Mutabilis

Cima da Conegliano, Dio padre, ca. 1510-17
Cima da Conegliano, Dio padre (ca. 1515)

Res enim aliqua, quaelibet omnino (quasi coepi disputare, et destiti quaerere; forte quod audivi volo loqui, auditui meo det exsultationem et vestro cum loquor): res enim quaelibet, prorsus qualicumque excellentia, si mutabilis est, non vere est; non enim est ibi verum esse, ubi est et non esse. quidquid enim mutari potest, mutatum non est quod erat: si non est quod erat, mors quaedam ibi facta est; peremptum est aliquid ibi quod erat, et non est. nigredo mortua est in capite albescentis senis, pulchritudo mortua est in corpore fessi et incurvi senis, mortuae sunt vires in corpore languentis, mortua est statio in corpore ambulantis, mortua est ambulatio in corpore stantis, mortua est ambulatio et statio in corpore iacentis, mortua est locutio in lingua tacentis: quidquid mutatur et est quod non erat, video ibi quamdam vitam in eo quod est, et mortem in eo quod fuit. denique de mortuo cum dicitur: ‘ubi est homo ille?’ respondetur: ‘fuit.’ o veritas quae vere es! Nam in omnibus actionibus et motibus nostris, et in omni prorsus agitatione creaturae duo tempora invenio, praeteritum et futurum. praesens quaero, nihil stat: quod dixi, iam non est; quod dicturus sum, nondum est: quod feci, iam non est; quod facturus sum, nondum est: quod vixi, iam non est; quod victurus sum, nondum est. praeteritum et futurum invenio in omni motu rerum: in veritate quae manet, praeteritum et futurum non invenio, sed solum praesens, et hoc incorruptibiliter, quod in creatura non est. discute rerum mutationes, invenies Fuit et Erit: cogita Deum, invenies Est, ubi Fuit et Erit esse non possit.
(Augustine, In Ioann. Ev. Tract. 38.10)

For a thing, anything whatever (I have begun as it were to dispute, and have left off
inquiring. Perhaps I wish to speak what I have heard. May He grant enlargement to my hearing, and to yours, while I speak);—for anything, whatever in short be its excellence, if it is changeable, does not truly exist; for there is no true existence wherever non-existence has also a place. For whatever can be changed, so far as changed, it is not that which was: if it is no longer what it was, a kind of death has therein taken place; something that was there has been eliminated, and exists no more. Blackness has died out in the silvery locks of the patriarch, comeliness in the body of the careworn and crooked old man, strength in the body of the languishing, the [previous] standing posture in the body of one walking, walking in the body of one standing, walking and standing in the body of one reclining, speech in the tongue of the silent;—whatever changes, and is what it was not, I see there a kind of life in that which is, and death in that which was. In fine, when we say of one deceased, Where is that person? we are answered, He was. O Truth, it is thou [alone] that truly art! For in all actions and movements of ours, yea, in every activity of the creature, I find two times, the past and the future. I seek for the present, nothing stands still: what I have said is no longer present; what I am going to say is not yet come: what I have done is no longer present; what I am going to do is not yet come: the life I have lived is no longer present; the life I have still to live is not yet come. Past and future I find in every creature-movement: in truth, which is abiding, past and future I find not, but the present alone, and that unchangeably, which has no place in the creature. Sift the mutations of things, thou wilt find was and will be: think on God, thou wilt find the is, where was and will be cannot exist. (tr. John Gibb & James Innes)

 

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