces both the essence and the purpose of right, and if the goal of any society is the common good of its members, it necessarily follows that the purpose of every right is the common good; and it is impossible that there can be a right which does not aim at the common good. Hence Cicero is correct when he says in the De inventione that laws are always to be interpreted for the benefit of the community.
For if laws are not framed for the benefit of those who are subject to the law, they are laws in name only, but in reality they cannot be laws; for laws must bind men together for their mutual benefit. For this reason Seneca speaks appositely of the law when he says in De quatuor virtutibus that "law is the bond of human society".
Thus it is clear that whoever has the good of the community as his goal has the achievement of right as his goal. Therefore if the Romans had the good of the community as their goal, it will be true to say that the achievement of right was their goal.
That the Roman people in conquering the world did have the good of which we have spoken as their goal is shown by their deeds, for, having repressed all greed (which is always harmful to the community) and cherishing universal peace and freedom, that holy, dutiful and glorious people can be seen to have disregarded personal advantage in order to promote the public interest for the benefit of mankind. Thus with good reason it was written: "The Roman empire is born of the fountain-head of piety".
But since it is only through external signs that anything about the intentions of all free agents is revealed to the outside world, and since our arguments must be sought in accordance with our subject matter, as we have already said, it will suffice for our purposes if we discover indubitable signs revealing the intention of the Roman people both in its collegiate bodies and in individual citizens.
As for its collegiate bodies, which seem in some sense to function as a bond between individuals and the community, the sole authority of Cicero in the De officiis is sufficient: "So long as the power of the state was exercised through acts of service and not of oppression, wars were waged either on behalf of our allies or to safeguard our supremacy, and the consequences of wars were mild or else unavoidable; the senate was a haven and a refuge for kings, peoples and nations; both our magistrates and our military chiefs strove to win praise for this above all, for defending the provinces and our allies justly and loyally. Thus 'protection' of the world might be a more appropriate term than 'domination'." These are Cicero's words.
As for individuals, I shall proceed with brief sketches. Are they not to be described as having aimed at the common good who strove to increase the public good with toil, with poverty, with exile, with the loss of their children, the loss of their limbs, even the loss of their lives?
Did not the great Cincinnatus leave us a holy example of freely relinquishing his high office when his term came to an end? Taken from his plough to become dictator, as Livy relates, after his victory and his triumph he handed back the sceptre of office to the consuls and went back of his own free will to toil at the plough-handle behind his oxen.
Cicero indeed, arguing against Epicurus in the De fine bonorum, recalls this act of public service approvingly: "And thus our ancestors led the great Cincinnatus from the plough to make him dictator".
Did not Fabritius give us a lofty example of resisting avarice when, poor as he was, out of loyalty to the republic he scorned the great sum of gold which was offered him - scorned it and spurned it with disdain, uttering words in keeping with his character? The memory of this incident too is confirmed by our poet in his sixth book when he said:
"Fabritius, a great man in his poverty".Did not Camillus give us a memorable example of putting the law before personal advantage? Condemned to exile, according to Livy, after he had freed his besieged country and returned the Roman spoils to Rome, he left the holy city although the whole populace clamoured against his going, and he did not return until permission to come back to Rome was brought to him by authority of the senate. And our poet commends this great spirit in his sixth book when he says:
"Camillus bringing back the standards".Did not the first Brutus teach us that not just all other people but our own children must take second place to freedom of the fatherland? Livy says that when he was consul he condemned his own sons to death for conspiring with the enemy. His glory lives on in our poet's sixth book when he says of him:
"In fair freedom's name The father condemned to death his own two sons Plotting new wars".What did Mutius not teach us to dare for the fatherland when he attacked Porsenna, who was off his guard, and then watched his own hand which had missed its mark burn in the fire with the same expression on his face as if he saw an enemy being tortured? Even Livy expresses amazement as he reports this incident.
Now add to their number those most holy victims, the Decii, who laid down their lives dedicated to the salvation of the community, as Livy relates to their glory, not in terms worthy of them but as best he can; and that sacrifice (words cannot express it) of the most stern guardian of liberty, Marcus Cato. The former for the deliverance of their fatherland did not recoil from the shadows of death; the latter, in order to set the world afire with love of freedom, showed the value of freedom when he preferred to die a free man rather than remain alive without freedom.
The great renown of all these men lives on in the words of Cicero. For Cicero says this of the Decii in the De fine bonorum: "When Publius Decius, first in that family to be consul, offered himself up and charged on his horse at full speed into the thick of the Latin ranks, surely he had no thought of personal pleasure, or where or when he might seize it; for he knew that he was about to die, and sought out death with more passionate eagerness than Epicurus thinks we should devote to seeking pleasure. But had this action of his not been praised with good reason, his son would not have imitated it in his fourth consulship; nor would his son's son in his turn, when he was consul in the war against Pyrrhus, have fallen in battle and offered himself to the state as the third victim from succeeding generations of the same family".
In the De officiis he says of Cato: "For the situation of Marcus Cato was no different from that of the others who surrendered to Caesar in Africa. Yet if the others had killed themselves it would perhaps have been accounted a fault in them, because their lives were less austere and their habits more relaxed; but since nature had bestowed on Cato an austerity beyond belief, and he had strengthened it with unfailing constancy, and had always persisted in any resolve or plan he had undertaken, it was fitting that he should die rather than set eyes on the face of the tyrant".
Thus two things have been explained; the first is that whoever has the good of the community as his goal has the achievement of right as his goal; the other is that the Roman people in conquering the world had the public good as their goal.
Now it may be argued for our purposes as follows: whoever has right as his goal proceeds with right; the Roman people subjecting the world to its rule had right as its goal, as has been clearly demonstrated by what has been said already in this chapter; therefore the Roman people subjecting the world to its rule did this in accordance with right, and as a consequence took upon itself the dignity of empire by right.
For this conclusion to be inferred from premisses which are all clear, the following statement must be clarified: that whoever has right as his goal proceeds with right. To clarify this it must be borne in mind that each and every thing exists for some purpose; otherwise it would be useless, which is not possible, as we said earlier.
And in the same way that each thing exists for its own particular purpose, so too each purpose has some thing of which it is the purpose; and so it is impossible strictly speaking for any two things, in so far as they are two, to have the same purpose; for the same inadmissible conclusion would follow, i.e. that one of them would exist in vain.
Now since there exists a purpose of right - as we have already explained - then having postulated the purpose it becomes necessary to postulate right, since the purpose is an intrinsic and necessary effect of right. And since in any relationship of consequentiality it is impossible to have the antecedent without the consequent, as for example one cannot have "man" without "animal" - as is clear if one affirms the first while denying the second - it is impossible to seek the purpose of right without right, since each and every thing is related to its own particular purpose as consequent is to antecedent; e.g. it is impossible to have a healthy condition of the limbs without having good health.
From this it is quite apparent that one who seeks the purpose of right must seek it with right; nor is this invalidated by the objection which is customarily based on Aristotle's words where he discusses "eubulia". For Aristotle says: "Yet it is possible to attain even good by a false syllogism: to attain what one ought, but not by the right means, the middle term being false".
For if a true conclusion is in some way arrived at from false premisses, this happens by accident, inasmuch as the truth is introduced in the words of the conclusion; for in itself truth never follows from false premisses, but words expressing truth may well follow from words which express falsehood.
And the same is true in actions; for although the thief may help the poor man with the proceeds of his thieving, nonetheless we cannot call this alms-giving, although it is an action which would be alms-giving if it were done with his own property.
The same is true of the purpose of right, because if anything were to be obtained as the purpose of this right but without right, that thing would be the purpose of right (i.e. the common good) in the same way as the giving of stolen goods is alms-giving; and so, since in our proposition we are speaking of the purpose of right as it really is, not just as it appears to be, the objection has no force. The point we were inquiring into is thus quite clear.
But we see that in the setting up of collegiate bodies it is not only the relationship of the members to one another which is taken into account by the founder, but also their capacity to exercise office; and this is to take into account the limits of right within the collegiate body, that is to say in the way it is structured; for right does not extend beyond the capacity to exercise it. Now nature is no less provident than this in its ordering of things.
From this it is clear that nature orders things according to their capacities, and this taking into account of their capacities is the basis of right established by nature in the created world. From this it follows that the natural order in the created world cannot be maintained without right, since the basis of right is inseparably bound up with that order: the preservation of that order is therefore necessarily right.
The Roman people were ordained by nature to rule; and this can be shown as follows: just as a craftsman would never achieve artistic perfection if he aimed only at the final form and paid no heed to the means by which that form was to be achieved, so too nature would fail if it aimed only at the universal form of divine likeness in the universe, yet neglected the means to achieve it; but nature is never less than perfect, since it is the work of divine intelligence: therefore it wills all the means through which it achieves the fulfilling of its intention.
Since therefore the goal of the human race is itself a necessary means to achieving the universal goal of nature, it is necessary that nature wills it. For this reason Aristotle in the second book of the Physics rightly shows that nature always acts with an end in view.
And since nature cannot achieve this end by means of one person alone, since there are many functions necessarily involved in it, and these functions require a vast number of people to carry them out, it is necessary for nature to produce a vast number of people fitted to different functions: as well as celestial influences, the qualities and characteristics of regions here below on earth make a large contribution to this.
This is why we see that not just certain individuals, but certain peoples are born fitted to rule, and certain others to be ruled and to serve, as Aristotle affirms in the Politics; and, as he says, it is not only expedient but actually just that such people should be ruled, even if force has to be used to bring this about.
If this is the way things are, there is no doubt that nature ordained a place and a nation to exercise universal rule in the world: otherwise she would have failed in her provisions, which is impossible. From what has been said above and what will be said below it is clear enough which place that was and which nation: it was Rome and her citizens, that is to say her people.
Our poet too touched on this perceptively in his sixth book, when he introduces Anchises making this prophetic prediction to Aeneas, the father of the Romans:
"That others shall beat out the breathing bronze More delicately, I can well believe, And draw forth living features from the marble, Plead causes better, trace movements of the heavens With pointers, tell the rising of the stars. Roman, remember to rule over nations. Your arts shall be: to impose the ways of peace, Spare subject peoples, and subdue the proud".He touches on the location of the place perceptively in the fourth book, when he introduces Jove speaking of Aeneas to Mercury in this manner:
"Not such a son did his fair mother promise, Nor for this saved him twice from Grecian arms; But that he might rule over Italy, Pregnant with empire, clamouring for war".These arguments are sufficient to convince us that the Roman people were ordained by nature to rule; therefore the Roman people by conquering the world came to empire by right.
Now there are two ways in which it can be revealed, i.e. by reason and by faith. For there are some judgments of God which human reason can arrive at by its own unaided efforts, such as this: that a man should sacrifice himself to save his country; for if the part should put itself at risk for the sake of the whole, then since man is a part of his community, as Aristotle says in the Politics, then a man should sacrifice himself for his country, as a lesser good for a greater.
And so Aristotle says in the Ethics: "Though it is worthwhile to attain the good merely for one man, it is finer and more godlike to attain it for a people or a community". And this is God's judgment; otherwise human reason in its right judgment would not be in harmony with nature's intention, which is impossible.
Then there are some judgments of God to which human reason, even if it cannot arrive at them by its own unaided efforts, can nonetheless be raised with the help of faith in those things which are said to us in the Scriptures; such as this: that no one can be saved without faith (assuming that he has never heard anything of Christ), no matter how perfectly endowed he might be in the moral and intellectual virtues in respect both of his character and his behaviour.
For human reason cannot see this to be just by its own powers, but with the aid of faith it can. For it is written to the Hebrews: "It is impossible to please God without faith"; and in Leviticus: "Any man of the house of Israel who shall kill an ox or lamb or goat in the camp or outside the camp, and shall not bring it to the door of the tabernacle as an offering to the Lord, shall be guilty of blood".
The door of the tabernacle is a figure of Christ, who is the doorway to the eternal assembly, as can be gathered from the Gospel; the killing of animals symbolises human actions.
But that judgment of God is hidden which human reason arrives at neither through the law of nature, nor the law of the scriptures, but occasionally by special grace. This can happen in several ways, sometimes by direct revelation, and sometimes being revealed through some kind of putting-to-the-test.
There are two ways in which it can happen by direct revelation: either by a spontaneous act of God, or by God in response to prayer. By a spontaneous act of God there are two ways: either openly or through a sign; openly, as when the judgment against Saul was revealed to Samuel; by a sign, as when what God willed regarding the liberation of the children of Israel was revealed to Pharoah through a sign. It can be a response to prayer, as they knew who said in the second book of Chronicles: "When we do not know what we should do, this course alone is left us: that we should turn our eyes to Thee."
There are two ways in which it can be revealed through a putting-to-the-test: either by lot or through a contest; for the word "certare" ("to decide something by a contest") derives from "certum facere" ("to make certain"). God's judgment is sometimes revealed to men by lot, as in the substitution of Matthias in the Acts of the Apostles. God's judgment can be revealed by a contest in two ways: either by a clash of strength, as happens in combat between two champions, who are called prize-fighters, or through competition among a number of people who vie with one another to reach an agreed goal, as happens in a race between athletes competing to reach the finishing-line first.
The first of these ways was prefigured among the pagans in that famous fight between Hercules and Antaeus, which Lucan recalls in the fourth book of the Pharsalia and Ovid in the ninth book of the Metamorphoses; the second was prefigured among those same pagans by the race between Atalanta and Hippomene in the tenth book of the Metamorphoses.
Nor should we overlook the fact that in these two kinds of contest different rules apply: in the first the contestants can obstruct each other quite legitimately (for instance prize-fighters), whereas in the second this is not allowed; for runners must not obstruct one another - although our poet seems to have thought differently in his fifth book, when he had Eurialus win the prize.
So that Cicero did better to forbid this, in the third book of the De officiis, following the opinion of Chrysippus; for he says as follows: "With his customary aptness Chrysippus says: 'When a man races in the arena he must exert himself and strive his hardest to win; he must not in any way obstruct his fellow-competitor'".
Having made these distinctions in this chapter, we can take two lines of argument which serve our purpose: one from the competition between runners, the other from the contest between prize-fighters. I shall develop these arguments in the chapters which now directly follow.
The Roman people won the race to rule the world against all competition. This will be clear if, when we consider the competitors, we also consider the prize or finishing-post. The prize or finishing-post was to rule over all mortals: this is what we mean by "empire". But none achieved this except the Roman people; they were not only the first, but indeed the only ones to reach the finishing-post in the contest, as will appear directly.
For the first among mortals who strove to win this prize was Ninus, king of the Assyrians. Although, as Orosius relates, he tried for ninety years and more with his consort Semiramis to conquer the world by force, and subjected all of Asia to himself, nonetheless the eastern parts of the world were never under their rule.
Ovid recalled them both in his fourth book, where he says in the Pyramus episode:
"Semiramis circled the city with walls of brick";and later on:
"They were to meet at the tomb of Ninus and hide in the shade".The second who aspired to this prize was Vesoges, king of Egypt; and although he pillaged southern and northern Asia, as Orosius recalls, yet he never conquered even half the world; for he was turned aside from his reckless undertaking by the Scythians, midway as it were between the starters and the finishing-post.
Then Cyrus, king of the Persians, attempted the same thing. Having destroyed Babylon and transferred the Babylonian empire to the Persians, he laid down his life and along with it his ambition under Tamiris, queen of the Scythians, without ever even reaching the lands to the west.
After these Xerxes, son of Darius and king of the Persians, invaded the world with such a vast number of peoples and with such military might that he was able to bridge the strait which separates Asia from Europe, between Sestos and Abidos. Lucan recalls this astonishing achievement in the second book of the Pharsalia; for he says there:
"Fame sings that proud Xerxes Built such paths across the seas".But in the end, ignominiously driven back from what he had set out to do, he was unable to win the prize.
In addition to these, and after them, Alexander king of Macedon came closer than anyone else to winning the prize of monarchy. Livy relates that as he was urging the Romans to surrender through his ambassadors, he collapsed in Egypt before receiving a reply from the Romans, in the middle of the race so to speak.
Lucan bears witness to his tomb being there in Egypt, when he says in his eighth book, inveighing against Ptolemy king of Egypt:
"Last doomed and degenerate descendant Of the line of Lagus, you who must surrender The sceptre to your own incestuous sister, Even though the Macedonian is preserved In a consecrated cave"."O depth of the riches both of the knowledge and wisdom of God", who is not astonished at you in this connection? For you carried off Alexander from the contest when he was striving to obstruct his Roman rival in the race, so that his foolhardiness might proceed no further.
But that Rome won the prize in this great contest is confirmed by many testimonies. For our poet says in his first book:
"Surely you promised that from them some time, With passing years, the Romans were to come; From Teucer's line restored, leaders should come To hold the sea and all lands in their sway".And Lucan in his first book:
"The kingdom is divided by the sword; The destiny of the imperial people Who rule the sea and lands and the whole world Found no place for two men".And Boethius in his second book, when speaking of the prince of the Romans, says:
"The empire that he held in sway From eastern sun's rise then was spread To where he sinks at close of day. Its northern march where the two Bears stand, Its southern bounds where the parched south wind Burns and bakes the arid sand".Christ's chronicler Luke, who always speaks the truth, bears witness to this also, in the passage where he tells us: "There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed"; in these words we can clearly perceive that at that time the Romans exercised jurisdiction over the whole world.
From all of this it is clear that the Roman people won the race against all its rivals competing for world domination; therefore they won by divine judgment, and consequently they obtained it by divine judgment; which means they obtained it by right.
Now this happens when by free agreement of both sides, not out of hatred, nor out of love, but solely out of a passionate concern for justice, we seek to know divine judgment through a clash of strength of both body and soul; we call this clash of strength trial by combat ("duellum") because originally it was devised as combat between two ("duo") individuals.
But just as in warfare all ways of reaching a resolution through negotiation must be tried first and only as a last resort do we engage in battle (and Cicero and Vegetius are in agreement in urging this, in the De officiis and the De re militari respectively); and just as in medical treatment everything must be tried before the knife and fire and these are to be used as a last resort; in the same way care must always be taken to ensure that, when all other ways have first been investigated as a way of resolving the dispute, we have recourse to this remedy as a last resort, forced to adopt it as it were by a need for justice.
There are thus two identifying features of trial by combat: the first is the one we have just described; the other is the one we touched on earlier, i.e. that the contenders or champions enter the arena by mutual agreement, and not out of hatred, nor out of love, but solely out of a passionate concern for justice. And that is why Cicero spoke wisely when he touched on this subject, for what he said was: "But wars aimed at securing the crown of empire should be waged less harshly".
For if these essential conditions of trial by combat have been respected - and if they have not it would not be trial by combat - is it not true that those who out of a need for justice have come to confront one another by mutual agreement through a passionate concern for justice have come to confront one another in the name of God? And if so, is not God in their midst, since he himself promises us as much in the Gospel?
And if God is present, is it not impious to think that justice can fail to triumph - that justice which he himself so loves, as we noted above? And if justice cannot fail to triumph in trial by combat, is it not true that what is acquired through trial by combat is acquired by right?
Even the pagans, before the trumpet of the Gospel sounded, acknowledged the truth of this when they sought a judgment in the outcome of trial by combat.
And so the great Pyrrhus, who was noble by reason both of the customs of the Aeacidae and of blood, gave a worthy answer when the Roman ambassadors were sent to him to ransom prisoners:
"I ask no gold, nor shall you give me payment; Let us decide by the sword, and not with gold, As warriors, not traffickers in war, The matter of life and death on either side. Let us test by our valour if Hera wants That you should rule or I, and what fate brings. Doubt not I shall restore to liberty Those whom fortune of war spared for their valour. I give them; take them".Here Pyrrhus called fortune "Hera"; we call that same cause by the more appropriate and accurate name "divine providence".
So let champions beware that they do not make money their motive for fighting; for then it should not be called trial by combat, but a market-place of blood and justice; nor should it be thought that God is then present as arbiter, but that ancient Adversary who stirred up the quarrel.
If they wish to be true champions, and not traffickers in blood and justice, then as they enter the arena let them always have Pyrrhus before their eyes, Pyrrhus who when fighting for supremacy disdained gold in the manner described.
And if the usual objection should be urged against the truth I have shown (that opponents may be unevenly matched in strength), let the objection be refuted by the victory of David over Goliath; and if the pagans want a different example, let them refute it by the victory of Hercules against Antaeus. For it is very foolish to suppose that strength sustained by God in a champion might be unequal to the task.
By now it is sufficiently clear that what is won through trial by combat is won by right.
For at the very beginning, when a dispute arose about the abode of father Aeneas, who was the first father of the Roman people, and Turnus king of the Rutuli opposed him, in the end, in order to seek out what was God's will, the two kings agreed to fight in single combat, as is related at the end of the Aeneid.
In this combat the clemency of the victor Aeneas was so great that, had he not caught sight of the belt which Turnus had taken from Pallas when he killed him, the victor would have granted life as well as peace to the vanquished, as our poets closing lines testify.
When two peoples had sprung up in Italy from that same Trojan root, i.e. the Romans and the Albans, and a conflict had raged between them for a long time about the eagle standard and the other household gods of Troy and the honour of supremacy, in the end, by mutual agreement, in order to reach a just settlement the matter was fought out by three Horatii brothers on one side and the same number of Curiatii brothers on the other, in the presence of the kings and the peoples waiting on either side. When the three champions of the Albans and two of the Romans had been killed, the prize of victory passed to the Romans under king Hostilius. And Livy wrote a meticulous account of this episode in his first book, and Orosius too confirms it.
Livy tells how later, respecting all the rules of warfare, they fought for supremacy with the neighbouring peoples, with the Sabines and the Samnites, in the manner of a trial by combat (even though there was a vast number of combatants); and in this way of fighting with the Samnites Fortune almost repented, so to speak, of her undertaking.
And Lucan reports this by way of example in his second book in these words:
"What heaps of slain lay at the Colline Gate When the world capital and its government Was nearly transferred to a different seat, And the Samnite hoped for a heavier blow to Rome Than the Caudine Forks".But after the disputes between Italians had been resolved, and there had as yet been no confrontation to ascertain divine judgment with the Greeks and with the Carthaginians (both of whom were striving for Empire), Fabritius fought for the Romans and Pyrrhus for the Greeks along with a vast number of soldiers for the glory of supremacy, and Rome won; and Scipio for the Italians and Hannibal for the Africans fought a war in the form of trial by combat, and the Africans were beaten by the Italians, as Livy and all Roman historians are at pains to relate.
Who then is now so obtuse as not to see that the glorious people gained the crown of the whole world by right through trial by combat? A Roman could truly have said with the Apostle to Timothy: "There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness"; "laid up", that is, in God's eternal providence.
Now let the presumptuous jurists see just how far they are below that watch-tower of reason from which the human mind contemplates these principles, and let them be silent and be satisfied to give counsel and judgment in accordance with the sense of the law.
And it is already clear that the Roman people acquired the empire through trial by combat; therefore it acquired it by right; which is our main thesis in this present book.
But this impoverishment of the Church does not happen without God's judgment, since her resources are not used to help the poor (whose patrimony the Church's wealth is), and since no gratitude is shown for receiving them from the empire which offers them.
Let them return where they came from: they came well, they return badly, since they were given in good faith and badly held. What does this matter to such shepherds? What do they care if the Church's substance is wasted, as long as the wealth of their own relatives increases? But perhaps it is better to return to our thesis, and wait in reverent silence for help from our Saviour.
I say therefore that if the Roman empire was not based on right, Christ by his birth assented to an injustice; the consequent is false; therefore the contradictory of the antecedent is true. For contradictory statements are mutually exclusive: if one is false, the other must be true.
There is no need to demonstrate to believers that the consequent is false, for if someone is a believer, he allows that this is false; if he does not allow it, he is not a believer, and if he is not a believer, this argument is not for him.
I show the relationship of consequentiality as follows: anyone who of his own free will complies with an edict, acknowledges by his action that the edict is legitimate, and, since actions are more telling than words, as Aristotle says at the end of the Ethics, he does so more effectively than if he gave it his verbal approval. But as his chronicler Luke relates, Christ chose to be born of his Virgin Mother under an edict emanating from Roman authority, so that the Son of God made man might be enrolled as a man in that unique census of the human race; this means that he acknowledged the validity of that edict.
And perhaps it is more holy to believe that the edict came by divine inspiration through Caesar, so that he who had been so long awaited in the society of men might himself be enrolled among mortals.
Therefore Christ acknowledged by his action that the edict of Augustus, who embodied the authority of the Romans, was legitimate. And since someone who issues an edict legitimately must logically have the jurisdiction to do so, it necessarily follows that someone who acknowledges that an edict is legitimate is also acknowledging that the jurisdiction of the authority which promulgated it is legitimate; because if it were not based on right, it would not be legitimate.
And note that our argument, which is based on denying the consequent, although valid in its form by virtue of a common-place, yet reveals its full force as a second figure syllogism, if it is then reduced to the first figure as an argument based on affirming the consequent.
This reduction runs as follows: all injustice is assented to unjustly; Christ did not assent unjustly; therefore he did not assent to an injustice. Affirming the consequent, we get: all injustice is assented to unjustly; Christ assented to an injustice; therefore he assented unjustly.
That the consequent is false can be demonstrated as follows: since by Adam's sin we were all sinners, in the words of the Apostle "As by one man sin entered this world, and through sin, death, so death entered into all men, in as much as all sinned"; if satisfaction for that sin had not been made by the death of Christ, we would still be "the children of wrath by nature", that is by our corrupted nature.
But this is not the case, since the Apostle speaking of the Father in Ephesians says: "He has predestined us, according to the determination of his will, to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ unto him, to the praise and glory of his grace, with which he favoured us in his beloved son, in whom we have redemption, by his blood, remission of sins in accordance with the riches of his glory which is superabundant in us"; and since Christ himself, suffering punishment in his own person, says in John: "It is finished"; for where something is finished, nothing remains to be done.
As regards the relationship of consequentiality, it must be borne in mind that "punishment" is not simply "a penalty imposed on one who does wrong", but "a penalty imposed on the wrong-doer by one who has the legal authority to punish him"; so that if the penalty is not imposed by an authorised judge, it is not a "punishment", but is more accurately termed a wrong. Hence the man said to Moses: "Who appointed you judge over us?".
Thus if Christ had not suffered under an authorised judge, that penalty would not have been a punishment. And no judge could be authorised unless he had jurisdiction over the whole of mankind, since the whole of mankind was punished in that flesh of Christ "who bore our sorrows", as the prophet says. And Tiberius Caesar, whose representative Pilate was, would not have had jurisdiction over the whole of mankind unless the Roman empire had existed by right.
This is why Herod, although he did not know what he was doing (any more than Caiaphas did when he spoke the truth by heavenly decree) sent Christ back to Pilate to be judged, as Luke relates in his Gospel. For Herod did not act as Tiberius' representative invested with the authority of the eagle or the authority of the senate, rather he governed as the king appointed by him over a particular kingdom, and invested with the authority of the kingdom which had been entrusted to him.
So let those who pass themselves off as sons of the church stop attacking the Roman empire, seeing that Christ the bridegroom sanctioned it in this way at the beginning and at the end of his earthly campaign. And I consider it now sufficiently proven that the Roman people took over the empire of the world by right.
O happy people, O glorious Ausonia, if only that man who weakened your empire had never been born, or at least had never been led astray by his own pious intentions.
Now it remains to deal with the third, the truth of which cannot be brought to light without putting certain people to shame, and will therefore perhaps be a cause of some resentment against me.
But since truth from its unchangeable throne implores us, and Solomon too, entering the forest of Proverbs, teaches us by his own example to meditate on truth and loathe wickedness; and since our authority on morals, Aristotle, urges us to destroy what touches us closely for the sake of maintaining truth; then having taken heart from the words of Daniel cited above, in which divine power is said to be a shield of the defenders of truth, and putting on "the breast-plate of faith" as Paul exhorts us, afire with that burning coal which one of the seraphim took from the heavenly altar to touch Isaiah's lips, I shall enter the present arena, and, by his arm who freed us from the power of darkness with his blood, before the eyes of the world I shall cast out the wicked and the lying from the ring.
What should I fear, when the Spirit who is coeternal with the Father and the Son says through the mouth of David: "the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance and shall not be afraid of ill report"?
The present question, therefore, which we are now to investigate, concerns the "two great lights", that is the Roman Pope and the Roman Prince; and the point at issue is whether the authority of the Roman monarch, who is monarch of the world by right, as was proved in the second book, derives directly from God or else from some vicar or minister of God, by which I mean Peter's successor, who assuredly holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
So let this inviolable truth be formulated at the outset: what is contrary to nature's intention is against God's will. For if this were not true, its contradictory would not be false, i.e. what is contrary to nature's intention is not against God's will.
And if this is not false, nor are those things which follow from it; for it is impossible in necessary consequences for the consequent to be false without the antecedent being false.
But one of two things must necessarily follow if a thing is not against one's will: one must either will it or not will it; just as, if one does not hate something, it necessarily follows that one either loves it or does not love it; for not loving is not the same as hating, and the fact that one does not will something is not the same as its being against one's will, as is self-evident. If these conclusions are not false, this will not be false either: "God wills what he does not will"; and nothing could be more false than this.
I prove the truth of this affirmation as follows: it is obvious that God wills the goal of nature, otherwise he would move the heavens to no purpose - not a tenable proposition. If God willed the obstructing of nature's goal, he would also will the goal of that obstructing, for otherwise he would once again will to no effect; and since the aim of an obstruction is to prevent what is obstructed from happening, it would follow that God willed that nature should not fulfil its goal - which he is said to will.
But if God did not will the obstructing of nature's goal, inasmuch as he did not will it, it would follow logically from his not willing that he was indifferent to whether the obstructing took place or did not take place; but one who is indifferent to an obstruction is indifferent to the thing which can be obstructed, and therefore does not have it in his will; and what someone does not have in his will, he does not will.
Therefore if the goal of nature can be obstructed - which it can - it necessarily follows that God does not will the goal of nature; and thus our earlier conclusion follows, namely that God wills what he does not will. That principle from whose contradictory such absurd consequences follow is therefore unquestionably true.
The geometrician, for example, does not know how to square the circle, but he does not argue about it; the theologian for his part does not know how many angels there are, yet he does not engage in dispute about the matter; the Egyptian likewise is ignorant of the civilization of the Scythians, yet he does not on this account argue about their civilization.
But the truth concerning this third question is so fiercely disputed that, just as in other matters it is ignorance which gives rise to dispute, so here it is rather the dispute which is the cause of ignorance.
For it often happens that men who guide their will by the light of reason, should they be swayed by misguided impulses, put the light of reason behind them and are dragged by passion like blind men, and yet obstinately deny their own blindness.
And so it happens very often that not only does falsehood find defenders, but that many stray beyond their own borders and make incursions into the territory of others, where, understanding nothing, they quite fail to make themselves understood; and thus they provoke some people to anger, others to disdain, and many to mirth.
Now three classes of people in particular fiercely oppose the truth we are investigating.
For the supreme Pontiff, the vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ and Peter's successor, to whom we owe not what is due to Christ but what is due to Peter, perhaps motivated by a zealous concern for the keys, and with him other shepherds of the Christian flock and others who I believe act only out of zealous concern for Mother Church: these people oppose the truth I am about to demonstrate - perhaps, as I said, out of zealous concern and not out of pride.
Certain others, however, whose stubborn greed has extinguished the light of reason, and who, having the devil as their father, yet profess themselves to be sons of the church, not only stir up quarrels in relation to this question, but, loathing the very expression "most sacred sovereign authority", would even impudently deny the first principles which underlie this question and those previously discussed.
There is also a third category, called decretalists - ignorant and lacking in any philosophical or theological training - who argue their case exclusively with reference to their decretals (which I certainly think worthy of veneration); trusting in their authoritativeness, I believe, they disparage the empire.
Nor is this a cause for astonishment, since I once heard one of them say and stubbornly insist that the traditions of the church are the foundation of faith. Let this wicked belief be removed from the minds of mortals by those who, before the traditions of the church, believed in Christ the Son of God (whether Christ to come or Christ present or Christ already crucified), and who in believing hoped, and hoping burned with love, and burning with love became co-heirs along with him, as the world does not doubt.
And in order that such people should be entirely excluded from the present arena, it must be borne in mind that some scriptures preceded the church, others coincided with the founding of the church, and others followed it.
Before the church are the Old and New Testaments, which "he hath commanded for ever", as the Prophet says; for this is what the church says speaking to her bridegroom: "Draw me after thee".
Contemporaneous with the church are those venerated principal councils at which Christ was present, as no believer doubts, since we know that he said to the disciples as he was about to ascend to heaven: "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world", as Matthew bears witness. There are also the writings of the doctors of the church, of Augustine and others; anyone who doubts that they were helped by the Holy Spirit has either entirely failed to see their fruits or, if he has seen them, has not tasted them.
Then after the church come the traditions called "decretals", which, while certainly to be revered on account of their apostolic authority, must yet take second place to the fundamental scriptures, given that Christ reproached the priests for doing the opposite.
For when they asked: "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?" - for they did not wash their hands - Christ answered them (Matthew is our witness): "Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" By this he gave to understand clearly enough that tradition takes second place.
Now if the traditions of the church come after the church, as has been shown, it must be the case that the church does not derive its authority from the traditions, but that the traditions derive their authority from the church. And so those who rely only on traditions must be excluded from the arena, as we said; for those who seek to grasp this truth must conduct their investigation by starting from those things from which the church's authority comes.
And so, having excluded these people, others must also be excluded who, covered with crows' feathers, make a show of being white sheep in the Lord's flock. Such people are the sons of wickedness who, in order to carry out their shameful designs, prostitute their mother, drive out their brothers, and finally refuse to have a judge. Why should we seek to convince them, since, slaves to their own greed, they would be incapable of seeing first principles?
It therefore remains to argue the case only with those who, motivated by some zealous concern for Mother Church, are unaware of that truth which we seek; and so it is with them - showing that reverence which a dutiful son owes his father, a dutiful son owes his mother, devout towards Christ, devout towards the Church, devout towards the shepherd, and devout towards all who profess the Christian religion - that I engage in battle in this book in the cause of truth.
Firstly they say, basing themselves on Genesis, that God created "two great lights" - a greater light and a lesser light - so that one might rule the day and the other rule the night; these they took in an allegorical sense to mean the two powers, i.e. the spiritual and the temporal.
They then go on to argue that, just as the moon, which is the lesser light, has no light except that which it receives from the sun, in the same way the temporal power has no authority except that which it receives from the spiritual power.
In order to refute this and other arguments of theirs, it must first be borne in mind that, as Aristotle states in the Sophistical Refutations, to refute an argument is to expose an error. And since an error may occur in the content and in the form of an argument, there are two ways in which an argument can be flawed: either because a false premiss has been adopted, or because the logic is faulty; both of these charges were made against Parmenides and Melissus by Aristotle when he said: "They adopt false premisses and use invalid syllogisms". And here I am taking "false" in a broad sense to include the unlikely, which is the equivalent of falsehood when the question is one of likelihood.
If the error is a formal one, the conclusion has to be demolished by the person who wishes to refute it, by showing that it does not observe the rules of syllogistic argument. If on the other hand the error is one of content, it is because one of the premisses adopted is either false without qualification or else false in a certain respect. If it is false without qualification, then the argument is refuted by demolishing the premiss; if it is false in a certain respect, then it is refuted by drawing distinctions.
Once this has been grasped, then to reach a better understanding of the refutation of this point and those which follow, it must be borne in mind that one can make two kinds of error when dealing with the mystical sense: either looking for it where it does not exist, or taking it in some inadmissible way.
À propos of the first of these Augustine says in the De civitate Dei: "It must not be thought that every reported event has a further meaning; but those which have no further meaning are also included for the sake of those which do have such a meaning. Only the ploughshare breaks up the soil, but for this to happen the other parts of the plough are necessary as well".
As regards the second the same writer says in the De doctrina christiana, speaking of detecting some other meaning in the scriptures than the man who wrote them, that "it is the same mistake as if one were to abandon the highway and yet proceed by a roundabout route to the same place the highway leads to"; and he adds: "It must be pointed out that the habit of going off the highway may force one to take cross-roads and wrong roads".
And he goes on to indicate why this is to be avoided when dealing with the Scriptures, saying: "Faith will waver if the authority of the Holy Scriptures is shaken".
I therefore say that if such things are done out of ignorance, the mistake should be carefully pointed out and then excused, just as one would excuse someone who feared a lion in the clouds; but if such things are done deliberately, those who make this mistake should be treated no differently from tyrants who do not observe public rights for the common welfare, but seek to turn them to their own advantage.
O supreme wickedness, even if it should happen in dreams, to abuse the intention of the eternal Spirit! For this is not a sin against Moses, nor against David, nor Job, nor Matthew, nor Paul, but against the Holy Spirit who speaks through them. For although there are many who record the divine word, it is God alone who dictates, deigning to reveal his pleasure to us through the pens of many men.
Having made these preliminary observations, with reference to the point made earlier I now proceed to refute that claim of theirs that those two lights allegorically signify these two kinds of power. The whole force of their argument lies in this claim.
That this interpretation is completely untenable can be demonstrated in two ways. Firstly, given that these two kinds of power are accidental properties of man, God would seem to have perverted the natural order by producing accidents before their subject, which is an absurd claim to make about God; for those two lights were created on the fourth day and man on the sixth, as is clear from the Bible.
Further, given that those two powers guide men towards certain ends, as we shall see presently, if man had remained in the state of innocence in which he was created by God, he would have had no need of such guidance; such powers are thus remedies for the infirmity of sin.
Therefore since on the fourth day man was not only not a sinner but he did not even exist, it would have been pointless to produce remedies; and this is against divine goodness. For it would be a foolish doctor who, before a man's birth, prepared a poultice for a future abscess.
It therefore cannot be maintained that on the fourth day God created these two powers; and consequently Moses' meaning cannot have been what they pretend.
This argument can also be refuted, if we tolerate the false premiss, by making a distinction; for a refutation based on a distinction is kinder to one''s adversary, in that he does not appear to be asserting an outright falsehood, as a refutation based on demolishing his premiss makes him appear to do. I therefore say that although the moon does not have light in abundance except in so far as it receives it from the sun, it does not follow from this that the moon derives from the sun.
For it must be grasped that the moon's existence is one thing, its power another, and its function another again. As far as its existence is concerned, the moon is in no way dependent on the sun; nor is it as far as its powers are concerned, nor in an absolute sense as far as its function is concerned; for its movement occurs by its own motion, and its influence comes from its own rays; it has some light of its own, as is apparent in its eclipse.
But as far as functioning better and more efficaciously is concerned, it receives something from the sun, namely abundant light; having received this, it operates more efficaciously.
Thus I say that the temporal realm does not owe its existence to the spiritual realm, nor its power (which is its authority), and not even its function in an absolute sense; but it does receive from it the capacity to operate more efficaciously through the light of grace which in heaven and on earth the blessing of the supreme Pontiff infuses into it.
And thus the argument contained a formal error, for the predicate in the conclusion was not the same as the predicate of the major premiss, as is obvious; for it runs like this: the moon receives its light from the sun, which is the spiritual power; the temporal power is the moon; therefore the temporal power receives its authority from the spiritual power.
For in the predicate of the major premiss they put "light", whereas in the predicate of the conclusion they put "authority", and these are two different things in respect of their subject and their meaning, as we have seen.
Now this point too is easily refuted, for when they say that Levi and Judah, the sons of Jacob, prefigure those powers, I could refute it in the same way by denying the premiss; but let us concede it.
And when by their reasoning they reach the conclusion "as Levi preceded in birth so the church precedes in authority", I say again that the predicate of the conclusion is a different thing from the predicate of the major premiss; for "authority" is one thing and "birth" another, both in respect of their subject and their meaning; and thus there is a logical flaw in the argument. And the reasoning goes like this: A precedes B in C; D is to E as A is to B; therefore D precedes E in F; but F and C are different things.
And if they object saying that F follows from C, that is authority follows from seniority by birth, and that the consequent can rightly be set in the place of the antecedent, as "animal" can be set in the place of "man", I say that this is false: for there are many people who have seniority by birth who not only do not rank higher in authority, but are in fact outranked by people younger than themselves; as is clearly the case where bishops are younger than their archdeacons.
And thus their objection is seen to be marred by the fallacy of "treating what is not a cause as a cause".
And from this they argue that just as he, as God's vicar, had the authority to give and take away temporal power and transfer it to someone else, so now too God's vicar, the head of the universal church, has the authority to give and to take away and even to transfer the sceptre of temporal power; from which it would undoubtedly follow that imperial authority would be dependent in the way they claim.
This argument too must be answered by denying their claim that Samuel was God's vicar, because he acted on that occasion not as vicar but as a special emissary for a particular purpose, that is to say as a messenger bearing God's express command: this is clear because he did and reported only what God told him to.
For it must be borne in mind that it is one thing to be a vicar, and quite another to be a messenger or minister; just as it is one thing to be a writer and another to be an interpreter.
For a vicar is a person to whom jurisdiction is entrusted within the terms of the law or at his own discretion; and thus within the limits of the jurisdiction entrusted to him he can take action by applying the law or using his own discretion in matters of which his lord knows nothing. But a messenger qua messenger cannot do this; for just as a hammer functions only by virtue of the craftsman using it, so a messenger too is entirely dependent on the will of the person who sends him.
It does not follow, then, that if God did that using Samuel as his messenger, the vicar of God may do it. For God has done, does and will do many things through his angels which the vicar of God, Peter's successor, could not do.
Hence their argument is "from the whole to the part", in affirmative form like this: "man can see and hear; therefore the eye can see and hear". And this is not valid; it would be valid if put into negative form like this: "man cannot fly; therefore man's arms cannot fly". And in the same way we would have: "God cannot through a messenger make undone things that have once been done, as Agathon observed: therefore his vicar cannot do so either".
In reply to this, I accept the literal meaning of Matthew and their interpretation of it, but I reject what they try to infer from it. Their syllogism runs like this: "God is the Lord of spiritual and temporal things; the supreme Pontiff is God's vicar; therefore he is the lord of spiritual and temporal things".
For each of the premisses is true, but the middle term is not the same and the argument uses four terms, so that the syllogism contains a formal error, as is clear from what is said in the Prior Analytics. For "God", the subject in the major premiss, is one thing, and "God's vicar", the predicate in the minor premiss, is a different thing.
And if anyone were to base an objection on a vicar's being equivalent, the objection has no force, for no vicariate, human or divine, can be equivalent to the primary authority; and this is easy to see.
For we know that Peter's successor is not the equivalent of divine authority at least as regards the workings of nature, for he could not make earth rise nor fire descend by virtue of the office entrusted to him.
Nor could all things be entrusted to him by God, since God certainly could not entrust to him the power to create and the power to baptize, as is quite apparent, although Peter Lombard expressed the contrary opinion in his fourth book.
We also know that a man's vicar, in as much as he is his vicar, is not equivalent to him, because no one can give away what does not belong to him. A prince's authority belongs to a prince only as something for his use, for no prince can confer authority on himself; he can accept it and renounce it, but he cannot create another prince, for the creation of a prince is not dependent on a prince.
If this is the case, it is clear that no prince can appoint a vicar to take his place who is equivalent to him in all things; thus the objection has no force.
They take the same thing from the text both of Matthew and of John. On this they base their argument that God has granted to Peter's successor the power to bind and loose all things; and they infer from this that he can "loose" the laws and decrees of the empire, and "bind" laws and decrees in the place of the temporal power; and what they claim would indeed logically follow.
This argument must be answered by drawing a distinction in relation to the major premiss of the syllogism they use. Their syllogism takes this form: "Peter could loose and bind all things; Peter's successor can do anything Peter could do; therefore Peter's successor can loose and bind all things". From this they deduce that he can loose and bind the authority and the decrees of the empire. I grant the minor premiss, but I do not grant the major premiss without drawing a distinction.
And thus I say that this universal sign "all", which is contained in "whatsoever", never refers beyond the scope of the term to which it refers.
For example, if I say "all animals run", the word "all" refers to every creature which is included within the class "animal"; but if I say "all men run", then here the universal sign refers only to those beings that come into the category "man"; and when I say "all grammarians", then the range of reference is even narrower.
For this reason one must always take into consideration what it is that the universal sign refers to; having done so, and having established the nature and the scope of the term to which it refers, the range of its reference will be readily apparent.
So when the statement is made "whatsoever thou shalt bind", if the word "whatsoever" were taken in an absolute sense, what they say would be true; and Peter could not only do that, but also loose a wife from her husband and bind her to another while the first was still alive; and this he certainly cannot do. He could also absolve me without my having repented, which even God himself could not do.
This being so then, it is clear that the range of reference is to be taken not in an absolute sense, but in relation to something. That it is to be taken in relation to something is clear enough when we consider what was granted to him, for it is precisely to this that the range of reference is linked.
For Christ says to Peter: "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven", that is: "I shall make you gate-keeper of the kingdom of heaven". He then adds "and whatsoever", which is to say "all that", i.e. "and all that pertains to this office thou shalt have the power to loose and bind".
And thus the universal sign which is contained in "whatsoever" is limited in its reference by the office of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and if it is taken in this way, the proposition is true; but it is not true in an absolute sense, as is clear.
And thus I say that, although Peter's successor can loose and bind as the office entrusted to Peter requires, nonetheless it does not follow from this that he can loose or bind the decrees or the laws of the empire, as they maintained, unless they were further to prove that this pertained to the office of the keys. That the opposite is the case will be demonstrated below.
This too must be answered by demolishing the allegorical interpretation on which they base their argument. For they claim that those two swords alluded to by Peter signify the two powers mentioned. This must be utterly rejected, both because that reply would have been at odds with Christ's intention, and because Peter as was his habit answered unreflectingly, only considering the surface of things.
It will not be hard to see that the reply was at odds with Christ's intention, if we take into consideration the words which precede it and the occasion which gave rise to them. Thus it must be borne in mind that this was said on the day of the Last Supper; hence Luke begins his account earlier: "Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Paschal lamb must be killed"; it was during this supper that Christ foretold his impending passion, in which he must be separated from his disciples.
It must likewise be borne in mind that when those words were uttered all twelve disciples were present; hence shortly after the words cited Luke says: "And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him".
From here the conversation continued until he came to this: "When I sent you forth without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one".
From this Christ's meaning is clear enough; for he did not say: "Buy or obtain two swords", but twelve, since he said to the twelve apostles "he that hath no sword, let him buy one", so that each of them might have one.
Furthermore he said this as he was warning them of the persecution and contempt they would face, as though to say: "As long as I was with you, you were accepted; now you will be driven out; so that you must acquire for yourselves even those things which once I forbade you to have, for you will need them".
And thus if Peter's reply, which is in response to this, did have the meaning they claim, it would still have been at odds with what Christ intended; and Christ would have reproached him for this, as he did reproach him many times, when he replied not knowing what he was saying. On this occasion he did not do so, but let it pass, saying to him: "That is enough"; as though to say: "I say this because of your need; but if each of you cannot have one, two will suffice".
And that Peter was in the habit of speaking without reflecting is proved by his hasty and unthinking impulsiveness, which came not just from the sincerity of his faith, but, I think, from his simple and ingenuous nature. All Christ's evangelists testify to this impulsiveness of his.
For Matthew writes that when Jesus asked his disciples: "Who do you say that I am?", Peter replied before all the others: "You are Christ, the son of the living God." He also writes that when Christ said to the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things, Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying: "Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto you"; and Christ, turning to him, reproached him, saying: "Get thee behind me, Satan".
He also writes that on the Mount of the Transfiguration, in the presence of Christ, Moses and Elias and the two sons of Zebedee, Peter said: "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias".
Likewise he writes that when the disciples were in their boat at night and Christ walked on the water, Peter said: "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water""
Again he writes that, when Christ foretold to his disciples their desertion of him, Peter replied: "Though all men shall become deserters because of thee, yet will I never desert thee"; and later: "Though I should die with thee, yet I will not deny thee".
And Mark too bears witness to this; Luke for his part writes that Peter also said to Christ, just before the words quoted above about the swords: "Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison and to death".
And John says of him that when Christ wished to wash his feet, Peter said to him: "Lord, dost thou wash my feet?"; and later: "Thou shalt never wash my feet".
He also says that he struck the servant of the high priest with his sword, and all four of them relate this. John also says that "when Peter came to the tomb he went straight in, seeing the other disciple hesitating at the entrance. Again he says that, when Jesus was on the sea shore after the Resurrection, when Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him (for he was naked), and did cast himself into the sea". Finally he says that when Peter saw John, he said to Jesus: "Lord, and what shall this man do?"
It is helpful to have listed these episodes involving our Archimandrite in praise of his ingenuousness, for they show quite clearly that when he spoke of the two swords he was answering Christ with no deeper meaning in mind.
For if those words of Christ and Peter are to be understood figuratively, they are not to be made to bear the meaning those people claim, but they are to be related to the meaning of that sword of which Matthew writes in this way: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father", etc.
This happens both with words and with actions; that is why Luke spoke to Theophilus of the things "that Jesus began both to do and teach". This is the sword Christ instructed them to obtain, and to which Peter was referring when he answered that there were two of them there. For they were ready both for the words and for the actions by means of which they would bring about what Christ said he had come to do by the sword, as has been said.
From this they argue that since that time no one can take on those imperial privileges unless he receives them from the church, to whom (they say) they belong; and it would indeed follow from this that the one authority was dependent on the other, as they claim.
Having stated and refuted those arguments which appeared to be based on the word of God, it now remains to state and refute those which are based on human actions and human reason. The first of these is the one just referred to, which they formulate as a syllogism in this way: "those things which belong to the church can only be held legitimately by someone to whom the church has granted them" (and this we concede); "Roman sovereign authority belongs to the church; therefore no one can hold it legitimately unless granted it by the church"; and they prove the minor premiss with reference to what was touched on earlier about Constantine.
It is this minor premiss which I therefore deny, and when they "prove" it I say that their "proof" proves nothing, because Constantine was not in a position to give away the privileges of empire, nor was the church in a position to accept them.
And if they stubbornly insist, my point can be proved in this way: nobody has the right to do things because of an office he holds which are in conflict with that office, otherwise one and the same thing would oppose itself in its own nature, which is impossible; but to divide the empire is in conflict with the office bestowed on the emperor, since his task is to hold mankind in obedience to a single will (its commands and its prohibitions), as can easily be seen from the first book of this treatise; therefore the emperor is not allowed to divide the empire.
Thus if certain privileges had been taken away from the empire by Constantine, as they maintain, and had passed into the control of the church, that seamless garment would have been torn which even those who pierced Christ the true God with their lance dared not divide.
Moreover, just as the church has its foundation, so too the empire has its own. For the foundation of the church is Christ; hence the Apostle in Corinthians says: "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ". He is the rock on which the church is built. But the foundation of the empire is human right.
Now I say that, just as the church is not allowed to act against its own foundation, but must always rest upon it, in accordance with those words in the Song of Solomon: "Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved?", so too the empire is not allowed to do anything which is in conflict with human right. But if the empire were to destroy itself that would conflict with human right: therefore the empire is not allowed to destroy itself.
Therefore since to divide the empire would be to destroy it - for empire consists precisely in the unity of universal monarchy - it is clear that whoever embodies imperial authority is not allowed to divide the empire. For it is clear from what was said earlier that to destroy the empire is in conflict with human right.
Moreover, all jurisdiction is prior to the judge who exercises it, for the judge is appointed for the sake of the jurisdiction, and not vice versa; but the empire is a jurisdiction which embraces within its scope every other temporal jurisdiction: therefore it is prior to its judge, who is the emperor, for the emperor is appointed for its sake, and not vice versa. From this it is clear that the emperor, precisely as emperor, cannot change it, because he derives from it the fact that he is what he is.
Now I say this: either he was emperor when he is said to have conferred this power on the church, or he was not; if he was not, then it is obvious that he could not give away any part of the empire; if he was, since such a conferring of power would be a lessening of his own jurisdiction, then precisely because he was emperor he could not do it.
Besides, if one emperor could cut off some portion of the jurisdiction of the empire, then so could another on the same grounds. And since temporal jurisdiction is finite and every finite thing can be destroyed by a finite series of subdivisions, it would follow that the primary jurisdiction could be entirely obliterated; and this is against reason.
Again, since a person who gives functions as an agent, and a person who receives as a patient, as Aristotle says in the fourth book of the Ethics, for a donation to be legitimate requires a suitable disposition not just in the giver, but in the recipient as well: "for it seems that the action of active agents is transferred to the patient if he is disposed to receive it".
But the church was utterly unsuited to receiving temporal things because of the command which expressly forbade it, as we gather from these words in Matthew: "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey", etc. For even if in Luke we find that this command was relaxed with regard to certain things, yet I have been unable to find that after that prohibition the church was ever granted permission to possess gold and silver.
And thus, if the church could not receive it, then even supposing that Constantine had been in a position to perform that action, nonetheless the action itself was not possible because of the unsuitability of the "patient" or recipient. It is therefore clear that the church could not accept it as a possession, nor Constantine give it as an irrevocable gift.
The emperor could however consign a patrimony and other resources to the guardianship of the church, provided it was without prejudice to the superior imperial authority, whose unity admits no division.
And God's vicar could receive it, not as owner but as administrator of its fruits for the church and for Christ's poor, as the apostles are known to have done.
For this reason they say that all those who have been emperors of the Romans since his time are defenders of the church and must be called to office by the church; from this that dependency which they wish to prove would indeed follow.
To demolish this argument I say that they are saying nothing at all: the usurping of a right does not establish a right. For if it did, it could be proved in the same way that the authority of the church is dependent on the emperor, given that the emperor Otto restored Pope Leo and deposed Benedict and led him into exile in Saxony.
And since the supreme Pontiff and the Emperor are men, if that conclusion is valid, it must be possible to refer them to a single man. And since the Pope must not be referred to any other man, it remains that the Emperor along with all other men must be referred to him, as to their measure and rule; from this too the conclusion they want to reach does indeed follow.
To refute this argument I say that, when they say "Those things which are of one species must be referred to a single thing of that species which is the measure for the species", they are correct. And similarly they are correct when they say that all men belong to a single species; and again they reach a correct conclusion when from these premisses they infer that all men are to be referred to a single measure for the species. But when from this conclusion they draw their inference concerning the Pope and the Emperor, they commit the accidental fallacy.
To clarify this it must be borne in mind that it is one thing to be a man, another to be Pope; and in the same way it is one thing to be a man and another to be Emperor, just as it is one thing to be a man and another to be a father and a master.
For man is what he is because of his substantial form, by virtue of which he belongs to a species and a genus and is placed in the category "substance"; whereas a father is what he is because of his accidental form, which consists of a relationship by virtue of which he belongs to a certain species and genus and comes into the category of "being related to", that is to say "relationship". If this were not so, everything would fall within the category "substance", inasmuch as no accidental form can have autonomous existence without being located in an existing substance; and this is false.
Since therefore Pope and Emperor are what they are by virtue of certain relationships, i.e. by virtue of Papal and Imperial office, which are respectively relationships of "paternity" and of "lordship", it is clear that Pope and Emperor must be assigned as Pope and Emperor to the category of relationship, and as a consequence be referred to something within that category.
So I am saying that there is one measure to which they are to be referred as men, and another as Pope and Emperor. For as men they are to be referred to the perfect man, who is the measure of all the others, and the model, as it were - whoever he might be - of what is most unified in his species, as we can deduce from the end of the Ethics.
Insofar as they are terms which express a relationship, as is obvious, they are either to be referred one to the other (if one is subordinate to the other, or if they are related to one another within the species by the type of relationship), or else to some third entity to which they are to be referred as to a common unity.
But it cannot be maintained that one is subordinated to the other, because if this were the case one would be predicated of the other; and this is false, for we do not say "the emperor is pope", nor vice versa. Nor can it be said that they are related to one another within the species, for the pope's function is one thing and the emperor's another, precisely because they are pope and emperor; therefore they are to be referred to some other thing in which they find their unity.
Consequently it must be grasped that as relationship stands to relationship, so the terms of relationship stand to one another. If therefore Papal and Imperial office, being relationships of authority, are to be referred to the principle of authority, from which they derive with their differentiating characteristics, then pope and emperor (being the terms of relationship) will be referable to some entity in which it is possible to discern that principle of authority without the other differentiating characteristics.
And this will either be God himself, in whom all principles form an absolute unity, or else some entity lower than God, in which the principle of authority, derived from the absolute principle and differentiating itself from it, becomes distinctive and individual.
Thus it is evident that pope and emperor, considered as men, are to be referred to one thing; but as pope and emperor they are to be referred to another; and thus the answer to their argument from reason is clear.
And this will be demonstrated whether the church's authority is shown to have no bearing on it - given that there is no quarrel about any other authority - or whether it is proved positively that it derives directly from God.
That the authority of the church is not the cause of imperial authority is proved in this way: a thing cannot be the cause of the power of something else if that something else is fully functional when the first thing does not exist or exerts no influence; but the empire had all its authority at a time when the church did not exist or had no influence; therefore the church is not the cause of the empire's power, nor therefore of its authority, since its power and its authority are the same thing.
Let the church be A, the empire B, the authority or power of the empire C; if, when A did not yet exist, C was in B, it is impossible for A to be the cause of C's being in B, since it is impossible for an effect to exist before its cause. Besides, if when A is not yet functioning, C is in B, then of necessity A is not the cause of C's being in B, since to produce an effect the cause must operate first (especially the efficient cause, about which we are here speaking).
The major premiss of this proof is clear from the terms in which it is formulated; the minor premiss is confirmed by Christ and by the church. Christ confirms it by his birth and his death, as was said earlier; the church when Paul in the Acts of the Apostles says to Festus: "I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged"; and again when the angel of God said to Paul a little later: "Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar"; and again, later, Paul said to the Jews who were in Italy: "But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar, not that I had aught to accuse my nation of, but to deliver my soul from death".
For if Caesar had not at that time had authority to judge temporal matters, Christ would not have assented to this, nor would the angel have pronounced those words, nor would the man who said "I desire to depart and to be with Christ" have been appealing to a competent judge.
Indeed if Constantine had not had authority, he could not legitimately have handed over into the church's guardianship those things of the empire's which he did hand over; and thus the church would benefit by that donation unjustly, since God wishes offerings to be spotless, in accordance with the words of Leviticus: "No offering, which ye shall bring unto the lord, shall be made with leaven".
For although this commandment appears to be addressed to those who make an offering, nonetheless by implication it refers also to the recipients; for it is foolish to think that God would wish that something should be received which he has forbidden should be offered, since in the same book he commands the Levites: "Neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby".
But to say that the church misuses the patrimony entrusted to it in this way is most improper; the proposition from which this followed is therefore false.
That it does not derive it from any of these can be shown as follows. For if it had received it from God, this would have been either by divine law or by natural law, because what comes from nature comes from God, although the converse is not true.
But it did not come by natural law, because nature imposes laws only on its own effects, since when God brings something into being without secondary agents he cannot be less than perfect. Thus, since the church is not an effect of nature, but of God who said: "Upon this rock I will build my church", and elsewhere: "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do", it is apparent that it is not nature which gave its law to the church.
But it did not come by divine law either, for the whole of divine law is encompassed within the two Testaments, and I am quite unable to find in them that involvement in or concern for temporal things was recommended to the first or the later priesthood.
On the contrary I find that the first priests were expressly enjoined to keep aloof from such involvement, as is clear from God's words to Moses; as were the priests of the new order in Christ's words to his disciples; freedom from such involvement would not be possible if the authority of temporal power flowed from the priesthood, since at the very least it would have had the responsibility for taking action to confer authority, and then for continual watchfulness lest the person on whom authority had been conferred deviate from the path of righteousness.
That the church did not receive this power from itself can easily be proved. There is nothing which can give what it does not possess; and so every agent must be in actuality like the thing which it intends to produce, as we see from the Metaphysics. But it is clear that if the church gave itself that power, it did not have it before it gave it; and thus it would have given itself what it did not possess, which is impossible.
That it did not receive it from some Emperor is sufficiently clear from what was proved earlier. And who can doubt that it did not receive it from the consent of all men or of the most exceptional among them, given that not only all Asians and Africans, but also the greater part of those who live in Europe find the idea abhorrent? It is tedious to offer proofs in matters which are self-evident.
To clarify the minor premiss it must be borne in mind that the churchs nature is the form of the church; for although "nature" is used with reference to matter and to form, nonetheless it refers first and foremost to form, as is shown in the Physics.
Now the "form" of the church is simply the life of Christ, including both his words and his deeds; for his life was the model and exemplar for the church militant, especially for the pastors, and above all for the supreme pastor, whose task is to feed the lambs and the sheep.
Hence he himself says, in John, leaving the "form" of his life: "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you"; and he said to Peter in particular, after bestowing on him the office of pastor, as we read in the same Gospel: "Peter, follow me".
But Christ renounced this kind of kingdom in the presence of Pilate, saying: "My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence".
Which is not to be understood to mean that Christ, who is God, is not Lord of this kingdom, for the Psalmist says "The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land"; but that, as the model for the church, he had no concern for this kingdom.
Just as if a gold seal were to say, speaking of itself: "I am not the measure for any class of things"; the statement would not refer to the fact of its being gold, for gold is the measure for the class of metals, but would rather refer to the fact that it is a particular image which can be reproduced by exerting pressure.
Thus the "form" of the church requires that it should speak in this same way and feel in this same way; for it to say or to feel the opposite would be in conflict with its form, as is apparent, that is to say with its nature, which is the same thing.
From this we deduce that the power to confer authority on this earthly kingdom is in conflict with the nature of the church; for conflict which emerges in a thought or in a statement derives from a conflict which exists in the thing which is thought about or spoken of, just as the truth or falsehood of a statement derives from the fact that the thing referred to is or is not the case, as we are taught in the Categories.
Thus we have sufficiently proved with the above arguments, by a reduction to the absurd, that the authority of the empire in no way derives from the church.
Therefore, to complete the task we set ourselves, we must give a "positive" proof that the emperor, or world ruler, is directly dependent on the prince of the universe, who is God.
In order to understand this it must be borne in mind that man alone among created beings is the link between corruptible and incorruptible things; and thus he is rightly compared by philosophers to the horizon, which is the link between the two hemispheres.
For if he is considered in terms of each of his essential constituent parts, that is soul and body, man is corruptible; if he is considered only in terms of one, his soul, he is incorruptible. Hence the appositeness of Aristotle's remark when he said of the soul, as being incorruptible, in the second book of the De anima: "And it alone, being immortal, can be separated from the corruptible".
Thus if man is a kind of link between corruptible and incorruptible things, since every such link shares something of the nature of the extremes it unites, man must necessarily have something of both natures.
And since every nature is ordered towards its own ultimate goal, it follows that man's goal is twofold: so that, just as he alone among all created beings shares in incorruptibility and corruptibility, so he alone among all created beings is ordered to two ultimate goals, one of them being his goal as a corruptible being, the other his goal as an incorruptible being.
Ineffable providence has thus set before us two goals to aim at: i.e. happiness in this life, which consists in the exercise of our own powers and is figured in the earthly paradise; and happiness in the eternal life, which consists in the enjoyment of the vision of God (to which our own powers cannot raise us except with the help of God's light) and which is signified by the heavenly paradise.
Now these two kinds of happiness must be reached by different means, as representing different ends. For we attain the first through the teachings of philosophy, provided that we follow them putting into practice the moral and intellectual virtues; whereas we attain the second through spiritual teachings which transcend human reason, provided that we follow them putting into practice the theological virtues, i.e. faith, hope and charity.
These ends and the means to attain them have been shown to us on the one hand by human reason, which has been entirely revealed to us by the philosophers, and on the other by the Holy Spirit, who through the prophets and sacred writers, through Jesus Christ the son of God, coeternal with him, and through his disciples, has revealed to us the transcendent truth we cannot do without; yet human greed would cast these ends and means aside if men, like horses, prompted to wander by their animal natures, were not held in check "with bit and bridle" on their journey.
It is for this reason that man had need of two guides corresponding to his twofold goal: that is to say the supreme Pontiff, to lead mankind to eternal life in conformity with revealed truth, and the Emperor, to guide mankind to temporal happiness in conformity with the teachings of philosophy.
And since none can reach this harbour (or few, and these few with great difficulty) unless the waves of seductive greed are calmed and the human race rests free in the tranquillity of peace, this is the goal which the protector of the world, who is called the Roman Prince, must strive with all his might to bring about: i.e. that life on this threshing-floor of mortals may be lived freely and in peace.
And since the disposition of this world is a result of the disposition inherent in the circling of the heavens, in order that useful teachings concerning freedom and peace can be applied appropriately to times and places, it is necessary for provision for this protector to be made by Him who takes in at a glance the whole disposition of the heavens. For he alone is the one who preordained this disposition, making provision through it to bind all things in due order.
If this is so, then God alone chooses, he alone confirms, since he has none above him. From this it can be further deduced that neither those who are now called "electors", nor others who in whatever way have been so called, should be given this name; rather they should be thought of as "proclaimers of divine providence".
Thus it happens that those granted the honour of making this proclamation may sometimes disagree among themselves, either because all of them or because some of them, their understanding clouded by the fog of greed, fail to perceive what God's dispensation is.
Thus it is evident then that the authority of the temporal monarch flows down into him without any intermediary from the Fountainhead of universal authority; this Fountainhead, though one in the citadel of its own simplicity of nature, flows into many streams from the abundance of his goodness.
And now it seems to me that I have reached the goal I set myself. For the truth has been revealed concerning the first question we were inquiring into: whether the office of monarch was necessary to the well-being of the world; and to the second point of inquiry: whether the Roman people took on Empire by right; and to the last point of inquiry: whether the authority of the monarch comes from God directly or from someone else.
But the truth concerning this last question should not be taken so literally as to mean that the Roman Prince is not in some sense subject to the Roman Pontiff, since this earthly happiness is in some sense ordered towards immortal happiness.
Let Caesar therefore show that reverence towards Peter which a firstborn son should show his father, so that, illumined by the light of paternal grace, he may the more effectively light up the world, over which he has been placed by Him alone who is ruler over all things spiritual and temporal.