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.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Schubert on St. Augustine's Teaching on the Eternal Law, Part 6

Augustine's Lex Aeterna Teaching
Its Content and its Source

by: P. Alois Schubert, S.V.D.

Bust of Cicero

Part II
What Sources Inform St. Augustine's Teaching on the Eternal Law?

2. Cicero's Concept of the Eternal Law.

Cicero gives the eternal law the follow predicates: he calls it eternal, unchanging, and all-encompassing.

a) Eternal.
Cicero writes: This law has stood for all time.(1) It is eternal.(2) The power of this law is not only older than the oldest peoples and States, but it arose simultaneously with the divine custody of heaven and earth.(4) It arose instantaneously with the divine Mind.(4) It is that oldest principle of reason that lies behind the reason for all things.(5) Before the centuries, its beginning is to be found.(6)

b) Unending. Cicero says: This law remains, it stays the same.(7) It is unchanging.(8) It is prohibited to even contemplate a change to this law. No one ought to detract from that law, nor abrogate it entirely.(9) He calls it therefore a holy, a heavenly law.(10)

c) All-encompassing. In the second book over the ways of the gods, Cicero has Balbus saying: "I claim therefore, that through the Providence of the gods, the world and all of its parts, are from their origin well fixed, so that they at any time being administered therewith."(11) Cicero writes about this inner instruction, the constitution of all the things of the world, by which the gods govern it.(12) How wonderful this inner structure that is in things is, how exact and purposeful are their inclinations and the dexterity of their actions, he points to in the chapter of the same book (Chapters 32-51). Cicero intones there a paean of praise on the building of and the beauty of the earth. He sings about the flowers, the herbs, and trees, the wells, rivers, and seas, the rocks, the fruitful fields, the animals, both wild and tame. He sees the canopy of the stars as the master work of the eternal Creator and Orderer. All these things are from the Providence so fixed together as they are. The propriety of things follow the work of the divine elementary power. It binds all things and leads them with unending wisdom to their end. This law binds above all with the reason that is given men. This law is planted by nature,(13) it calls man to duty and deters him from fraud. It remains if the righteous do not obey it succesfully, and its impression is felt even in the godless.(14) This law circumscribes both the good and evil. The difference between the good and evil the evil is derived from nature, and for that reason from the will of God. "To believe that the respectful and the shameful are based merely in my mind, and are not based upon nature, is madness."(15) Nature is even divinity. Good is therefore only that which is in accord with the Will of the divinity, and evil is that which is contrary to that Will. "A good law can be distinguished from a bad law, by no other norm than by nature."(17) All is however guided through the divine Mind and Prudence.(18) Divinity recompenses the good, and punishes the evil.(19) It draws all that is under the influence of the eternal order.

Cicero understands accordingly that the eternal law binds all creatures, the inanimate and the living, the irrational and the rational. Both the good and evil stand under the rule of this order.

Cicero links the same characteristics to the eternal law as Augustine does:

Cicero calls the eternal law a lex aeterna, sempiterna, perpetua, saeclis omnibus ante nata. S. 27, Anm. 1 and 6.Augustine shows the eternal law likewise as a lex aeterna, sempiterna, ineffabilis. S. 6, Anm. 1 and 2.
immutabilis, constans. S. 27, Anm. 1 and 8.immutabilis et incommutabilis. S. 6, Anm. 1 and 5.
univeralis, omnia regi divina mente et providentia. Bon et mala ordine regi. Ratio diffusa in omnes. Aeternum quod niversum mundum regeret. S. 27, Anm. 11 and S. 28, Anm. 12 and 14.universalis. Nihil praeer ordinem inveniri. Bona et mal ordine regi. S. 7, Anm. 8; S. 8, Anm. 10 and 12.


(1) Cic., De rep. lib. 3, c. 22. Omni tempore una lex et sempiterna et immutabils.
(2) Cic. De natura deorum lib. 1, c. 15. Lex perpetua et aeterna. Cic., De leg. lib. 2, c. 4, § 8. Sed aternum quiddam quod universum mundum regeret.
(3) Cic., De leg. lib. 2, c. 4. Vis legis non modo senior est quam aetas poplorum et civitatum, sed aequalis illius coelum atque terras tuentis et regentis dei.
(4) Cic., De leg. lib. 2, c. 4, § 10. Orta autem est lex simul cum mente divina.
(5) Cic., De leg. lib. 2, c. 5, § 13. Ad antiquissimam et rerum omnium naturam . . .
(6) Cic., De leg. c. 6, § 19. Quae lex saeclis omnibus ante nata est, quam scriptal lex ulla aut quam omnino civitas constituta.
(7) Cic., De rep. lib. 3, c. 22. (quae lex est) constans et sempiterna.
(8) Ibidem. Omni tempore una lex sempiterna et immutabilis.
(9) Ibidem. Huic legi nec abrogari fas est nec derogaris ex hac aliquid licet necque tota abrogari potest.
(10) Cic., De leg. lib. 2, c. 4, § 9. Sed antequam ad populares leges venis vim istius coelestis legis explana. Cic., De rep. lib. 3, c. 21. Lex sancta et coelestis.
(11) Cic., De nat. deorum lib. 2, c. 30, § 75. Dico igitur providentia deorum mundum et omnes mundi partes initio constitutas esse et omni tempore administrari.
(12) Cic., De Harusp. resp. n. 29. Deorum immortalium numine omnia regi gubernarique prospeximus. Cic., De leg. 2, c. 4, § 30. Sed est aeternum quiddam (lex) quod universum mundum regeret. . . . providentia deorum initio omnes partesmundi constitutas esse.
(13) Cic., De leg. lib 1, c. 4. Insita in natura.
(14) Cic., De rep. lib. 3, c. 20. Est quidem vera lex, recta ratio, diffusa in omnes, quae vocat ad officium iubendo, veetando a fraude deterreat, quae tamen neque probos frustra iubet aut vetat, nec improbos iubendo aut vetando movet.
(15) Cic., De leg. lib 1, c. 6. Haec autem (honesta et turpia) in opinione existimare, non in natura posita, dementis est.
(16) Ibidem. Honesta quoque et tupria natura diiudicanda sunt. Nos legem bonam a mal nulla alia norma, nisi naturae dividere possumus.
(17) Cic., De leg. lib. 1, c. 16. Nos legem bonam a mal nulla alia, nisi naturae norma dividere possumus. Cic. De nat. deorum lib. 2, c. 32. Alii autem naturam esse censent vim participem rationis atque ordinis.
(18) Cic., De nat. deorum lib. 2, c. 31, § 30. Omnia regi divina mente atque prudentia.
(19) Cic., De rep. lib. 3, c. 20. Quae lex neque probos frustra iubet aut veta, nec improbos iubendo aut vetando movet.

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