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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 15

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 15.—Whether It is Suitable for Good Men to Wish to Rule More Widely.

Let them ask, then, whether it is quite fitting for good men to rejoice in extended empire.  For the iniquity of those with whom just wars are carried on favors the growth of a kingdom, which would certainly have been small if the peace and justice of neighbors had not by any wrong provoked the carrying on of war against them; and human affairs being thus more happy, all kingdoms would have been small, rejoicing in neighborly concord; and thus there would have been very many kingdoms of nations in the world, as there are very many houses of citizens in a city.  Therefore, to carry on war and extend a kingdom over wholly subdued nations seems to bad men to be felicity, to good men necessity.  But because it would be worse that the injurious should rule over those who are more righteous, therefore even that is not unsuitably called felicity.  But beyond doubt it is greater felicity to have a good neighbor at peace, than to conquer a bad one by making war.  Your wishes are bad, when you desire that one whom you hate or fear should be in such a condition that you can conquer him.  If, therefore, by carrying on wars that were just, not impious or unrighteous, the Romans could have acquired so great an empire, ought they not to worship as a goddess even the injustice of foreigners?  For we see that this has cooperated much in extending the empire, by making foreigners so unjust that they became people with whom just wars might be carried on, and the empire increased.  And why may not injustice, at least that of foreign nations, also be a goddess, if Fear and Dread and Ague have deserved to be Roman gods?  By these two, therefore,—that is, by foreign injustice, and the goddess Victoria, for injustice stirs up causes of wars, and Victoria brings these same wars to a happy termination,—the empire has increased, even although Jove has been idle.  For what part could Jove have here, when those things which might be thought to be his benefits are held to be gods, called gods, worshipped as gods, and are themselves invoked for their own parts?  He also might have some part here, if he himself might be called Empire, just as she is called Victory.  Or if empire is the gift of Jove, why may not victory also be held to be his gift?  And it certainly would have been held to be so, had he been recognized and worshipped, not as a stone in the Capitol, but as the true King of kings and Lord of lords.


Next: Chapter 16

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