ST AUGUSTINE: CONTEMPORARY RELEVANCE? May 9, 2011Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
I posted at John Quiggin’s Monday Message Board. I thought I had an original idea, although I managed to to be illiterate by phasing without relevant words.
It turns out that St Augustine – thanks to Ikonoclast – had been on the case at the time of the decline of the Roman Empire.
Say what you like but Google is a potentially useful learning tool. I knew of the quote but I had forgotten about it. In part in the original Latin it is given in Book IV, Chapter IX:
Eleganter enim et veraciter Alexandro illi Magno quidam comprehensus pirata respondit. Nam cum idem rex hominem interrogaret, quid ei videretur, ut mare haberet infestum, ille libera contumacia: Quod tibi, inquit, ut orbem terrarum; sed quia ego exiguo navigio facio, latro vocor; quia tu magna classe, imperator.
The longer translation:
Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you who does it with a great fleet are styled emperor.”
I remember being told that St Augustine’s City of God was as significant for Medieval Civilization as Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. You might not think that their was a Medieval Civilization, then Glenn Close from The Lion in Winter should disarm that view with her comment (if my memory is accurate):
It is 1183 and we are Barbarians.
Here is the video (via Judith on Facebook):
Augustine’s influence has extended to Martin Luther and beyond. He has some interesting ideas.
Was it been said that the “new” internet technology does not provide an opportunity to learn, or that it was just about venting?
Moving around a bit, the question arises to the original proposition, What do lawyers think. Law and Disorder Radio is one source – and they are not fully agreeing with me.