Inordinatum

God-creation

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.

Relegandum

Napoleon_sainthelene

Trichonem equitem Romanum memoria nostra, quia filium suum flagellis occiderat, populus graphiis in foro confodit; vix illum Augusti Caesaris auctoritas infestis tam patrum quam filiorum manibus eripuit. Tarium, qui filium deprensum in parricidii consilio damnavit causa cognita, nemo non suspexit, quod contentus exsilio et exsilio delicato Massiliae parricidam continuit et annua illi praestitit, quanta praestare integro solebat; haec liberalitas effecit, ut, in qua civitate numquam deest patronus peioribus, nemo dubitaret, quin reus merito damnatus esset, quem is pater damnare potuisset, qui odisse non poterat. hoc ipso exemplo dabo, quem compares bono patri, bonum principem. cogniturus de filio Tarius advocavit in consilium Caesarem Augustum; venit in privatos penates, adsedit, pars alieni consilii fuit, non dixit; “Immo in meam domum veniat”; quod si factum esset, Caesaris futura erat cognitio, non patris. audita causa excussisque omnibus, et his, quae adulescens pro se dixerat, et his, quibus arguebatur, petit, ut sententiam suam quisque scriberet, ne ea omnium fieret, quae Caesaris fuisset; deinde, priusquam aperirentur codicilli, iuravit se Tarii, hominis locupletis, hereditatem non aditurum. dicet aliquis: “pusillo animo timuit, ne videretur locum spei suae aperire velle filii damnatione.” Ego contra sentio; quilibet nostrum debuisset adversus opiniones malignas satis fiduciae habere in bona conscientia, principes multa debent etiam famae dare. Iuravit se non aditurum hereditatem. Tarius quidem eodem die et alterum heredem perdidit, sed Caesar libertatem sententiae suae redemit; et postquam approbavit gratuitam esse severitatem suam, quod principi semper curandum est, dixit relegandum, quo patri videretur. non culleum, non serpentes, non carcerem decrevit memor, non de quo censeret, sed cui in consilio esset; mollissimo genere poenae contentum esse debere patrem dixit in filio adulescentulo impulso in id scelus, in quo se, quod proximum erat ab innocentia, timide gessisset; debere illum ab urbe et a parentis oculis submoveri.
(Seneca Minor, De Clementia 15)

I recall the case of Tricho, a Roman knight, whom the people attacked with styluses in the forum because he had flogged his son to death: the authority of Augustus Caesar barely rescued him from the outrage of fathers and sons alike. When Tarius discovered that his son was planning to kill him and condemned him in a trial held in his own household, everyone looked up to him because he was content to sentence the young man to exile—and a pampered exile at that, in Massilia, where he provided him with the same annual allowance he used to give him before his disgrace. Because of this generous gesture, everyone in Rome—where even scoundrels never lack an advocate—believed that the young man had been justly condemned, seeing that a father incapable of hating him had been able to condemn him. This very same episode also provides a model of the good prince for you to compare with the good father. When Tarius was going to conduct the trial he asked Caesar Augustus to sit on his advisory council; and so Augustus came to a private home and sat at Tarius’s side as a counselor—he did not say, “No, no, let him come to my home,” for in that case the trial would have been Caesar’s, not the father’s. When the case had been heard and the evidence thoroughly examined—both the points that the young man made on his own behalf and those that tended to convict him—Augustus asked that each man write down his own judgment, lest everyone make Caesar’s verdict his own. Then, before the tablets were opened, he took an oath that he had no intention of accepting an inheritance from Tarius, who was a wealthy man. Someone will say, “That was a petty concern, not wanting to seem to make room for himself by voting to condemn the son.” Quite the opposite, I think: any of us ordinary folk should have had sufficient confidence in his own clear conscience to withstand malicious talk, but princes must make many concessions even to gossip. He swore that he would not accept an inheritance. And indeed on the same day Tarius lost two heirs, but Caesar secured his own freedom of judgment; and after he proved that his own strictness was not self-interested—a prince’s constant concern—he said that the son should be banished, the location to be left to the father’s discretion. Mindful not of the charge he was judging but of the man he was advising, he decreed neither the sack nor snakes nor a prison cell but made plain that a father should be content with the mildest punishment in the case of a young son driven to a crime in which he had shown himself, by his timid conduct, only one step removed from innocence: he should be removed from the city and from his father’s sight. (tr. Robert A. Kaster)

Salubriter

091414_GWU_Mass_20-copy

Sic loquere, sic vive: vide ne te ulla res deprimat. votorum tuorum veterum licet deis gratiam facias, alia de integro suscipe: roga bonam mentem, bonam valetudinem animi, deinde tunc corporis. quidni tu ista vota saepe facias? audacter deum roga: nihil illum de alieno rogaturus es. sed ut more meo cum aliquo munusculo epistulam mittam, verum est quod apud Athenodorum inveni: “tunc scito esse te omnibus cupiditatibus solutum, cum eo perveneris ut nihil deum roges nisi quod rogare possis palam.” [Athenodorus, De Superstitione fr. 36] nunc enim quanta dementia est hominum! turpissima vota dis insusurrant; si quis admoverit aurem, conticiscent, et quod scire hominem nolunt deo narrant. vide ergo ne hoc praecipi salubriter possit: sic vive cum hominibus tamquam deus videat, sic loquere cum deo tamquam homines audiant. vale.
[Seneca Minor, Ep. ad Luc. 10.4-5]

Speak, and live, in this way; see to it that nothing keeps you down. As for your former prayers, you may dispense the gods from answering them; offer new prayers; pray for a sound mind and for good health, first of soul and then of body. And of course you should offer those prayers frequently. Call boldly upon God; you will not be asking him for that which belongs to another. But I must, as is my custom, send a little gift along with this letter. It is a true saying which I have found in Athenodorus: “Know that thou art freed from all desires when thou hast reached such a point that thou prayest to God for nothing except what thou canst pray for openly.” But how foolish men are now! They whisper the basest of prayers to heaven; but if anyone listens, they are silent at once. That which they are unwilling for men to know, they communicate to God. Do you not think, then, that some such wholesome advice as this could be given you: “Live among men as if God beheld you; speak with God as if men were listening”? Farewell. (tr. Richard M. Gummere)

Subsilire

feet-walking

Quid ergo est bonum? rerum scientia. quid malum est? rerum imperitia. ille prudens atque artifex pro tempore quaeque repellet aut eliget. sed nec quae repellit timet, nec miratur quae eligit, si modo magnus illi et invictus animus est. submitti te ac deprimi veto. laborem si non recuses, parum est: posce. “quid ergo?” inquis; “labor frivolus et supervacuus et quem humiles causae evocaverunt non est malus?” non magis quam ille, qui pulchris rebus impenditur, quoniam animi est ipsa tolerantia, quae se ad dura et aspera hortatur ac dicit: “quid cessas? non est viri timere sudorem.” huc et illud accedat, ut perfecta virtus sit, aequalitas ac tenor vitae per omnia consonans sibi, quod non potest esse, nisi rerum scientia contingit et ars, per quam humana ac divina noscantur. hoc est summum bonum. quod si occupas, incipis deorum socius esse, non supplex. “quomodo” inquis “isto pervenitur?” non per Poeninum Graiumve montem nec per deserta Candaviae, nec Syrtes tibi nec Scylla aut Charybdis adeundae sunt, quae tamen omnia transisti procuratiunculae pretio: tutum iter est, iucundum est, ad quod natura te instruxit. dedit tibi illa, quae si non deserueris, par deo surges. parem autem te deo pecunia non faciet: deus nihil habet. praetexta non faciet: deus nudus est. fama non faciet nec ostentatio tui et in populos nominis dimissa notitia: nemo novit deum, multi de illo male existimant, et impune. non turba servorum lecticam tuam per itinera urbana ac peregrina portantium: deus ille maximus potentissimusque ipse vehit omnia. ne forma quidem et vires beatum te facere possunt: nihil horum patitur vetustatem. quaerendum est, quod non fiat in dies eius, quoi non possit obstari. quid hoc est? animus, sed hic rectus, bonus, magnus. quid aliud voces hunc quam deum in corpore humano hospitantem? hic animus tam in equitem Romanum quam in libertinum, quam in servum potest cadere. quid est enim eques Romanus aut libertinus aut servus? nomina ex ambitione aut iniuria nata. subsilire in caelum ex angulo licet. exsurge modo
“et te quoque dignum
finge deo.”
finges autem non auro vel argento: non potest ex hac materia imago deo exprimi similis; cogita illos, cum propitii essent, fictiles fuisse. vale.
(Seneca Minor, Ep. ad Luc. 31.6-11)

What, then, is good? Knowledge of the facts. What is bad? Ignorance of the facts. The man who is truly wise and skilled will exercise avoidance or choice in accordance with circumstances; but he does not fear the things he avoids nor admire the things he chooses, not if he has a great and unconquerable spirit. I forbid you to abase yourself; I forbid you to be downcast. Not refusing labor is too little: ask for it. “But what if the work is demeaning?” you say. “What if it is unnecessary or is demanded for frivolous reasons? Isn’t such work bad?” No more so than labor expended on attractive objects. Your very endurance shows spirit, when you urge yourself on toward difficult tasks, saying, “Why the delay? A real man is not afraid of sweat.” Besides, complete virtue consists in the evenness and steadiness of a life that is in harmony with itself through all events, which cannot come about unless one has knowledge and the skill of discerning things human and divine. This is the highest good; if you obtain it, you begin to be an associate of the gods and not a suppliant. You ask, “How do I get there?” You need not scale the Alps, at either the Pennine or the Graian Pass, or navigate the Syrtaean shoals, or traverse the mountain fastness of Illyria; you need not approach the straits where Scylla and Charybdis are; and yet you passed through all of these for no more reward than your paltry governorship. No, the road is both safe and pleasant, and is one for which you have been equipped by nature. Nature has given you certain gifts, and if you do not abandon them, you will mount up equal to a god. Money will not make you equal to a god: God owns nothing. A tunic bordered with purple will not do it; God is naked. Fame will not do it, and neither will self-display and spreading one’s name far and wide: no one has personal acquaintance with God, and many think ill of him with impunity. Nor will a troop of slaves bearing your sedan chair through the streets, in the city and abroad: God, the greatest and most powerful god, is himself the bearer of everything. Not even beauty and strength can confer blessedness on you; neither endures the onset of age. You must devote your efforts to that which does not deteriorate over time, and which no obstacle can bar. What is that? It is the mind—but specifically this mind, which is upright, great, and good. What else would you call it but God dwelling in a human body? This mind can be found just as well in a freedman or even a slave as in a Roman of equestrian status. For what is a Roman equestrian, or a freedman, or a slave? Those are names born of ambition or of unfair treatment. One may leap up to heaven even from a chimney corner. Rise, then,
“and shape yourself as well into a likeness
worthy of godhead.” [Vergil, Aen. 8.364-365]
But you will not make that likeness from gold or silver: from such materials no likeness can be made that truly resembles God. Bear in mind that in the days when the gods were well disposed, their images were of clay. Farewell. (tr. Margaret Graver & Anthony A. Long)

Consecrandus

Foster_Bible_Pictures_0073-1_Offering_Up_a_Burnt_Sacrifice_to_God

Nunc de sacrificio ipso pauca dicemus. “ebur” inquit Plato “non castum donum Deo.” [cf. Nomoi 12.956a] quid ergo? picta scilicet ex texta pretiosa? immo vero non castum donum Deo, quidquid corrumpi, quidquid subripi potest. sed sicut hoc vidit, non oportere viventi offerre aliquid, quod sit ex mortuo corpore, cur illud non vidit, non debere incorporali corporale munus offerri? quanto melius et verius Seneca: “vultisne vos” inquit “deum cogitare magnum et placidum, et maiestate leni verendum, amicum et semper in proximo, non immolationibus et sanguine multo colendum—quae enim ex trucidatione immerentium voluptas est?—, sed mente pura, bono honestoque proposito? non templa illi congestis in altitudinem saxis exstruenda sunt: in suo cuique consecrandus est pectore.” [Seneca Minor, fr. 123] vestes igitur et gemmas et cetera quae habentur in pretio si quis putet Deo cara, is plane quid sit Deus nescit: cui putat voluptati esse eas res quas etiam homo si contempserit, iure laudabitur. quid ergo castum, quid Deo dignum, nisi quod ipse in illa divina lege sua poposcit? duo sunt, quae offerri debeant, donum et sacrificium, donum in perpetuum, sacrificium ad tempus. verum apud istos, qui nullo modo rationem divinitatis intellegunt, donum est quidquid auro argentoque fabricatur, item quidquid purpura et serico texitur, sacrificiumque victima et quaecumque in ara cremantur. sed utroque non utitur Deus, quia et ipse incorruptus est et illud totum corruptibile. itaque Deo utrumque incorporale offerendum est, quo utitur. donum est integritas animi, sacrificium laus et hymnus; si enim Deus non videtur, ergo his rebus coli debet quae non videntur. nulla igitur alia religio vera est nisi quae virtute ac iustitia constat.
(Lactantius, Div. Inst. 6.25.1-7)

Let us now say a few words about sacrifice. ‘Ivory,’ says Plato, ‘is not a chaste offering to a god.’ Well? Are paintings and cloth precious then? There is no chaste offering to be made to God out of anything that can be spoilt or stolen. But if Plato could see that nothing should be offered to a living being made of dead matter, why did he not see that no corporeal offering should be made to the incorporeal? Seneca put it much better, and more truly: ‘Do you people want to think of god as great, peaceful, reverend in an easy majesty, as a friend and always close by, not someone to worship with sacrificial beasts and quantities of blood—what pleasure is there in the slaughter of the undeserving?—but with a pure heart and a good and honest determination? He needs no temples built with stone piled high; each man must keep him sacred in his heart.’ Anyone thinking that God values clothes and jewels and the other stuff treated as precious clearly does not know what God is; he thinks God finds pleasure in things that a mere man would rightly be praised for disdaining. There is no chaste offering and none worthy of God except what he has required in his famous holy commandment. There are two things which are due as offerings, gifts and sacrifices: a gift is for ever and a sacrifice is for the while. For those people who have no notion of the nature of divinity, a gift is anything made of gold and silver or anything woven of purple and silk, and a sacrifice is a victim and anything burnt upon an altar. But God has use for neither, because he himself is uncorrupt and all that stuff is corruptible. God must therefore be offered the pair of incorruptibles: that pair he can use. Integrity of soul is the gift, and praise and hymns are the sacrifice. Since God is not visible, he must be worshipped with things invisible. The only true religion is the one founded on virtue and justice. (tr. Anthony Bowen & Peter Garnsey)

 

Deridere

Hendrick ter Brugghen, Democritus, 1628
Hendrick ter Brugghen, Democritus (1628)

Sed nihil prodest privatae tristitiae causas abiecisse; occupat enim nonnumquam odium generis humani. cum cogitaveris, quam sit rara simplicitas et quam ignota innocentia et vix umquam, nisi eum expedit, fides, et occurrit tot scelerum felicium turba et libidinis lucra damnaque pariter invisa et ambitio usque eo iam se suis non continens terminis, ut per turpitudinem splendeat: agitur animus in noctem et velut eversis virtutibus, quas nec sperare licet nec habere prodest, tenebrae oboriuntur. in hoc itaque flectendi sumus, ut omnia vulgi vitia non invisa nobis sed ridicula videantur et Democritum potius imitemur quam Heraclitum. hic enim, quotiens in publicum processerat, flebat, ille ridebat; huic omnia quae agimus miseriae, illi ineptiae videbantur. elevanda ergo omnia et facili animo ferenda; humanius est deridere vitam quam deplorare.
(Seneca Minor, De Tranquillitate Animi 15.1-2)

But it is useless to cast away the reasons for private sadness; for sometimes loathing for the human race takes possession of us. When you think how rare honesty is and how unknown is innocence, and good faith is scarcely maintained at all unless it is in men’s interest, and such a crowd of successful crimes confronts us, along with the profits and losses of lust, both equally hateful—not to mention ambition so unable to keep within its limits that its shamefulness is glaring—the mind is driven into night, and the darkness rises up as if the virtues had been overthrown, since one cannot hope for them and gains nothing from possessing them. Therefore we must bend so as to make all the vices of the crowd seem not hateful but absurd, and imitate Democritus rather than Heraclitus. For whenever Heraclitus went into public places he wept, whereas Democritus laughed: to Heraclitus all our activities seemed wretched, to Democritus sheer folly. So we must mitigate everything and bear it with an easy mind; it is more humane to make fun of life than to bewail it. (tr. Elaine Fantham)

 

Recede

seneca1

Quid ista circumspicis quae tibi possunt fortasse evenire sed possunt et non evenire? incendium dico, ruinam, alia quae nobis incidunt, non insidiantur: illa potius vide, illa vita quae nos observant, quae captant. rari sunt casus, etiamsi graves, naufragium facere, vehiculo everti: ab homine homini cotidianum periculum. adversus hoc te expedi, hoc intentis oculis intuere; nullum est malum frequentius, nullum pertinacius, nullum blandius. tempestas minatur antequam surgat, crepant aedificia antequam corruant, praenuntiat fumus incendium: subita est ex homine pernicies, et eo diligentius tegitur quo propius accedit. erras si istorum tibi qui occurrunt vultibus credis: hominum effigies habent, animos ferarum, nisi quod illarum perniciosus est primus incursus: quos transiere non quaerunt. numquam enim illas ad nocendum nisi necessitas incitat; aut fame aut timore coguntur ad pugnam: homini perdere hominem libet. tu tamen ita cogita quod ex homine periculum sit ut cogites quod sit hominis officium; alterum intuere ne laedaris, alterum ne laedas. commodis omnium laeteris, movearis incommodis, et memineris quae praestare debeas, quae cavere. sic vivendo quid consequaris? non te ne noceant, sed ne fallant. quantum potes autem in philosophiam recede: illa te sinu suo proteget, in huius sacrario eris aut tutus aut tutior. non arietant inter se nisi in eadem ambulantes via. ipsam autem philosophiam non debebis iactare; multis fuit periculi causa insolenter tractata et contumaciter: tibi vitia detrahat, non aliis exprobret. non abhorreat a publicis moribus nec hoc agat ut quidquid non facit damnare videatur. licet sapere sine pompa, sine invidia. vale.
(Seneca Minor, Ep. ad Luc. 103)

Why are you keeping a lookout for things that may possibly happen to you, but may very well not happen? I am talking about fires, collapse of buildings, and other things that do come our way but are not intended to do us harm. Keep an eye, rather, on things that do have it in for us and lay traps for us, and avoid those. Although accidents like shipwreck and being thrown from a carriage are serious enough, they are infrequent. It’s the danger that one human can do to another that is a daily occurrence. Equip yourself against this and focus on this. No calamity is more common, none more persistent, none more insidious. Storms threaten before they surge, buildings creak before they collapse, and smoke gives warning of fire; but damage caused by human beings is immediate, and the closer it comes the more carefully it is hidden. It’s a mistake to trust the faces of the people you meet: they have the appearance of human beings but the character of wild animals, except that with animals it is the first attack that is the most dangerous. They don’t pass people by and then turn and pursue them. They are never provoked to do injury except under compulsion, when hunger or fear forces them to fight. One human being, on the other hand, positively likes to destroy another. Still, when you consider what dangers you may be in from other people, you should also be thinking about people’s responsibilities to one another. Keep an eye on one person to avoid being hurt by him, on another to avoid hurting him. You should show pleasure at everyone’s successes, feel for them when their affairs go wrong, remembering when you should be forthcoming and when you should be wary instead. By living like this, what will you gain? You will not necessarily escape harm, but you will avoid being caught unawares. Withdraw into philosophy as much as you can. Philosophy will protect you; you will be safe, or at least safer, in philosophy’s sanctuary. People only knock into one another when they are walking on the same path. But you should not brag about your philosophy. Many people have been put in danger by crassly boasting about it. You should use philosophy to remove your faults, not to criticize other people’s. You should not distance philosophy from the general way of the world, nor let it seem to be condemning everything that it refrains from doing itself. It’s possible to practice wisdom without parade and without incurring resentment. Farewell. (tr. Margaret Graver & Anthony A. Long)