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, December 12, 2010

Natural Law in Cicero's De legibus, Part 2

CICERO FINDS THE ULTIMATE SOURCE OF LAW in a divine, not human, source. It is for this reason that law, in its most fundamental sense, is immutable. Cicero builds his philosophical view on a premise of a divine kinship between man and God, and in a divine providence. He asks his friend Atticus, who is apparently a follower of Epicurus, to grant him the assumption that "all nature is ruled by the force or nature or reason or power or mind or will (nutu, ratione, potestate, mente, numine)--or whatever other word there is that will indicate more plainly what I mean--of the immortal gods." De leg.I.21. An assumption his friend willingly complies giving him. There is, then, a supposition by Cicero of some sort of order, specifically a sort of providential and relational order, one that comes from outside of the natural order itself but in which we participate, that Cicero gets his friend to concede. This Ciceronian assumption is, of course, contrary to the teachings of Epicurus, who insisted that the gods are unconcerned with the goings on of men.

Not only is there communication between the world of divinity and the world of humanity and the cosmos as a whole. For Cicero, between the world of men and the world of the divine there is a communion, a link of likeness. For Cicero, the link between the gods and men is their joint sharing of reason.

And, therefore, since nothing is better than reason, and it is found both in humans and in God, reason forms the first bond between human and God. And those who share reason also share right reason; and since that is law, we humans must be considered to be closely allied to gods by law. Furthermore, those who share law also share the procedures of justice . . . .

Est igitur, quoniam nihil est ratione melius, eaque est et in homine et in deo, prima homini cum deo rationis societas. Inter quos autem ratio, inter eosdem etiam recta ratio et communis est: quae cum sit lex, lege quoque consociati homines cum dis putandi sumus. Inter quos porro est communio legis, inter eos communio iuris est.

De leg.,I.23. Between God and man, there is a communion of reason, of virtue, of law, and of justice. We are, in fact, within a single city or state, in political--nay, familial association as it were, with the divine order. It is a marvelous fact that of all nature, "men should be part of the family and race of gods," homines deorum agnatione et gente teneantur. De leg.,I.23. This part of man which he shares with the divine realm is found in his soul. He shares his material nature with the world at large, and his physical nature in particular does he share with perishable, mutable world of the brute animals. But man's soul is spiritual. By a divine gift, a munus divinum, man participates in the divine in an excellent way, having a kinship of sorts with the incorruptible, immortal realm of the immortal gods. Man is "sown throughout the earth," sparsum in terras, as so many seeds. De Leg., I.24.

William Blake's Ancient of Days

According to Estrada,* this notion of Cicero is a blending of the Stoic notion of the logos spermatikos, the divine seed, and the notion of creation in Plato's Timaeus (41c):
Not disregarding the intense doctrinal and linguistic resonances of the cosmic theological conception of the Stoa and, definitely on the teachings of this school about the "logos spermatikos" spread over everything existing, it is impossible not to pay attention also the presence of features typical of Platonic elaboration on this issue . . . In this connection, the remarkable influence of [Plato's] Timaeus is of particular interest, as revealed by these Ciceronian theses in De lebigus, and the speculative drift that this contributes with Cicero's elaboration beyond the strict immanence and corporalism of the first Stoa.
Estrada, 16-17.

This kinship between God and man shows itself in a universal tendency in man, even in a sort of Platonic recollection or anamnesis, to want relationship with the spiritual world, to worship God, though it be in various forms and through a glass darkly:
And thus out of so many species there is no animal besides the human being that has any knowledge of God, and among humans themselves there is no tribe, either civilized or savage, which does not know that it must recognize a God, even though it may not know what kind of God it should recognize.

Itaque ex tot generibus nullum est animal praeter hominem quod habeat notitiam aliquam dei, ipsisque in hominibus nulla gens est neque tam mansueta neque tam fera, quae non, etiamsi ignoret qualem haberi deum deceat, tamen habendum sciat.
De leg.,I.24. Moreover, man shares virtue with the gods. It is their joint venture in perfection that also is indicative of their shared dignity:

Furthremore, virtue is the same in human and God, and it is found in nother species besides; and virtue is nothing else than nature perfected and taken to it highest level.

Iam vero virtus eadem in homine ac deo est, neque alio ullo in genere praeterea.Est autem virtus nihil aliud, nisi perfecta et ad summum perducta natura: est igitur homini cum deo similitudo.

De leg., I.25. The world of the gods communicates with the world of men, and indeed is manifest in the provident care with which God seems to have provided for man. There is a fit between the world and man's needs and wants, and goods the earth provides, and this fit is evidentiary of providence and proof that the world is not something random, but, rather, has an end or purpose. Moreover, God's solicitude for man, and our kinship with the divine realm, is evidenced by the fact that man walks upright.
For although she made all other animate creatures face the earth for grazing, she made the human alone upright and rouse him to look on the sky, as if on his family and his former home; and she shaped the appearance of his face so as to mold in it the character hidden within.

Nam cum ceteras animantes abiecisset ad pastum, solum hominem erexit et ad caeli quasi cognationis domiciliique pristini conspectum excitauit, tum speciem ita formauit oris, ut in ea penitus reconditos mores effingeret.
De leg., I.26. Atticus comments that this basis seems far removed from questions of human justice and human law. Yet Cicero assures Atticus of its fundamental importance:

But of all things which are a subject of philosophical debate, there is nothing more worthwhile than clearly to understand that we are born for justice, and that justice is established not by opinion but by nature.

Sed omnium quae in hominum doctorum disputatione uersantur, nihil est profecto praestabilius, quam plane intellegi, nos ad iustitiam esse natos, neque opinione sed natura constitutum esse ius.

De leg., I.28. Man was born for justice. Justice is established by nature, not by opinion. These are the fundamental truths of a natural law jurisprudence. Anyone that suggests that something other than justice ought to occupy man is a liar. Anyone who suggests that justice is nothing but convention utters falsehood.

*Plato's Timaeus 41c:
Now so much of them as it is proper to designate 'immortal,' the part we call divine which rules supreme in those who are fain to follow justice always and yourselves, that part I will deliver unto you when I have sown it and given it origin.

καὶ καθ᾽ ὅσον μὲν αὐτῶν ἀθανάτοις ὁμώνυμον εἶναι προσήκει, θεῖον λεγόμενον ἡγεμονοῦν τε ἐν αὐτοῖς τῶν ἀεὶ δίκῃ καὶ ὑμῖν ἐθελόντων ἕπεσθαι, σπείρας καὶ ὑπαρξάμενος.

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