Early Church Fathers
29 The scene of this episode was, doubtless, the great Flavian Amphitheatre, known by us at this day as the Colosseum. It stands in the valley between the Caelian and Esquiline hills, on the site of a lake formerly attached to the palace of Nero. Gibbon, in his graphic way, says of the building (Decline and Fall, i. 355): "Posterity admires, and will long admire, the awful remains of the amphitheatre of Titus, which so well deserved the epithet of colossal. It was a building of an elliptic figure, five hundred and sixty-four feet in length, and four hundred and sixty-seven in breadth, founded on fourscore arches, and rising, with four successive orders of architecture, to the height of one hundred and forty feet. The outside of the edifice was encrusted with marble, and decorated with statues. The slopes of the vast concave which formed the inside were filled and surrounded with sixty or eighty rows of seats of marble, likewise covered with cushions, and capable of receiving with ease above fourscore thousand spectators. Sixty-four vomitories (for by that name the doors were very aptly distinguished) poured forth the immense multitude; and the entrances, passages, and staircases were contrived with such exquisite skill, that each person, whether of the senatorial, the equestrian, or the plebeian order, arrived at his destined place without trouble or confusion. Nothing was omitted which in any respect could be subservient to the convenience or pleasure of the spectators. They were protected from the sun and rain by an ample canopy occasionally drawn over their heads. The air was continually refreshed by the playing of fountains, and profusely impregnated by the grateful scent of aromatics. In the centre of the edifice, the arena, or stage, was strewed with the finest sand, and successively assumed the most different forms; at one moment it seemed to rise out of the earth, like the garden of the Hesperides, and was afterwards broken into the rocks and caverns of Thrace. The subterraneous pipes conveyed an inexhaustible supply of water; and what had just before appeared a level plain might be suddenly converted into a wide lake, covered with armed vessels and replenished with the monsters of the deep. In the decoration of these scenes the Roman emperors displayed their wealth and liberality; and we read, on various occasions, that the whole furniture of the amphitheatre consisted either of silver, or of gold, or of amber." In this magnificent building were enacted venatios or hunting scenes, sea-fights, and gladiatorial shows, in all of which the greatest lavishness was exhibited. The men engaged were for the most part either criminals or captives taken in war. On the occasion of the triumph of Trajan for his victory over the Dacians, it is said that ten thousand gladiators were engaged in combat, and that in the naumachia or sea-fight shown by Domitian, ships and men in force equal to two real fleets were engaged, at an enormous expenditure of human life. "If," says James Martineau (Endeavours after the Christian Life, pp. 261, 262), "you would witness a scene characteristic of the popular life of old, you must go to the amphitheatre of Rome, mingle with its eighty thousand spectators, and watch the eager faces of senators and people; observe how the masters of the world spend the wealth of conquest, and indulge the pride of power. See every wild creature that God has made to dwell, from the jungles of India to the mountains of Wales, from the forests of Germany to the deserts of Nubia, brought hither to be hunted down in artificial groves by thousands in an hour, behold the captives of war, noble, perhaps, and wise in their own land, turned loose, amid yells of insult, more terrible for their foreign tongue, to contend with brutal gladiators, trained to make death the favourite amusement, and present the most solemn of individual realities as a wholesale public sport; mark the light look with which the multitude, by uplifted finger, demands that the wounded combatant be slain before their eyes; notice the troop of Christian martyrs awaiting hand in hand the leap from the tiger's den. And when the day's spectacle is over, and the blood of two thousand victims stains the ring, follow the giddy crowd as it streams from the vomitories into the street, trace its lazy course into the Forum, and hear it there scrambling for the bread of private indolence doled out by the purse of public corruption; and see how it suns itself to sleep in the open ways, or crawls into foul dens till morning brings the hope of games and merry blood again;-and you have an idea of the Imperial people, and their passionate living for the moment, which the gospel found in occupation of the world." The desire for these shows increased as the empire advanced. Constantine failed to put a stop to them at Rome, though they were not admitted into the Christian capital he established at Constantinople. We have already shown (iii. sec. 2, note, above) how strongly attendance at stage-plays and scenes like these was condemned by the Christian teachers. The passion, however, for these exhibitions was so great, that they were only brought to an end after the monk Telemachus-horrified that Christians should witness such scenes-had been battered to death by the people in their rage at his flinging himself between the swordsmen to stop the combat. This tragic episode occurred in the year 403, at a show held in commemoration of a temporary success over the troops of Alaric.
30 "Alypius became Bishop of Thagaste (Aug. De Gestis c. Emerit. secs. 1 and 5). On the necessity which bishops were under of hearing secular causes, and its use, see Bingham, ii. c. 7."-E. B. P.
31 "The Lord High Treasurer of the Western Empire was called Comes Sacrarum largitionum. He had six other treasurers in so many provinces under him, whereof he of Italy was one under whom this Alypius had some office of judicature, something like (though far inferior) to our Baron of the Exchequer. See Sir Henry Spelman's Glossary, in the word Comes; and Cassiodor, Var. v. c. 40."-W. W.
32 Pretiis praetorianis. Du Cange says that "Pretium regium is the right of a king or lord to purchase commodities at a certain and definite price." This may perhaps help us to understand the phrase as above employed.
33 Luke xvi. 10.
34 Luke xvi. 11, 12
35 Augustin makes a similar allusion to Nebridius' ardour in examining difficult questions, especially those which refer ad doctrinam pietatis, in his 98th Epistle.
36 Ps. cxlv. 15.
37 Matt. vii. 7.
38 "I was entangled in the life of this world, clinging to dull hopes of a beauteous wife, the pomp of riches, the emptiness of honours, and the other hurtful and destructive pleasures" (Aug. De Util. Credendi, sec. 3). "After I had shaken off the Manichaeans and escaped, especially when I had crossed the sea, the Academics long detained me tossing in the waves, winds from all quarters beating against my helm. And so I came to this shore, and there found a pole-star to whom to entrust myself. For I often observed in the discourses of our priest [Ambrose], and sometimes in yours [Theodorus], that you had no corporeal notions when you thought of God, or even of the soul, which of all things is next to God. But I was withheld, I own, from casting myself speedily into the bosom of true wisdom by the alluring hopes of marriage and honours; meaning, when I had obtained these, to press (as few singularly happy, had before me) with oar and sail into that haven, and there rest" (Aug. De Vita Beata, sec. 4).-E. B. P.
39 Wisd. viii. 2, Vulg.
40 "Paulinus says that though he lived among the people and sat over them, ruling the sheep of the Lord's fold, as a watchful shepherd, with anxious sleeplessness, yet by renunciation of the world, and denial of flesh and blood, he had made himself a wilderness, severed from the many, called among the few" (Ap. Aug. Ep. 24, sec. 2). St. Jerome calls him "his holy and venerable brother, Father (Papa) Alypius" (Ep. 39, ibid.). Earlier, Augustin speaks of him as "abiding in union with him, to be an example to the brethren who wished to avoid the cares of this world" (Ep. 22); and to Paulinus (Ep. 27), [Romanianus] "is a relation of the venerable and truly blessed Bishop Alypius, whom you embrace with your whole heart deservedly; for whosoever thinks favourably of that man, thinks of the great mercy of God. Soon, by the help of God, I shall transfuse Alypius wholly into your soul [Paulinus had asked Alypius to write him his life, and Augustin had, at Alypius' request, undertaken to relieve him, and to do it]; for I feared chiefly lest he should shrink from laying open all which the Lord has bestowed upon him, lest, if read by any ordinary person (for it would not be read by you only), he should seem not so much to set forth the gifts of God committed to men, as to exalt himself."-E. B. P.
41 Isa. xxviii. 15.
42 Ecclus. iii. 27
43 Romanianus was a relation of Alypius (Aug. Ep. 27, ad Paulin.), of talent which astonished Augustin himself (C. Acad. i. 1, ii. 1), "surrounded by affluence from early youth, and snatched by what are thought adverse circumstances from the absorbing whirlpools of life" (ibid.). Augustin frequently mentions his great wealth, as also this vexatious suit, whereby he was harassed(C. Acad. i. 1, ii. 1), and which so clouded his mind that his talents were almost unknown (C. Acad. ii. 2); as also his very great kindness to himself, when, "as a poor lad, setting out to foreign study, he had received him in his house, supported and (yet more) encouraged him; when deprived of his father, comforted, animated, aided him: when returning to Carthage, in pursuit of a higher employment, supplied him with all necessaries." "Lastly," says Augustin, "whatever ease I now enjoy, that I have escaped the bonds of useless desires, that, laying aside the weight of dead cares, I breathe, recover, return to myself, that with all earnestness I am seeking the truth [Augustin wrote this the year before his baptism], that I am attaining it, that I trust wholly to arrive at it, you encouraged, impelled, effected" (C. Acad. ii. 2). Augustin had "cast him headlong with himself" (as so many other of his friends) into the Manichaean heresy (ibid. i. sec. 3), and it is to be hoped that he extricated him with himself; but we only learn positively that he continued to be fond of the works of Augustin (Ep. 27), whereas in that which he dedicated to him (C. Acad.), Augustin writes very doubtingly to him, and afterwards recommends him to Paulinus, "to be cured wholly or in part by his conversation" (Ep. 27).-E. B. P.
44 Matt. vii. 13.
45 Ps. xxxiii. 11.
46 Ps cxlv. 15, 16.
47 In his De Natura Con. Manich. he has the same idea. He is speaking of the evil that has no pain, and remarks: "Likewise in the body, better is a wound with pain than putrefaction without pain, which is specially styled corruption;" and the same idea is embodied in the extract from Caird's Sermons, on p. 5, note 7.
48 The ethics of Epicurus were a modified Hedonism (Diog. Laërt. De Vitis, etc., x. 123). With him the earth was a congeries of atoms (ibid. 38, 40), which atoms existed from eternity, and formed themselves, uninfluenced by the gods. The soul he held to be material. It was diffused through the body, and was in its nature somewhat like air. At death it was resolved into its original atoms, when the being ceased to exist (ibid. 63, 64). Hence death was a matter of indifference to man [o9 qa/natoj ou/de'n pro'j, hma=j, ibid. 124, etc.]. In that great upheaval after the scholasticism of the Middle Ages, the various ancient philosophies were revived. This of Epicurus was disentombed and, as it were, vitalized by Gassendi, in the beginning of the seventeenth century; and it has a special importance from its bearing on the physical theories and investigations of modern times. Archer Butler, adverting to the inadequacy of the chief philosophical schools to satisfy the wants of the age in the early days of the planting of Christianity (Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, ii. 333), says of the Epicurean: "Its popularity was unquestioned; its adaptation to a luxurious age could not be doubted. But it was not formed to satisfy the wants of the time, however it might minister to its pleasures. It was, indeed, as it still continues to be, the tacit philosophy of the careless, and might thus number a larger army of disciples than any contemporary system. But its supremacy existed only when it estimated numbers, it ceased when tried by weight. The eminent men of Rome were often its avowed favourers; but they were for the most part men eminent in arms and statesmanship, rather than the influential directors of the world of speculation. Nor could the admirable poetic art of Lucretius, or the still more attractive ease of Horace, confer such strength or dignity upon the system as to enable it to compete with the new and mysterious elements now upon all sides gathering into conflict."
49 See viii. sec. 17, note, below.
50 See above, iv. cc. 1, 10, and 12.
1 See iii. sec. 12, iv. secs. 3 and 12, and v. sec. 19, above.
2 "For with what understanding can man apprehend God, who does not yet apprehend that very understanding itself of his own by which he desires to apprehend Him? And if he does already apprehend this, let him carefully consider that there is nothing in his own nature better than it: and let him see whether he can there see any outlines of forms, or brightness of colours, or greatness of space, or distance of parts, or extension of size, or any movements through intervals of place, or any such thing at all. Certainly we find nothing of all this in that, than which we find nothing better in our own nature, that is, in our own intellect, by which we apprehend wisdom according to our capacity. What, therefore, we do not find in that, which is our own best, we ought not to seek in Him, who is far better than that best of ours; that so we may understand God, if we are able, and as much as we are able, as good without quality, great without quantity, a Creator though He lack nothing, ruling but from no position, sustaining all things without `having0' them, in His wholeness everywhere yet without place, eternal without time, making things that are changeable without change of Himself, and without passion. Whoso thus thinks of God, although he cannot yet find out in all ways what He is, yet piously takes heed, as much as he is able, to think nothing of Him that He is not."-De Trin. v. 2.
3 Similar arguments are made use of in his controversy with Fortunatus (Dis. ii. 5), where he says, that as Fortunatus could find no answer, so neither could he when a Manichaean, and that this led him to the true faith. Again, in his De Moribus (sec. 25), where he examines the answers which had been given, he commences: "For this gives rise to the question, which used to throw us into great perplexity, even when we were your zealous disciples, nor could we find any answer,-what the race of darkness would have done to God, supposing He had refused to fight with it at the cost of such calamity to part of Himself. For if God would not have suffered any loss by remaining quiet, we thought it hard that we had been sent to endure so much. Again, if He would have suffered, His nature cannot have been incorruptible, as it behooves the nature of God to be." We have already, in the note to book iv. sec. 26, referred to some of the matters touched on in this section; but they call for further elucidation. The following passage, quoted by Augustin from Manichaeus himself (Con. Ep. Manich. 19), discloses to us (1) their ideas as to the nature and position of the two kingdoms: "In one direction, on the border of this bright and holy region, there was a land of darkness, deep and vast in extent, where abode fiery bodies, destructive races. Here was boundless darkness flowing from the same source in immeasurable abundance, with the productions properly belonging to it. Beyond this were muddy, turbid waters with their inhabitants: and inside of them winds terrible and violent, with their prince and their progenitors. Then, again, a fiery region of destruction, with its chiefs and peoples. And similarly inside of this, a race full of smoke and gloom, where abode the dreadful prince and chief of all, having around him innumerable princes, himself the mind and source of them all. Such are the five natures of the region of corruption." Augustin also designates them (ibid sec. 20) "the five dens of the race of darkness." The nation of darkness desires to possess the kingdom of light, and prepares to make war upon it; and in the controversy with Faustus we have (2) the beginning and issue of the war (Con. Faust. ii. 3; see also De Haeres, 46). Augustin says: "You dress up for our benefit some wonderful First Man, who came down from the race of light, to war with the race of darkness, armed with his waters against the waters of the enemy, and with his fire against their fire, and with his winds against their winds." And again (ibid. sec. 5): "You say that he mingled with the principles of darkness in his conflict with the race of darkness, that by capturing these principles the world might be made out of the mixture. So that, by your profane fancies, Christ is not only mingled with heaven and all the stars, but conjoined and compounded with the earth and all its productions-a Saviour no more, but needing to be saved by you, by your eating and disgorging Him. This foolish custom of making your disciples bring you food, that your teeth and stomach may be the means of relieving Christ, who is bound up in it, is a consequence of your profane fancies. You declare that Christ is liberated in this way,-not, however, entirely; for you hold that some tiny particles of no value still remain in the excrement, to be mixed up and compounded again and again in various material forms, and to be released and purified at any rate by the fire in which the world will be burned up, if not before. Nay, even then, you say, Christ is not entirely liberated, but some extreme particles of His good and divine nature, which have been so defiled that they cannot be cleansed, are condemned to stay for ever in the mass of darkness." The result of this commingling of the light with the darkness was, that a certain portion and member of God was turned "from happiness into misery," and placed in bondage in the world, and was in need of help "whereby it might be delivered and purged." (See also Con. Fortunat.. i. 1.) Reference may be made (3), for information as to the method by which the divine substance was released in the eating of the elect, to the notes on book iii. sec. 18, above; and for the influence of the sun and moon in accomplishing that release, to the note on book v. sec, 12, above.
4 See iv. sec. 26, note, above.
5 See iii. sec. 12, note, and iv. sec. 26, note, above.
6 Ps. vi. 5
7 See xi. sec. 7, note, below.
8 Ps. cvii. 8, Vulg.
9 See iv. sec. 5, note, above.
10 He uses the same illustration when speaking of the mathematici, or astrologers, in his De Doct. Christ. ii. 33.
11 Ps. xxxvii. 9-11, Vulg.
12 Man can only control the forces of nature by yielding obedience to nature's laws; and our true joy and safety is only to be found being "subjected" to God. So Augustin says in another place, (De Trin. x. 7), the soul is enjoined to know itself, "in order that it may consider itself, and live according to its own nature; that is, seek to be regulated according to its own nature, viz. under Him to whom it ought to be subject, and above those things to which it is to be preferred; under Him by whom it ought to be ruled, above those things which it ought to rule."
13 Job xv. 26.
14 Ps. lxxxix. 11. Vulg.