The Theological Tractates and The Consolation of Philosophy
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
Part 5 out of 7
unum destiterit?" "Quonam modo?" "Vt in animalibus," inquit, "cum in unum
coeunt ac permanent anima corpusque, id animal uocatur; cum uero haec
unitas utriusque separatione dissoluitur, interire nec iam esse animal
liquet. Ipsum quoque corpus cum in una forma membrorum coniunctione
permanet, humana uisitur species; at si distributae segregataeque partes
corporis distraxerint unitatem, desinit esse quod fuerat. Eoque modo
percurrenti cetera procul dubio patebit subsistere unumquodque, dum unum
est, cum uero unum esse desinit, interire." "Consideranti," inquam, "mihi
plura minime aliud uidetur." "Estne igitur," inquit, "quod in quantum
naturaliter agat relicta subsistendi appetentia uenire ad interitum
corruptionemque desideret?" "Si animalia," inquam, "considerem quae habent
aliquam uolendi nolendique naturam, nihil inuenio quod nullis extra
cogentibus abiciant manendi intentionem et ad interitum sponte festinent.
Omne namque animal tueri salutem laborat, mortem uero perniciemque deuitat.
Sed quid de herbis arboribusque, quid de inanimatis omnino consentiam rebus
"Atqui non est quod de hoc quoque possis ambigere, cum herbas atque arbores
intuearis primum sibi conuenientibus innasci locis, ubi quantum earum
natura queat cito exarescere atque interire non possint. Nam aliae quidem
campis aliae montibus oriuntur, alias ferunt paludes, aliae saxis haerent,
aliarum fecundae sunt steriles harenae, quas si in alia quispiam loca
transferre conetur, arescant. Sed dat cuique natura quod conuenit et ne,
dum manere possunt, intereant, elaborat. Quid quod omnes uelut in terras
ore demerso trahunt alimenta radicibus ac per medullas robur corticemque
diffundunt? Quid quod mollissimum quidque, sicuti medulla est, interiore
semper sede reconditur, extra uero quadam ligni firmitate, ultimus autem
cortex aduersum caeli intemperiem quasi mali patiens defensor opponitur?
Iam uero quanta est naturae diligentia, ut cuncta semine multiplicato
propagentur! Quae omnia non modo ad tempus manendi uerum generatim quoque
quasi in perpetuum permanendi ueluti quasdam machinas esse quis nesciat? Ea
etiam quae inanimata esse creduntur nonne quod suum est quaeque simili
ratione desiderant? Cur enim flammas quidem sursum leuitas uehit, terras
uero deorsum pondus deprimit, nisi quod haec singulis loca motionesque
conueniunt? Porro autem quod cuique consentaneum est, id unumquodque
conseruat, sicuti ea quae sunt inimica corrumpunt. Iam uero quae dura sunt
ut lapides, adhaerent tenacissime partibus suis et ne facile dissoluantur
resistunt. Quae uero liquentia ut aer atque aqua, facile quidem
diuidentibus cedunt, sed cito in ea rursus a quibus sunt abscisa
relabuntur, ignis uero omnem refugit sectionem. Neque nunc nos de
uoluntariis animae cognoscentis motibus, sed de naturali intentione
tractamus, sicuti est quod acceptas escas sine cogitatione transigimus,
quod in somno spiritum ducimus nescientes; nam ne in animalibus quidem
manendi amor ex animae uoluntatibus, uerum ex naturae principiis uenit. Nam
saepe mortem cogentibus causis quam natura reformidat uoluntas amplectitur,
contraque illud quo solo mortalium rerum durat diuturnitas gignendi opus,
quod natura semper appetit, interdum coercet uoluntas. Adeo haec sui
caritas non ex animali motione sed ex naturali intentione procedit. Dedit
enim prouidentia creatis a se rebus hanc uel maximam manendi causam ut
quoad possunt naturaliter manere desiderent; quare nihil est quod ullo modo
queas dubitare cuncta quae sunt appetere naturaliter constantiam
permanendi, deuitare perniciem."
"Confiteor," inquam, "nunc me indubitato cernere quae dudum incerta
uidebantur." "Quod autem," inquit, "subsistere ac permanere petit, id unum
esse desiderat; hoc enim sublato ne esse quidem cuiquam permanebit." "Verum
est," inquam. "Omnia igitur," inquit, "unum desiderant." Consensi. "Sed
unum id ipsum monstrauimus esse quod bonum." "Ita quidem." "Cuncta igitur
bonum petunt, quod quidem ita describas licet: ipsum bonum esse quod
desideretur ab omnibus." "Nihil," inquam, "uerius excogitari potest. Nam
uel ad nihil unum cuncta referuntur et uno ueluti uertice destituta sine
rectore fluitabunt, aut si quid est ad quod uniuersa festinent, id erit
omnium summum bonorum." Et illa: "Nimium," inquit, "o alumne laetor, ipsam
enim mediae ueritatis notam mente fixisti. Sed in hoc patuit tibi quod
ignorare te paulo ante dicebas." "Quid?" inquam. "Quis esset," inquit,
"rerum omnium finis. Is est enim profecto, quod desideratur ab omnibus,
quod quia bonum esse collegimus, oportet rerum omnium finem bonum esse
"I consent," quoth I, "for all is grounded upon most firm reasons." "But
what account wilt thou make," quoth she, "to know what goodness itself
is?" "I will esteem it infinitely," quoth I, "because by this means I
shall come to know God also, who is nothing else but goodness." "I will
conclude this," quoth she, "most certainly, if those things be not
denied which I have already proved." "They shall not," quoth I. "Have we
not proved," quoth she, "that those things which are desired of many,
are not true and perfect goods, because they differ one from another
and, being separated, cannot cause complete and absolute goodness, which
is only found when they are united as it were into one form and
causality, that the same may be sufficiency, power, respect, fame, and
pleasure? And except they be all one and the same thing, that they have
nothing worth the desiring?" "It hath been proved," quoth I, "neither
can it be any way doubted of." "Those things, then, which, when they
differ, are not good and when they are one, become good, are they not
made good by obtaining unity?" "So methink," quoth I. "But dost thou
grant that all that is good is good by partaking goodness?" "It is so."
"Thou must grant then likewise that unity and goodness are the same. For
those things have the same substance, which naturally have not diverse
effects." "I cannot deny it," quoth I. "Knowest thou then," quoth she,
"that everything that is doth so long remain and subsist as it is one,
and perisheth and is dissolved so soon as it ceaseth to be one?" "How?"
"As in living creatures," quoth she, "so long as the body and soul
remain united, the living creature remaineth. But when this unity is
dissolved by their separation, it is manifest that it perisheth, and is
no longer a living creature. The body also itself, so long as it
remaineth in one form by the conjunction of the parts, appeareth the
likeness of a man. But if the members of the body, being separated and
sundered, have lost their unity, it is no longer the same. And in like
manner it will be manifest to him that will descend to other
particulars, that everything continueth so long as it is one, and
perisheth when it loseth unity." "Considering more particulars, I find
it to be no otherwise." "Is there anything," quoth she, "that in the
course of nature, leaving the desire of being, seeketh to come to
destruction and corruption?" "If," quoth I, "I consider living creatures
which have any nature to will and nill, I find nothing that without
extern compulsion forsake the intention to remain, and of their own
accord hasten to destruction. For every living creature laboureth to
preserve his health, and escheweth death and detriment. But what I
should think of herbs, and trees, and of all things without life, I am
"But there is no cause why thou shouldst doubt of this, if thou
considerest first that herbs and trees grow in places agreeable to their
nature, where, so much as their constitution permitteth, they cannot
soon wither and perish. For some grow in fields, other upon hills, some
in fenny, other in stony places, and the barren sands are fertile for
some, which if thou wouldst transplant into other places they die. But
nature giveth every one that which is fitting, and striveth to keep them
from decaying so long as they can remain. What should I tell thee, if
all of them, thrusting as it were their lips into the ground, draw
nourishment by their roots, and convey substance and bark by the inward
pith? What, that always the softest, as the pith, is placed within, and
is covered without by the strength of the wood, and last of all the bark
is exposed to the weather, as being best able to bear it off? And how
great is the diligence of nature that all things may continue by the
multiplication of seed; all which who knoweth not to be, as it were,
certain engines, not only to remain for a time, but successively in a
manner to endure for ever? Those things also which are thought to be
without all life, doth not every one in like manner desire that which
appertaineth to their own good? For why doth levity lift up flames, or
heaviness weigh down the earth, but because these places and motions are
convenient for them? And that which is agreeable to everything
conserveth it, as that which is opposite causeth corruption. Likewise
those things which are hard, as stones, stick most firmly to their
parts, and make great resistance to any dissolution. And liquid things,
as air and water, are indeed easily divided, but do easily also join
again. And fire flieth all division. Neither do we now treat of the
voluntary motions of the understanding soul, but only of natural
operations. Of which sort is, to digest that which we have eaten,
without thinking of it, to breathe in our sleep not thinking what we do.
For even in living creatures the love of life proceedeth not from the
will of the soul, but from the principles of nature. For the will many
times embraceth death upon urgent occasions, which nature abhorreth; and
contrariwise the act of generation, by which alone the continuance of
mortal things is maintained, is sometimes bridled by the will, though
nature doth always desire it. So true it is that this self-love
proceedeth not from any voluntary motion, but from natural intention.
For providence gave to her creatures this as the greatest cause of
continuance, that they naturally desire to continue so long as they may,
wherefore there is no cause why thou shouldst any way doubt that all
things which are desire naturally stability of remaining, and eschew
"I confess," quoth I, "that I now see undoubtedly that which before
seemed very doubtful." "Now that," quoth she, "which desireth to
continue and remain seeketh to have unity. For if this be taken away,
being itself cannot remain." "It is true," quoth I. "All things then,"
quoth she, "desire unity." I granted it to be so. "But we have showed
that unity is the same as goodness." "You have indeed." "All things then
desire goodness, which thou mayest define thus: Goodness is that which
is desired of all things." "There can be nothing imagined more true. For
either all things have reference to no one principle and, being
destitute as it were of one head, shall be in confusion without any
ruler: or if there be anything to which all things hasten, that must be
the chiefest of all goods." "I rejoice greatly O scholar," quoth she,
"for thou hast fixed in thy mind the very mark of verity. But in this
thou hast discovered that which a little before thou saidest thou wert
ignorant of." "What is that?" quoth I. "What the end of all things is,"
quoth she. "For certainly it is that which is desired of all things,
which since we have concluded to be goodness, we must also confess that
goodness is the end of all things.
Quisquis profunda mente uestigat uerum
Cupitque nullis ille deuiis falli,
In se reuoluat intimi lucem uisus
Longosque in orbem cogat inflectens motus
Animumque doceat quidquid extra molitur 5
Suis retrusum possidere thesauris.
Dudum quod atra texit erroris nubes
Lucebit ipso perspicacius Phoebo.
Non omne namque mente depulit lumen
Obliuiosam corpus inuehens molem. 10
Haeret profecto semen introrsum ueri
Quod excitatur uentilante doctrina.
Nam cur rogati sponte recta censetis,
Ni mersus alto uiueret fomes corde?
Quod si Platonis Musa personat uerum, 15
Quod quisque discit immemor recordatur."
He that would seek the truth with thoughts profound
And would not stray in ways that are not right,
He to himself must turn his inward sight,
And guide his motions in a circled round,
Teaching his mind that ever she design
Herself in her own treasures to possess:
So that which late lay hidden in cloudiness
More bright and clear than Phoebus' beams shall shine.
Flesh hath not quenched all the spirit's light,
Though this oblivion's lump holds her opprest.
Some seed of truth remaineth in our breast,
Which skilful learning eas'ly doth excite.
For being askt how can we answer true
Unless that grace within our hearts did dwell?
If Plato's heavenly muse the truth us tell,
We learning things remember them anew."
 For Plato's doctrine of Reminiscence cf. _Meno_ 81-86, and
Tum ego: "Platoni," inquam, "uehementer assentior, nam me horum iam secundo
commemoras, primum quod memoriam corporea contagione, dehinc cum maeroris
mole pressus amisi." Tum illa: "Si priora," inquit, "concessa respicias, ne
illud quidem longius aberit quin recorderis quod te dudum nescire confessus
es." "Quid?" inquam. "Quibus," ait illa, "gubernaculis mundus regatur."
"Memini," inquam, "me inscitiam meam fuisse confessum, sed quid afferas,
licet iam prospiciam, planius tamen ex te audire desidero." "Mundum,"
inquit, "hunc deo regi paulo ante minime dubitandum putabas." "Ne nunc
quidem arbitror," inquam, "nec umquam dubitandum putabo quibusque in hoc
rationibus accedam breuiter exponam. Mundus hic ex tam diuersis
contrariisque partibus in unam formam minime conuenisset, nisi unus esset
qui tam diuersa coniungeret. Coniuncta uero naturarum ipsa diuersitas
inuicem discors dissociaret atque diuelleret, nisi unus esset qui quod
nexuit contineret. Non tam uero certus naturae ordo procederet nec tam
dispositos motus locis, temporibus, efficientia, spatiis, qualitatibus
explicarent, nisi unus esset qui has mutationum uarietates manens ipse
disponeret. Hoc quidquid est quo condita manent atque agitantur, usitato
cunctis uocabulo deum nomino."
Tum illa: "Cum haec," inquit, "ita sentias, paruam mihi restare operam puto
ut felicitatis compos patriam sospes reuisas. Sed quae proposuimus
intueamur. Nonne in beatitudine sufficientiam numerauimus deumque
beatitudinem ipsam esse consensimus?" "Ita quidem." "Et ad mundum igitur,"
inquit, "regendum nullis extrinsecus adminiculis indigebit; alioquin si quo
egeat, plenam sufficientiam non habebit." "Id," inquam, "ita est
necessarium." "Per se igitur solum cuncta disponit." "Negari," inquam,
"nequit." "Atqui deus ipsum bonum esse monstratus est." "Memini," inquam.
"Per bonum igitur cuncta disponit, si quidem per se regit omnia quem bonum
esse consensimus et hic est ueluti quidam clauus atque gubernaculum quo
mundana machina stabilis atque incorrupta seruatur." "Vehementer
assentior," inquam, "et id te paulo ante dicturam tenui licet suspicione
prospexi." "Credo;" inquit, "iam enim ut arbitror uigilantius ad cernenda
uera oculos deducis. Sed quod dicam non minus ad contuendum patet." "Quid?"
inquam. "Cum deus," inquit, "omnia bonitatis clauo gubernare iure credatur
eademque omnia sicuti docui ad bonum naturali intentione festinent, num
dubitari potest quin uoluntaria regantur seque ad disponentis nutum ueluti
conuenientia contemperataque rectori sponte conuertant?" "Ita," inquam,
"necesse est; nec beatum regimen esse uideretur, si quidem detrectantium
iugum foret, non obtemperantium salus." "Nihil est igitur quod naturam
seruans deo contraire conetur." "Nihil," inquam. "Quod si conetur," ait,
"num tandem proficiet quidquam aduersus eum quem iure beatitudinis
potentissimum esse concessimus?" "Prorsus," inquam, "nihil ualeret." "Non
est igitur aliquid quod summo huic bono uel uelit uel possit obsistere."
"Non," inquam, "arbitror." "Est igitur summum," inquit, "bonum quod regit
cuncta fortiter suauiterque disponit." Tum ego: "Quam," inquam, "me non
modo ea quae conclusa est summa rationum, uerum multo magis haec ipsa
quibus uteris uerba delectant, ut tandem aliquando stultitiam magna
lacerantem sui pudeat."
"Accepisti," inquit, "in fabulis lacessentes caelum Gigantas; sed illos
quoque, uti condignum fuit, benigna fortitudo disposuit. Sed uisne rationes
ipsas inuicem collidamus? Forsitan ex huiusmodi conflictatione pulchra
quaedam ueritatis scintilla dissiliat." "Tuo," inquam, "arbitratu." "Deum,"
inquit, "esse omnium potentem nemo dubitauerit." "Qui quidem," inquam,
"mente consistat, nullus prorsus ambigat." "Qui uero est," inquit, "omnium
potens, nihil est quod ille non possit." "Nihil," inquam. "Num igitur deus
facere malum potest?" "Minime," inquam. "Malum igitur," inquit, "nihil est,
cum id facere ille non possit, qui nihil non potest." "Ludisne," inquam,
"me inextricabilem labyrinthum rationibus texens, quae nunc quidem qua
egrediaris introeas, nunc uero quo introieris egrediare, an mirabilem
quendam diuinae simplicitatis orbem complicas? Etenim paulo ante
beatitudine incipiens eam summum bonum esse dicebas quam in summo deo sitam
loquebare. Ipsum quoque deum summum esse bonum plenamque beatitudinem
disserebas; ex quo neminem beatum fore nisi qui pariter deus esset quasi
munusculum dabas. Rursus ipsam boni formam dei ac beatitudinis loquebaris
esse substantiam ipsumque unum id ipsum esse bonum docebas quod ab omni
rerum natura peteretur. Deum quoque bonitatis gubernaculis uniuersitatem
regere disputabas uolentiaque cuncta parere nec ullam mali esse naturam.
Atque haec nullis extrinsecus sumptis sed ex altero altero fidem trahente
insitis domesticisque probationibus explicabas."
Tum illa: "Minime," inquit, "ludimus remque omnium maximam dei munere quem
dudum deprecabamur exegimus. Ea est enim diuinae forma substantiae ut neque
in externa dilabatur nec in se externum aliquid ipsa suscipiat, sed, sicut
de ea Parmenides ait:
[Greek: Pantothen eukuklou sphairaes enalinkion onkoi],
rerum orbem mobilem rotat, dum se immobilem ipsa conseruat. Quod si
rationes quoque non extra petitas sed intra rei quam tractabamus ambitum
collocatas agitauimus, nihil est quod admirere, cum Platone sanciente
didiceris cognatos de quibus loquuntur rebus oportere esse sermones.
Then I said that I did very well like of Plato's doctrine, for thou dost
bring these things to my remembrance now the second time, first, because
I lost their memory by the contagion of my body, and after when I was
oppressed with the burden of grief. "If," quoth she, "thou reflectest
upon that which heretofore hath been granted, thou wilt not be far from
remembering that which in the beginning thou confessedst thyself to be
ignorant of." "What?" quoth I. "By what government," quoth she, "the
world is ruled." "I remember," quoth I, "that I did confess my
ignorance, but though I foresee what thou wilt say, yet I desire to hear
it more plainly from thyself." "Thou thoughtest a little before that it
was not to be doubted that this world is governed by God." "Neither do I
think now," quoth I, "neither will I ever think, that it is to be
doubted of, and I will briefly explicate the reasons which move me to
think so. This world could never have been compacted of so many divers
and contrary parts, unless there were One that doth unite these so
different things; and this disagreeing diversity of natures being united
would separate and divide this concord, unless there were One that
holdeth together that which He united. Neither would the course of
nature continue so certain, nor would the different parts hold so well-
ordered motions in due places, times, causality, spaces and qualities,
unless there were One who, Himself remaining quiet, disposeth and
ordereth this variety of motions. This, whatsoever it be, by which
things created continue and are moved, I call God, a name which all men
"Since," quoth she, "thou art of this mind, I think with little labour
thou mayest be capable of felicity, and return to thy country in safety.
But let us consider what we proposed. Have we not placed sufficiency in
happiness, and granted that God is blessedness itself?" "Yes truly."
"Wherefore," quoth she, "He will need no outward helps to govern the
world, otherwise, if He needed anything, He had not full sufficiency."
"That," quoth I, "must necessarily be so." "Wherefore He disposeth all
things by Himself." "No doubt He doth," quoth I. "But it hath been
proved that God is goodness itself." "I remember it very well," quoth I.
"Then He disposeth all things by goodness: since He governeth all things
by Himself, whom we have granted to be goodness. And this is as it were
the helm and rudder by which the frame of the world is kept steadfast
and uncorrupted." "I most willingly agree," quoth I, "and I foresaw a
little before, though only with a slender guess, that thou wouldst
conclude this." "I believe thee," quoth she, "for now I suppose thou
lookest more watchfully about thee to discern the truth. But that which
I shall say is no less manifest." "What?" quoth I. "Since that God is
deservedly thought to govern all things with the helm of goodness, and
all these things likewise, as I have showed, hasten to goodness with
their natural contention, can there be any doubt made but that they are
governed willingly, and that they frame themselves of their own accord
to their disposer's beck, as agreeable and conformable to their ruler?"
"It must needs be so," quoth I, "neither would it seem an happy
government, if it were an imposed yoke, not a desired health." "There is
nothing then which, following nature, endeavoureth to resist God."
"Nothing," quoth I. "What if anything doth endeavour," quoth she, "can
anything prevail against Him, whom we have granted to be most powerful
by reason of His blessedness?" "No doubt," quoth I, "nothing could
prevail." "Wherefore there is nothing which either will or can resist
this sovereign goodness." "I think not," quoth I. "It is then the
sovereign goodness which governeth all things strongly, and disposeth
them sweetly." "How much," quoth I, "doth not only the reason which thou
allegest, but much more the very words which thou usest, delight me,
that folly which so much vexed me may at length be ashamed of herself."
"Thou hast heard in the poets' fables," quoth she, "how the giants
provoked heaven, but this benign fortitude put them also down, as they
deserved. But wilt thou have our arguments contend together? Perhaps by
this clash there will fly out some beautiful spark of truth." "As it
pleaseth thee," quoth I. "No man can doubt," quoth she, "but that God is
almighty." "No man," quoth I, "that is well in his wits." "But," quoth
she, "there is nothing that He who is almighty cannot do." "Nothing,"
quoth I. "Can God do evil?" "No," quoth I, "Wherefore," quoth she, "evil
is nothing, since He cannot do it who can do anything." "Dost thou mock
me," quoth I, "making with thy reasons an inextricable labyrinth,
because thou dost now go in where thou meanest to go out again, and
after go out, where thou camest in, or dost thou frame a wonderful
circle of the simplicity of God? For a little before taking thy
beginning from blessedness, thou affirmedst that to be the chiefest good
which thou saidst was placed in God, and likewise thou provedst, that
God Himself is the chiefest good and full happiness, out of which thou
madest me a present of that inference, that no man shall be happy unless
he be also a God. Again thou toldest me that the form of goodness is the
substance of God and of blessedness, and that unity is the same with
goodness, because it is desired by the nature of all things; thou didst
also dispute that God governeth the whole world with the helm of
goodness, and that all things obey willingly, and that there is no
nature of evil, and thou didst explicate all these things with no
foreign or far-fetched proofs, but with those which were proper and
drawn from inward principles, the one confirming the other."
"We neither play nor mock," quoth she, "and we have finished the
greatest matter that can be by the assistance of God, whose aid we
implored in the beginning. For such is the form of the Divine substance
that it is neither divided into outward things, nor receiveth any such
into itself, but as Parmenides saith of it:
In body like a sphere well-rounded on all sides,
it doth roll about the moving orb of things, while it keepeth itself
unmovable. And if we have used no far-fetched reasons, but such as were
placed within the compass of the matter we handled, thou hast no cause
to marvel, since thou hast learned in Plato's school that our speeches
must be like and as it were akin to the things we speak of.
 _Vide supra, Tr._ iv. (pp. 56 ff.).
 Cf. _Frag._ 8. 43 (Diels, _Vorsokratiker_, i. p. 158).
Felix qui potuit boni
Fontem uisere lucidum,
Felix qui potuit grauis
Terrae soluere uincula.
Quondam funera coniugis 5
Vates Threicius gemens
Postquam flebilibus modis
Siluas currere mobiles,
Amnes stare coegerat,
Iunxitque intrepidum latus 10
Saeuis cerua leonibus,
Nec uisum timuit lepus
Iam cantu placidum canem,
Cum flagrantior intima
Feruor pectoris ureret, 15
Nec qui cuncta subegerant
Mulcerent dominum modi,
Inmites superos querens
Infernas adiit domos.
Illic blanda sonantibus 20
Chordis carmina temperans
Quidquid praecipuis deae
Matris fontibus hauserat,
Quod luctus dabat impotens,
Quod luctum geminans amor, 25
Deflet Taenara commouens
Et dulci ueniam prece
Vmbrarum dominos rogat.
Stupet tergeminus nouo
Captus carmine ianitor, 30
Quae sontes agitant metu
Vltrices scelerum deae
Iam maestae lacrimis madent.
Non Ixionium caput
Velox praecipitat rota 35
Et longa site perditus
Spernit flumina Tantalus.
Vultur dum satur est modis,
Non traxit Tityi iecur.
Tandem, 'Vincimur,' arbiter 40
Vmbrarum miserans ait,
'Donamus comitem uiro
Emptam carmine coniugem.
Sed lex dona coerceat,
Ne, dum Tartara liquerit, 45
Fas sit lumina flectere.'
Quis legem det amantibus?
Maior lex amor est sibi.
Heu, noctis prope terminos
Orpheus Eurydicen suam 50
Vidit, perdidit, occidit.
Vos haec fabula respicit
Quicumque in superum diem
Mentem ducere quaeritis.
Nam qui Tartareum in specus 55
Victus lumina flexerit,
Quidquid praecipuum trahit
Perdit, dum uidet inferos."
Happy is he that can behold
The well-spring whence all good doth rise,
Happy is he that can unfold
The bands with which the earth him ties.
The Thracian poet whose sweet song
Performed his wife's sad obsequies,
And forced the woods to run along
When he his mournful tunes did play,
Whose powerful music was so strong
That it could make the rivers stay;
The fearful hinds not daunted were,
But with the lions took their way,
Nor did the hare behold with fear
The dog whom these sweet notes appease.
When force of grief drew yet more near,
And on his heart did burning seize,
Nor tunes which all in quiet bound
Could any jot their master ease,
The gods above too hard he found,
And Pluto's palace visiting.
He mixed sweet verses with the sound
Of his loud harp's delightful string,
All that he drank with thirsty draught
From his high mother's chiefest spring,
All that his restless grief him taught,
And love which gives grief double aid,
With this even hell itself was caught,
Whither he went, and pardon prayed
For his dear spouse (unheard request).
The three-head porter was dismayed,
Ravished with his unwonted guest,
The Furies, which in tortures keep
The guilty souls with pains opprest,
Moved with his song began to weep.
Ixion's wheel now standing still
Turns not his head with motions steep.
Though Tantalus might drink at will,
To quench his thirst he would forbear.
The vulture full with music shrill
Doth not poor Tityus' liver tear.
'We by his verses conquered are,'
Saith the great King whom spirits fear.
'Let us not then from him debar
His wife whom he with songs doth gain.
Yet lest our gift should stretch too far,
We will it with this law restrain,
That when from hell he takes his flight,
He shall from looking back refrain.'
Who can for lovers laws indite?
Love hath no law but her own will.
Orpheus, seeing on the verge of night
Eurydice, doth lose and kill
Her and himself with foolish love.
But you this feigned tale fulfil,
Who think unto the day above
To bring with speed your darksome mind.
For if, your eye conquered, you move
Backward to Pluto left behind,
All the rich prey which thence you took,
You lose while back to hell you look."
ANICII MANLII SEVERINI BOETHII
V.C. ET INL. EXCONS. ORD. PATRICII
LIBER TERTIVS EXPLICIT
INCIPIT LIBER IV
Haec cum Philosophia dignitate uultus et oris grauitate seruata leniter
suauiterque cecinisset, tum ego nondum penitus insiti maeroris oblitus
intentionem dicere adhuc aliquid parantis abrupi. Et: "O," inquam, "ueri
praeuia luminis quae usque adhuc tua fudit oratio, cum sui speculatione
diuina tum tuis rationibus inuicta patuerunt, eaque mihi etsi ob iniuriae
dolorem nuper oblita non tamen antehac prorsus ignorata dixisti. Sed ea
ipsa est uel maxima nostri causa maeroris, quod, cum rerum bonus rector
exsistat, uel esse omnino mala possint uel impunita praetereant; quod solum
quanta dignum sit admiratione profecto consideras. At huic aliud maius
adiungitur. Nam imperante florenteque nequitia uirtus non solum praemiis
caret, uerum etiam sceleratorum pedibus subiecta calcatur et in locum
facinorum supplicia luit. Quae fieri in regno scientis omnia, potentis
omnia sed bona tantummodo uolentis dei nemo satis potest nec admirari nec
Tum illa: "Et esset," inquit, "infiniti stuporis omnibusque horribilius
monstris, si, uti tu aestimas, in tanti uelut patrisfamilias dispositissima
domo uilia uasa colerentur, pretiosa sordescerent. Sed non ita est. Nam si
ea quae paulo ante conclusa sunt inconuulsa seruantur, ipso de cuius nunc
regno loquimur auctore cognosces semper quidem potentes esse bonos, malos
uero abiectos semper atque inbecillos nec sine poena umquam esse uitia nec
sine praemio uirtutes, bonis felicia, malis semper infortunata contingere
multaque id genus quae sopitis querelis firma te soliditate corroborent. Et
quoniam uerae formam beatitudinis me dudum monstrante uidisti, quo etiam
sita sit agnouisti, decursis omnibus quae praemittere necessarium puto,
uiam tibi quae te domum reuehat ostendam. Pennas etiam tuae menti quibus se
in altum tollere possit adfigam, ut perturbatione depulsa sospes in patriam
meo ductu, mea semita, meis etiam uehiculis reuertaris.
THE FOURTH BOOK OF BOETHIUS
When Philosophy had sung these verses with a soft and sweet voice,
observing due dignity and gravity in her countenance and gesture, I, not
having altogether forgotten my inward grief, interrupted her speech
which she was about to continue, and said: "O thou who bringest us to
see true light, those things which hitherto thou hast treated of have
manifestly appeared both to be divine when contemplated apart, and
invincible when supported by thy reasons, and what thou hast uttered,
though the force of grief had made me forget it of late, yet heretofore
I was not altogether ignorant of it. But this is the chiefest cause of
my sorrow, that since the governor of all things is so good, there can
either be any evil at all, or that it pass unpunished. Which alone I
beseech thee consider, how much admiration it deserveth. But there is
another greater than this; for wickedness bearing rule and sway, virtue
is not only without reward, but lieth also trodden under the wicked's
feet, and is punished instead of vice. That which things should be done
in the kingdom of God, who knoweth all things, can do all things, but
will do only that which is good, no man can sufficiently admire nor
To which she answered: "It were indeed infinitely strange, and
surpassing all monsters, if, as thou conceivest, in the best-ordered
house of so great an householder the vilest vessels were made account of
and the precious neglected; but it is not so. For if those things which
were a little before concluded be kept unviolated, thou shalt by His
help, of whose kingdom we speak, know that the good are always powerful,
and the evil always abject and weak, and that vices are never without
punishment, nor virtue without reward, and that the good are always
prosperous, and the evil unfortunate, and many things of that sort,
which will take away all cause of complaint, and give thee firm and
solid strength. And since by my means thou hast already seen the form of
true blessedness, and known where it is placed, running over all those
things which I think necessary to rehearse, I will show thee the way
which will carry thee home. And I will also fasten wings upon thy mind,
with which she may rouse herself, that, all perturbation being driven
away, thou mayest return safely into thy country by my direction, by my
path, and with my wings.
Sunt etenim pennae uolucres mihi
Quae celsa conscendant poli.
Quas sibi cum uelox mens induit,
Terras perosa despicit,
Aeris inmensi superat globum, 5
Nubesque postergum uidet,
Quique agili motu calet aetheris,
Transcendit ignis uerticem,
Donec in astriferas surgat domos
Phoeboque coniungat uias 10
Aut comitetur iter gelidi senis
Miles corusci sideris,
Vel quocumque micans nox pingitur,
Recurrat astri circulum
Atque ubi iam exhausti fuerit satis, 15
Polum relinquat extimum
Dorsaque uelocis premat aetheris
Compos uerendi luminis.
Hic regum sceptrum dominus tenet
Orbisque habenas temperat 20
Et uolucrem currum stabilis regit
Rerum coruscus arbiter.
Huc te si reducem referat uia,
Quam nunc requiris immemor:
'Haec,' dices, 'memini, patria est mihi, 25
Hinc ortus; hic sistam gradum."
Quod si terrarum placeat tibi
Noctem relictam uisere,
Quos miseri toruos populi timent
Cernes tyrannos exules." 30
For I have swift and nimble wings which will ascend the lofty skies,
With which when thy quick mind is clad, it will the loathed earth
And go beyond the airy globe, and watery clouds behind thee leave,
Passing the fire which scorching heat doth from the heavens' swift
Until it reach the starry house, and get to tread bright Phoebus' ways,
Following the chilly sire's path, companion of his flashing rays,
And trace the circle of the stars which in the night to us appear,
And having stayed there long enough go on beyond the farthest sphere,
Sitting upon the highest orb partaker of the glorious light,
Where the great King his sceptre holds, and the world's reins doth guide
And, firm in his swift chariot, doth everything in order set.
Unto this seat when thou art brought, thy country, which thou didst
Thou then wilt challenge to thyself, saying: 'This is the glorious land
Where I was born, and in this soil my feet for evermore shall stand.
Whence if thou pleasest to behold the earthly night which thou hast
Those tyrants which the people fear will seem of their true home
 Cf. "frigida Saturni sese quo Stella receptet," Virg. _Georg._ i.
Tum ego: "Papae," inquam, "ut magna promittis! Nec dubito quin possis
efficere; tu modo quem excitaueris ne moreris." "Primum igitur," inquit,
"bonis semper adesse potentiam, malos cunctis uiribus esse desertos
agnoscas licebit, quorum quidem alterum demonstratur ex altero. Nam cum
bonum malumque contraria sint, si bonum potens esse constiterit, liquet
inbecillitas mali; at si fragilitas clarescat mali, boni firmitas nota est.
Sed uti nostrae sententiae fides abundantior sit, alterutro calle procedam
nunc hinc nunc inde proposita confirmans.
Duo sunt quibus omnis humanorum actuum constat effectus, uoluntas scilicet
ac potestas, quorum si alterutrum desit, nihil est quod explicari queat.
Deficiente etenim uoluntate ne aggreditur quidem quisque quod non uult; at
si potestas absit, uoluntas frustra sit. Quo fit ut si quem uideas adipisci
uelle quod minime adipiscatur, huic obtinendi quod uoluerit defuisse
ualentiam dubitare non possis." "Perspicuum est," inquam, "nec ullo modo
negari potest." "Quem uero effecisse quod uoluerit uideas, num etiam
potuisse dubitabis?" "Minime." "Quod uero quisque potest, in eo ualidus,
quod uero non potest, in hoc imbecillis esse censendus est." "Fateor,"
inquam. "Meministine igitur," inquit, "superioribus rationibus esse
collectum intentionem omnem uoluntatis humanae quae diuersis studiis agitur
ad beatitudinem festinare?" "Memini," inquam, "illud quoque esse
demonstratum." "Num recordaris beatitudinem ipsum esse bonum eoque modo,
cum beatitudo petitur, ab omnibus desiderari bonum?" "Minime," inquam,
"recordor, quoniam id memoriae fixum teneo." "Omnes igitur homines boni
pariter ac mali indiscreta intentione ad bonum peruenire nituntur?" "Ita,"
inquam, "consequens est." "Sed certum est adeptione boni bonos fieri."
"Certum." "Adipiscuntur igitur boni quod appetunt?" "Sic uidetur." "Mali
uero si adipiscerentur quod appetunt bonum, mali esse non possent." "Ita
est." "Cum igitur utrique bonum petant, sed hi quidem adipiscantur, illi
uero minime, num dubium est bonos quidem potentes esse, qui uero mali sunt
imbecillos?" "Quisquis," inquam, "dubitat, nec rerum naturam nec
consequentiam potest considerare rationum." "Rursus," inquit, "si duo sint
quibus idem secundum naturam propositum sit eorumque unus naturali officio
id ipsum agat atque perficiat, alter uero naturale illud officium minime
administrare queat, alio uero modo quam naturae conuenit non quidem impleat
propositum suum sed imitetur implentem, quemnam horum ualentiorem esse
decernis?" "Etsi coniecto," inquam, "quid uelis, planius tamen audire
desidero." "Ambulandi," inquit, "motum secundum naturam esse hominibus num
negabis?" "Minime," inquam. "Eiusque rei pedum officium esse naturale num
dubitas?" "Ne hoc quidem," inquam. "Si quis igitur pedibus incedere ualens
ambulet aliusque cui hoc naturale pedum desit officium, manibus nitens
ambulare conetur, quis horum iure ualentior existimari potest?" "Contexe,"
inquam, "cetera; nam quin naturalis officii potens eo qui idem nequeat
ualentior sit, nullus ambigat." "Sed summum bonum, quod aeque malis
bonisque propositum, boni quidem naturali officio uirtutum petunt, mali
uero uariam per cupiditatem, quod adipiscendi boni naturale officium non
est, idem ipsum conantur adipisci. An tu aliter existimas?" "Minime,"
inquam, "nam etiam quod est consequens patet. Ex his enim quae concesserim,
bonos quidem potentes, malos uero esse necesse est imbecillos."
"Recte," inquit, "praecurris idque, uti medici sperare solent, indicium est
erectae iam resistentisque naturae. Sed quoniam te ad intellegendum
promptissimum esse conspicio, crebras coaceruabo rationes. Vide enim quanta
uitiosorum hominum pateat infirmitas qui ne ad hoc quidem peruenire queunt
ad quod eos naturalis ducit ac paene compellit intentio. Et quid si hoc tam
magno ac paene inuicto praeeuntis naturae desererentur auxilio? Considera
uero quanta sceleratos homines habeat impotentia. Neque enim leuia aut
ludicra praemia petunt, quae consequi atque obtinere non possunt, sed circa
ipsam rerum summam uerticemque deficiunt nec in eo miseris contingit
effectus quod solum dies noctesque moliuntur; in qua re bonorum uires
eminent. Sicut enim eum qui pedibus incedens ad eum locum usque peruenire
potuisset, quo nihil ulterius peruium iaceret incessui, ambulandi
potentissimum esse censeres, ita eum qui expetendorum finem quo nihil ultra
est apprehendit, potentissimum necesse est iudices. Ex quo fit quod huic
obiacet, ut idem scelesti, idem uiribus omnibus uideantur esse deserti. Cur
enim relicta uirtute uitia sectantur? Inscitiane bonorum? Sed quid
eneruatius ignorantiae caecitate? An sectanda nouerunt? Sed transuersos eos
libido praecipitat. Sic quoque intemperantia fragiles qui obluctari uitio
nequeunt. An scientes uolentesque bonum deserunt, ad uitia deflectunt? Sed
hoc modo non solum potentes esse sed omnino esse desinunt. Nam qui communem
omnium quae sunt finem relinquunt, pariter quoque esse desistunt. Quod
quidem cuipiam mirum forte uideatur, ut malos, qui plures hominum sunt,
eosdem non esse dicamus; sed ita sese res habet. Nam qui mali sunt eos
malos esse non abnuo; sed eosdem esse pure atque simpliciter nego.
Nam uti cadauer hominem mortuum dixeris, simpliciter uero hominem appellare
non possis, ita uitiosos malos quidem esse concesserim, sed esse absolute
nequeam confiteri. Est enim quod ordinem retinet seruatque naturam; quod
uero ab hac deficit, esse etiam quod in sua natura situm est derelinquit.
'Sed possunt,' inquies, 'mali.' Ne ego quidem negauerim, sed haec eorum
potentia non a uiribus sed ab imbecillitate descendit. Possunt enim mala
quae minime ualerent, si in bonorum efficientia manere potuissent. Quae
possibilitas eos euidentius nihil posse demonstrat. Nam si, uti paulo ante
collegimus, malum nihil est, cum mala tantummodo possint, nihil posse
improbos liquet." "Perspicuum est." "Atque ut intellegas quaenam sit huius
potentiae uis, summo bono nihil potentius esse paulo ante definiuimus."
"Ita est," inquam. "Sed idem," inquit, "facere malum nequit." "Minime."
"Est igitur," inquit, "aliquis qui omnia posse homines putet?" "Nisi quis
insaniat, nemo." "Atqui idem possunt mala." "Vtinam quidem," inquam, "non
possent." "Cum igitur bonorum tantummodo potens possit omnia, non uero
queant omnia potentes etiam malorum, eosdem qui mala possunt minus posse
manifestum est. Huc accedit quod omnem potentiam inter expetenda numerandam
omniaque expetenda referri ad bonum uelut ad quoddam naturae suae cacumen
ostendimus. Sed patrandi sceleris possibilitas referri ad bonum non potest;
expetenda igitur non est. Atqui omnis potentia expetenda est; liquet igitur
malorum possibilitatem non esse potentiam. Ex quibus omnibus bonorum quidem
potentia, malorum uero minime dubitabilis apparet infirmitas ueramque illam
Platonis esse sententiam liquet solos quod desiderent facere posse
sapientes, improbos uero exercere quidem quod libeat, quod uero desiderent
explere non posse. Faciunt enim quaelibet, dum per ea quibus delectantur id
bonum quod desiderant se adepturos putant; sed minime adipiscuntur, quoniam
ad beatitudinem probra non ueniunt.
"Oh!" quoth I. "How great things dost thou promise! And I doubt not but
thou canst perform them, wherefore stay me not now that thou hast
stirred up my desires." "First then," quoth she, "that good men are
always powerful, and evil men of no strength, thou mayest easily know,
the one is proved by the other. For since that good and evil are
contraries, if it be convinced that goodness is potent, the weakness of
evil will be also manifest; and contrariwise if we discern the frailty
of evil, we must needs acknowledge the firmness of goodness. But that
our opinions may be more certainly embraced, I will take both ways,
confirming my propositions, sometime from one part, sometime from
There be two things by which all human actions are effected, will and
power, of which if either be wanting, there can nothing be performed.
For if there want will, no man taketh anything in hand against his will,
and if there be not power, the will is in vain. So that, if thou seest
any willing to obtain that which he doth not obtain, thou canst not
doubt but that he wanted power to obtain what he would." "It is
manifest," quoth I, "and can by no means be denied." "And wilt thou
doubt that he could, whom thou seest bring to pass what he desired?"
"No." "But every man is mighty in that which he can do, and weak in that
which he cannot do." "I confess it," quoth I. "Dost thou remember then,"
quoth she, "that it was inferred by our former discourses that all the
intentions of man's will doth hasten to happiness, though their courses
be divers?" "I remember," quoth I, "that that also was proved." "Dost
thou also call to mind that blessedness is goodness itself, and
consequently when blessedness is sought after, goodness must of course
be desired?" "I call it not to mind, for I have it already fixed in my
memory." "Wherefore all men both good and bad without difference of
intentions endeavour to obtain goodness." "It followeth," quoth I. "But
it is certain that men are made good by the obtaining of goodness." "It
is so." "Wherefore good men obtain what they desire." "So it seemeth."
"And if evil men did obtain the goodness they desire, they could not be
evil." "It is true." "Wherefore since they both desire goodness, but the
one obtaineth it and the other not, there is no doubt but that good men
are powerful, and the evil weak." "Whosoever doubteth of this," quoth I,
"he neither considereth the nature of things, nor the consequence of thy
reasons." "Again," quoth she, "if there be two to whom the same thing is
proposed according to nature, and the one of them bringeth it perfectly
to pass with his natural function, but the other cannot exercise that
natural function but after another manner than is agreeable to nature,
and doth not perform that which he had proposed, but imitateth the other
who performeth it: which of these two wilt thou judge to be more
powerful?" "Though I conjecture," quoth I, "at thy meaning, yet I desire
to hear it more plainly." "Wilt thou deny," quoth she, "that the motion
of walking is agreeable to the nature of men?" "No," quoth I. "And
makest thou any doubt that the function of it doth naturally belong to
the feet?" "There is no doubt of this neither," quoth I. "Wherefore if
one that can go upon his feet doth walk, and another who hath not this
natural function of his feet endeavoureth to walk by creeping upon his
hands, which of these two is deservedly to be esteemed the stronger?"
"Infer the rest," quoth I, "for no man doubteth but that he which can
use that natural function is stronger than he which cannot." "But,"
quoth she, "the good seek to obtain the chiefest good, which is equally
proposed to bad and good, by the natural function of virtues, but the
evil endeavour to obtain the same by divers concupiscences, which are
not the natural function of obtaining goodness. Thinkest thou
otherwise?" "No," quoth I, "for it is manifest what followeth. For by
the force of that which I have already granted, it is necessary that
good men are powerful and evil men weak."
"Thou runnest before rightly," quoth she, "and it is (as physicians are
wont to hope) a token of an erected and resisting nature. Wherefore,
since I see thee most apt and willing to comprehend, I will therefore
heap up many reasons together. For consider the great weakness of
vicious men, who cannot come so far as their natural intention leadeth
and almost compelleth them. And what if they were destitute of this so
great and almost invincible help of the direction of nature? Ponder
likewise the immense impotency of wicked men. For they are no light or
trifling rewards which they desire, and cannot obtain: but they
fail in the very sum and top of things: neither can the poor wretches
compass that which they only labour for nights and days: in which thing
the forces of the good eminently appear. For as thou wouldst judge him
to be most able to walk who going on foot could come as far as there
were any place to go in: so must thou of force judge him most powerful
who obtaineth the end of all that can be desired, beyond which there is
nothing. Hence that which is opposite also followeth, that the same men
are wicked and destitute of all forces. For why do they follow vices,
forsaking virtues? By ignorance of that which is good? But what is more
devoid of strength than blind ignorance? Or do they know what they
should embrace, but passion driveth them headlong the contrary way? So
also intemperance makes them frail, since they cannot strive against
vice. Or do they wittingly and willingly forsake goodness, and decline
to vices? But in this sort they leave not only to be powerful, but even
to be at all. For they which leave the common end of all things which
are, leave also being. Which may perhaps seem strange to some, that we
should say that evil men are not at all, who are the greatest part of
men: but yet it is so. For I deny not that evil men are evil, but withal
I say that purely and simply they are not.
For as thou mayest call a carcase a dead man, but not simply a man, so I
confess that the vicious are evil, but I cannot grant that they are
absolutely. For that is which retaineth order, and keepeth nature, but
that which faileth from this leaveth also to be that which is in his own
nature. But thou wilt say that evil men can do many things, neither will
I deny it, but this their power proceedeth not from forces but from
weakness. For they can do evil, which they could not do if they could
have remained in the performance of that which is good. Which
possibility declareth more evidently that they can do nothing. For if,
as we concluded a little before, evil is nothing, since they can only do
evil, it is manifest that the wicked can do nothing." "It is most
manifest." "And that thou mayest understand what the force of this power
is; we determined a little before that there is nothing more powerful
than the Sovereign Goodness." "It is true," quoth I. "But He cannot do
evil." "No." "Is there any then," quoth she, "that think that men can do
all things?" "No man, except he be mad, thinketh so." "But yet men can
do evil." "I would to God they could not," quoth I. "Since therefore he
that can only do good, can do all things, and they who can do evil,
cannot do all things, it is manifest that they which can do evil are
less potent. Moreover, we have proved that all power is to be accounted
among those things which are to be wished for, and that all such things
have reference to goodness, as to the very height of their nature. But
the possibility of committing wickedness cannot have reference to
goodness. Wherefore it is not to be wished for. Yet all power is to be
wished for; and consequently it is manifest, possibility of evil is no
power. By all which the power of the good and the undoubted infirmity of
evil appeareth. And it is manifest that the sentence of Plato is true:
that only wise men can do that which they desire, and that the wicked
men practise indeed what they list, but cannot perform what they would.
For they do what they list, thinking to obtain the good which they
desire by those things which cause them delight; but they obtain it not,
because shameful action cannot arrive to happiness.
 The whole of this and of the following chapter is a paraphrase of
 Cf. Virgil, _Aen._ xii. 764.
 Cf. Plato, _Gorgias_, 468, 469; _Alcibiades I._ 134 c.
Quos uides sedere celsos solii culmine reges
Purpura claros nitente saeptos tristibus armis
Ore toruo comminantes rabie cordis anhelos,
Detrahat si quis superbis uani tegmina cultus,
Iam uidebit intus artas dominos ferre catenas. 5
Hinc enim libido uersat auidis corda uenenis,
Hinc flagellat ira mentem fluctus turbida tollens
Maeror aut captos fatigat aut spes lubrica torquet
Ergo cum caput tot unum cernas ferre tyrannos,
Non facit quod optat ipse dominis pressus iniquis. 10
The kings whom we behold
In highest glory placed,
And with rich purple graced,
Compassed with soldiers bold;
Whose countenance shows fierce threats,
Who with rash fury chide,
If any strip the pride
From their vainglorious feats;
He'll see them close oppressed
Within by galling chains
For filthy lust there reigns
And poisoneth their breast,
Wrath often them perplexeth
Raising their minds like waves,
Sorrow their power enslaves
And sliding hope them vexeth.
So many tyrants still
Dwelling in one poor heart,
Except they first depart
She cannot have her will.
Videsne igitur quanto in caeno probra uoluantur, qua probitas luce
resplendeat? In quo perspicuum est numquam bonis praemia numquam sua
sceleribus deesse supplicia. Rerum etenim quae geruntur illud propter quod
unaquaeque res geritur, eiusdem rei praemium esse non iniuria uideri
potest, uti currendi in stadio propter quam curritur iacet praemium corona.
Sed beatitudinem esse idem ipsum bonum propter quod omnia geruntur
ostendimus. Est igitur humanis actibus ipsum bonum ueluti praemium commune
propositum. Atqui hoc a bonis non potest separari neque enim bonus ultra
iure uocabitur qui careat bono; quare probos mores sua praemia non
relinquunt. Quantumlibet igitur saeuiant mali, sapienti tamen corona non
decidet, non arescet. Neque enim probis animis proprium decus aliena
decerpit improbitas. Quod si extrinsecus accepto laetaretur, poterat hoc
uel alius quispiam uel ipse etiam qui contulisset auferre; sed quoniam id
sua cuique probitas confert, tum suo praemio carebit, cum probus esse
desierit. Postremo cum omne praemium idcirco appetatur quoniam bonum esse
creditur, quis boni compotem praemii iudicet expertem? At cuius praemii?
Omnium pulcherrimi maximique. Memento etenim corollarii illius quod paulo
ante praecipuum dedi ac sic collige: cum ipsum bonum beatitudo sit, bonos
omnes eo ipso quod boni sint fieri beatos liquet. Sed qui beati sint deos
esse conuenit. Est igitur praemium bonorum quod nullus. deterat dies,
nullius minuat potestas, nullius fuscet improbitas, deos fieri. Quae cum
ita sint, de malorum quoque inseparabili poena dubitare sapiens nequeat.
Nam cum bonum malumque item poenae atque praemium aduersa fronte
dissideant, quae in boni praemio uidemus accedere eadem necesse est in mali
poena contraria parte respondeant. Sicut igitur probis probitas ipsa fit
praemium, ita improbis nequitia ipsa supplicium est. Iam uero quisquis
afficitur poena, malo se affectum esse non dubitat. Si igitur sese ipsi
aestimare uelint, possuntne sibi supplicii expertes uideri quos omnium
malorum extrema nequitia non affecit modo uerum etiam uehementer infecit?
Vide autem ex aduersa parte bonorum, quae improbos poena comitetur. Omne
namque quod sit unum esse ipsumque unum bonum esse paulo ante didicisti,
cui consequens est ut omne quod sit id etiam bonum esse uideatur. Hoc
igitur modo quidquid a bono deficit esse desistit; quo fit ut mali desinant
esse quod fuerant, sed fuisse homines adhuc ipsa humani corporis reliqua
species ostentat. Quare uersi in malitiam humanam quoque amisere naturam.
Sed cum ultra homines quemque prouehere sola probitas possit, necesse est
ut quos ab humana condicione deiecit, infra hominis meritum detrudat
improbitas. Euenit igitur, ut quem transformatum uitiis uideas hominem
aestimare non possis. Auaritia feruet alienarum opum uiolentus ereptor?
Lupi similem dixeris. Ferox atque inquies linguam litigiis exercet? Cani
comparabis. Insidiator occultus subripuisse fraudibus gaudet? Vulpeculis
exaequetur. Irae intemperans fremit? Leonis animum gestare credatur.
Pauidus ac fugax non metuenda formidat? Ceruis similis habeatur. Segnis ac
stupidus torpit? Asinum uiuit. Leuis atque inconstans studia permutat?
Nihil auibus differt. Foedis inmundisque libidinibus immergitur? Sordidae
suis uoluptate detinetur. Ita fit ut qui probitate deserta homo esse
desierit, cum in diuinam condicionem transire non possit, uertatur in
Seest thou then in what mire wickedness wallows, and how clearly honesty
shineth? By which it is manifest that the good are never without
rewards, nor the evil without punishments. For in all things that are
done that for which anything is done may deservedly seem the reward of
that action, as to him that runneth a race, the crown for which he
runneth is proposed as a reward. But we have showed that blessedness is
the selfsame goodness for which all things are done. Wherefore this
goodness is proposed as a common reward for all human actions, and this
cannot be separated from those who are good. For he shall not rightly be
any longer called good, who wanteth goodness; wherefore virtuous manners
are not left without their due rewards. And how much so ever the evil do
rage, yet the wise man's crown will not fade nor wither. For others'
wickedness depriveth not virtuous minds of their proper glory. But if he
should rejoice at anything which he hath from others, either he who gave
it, or any other might take it away. But because every man's virtue is
the cause of it, then only he shall want his reward when he leaveth to
be virtuous. Lastly, since every reward is therefore desired because it
is thought to be good, who can judge him to be devoid of reward, which
hath goodness for his possession? But what reward hath he? The most
beautiful and the greatest that can be. For remember that
_corollarium_  which I presented thee with a little before, as
with a rare and precious jewel, and infer thus: Since that goodness
itself is happiness, it is manifest that all good men even by being good
are made happy. But we agreed that happy men are gods. Wherefore the
reward of good men, which no time can waste, no man's power diminish, no
man's wickedness obscure, is to become gods. Which things being so, no
wise man can any way doubt of the inseparable punishment of the evil.
For since goodness and evil, punishment and reward, are opposite the one
to the other, those things which we see fall out in the reward of
goodness must needs be answerable in a contrary manner in the punishment
of evil. Wherefore as to honest men honesty itself is a reward, so to
the wicked their very wickedness is a punishment. And he that is
punished doubteth not but that he is afflicted with the evil. Wherefore
if they would truly consider their own estate, can they think themselves
free from punishment, whom wickedness, the worst of all evils, doth not
only touch but strongly infect? But weigh the punishment which
accompanieth the wicked, by comparing it to the reward of the virtuous.
For thou learnedst not long before that whatsoever is at all is one, and
that unity is goodness, by which it followeth that whatsoever is must
also be good. And in this manner, whatsoever falleth from goodness
ceaseth to be, by which it followeth that evil men leave to be that
which they were, but the shape of men, which they still retain, showeth
them to have been men: wherefore by embracing wickedness they have lost
the nature of men. But since virtue alone can exalt us above men,
wickedness must needs cast those under the desert of men, which it hath
bereaved of that condition. Wherefore thou canst not account him a man
whom thou seest transformed by vices. Is the violent extorter of other
men's goods carried away with his covetous desire? Thou mayest liken him
to a wolf. Is the angry and unquiet man always contending and brawling?
Thou mayest compare him to a dog. Doth the treacherous fellow rejoice
that he hath deceived others with his hidden frauds? Let him be
accounted no better than a fox. Doth the outrageous fret and fume? Let
him be thought to have a lion's mind. Is the fearful and timorous afraid
without cause? Let him be esteemed like to hares and deer. Is the slow
and stupid always idle? He liveth an ass's life. Doth the light and
unconstant change his courses? He is nothing different from the birds.
Is he drowned in filthy and unclean lusts? He is entangled in the
pleasure of a stinking sow. So that he who, leaving virtue, ceaseth to
be a man, since he cannot be partaker of the divine condition, is turned
into a beast.
 _Vide supra, p. 270._
Vela Neritii ducis
Et uagas pelago rates
Eurus appulit insulae,
Pulchra qua residens dea
Solis edita semine 5
Miscet hospitibus nouis
Tacta carmine pocula.
Quos ut in uarios modos
Vertit herbipotens manus,
Hunc apri facies tegit, 10
Ille Marmaricus leo
Dente crescit et unguibus.
Hic lupis nuper additus,
Flere dum parat, ululat.
Ille tigris ut Indica 15
Tecta mitis obambulat.
Sed licet uariis malis
Numen Arcadis alitis
Obsitum miserans ducem
Peste soluerit hospitis, 20
Iam tamen mala remiges
Ore pocula traxerant,
Iam sues Cerealia
Glande pabula uerterant
Et nihil manet integrum 25
Voce corpore perditis.
Sola mens stabilis super
Monstra quae patitur gemit.
O leuem nimium manum
Nec potentia gramina, 30
Membra quae ualeant licet,
Corda uertere non ualent!
Intus est hominum uigor
Arce conditus abdita.
Haec uenena potentius 35
Detrahunt hominem sibi
Dira quae penitus meant
Nec nocentia corpori
Mentis uulnere saeuiunt."
The sails which wise Ulysses bore,
And ships which in the seas long time did stray
The eastern wind drave to that shore
Where the fair Goddess Lady Circe lay,
Daughter by birth to Phoebus bright,
Who with enchanted cups and charms did stay
Her guests, deceived with their delight
And into sundry figures them did change,
Being most skilful in the might
And secret force of herbs and simples strange;
Some like to savage boars, and some
Like lions fierce, which daily use to range
Through Libya, in tooth and claw become.
Others are changed to the shape and guise
Of ravenous wolves, and waxing dumb
Use howling in the stead of manly cries.
Others like to the tiger rove
Which in the scorched Indian desert lies.
And though the winged son of Jove
From these bewitched cups' delightful taste
To keep the famous captain strove,
Yet them the greedy mariners embraced
With much desire, till turned to swine
Instead of bread they fed on oaken mast.
Ruined in voice and form, no sign
Remains to them of any human grace;
Only their minds unchanged repine
To see their bodies in such ugly case.
O feeble hand and idle art
Which, though it could the outward limbs deface,
Yet had no force to change the heart.
For all the force of men given by God's arm
Lies hidden in their inmost part.
The poisons therefore which within them swarm
More deeply pierce, and with more might,
For to the body though they do no harm,
Yet on the soul they work their spite."
 Literally "Marmaric," i.e. properly, the region between Egypt and
the great Syrtis; generally, African, cf. Lucan iii. 293.
 Literally, "rove tame round the house."
 i.e. Mercury who was born in Arcadia; cf. Virg. _Aen._ viii.
Tum ego: "Fateor," inquam, "nec iniuria dici uideo uitiosos, tametsi humani
corporis speciem seruent, in beluas tamen animorum qualitate mutari; sed
quorum atrox scelerataque mens bonorum pernicie saeuit, id ipsum eis licere
noluissem." "Nec licet," inquit, "uti conuenienti monstrabitur loco. Sed
tamen si id ipsum quod eis licere creditur auferatur, magna ex parte
sceleratorum hominum poena releuetur. Etenim quod incredibile cuiquam forte
uideatur, infeliciores esse necesse est malos, cum cupita perfecerint, quam
si ea quae cupiunt implere non possint. Nam si miserum est uoluisse praua,
potuisse miserius est, sine quo uoluntatis miserae langueret effectus.
Itaque cum sua singulis miseria sit, triplici infortunio necesse est
urgeantur quos uideas scelus uelle, posse, perficere." "Accedo," inquam,
"sed uti hoc infortunio cito careant patrandi sceleris possibilitate
deserti uehementer exopto." "Carebunt," inquit, "ocius quam uel tu forsitan
uelis uel illi sese aestiment esse carituros. Neque enim est aliquid in tam
breuibus uitae metis ita serum quod exspectare longum immortalis praesertim
animus putet: quorum magna spes et excelsa facinorum machina repentino
atque insperato saepe fine destruitur, quod quidem illis miseriae modum
Nam si nequitia miseros facit, miserior sit necesse est diuturnior nequam;
quos infelicissimos esse iudicarem, si non eorum malitiam saltem mors
extrema finiret. Etenim si de prauitatis infortunio uera conclusimus,
infinitam liquet esse miseriam quam esse constat aeternam." Tum ego: "Mira
quidem," inquam, "et concessu difficilis inlatio, sed his eam quae prius
concessa sunt nimium conuenire cognosco." "Recte," inquit, "aestimas. Sed
qui conclusioni accedere durum putat, aequum est uel falsum aliquid
praecessisse demonstret uel collocationem propositionum non esse efficacem
necessariae conclusionis ostendat; alioquin concessis praecedentibus nihil
prorsus est quod de inlatione causetur. Nam hoc quoque quod dicam non minus
mirum uideatur, sed ex his quae sumpta sunt aeque est necessarium."
"Quidnam?" inquam. "Feliciores," inquit, "esse improbos supplicia luentes
quam si eos nulla iustitiae poena coerceat. Neque id nunc molior quod
cuiuis ueniat in mentem, corrigi ultione prauos mores et ad rectum
supplicii terrore deduci, ceteris quoque exemplum esse culpanda fugiendi,
sed alio quodam modo infeliciores esse improbos arbitror impunitos, tametsi
nulla ratio correctionis, nullus respectus habeatur exempli." "Et quis
erit," inquam, "praeter hos alius modus?" Et illa: "Bonos," inquit, "esse
felices, malos uero miseros nonne concessimus?" "Ita est," inquam. "Si
igitur," inquit, "miseriae cuiuspiam bonum aliquid addatur, nonne felicior
est eo cuius pura ac solitaria sine cuiusquam boni admixtione miseria est?"
"Sic," inquam, "uidetur." "Quid si eidem misero qui cunctis careat bonis,
praeter ea quibus miser est malum aliud fuerit adnexum, nonne multo
infelicior eo censendus est cuius infortunium boni participatione
releuatur?" "Quidni?" inquam. "Sed puniri improbos iustum, impunitos uero
elabi iniquum esse manifestum est." "Quis id neget?" "Sed ne illud quidem,"
ait, "quisquam negabit bonum esse omne quod iustum est contraque quod
iniustum est malum." Liquere, respondi. "Habent igitur improbi, cum
puniuntur, quidem boni aliquid adnexum poenam ipsam scilicet quae ratione
iustitiae bona est, idemque cum supplicio carent, inest eis aliquid
ulterius mali ipsa impunitas quam iniquitatis merito malum esse confessus
es." "Negare non possum." "Multo igitur infeliciores improbi sunt iniusta
impunitate donati quam iusta ultione puniti." Tum ego: "Ista quidem
consequentia sunt eis quae paulo ante conclusa sunt.
Sed quaeso," inquam, "te, nullane animarum supplicia post defunctum morte
corpus relinquis?" "Et magna quidem," inquit, "quorum alia poenali
acerbitate, alia uero purgatoria clementia exerceri puto. Sed nunc de his
disserere consilium non est. Id uero hactenus egimus, ut quae indignissima
tibi uidebatur malorum potestas eam nullam esse cognosceres quosque
impunitos querebare, uideres numquam improbitatis suae carere suppliciis,
licentiam quam cito finiri precabaris nec longam esse disceres
infelicioremque fore, si diuturnior, infelicissimam uero, si esset aeterna;
post haec miseriores esse improbos iniusta impunitate dimissos quam iusta
ultione punitos. Cui sententiae consequens est ut tum demum grauioribus
suppliciis urgeantur, cum impuniti esse creduntur."
Tum ego: "Cum tuas," inquam, "rationes considero, nihil dici uerius puto.
At si ad hominum iudicia reuertar, quis ille est cui haec non credenda modo
sed saltem audienda uideantur?" "Ita est," inquit illa. "Nequeunt enim
oculos tenebris assuetos ad lucem perspicuae ueritatis attollere,
similesque auibus sunt quarum intuitum nox inluminat dies caecat. Dum enim
non rerum ordinem, sed suos intuentur affectus, uel licentiam uel
impunitatem scelerum putant esse felicem. Vide autem quid aeterna lex
sanciat. Melioribus animum conformaueris, nihil opus est iudice praemium
deferente tu te ipse excellentioribus addidisti. Studium ad peiora
deflexeris, extra ne quaesieris ultorem. Tu te ipse in deteriora trusisti,
ueluti si uicibus sordidam humum caelumque respicias, cunctis extra
cessantibus ipsa cernendi ratione nunc caeno nunc sideribus interesse
uidearis. At uulgus ista non respicit. Quid igitur? Hisne accedamus quos
beluis similes esse monstrauimus? Quid si quis amisso penitus uisu ipsum
etiam se habuisse obliuisceretur intuitum nihilque sibi ad humanam
perfectionem deesse arbitraretur, num uidentes eadem caecos putaremus? Nam
ne illud quidem adquiescent quod aeque ualidis rationum nititur
firmamentis: infeliciores eos esse qui faciant quam qui patiantur
iniuriam." "Vellem," inquam, "has ipsas audire rationes." "Omnem," inquit,
"improbum num supplicio dignum negas?" "Minime." "Infelices uero esse qui
sint improbi multipliciter liquet." "Ita," inquam. "Qui igitur supplicio
digni sunt miseros esse non dubitas?" "Conuenit," inquam. "Si igitur
cognitor," ait, "resideres, cui supplicium inferendum putares, eine qui
fecisset an qui pertulisset iniuriam?" "Nec ambigo," inquam, "quin perpesso
satisfacerem dolore facientis." "Miserior igitur tibi iniuriae inlator quam
acceptor esse uideretur." "Consequitur," inquam. "Hinc igitur aliis de
causis ea radice nitentibus, quod turpitudo suapte natura miseros faciat,
apparet inlatam cuilibet iniuriam non accipientis sed inferentis esse
miseriam." "Atqui nunc," ait, "contra faciunt oratores. Pro his enim qui
graue quid acerbumque perpessi sunt miserationem iudicum excitare conantur,
cum magis admittentibus iustior miseratio debeatur; quos non ab iratis sed
a propitiis potius miserantibusque accusatoribus ad iudicium ueluti aegros
ad medicum duci oportebat, ut culpae morbos supplicio resecarent. Quo pacto
defensorum opera uel tota frigeret, uel si prodesse hominibus mallet, in
accusationis habitum uerteretur, Ipsi quoque improbi, si eis aliqua rimula
uirtutem relictam fas esset aspicere uitiorumque sordes poenarum
cruciatibus se deposituros uiderent compensatione adipiscendae probitatis,
nec hos cruciatus esse ducerent defensorumque operam repudiarent ac se
totos accusatoribus iudicibusque permitterent. Quo fit ut apud sapientes
nullus prorsus odio locus relinquatur. Nam bonos quis nisi stultissimus
oderit? Malos uero odisse ratione caret. Nam si, uti corporum languor, ita
uitiositas quidam est quasi morbus animorum, cum aegros corpore minime
dignos odio sed potius miseratione iudicemus, multo magis non insequendi
sed miserandi sunt quorum mentes omni languore atrocior urget improbitas.
 Sed puniri ... respondi _quae infra_ (_in pag. 328 l. 73_) _post_
ultioni puniti _in codicibus habentur huc transponenda esse censuit P.
Langenus, demonstrauit A. Engelbrecht._
Then said I, "I confess and perceive that thou affirmest not without
cause that the vicious, though they keep the outward shape of men, are
in their inward state of mind changed into brute beasts. But I would
have had them whose cruel and wicked heart rageth to the harm of the
good, restrained from executing their malice." "They are restrained,"
quoth she, "as shall be proved in convenient place. But yet if this
liberty which they seem to have be taken away, their punishment also is
in great part released. For (which perhaps to some may seem incredible)
evil men must necessarily be more unhappy when they have brought to pass
their purposes than if they could not obtain what they desire. For if it
be a miserable thing to desire that which is evil, it is more miserable
to be able to perform it, without which the miserable will could not
have any effect. Wherefore since everyone of these hath their peculiar
misery, they must of force be oppressed with a threefold wretchedness,
whom thou seest desire, be able, and perform wickedness." "I grant it,"
quoth I, "but earnestly wish that they may soon be delivered from this
misery, having lost the power to perform their malice." "They will lose
it," quoth she, "sooner than perhaps either thou wouldst, or they
themselves suppose. For in the short compass of this life there is
nothing so late that any one, least of all an immortal soul, should
think it long in coming; so that the great hope and highest attempts of
the wicked are many times made frustrate with a sudden and unexpected
end, which in truth setteth some end to their misery.
For if wickedness make men miserable, the longer one is wicked, the more
miserable he must needs be; and I should judge them the most unhappy men
that may be, if death at least did not end their malice. For if we have
concluded truly of the misery of wickedness, it is manifest that the
wretchedness which is everlasting must of force be infinite." "A strange
illation," quoth I, "and hard to be granted; but I see that those things
which were granted before agree very well with these." "Thou thinkest
aright," quoth she, "but he that findeth difficulty to yield to the
conclusion must either show that something which is presupposed is
false, or that the combination of the propositions makes not a necessary
conclusion; otherwise, granting that which went before, he hath no
reason to doubt of the inference. For this also which I will conclude
now will seem no less strange, and yet followeth as necessarily out of
those things which are already assumed." "What?" quoth I. "That wicked
men," quoth she, "are more happy being punished than if they escaped the
hands of justice. Neither do I now go about to show that which may come
into every man's mind, that evil customs are corrected by chastisement,
and are reduced to virtue by the terror of punishment, and that others
may take example to avoid evil, but in another manner also I think
vicious men that go unpunished to be more miserable, although we take no
account of correction and pay no regard to example." "And what other
manner shall this be," quoth I, "besides these?" "Have we not granted,"
quoth she, "that the good are happy, and the evil miserable?" "We have,"
quoth I. "If then," quoth she, "something that is good be added to one's
misery, is he not happier than another whose misery is desolate and
solitary, without any participation of goodness?" "So it seemeth," quoth
I. "What if there be some other evil annexed to this miserable man who
is deprived of all goodness, besides those which make him miserable, is
he not to be accounted much more unhappy than he whose misery is
lightened by partaking of goodness?" "Why not?" quoth I. "But it is
manifest that it is just that the wicked be punished, and unjust that
they should go unpunished." "Who can deny that?" "But neither will any
man deny this," quoth she, "that whatsoever is just, is good, and
contrariwise, that whatsoever is unjust, is evil." "Certainly," I
answered. "Then the wicked have some good annexed when they are
punished, to wit, the punishment itself, which by reason of justice is
good, and when they are not punished, they have a further evil, the very
impunity which thou hast deservedly granted to be an evil because of its
injustice." "I cannot deny it." "Wherefore the vicious are far more
unhappy by escaping punishment unjustly, than by being justly punished."
"This followeth," quoth I, "out of that which hath been concluded
But I pray thee, leavest thou no punishments for the souls after the
death of the body?" "And those great too," quoth she. "Some of which I
think to be executed as sharp punishments, and others as merciful
purgations. But I purpose not now to treat of those. But we have
hitherto laboured that thou shouldest perceive the power of the wicked,
which to thee seemed intolerable, to be none at all, and that thou
shouldest see, that those whom thou complainedst went unpunished, do
never escape without punishment for their wickedness. And that thou
shouldest learn that the licence which thou wishedst might soon end, is
not long, and yet the longer the more miserable, and most unhappy if it
were everlasting. Besides, that the wicked are more wretched being
permitted to escape with unjust impunity, than being punished with just
severity. Out of which it followeth that they are then more grievously
punished, when they are thought to go scot-free."
"When I consider thy reasons," quoth I, "I think nothing can be said
more truly. But if I return to the judgments of men, who is there that
will think them worthy to be believed or so much as heard?" "It is
true," quoth she, "for they cannot lift up their eyes accustomed to
darkness, to behold the light of manifest truth, and they are like those
birds whose sight is quickened by the night, and dimmed by the day. For
while they look upon, not the order of things, but their own affections,
they think that licence and impunity to sin is happy. But see what the
eternal law establisheth. If thou apply thy mind to the better, thou
needest no judge to reward thee: thou hast joined thyself to the more
excellent things. If thou declinest to that which is worse, never expect
any other to punish thee: thou hast put thyself in a miserable estate;
as if by turns thou lookest down to the miry ground, and up to heaven,
setting aside all outward causes, by the very law of sight thou seemest
sometime to be in the dirt, and sometime present to the stars. But the
common sort considereth not these things. What then? Shall we join
ourselves to them whom we have proved to be like beasts? What if one
having altogether lost his sight should likewise forget that he ever had
any, and should think that he wanted nothing which belongeth to human
perfection: should we likewise think them blind, that see as well as
they saw before? For they will not grant that neither, which may be
proved by as forcible reasons, that they are more unhappy that do injury
than they which suffer it." "I would," quoth I, "hear these reasons."
"Deniest thou," quoth she, "that every wicked man deserveth punishment?"
"No." "And it is many ways clear that the vicious are miserable?" "Yes,"
quoth I. "Then you do not doubt that those who deserve punishment are
wretched?" "It is true," quoth I. "If then," quoth she, "thou wert to
examine this cause, whom wouldest thou appoint to be punished, him that
did or that suffered wrong?" "I doubt not," quoth I, "but that I would
satisfy him that suffered with the sorrow of him that did it." "The
offerer of the injury then would seem to thee more miserable than the
receiver?" "It followeth," quoth I. "Hence therefore, and for other
causes grounded upon that principle that dishonesty of itself maketh men
miserable, it appeareth that the injury which is offered any man is not
the receiver's but the doer's misery." "But now-a-days," quoth she,
"orators take the contrary course. For they endeavour to draw the judges
to commiseration of them who have suffered any grievous afflictions;
whereas pity is more justly due to the causers thereof, who should be
brought, not by angry, but rather by favourable and compassionate
accusers to judgment, as it were sick men to a physician, that their
diseases and faults might be taken away by punishments; by which means
the defenders' labour would either wholly cease, or if they had rather
do their clients some good, they would change their defence into
accusations. And the wicked themselves, if they could behold virtue
abandoned by them, through some little rift, and perceive that they
might be delivered from the filth of sin by the affliction of
punishments, obtaining virtue in exchange, they would not esteem of
torments, and would refuse the assistance of their defenders, and wholly
resign themselves to their accusers and judges. By which means it cometh
to pass, that in wise men there is no place for hatred. For who but a
very fool would hate the good? And to hate the wicked were against
reason. For as faintness is a disease of the body, so is vice a sickness
of the mind. Wherefore, since we judge those that have corporal
infirmities to be rather worthy of compassion than of hatred, much more
are they to be pitied, and not abhorred, whose minds are oppressed with
wickedness, the greatest malady that may be.
 See discussion of this passage in _Boethius, An Essay,_ H. F.
Stewart (1891), pp. 98 ff.
Quod tantos iuuat excitare motus
Et propria fatum sollicitare manu?
Si mortem petitis, propinquat ipsa
Sponte sua uolucres nec remoratur equos.
Quos serpens leo tigris ursus aper 5
Dente petunt, idem se tamen ense petunt.
An distant quia dissidentque mores,
Iniustas acies et fera bella mouent
Alternisque uolunt perire telis?
Non est iusta satis saeuitiae ratio. 10
Vis aptam meritis uicem referre?
Dilige iure bonos et miseresce malis."
Why should we strive to die so many ways,
And slay ourselves with our own hands?
If we seek death, she ready stands,
She willing comes, her chariot never stays.
Those against whom the wild beasts armed be,
Against themselves with weapons rage.
Do they such wars unjustly wage,
Because their lives and manners disagree,
And so themselves with mutual weapons kill?
Alas, but this revenge is small.
Wouldst thou give due desert to all?
Love then the good, and pity thou the ill."
 Literally, "Men whom serpent, lion, tiger, bear, and boar attack
with tooth, yet attack each other with the sword."
Hic ego: "Video," inquam, "quae sit uel felicitas uel miseria in ipsis
proborum atque improborum meritis constituta. Sed in hac ipsa fortuna
populari non nihil boni maliue inesse perpendo. Neque enim sapientum
quisquam exul inops ignominiosusque esse malit, potius quam pollens opibus,
honore reuerendus, potentia ualidus, in sua permanens urbe florere. Sic
enim clarius testatiusque sapientiae tractatur officium, cum in
contingentes populos regentium quodam modo beatitudo transfunditur, cum
praesertim carcer, nex ceteraque legalium tormenta poenarum
perniciosis potius ciuibus propter quos etiam constituta sunt debeantur.
Cur haec igitur uersa uice mutentur scelerumque supplicia bonos premant,
praemia uirtutum mali rapiant, uehementer admiror, quaeque tam iniustae
confusionis ratio uideatur ex te scire desidero. Minus etenim mirarer, si
misceri omnia fortuitis casibus crederem. Nunc stuporem meum deus rector
exaggerat. Qui cum saepe bonis iucunda, malis aspera contraque bonis dura
tribuat, malis optata concedat, nisi causa deprehenditur, quid est quod a
fortuitis casibus differre uideatur?" "Nec mirum," inquit, "si quid ordinis
ignorata ratione temerarium confusumque credatur. Sed tu quamuis causam
tantae dispositionis ignores, tamen quoniam bonus mundum rector temperat,
recte fieri cuncta ne dubites.
 lex _plerique codd._
"I see," quoth I, "what felicity or misery is placed in the deserts of
honest and dishonest men. But I consider that there is somewhat good or
evil even in this popular fortune. For no wise man had rather live in
banishment, poverty, and ignominy, than prosper in his own country,
being rich, respected, and powerful. For in this manner is the office of
wisdom performed with more credit and renown, when the governors'
happiness is participated by the people about them; so chiefly because
prisons, death, and other torments of legal punishments are rather due
to pernicious subjects, for whom they were also ordained. Wherefore I
much marvel why these things are thus turned upside down, and the
punishments of wickedness oppress the good, while evil men obtain the
rewards of the good. And I desire to know of thee what may seem to be
the reason of so unjust confusion. For I would marvel less if I thought
that all things were disordered by casual events. Now God being the
Governor, my astonishment is increased. For since that He distributeth
oftentimes that which is pleasant to the good, and that which is
distasteful to the bad, and contrariwise adversity to the good, and
prosperity to the evil, unless we find out the cause hereof, what
difference may there seem to be betwixt this and accidental chances?"
"It is no marvel," quoth she, "if anything be thought temerarious and
confused, when we know not the order it hath. But although thou beest
ignorant of the causes why things be so disposed, yet because the world
hath a governor, doubt not but all things are well done.
Si quis Arcturi sidera nescit
Propinqua summo cardine labi,
Cur legat tardus plaustra Bootes
Mergatque seras aequore flammas,
Cum nimis celeres explicet ortus, 5
Legem stupebit aetheris alti.
Palleant plenae cornua lunae
Infecta metis noctis opacae
Quaeque fulgenti texerat ore
Confusa Phoebe detegat astra, 10
Commouet gentes publicus error
Lassantque crebris pulsibus aera.
Nemo miratur flamina Cori
Litus frementi tundere fluctu
Nec niuis duram frigore molem 15
Feruente Phoebi soluier aestu.
Hic enim causas cernere promptum est,
Illic latentes pectora turbant.
Cuncta quae rara prouehit aetas
Stupetque subitis mobile uulgus, 20
Cedat inscitiae nubilus error,
Cessent profecto mira uideri."
Who knows not how the stars near to the poles do slide,
And how Booetes his slow wain doth guide,
And why he sets so late, and doth so early rise,
May wonder at the courses of the skies.
If when the moon is full her horns seem pale to sight,
Infested with the darkness of the night,
And stars from which all grace she with her brightness took,
Now show themselves, while she doth dimly look,
A public error straight through vulgar minds doth pass,
And they with many strokes beat upon brass.
None wonders why the winds upon the waters blow.
Nor why hot Phoebus' beams dissolve the snow.
These easy are to know, the other hidden lie,
And therefore more our hearts they terrify.
All strange events which time to light more seldom brings,
And the vain people count as sudden things,
If we our clouded minds from ignorance could free,
No longer would by us admired be."
 See Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, pp. 296 ff. Cf "carmina uel caelo
possunt deducere lunam," Virg. _Ecl._ viii. 69, and Juvenal, _Sat._ vi. 440
"Ita est," inquam; "sed cum tui muneris sit latentium rerum causas euoluere
uelatasque caligine explicare rationes, quaeso uti quae hinc decernas.
quoniam hoc me miraculum maxime perturbat, edisseras." Tum illa paulisper
arridens: "Ad rem me," inquit, "omnium quaesitu maximam uocas, cui uix
exhausti quicquam satis sit. Talis namque materia est ut una dubitatione
succisa innumerabiles aliae uelut hydrae capita succrescant, nec ullus
fuerit modus, nisi quis eas uiuacissimo mentis igne coerceat. In hac enim
de prouidentiae simplicitate, de fati serie, de repentinis casibus, de
cognitione ac praedestinatione diuina, de arbitrii libertate quaeri solet,
quae quanti oneris sint ipse perpendis. Sed quoniam haec quoque te nosse
quaedam medicinae tuae portio est, quamquam angusto limite temporis saepti
tamen aliquid delibare conabimur. Quod si te musici carminis
oblectamenta delectant, hanc oportet paulisper differas uoluptatem, dum
nexas sibi ordine contexo rationes." "Vt libet," inquam. Tunc uelut ab alio
orsa principio ita disseruit: "Omnium generatio rerum cunctusque mutabilium
naturarum progressus et quidquid aliquo mouetur modo, causas, ordinem,
formas ex diuinae mentis stabilitate sortitur. Haec in suae simplicitatis
arce composita multiplicem rebus regendis modum statuit. Qui modus cum in
ipsa diuinae intellegentiae puritate conspicitur, prouidentia nominatur;
cum uero ad ea quae mouet atque disponit refertur, fatum a ueteribus
appellatum est. Quae diuersa esse facile liquebit, si quis utriusque uim
mente conspexerit. Nam prouidentia est ipsa illa diuina ratio in summo
omnium principe constituta quae cuncta disponit; fatum uero inhaerens rebus
mobilibus dispositio per quam prouidentia suis quaeque nectit ordinibus.
Prouidentia namque cuncta pariter quamuis diuersa quamuis infinita
complectitur; fatum uero singula digerit in motum locis formis ac
temporibus distributa, ut haec temporalis ordinis explicatio in diuinae
mentis adunata prospectum prouidentia sit, eadem uero adunatio digesta
atque explicata temporibus fatum uocetur. Quae licet diuersa sint, alterum
tamen pendet ex altero. Ordo namque fatalis ex prouidentiae simplicitate
procedit. Sicut enim artifex faciendae rei formam mente praecipiens mouet
operis effectum, et quod simpliciter praesentarieque prospexerat, per
temporales ordines ducit, ita deus prouidentia quidem singulariter
stabiliterque facienda disponit, fato uero haec ipsa quae disposuit
multipliciter ac temporaliter administrat. Siue igitur famulantibus
quibusdam prouidentiae diuinis spiritibus fatum exercetur seu anima seu
tota inseruiente natura seu caelestibus siderum motibus seu angelica
uirtute seu daemonum uaria sollertia seu aliquibus horum seu omnibus
fatalis series texitur, illud certe manifestum est immobilem simplicemque
gerendarum formam rerum esse prouidentiam, fatum uero eorum quae diuina
simplicitas gerenda disposuit mobilem nexum atque ordinem temporalem. Quo
fit ut omnia quae fato subsunt prouidentiae quoque subiecta sint cui ipsum
etiam subiacet fatum, quaedam uero quae sub prouidentia locata sunt fati
seriem superent. Ea uero sunt quae primae propinqua diuinitati stabiliter
fixa fatalis ordinem mobilitatis excedunt. Nam ut orbium circa eundem
cardinem sese uertentium qui est intimus ad simplicitatem medietatis
accedit ceterorumque extra locatorum ueluti cardo quidam circa quem
uersentur exsistit, extimus uero maiore ambitu rotatus quanto a puncti
media indiuiduitate discedit tanto amplioribus spatiis explicatur, si quid
uero illi se medio conectat et societ, in simplicitatem cogitur diffundique
ac diffluere cessat, simili ratione quod longius a prima mente discedit
maioribus fati nexibus implicatur ac tanto aliquid fato liberum est quanto
illum rerum cardinem uicinius petit. Quod si supernae mentis haeserit
firmitati, motu carens fati quoque supergreditur necessitatem. Igitur uti
est ad intellectum ratiocinatio, ad id quod est id quod gignitur, ad
aeternitatem tempus, ad punctum medium circulus, ita est fati series
mobilis ad prouidentiae stabilem simplicitatem. Ea series caelum ac sidera
mouet, elementa in se inuicem temperat et alterna commutatione transformat;
eadem nascentia occidentiaque omnia per similes fetuum seminumque renouat
progressus. Haec actus etiam fortunasque hominum indissolubili causarum
conexione constringit, quae cum ab immobilis prouidentiae proficiscatur
exordiis, ipsas quoque immutabiles esse necesse est. Ita enim res optime
reguntur, si manens in diuina mente simplicitas indeclinabilem causarum
ordinem promat. Hic uero ordo res mutabiles et alioquin temere fluituras
propria incommutabilitate coerceat. Quo fit ut tametsi uobis hunc ordinem
minime considerare ualentibus confusa omnia perturbataque uideantur, nihilo
minus tamen suus modus ad bonum dirigens cuncta disponat. Nihil est enim
quod mali causa ne ab ipsis quidem improbis fiat; quos, ut uberrime
demonstratum est, bonum quaerentes prauus error auertit, nedum ordo de
summi boni cardine proficiscens a suo quoquam deflectat exordio.
Quae uero, inquies, potest ulla iniquior esse confusio, quam ut bonis tum
aduersa tum prospera, malis etiam tum optata tum odiosa contingant? Num
igitur ea mentis integritate homines degunt, ut quos probos improbosue
censuerunt eos quoque uti existimant esse necesse sit? Atqui in hoc hominum
iudicia depugnant, et quos alii praemio alii supplicio dignos arbitrantur.
Sed concedamus ut aliquis possit bonos malosque discernere; num igitur
potent intueri illam intimam temperiem, uelut in corporibus dici solet,
animorum? Non enim dissimile est miraculum nescienti cur sanis corporibus
his quidem dulcia illis uero amara conueniant, cur aegri etiam quidam
lenibus quidam uero acribus adiuuentur? At hoc medicus, qui sanitatis
ipsius atque aegritudinis modum temperamentumque dinoscit, minime miratur.
Quid uero aliud animorum salus uidetur esse quam probitas? Quid aegritudo
quam uitia? Quis autem alius uel seruator bonorum uel malorum depulsor quam
rector ac medicator mentium deus? Qui cum ex alta prouidentiae specula
respexit, quid unicuique conueniat agnoscit et quod conuenire nouit
accommodat. Hic iam fit illud fatalis ordinis insigne miraculum, cum ab
sciente geritur quod stupeant ignorantes. Nam ut pauca quae ratio ualet
humana de diuina profunditate perstringam, de hoc quem tu iustissimum et
aequi seruantissimum putas omnia scienti prouidentiae diuersum uidetur; et
uictricem quidem causam dis, uictam uero Catoni placuisse familiaris noster
Lucanus admonuit. Hic igitur quidquid citra spem uideas geri, rebus quidem
rectus ordo est, opinioni uero tuae peruersa confusio. Sed sit aliquis ita
bene moratus ut de eo diuinum iudicium pariter et humanum consentiat, sed
est animi uiribus infirmus; cui si quid eueniat aduersi, desinet colere
forsitan innocentiam per quam non potuit retinere fortunam. Parcit itaque
sapiens dispensatio ei quem deteriorem facere possit aduersitas, ne cui non
conuenit laborare patiatur. Est alius cunctis uirtutibus absolutus
sanctusque ac deo proximus; hunc contingi quibuslibet aduersis nefas
prouidentia iudicat adeo ut ne corporeis quidem morbis agitari sinat. Nam
ut quidam me quoque excellentior:
[Greek: Andros dae ierou demas aitheres oikodomaesan.]
Fit autem saepe, uti bonis summa rerum regenda deferatur, ut exuberans
retundatur improbitas. Aliis mixta quaedam pro animorum qualitate
distribuit; quosdam remordet ne longa felicitate luxurient, alios
duris agitari ut uirtutes animi patientiae usu atque exercitatione
confirment. Alii plus aequo metuunt quod ferre possunt, alii plus aequo
despiciunt quod ferre non possunt; hos in experimentum sui tristibus ducit.
Nonnulli uenerandum saeculi nomen gloriosae pretio mortis emerunt: quidam
suppliciis inexpugnabiles exemplum ceteris praetulerunt inuictam malis esse
uirtutem. Quae quam recte atque disposite et ex eorum bono quibus accedere
uidentur fiant, nulla dubitatio est. Nam illud quoque, quod improbis nunc
tristia nunc optata proueniunt, ex eisdem ducitur causis; ac de tristibus
quidem nemo miratur, quod eos male meritos omnes existimant. Quorum quidem
supplicia tum ceteros ab sceleribus deterrent, tum ipsos quibus inuehuntur
emendant; laeta uero magnum bonis argumentum loquuntur, quid de huiusmodi
felicitate debeant iudicare quam famulari saepe improbis cernant. In qua
re illud etiam dispensari credo, quod est forsitan alicuius tam praeceps
atque inportuna natura ut eum in scelera potius exacerbare possit rei
familiaris inopia; huius morbo prouidentia collatae pecuniae remedio
medetur. Hic foedatam probris conscientiam exspectans et se cum fortuna sua
comparans, forsitan pertimescit ne cuius ei iucundus usus est, sit tristis
amissio. Mutabit igitur mores ac dum fortunam metuit amittere; nequitiam
derelinquit. Alios in cladem meritam praecipitauit indigne acta felicitas;
quibusdam permissum puniendi ius, ut exercitii bonis et malis esset causa
supplicii. Nam ut probis atque improbis nullum foedus est, ita ipsi inter
se improbi nequeunt conuenire. Quidni, cum a semet ipsis discerpentibus
conscientiam uitiis quisque dissentiat faciantque saepe, quae cum gesserint
non fuisse gerenda decernant? Ex quo saepe summa illa prouidentia protulit
insigne miraculum, ut malos mali bonos facerent. Nam dum iniqua sibi a
pessimis quidam perpeti uidentur, noxiorum odio flagrantes ad uirtutis
frugem rediere, dum se eis dissimiles student esse quos oderant. Sola est
enim diuina uis cui mala quoque bona sint, cum eis competenter utendo
alicuius boni elicit effectum. Ordo enim quidam cuncta complectitur, ut
quod adsignata ordinis ratione decesserit, hoc licet in alium, tamen
ordinem relabatur, ne quid in regno prouidentiae liceat temeritati.
[Greek: Argaleon de me tauta theon hos pant agoreuein.]
Neque enim fas est homini cunctas diuinae operae machinas uel ingenio
comprehendere uel explicare sermone. Hoc tantum perspexisse sufficiat, quod
naturarum omnium proditor deus idem ad bonum dirigens cuncta disponat,
dumque ea quae protulit in sui similitudinem retinere festinat, malum omne
de reipublicae suae terminis per fatalis seriem necessitatis eliminet. Quo
fit ut quae in terris abundare creduntur, si disponentem prouidentiam
spectes, nihil usquam mali esse perpendas. Sed uideo te iam dudum et
pondere quaestionis oneratum et rationis prolixitate fatigatum aliquam
carminis exspectare dulcedinem. Accipe igitur haustum quo refectus firmior
in ulteriora contendas.
 deliberare _codd._; delibare _coni._ Pulmannus.
 _Fortasse_ sinit _post_ duris _addendum est_.
"It is true," quoth I, "but since it is thy profession to explicate the
causes of hidden things, and to unfold the reasons which are covered
with darkness, I beseech thee vouchsafe to declare what conclusion thou
drawest from these things, for this miracle troubleth me above all
others." Then she smiling a little said: "Thou invitest me to a matter
which is most hardly found out, and can scarcely be sufficiently
declared; for it is such that, one doubt being taken away, innumerable
others, like the heads of Hydra, succeed, neither will they have any end
unless a man repress them with the most lively fire of his mind. For in
this matter are wont to be handled these questions: of the simplicity of
Providence; of the course of Fate; of sudden chances; of God's knowledge
and predestination, and of free will; which how weighty they are, thou
thyself discerneth. But because it is part of thy cure to know these
things also, though the time be short, yet we will endeavour to touch
them briefly. But if the sweetness of verse delight thee, thou must
forbear this pleasure for a while, until I propose unto thee some few
arguments." "As it pleaseth thee," quoth I.
Then taking as it were a new beginning, she discoursed in this manner:
"The generation of all things, and all the proceedings of mutable
natures, and whatsoever is moved in any sort, take their causes, order,
and forms from the stability of the Divine mind. This, placed in the
castle of its own simplicity, hath determined manifold ways for doing
things; which ways being considered in the purity of God's
understanding, are named Providence, but being referred to those things
which He moveth and disposeth, they are by the ancients called Fate. The
diversity of which will easily appear if we weigh the force of both. For
Providence is the very Divine reason itself, seated in the highest
Prince, which disposeth all things. But Fate is a disposition inherent
in changeable things, by which Providence connecteth all things in their
due order. For Providence embraceth all things together, though diverse,
though infinite; but Fate putteth every particular thing into motion
being distributed by places, forms, and time; so that this unfolding of
temporal order being united into the foresight of God's mind is
Providence, and the same uniting, being digested and unfolded in time,
is called Fate. Which although they be diverse yet the one dependeth on
the other. For fatal order proceedeth from the simplicity of Providence.
For as a workman conceiving the form of anything in his mind taketh his
work in hand, and executeth by order of time that which he had simply
and in a moment foreseen, so God by His Providence disposeth whatsoever
is to be done with simplicity and stability, and by Fate effecteth by
manifold ways and in the order of time those very things which He
disposeth. Wherefore, whether Fate be exercised by the subordination of
certain Divine spirits to Providence, or this fatal web be woven by a
soul or by the service of all nature, or by the heavenly motions of the
stars, by angelical virtue, or by diabolical industry, or by some or all
of these, that certainly is manifest that Providence is an immoveable
and simple form of those things which are to be done, and Fate a
moveable connexion and temporal order of those things which the Divine
simplicity hath disposed to be done. So that all that is under Fate is
also subject to Providence, to which also Fate itself obeyeth. But some
things which are placed under Providence are above the course of Fate.
And they are those things which nigh to the first Divinity, being stable
and fixed, exceed the order of fatal mobility. For as of orbs which turn
about the same centre, the inmost draweth nigh to the simplicity of the
midst, and is as it were the hinge of the rest, which are placed without
it, about which they are turned, and the outmost, wheeled with a greater
compass, by how much it departeth from the middle indivisibility of the
centre, is so much the more extended into larger spaces, but that which
is joined and coupled to that middle approacheth to simplicity, and
ceaseth to spread and flow abroad, in like manner that which departeth
farthest from the first mind is involved more deeply in the meshes of
Fate, and everything is so much the freer from Fate, by how much it
draweth nigh to the hinge of all things. And if it sticketh to the
stability of the Sovereign mind, free from motion, it surpasseth also
the necessity of Fate. Wherefore in what sort discourse of reason is
compared to pure understanding, that which is produced to that which is,
time to eternity, a circle to the centre, such is the course of moveable
Fate to the stable simplicity of Providence. That course moveth the
heaven and stars, tempereth the elements one with another, and
transformeth them by mutual changing. The same reneweth all rising and
dying things by like proceeding of fruits and seeds. This comprehendeth
also the actions and fortunes of men by an unloosable connexion of
causes, which since it proceeds from the principles of unmovable
Providence, the causes also must needs be immutable. For in this manner
things are best governed, if the simplicity which remaineth in the
Divine mind produceth an inflexible order of causes, and this order
restraineth with its own immutability things otherwise mutable, and
which would have a confused course. Whereof it ensueth that though all
things seem confused and disordered to you, who are not able to consider
this order, notwithstanding all things are disposed by their own proper
measure directing them to good. For there is nothing which is done for
the love of evil, even by the wicked themselves: whom, as hath been
abundantly proved, lewd error carrieth away while they are seeking after
that which is good, so far is it that order proceeding from the hinge of
the Sovereign Goodness should avert any from his first beginning.
But, thou wilt say, what more unjust confusion can there be than that
both adversity and prosperity should happen to the good, and in like
manner both desired and hateful things to the wicked? But are men so
completely wise that whomsoever they judge wicked or honest must needs
be so? How then are their censures contrary one to another, so that to
divers the same men seem worthy of reward and punishment! But let us
grant that some are able to discern the good from the evil. Can they
therefore behold, as is wont to be said of bodies, that inward
complexion of souls? For he that knoweth not the cause may marvel in
like manner why some sound bodies agree better with sweet things and
other with tart; and why some sick men are healed with gentle and some
with sharper physic. But to a physician who knoweth the manner and
temper both of health and sickness this is nothing strange. Now, what is
the health of souls but virtue? What sickness have they but vices? And
who either conserveth goodness or expelleth evils, but God the Ruler and
Governor of men's minds? Who beholding from His high turret of
providence seeth what is fitting for everyone, and applieth that which
He knoweth to be most convenient. Here ariseth that strange wonder of
fatal order, to wit that He that knoweth what is best, doth that which
the ignorant admire. For to touch briefly some few things of the divine
depth, which human reason is able to attain, he whom thou thinketh most
just and most observant of equity, seemeth otherwise in the eyes of
Providence which knoweth all. And our disciple Lucan noteth that the
cause of conquerers pleased the gods, and that of the conquered,
Cato. Wherefore whatsoever thou seest done here against thy
expectation is right order in the things themselves, but a perverse
confusion in thy opinion. But let there be one so well conditioned that
God and men approve and praise him; yet perhaps he is so weak a minded
man, that if he falleth into adversity, he will forsake his innocency,
which was not able to keep him in prosperity. Wherefore God's wise
dispensation spareth him that adversity might make worse, lest he should
suffer to whom difficulties are dangerous.
There is another complete in all virtues, a saint and high to God;
Providence judgeth it a sacrilege to lay affliction on him, insomuch
that she permitteth him not to be troubled so much as with corporal
sickness. For as one that excelleth me saith 'the body of an holy man is
builded of pure ether.' It happeneth often also that the chief
command is given to good men, that wickedness, which otherwise would
overflow all, may be kept down. She mixeth for others sour and sweet
according to the disposition of their souls; she troubles some lest they
should fall to dissolution by long prosperity, others are vexed with
hardships, that they may confirm the forces of their mind with the use
and exercise of patience. Some are too much afraid of that which they
are able to bear. Others make less account than there is cause of that
which they cannot endure. All these she affrayeth with afflictions that
they make trial of themselves. Many have bought the renown of this world
with a glorious death. Some, overcoming all torments, have showed by
their example that virtues cannot be conquered by miseries, which things
how well and orderly they are done, and how much to their good upon whom
they are seen to fall, there can be no doubt. For that sometime
grievous, sometime pleasant things befall in like manner the wicked,
proceedeth from the same causes. And as for adversity no man marvelleth
because all think they deserve ill. Whose punishments do both terrify
others from the like courses, and move them to amend themselves. And
their prosperity is a great argument to the good, what they ought to
judge of this happiness which they see oftentimes bestowed upon the
wicked. In which thing also is to be considered that peradventure some
have so headlong and untoward a disposition, that poverty would rather
make him worse; whose disease is cured by Providence, with giving him
store of money. Another, knowing his own guilty conscience, and
comparing his character with his own estate, is afraid lest the loss of
that should be grievous unto him, the use of which is pleasant.
Wherefore he resolveth to change his customs, and whiles he feareth to
lose his prosperity, he forsaketh wickedness. The increase of honour
undeservedly obtained hath thrown some headlong into their deserved
destruction. Others are permitted to have authority to punish others,
that they may exercise the good and punish the bad. For as there is no
league between virtuous and wicked men, so neither can the wicked agree
among themselves. Why not? Since they disagree within themselves by
reason of their vices which tear their conscience, so that they many
times do that which afterwards they wish undone. From whence that
highest Providence often worketh that wonderful miracle, that evil men
make those which are evil good. For some, considering the injustice done
them by most wicked men, inflamed with hatred of evildoers have returned
to the practice of virtue, procuring to be contrary to them whom they
hate. For it is only a divine strength to which even evil things are
good, when, by using them in due sort, it draweth some good effect out
of them. For a certain order embraceth all things, so that even that
which departeth from the order appointed to it, though it falleth into
another, yet that is order also, lest confused rashness should bear any
sway in the kingdom of Providence. 'But it is hard for me to rehearse
all this as if I were a God.' For it is impossible for any man
either to comprehend by his wit or to explicate in speech all the frame
of God's work. Be it sufficient that we have seen thus much, that God,
the author of all natures, directeth and disposeth all things to
goodness, and while He endeavoureth to retain in His own likeness those
things which He hath produced, He banisheth all evil from the bounds of
His commonwealth, by the course of fatal necessity. So that if thou
considerest the disposition of Providence, thou wilt perceive that evil,
which is thought so to abound upon earth, hath no place left for it at
all. But I see that long since burdened with so weighty a question, and
wearied with my long discourse, thou expectest the delight of verses;
wherefore take a draught, that, being refreshed, thou mayest be able to
 _Pharsal_. i. 126.
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