Qui vero non astrorum constitutionem, sicuti est cum quidque concipitur vel nascitur vel inchoatur, sed omnium conexionem seriemque causarum, qua fit omne quod fit, fati nomine appellant: non multum cum eis de verbi controversia laborandum atque certandum est, quando quidem ipsum causarum ordinem et quandam conexionem Dei summi tribuunt voluntati et potestati, qui optime et veracissime creditur et cuncta scire antequam fiant et nihil inordinatum relinquere; a quo sunt omnes potestates, quamvis ab illo non sint omnium voluntates. ipsam itaque praecipue Dei summi voluntatem, cuius potestas insuperabiliter per cuncta porrigitur, eos appellare fatum sic probatur. Annaei Senecae sunt, nisi fallor, hi versus:
“duc, summe pater altique dominator poli,
quocumque placuit, nulla parendi mora est.
adsum impiger: fac nolle, comitabor gemens
malusque patiar, facere quod licuit bono.
ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt.”
nempe evidentissime hoc ultimo versu ea fata appellavit, quam supra dixerat summi patris voluntatem; cui paratum se oboedire dicit, ut volens ducatur, ne nolens trahatur; quoniam scilicet “ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt.”
illi quoque versus Homerici huic sententiae suffragantur, quos Cicero in Latinum vertit:
“tales sunt hominum mentes, quali pater ipse
Iuppiter auctiferas lustravit lumine terras.”
nec in hac quaestione auctoritatem haberet poetica sententia, sed quoniam Stoicos dicit vim fati asserentes istos ex Homero versus solere usurpare, non de illius poetae, sed de istorum philosophorum opinione tractatur, cum per istos versus, quos disputationi adhibent quam de fato habent, quid sentiant esse fatum apertissime declaratur, quoniam Iovem appellant, quem summum deum putant, a quo conexionem dicunt pendere fatorum.
(Augustine, Civ. Dei 5.8)

But, as to those who call by the name of fate, not the disposition of the stars as it may exist when any creature is conceived, or born, or commences its existence, but the whole connection and train of causes which makes everything become what it does become, there is no need that I should labor and strive with them in a merely verbal controversy, since they attribute the so-called order and connection of causes to the will and power of God most high, who is most rightly and most truly believed to know all things before they come to pass, and to leave nothing unordained; from whom are all powers, although the wills of all are not from Him. Now, that it is chiefly the will of God most high, whose power extends itself irresistibly through all things which they call fate, is proved by the following verses, of which, if I mistake not, Annæus Seneca is the author:—
“Father supreme, You ruler of the lofty heavens,
Lead me where’er it is Your pleasure; I will give
A prompt obedience, making no delay,
Lo! Here I am. Promptly I come to do Your sovereign will;
If your command shall thwart my inclination, I will still
Follow You groaning, and the work assigned,
With all the suffering of a mind repugnant,
Will perform, being evil; which, had I been good,
I should have undertaken and performed, though hard,
With virtuous cheerfulness.
The Fates do lead the man that follows willing;
But the man that is unwilling, him they drag.”
Most evidently, in this last verse, he calls that fate which he had before called the will of the Father supreme, whom, he says, he is ready to obey that he may be led, being willing, not dragged, being unwilling, since the Fates do lead the man that follows willing, “but the man that is unwilling, him they drag”. The following Homeric lines, which Cicero translates into Latin, also favor this opinion:—
“Such are the minds of men, as is the light
Which Father Jove himself does pour
Illustrious o’er the fruitful earth.”
Not that Cicero wishes that a poetical sentiment should have any weight in a question like this; for when he says that the Stoics, when asserting the power of fate, were in the habit of using these verses from Homer*, he is not treating concerning the opinion of that poet, but concerning that of those philosophers, since by these verses, which they quote in connection with the controversy which they hold about fate, is most distinctly manifested what it is which they reckon fate, since they call by the name of Jupiter him whom they reckon the supreme god, from whom, they say, hangs the whole chain of fates. (tr. Marcus Dods)

* Cf. Homer, Od. 18.136-137:
τοῖος γὰρ νόος ἐστὶν ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων
οἷον ἐπ’ ἦμαρ ἄγησι πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε.

…for the spirit of men upon the earth is just such as the day which the father of gods and men brings upon them. (tr. Augustus Taber Murray, revised by George E. Dimock)

See also this post.



Neque enim frustra in sanctis canonicis libris nusquam nobis divinitus praeceptum permissumve reperiri potest, ut vel ipsius adipiscendae inmortalitatis vel ullius cavendi carendive mali causa nobismet ipsis necem inferamus. nam et prohibitos nos esse intellegendum est, ubi lex ait: non occides, praesertim quia non addidit: “proximum tuum”, sicut falsum testimonium cum vetaret: falsum, inquit, testimonium non dices adversus proximum tuum. nec ideo tamen si adversus se ipsum quisquam falsum testimonium dixerit, ab hoc crimine se putaverit alienum, quoniam regulam diligendi proximum a semet ipso dilector accepit, quando quidem scriptum est: diliges proximum tuum tamquam te ipsum. porro si falsi testimonii non minus reus est qui de se ipso falsum fatetur, quam si adversus proximum hoc faceret, cum in eo praecepto, quo falsum testimonium prohibetur, adversus proximum prohibeatur possitque non recte intellegentibus videri non esse prohibitum, ut adversus se ipsum quisque falsus testis adsistat: quanto magis intellegendum est non licere homini se ipsum occidere, cum in eo, quod scriptum est: non occides, nihilo deinde addito nullus, nec ipse utique, cui praecipitur, intellegatur exceptus! unde quidam hoc praeceptum etiam in bestias ac pecora conantur extendere, ut ex hoc nullum etiam illorum liceat occidere. cur non ergo et herbas et quidquid humo radicitus alitur ac figitur? nam et hoc genus rerum, quamvis non sentiat, dicitur vivere ac per hoc potest et mori, proinde etiam, cum vis adhibetur, occidi. unde et apostolus, cum de huius modi seminibus loqueretur: tu, inquit, quod seminas non vivificatur, nisi moriatur; et in psalmo scriptum est: occidit vites eorum in grandine. num igitur ob hoc, cum audimus: non occides, virgultum vellere nefas ducimus et Manichaeorum errori insanissime adquescimus? his igitur deliramentis remotis cum legimus: non occides, si propterea non accipimus hoc dictum de frutectis esse, quia nullus eis sensus est, nec de irrationalibus animantibus, volatilibus natatilibus, ambulatilibus reptilibus, quia nulla nobis ratione sociantur, quam non eis datum est nobiscum habere communem (unde iustissima ordinatione creatoris et vita et mors eorum nostris usibus subditur): restat ut de homine intellegamus, quod dictum est: non occides, nec alterum ergo nec te. neque enim qui se occidit aliud quam hominem occidit.
(Augustine, Civ. Dei 1.20)

It is not without significance, that in no passage of the holy canonical books there can be found either divine precept or permission to take away our own life, whether for the sake of entering on the enjoyment of immortality, or of shunning, or ridding ourselves of anything whatever. Nay, the law, rightly interpreted, even prohibits suicide, where it says, “Thou shalt not kill.” This is proved especially by the omission of the words “thy neighbor,” which are inserted when false witness is forbidden: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Nor yet should any one on this account suppose he has not broken this commandment if he has borne false witness only against himself. For the love of our neighbor is regulated by the love of ourselves, as it is written, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” If, then, he who makes false statements about himself is not less guilty of bearing false witness than if he had made them to the injury of his neighbor; although in the commandment prohibiting false witness only his neighbor is mentioned, and persons taking no pains to understand it might suppose that a man was allowed to be a false witness to his own hurt; how much greater reason have we to understand that a man may not kill himself, since in the commandment,” Thou shalt not kill,” there is no limitation added nor any exception made in favor of any one, and least of all in favor of him on whom the command is laid! And so some attempt to extend this command even to beasts and cattle, as if it forbade us to take life from any creature. But if so, why not extend it also to the plants, and all that is rooted in and nourished by the earth? For though this class of creatures have no sensation, yet they also are said to live, and consequently they can die; and therefore, if violence be done them, can be killed. So, too, the apostle, when speaking of the seeds of such things as these, says, “That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die;” and in the Psalm it is said, “He killed their vines with hail.” Must we therefore reckon it a breaking of this commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” to pull a flower? Are we thus insanely to countenance the foolish error of the Manichaeans? Putting aside, then, these ravings, if, when we say, Thou shalt not kill, we do not understand this of the plants, since they have no sensation, nor of the irrational animals that fly, swim, walk, or creep, since they are dissociated from us by their want of reason, and are therefore by the just appointment of the Creator subjected to us to kill or keep alive for our own uses; if so, then it remains that we understand that commandment simply of man. The commandment is, “Thou shall not kill man;” therefore neither another nor yourself, for he who kills himself still kills nothing else than man. (tr. Marcus Dods)


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 Joh. Evang. 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)



Attis pilleatus
Attis wearing a pilleus

Quando venit tempus ut misereretur Deus, venit Agnus. qualis Agnus quem lupi timent? qualis Agnus est qui leonem occisus occidit? dictus est enim diabolus leo circumiens et rugiens, quaerens quem devoret [1 Petr. 5.8]: sanguine Agni victus est leo. Ecce spectacula Christianorum. et quod est amplius, illi oculis carnis vident vanitatem, nos cordis oculis veritatem. ne putetis, fratres, quod sine spectaculis nos dimisit Dominus Deus noster: nam si nulla sunt spectacula, cur hodie convenistis? ecce quod diximus, vidistis, et exclamastis: non exclamaretis, nisi vidissetis. et magnum est hoc spectare per totum orbem terrarum, victum leonem sanguine Agni, educta de dentibus leonum membra Christi, et adiuncta corpori Christi. ergo nescio quid simile imitatus est quidam spiritus, ut sanguine simulacrum suum emi vellet, quia noverat pretioso sanguine quandocumque redimendum esse genus humanum. fingunt enim spiritus mali umbras quasdam honoris sibimet ipsis, ut sic decipiant eos qui sequuntur Christum. usque adeo, fratres mei, ut illi ipsi qui seducunt per ligaturas, per praecantationes, per machinamenta inimici, misceant praecantationibus suis nomen Christi: quia iam non possunt seducere Christianos, ut dent venenum, addunt mellis aliquid, ut per id quod dulce est, lateat quod amarum est, et bibatur ad perniciem. usque adeo ut ego noverim aliquo tempore illius Pilleati sacerdotem solere dicere: “et ipse Pilleatus christianus est.” ut quid hoc, fratres, nisi quia aliter non possunt seduci Christiani?
(Augustine, In Joh. Evang. Tract. 7.1.6)

When the time came for God to have mercy, the Lamb came. What sort of a Lamb whom wolves fear? What sort of a Lamb is it who, when slain, slew a lion? For the devil is called a lion, going about and roaring, seeking whom he may devour. By the blood of the Lamb the lion was vanquished. Behold the spectacles of Christians. And what is more: they with the eyes of the flesh behold vanity, we with the eyes of the heart behold truth. Do not think, brethren, that our Lord God has dismissed us without spectacles; for if there are no spectacles, why have ye come together today? Behold, what we have said you saw, and you exclaimed; you would not have exclaimed if you had not seen. And this is a great thing to see in the whole world, the lion vanquished by the blood of the Lamb: members of Christ delivered from the teeth of the lions, and joined to the body of Christ. Therefore some spirit or other contrived the counterfeit that His image should be bought for blood, because he knew that the human race was at some time to be redeemed by the precious blood. For evil spirits counterfeit certain shadows of honor to themselves, that they may deceive those who follow Christ. So much so, my brethren, that those who seduce by means of amulets, by incantations, by the devices of the enemy, mingle the name of Christ with their incantations: because they are not now able to seduce Christians, so as to give them poison they add some honey, that by means of the sweet the bitter may be concealed, and be drunk to ruin. So much so, that I know that the priest of that Pilleatus was sometimes in the habit of saying, “Pilleatus himself also is a Christian.” Why so, brethren, unless that they were not able otherwise to seduce Christians? (tr. John Gibb)


Ulpiano Checa, El banquete de Nerón, ca. 1910
Ulpiano Checa, El banquete de Nerón (ca. 1910)

Verum tales cultores et dilectores deorum istorum, quorum etiam imitatores in sceleribus et flagitiis se esse laetantur, nullo modo curant pessimam ac flagitiosissimam esse rem publicam. tantum stet, inquiunt, tantum floreat copiis referta, victoriis gloriosa, vel, quod est felicius, pace secura sit. et quid ad nos? immo id ad nos magis pertinet, si divitias quisque augeat semper, quae cotidianis effusionibus suppetant, per quas sibi etiam infirmiores subdat quisque potentior. obsequantur divitibus pauperes causa saturitatis atque ut eorum patrociniis quieta inertia perfruantur, divites pauperibus ad clientelas et ad ministerium sui fastus abutantur. populi plaudant non consultoribus utilitatum suarum, sed largitoribus voluptatum. non dura iubeantur, non prohibeantur impura. reges non curent quam bonis, sed quam subditis regnent. provinciae regibus non tamquam rectoribus morum, sed tamquam rerum dominatoribus et deliciarum suarum provisoribus serviant, eosque non sinceriter honorent, sed <nequiter ac> serviliter timeant. quid alienae vineae potius quam quid suae vitae quisque noceat, legibus advertatur. nullus ducatur ad iudicem, nisi qui alienae rei domui saluti vel cuiquam invito fuerit importunus aut noxius; ceterum de suis vel cum suis vel cum quibusque volentibus faciat quisque quod libet. abundent publica scorta vel propter omnes, quibus frui placuerit, vel propter eos maxime, qui habere privata non possunt. exstruantur amplissimae atque ornatissimae domus, opipara convivia frequententur, ubi cuique libuerit et potuerit, diu noctuque ludatur, bibatur, vomatur, diffluatur. saltationes undique concrepent, theatra inhonestae laetitiae vocibus atque omni genere sive crudelissimae sive turpissimae voluptatis exaestuent. ille sit publicus inimicus, cui haec felicitas displicet; quisquis eam mutare vel auferre temptaverit, eum libera multitudo avertat ab auribus, evertat a sedibus, auferat a viventibus.
(Augustine, Civ. Dei 2.20.1-6)

But the worshippers and admirers of these gods delight in imitating their scandalous iniquities, and are nowise concerned that the republic be less depraved and licentious. Only let it remain undefeated, they say, only let it flourish and abound in resources; let it be glorious by its victories, or still better, secure in peace; and what matters it to us? This is our concern, that every man be able to increase his wealth so as to supply his daily prodigalities, and so that the powerful may subject the weak for their own purposes. Let the poor court the rich for a living, and that under their protection they may enjoy a sluggish tranquillity; and let the rich abuse the poor as their dependants, to minister to their pride. Let the people applaud not those who protect their interests, but those who provide them with pleasure. Let no severe duty be commanded, no impurity forbidden. Let kings estimate their prosperity, not by the righteousness, but by the servility of their subjects. Let the provinces stand loyal to the kings, not as moral guides, but as lords of their possessions and purveyors of their pleasures; not with a hearty reverence, but a crooked and servile fear. Let the laws take cognizance rather of the injury done to another man’s property, than of that done to one’s own person. If a man be a nuisance to his neighbour, or injure his property, family, or person, let him be actionable; but in his own affairs let every one with impunity do what he will in company with his own family, and with those who willingly join him. Let there be a plentiful supply of public prostitutes for every one who wishes to use them, but specially for those who are too poor to keep one for their private use. Let there be erected houses of the largest and most ornate description: in these let there be provided the most sumptuous banquets, where every one who pleases may, by day or night, play, drink, vomit, dissipate. Let there be everywhere heard the rustling of dancers, the loud, immodest laughter of the theatre; let a succession of the most cruel and the most voluptuous pleasures maintain a perpetual excitement. If such happiness is distasteful to any, let him be branded as a public enemy; and if any attempt to modify or put an end to it, let him be silenced, banished, put an end to. (tr. Marcus Dods)



“Simul imprudens et insipiens peribunt.” quis est “imprudens”? qui non sibi prospicit in futurum. quis est “insipiens”? qui non intellegit in quo malo sit. tu vero intellege in quo malo sis modo, et prospice ut in bonis sis in posterum. intellegendo in quo malo sis, non eris insipiens: prospiciendo tibi in futurum, non eris imprudens. quis est qui sibi prospicit? servus ille cui dedit Dominus suus quod erogaret, et postea dixit ei: “non potes mihi agere, redde rationem actus tui.” et ille: “quid facio? fodere non possum, mendicare confundor.” sed et de re domini sui fecit sibi amicos, qui illum reciperent, cum de actu proiceretur. et ille fraudem fecit domino suo, ut compararet sibi amicos qui illum susciperent: tu noli timere ne fraudem facias; ipse Dominus hortatur ut facias, ipse tibi dicit: “fac tibi amicos de mammona iniquitatis”. fortassis ea quae acquisisti, de iniquitate acquisisti; aut fortasse ea ipsa est iniquitas, quia tu habes et alter non habet, tu abundas et alter eget. de ista mammona iniquitatis, de divitiis istis quas iniqui vocant divitias, fac tibi amicos et prudens eris: comparas tibi, non fraudaris. modo enim videris perdere. numquid perdes in thesaurario ponens? nam pueri, fratres, unde sibi emant nescio quid simul inveniunt nummos, et ponunt in thesaurario, et non aperiunt nisi postea: numquid quia non vident quod colligunt, ideo perdiderunt? noli timere: ponunt pueri in thesaurario, et securi sunt; ponis tu in manu Christi, et times! esto prudens, et prospice tibi in posterum in coelo. esto ergo prudens, imitare formicam, sicut dicit Scriptura; “reconde aestate, ne esurias in hieme”: hiems est dies novissimus, dies tribulationis; hiems est dies scandalorum et amaritudinis: collige quod ibi tibi sit in posterum; si autem non facis, simul imprudens et insipiens peribis.
(Augustine, Enarr. in Ps. 48 1.12)

“The imprudent and unwise shall perish together.” Who is “the imprudent”? He that looketh not out for himself for the future. Who is “the unwise”? He that perceiveth not in what evil case he is. But do thou perceive in what evil case thou art now, and look out that thou be in a good case for the future. By perceiving in what evil case thou art, thou wilt not be unwise: by looking out for thyself for the future, thou wilt not be imprudent. Who is he that looketh out for himself? That servant to whom his master gave what he should expend, and afterwards said to him, “Thou canst not be my steward, give an account of thy stewardship;” and who answered, “What shall I do? I cannot dig, to beg I am ashamed;” [Luke 16.1, 2] had, nevertheless, by even his master’s goods made to himself friends, who might receive him when he was put out of his stewardship. Now he cheated his master in order that he might get to himself friends to receive him: fear not thou lest thou be cheating, the Lord Himself exhorteth thee to do so: He saith Himself to thee, “Make to thyself friends of the mammon of unrighteousness” [Luke 16.9]. Perhaps what thou hast got, thou hast gotten of unrighteousness: or perhaps this very thing is unrighteousness, that thou hast and another hath not, thou aboundest and another needeth. Of this mammon of unrighteousness, of these riches which the unrighteous call riches, make to thyself friends, and thou shalt be prudent: thou art gaining for thyself, and art not cheating. For now thou seemest to lose it. Wilt thou lose it if thou place it in a treasury? For boys, my brethren, no sooner find some money, wherewith to buy something, than they put it in a money-box, which they open not until afterwards: do they, because they see not what they have got, on that account lose it? Fear not: boys put in a money-box, and are secure: dost thou place it in the hand of Christ, and fear? Be prudent, and provide for thyself against the future in Heaven. Be therefore prudent, copy the ant, as saith the Scripture [cf. Prov. 6.6; 30.25]: “Store in summer, lest thou hunger in winter;” the winter is the last day, the day of tribulation; the winter is the day of offences and of bitterness: gather what may be there for thee for the future: but if thou doest not so, thou wilt perish both imprudent and unwise. (tr. Arthur Cleveland Coxe)



Novem annos totos magna cura et diligentia vos audivi; nullus mihi electorum innotescere potuit, qui secundum haec praecepta non aut deprehensus in peccato aut certe suspicioni subditus fuerit. multi in vino et carnibus, multi lavantes in balneis inventi sunt. sed haec audiebamus. nonnulli alienas feminas seduxisse approbati sunt, ita ut hinc plane dubitare non possim. sed sit et haec magis fama quam verum. vidi ipse non solus sed cum his qui partim iam illa superstitione liberati sunt, partim adhuc opto ut liberentur, vidimus ergo in quadrivio Carthaginis, in platea celeberrima, non unum sed plures quam tres electos simul post transeuntes nescio quas feminas tam petulanti gestu adhinnire, ut omnium trivialium impudicitiam impudentiamque superarent. quod de magna venire consuetudine atque illos inter se ita vivere satis eminebat, quandoquidem nullus socii praesentiam veritus omnes aut certe paene omnes eadem teneri peste indicabat. non enim erant hi ex una domo, sed diverse prorsus habitantes, ex eo loco ubi conventus omnium factus erat, pariter forte descenderant. nos autem graviter commoti, graviter etiam questi sumus. quis tandem hoc vindicandum, non dicam separatione ab ecclesia, sed pro magnitudine flagitii vehementi saltem obiurgatione arbitratus est?
(Augustine, De Moribus Ecclesiae Catholicae et de Moribus Manichaeorum 2.68)

During nine full years that I attended you with great earnestness and assiduity, I could not hear of one of your elect who was not found transgressing these precepts, or at least was not suspected of doing so. Many were caught at wine and animal food, many at the baths; but this we only heard by report. Some were proved to have seduced other men’s wives, so that in this case I could not doubt the truth of the charge. But suppose this, too, a report rather than a fact. I myself saw, and not I only, but others who have either escaped from that superstition, or will, I hope, yet escape,—we saw, I say, in a square in Carthage, on a road much frequented, not one, but more than three of the elect walking behind us, and accosting some women with such indecent sounds and gestures as to outdo the boldness and insolence of all ordinary rascals. And it was clear that this was quite habitual, and that they behaved in this way to one another, for no one was deterred by the presence of a companion, showing that most of them, if not all, were affected with this evil tendency. For they did not all come from one house, but lived in quite different places, and quite accidentally left together the place where they had met. It was a great shock to us, and we lodged a complaint about it. But who thought of inflicting punishment,—I say not by separation from the church, but even by severe rebuke in proportion to the heinousness of the offence? (tr. Richard Stothert)



Quis est autem habens uxorem, qui eo modo utatur uxore, ut non excedat legem liberos procreandi? ad hoc enim data est: convincunt te tabulae quae scribuntur in matrimonio. pactus es quemadmodum duceres: sonat tibi scriptura pactionis: liberorum procreandorum causa. non ergo accedas, si potes, nisi liberorum procreandorum causa. si modum excesseris, contra illas tabulas facies et contra pactum. nonne manifestum est? eris mendax, et pacti violator: et quaerit in te Deus integritatem templi sui et non invenit; non quia tua usus es, sed quia immoderate usus es. nam et vinum de apotheca tua bibis, et tamen si sic bibis, ut inebrieris, non quia re tua usus es, ideo non peccasti: donum enim Dei convertisti ad corruptionem tuam.
(Augustine, Serm. 278.9)

Who is there that has a wife, and that uses his wife in such a way that he does not go beyond the law of procreation? Because that’s why she is given: the contracts which were drawn up in marriage convict you. You have agreed on the manner of your marriage, and the writing of this contract rings clear: ‘for the sake of having children.’ So you shouldn’t touch her, if you can manage it, except for the sake of having children. If you pass this limit, you’ll be acting against this agreement and against that contract. Isn’t it obvious? You’ll be a liar and a contract-breaker: God looks for the integrity of His temple in you and He cannot find it – not because you have enjoyed her, but because you have enjoyed her without moderation. You see, you also drink the wine from your store-room, and yet, if you drink so much as to become inebriated, the fact that the wine you enjoyed was yours doesn’t mean you haven’t sinned, because you have abused God’s gift for your own corruption. (tr. David Bauwens)