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.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Schubert on St. Augustine's Teaching on the Eternal Law, Part 7

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. The Eternal Law is According to Cicero Fountainhead of Temporal Law: The Natural Law, the Moral Law, the Law of the State.

Cicero derives all temporal laws from the eternal law. He comes to that from his concept of right. The source of right (iuris) must, according to Cicero, be derived from the eternal law, in that the same "underlies nature, thought, and the reason of the wise; it is the guiding principle for right and wrong.(1) Further on Cicero writes: "From the foundation of right do we best go from the highest laws, that which for eternity was already promulgated, even before any written law existed, or even any State had been founded."(2) The original root of right must be searched for in nature.(3) The law is according to Cicero the ultimate purpose of reason of the highest god Jupiter.(4) The Ciceronian thought process encompasses the concepts of Right (Gerecht), Law (Gesetz), Nature, highest reason. Right stems from law, the law from human reason, the human reason from nature, and therefore also the (rational) divinity. In calls it eternal, unchanging, and all-encompassing. In particular, the following may be stated to be Cicero's notions regarding the deriviation of temporal laws:

a) The Natural Law is Derived from the Eternal Law. Cicero intones repeatedly that the gods have made all things,(5) that they rule and lead wonderfully.(6) He recalls in this context on the insight of the great Stoic philosophers.(7) In the 22nd Chapter of the same book, Cicero lets Balbus develop the Stoic naturalistic pantheism: "Nature, as it is called by them, is the artisan fire, which endowed with reason, forged the world in a systematic fashion at its creation."(8) It clasps all individual things in it, guides their development, and holds them together.(9) The proper development of things shows itself most clearly in their seminal reasons (Kreimkräften). "Impregnated with seeds, the earth brings forth in their manifold aspect all individual things forth.(10) "The world is a mother, who both bears and cares. She concerns herself with individual things, as the whole to its parts, or as the organism to is members. God, however, is the sower, the painter, and the father of all power.(11) Cicero guides here the seminal powers of nature, which most clearly reveal the natural law, and the rational foundational fire, and therefore back to God.

In Chapters 36-46 of the De natura deorum, Cicor praises the fitting direction and placement of things, the order and the beauty of the heavenly bodies, the inner ties and assembly of all the things in the entire world. In Chapters 47-52 he vaunts the products of the earth. He depicts there in great detail the inner organizations of beasts and men. He then says: "We ought put aside the deeper investigations and at the same time look with our eyes the beauty of things we perceive, which for us declare the order of divine Providence."(12)

These features of things: their beauty, order, and utility, which Cicero praises with such eloquent words, are based on the right ordering (Gesetzlichkeiten) of things. This right ordering of things Cicero declares to be the ordinances of divine Providence.(13) With that Cicero leads to the natural law and back to the reason of the gods. This knowledge Cicero holds as an authentic Roman intellectual patrimony (Eigentum).(14)

Comparing Augustine's stream of thought regarding the derivation of natural law from the eternal law with that of Cicero, we obtain the following picture:

1. Augustine leads the inner order of things (natural law) back to the divine Wisdom and Justice. S. 9, Anm. 3 and 4.1. Cicero leads the natural law back to the power of the gods. S. 30, Anm. 5 and 7.
2. Augustine traces especially the rationes seminales back to the Wisdom and God. S.10, Anm. 6 and 7.
2. Cicero leads the seeds (semina) to the power and wisdom of the gods. He does not use the expression rationes seminales. S. 30, Anm. 10 and 11.
3. Augustine builds a picture of the earth and the pregnant mother. S. 10, Anm. 9.3. Cicero adopts the same picture. S. 30, Anm. 10.
4. Augustine praises the natural law. S. 10, Anm. 13.
4. Cicero does the same. S. 31, Anm. 12; cf. Cicero De nat. deroum lib. 2, c. 36-52.

b) The Moral Law is Derived from the Eternal Law.
Cicero links the moral law to human reason and the ultimate end of nature that it has received from divinity. "The rational man alone knows what order and the seemliness is, which measure in order and speech must be observed. He alone has sense for comeliness, evenness, and beauty. In higher measure, the mind of man has also the sense of beauty, harmony, and order which is essential for thought and action. He requires that we flee from all unmanly and unseemly thoughts and acts, as well as opinions and deeds of violent thoughts and doings."(15) Cicero ties the moral good as one of the basic drives of men, one based upon the way of reason.(16) These basic drives are the desires for friendship, truth, rule, magnaminity, order, seemliness, and measure. That is morally good which accords with these basic drives.(17) From these desires arise the four cardinal virtues. From these sprout forth the moral good.(18) The cardinal virtues are, however, grounded in the nature of reason.(19) So does the moral good refer back to nature.

In addition, Cicero teaches that moral good is based not on opinion, but upon nature.(29) Bot the respected and the villainous must be measured by the same standard, and thus are referred back to nature.(21) In the same manner that which is lawful and unlawful is not based upon usage, or the opinions or conventions of peoples, but upon nature; otherwise what is lawful would be measured by advantage or utility, and it would follow that malice (Schlechtigkeit) (malitia) would be considered a virtue. Nay, even more, one who decides things based upon advantage alone is less than a simpleton.(22) If right were to be determined by the desires of peoples, the edicts of princes, through the sentences of the judges, then would committing highway robbery, a law encouraging adultery, a judgment enforcing a false be considered acceptable through mere vote or endorsement (Gutheißung).(23) Therefore there can be no measure by which to distinguish a good law from a bad one except for nature.(24)

Inasmuch as the common human understanding provides us with awareness of the concept that the foundation of nature is placed in our souls, that therein is the basis of the respectable and the virtuous and the shameful and the vicious. To believe that what is evil is a matter of opinion, and not nature, is madness.(25) The good and the evil, the just and the unjust, the respectable and the shameful are only distinguished by nature, because how else could the thoughts and acts of men be so different, if nature is by all the same? Cicero answers in that regard, that reason is through passion corrupted, and it is from that arise the different kinds of thought and action.(26)

Now how does Cicero think that the first principles of morality are placed within nature? He holds that they are impressed in the soul. He writes in that regard: "That the fountain of law, of which I have spoke of above, is placed within the soul, and is impressed in the same manner upon all, just as speech, the interpreter of understanding, may be in word difference, yet the thought remains the same."(27) Nature gave us a small spark of light, which we can quickly through evil custom and erroneous notions corrupt, and even eliminate, so that none of the light of nature is able to shine through. For the seeds of virtue are innate in our minds, so that when these are when these are able to sprout and grow, so would nature itself lead one to a happy life.(28) To these inborn principles belong the law of self defense. "This law (of self defense), judge, is not written, but innate; we have not learned it, received it, or read about it, but it is born out of nature; we have therefore not been taught it, but were are made in accord with it; we are not instructed in it, but have been immersed in it.(29) This law is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which commands what one should do and forbids the contrary."(30) The law which commands what one should do and forbids the contrary is the moral law.(30) There is a law in nature that is perceived in things, with reason driving the doing of right, that does not become law when it is written, but as soon as it comes into being; it comes into being at the same time as the divine mind. From it is the true and the foundational beginning of command and prohibition, the suitable law of right reason of the divine Jupiter.(31) So does Cicero lead the ultimate end of the moral law back to the highest divine reason.

Comparing the similarities of Augustine and Cicero regarding the derivation of the moral law we obtain the following results:

1. Augustine teaches, God has the lex naturalis in the heart of man inscribed. S. 12, Anm. 16. He bases himself on the Pauline words: "Quum enim gentes quae legem non habent, naturaliter quae legis sunt, faciunt. Eiusmodi legem hon habentes, sibi ipsi sunt lex. S. 12, Anm. 17.

Lex transcripta est in anima rationalem. S. 12, Anm. 15. Lex transfertur sicut imago annuli in ceram transit. S. 13, Anm. 22.
1. Cicero holds that the moral law is innate. Natura ingenuit nobis notitias parvas, elementa virtutum, parvulos igniculos. S. 33, Anm. 27 and 28. Iochoatae intelligentiae omnimbus imprimuntur. S. 33, Anm. 27.

Lex insita in natura. S. 34, Anm. 30. Semina nostris ingeniis innata virtutum. S. 33, Anm. 27

The picture of the signet ring is not adopted by Cicero.
2. Augustine holds that God is the originator of the moral law. Deus scripsit legem naturalem (rationis) in cordibus hominum. S.13, Anm. 22.
2. Cicero holds that nature, that is, the divinity to be the fundational source of the moral law. Natura id est deus ingenuit nobis elementa virtutum. S. 33, Anm. 27.

The same thoughts and termini indicate also here the reliance of Augustine on Cicero. But it appears that (for Augustine) Paul is the source.


(1) Cic., De nat. deorum lib. 1, c. 6, § 19. A lege ducendum est iuris exordium, ea est enim naturae vis, ea mens ratioque prudentis, ea iuris atque iniuriae regula.
(2) Cic., De leg. lib. 1, c. 6. Constituendi vero iuris ab illa summa lege capiamus exordiu, quae saeclis omnibus ante nata est, quam script lex ulla aut quam omnino civitas constituta.
(3) Ibidem: Repetam stirpem iuris a natura.
(4) Cic., De leg. lib. 2, c. 4, § 25. Lex est ratio summi Jovis . . . § 13 lex est iustorum iniustorumque distinctio ad illam antiquissimam et rerum omnium principem naturam expressa, ad quam leges hominum diriguntur, quae supplicio improbos afficunt, defendunt et tuentur bonos.
(5) Cic., De nat. deorum lib. 2, c. 39. Licet iam remota subtilitate disputandi oculis, quodammodo contemplari pulchritudinem rerum earum, quas divina providentia dicimus constitutas.
(6) Ibidem. c. 31, § 80. Omnia regi divina mente atque prudentia.
(7) Cic., De nat. deorum lib. 11, c. 2, § 4. Sunt autem alii philophi et ii quidem magni atque nobiles, qui deorum mente atque ratione mundum administrari et regi censeat.
(8) Cic., De nat. deorum c. 22. Zeno igitur natura ita definit, ut eam dicat ignem esse artificiosum ad gignendum progredientem in via. cf. Diels, Doxographi Graeci 1879, S. 305.
(9) Cic., De nat. deorum lib. 1, c. 14. . . . rationem quandam per omnem naturam rerum pertinentem.
(10) Cic., De nat. deorum lib. 2, c. 33. (Natura) gravidata seminibus omnia pareat et fundat ex se . . .
(11) Cic., De nat. deorum lib. 2, c. 34. Omnium rerum quae natura administrantur, seminator et sator et parens, ut ita dicam atque educator et altor est mundus omniaque sicut membra et partes suas nutricatur et continet (mundus = natura = deus).
(12) Cic., De nat. deorum lib. 2, c. 38. Licet iam remota subtilitate disputandi oculis quadammodo contemplari pulchritudinem rerum, quas divina providentia dicimus constitutas.
(13) Cic., De nat. deorum lib. 2, c. 53. Sic undique omni ratione concluditur, ment consilioque divino, omnia in hoc mundo ad salutem omnium conservationemque admirabiliter administrari. Mente divina constitutas esse . . .
(14) Cic., De harusp. resp. c. 9. Pietate ac religione atque una sapientia quod deorum immortalium numine omnia regi gubernarique perspexium omnes gentes nationesque superavimus.
(15) Cic., De off., 1, c. 4, § 14. Non vero illa prava vis naturae est rationisque, quod unum hoc animal sentit, quid sit ordo, quid sit quod deceat, in factis dictisque qui modus. Itaque eorum ipsorum, quae aspectu sentiuntur, nullum aliud animal pulchritudinem, venustatem, convenientiam partium sentit, quam similitudinem natura ratioque ab oculis ad animum transferens, multo etiam magis pulchritudinem, constantiam, ordinem in consiliis factisque conservandam putat cavetque ne quid indecore effeminative faciat, tum in omnibus et opinionibus et factis ne quid lubidinose aut faciat aut cogitet.
(16) Cic., De off. 1, c. 4, § 14. Quibus ex rebus conflatur et efficitur id, quod quaerimus honestum.
(17) cf. Cic., De off. 1, c. 4.
(18) Cic., De off. lib. 1, c. 5. Sed omne quod est honestum, id quattuor partium oritur ex aliqua . . .
(19) cf. Cic., De off. 1, c. 4 and c. 5.
(20) Cic., De leg. 1, c. 17. Ipsum enim bonum non est opinionibus, sed natura.
(21) Cic., De leg. 1, c. 17. Quare quam et bonum et malum natura iudicetur et ea sint principia naturae, certe honesta quoque et turpia simili ratione diiudicanda et ad naturam referenda sunt.
(22) Cic., De leg. 1, c. 18, § 49. Atque etiam si emolumentis, non suapte vi virtus expetitur, una erit virtus, quae malitia rectissime dicetur, ut enim quisque maxime ad suum commodum refert, quaecumque agit. Ita minime est vir bonus.
(23) Cic., De leg. 1, c. 16, § 44. Quodsi populorum jussis, si principum decretis, si sententiis iudicum iura constituerentur, ius esset latrocinari, ius adulterare, ius testamenta falsa supponere, si haec suffragiis aut scitis multitudinis probarentur.
(24) Ibidem. Atqui nos legem bonam a mala, nulla alia, nisi naturae norma dividere possumus, nec solum ius et natura diiudicatur, sed omnino omnia honesta et turpia. Cic., De leg. 1, c. 15, § 42. Est enim unum ius quo divincta est hominum societas et quod lex constituit una . . . quae lex est recta ratio.
(25) Cic., De leg. 1, c. 16. Nam ut communis intelligentia nobis nostras res efficit easque in animis nostris inchoavit honesta in virtute ponunutr, in vitiis turpia, ea autem in opinion existimare, non in natura posita dementis est.
(26) cf. Schmekel, Philosophie der Stoa, Berlin 1892, S. 53. Vgl. Cic., Tuscul. disp. lib. 3, c. 1
(27) Cic., De leg. 1, c. 10, § 30. Quaeque in animis imprimuntur, de quibus ante dixi, inchoatae intelligentiae, similiter in omnibus imprimuntur, interpresque mentis oratio verbis discrepat, sententiis congruens. Cic. De fin. bon. mal. lib. 5, c. 21, § 59. Natura ingenuit notitias parvas rerum maximarum, elementa virtutum.
(28) Cic. Tuscul. disp. lib. 3, c. 1, § 2. Natura nunc parvulos nobis dedit igniculos, quos celeriter malis moribus opinionisbusque depravati, sic restinguimus ut nusquam naturae lumen appareat. Sunt enim ingeniis nostris semina innata virtutum quae si adolescere liceret, ipsa nos ad beatam vitam natura perduceret.
(29) Cic. Pro Mil, c. 4, § 10. Est igitur haec (lex iustae tutelae), iudices non scripta, sed nata lex, quam non didicimus, accepimus, legimus, verum a natura ipsa arribpuimus, hausimus, expressimus, ad quam non docti, sed facti, non insituti, sed imbuti sumus.
(30) Cic., De leg. 1, c. 6, § 18. Lex est ratio summa, insita in natura, quae iubet ea, quae facienda sunt prohibetque contraria. Cic., De rep. lib. 3, c. 20. Est quidem vera lex recta ratio, diffus in omnes, quae vocat ad officium iubendo, vetando a fraude deterreat.
(31) Cic., De leg. lib. 2, c. 40, § 10. Erat enim ratio profecta a rerum natura et ad recte faciendum impellens et a delicto avocans quae non tum denique incipit lex esse, quum scripta est, sed tum, quam orta est, orta autem simul est cum mente divina. Quam ob rem lex vera atque princeps apta ad iubendum et vetandum, ratio est recta summi Jovis.

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