The city of God

The City of God: Book 4: Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen

Chapter 13

If they contend that only rational animals, as men are, are parts of God, then, on the assumption that the whole world is God, I really fail to see how they can exclude brute animals from being parts of Him. But, there is no need of arguing about that. Only consider the same rational being, man. Can you imagine anything more absurd than that, when a boy is whipped, God is whipped? Who but a madman could tolerate the idea that ‘parts’ of God should become lustful, wicked, impious, and thoroughly damnable? Then, by what right could God frown on those who do not worship Him, since it is His own ‘parts’ who do not do so?

The only thing left for our adversaries is to admit that all the gods have their own lives, that each one lives for himself, that none of them is part of anything. All are to be worshiped as far as they can be known and worshiped, but there are too many for all to be worshiped. Because Jupiter is their king, for that reason, I suppose, he is given credit for the establishment and growth of the Roman Empire. If this is not his achievement, what other god do they believe capable of undertaking a task so vast? Is not each busy with his own duties and particular work, no one interfering with another? So, they conclude that only by the King of the gods could the kingdom of men have been extended and made great.

Chapter 14

At this point, I ask: Why is not the empire itself a god of some kind? If Victory is a goddess, why not the empire? What need is there of Jupiter himself in this matter, if Victory shows herself favorable and propitious, and always goes to the side of those she would see victorious? Once her favor and good will are gained, what nations would retain their independence, even if Jupiter had nothing to do, or was otherwise engaged? What kingdom would refuse to surrender? But, possibly, just men hesitate to engage in unjust wars or to provoke peaceful neighbors who are doing no kind of wrong, merely for aggrandisement. If they really feel that way, I highly approve and commend their sentiments.

Augustine of Hippo, The City of God, Books I–VII

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