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.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Schubert on St. Augustine's Teaching on the Eternal Law, Part 15

Augustine's Lex Aeterna Teaching
Its Content and its Source

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

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

Heraclitus from the Villa dei papiri, Herculaneo

E. HERACLITUS (536-470 B.C.)

The Stoic teachings regarding the Logos koinos rest at their final end upon the Heraclitean world logos (Weltlogos). Augustine's teaching regarding the eternal law therefore goes back to Heraclitus. We shall investigate now what Heraclitus taught regarding the Logos.

1. Concept of the Logos

According to Heraclitus there is no lasting being. All being flows or is in flux (panta rei).(1). The Logos, the common law (gemeinsame Gesetz), rules in the flow and change of things. All things fulfill themselves in accordance to the Logos. This divine law rules all things; what it wills is sufficient for all things; and it excels all things. This Logos is the common law. In addition to logos, Heraclitus also used the terms: nous, phronesis, gnome, heimarmene, kraunos, pyr, and Zeus. Heraclitus says, for example, "when one wants to talk with reason, one must base himself on the common reason.(3) On this mind is everything common. But Heraclitus places the common reason of the mind above the mind of the individual.(4) To know the know One, from which all things stem, is Wisdom, gnome.(5) Fate therefore is to be accepted.(6) Lightning, which symbolizes the divine fire, is endowed with reason and is the first cause of the governance of the All.(7)

This one and only way is, and is not, to be named with Zeus.(8) Their will of individual should be to follow the law.(9) Heraclitus identifies the expressions logos, nous, phronesis, heirmarmene, pyr, and Zeus. These termini parallel those of Augustine, which shows the relationship between both men's thought:

1. λόγος κοινός.
λόγος κοινός. S. 57, Anm. 2 and 3.
1. lex est aeterna, lex universalis. S. 5, Anm. 18 and 19.
2. ἑιμαρμένη. S. 57, Anm. 5.
2. ordo causarum, necessitas . S.7, Anm. 8.
3. νους ξὺνος. S. 57, Anm. 1. φρονεῖεν ξυνόν. S. 57, Anm. 3. γνώμην, ὁτέη ἐκυϐέρνησε πάντα. S. 57, Anm. 4.
3. ratio divina. S. 5, Anm. 19. Voluntas Dei ordinem naturalem conservari iubens et perturbaris vetans.

2. Characteristics of the Logos.

Heraclitus calls this law divine. "All human laws nourish themselves from the One, the divine."(10) The Logos is furthermore eternal and all-encompassing.(11) It is the universal law of the world (Weltgestz).(12) All things happen in accordance with this law.(13) It is the cause of the governance of the world.(14) This law branches out only so far as it wills, and it is sufficient for all things, and overcomes all things.(15) It binds all things, in that whoever intends to speak, must be armed with the common law of all, just like a city defends itself with the law, and, indeed, even more strongly so.(16) Even the unjust stands under this law. Dike will straighten injustice; the perjurer and his compurgator will have to contend with Dike.(17)

Heraclitus places upon the Logos the same characteristics as Augustine does upon the eternal law.

1. νόμος θεος. S. 58, Anm. 10. πῦρ αἰώνιον. S. 58, Anm. 11. λόγος ὥν ἀεὶ. S. 58, Anm. 11.
1. lex ineffabilis, aeterna, sempiterna. S. 6, Anm. 1 and 2.
2. γινομένων πάντων κατὰ τὸν λόγον τόνδε.. S. 58, Anm. 11. Δίκη κατὰ­λήψεται ψευδῶν τέκτονας καὶ μάρτυρας. S. 58, anm. 17.
2. lex universlis. S.7, Anm. 8. bona et mala ordine regi. S. 8, Anm. 10 and 12.

3. The Logos is the Fundamental Source of all Law

a) Out of the Logos stems forth the law of nature, than all things in nature develop themselves in accordance with the law of the Logos.(18) The stars circle in the paths that has been foreordained by the law of the Logos. The sun does not exceed its boundaries, and should it do so, so would the messengers of Justice (the Erinyes of Dike) put it back in its place.(19) The same law rules in the world of the living. The wild and tame animals, the birds, the fish, and the beasts of the land become, flourish, and leave so as the law of God has predetermined.(20) They must follow it as a matter of necessity. Everything that lives is with the whip of God put into pasture.(21)

Man has little understanding regarding this law through which all exists, whether before he begins to question its existence, or after he has learned of it.(22) This law ties together the opposites of in the world into the most beautiful harmony.(23) Such ties are: the whole and the not whole, unity and discordance, consonance and dissonance, and out of all one, and out of all one.(24) The law of nature therefore go right back to the Logos as its source. Augustine follows the same path back to the eternal law.

b) The common law is the norm for the activities of mankind. It is his duty to follow the common Logos. Although the Logos is common, most live as though they have their own knowledge.(25) All must follow this law, but unfortunately not all do. The Logos lives in man.(26) All are given it, so as to know it and to be able to reason.(27) Thinking is the greatest benefit, and Wisdom consists in this: to tell the truth, and to act in accordance with nature, and to listen to it.(28) The Logos in man is therefore the measure of morality. Most men confront the Logos daily, as it is the guide of the All, and still they divide themselves from it. The things with which they daily interact appear to them for that reason foreign.(29) Morality consists therefore in acting in accordance with nature, in acting in accordance with reason, and in acting in congruity with the eternal Logos. The Logos always is in integrally in accordance with itself, therefore all things are good, beautiful, and right. Men, however, do not always act in integrity with the Logos. Therefore, they are divided into those who are just or righteous, and those who are not just or not righteous.(30). The Logos is therefore, according to Heraclitus, the foundational norm of the moral law. With Augustine the lex aeterna is the foundational norm of the moral law.

c) According to Heraclitus, human laws obtain their authority and their binding force from the divine law. Heraclitus writes: "All human law are derived from the one, the divine."(31) The same viewpoint is found in Augustine. Nihil est iustum atque legitimum, quod non ex aeterna lege homines sibi derivaverint.

4. Conclusion of Heraclitus's Teaching on the Logos.

The concept of the Logos governs the Heraclitean philosophy. Heraclitus identifies the logos koinos with the nomos koinos, the nous, the gnome, the heimarmene, the pyr, the keraunos, and with Zeus. Heraclitus indicates the Logos to be some eternal, divine, and universal. The evil themselves are beneath the Logos. The Logos is the foundational norm of all temporal laws, the law of nature, the moral law, and the law of the State.

We have seen how the lex aeterna of Augustine in part corresponds to the Heraclitean world logos. The fact that these two use same or similar terminology and the same or similar ways of thinking shows that in the fundamental root shows that Augustine's teaching on the lex aeterna is to be found in Heraclitus. The Stoa, Plotinus, and Cicero are the bridges between Heraclitus and Augustine.


We are now at the end of our investigation. Let us look one more time to the back to the entire issue.

In the first part we saw what Augustine taught by the eternal law. We learned its definition, its characteristics. We saw how it was that the eternal law was the foundational norm of all temporal laws, the law of nature, the moral law, the law of the State. Finally, we were made familiar with the knowability of the eternal law.

In the second part we investigated the sources of Augustine which impressed themselves upon Augustine's teaching, and upon which it was dependent. Cicero, Plotinus, St. Paul, St. John, the Stoa, and Heraclitus were identified as sources. The investigation revealed a direct reliance of Augustin in his teaching upon Cicero, Plotinus, St. Paul, and St. John, and an indirect reliance upon the Stoa and Heraclitus.

The same or similar terminology, the same or similar ways of thinking in the development of the temporal law from the eternal law, the familiarity that Augustine had with Cicero, Plotinus, St. Paul, and St. John, as well as his knowledge of the Stoa and Heraclitus through Cicero and Plotinus are the sources as well as grounds upon which Augustine relied upon and left their impressions upon his teaching on the Lex aeterna.


(1) Vgl. Fr. Überweg, Grundriß der Geschichte der Philosophie des Altertums. Bd. I, S. 66-75. Ausgabe Praechter, Berlin 1920.
(2) Diels, H., Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Berlin 1903, S. 82, No. 114. ξὺν νῶι λέγοντας ἰσχυρίζεσθαι χρὴ τῶι ξυνῶι πάντων, ὅκωσπερ νόμωι πόλις, καὶ πολὺ ἰσχυροτέρως. τρέφονται γὰρ πάντες οἱ ἀνθρώπειοι νόμοι ὑπὸ ἑνὸς τοῦ θείου· κρατεῖ γὰρ τοσοῦτον ὁκόσον ἐθέλει καὶ ἐξαρκεῖ πᾶσι καὶ περιγίνεται. Diels 66, No. 1. γινομένων γὰρ (πάντων) κατὰ τὸν λόγον τόνδε
(3) Diels, 82 No. 114. ξὺν νόῳ λέγοντας ἰσχυρίζεσθαι χρὴ τῷ ξυνῷ πάντων.
(4) Diels, 82, No. 113, Ξυνόν ἐστι πᾶσι τὸ φρονεῖν.S. 66, No. 2. ἰδίαν ἔχοντες φρόνησιν.
(5) Diels, 73, No. 41. εἶναι γὰρ ἓν τὸ σοφόν, ἐπίστασθαι γνώμην, ὁτέη ἐκυϐέρνησε πάντα διὰ πάντων.
(6) E. Kl. I 178 n. Anathon Aall. S. 51, Anm. 2.
(7) Cf. Diels S. 75, No. 64.
(8) Diels S. 72, No. 32. ἓν τὸ σοφὸν μοῦνον λέγ­εσθαι οὐκ ἐθέλει καὶ ἐθέλει Ζηνὸς ὄνομα.
(9) Diels S. 72, No. 33. νόμος καὶ βουλῇ πείθεσθαι ἑνός.
(10) Diels S. 82, No. 114. τρέφονται γὰρ πάντες οἱ ἀνθρώπειοι νόμοι ὑπὸ ἑνὸς τοῦ θείου.
(11) Diels S. 75, No. 64. τὰ δὲ πὰντα οἰακίζει κεραυνός, τουτέστι κατευθύνει, κεραυνὸν [τὸ πῦρ λέγων τὸ αἰώνιον]. Diels S. 66, No. 1. (τοῦ δὲ) λόγου τοῦδ᾽ ἐόντος (ἀεὶ).
(12) Diels S. 66, No. 2. διὸ δεῖ ἕπεσθαι τῷ (ξυνῷ, τουτέστι τῷ) κοινῷ· ξυνὸς γὰρ ὁ κοινός. τοῦ λόγου δὲ ἐόντος ξυνοῦ.
(13) Diels S. 66, No. 1. γινομένων γὰρ (πάντων) κατὰ τὸν λόγον τόνδε.
(14) Diels S. 75, No. 64. [εἶναι] τὸ πῦρ καὶ τῆς διοικήσεως τῶν ὄλων αἴτιον.
(15) Diels S. 82, No. 114. κρατεῖ γὰρ τοσοῦτον ὁκόσον ἐθέλει καὶ ἐξαρκεῖ πᾶσι καὶ περὶγίγνεται.
(16) Ibidem. ξὺν νόῳ λέγοντας ἰσχυρίζεσθαι χρὴ τῷ ξυνῷ πάντων, ὃκωσπερ νόμῳ πόλις, καὶ πολὺ ἰσχυροτέ­ρως.
(17) Diels S. 71, No. 28. καὶ μέντοι καὶ Δίκη κατὰ­λήψεται ψευδῶν τέκτονας καὶ μάρτυρας.
(18) Diels S. 66, No. 1. γινομένων γὰρ (πάντων) κατὰ τὸν λόγον τόνδε.
(19) Diels S. 79, No. 94. Ἥλιος γὰρ οὐχ ὑπερϐήσεται [τὰ] μέτρα· εἰ δὲ μή, Ἐρινύες μιν Δίκης ἐπίκουροι ἐξευρήσουσιν.
(20) Diels S. 68, No. 11. τῶν τε ζώιων τά τε ἄγρια καὶ ἥμερα τά τε ἐν ἀέρι καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς καὶ ἐν ὕδατι βοσκόμενα γίνεταί τε καὶ ἀκμάζει καὶ φθείρεται τοῖς τοῦ θεοῦ πειθόμενα θεσμοῖς.
(21) Ibidem. πᾶν γὰρ ἑρπετὸν (θεοῦ) πληγῇ νέμεται, ὥς φησιν Ἡράκλειτος.
(22) Diels S. 16, No. 1. (τοῦ δὲ) λόγου τοῦδ᾽ ἐόντος (ἀεὶ) ἀξύνετοι γίγνονται ἄνθρωποι καὶ πρόσθεν ἢ ἀκοῦσαι καὶ ἀκούσαντες τὸ πρῶτον.
(23) Diels S. 67, No. 8. τὸ ἀντίξουν συμφέρον καὶ ἐκ τῶν διαφερόντων καλλίστην ἁρμονίαν καὶ πάντα κατ᾽ ἔριν γίνεσθαι.
(24) Diels S. 68, No. 10. συνάψιες ὅλα καὶ οὐχ ὅλα, συμφερόμενον διαφερόμενον, συνᾷδον διᾷδον, καὶ ἐκ πάντων ἓν καὶ ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντα . . .
(25) Diels S. 66, No. 2. διὸ δεῖ ἕπεσθαι τῷ (ξυνῷ, τουτέστι τῷ) κοινῷ· . . . τοῦ λόγου δὲ ἐόντος ξυνοῦ ζώουσιν οἱ πολλοὶ ὡς ἰδίαν ἔχοντες φρόνησιν.
(26) Diels S. 52, No. 115. ψυχῆς ἐστι λόγος.
(27) Diels S. 82, No. 116. ἀνθρώποισι πᾶσι μέτεστι γινώσκειν ἑωυτοὺς καὶ φρονεῖν.
(28) Diels S. 81, No. 112. τὸ σωφρονεῖν ἀρετὴ μεγίστη, καὶ σοφίη ἀληθέα λέγειν καὶ ποιεῖν κατὰ φύσιν ἐπαίοντας.
(29) Diels S. 77, No. 72. ᾧ μάλιστα διηνεκῶς ὁμιλοῦσι λόγῳ τῷ τὰ ὅλα διοικοῦντι, τούτῳ διὰ­φέρονται, καὶ οἷς καθ΄ ἡμέραν ἐγκυροῦσι, ταῦτα αὐτοῖς ξένα φαίνεται.
(30) Diels S. 82, No. 114. τρέφονται γὰρ πάντες οἱ ἀνθρώπειοι νόμοι ὑπὸ ἑνὸς τοῦ θείου.

1 comment:

  1. You have two posts on Wednesday both with the same "Part" #. They are both labelled #14. It was hard trying to copy them to disc. Maybe, you'd want to clear that up. Is there 15 different posts in this series?