Argument-Augustin traces the parallel courses of the earthly and heavenly cities from the time of Abraham to the end of the world; and alludes to the oracles regarding Christ, both those uttered by the Sibyls, and those of the sacred prophets who wrote after the foundation of Rome, Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, Micah, and their successors.
I Promised to write of the rise, progress, and appointed end of the two cities, one of which is God's, the other this world's, in which, so far as mankind is concerned, the former is now a stranger. But first of all I undertook, so far as His grace should enable me, to refute the enemies of the city of God, who prefer their gods to Christ its founder, and fiercely hate Christians with the most deadly malice. And this I have done in the first ten books. Then, as regards my threefold promise which I have just mentioned, I have treated distinctly, in the four books which follow the tenth, of the rise of both cities. After that, I have proceeded from the first man down to the flood in one book, which is the fifteenth of this work; and from that again down to Abraham our work has followed both in chronological order. From the patriarch Abraham down to the time of the Israelite kings, at which we close our sixteenth book, and thence down to the advent of Christ Himself in the flesh, to which period the seventeenth book reaches. the city of God appears from my way of writing to have run its course alone; whereas it did not run its course alone in this age, for both cities, in their course amid mankind, certainly experienced chequered times together just as from the beginning. But I did this in order that, first of all, from the time when the promises of God began to be more clear, down to the virgin birth of Him in whom those things promised from the first were to be fulfilled, the course of that city which is God's might be made more distinctly apparent, without interpolation of foreign matter from the history of the other city, although down to the revelation of the new covenant it ran its course, not in light, but in shadow. Now, therefore, I think fit to do what I passed by, and show, so far as seems necessary, how that other city ran its course from the times of Abraham, so that attentive readers may compare the two.
The society of mortals spread abroad through the earth everywhere, and in the most diverse places, although bound together by a certain fellowship of our common nature, is yet for the most part divided against itself, and the strongest oppress the others, because all follow after their own interests and lusts, while what is longed for either suffices for none, or not for all, because it is not the very thing. For the vanquished succumb to the victorious, preferring any sort of peace and safety to freedom itself; so that they who chose to die rather than be slaves have been greatly wondered at. For in almost all nations the very voice of nature somehow proclaims, that those who happen to be conquered should choose rather to be subject to their conquerors than to be killed by all kinds of warlike destruction. This does not take place without the providence of God, in whose power it lies that any one either subdues or is subdued in war; that some are endowed with kingdoms, others made subject to kings. Now, among the very many kingdoms of the earth into which, by earthly interest or lust, society is divided (which we call by the general name of the city of this world), we see that two, settled and kept distinct from each other both in time and place, have grown far more famous than the rest, first that of the Assyrians, then that of the Romans. First came the one, then the other. The former arose in the east, and, immediately on its close, the latter in the west. I may speak of other kingdoms and other kings as appendages of these.
Ninus, then, who succeeded his father Belus, the first king of Assyria, was already the second king of that kingdom when Abraham was born in the land of the Chaldees. There was also at that time a very small kingdom of Sicyon, with which, as from an ancient date, that most universally learned man Marcus Varro begins, in writing of the Roman race. For from these kings of Sicyon he passes to the Athenians, from them to the Latins, and from these to the Romans. Yet very little is related about these kingdoms, before the foundation of Rome, in comparison with that of Assyria. For although even Sallust, the Roman historian, admits that the Athenians were very famous in Greece, yet he thinks they were greater in fame than in fact. For in speaking of them he says, "The deeds of the Athenians, as I think, were very great and magnificent, but yet somewhat less than reported by fame. But because writers of great genius arose among them, the deeds of the Athenians were celebrated throughout the world as very great. Thus the virtue of those who did them was held to be as great as men of transcendent genius could represent it to be by the power of laudatory words."(1) This city also derived no small glory from literature and philosophy, the study of which chiefly flourished there. But as regards empire, none in the earliest times was greater than the Assyrian, or so widely extended. For when Ninus the son of Belus was king, he is reported to have subdued the whole of Asia, even to the boundaries of Libya, which as to number is called the third part, but as to size is found to be the half of the whole world. The Indians in the eastern regions were the only people over whom he did not reign; but after his death Semiramis his wife made war on them. Thus it came to pass that all the people and kings in those countries were subject to the kingdom and authority of the Assyrians, and did whatever they were commanded. Now Abraham was born in that kingdom among the Chaldees, in the time of Ninus. But since Grecian affairs are much better known to us than Assyrian, and those who have diligently investigated the antiquity of the Roman nation's origin have followed the order of time through the Greeks to the Latins, and from them to the Romans, who themselves are Latins, we ought on this account, where it is needful, to mention the Assyrian kings, that it may appear how Babylon, like a first Rome, ran its course along with the city of God, which is a stranger in this world. But the things proper for insertion in this work in comparing the two cities, that is, the earthly and heavenly, ought to be taken mostly from the Greek and Latin kingdoms, where Rome herself is like a second Babylon.
At Abraham's birth, then, the second kings of Assyria and Sicyon respectively were Ninus and Europs, the first having been Belus and Aegialeus. But when God promised Abraham, on his departure from Babylonia, that he should become a great nation, and that in his seed all nations of the earth should be blessed, the Assyrians had their seventh king, the Sicyons their fifth; for the son of Ninus reigned among them after his mother Semiramis, who is said to have been put to death by him for attempting to defile him by incestuously lying with him. Some think that she founded Babylon, and indeed she may have founded it anew. But we have told, in the sixteenth book, when or by whom it was founded. Now the son of Ninus and Semiramis, who succeeded his mother in the kingdom, is also called Ninus by some, but by others Ninias, a patronymic word. Telexion then held the kingdom of the Sicyons. In his reign times were quiet and joyful to such a degree, that after his death they worshipped him as a god by offering sacrifices and by celebrating games, which are said to have been first instituted on this occasion.
Chapter 3.-What Kings Reigned in Assyria and Sicyon When, According to the Promise, Isaac Was Born to Abraham in His Hundredth Year, and When the Twins Esau and Jacob Were Born of Rebecca to Isaac in His Sixtieth Year.
In his times also, by the promise of God, Isaac, the son of Abraham, was born to his father when he was a hundred years old, of Sarah his wife, who, being barren and old, had already lost hope of issue. Aralius was then the fifth king of the Assyrians. To Isaac himself, in his sixtieth year, were born twin-sons, Esau and Jacob, whom Rebecca his wife bore to him, their grandfather Abraham, who died on completing a hundred and seventy years, being still alive, and reckoning his hundred and sixtieth year.(2) At that time there reigned as the seventh kings,-among the Assyrians, that more ancient Xerxes, who was also called Balaeus; and among the Sicyons, Thuriachus, or, as some write his name, Thurimachus. The kingdom of Argos, in which Inachus reigned first, arose in the time of Abraham's grandchildren. And I must not omit what Varro relates, that the Sicyons were also wont to sacrifice at the tomb of their seventh king Thuriachus. In the reign of Armamitres in Assyria and Leucippus in Sicyon as the eighth kings, and of Inachus as the first in Argos, God spoke to Isaac, and promised the same two things to him as to his father,-namely, the land of Canaan to his seed, and the blessing of all nations in his seed. These same things were promised to his son, Abraham's grandson, who was at first called Jacob, afterwards Israel, when Belocus was the ninth king of Assyria, and Phoroneus, the son of Inachus, reigned as the second king of Argos, Leucippus still continuing king of Sicyon. In those times, under the Argive king Phoroneus, Greece was made more famous by the institution of certain laws and judges. On the death of Phoroneus, his younger brother Phegous built a temple at his tomb, in which he was worshipped as God, and oxen were sacrificed to him. I believe they thought him worthy of so great honor, because in his part of the kingdom (for their father had divided his territories between them, in which they reigned daring his life) he had founded chapels for the worship of the gods, and had taught them to measure time, by months and years, and to that extent to keep count and reckoning of events. Men still uncultivated, admiring him for these novelties, either fancied he was, or resolved that he should be made, a god after his death. Lo also is said to have been the daughter of Inachus, who was afterwards called Isis, when she was worshipped in Egypt as a great goddess; although others write that she came as a queen out of Ethiopia, and because she ruled extensively and justly, and instituted for her subjects letters and many useful things, such divine honor was given her there after she died, that it any one said she had been human, he was charged with a capital crime.
In the reign of Balaeus, the ninth king of Assyria, and Mesappus, the eighth of Sicyon, who is said by some to have been also called Cephisos (if indeed the same man had both names, and those who put the other name in their writings have not rather confounded him with another man), while Apis was third king of Argos, Isaac died, a hundred and eighty years old, and left his twin-sons a hundred and twenty years old. Jacob, the younger of these, belonged to the city of God about which we write (the elder being wholly rejected), and had twelve sons, one of whom, called Joseph, was sold by his brothers to merchants going down to Egypt, while his grandfather Isaac was still alive. But when he was thirty years of age, Joseph stood before Pharaoh, being exalted out of the humiliation he endured, because, in divinely interpreting the king's dreams, he foretold that there would be seven years of plenty, the very rich abundance of which would be consumed by seven other years of famine that should follow. On this account the king made him ruler over Egypt, liberating him from prison, into which he had been thrown for keeping his chastity intact; for he bravely preserved it from his mistress, who wickedly loved him, and told lies to his weakly credulous master, and did not consent to commit adultery with her, but fled from her, leaving his garment in her hands when she laid hold of him. In the second of the seven years of famine Jacob came down into Egypt to his son with all he had, being a hundred and thirty years old, as he himself said in answer to the king's question. Joseph was then thirty-nine, if we add seven years of plenty and two of famine to the thirty he reckoned when honored by the king.
In these times Apis king of Argos crossed over into Egypt in ships, and, on dying there, was made Serapis, the chief god of all the Egyptians. Now Varro gives this very ready reason why, after his death, he was called, not Apis, but Serapis. The ark in which he was placed when dead, which every one now calls a sarcophagus, was then called in Greek soro\j, and they began to worship him when buried in it before his temple was built; and from Soros and Apis he was called first [Sorosapis, or] Sorapis, and then Serapis, by changing a letter, as easily happens. It was decreed regarding him also, that whoever should say he had been a man should be capitally punished. And since in every temple where Isis and Serapis were worshipped there was also an image which, with finger pressed on the lips, seemed to warn men to keep silence, Varro thinks this signifies that it should be kept secret that they had been human. But that bull which, with wonderful folly, deluded Egypt nourished with abundant delicacies in honor of him, was not called Serapis, but Apis, because they worshipped him alive without a sarcophagus. On the death of that bull, when they sought and found a calf of the same color,-that is, similarly marked with certain white spots,-they believed it was something miraculous, and divinely provided for them. Yet it was no great thing for the demons, in order to deceive them, to show to a cow when she was conceiving and pregnant the image of such a bull, which she alone could see, and by it attract the breeding passion of the mother, so that it might appear in a bodily shape in her young, just as Jacob so managed with the spotted rods that the sheep and goats were born spotted. For what men can do with real colors and substances, the demons can very easily do by showing unreal forms to breeding animals.
Apis, then, who died in Egypt, was not the king of Egypt, but of Argos. He was succeeded by his son Argus, from whose name the land was called Argos and the people Arrives, for under the earlier kings neither the place nor the nation as yet had this name. While he then reigned over Argos, and Eratus over Sicyon, and Balaeus still remained king, of Assyria, Jacob died in Egypt a hundred and forty-seven years old, after he had, when dying, blessed his sons and his grandsons by Joseph, and prophesied most plainly of Christ, saying in the blessing of Judah, "A prince shall not fail out of Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until those things come which are laid up for him; and He is the expectation of the nations."(3) In the reign of Argus, Greece began to use fruits, and to have crops of corn in cultivated fields, the seed having been brought from other countries. Argus also began to be accounted a god after his death, and was honored with a temple and sacrifices. This honor was conferred in his reign, before being given to him, on a private individual for being the first to yoke oxen in the plough. This was one Homogyrus, who was struck by lightning.
In the reign of Mamitus, the twelfth king of Assyria, and Plemnaeus, the eleventh of Sicyon, while Argus still reigned over the Argives, Joseph died in Egypt a hundred and ten years old. After his death, the people of God, increasing wonderfully, remained in Egypt a hundred and forty-five years, in tranquillity at first, until those who knew Joseph were dead. Afterward, through envy of their increase, and the suspicion that they would at length gain their freedom, they were oppressed with persecutions and the labors of intolerable servitude, amid which, however, they still grew, being multiplied with God-given fertility. During this period the same kingdoms continued in Assyria and Greece.
When Saphrus reigned as the fourteenth king of Assyria, and Orthopolis as the twelfth of Sicyon, and Criasus as the fifth of Argos, Moses was born in Eygpt, by whom the people of God were liberated from the Egyptian slavery, in which they behoved to be thus tried that they might desire the help of their Creator. Some have thought that Prometheus lived during the reign of the kings now named. He is reported to have formed men out of clay, because he was esteemed the best teacher of wisdom; yet it does not appear what wise men there were in his days. His brother Atlas is said to have been a great astrologer; and this gave occasion for the fable that he held up the sky, although the vulgar opinion about his holding up the sky appears rather to have been suggested by a high mountain named after him. Indeed, from those times many other fabulous things began to be invented in Greece; yet, down to Cecrops king of Athens, in whose reign that city received its name, and in whose reign God brought His people out of Egypt by Moses, only a few dead heroes are reported to have been deified according to the vain superstition of the Greeks. Among these were Melantomice, the wife of king Criasus, and Phorbas their son, who succeeded his father as sixth king of the Argives, and Iasus, son of Triopas, their seventh king, and their ninth king, Sthenelas, or Stheneleus, or Sthenelus,-for his name is given differently by different authors. In those times also, Mercury, the grandson of Atlas by his daughter Main, is said to have lived, according to the common report in books. He was famous for his skill in many arts, and taught them to men, for which they resolved to make him, and even believed that he deserved to be, a god after death. Hercules is said to have been later, yet belonging to the same period; although some, whom I think mistaken, assign him an earlier date than Mercury. But at whatever time they were born, it is agreed among grave historians, who have committed these ancient things to writing, that both were men, and that they merited divine honors from mortals because they conferred on them many benefits to make this life more pleasant to them. Minerva was far more ancient than these; for she is reported to have appeared in virgin age in the times of Ogyges at the lake called Triton, from which she is also styled Tritonia, the inventress truly of many works, and the more readily believed to be a goddess because her origin was so little known. For what is sung about her having sprung from the head of Jupiter belongs to the region of poetry and fable, and not to that of history and real fact. And historical writers are not agreed when Ogyges flourished, in whose time also a great flood occurred,-not that greatest one from which no man escaped except those who could get into the ark, for neither Greek nor Latin history knew of it, yet a greater flood than that which happened afterward in Deucalion's time. For Varro begins the book I have already mentioned at this date, and does not propose to himself, as the starting-point from which he may arrive at Roman affairs, anything more ancient than the flood of Ogyges, that is, which happened in the time of Ogyges. Now our writers of chronicles-first Eusebius, and afterwards Jerome, who entirely follow some earlier historians in this opinion-relate that the flood of Ogyges happened more than three hundred years after, during the reign of Phoroneus, the second king of Argos. But whenever he may have lived, Minerva was already worshipped as a goddess when Cecrops reigned in Athens, in whose reign the city itself is reported to have been rebuilt or founded.
Athens certainly derived its name from Minerva, who in Greek is called 'Aqhnh, and Varro points out the following reason why it was so called. When an olive-tree suddenly appeared there, and water burst forth in another place, these prodigies moved the king to send to the Delphic Apollo to inquire what they meant and what he should do. He answered that the olive signified Minerva, the water Neptune, and that the citizens had it in their power to name their city as they chose, after either of these two gods whose signs these were. On receiving this oracle, Cecrops convoked all the citizens of either sex to give their vote, for it was then the custom in those parts for the women also to take part in public deliberations. When the multitude was consulted, the men gave their votes for Neptune, the women for Minerva; and as the women had a majority of one, Minerva conquered. Then Neptune, being enraged, laid waste the lands of the Athenians, by casting up the waves of the sea; for the demons have no difficulty in scattering any waters more widely. The same authority said, that to appease his wrath the women should be visited by the Athenians with the three-fold punishment-that they should no longer have any vote; that none of their children should be named after their mothers; and that no one should call them Athenians. Thus that city, the mother and nurse of liberal doctrines, and of so many and so great philosophers, than whom Greece had noticing more famous and noble, by the mockery of demons about the strife of their gods, a male and female, and from the victory of the female one through the women, received the name of Athens; and, on being damaged by the vanquished god, was compelled to punish the very victory of the victress, fearing the waters of Neptune more than the arms of Minerva. For in the women who were thus punished, Minerva, who had conquered, was conquered too, and could not even help her voters so far that, although the right of voting was henceforth lost, and the mothers could not give their names to the children, they might at least be allowed to be called Athenians, and to merit the name of that goddess whom they had made victorious over a male god by giving her their votes. What and how much could be said about this, if we had not to hasten to other things in our discourse, is obvious.
Marcus Varro, however, is not willing to credit lying fables against the gods, lest he should find something dishonoring to their majesty; and therefore he will not admit that the Areopagus, the place where the Apostle Paul disputed with the Athenians, got this name because Mars, who in Greek is called !Arhj, when he was charged with the crime of homicide, and was judged by twelve gods in that field, was acquitted by the sentence of six; because it was the custom, when the votes were equal, to acquit rather than condemn. Against this opinion, which is much most widely published, he tries, from the notices of obscure books, to support another reason for this name, lest the Athenians should be thought to have called it Areopagus from the words" Mars" and" field,"(4) as if it were the field of Mars, to the dishonor of the gods, forsooth, from whom he thinks lawsuits and judgments far removed. And he asserts that this which is said about Mars is not less false than what is said about the three goddesses, to wit, Juno, Minerva, and Venus, whose contest for the palm of beauty, before Paris as judge, in order to obtain the golden apple, is not only related, but is celebrated in songs and dances amid the applause of the theatres, in plays meant to please the gods who take pleasure in these crimes of their own, whether real or fabled. Varro does not believe these things, because they are incompatible with the nature of the gods and of morality; and yet, in giving not a fabulous but a historic reason for the name of Athens, he inserts in his books the strife between Neptune and Minerva as to whose name should be given to that city, which was so great that, when they contended by the display of prodigies, even Apollo dared not judge between them when consulted; but, in order to end the strife of the gods, just as Jupiter sent the three goddesses we have named to Paris, so he sent them to men, when Minerva won by the vote, and yet was defeated by the punishment of her own voters, for she was unable to confer the title of Athenians on the women who were her friends, although she could impose it on the men who were her opponents. In these times, when Cranaos reigned at Athens as the successor of Cecrops, as Varro writes, but, according to our Eusebius and Jerome, while Cecrops himself still remained, the flood occurred which is called Deucalion's, because it occurred chiefly in those parts of the earth in which he reigned. But this flood did not at all reach Egypt or its vicinity.
Moses led the people out of Egypt in the last time of Cecrops king of Athens, when Ascatades reigned in Assyria, Marathus in Sicyon, Triopas in Argos; and having led forth the people, he gave them at Mount Sinai the law he received from God, which is called the Old Testament, because it has earthly promises, and because, through Jesus Christ, there was to be a New Testament, in which the kingdom of heaven should be promised. For the same order behoved to be observed in this as is observed in each man who prospers in God, according to the saying of the apostle, "That is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural," since, as he says, and that truly, "The first man of the earth, is earthly; the second man, from heaven, is heavenly."(5) Now Moses ruled the people for forty years in the wilderness, and died a hundred and twenty years old, after he had prophesied of Christ by the types of carnal observances in the tabernacle, priesthood, and sacrifices, and many other mystic ordinances. Joshua the son of Nun succeeded Moses, and settled in the land of promise the people he had brought in, having by divine authority conquered the people by whom it was formerly possessed. He also died, after ruling the people twenty-seven years after the death of Moses, when Amyntas reigned in Assyria as the eighteenth king, Coracos as the sixteenth in Sicyon, Danaos as the tenth in Argos, Ericthonius as the fourth in Athens.
During this period, that is, from Israel's exodus from Egypt down to the death of Joshua the son of Nun, through whom that people received the land of promise, rituals were instituted to the false gods by the kings of Greece, which, by stated celebration, recalled the memory of the flood, and of men's deliverance from it, and of that troublous life they then led in migrating to and fro between the heights and the plains. For even the Luperci,(6) when they ascend and descend the sacred path, are said to represent the men who sought the mountain summits because of the inundation of water, and returned to the lowlands on its subsidence. In those times, Dionysus, who was also called Father Liber, and was esteemed a god after death, is said to have shown the vine to his host in Attica. Then the musical games were instituted for tile Delphic Apollo, to appease his anger, through which they thought the regions of Greece were afflicted with barrenness, because they had not defended his temple which Danaos burnt when he invaded those lands; for they were warned by his oracle to institute these games. But king Ericthonius first instituted games to him in Attica, and not to him only, but also to Minerva, in which games the olive was given as the prize to the victors, because they relate that Minerva was the discoverer of that fruit, as Liber was of the grape. In those years Europa is alleged to have been carried off by Xanthus king of Crete (to whom we find some give another name), and to have borne him Rhadamanthus, Sarpedon, and Minos, who are more commonly reported to have been the sons of Jupiter by the same woman. Now those who worship such gods regard what we have said about Xanthus king of Crete as true history; but this about Jupiter, which the poets sing, the theatres applaud, and the people celebrate, as empty fable got up as a reason for games to appease the deities, even with the false ascription of crimes to them. In those times Hercules was held in honor in Tyre, but that was not the same one as he whom we spoke of above. In the more secret history there are said to have been several who were called Father Liber and Hercules. This Hercules, whose great deeds are reckoned as twelve (not including the slaughter of Antaeus the African, because that affair pertains to another Hercules), is declared in their books to have burned himself on Mount (Eta, because he was not able, by that strength with which he had subdued monsters, to endure the disease under which he languished. At that time the king, or rather tyrant Busiris, who is alleged to have been the son of Neptune by Libya the daughter of Epaphus, is said to have offered up his guests in sacrifice to the gods. Now it must not be believed that Neptune committed this adultery, lest the gods should be criminated; yet such things must be ascribed to them by the poets and in the theatres, that they may be pleased with them. Vulcan and Minerva are said to have been the parents of Ericthonius king of Athens, in whose last years Joshua the son of Nun is found to have died. But since they will have it that Minerva is a virgin, they say that Vulcan, being disturbed in the struggle between them, poured out his seed into the earth, and on that account the man born of it received that name; for in the Greek language e!rij is "strife," and xqw\n "earth," of which two words Ericthonius is a compound. Yet it must be admitted that the more learned disprove and disown such things concerning their gods, and declare that this fabulous belief originated in the fact that in the temple at Athens, which Vulcan and Minerva had in common, a boy who had been exposed was found wrapped up in the coils of a dragon, which signified that he would become great, and, as his parents were unknown, he was called the son of Vulcan and Minerva, because they had the temple in common. Yet that fable accounts for the origin of his name better than this history. But what does it matter to us? Let the one in books that speak the truth edify religious men, and the other in lying fables delight impure demons. Yet these religious men worship them as gods. Still, while they deny these things concerning them they cannot clear them of all crime, because at their demand they exhibit plays in which the very things they wisely deny are basely done, and the gods are appeased by these false and base things. Now, even although the play celebrates an unreal crime of the gods, yet to delight in the ascription of an unreal crime is a real one.
After the death of Joshua the son of Nun, the people of God had judges, in whose times they were alternately humbled by afflictions on account of their sins, and consoled by prosperity through the compassion of God. In those times were invented the fables about Triptolemus, who, at the command of Ceres, borne by winged snakes, bestowed corn on the needy lands in flying over them; about that beast the Minotaur, which was shut up in the Labyrinth, from which men who entered its inextricable mazes could find no exit; about the Centaurs, whose form was a compound of horse and man; about Cerberus, the three-headed dog of hell; about Phryxus and his sister Hellas, who fled, borne by a winged ram; about the Gorgon, whose hair was composed of serpents, and who turned those who looked on her into stone; about Bellerophon, who was carried by a winged horse called Pegasus; about Amphion, who charmed and attracted the stones by the sweetness of his harp; about the artificer Daedalus and his son Icarus, who flew on wings they had fitted on; about Oedipus, who compelled a certain four-footed monster with a human face, called a sphynx, to destroy herself by casting herself headlong, having solved the riddle she was wont to propose as insoluble; about Antaeus, who was the son of the earth, for which reason, on falling on the earth, he was wont to rise up stronger, whom Hercules slew; and perhaps there are others which I have forgotten. These fables, easily found in histories containing a true account of events, bring us down to the Trojan war, at which Marcus Varro has closed his second book about the race of the Roman people; and they are so skillfully invented by men as to involve no scandal to the gods. But whoever have pretended as to Jupiter's rape of Ganymede, a very beautiful boy, that king Tantalus committed the crime, and the fable ascribed it to Jupiter; or as to his impregnating Danäe as a golden shower, that it means that the woman's virtue was corrupted by gold: whether these things were really done or only fabled in those days, or were really done by others and falsely ascribed to Jupiter, it is impossible to tell how much wickedness must have been taken for granted in men's hearts that they should be thought able to listen to such lies with patience. And yet they willingly accepted them, when, indeed, the more devotedly they worshipped Jupiter, they ought the more severely to have punished those who durst say such things of him. But they not only were not angry at those who invented these things, but were afraid that the gods would be angry at them if they did not act such fictions even in the theatres. In those times Latona bore Apollo, not him of whose oracle we have spoken above as so often consulted, but him who is said, along with Hercules, to have fed the flocks of king Admetus; yet he was so believed to be a god, that very many, indeed almost all, have believed him to be the selfsame Apollo. Then also Father Liber made war in India, and led in his army many women called Bacchae, who were notable not so much for valor as for fury. Some, indeed, write that this Liber was both conquered and bound and some that he was slain in Persia, even telling where he was buried; and yet in his name, as that of a god, the unclean demons have instituted the sacred, or rather the sacrilegious, Bacchanalia, of the outrageous vileness of which the senate, after many years, became so much ashamed as to prohibit them in the city of Rome. Men believed that in those times Perseus and his wife Andromeda were raised into heaven after their death, so that they were not ashamed or afraid to mark out their images by constellations, and call them by their names.
During the same period of time arose the poets, who were also called theologues, because they made hymns about the gods; yet about such gods as, although great men, were yet but men, or the elements of this world which the true God made, or creatures who were ordained as principalities and powers according to the will of the Creator and their own merit. And if, among much that was vain and false, they sang anything of the one true God, yet, by worshipping Him along with others who are not gods, and showing them the service that is due to Him alone, they did not serve Him at all rightly; and even such poets as Orpheus, Musaeus, and Linus, were unable to abstain from dishonoring their gods by fables. But yet these theologues worshipped the gods, and were not worshipped as gods, although the city of the ungodly is wont, I know not how, to set Orpheus over the sacred, or rather sacrilegious, rites of hell. The wife of king Athamas, who was called Ino, and her son Melicertes, perished by throwing themselves into the sea, and were, according to popular belief, reckoned among the gods, like other men of the same times, [among whom were] Castor and Pollux. The Greeks, indeed, called her who was the mother of Melicertes, Leucothea, the Latins, Matuta; but both thought her a goddess.
During those times the kingdom of Argos came to an end; being transferred to Mycene, from which Agamemnon came, and the kingdom of Laurentum arose, of which Picus son of Saturn was the first king, when the woman Deborah judged the Hebrews; bill it was the Spirit of God who used her as His agent, for she was also a prophetess, although her prophecy is so obscure that we could not demonstrate, without a long discussion, that it was uttered concerning Christ. Now the Laurentes already reigned in Italy, from whom the origin of the Roman people is quite evidently derived after the Greeks; yet the kingdom of Assyria still lasted, in which Lampares was the twenty-third king when Picus first began to reign at Laurentum. The worshippers of such gods may see what they are to think of Saturn the father of Picus, who deny that he was a man; of whom some also have written that he himself reigned in Italy before Picus his son; and Virgil in his well-known book says,
"That race indocile, and through mountains highDispersed, he settled, and endowed with laws,And named their country Latium, becauseLatent within their coasts he dwelt secure.Tradition says the golden ages pureBegan when he was king."(7)
But they regard these as poetic fancies, and assert that the father of Picus was Sterces rather, and relate that, being a most skillful husbandman, he discovered that the fields could be fertilized by the dung of animals, which is called stercus from his name. Some say he was called Stercutius. But for whatever reason they chose to call him Saturn, it is yet certain they made this Sterces or Stercutius a god for his merit in agriculture; and they likewise received into the number of these gods Picus his son, whom they affirm to have been a famous augur and warrior. Picus begot Faunus, the second king of Laurentum; and he too is, or was, a god with them. These divine honors they gave to dead men before the Trojan war.
Troy was overthrown, and its destruction was everywhere sung and made well known even to boys; for it was signally published and spread abroad, both by its own greatness and by writers of excellent style. And this was done in the reign of Latinus the son of Faunus, from whom the kingdom began to be called Latium instead of Laurentum. The victorious Greeks, on leaving Troy destroyed and returning to their own countries, were torn and crushed by divers and horrible calamities. Yet even from among them they increased the number of their gods for they made Diomede a god. They allege that his return home was prevented by a divinely imposed punishment, and they prove, not by fabulous and poetic falsehood, but by historic attestation, that his companions were turned into birds. Yet they think that, even although he was made a god, he could neither restore them to the human form by his own power, nor yet obtain it from Jupiter his king, as a favor granted to a new inhabitant of heaven. They also say that his temple is in the island of Diomedaea, not far from Mount Garganus in Apulia, and that these birds fly round about this temple, and worship in it with such wonderful obedience, that they fill their beaks with water and sprinkle it; and if Greeks, or those born of the Greek race, come there, they are not only still, but fly to meet them; but if they are foreigners, they fly up at their heads, and wound them with such severe strokes as even to kill them. For they are said to be well enough armed for these combats with their hard and large beaks.
In support of this story, Varro relates others no less incredible about that most famous sorceress Circe, who changed the companions of Ulysses into beasts, and about the Arcadians, who, by lot, swam across a certain pool, and were turned into wolves there, and lived in the deserts of that region with wild beasts like themselves. But if they never fed on human flesh for nine years, they were restored to the human form on swimming back again through the same pool. Finally, he expressly names one Demaenetus, who, on tasting a boy offered up in sacrifice by the Arcadians to their god Lycaeus according to their custom, was changed into a wolf, and, being restored to his proper form in the tenth year, trained himself as a pugilist, and was victorious at the Olympic games. And the same historian thinks that the epithet Lycaeus was applied in Arcadia to Pan and Jupiter for no other reason than this metamorphosis of men into wolves, because it was thought it could not be wrought except by a divine power. For a wolf is called in Greek luko\j, from which the name Lycaeus appears to be formed. He says also that the Roman Luperci were as it were sprung of the seed of these mysteries.
Perhaps our readers expect us to say something about this so great delusion wrought by the demons; and what shall we say but that men must fly out of the midst of Babylon?(8) For this prophetic precept is to be understood spiritually in this sense, that by going forward in the living God, by the steps of faith, which worketh by love, we must flee out of the city of this world, which is altogether a society of ungodly angels and men. Yea, the greater we see the power of the demons to be in these depths, so much the more tenaciously must we cleave to the Mediator through whom we ascend from these lowest to the highest places. For if we should say these things are not to be credited, there are not wanting even now some who would affirm that they had either heard on the best authority, or even themselves experienced, something of that kind. Indeed we ourselves, when in Italy, heard such things about a certain region there where landladies of inns, imbued with these wicked arts, were said to be in the habit of giving to such travellers as they chose, or could manage, something in a piece of cheese by which they were changed on the spot into beasts of burden, and carried whatever was necessary, and were restored to their own form when the work was done. Yet their mind did not become bestial, but remained rational and human, just as Apuleius, in the books he wrote with the title of The Golden Ass, has told, or feigned, that it happened to his own self that, on taking poison, he became an ass, while retaining his human mind.
These things are either false, or so extraordinary as to be with good reason disbelieved. But it is to be most firmly believed that Almighty God can do whatever He pleases, whether in punishing or favoring, and that the demons can accomplish nothing by their natural power (for their created being is itself angelic, although made malign by their own fault), except what He may permit, whose judgments are often hidden, but never unrighteous. And indeed the demons, if they really do such things as these on which this discussion turns, do not create real substances, but only change the appearance of things created by the true God so as to make them seem to be what they are not. I cannot therefore believe that even the body, much less the mind, can really be changed into bestial forms and lineaments by any reason, art, or power of the demons; but the phantasm of a man which even in thought or dreams goes through innumerable changes may, when the man's senses are laid asleep or overpowered, be presented to the senses of others in a corporeal form, in some indescribable way unknown to me, so that men's bodies themselves may lie somewhere, alive, indeed, yet with their senses locked up much more heavily and firmly than by sleep, while that phantasm, as it were embodied in the shape of some animal, may appear to the senses of others, and may even seem to the man himself to be changed, just as he may seem to himself in sleep to be so changed, and to bear burdens; and these burdens, if they are real substances, are borne by the demons, that men may be deceived by beholding at the same time the real substance of the burdens and the simulated bodies of the beasts of burden. For a certain man called Praestantius used to tell that it had happened to his father in his own house, that he took that poison in a piece of cheese, and lay in his bed as if sleeping, yet could by no means be aroused. But he said that after a few days he as it were woke up and related the things he had suffered as if they had been dreams, namely, that he had been made a sumpter horse, and, along with other beasts of burden, had carried provisions for the soldiers of what is called the Rhoetian Legion, because it was sent to Rhoetia. And all this was found to have taken place just as he told, yet it had seemed to him to be his own dream. And another man declared that in his own house at night, before he slept, he saw a certain philosopher, whom he knew very well, come to him and explain to him some things in the Platonic philosophy which he had previously declined to explain when asked. And when he had asked this philosopher why he did in his house what he had refused to do at home, he said, "I did not do it, but I dreamed I had done it." And thus what the one saw when sleeping was shown to the other when awake by a phantasmal image.
These things have not come to us from persons we might deem unworthy of credit, but from informants we could not suppose to be deceiving us. Therefore what men say and have committed to writing about the Arcadians being often changed into wolves by the Arcadian gods, or demons rather, and what is told in song about Circe transforming the companions of Ulysses,(9) if they were really done, may, in my opinion, have been done in the way I have said. As for Diomede's birds, since their race is alleged to have been perpetuated by constant propagation, I believe they were not made through the metamorphosis of men, but were slyly substituted for them on their removal, just as the hind was for Iphigenia, the daughter of king Agamemnon. For juggleries of this kind could not be difficult for the demons if permitted by the judgment of God; and since that virgin was afterwards, found alive it is easy to see that a hind had been slyly substituted for her. But because the companions of Diomede were of a sudden nowhere to be seen, and afterwards could nowhere be found, being destroyed by bad avenging angels, they were believed to have been changed into those birds, which were secretly brought there from other places where such birds were, and suddenly substituted for them by fraud. But that they bring water in their beaks and sprinkle it on the temple of Diomede, and that they fawn on men of Greek race and persecute aliens, is no wonderful thing to be done by the inward influence of the demons, whose interest it is to persuade men that Diomede was made a god, and thus to beguile them into worshipping many false gods, to the great dishonor of the true God; and to serve dead men, who even in their lifetime did not truly live, with temples, altars, sacrifices, and priests, all which, when of the right kind, are due only to the one living and true God.
After the capture and destruction of Troy, Aeneas, with twenty ships laden with the Trojan relics, came into Italy, when Latinus reigned there, Menestheus in Athens, Polyphidos in Sicyon, and Tautanos in Assyria, and Abdon was judge of the Hebrews. On the death of Latinus, Aeneas reigned three years, the same kings continuing in the above-named places, except that Pelasgus was now king in Sicyon, and Samson was judge of the Hebrews, who is thought to be Hercules, because of his wonderful strength. Now the Latins made Aeneas one of their gods, because at his death he was nowhere to be found. The Sabines also placed among the gods their first king, Sancus, [Sangus], or Sanctus, as some call him. At that time Codrus king of Athens exposed himself incognito to be slain by the Peloponnesian foes of that city, and so was slain. In this way, they say, he delivered his country. For the Peloponnesians had received a response from the oracle, that they should overcome the Athenians only on condition that they did not slay their king. Therefore he deceived them by appearing in a poor man's dress, and provoking them, by quarrelling, to murder him. Whence Virgil says, "Or the quarrels of Codrus."(10) And the Athenians worshipped this man as a god with sacrificial honors. The fourth king of the Latins was Silvius the son of Aeneas, not by Creusa, of whom Ascanius the third king was born, but by Lavinia the daughter of Latinus, and he is said to have been his posthumous child. Oneus was the twenty-ninth king of Assyria, Melanthus the sixteenth of the Athenians, and Eli the priest was judge of the Hebrews; and the kingdom of Sicyon then came to an end, after lasting, it is said, for nine hundred and fifty-nine years.
While these kings reigned in the places mentioned, the period of the judges being ended, the kingdom of Israel next began with king Saul, when Samuel the prophet lived. At that date those Latin kings began who were surnamed Silvii, having that surname, in addition to their proper name, from their predecessor, that son of Aeneas who was called Silvius; just as, long afterward, the successors of Caesar Augustus were surnamed Caesars. Saul being rejected, so that none of his issue should reign, on his death David succeeded him in the kingdom, after he had reigned forty years. Then the Athenians ceased to have kings after the death of Codrus, and began to have a magistracy to rule the republic. After David, who also reigned forty years, his son Solomon was king of Israel, who built that most noble temple of God at Jerusalem. In his time Alba was built among the Latins, from which thereafter the kings began to be styled kings not of the Latins, but of the Albans, although in the same Latium. Solomon was succeeded by his son Rehoboam, under whom that people was divided into two kingdoms, and its separate parts began to have separate kings.
After Aeneas, whom they deified, Latium had eleven kings, none of whom was deified. But Aventinus, who was the twelfth after Aeneas, having been laid low in war, and buried in that hill still called by his name, was added to the number of such gods as they made for themselves. Some, indeed, were unwilling to write that he was slain in battle, but said he was nowhere to be found, and that it was not from his name, but from the alighting of birds, that hill was called Aventinus.(11) After this no god was made in Latium except Romulus the founder of Rome. But two kings are found between these two, the first of whom I shall describe in the Virgilian verse:
"Next came that Procas, glory of the Trojan race."(12)
That greatest of all kingdoms, the Assyrian, had its long duration brought to a close in his time, the time of Rome's birth drawing nigh. For the Assyrian empire was transferred to the Medes after nearly thirteen hundred and five years, if we include the reign of Belus, who begot Ninus, and, content with a small kingdom, was the first king there. Now Procas reigned before Amulius. And Amulius had made his brother Numitor's daughter, Rhea by name, who was also called Ilia, a vestal virgin, who conceived twin sons by Mars, as they will have it, in that way honoring or excusing her adultery, adding as a proof that a she-wolf nursed the infants when exposed. For they think this kind of beast belongs to Mars so that the she-wolf is believed to have given her teats to the infants, because she knew they were the sons of Mars her lord; although there are not wanting persons who say that when the crying babes lay exposed, they were first of all picked up by I know not what harlot, and sucked her breasts first (now harlots were called lupae, she-wolves, from which their vile abodes are even yet called lupanaria), and that afterwards they came into the hands of the shepherd Faustulus, and were nursed by Acca his wife. Yet what wonder is it, if, to rebuke the king who had cruelly ordered them to be thrown into the water, God was pleased, after divinely delivering them from the water, to succor, by means of a wild beast giving milk, these infants by whom so great a city was to be rounded? Amulius was succeeded in the Latian kingdom by his brother Numitor, the grandfather of Romulus; and Rome was rounded in the first year of this Numitor, who from that time reigned along with his grandson Romulus.
To be brief, the city of Rome was rounded, like another Babylon, and as it were the daughter of the former Babylon, by which God was pleased to conquer the whole world, and subdue it far and wide by bringing it into one fellowship of government and laws. For there were already powerful and brave peoples and nations trained to arms, who did not easily yield, and whose subjugation necessarily involved great danger and destruction as well as great and horrible labor. For when the Assyrian kingdom subdued almost all Asia, although this was done by fighting, yet the wars could not be very fierce or difficult, because the nations were as yet untrained to resist, and neither so many nor so great as afterward; forasmuch as, after that greatest and indeed universal flood, when only eight men escaped in Noah's ark, not much more than a thousand years had passed when Ninus subdued all Asia with the exception of India. But Rome did not with the same quickness and facility wholly subdue all those nations of the east and west which we see brought under the Roman empire, because, in its gradual increase, in whatever direction it was extended, it found them strong and warlike. At the time when Rome was rounded, then, the people of Israel had been in the land of promise seven hundred and eighteen years. Of these years twenty-seven belong to Joshua the son of Nun, and after that three hundred and twenty-nine to the period of the judges. But from the time when the kings began to reign there, three hundred and sixty-two years had passed. And at that time there was a king in Judah called Ahaz, or, as others compute, Hezekiah his successor, the best and most pious king, who it is admitted reigned in the times of Romulus. And in that part of the Hebrew nation called Israel, Hoshea had begun to reign.
Chapter 23.-Of the Erythraean Sibyl, Who is Known to Have Sung Many Things About Christ More Plainly Than the Other Sibyls.(13)
Some say the Erythraean sibyl prophesied at this time. Now Varro declares there were many sibyls, and not merely one. This sibyl of Erythraecertainly wrote some things concerning Christ which are quite manifest, and we first read them in the Latin tongue in verses of bad Latin, and unrhythmical, through the unskillfulness, as we afterwards learned, of some interpreter unknown to me. For Flaccianus, a very famous man, who was also a proconsul, a man of most ready eloquence and much learning, when we were speaking about Christ, produced a Greek manuscript, saying that it was the prophecies of the Erythraean sibyl, in which he pointed out a certain passage which had the initial letters of the lines so arranged that these words could be read in them: 'Ihsou=j Xristoj Qeou= uio\j swthr, which means, "Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Saviour." And these verses, of which the initial letters yield that meaning, contain what follows as translated by some one into Latin in good rhythm:
I Judgment shall moisten the earth with the sweatof its standard,
H Ever enduring, behold the King shall comethrough the ages,
S Sent to be here in the flesh, and Judge at the lastof the world.
O O God, the believing and faithless alike shall behold Thee
U Uplifted with saints, when at last the ages areended.
S Seated before Him are souls in the flesh for Hisjudgment.
X Hid in thick vapors, the while desolate lieth theearth.
R Rejected by men are the idols and long hiddentreasures;
E Earth is consumed by the fire, and it searcheth theocean and heaven;
I Issuing forth, it destroyeth the terrible portals ofhell.
S Saints in their body and soul freedom and lightshall inherit:
T Those who are guilty shall burn in fire and brimstone for ever.
O Occult actions revealing, each one shall publishhis secrets;
S Secrets of every man's heart God shall reveal inthe light.
Q Then shall be weeping and wailing, yea, andgnashing of teeth;
E Eclipsed is the sun, and silenced the stars in theirchorus.
O Over and gone is the splendor of moonlight,melted the heaven,
U Uplifted by Him are the valleys, and east downthe mountains.
U Utterly gone among men are distinctions of loftyand lowly.
I Into the plains rush the hills, the skies and oceansare mingled.
O Oh, what an end of all things! earth broken inpieces shall perish;
S Swelling together at once shall the waters andflames flow in rivers.
S Sounding the archangel's trumpet shall peal downfrom heaven,
W Over the wicked who groan in their guilt and theirmanifold sorrows.
T Trembling, the earth shall be opened, revealingchaos and hell.
H Every king before God shall stand in that day tobe judged.
R Rivers of fire and brimstone shall fall from theheavens.
In these Latin verses the meaning of the Greek is correctly given, although not in the exact order of the lines as connected with the initial letters; for in three of them, the fifth, eighteenth, and nineteenth, where the Greek letter g occurs, Latin words could not be found beginning with the corresponding letter, and yielding a suitable meaning. So that, if we note down together the initial letters of all the lines in our Latin translation except those three in which we retain the letter T in the proper place, they will express in five Greek words this meaning, "Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Saviour." And the verses are twenty-seven, which is the cube of three. For three times three are nine; and nine itself, if tripled, so as to rise from the superficial square to the cube, comes to twenty-seven. But if you join the initial letters of these five Greek words, =Ihsouj xristoj Qeou uioj swthr, which mean, "Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Saviour," they will make the word ikduj, that is, "fish," in which word Christ is mystically understood, because He was able to live, that is, to exist, without sin in the abyss of this mortality as in the depth of waters."(14)
But this sibyl, whether she is the Erythraean, or, as some rather believe, the Cumaean, in her whole poem, of which this is a very small portion, not only has nothing that can relate to the worship of the false or reigned gods, but rather speaks against them and their worshippers in such a way that we might even think she ought to be reckoned among those who belong to the city of God. Lactantius also inserted in his work the prophecies about Christ of a certain sibyl, he does not say which. But I have thought fit to combine in a single extract, which may seem long, what he has set down in many short quotations. She says; "Afterward He shall come into the injurious hands of the unbelieving, and they will give God buffets with profane hands, and with impure mouth will spit out envenomed spittle; but He will with simplicity yield His holy back to stripes. And He will hold His peace when struck with the fist, that no one may find out what word, or whence, He comes to speak to hell; and He shall be crowned with a crown of thorns. And they gave Him gall for meat, and vinegar for His thirst: they will spread this table of inhospitality. For thou thyself, being foolish, hast not understood thy God, deluding the minds of mortals, but hast both crowned Him with thorns and mingled for Him bitter gall. But the veil of the temple shall be rent; and at midday it shall be darker than night for three hours. And He shall die the death, taking sleep for three days; and then returning from hell, He first shall come to the light, the beginning of the resurrection being shown to the recalled." Lactantius made use of these sibylline testimonies, introducing them bit by bit in the course of his discussion as the things he intended to prove seemed to require, and we have set them down in one connected series, uninterrupted by comment, only taking care to mark them by capitals, if only the transcribers do not neglect to preserve them hereafter. Some writers, indeed, say that the Erythraean sibyl was not in the time of Romulus, but of the Trojan war.
Chapter 24.-That the Seven Sages Flourished in the Reign of Romulus, When the Ten Tribes Which Were Called Israel Were Led into Captivity by the Chaldeans, and Romulus, When Dead, Had Divine Honors Conferred on Him.
While Romulus reigned, Thales the Milesian is said to have lived, being one of the seven sages, who succeeded the theological poets, of whom Orpheus was the most renowned, and were called Sofoi, that is, sages. During that time the ten tribes, which on the division of the people were called Israel, were conquered by the Chaldeans and led captive into their lands, while the two tribes which were called Judah, and had the seat of their kingdom in Jerusalem, remained in the land of Judea. As Romulus, when dead, could nowhere be found, the Romans, as is everywhere notorious, placed him among the gods,-a thing which by that time had already ceased to be done, and which was not done afterwards till the time of the Caesars, and then not through error, but in flattery; so that Cicero ascribes great praises to Romulus, because he merited such honors not in rude and unlearned times, when men were easily deceived, but in times already polished and learned, although the subtle and acute loquacity of the philosophers had not yet culminated. But although the later times did not deify dead men, still they did not cease to hold and worship as gods those deified of old; nay, by images, which the ancients never had, they even increased the allurements of vain and impious superstition, the unclean demons effecting this in their heart, and also deceiving them by lying oracles, so that even the fabulous crimes of the gods, which were not once imagined by a more polite age, were yet basely acted in the plays in honor of these same false deities. Numa reigned after Romulus; and although he had thought that Rome would be better defended the more gods there were, yet on his death he himself was not counted worthy of a place among them, as if it were supposed that he had so crowded heaven that a place could not be found for him there. They report that the Samian sibyl lived while he reigned at Rome, and when Manasseh began to reign over the Hebrews,-an impious king, by whom the prophet Isaiah is said to have been slain.
When Zedekiah reigned over the Hebrews, and Tarquinius Priscus, the successor of Ancus Martius, over the Romans, the Jewish people was led captive into Babylon, Jerusalem and the temple built by Solomon being overthrown. For the prophets, in chiding them for their iniquity and impiety, predicted that these things should come to pass, especially Jeremiah, who even stated the number of years. Pittacus of Mitylene, another of the sages, is reported to have lived at that time. And Eusebius writes that, while the people of God were held captive in Babylon, the five other sages lived, who must be added to Thales, whom we mentioned above, and Pittacus, in order to make up the seven. These are Solon of Athens, Chilo of Lacedaemon, Periander of Corinth, Cleobulus of Lindus, and Bias of Priene. These flourished after the theological poets, and were called sages, because they excelled other men in a certain laudable line of life, and summed up some moral precepts in epigrammatic sayings. But they left posterity no literary monuments, except that Solon is alleged to have given certain laws to the Athenians, and Thales was a natural philosopher, and left books of his doctrine in short proverbs. In that time of the Jewish captivity, Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Xenophanes, the natural philosophers, flourished. Pythagoras also lived then, and at this time the name philosopher was first used.
At this time, Cyrus king of Persia, who also ruled the Chaldeans and Assyrians, having somewhat relaxed the captivity of the Jews, made fifty thousand of them return in order to rebuild the temple. They only began the first foundations and built the altar; but, owing to hostile invasions, they were unable to go on, and the work was put off to the time of Darius. During the same time also those things were done which are written in the book of Judith, which, indeed, the Jews are said not to have received into the canon of the Scriptures. Under Darius king of Persia, then, on the completion of the seventy years predicted by Jeremiah the prophet, the captivity of the Jews was brought to an end, and they were restored to liberty. Tarquin then reigned as the seventh king of the Romans. On his expulsion, they also began to be free from the rule of their kings. Down to this time the people of Israel had prophets; but, although they were numerous, the canonical writings of only a few of them have been preserved among the Jews and among us. In closing the previous book, I promised to set down something in this one about them, and I shall now do so.
Chapter 27.-Of the Times of the Prophets Whose Oracles are Contained in Books and Who Sang Many Things About the Call of the Gentiles at the Time When the Roman Kingdom Began and the Assyrian Came to an End.
In order that we may be able to consider these times, let us go back a little to earlier times. At the beginning of the book of the prophet Hosea, who is placed first of twelve, it is written, "The word of the Lord which came to Hoses in the days of Uzziah, Jothan, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah."(15) Amos also writes that he prophesied in the days of Uzziah, and adds the name of Jeroboam king of Israel, who lived at the same time.(16) Isaiah the son of Amos-either the above-named prophet, or, as is rather affirmed, another who was not a prophet, but was called by the same name-also puts at the head of his book these four kings named by Hosea, saying by way of preface that he prophesied in their days.(17) Micah also names the same times as those of his prophecy, after the days of Uzziah;(18) for he names the same three kings as Hosea named,-Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. We find from their own writings that these men prophesied contemporaneously. To these are added Jonah in the reign of Uzziah, and Joel in that of Jotham, who succeeded Uzziah. But we can find the date of these two prophets in the chronicles,(19) Dot in their own writings, for they say nothing about it themselves. Now these days extend from Procas king of the Latins. or his predecessor Aventinus, down to Romulus king of the Romans, or even to the beginning of the reign of his successor Numa Pompilius. Hezekiah king of Judah certainly reigned till then. So that thus these fountains of prophecy, as I may call them, burst forth at once during those times when the Assyrian kingdom failed and the Roman began; so that, just as in the first period of the Assyrian kingdom Abraham arose, to whom the most distinct promises were made that all nations should be blessed in his seed, so at the beginning of the western Babylon, in the time of whose government Christ was to come in whom these promises were to be fulfilled, the oracles of the prophets were given not only in spoken but in written words, for a testimony that so great a thing should come to pass. For although the people of Israel hardly ever lacked prophets from the time when they began to have kings, these were only for their own use, not for that of the nations. But when the more manifestly prophetic Scripture began to be formed, which was to benefit the nations too, it was fitting that it should begin when this city was founded which was to rule the nations.
The prophet Hosea speaks so very profoundly that it is laborious work to penetrate his meaning. But, according to promise, we must insert something from his book. He says, "And it shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there they shall be called the sons of the living God."(20) Even the apostles understood this as a prophetic testimony of the calling of the nations who did not formerly belong to God; and because this same people of the Gentiles is itself spiritually among the children of Abraham, and for that reason is rightly called Israel, therefore he goes on to say, "And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together in one, and shall appoint themselves one headship, and shall ascend from the earth."(21) We should but weaken the savor of this prophetic oracle if we set ourselves to expound it. Let the reader but call to mind that cornerstone and those two walls of partition, the one of the Jews, the other of the Gentiles,(22) and he will recognize them, the one under the term sons of Judah, the other as sons of Israel, supporting themselves by one and the same headship, and ascending from the earth. But that those carnal Israelites who are sow unwilling to believe in Christ shall afterward believe, that is, their children shall (for they themselves, of course, shall go to their own place by dying), this same prophet testifies, saying, "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, without a prince, without a sacrifice, without an altar, without a priesthood, without manifestations."(23) Who does not see that the Jews are now thus? But let us hear what he adds: "And afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall be amazed at the Lord and at His goodness in the latter days."(24) Nothing is clearer than this prophecy, in which by David, as distinguished by the title of king, Christ is to be understood, "who is made," as the apostle says, "of the seed of David according to the flesh."(25) This prophet has also foretold the resurrection of Christ on the third day, as it behoved to be foretold, with prophetic loftiness, when he says, "He will heal us after two days, and in the third day we shall rise again."(26) In agreement with this the apostle says to us, "If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above."(27) Amos also prophesies thus concerning such things: "Prepare thee, that thou mayst invoke thy God, O Israel; for lo, I am binding the thunder, and creating the spirit, and announcing to men their Christ."(28) And in another place he says, "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and build up the breaches thereof: and I will raise up his ruins, and will build them up again as in the days of old: that the residue of men may inquire for me, and all the nations upon whom my name is invoked, saith the Lord that doeth this."(29)
The prophecy of Isaiah is not in the book of the twelve prophets, who are called the minor from the brevity of their writings, as compared with those who are called the greater prophets because they published larger volumes. Isaiah belongs to the latter, yet I connect him with the two above named, because he prophesied at the same time. Isaiah, then, together with his rebukes of wickedness, precepts of righteousness, and predictions of evil, also prophesied much more than the rest about Christ and the Church, that is, about the King and that city which he founded; so that some say he should be called an evangelist rather than a prophet. But, in order to finish this work, I quote only one out of many in this place. Speaking in the person of the Father, he says, "Behold, my servant shall understand, and shall be exalted and glorified very much. As many shall be astonished at Thee."(30) This is about Christ.
But let us now hear what follows about the Church. He says, "Rejoice, O barren, thou that barest not; break forth and cry, thou that didst not travail with child: for many more are the children of the desolate than of her that has an husband."(31) But these must suffice; and some things in them ought to be expounded; yet I think those parts sufficient which are so plain that even enemies must be compelled against their will to understand them.
The prophet Micah, representing Christ under the figure of a great mountain, speaks thus: "It shall come to pass in the last days, that the manifested mountain of the Lord shall be prepared on the tops of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall hasten unto it. Many nations shall go, and shall say, Come, let us go up into the mountain of the Lord, and into the house of the God of Jacob; and He will show us His way, and we will go in His paths: for out of Zion shall proceed the law, and the word of the Lord out of Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off."(32) This prophet predicts the very place in which Christ was born, saying, "And thou, Bethlehem, of the house of Ephratah, art the least that can be reckoned among the thousands of Judah; out of thee shall come forth unto me a leader, to be the prince in Israel; and His going forth is from the beginning, even from the days of eternity. Therefore will He give them [up] even until the time when she that travaileth shall bring forth; and the remnant of His brethren shall be converted to the sons of Israel. And He shall stand, and see, and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, and in the dignity of the name of the Lord His God: for now shall He be magnified even to the utmost of the earth."(33)
The prophet Jonah, not so much by speech as by his own painful experience, prophesied Christ's death and resurrection much more clearly than if he had proclaimed them with his voice. For why was he taken into the whale's belly and restored on the third day, but that he might be a sign that Christ should return from the depths of hell on the third day?
I should be obliged to use many words in explaining all that Joel prophesies in order to make clear those that pertain to Christ and the Church. But there is one passage I must not pass by, which the apostles also quoted when the Holy Spirit came down from above on the assembled believers according to Christ's promise. He says, "And it shall come to pass after these things, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your old men shall dream, and your young men shall see visions: and even on my servants and mine handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit."(34)
The date of three of the minor prophets, Obadiah, Nahum, and Habakkuk, is neither mentioned by themselves nor given in the chronicles of Eusebius and Jerome. For although they put Obadiah with Micah, yet when Micah prophesied does not appear from that part of their writings in which the dates are noted. And this, I think, has happened through their error in negligently copying the works of others. But we could not find the two others now mentioned in the copies of the chronicles which we have; yet because they are contained in the canon, we ought not to pass them by.
Obadiah, so far as his writings are concerned, the briefest of all the prophets, speaks against Idumea, that is, the nation of Esau that reprobate eider of the twin sons of Isaac and grandsons of Abraham. Now if, by that form of speech in which a part is put for the whole, we take Idumea as put for the nations, we may understand of Christ what he says among other things, "But upon Mount Sion shall be safety, and there shall be a Holy One."(35) And a little after, at the end of the same prophecy, he says, "And those who are saved again shall come up out of Mount Sion, that they may defend Mount Esau, and it shall be a kingdom to the Lord."(36) It is quite evident this was fulfilled when those saved again out of Mount Sion-that is, the believers in Christ from Judea, of whom the apostles are chiefly to be acknowledged-went up to defend Mount Esau. How could they defend it except by making safe, through the preaching of the gospel, those who believed that they might be "delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God?"(37) This he expressed as an inference, adding, "And it shall be to the Lord a kingdom." For Mount Sion signifies Jades, where it is predicted there shall be safety, and a Holy One, that is, Christ Jesus. But Mount Esau is Idumea, which signifies the Church of the Gentiles, which, as I have expounded, those saved again out of Sion have defended that it should be a kingdom to the Lord. This was obscure before it took place; but what believer does not find it out now that it is done?
As for the prophet Nahum, through him God says, "I will exterminate the graven and the molten things: I will make thy burial. For lo, the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings and announceth peace are swift upon the mountains! O Judah, celebrate thy festival days, and perform thy vows; for now they shall not go on any more so as to become antiquated. It is completed, it is consumed, it is taken away. He ascendeth who breathes in thy face, delivering thee out of tribulation."(38) Let him that remembers the gospel call to mind who hath ascended from hell and breathed the Holy Spirit in the face of Judah, that is, of the Jewish disciples; for they belong to the New Testament, whose festival days are so spiritually renewed that they cannot become antiquated. Moreover, we already see the graven and molten things, that is, the idols of the false gods, exterminated through the gospel, and given up to oblivion as of the grave, and we know that this prophecy is fulfilled in this very thing.
Of what else than the advent of Christ, who was to come, is Habakkuk understood to say, "And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision openly on a tablet of boxwood, that he that readeth these things may understand. For the vision is yet for a time appointed, and it will arise in the end, and will not become void: if it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, and will not be delayed?"(39)
In his prayer, with a song, to whom but the Lord Christ does he say, "O Lord, I have heard Thy hearing, and was afraid: O Lord, I have considered Thy works, and was greatly afraid?"(40) What is this but the inexpressible admiration of the foreknown, new, and sudden salvation of men? "In the midst of two living creatures thou shalt be recognized." What is this but either between the two testaments, or between the two thieves, or between Moses and Elias talking with Him on the mount? "While the years draw nigh, Thou wilt be recognized; at the coming of the time Thou wilt be shown," does not even need exposition. "While my soul shall be troubled at Him, in wrath Thou wilt be mindful of mercy." What is this but that He puts Himself for the Jews, of whose nation He was, who were troubled with great anger and crucified Christ, when He, mindful of mercy, said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?(41) "God shall come from Teman, and the Holy One from the shady and close mountain."(42) What is said here, "He shall come from Teman," some interpret "from the south," or "from the southwest," by which is signified the noonday, that is, the fervor of charity and the splendor of truth. "The shady and close mountain" might be understood in many ways, yet I prefer to take it as meaning the depth of the divine Scriptures, in which Christ is prophesied: for in the Scriptures there are many things shady and close which exercise the mind of the reader; and Christ comes thence when he who has understanding finds Him there. "His power covereth up the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise." What is this but what is also said in the psalm, "Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; and Thy glory above all the earth?"(43) "His splendor shall be as the light." What is it but that the fame of Him shall illuminate believers? "Horns are in His hands." What is this but the trophy of the cross? "And He hath placed the firm charity of His strength"(44) needs no exposition. "Before His face shall go the word, and it shall go forth into the field after His feet." What is this but that He should both be announced before His coming hither and after His return hence? "He stood, and the earth was moved." What is this but that "He stood" for succor, "and the earth was moved" to believe? "He regarded, and the nations melted;" that is, He had compassion, and made the people penitent. "The mountains are broken with violence;" that is, through the power of those who work miracles the pride of the haughty is broken "The everlasting hills flowed down;" that is, they are humbled in time that they may be lifted up for eternity. "I saw His goings [made] eternal for his labors;" that is, I beheld His labor of love not left without the reward of eternity. "The tents of Ethiopia shall be greatly afraid, and the tents of the land of Midian" that is, even those nations which are not under the Roman authority, being suddenly terrified by the news of Thy wonderful works, shall become a Christian people. "Wert Thou angry at the rivers, O Lord? or was Thy fury against the rivers? or was Thy rage against the sea? This is said because He does not now come to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.(45) "For Thou shall mount upon Thy horses, and Thy riding shall be salvation;" that is, Thine evangelists shall carry Thee, for they are guided by Thee, and Thy gospel is salvation to them that believe in Thee. "Bending, Thou wilt bend Thy bow against the sceptres, saith the Lord;" that is, Thou wilt threaten even the kings of the earth with Thy judgment. "The earth shall be cleft with rivers;" that is, by the sermons of those who preach Thee flowing in upon them, men's hearts shall be opened to make confession, to whom it is said, "Rend your hearts and not your garments."(46) What does "The people shall see Thee and grieve" mean, but that in mourning they shall be blessed?(47) What is "Scattering the waters in marching," but that by walking in those who everywhere proclaim Thee, Thou wilt scatter hither and thither the streams of Thy doctrine? What is "The abyss uttered its voice?" Is it not that the depth of the human heart expressed what it perceived? The words, "The depth of its phantasy," are an explanation of the previous verse, for the depth is the abyss; and "Uttered its voice" is to be understood before them, that is, as we have said, it expressed what it perceived. Now the phantasy is the vision, which it did not hold or conceal, but poured forth in confession. "The sun was raised up, and the moon stood still in her course;" that is, Christ ascended into heaven, and the Church was established under her King. "Thy darts shall go in the light;" that is, Thy words shall not be sent in secret, but openly. For He had said to His own disciples, "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in the light."(48) "By threatening thou shall diminish the earth;" that is, by that threatening Thou shall humble men. "And in fury Thou shall cast down the nations;" for in punishing those who exalt themselves Thou dashest them one against another. "Thou wentest forth for the salvation of Thy people, that Thou mightest save Thy Christ; Thou hast sent death on the heads of the wicked." None of these words require exposition. "Thou hast lifted up the bonds, even to the neck." This may be understood even of the good bonds of wisdom, that the feet may be put into its fetters, and the neck into its collar. "Thou hast struck off in amazement of mind the bonds" must be understood for, He lifts up the good and strikes off the bad, about. which it is said to Him, "Thou hast broken asunder my bonds,"(49) and that "in amazement of mind," that is, wonderfully. "The heads of the mighty shall be moved in it;" to wit, in that wonder. "They shall open their teeth like a poor man eating secretly." For some of the mighty among the Jews shall come to the Lord, admiring His works and words, and shall greedily eat the bread of His doctrine in secret for fear of the Jews, just as the Gospel has shown they did. "And Thou hast sent into the sea Thy horses, troubling many waters," which are nothing else than many people; for unless all were troubled, some would not be converted with fear, others pursued with fury. "I gave heed, and my belly trembled at the voice of the prayer of my lips; and trembling entered into my bones, and my habit of body was troubled under me." He gave heed to those things which he said, and was himself terrified at his own prayer, which he had poured forth prophetically, and in which he discerned things to come. For when many people are troubled, he saw the threatening tribulation of the Church, and at once acknowledged himself a member of it, and said, "I shall rest in the day of tribulation," as being one of those Who are rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation.(50) "That I may ascend," he says, "among the people of my pilgrimage," departing quite from the wicked people of his carnal kinship, who are not pilgrims in this earth, and do not seek the country above.(51) "Although the fig-tree," he says, "shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines the labor of the olive shall lie, and the fields shall yield no meat; the sheep shall be cut off from the meat, and there shall be no oxen in the stalls." He sees that nation which was to slay Christ about to lose the abundance of spiritual supplies, which, in prophetic fashion, he has set forth by the figure of earthly plenty. And because that nation was to suffer such wrath of God, because, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, it wished to establish its own,(52) he immediately says, "Yet will I rejoice in the Lord; I will joy in God my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He will set my feet in completion; He will place me above the heights, that I may conquer in His song," to wit, in that song of which something similar is said in the psalm, "He set my feet upon a rock, and directed my goings, and put in my mouth a new song, a hymn to our God."(53) He therefore conquers in the song of the Lord, who takes pleasure in His praise, not in his own; that "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."(54) But some copies have, "I will joy in God my Jesus," which seems to me better than the version of those who, wishing to put it in Latin, have not set down that very name which for us it is dearer and sweeter to name.
Jeremiah, like Isaiah, is one of the greater prophets, not of the minor, like the others from whose writings I have just given extracts. He prophesied when Josiah reigned in Jerusalem, and Ancus Martius at Rome, when the captivity of the Jews was already at hand; and he continued to prophesy down to the fifth month of the captivity, as we find from his writings. Zephaniah, one of the minor prophets, is put along with him, because he himself says that he prophesied in the days of Josiah; but he does not say till when. Jeremiah thus prophesied not only in the times of Ancus Martius, but also in those of Tarquinius Priscus, whom the Romans had for their fifth king. For he had already begun to reign when that captivity took place. Jeremiah, in prophesying of Christ, says, "The breath of our mouth, the Lord Christ, was taken in our sins,"(55) thus briefly showing both that Christ is our Lord and that He suffered for us. Also in another place he says, "This is my God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him; who hath found out all the way of prudence, and hath given it to Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved: afterwards He was seen on the earth, and conversed with men."(56) Some attribute this testimony not to Jeremiah, but to his secretary, who was called Baruch; but it is more commonly ascribed to Jeremiah. Again the same prophet says concerning Him, "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a righteous shoot, and a King shall reign and shall be wise, and shall do judgment and justice in the earth. In those days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell confidently: and this is the name which they shall call Him, Our righteous Lord."(57) And of the calling of the nations which was to come to pass, and which we now see fulfilled, he thus spoke: "O Lord my God, and my refuge in the day of evils. to Thee shall the nations come from the utmost end of the earth, saying, Truly our fathers have worshipped lying images, wherein there is no profit."(58) But that the Jews, by whom He behoved even to be slain, were not going to acknowledge Him, this prophet thus intimates: "Heavy is the heart through all; and He is a man, and who shall know Him?"(59) That passage also is his which I have quoted in the seventeenth book concerning the new testament, of which Christ is the Mediator. For Jeremiah himself says, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will complete over the house of Jacob a new testament," and the rest, which may be read there.(60)
For the present I shall put down those predictions about Christ by the prophet Zephaniah, who prophesied with Jeremiah. "Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, in the day of my resurrection, in the future; because it is my determination to assemble the nations, and gather together the kingdoms."(61) And again he says, "The Lord will be terrible upon them, and will exterminate all the gods of the earth; and they shall worship Him every man from his place, even all the isles of the nations."(62) And a little after he says, "Then will I turn to the people a tongue, and to His offspring, that they may call upon the name of the Lord, and serve Him under one yoke. From the borders of the rivers of Ethiopia: shall they bring sacrifices unto me. In that day thou shall not be confounded for all thy curious inventions, which thou hast done impiously against me: for then I will take away from thee the Haughtiness of thy trespass; and thou shalt no more magnify thyself above thy holy mountain. And I will leave in thee a meek and humble people, and they who shall be left of Israel shall fear the name of the Lord."(63) These are the remnant of whom the apostle quotes that which is elsewhere prophesied: "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved."(64) These are the remnant of that nation who have believed in Christ.
Daniel and Ezekiel, other two of the greater prophets, also first prophesied in the very captivity of Babylon. Daniel even defined the time when Christ was to come and suffer by the exact date. It would take too long to show this by computation, and it has been done often by others before us. But of His power and glory he has thus spoken: "I saw in a night vision, and, behold, one like the Son of man was coming with the clouds of heaven, and He came even to the Ancient of days, and He was brought into His presence. And to Him there was given dominion, and honor, and a kingdom: and all people, tribes, and tongues shall serve Him. His power is an everlasting power, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom shall not be destroyed."(65)
Ezekiel also, speaking prophetically in the person of God the Father, thus foretells Christ, speaking of Him in the prophetic manner as David, because He assumed flesh of the seed of David, and on account of that form of a servant in which He was made man, He who is the Son of God is also called the servant of God. He says, "And I will set up over my sheep one Shepherd, who will feed them, even my servant David; and He shall feed them, and He shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince in the midst of them. I the Lord have spoken."(66) And in another place he says, "And one King shall be over them all: and they shall no more be two nations, neither shall they be divided any more into two kingdoms: neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, and their abominations, and all their iniquities. And I will save them out of all their dwelling-places wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. And my servant David shall be king over them, and there shall be one Shepherd for them all."(67)
There remain three minor prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, who prophesied at the close of the captivity. Of these Haggai more openly prophesies of Christ and the Church thus briefly: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Yet one little while, and I will shake the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will move all nations, and the desired of all nations shall come."(68) The fulfillment of this prophecy is in part already seen, and in part hoped for in the end. For He moved the heaven by the testimony of the angels and the stars, when Christ became incarnate. He moved the earth by the great miracle of His birth of the virgin. He moved the sea and the dry land, when Christ was proclaimed both in the isles and in the whole world. So we see all nations moved to the faith; and the fulfillment of what follows, "And the desired of all nations shall come," is looked for at His last coming. For ere men can desire and and wait for Him, they must believe and love Him.