Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

An Orphic Hymn to Justice

THE piercing eye of Justice bright, I sing,
Plac'd by the throne of heav'n's almighty king,
Perceiving thence, with vision unconfin'd,
The life and conduct of the human kind
To thee, revenge and punishment belong,
Chastising ev'ry deed, unjust and wrong;
Whose pow'r alone, dissimilars can join,
And from th' equality of truth combine:
For all the ill, persuasion can inspire,
When urging bad designs, with counsel dire,
'Tis thine alone to punish; with the race
Of lawless passions, and incentives base;
For thou art ever to the good inclin'd,
And hostile to the men of evil mind.
Come, all-propitious, and thy suppliant hear,
When Fate's predestin'd, final hour draws near.

Divae Iustitiae

Iustitiae obtestor pulcrae omnituentis ocellum,
Ad Iovi' Dictatori' sedet quae illustre tribunal,
Coelitus endotuens mores mortalium homonum,
Atque ultrix plectens humana nefantia facta,
Ex aequo veri coniungens disparile omne.
Nam quaecunque viris sententia pessima suasit,
Consiliis diris infanda volentibus quaeque
Sola iugum imponens iniustis iura ministris,
Iniustorum hostis, Sanatum mitis amica,
Verum adsis semper fausto Dea numine iusta,
Vitaï ut veniat finis, quam Morta profata est.

Above from Gottfried Hermann's Orphica (1805).

Above from The Book fo Orphic Hymns (1827).


Derived from the word dikē, the term dikaiosynē (δικαιοσύνη) is a conceptual or abstraction of the root dikē. It means conformity with a standard of justice, usually law, and so it was used to refer to Solon's laws. Along with phronēsis (prudence), sōphrosynē (temperance), andreia (fortitude), dikaiosynē was considered one of the four cardinal virtues. It was used by the Greek translators of the Old Testament to translate the Hebrew sedaqa or sedeq, and was appropriated by the Evangelists and St. Paul when they speak of justification or righteousness in reference to both God and men (e.g., Romans 3:22, 10:3, 14:7; 2 Cor. 5:21). It appears to have a rich, ambiguous meaning, including such senses as adherence to law, integrity, and participation in the divine economy of salvation. It appears more than 90 times in the New Testament. For the Christian, then, it has therefore gained great theological significance.

The figure of Dikaiosynē shown above holding scales appears on the cupola of a chapel at the necropolis of al-Bagawat in the Kharga Oasis in Egypt. The necropolis is considered to be one of the earliest and best-preserved Christian cemeteries. Personified as a woman, Dikaiosynē is painted amidst typical biblical figures such as Adam, Even, Abraham, Isaac, Daniel, Jacob, Noath, Mary, and St. Paul. Also depicted are Eirēnē and Euchē, personifications of peace and prayer, respectively. This depiction of Justice or Dikaiosynē may be the first extant in a Christian setting. (See D. Curtis & J. Resnik, Images of Justice, 96 YALE L.J. 1727 n. 8 (1987) (citing A. Katnzenellenbogen, Allegories of the Virtues and Vices in Mediaeval Art 28 (1939)).

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