C

 

Kurzer Exkurs: Menschenbild

 

Um zu verstehen, wie Kapitalismus entstand, muss man die wenigen kennenzulernen versuchen, die ihn zwischen dem 10. und 12. Jahrhundert n.d.Zt. zu entwickeln beginnen, wie immer ohne zu wissen, was sie damit anrichten, und zudem die wenigen, die das zu ihrem Nutzen unterstützen, und noch weniger verstehen, was das bedeuten wird, und dabei muss man allerdings auch die vielen zu verstehen versuchen, die nach und nach in ihn verwickelt werden und nur selten begreifen, wie ihnen dabei geschieht. Das alles sind Menschen, die sehr verschiedenes zum Kapitalismus beitragen.

 

Da Wirklichkeit ein ganz und gar historisches Phänomen ist, und da Menschen diese Wirklichkeit in immer schnellerem Tempo verändern, sind auch wirkliche Menschen rein historische Phänomene, und keine religiös, philosophisch, soziologisch oder sonstwie umzudeutende. Wir haben also bisher Menschen zunächst als noch weitgehend in die Natur integrierte Jäger und Sammler kennengelernt, dann als sich in Distanz zur Natur begebende Produzenten von Lebensmitteln und Gerätschaften, und schließlich als sich daraus emanzipierende Herrenmenschen, welche die Produzenten dazu abrichten, für sie zu arbeiten und in den Krieg zu ziehen.

Diese wo für ihre Macht und ihren Reichtum nötig von äußerster Brutalität gekennzeichneten Herrenmenschen, extrem pervertierte Raubtierwesen, die Luxus für ihr selbstverständliches Herrenrecht halten, benutzen die vielen, die sie sich untertan machen, in einer Weise, dass sie als Resultat kaum noch an Menschen vor derartigen Zivilisationen erinnern: Sie werden zum erbärmlichen Spiegelbild der Erbarmungslosen. 

 

Als dem, den wir heute Octavian nennen, der Titel eines Augustus (eines Erhabenen)verliehen wird, wird einer der geschicktesten und brutalsten dieser Herrenmenschen, der wie seine Konkurrenten nie gezögert hatte, über Unmassen von Leichenbergen seine Macht zu befestigen, zum Monarchen. Zwei Gruppen von Herrenmenschen hatten sich schon seit längerem die Macht und den Reichtum geteilt: Eine Gruppe von nobiles, die riesige Landgüter besitzen, aber zunehmend auch anderen Geschäften und dem Ausplündern ganzer Landschaften nicht abhold sind - darunter Raub und Mord in großem Maßstab, die sie für sich selbst immer weiter legalisieren. Sie kontrollieren diejenigen Institutionen, von denen aus die wichtigen Entscheidungen getroffen werden.

Eine zweite Gruppe von Herrenmenschen war nebendran durch Geschäftemacherei aufgestiegen und manchmal bereits in die Gruppe der Noblen übergegangen. Diese Leute sind nicht weniger machtgierig, geldgierig und brutal als jene.

 

Prinzipat heißt, dass die neuen Alleinherrscher den nobiles noch eine Zeitlang erlauben, das Gesicht zu wahren, indem ihre "republikanischen" Institutionen aufrecht erhalten bleiben. Tatsächlich müssen sie aber hinnehmen, dass sie an institutionalisierter Macht verlieren, während sie andererseits immerhin ihre wirtschaftliche Macht bewahren können: Auch die neuen "Erhabenen" über den Herrenmenschen sorgen dafür, dass die vielen für die wenigen arbeiten und in den Krieg ziehen.

Herrenmenschentum pendelt zwischen der Ausübung von Macht in Institutionen oder durch den Einsatz von Menschen für Attentate oder massenhaftes Morden auf der einen Seite oder auf der anderen Seite im Ausleben von otium, der Muße,

also dem Konsum von Luxus und in sehr seltenen Fällen der Lektüre oder Schriftstellerei.

 

Macht und Reichtum der wenigen Herren ermöglichen Arbeit und Kampf der vielen Untertanen. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Der Bruch mit dem Mittelalter

 

Fabriksystem, Untergang des Handwerks und Industrialisierung der Landwirtschaft

"Aufklärung"

Verwissenschaftlichung

Politische Theoriebildung als alleinige Rechtfertigung von Machtausübung

 

Geschichtsschreibung: Die Geschichte der Wenigen und die vielen Anderen

 

An das Unheil der Geschichte schließt sich das Unheil der Geschichtsschreibung fast lückenlos an.

 

Geschichte handelt von Geschehen, welches naturgemäß immer zugleich Vergangenheit ist. Soweit es nicht wie fast alles vergessen wird, also soweit es erinnert wird oder neu entdeckt werden kann, verwandelt sich das Geschehen in Geschichten, die manchmal in Verbindung gebracht werden können, mit denen man sich auseinandersetzen kann, und die immer neue Horizonte in Zeit und Raum erschließen.

 

Geschichte ist keine Wissenschaft wie die mathematisierten und technik-orientierten Naturwissenschaften, aber sie kann sich der Kriterien wissenschaftlicher Verfahrensweisen bis zu einem bestimmten Punkt bedienen. Am Ende ist sie so subjektiv, wie Subjektivität den Menschen nur interessant machen kann, sie ist so subjektiv wie das Interesse, welches dahintersteckt, mag es auch nach Verallgemeinerung streben.

 

Schließlich ist Geschichte immer Erzählung, Bericht, Untersuchung, und darum selbst im besten Fall höchstens ähnlich dem, was einmal war. Das hat dann auch etwas mit den Zufälligkeiten von Erinnerung zu tun, von Fundstücken und Überlieferungen, und natürlich mit den Interessen des Erzählers.

 

Kenntnisse von irgendeiner Vergangenheit haben wir umso weniger, je mehr uns Texte fehlen: Geschichte ist immer ein Text, und er handelt vorwiegend von dem, was sich in Text fassen lässt. Schon dadurch geht fast die ganze Vergangenheit völlig verloren. Knochen, Gebäude. Werkzeuge, Artefakte und ähnliches erlauben nur blasseste Spekulation über das, was von vergangenen Menschenaltern handelt, wenn wir nicht wenigstens in Texten Menschen "lauschen" können, die dazu gehörten.

 

Nun ist aber über die Überlieferung Geschichte bereits ganz ungeheuer einseitig: Von den meisten Menschen "wissen" wir gar nichts, von den meisten übrigen fast nichts, und mehr nur von ganz, ganz wenigen. Dies sind die Wenigen, von denen wir Schriftliches überliefert haben, und je weiter wir in die Vergangenheit zurückgehen, desto weniger wird das, - und wenn wir uns in Richtung "Gegenwart" bewegen, handelt es sich andererseits um eine längst unüberschaubare Masse an "Quellen", die unter den Bedingungen des Buchdrucks und dann später der Massenproduktion immer weniger über Menschen und immer mehr über den Warencharakter der Produkte verraten, während sich die Menschen zunehmend dahinter verbergen.

 

Das Problem der Einseitigkeit wird aber erst dadurch so recht schwerwiegend, dass Vorgänge des Wandels, des Betreibens von Veränderung, die gerade auf diesen Seiten hier auch betrachtet werden sollen, vornehmlich von ganz wenigen nur betrieben wurden, die dadurch in unserer Wahrnehmung eine besondere Prominenz erhalten. Die Geschichte ist soweit die der wenigen Erfinder und nicht so sehr die der Mitmacher und Nachahmer, sie ist eine der besonderen Talente und Antriebe, wie sie nur wenigen zuteil wurden - im Guten wie im Bösen. Und schließlich ist sie eine der Prominenz der großen Machthaber, die seit Jahrtausenden mit dem Hang von zu "Volks"massen umgeprägten Menschen rechnen dürfen, ihr Leben nicht selbst und zugleich gemeinsam verantworten zu müssen.

 

In dem, was wir hier als Geschichte betrachten, ist dann noch etwas wichtig: In der Regel wissen die Beteiligten nicht, was sie anrichten, welche Folgen es hat und ignorieren die fatale Differenz zwischen Absicht und tatsächlicher Wirkung. Wenn Geschichte im Rückblick dem naiven Betrachter plausibel, konsequent, logisch linear erscheinen mag, so war und ist genau das im Vorausblick immer illusionär. Die Logik des Rückblicks ist eine Konstruktion des Betrachters. Auch insoweit ist Geschichte reine Ansichtsache, und die Blickrichtung verändert den Gegenstand in ganz erstaunlichem Maße.

 

 Zwischen Herodot und dem einsam herausragenden Thukydides entwickelt sich eine zunehmend weniger dem Hörensagen gehorchende und kritischere, analytischere griechische Geschichtsschreibung. Erst relativ spät beginnen Römer die eigene Geschichte aufzuschreiben, nämlich seit den punischen Kriegen, und entsprechend werden römisches Machtstreben und die Interessen der Reichen und Mächtigen ungeniert propagiert. Mit den Bürgerkriegen kommt dann mehr oder weniger ideologisch verbrämte Parteinahme für einzelne Machtfraktionen hinzu. Das Entsetzliche an dieser Geschichtsschreibung ist aber vor allem, dass sie im wesentlichen von Kriegen und Machtkämpfen handelt, von Gewalttätern vor allem, von denen ein Teil auch noch gefeiert wird. Die allermeisten Menschen tauchen nur summarisch als das massenhafte Menschen-Material dieser Halunken auf und wir erfahren nicht einmal exemplarisch etwas von ihrem Leben. 

 

Das wird seit Livius 'Ab urbe condita', welches schon ins Prinzipat mündet, über Tacitus bis zu den letzten weströmischen antiken Autoren nicht besser. Tiberius lässt ein prorepublikanisches Geschichtswerk verbrennen und bekommt dafür von Velleius Paterculus eines, welches ihn lobt. Auf Lucans sogenannte 'Pharsalia', welche Cato feiern, folgt der präventive Suizid des Autors.

 

Tacitus beklagt das Ende eines idealisiert-aristokratischen Römertums:

Das Werk, das ich beginne, enthält eine Fülle von Unglück, berichtet von blutigen Kämpfen, von Zwietracht und Aufständen, ja sogar von einem grausamen Frieden. Vier Fürsten fielen dem Dolch zum Opfer, drei Bürgerkriege wurden geführt, noch mehr Kriege mit auswärtigen Feinden, beide Arten meistens zur gleichen Zeit. (...) Sklaven wurden bestochen gegen ihre Herren, Freigelassene gegen ihre Patrone und, wenn ein persönlicher Feind fehlte, der wurde ein Opfer seiner Freunde. (Historien I)

 

Die Identifikation mit dem eigenen Imperium und den oder ausgewählten Reichen und Mächtigen bleibt durchgehender Standard. Autoren wie Sueton oder Sallust werden dann nicht nur stilistische Vorbilder für mittelalterliche Geschichtsschreibung, in der die eigenen Herrscher und Machthaber meist mit Lobhudelei versehen und ihre Gegner diffamiert werden. Ganz offen sagt das zum Beispiel einer der Gebildeteren, Otto von Freising in seinen 'Gesta Frederici', also dem Tatenbericht Kaiser Friedrichs I.: Die Absicht (intentio) aller, die vor uns Geschichte (res gestas) geschrieben haben, war es, so meine ich, die glänzenden Taten tapferer Männer (virorum fortium clara facta) zu preisen (... OttoGesta, S.114). Und er wird genau das für seinen Kaiser und Verwandten tun. Da es sich seit dem Ende des weströmischen Imperiums für rund tausend Jahre um geistliche Autoren handelt, Bischöfe, Mönche, Äbte, kommt zur weltlichen nun die kirchlich-religiöse Propaganda hinzu.

 

Die moderne Geschichtsschreibung mit wissenschaftlichen Kriterien ist im Umfeld eines späten Kapitalismus entstanden und von diesem notwendig geprägt worden. Die Unterordnung der Menschen unter das Kapital als magische sowie handfeste Abgabe von Lebendigkeit an dasselbe, die zugleich ja Ein- und Unterordnung in eine Hierarchie von Agenten und Agenturen seines Verwertungsprogramms ist, die Ausweitung der Gratifikationen und Kompensationsmöglichkeiten - Lebendigkeit aus zweiter Hand - die sich immer rapidere Ausweitung der Zerstörung alles Lebendigen auf der Erde zugunsten einer Welt toter Waren, --- all das wurde ignoriert durch eine Begrifflichkeit, die ich als neuzeitlich idealistisch bezeichne und in der eine hochgradige Verklärung des kapitalistischen "Fortschritts" als Heilsreligion veranstaltet wird. Der Umgang mit Wörtern wie "Freiheit", "Gleichheit", "Demokratie", "Wohlstand" u.v.a. vergoldet den oft vergleichsweise behäbigen Alltag von Verbeamteten der "Wissenschaft". Das Schulterklopfen der staatlichen und privaten Geldgeber war und ist ihnen so gewiss wie die fehlende Beunruhigung angesichts dessen, was Menschen so anrichteten und weiter anrichten.

 

Diese Geschichte ist eben auch eine der Wenigen, die sie als "Wissenschaft" betreiben, fern jeder Öffentlichkeit der weit mehr als 99% der Bevölkerung, die sie auch ganz praktisch fast überhaupt nicht bemerken, weil sie sich dafür nicht die Zeit nehmen und wohl auch schnell intellektuell überfordert sind. Dabei kommt es reichlich unreflektiert zu einer ganz besonderen Bindung zwischen den Historikern und denen, die sie kommentierend begleiten und gerne derart ein wenig adoptieren.

 

Das Problem der Geschichte von Wenigen für Wenige hat allerdings auch eine ganz andere Seite; - unter den Bedingungen von Zivilisationen spätestens seit der griechischen und römischen Antike werden die meisten Menschen nicht nur von der Geschichtsschreibung als entindividualisierte Massen betrachtet, als Material für diejenigen, die "Geschichte machen", als manipulierbare Klientel der Mächtigen, sondern sie sind auch nur allzu oft tatsächlich dazu gemacht worden. Zivilisationen verlangen brave und möglichst gedankenlose Untertanen, und zwar sehr viele, nicht zuletzt solche, die als städtische "Volks"massen, besser, als urbane "Bevölkerung" Untertänigkeit, Schutz und Versorgung verlangen - und sonst gar nichts.

 

Leute, die in Armeen und Manufakturen hineindomestiziert werden, in, Grundherrschaften, Plantagen und Bergwerke, in staatliche Schulen, Büros und Fabriken, und die dafür als Preis Drogen und Amüsierprogramme geliefert bekommen, Leute, die sich einer steten Propaganda-Berieselung von oben ausliefern und ausgeliefert werden, sind nicht nur individuell kaum noch beschreibbar, ihre Individualität ist auch kaum noch im nachherein verifizierbar. Und so sind sie in den Geschichtsbüchern üblicherweise der anonyme Stoff, aus dem die Namhaften und Benennbaren "Geschichte machen", sie sind Kanonenfutter, Arbeitskraft, Jubel- und Stimmvieh.

 

Das Erschreckende dieser Liebe zur Untertänigkeit, ein Komglomerat aus Faulheit, Bequemlichkeit, Dummheit, Angst und Feigheit, hat sich am deutlichsten in den letzten Jahrhunderten in jenen sogenannten "Revolutionen" entfaltet, in denen eine machtgierige Clique eine andere "im Namen des Volkes" der einer "Klasse" abzulösen versuchte, und die, soweit erfolgreich, oft von den Protagonisten der modernen Geschichtsschreibung im Namen eines fast schon theologisch schöngeredeten Fortschritts hochgejubelt werden, bis hin zu den Lobreden auf derzeitige "Demokratien".

 

Es lässt sich aber ganz allgemein beobachten, dass sich mit der Zivilisierung, also der Zerstörung von Kulturen und der Schaffung untertäniger Massen eine allgemeine Neigung dieses längst geduckten "Volkes" zur Identifikation mit der Macht zeigt, eine Neigung zur Abgabe von Verantwortung an die Mächtigen auch auf Basis eines zunehmenden Unverständnisses der komplexer werdenden (eigentlich eigenen) Lebenszusammenhänge. Diese lässt sich wohl anthropologisch-biologisch mit der eingeborenen Neigung zur Faulheit und damit auch Verblödung von Säugetieren erklären, die in Gefangenschaft gehalten und dabei durchgefüttert werden. In den menschlichen Zivilisationen kommt dann als Kompensation noch die Vorhaltung von Amüsement dazu, höchste Gratifikation für Menschen, die von den Mächtigen als Nutztiere besonderer Art gehalten werden.

 

Gegen eine solche jahrtausendealte Historie, die man auch als interessegeleitete Geschichtsfälschung innerhalb eines kleinen Zirkels Interessierter bezeichnen kann, anzuschreiben, ist enorm schwierig. Zweimal gab es bislang Anstöße, es anders zu machen, einmal unter dem Einfluss von Karl Marx, was immerhin das Interesse vor allem von Frankreich ausgehend ein wenig in neue Richtungen lenkte, und dann in der BRD, als der Schock des Dritten Reiches und der Zerstörung Deutschlands im verlorenen Krieg seit den 70er Jahren des letzten Jahrhunderts ein wenig zu wirken begann. Aber das hat die weitere Ideologisierung der Geschichte jeweils nach den neuesten Moden nicht aufhalten können und die zunehmende Zerstörung der deutschen Sprache und die nicht mehr nur mit Mitteln der Diffamierung betriebende Dogmatisierung einer politischen Korrektheit, die inzwischen deutlich an die Methoden der Bolschewiken und Nationalsozialisten gemahnt und in manchem bereits über sie hinausgeht, tut ihr übriges.

 

Aber einen Versuch hier soll es eben doch wert sein!

 

 

 

 

https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/30091.htm

 

 

1. Very few days have elapsed since the holy brethren of Rome sent to me the treatises of a certain Jovinian with the request that I would reply to the follies contained in them, and would crush with evangelical and apostolic vigour the Epicurus of Christianity. I read but could not in the least comprehend them. I began therefore to give them closer attention, and to thoroughly sift not only words and sentences, but almost every single syllable; for I wished first to ascertain his meaning, and then to approve, or refute what he had said. But the style is so barbarous, and the language so vile and such a heap of blunders, that I could neither understand what he was talking about, nor by what arguments he was trying to prove his points. At one moment he is all bombast, at another he grovels: from time to time he lifts himself up, and then like a wounded snake finds his own effort too much for him. Not satisfied with the language of men, he attempts something loftier.

***

 

7. Among other things the Corinthians asked in their letter whether after embracing the faith of Christ they ought to be unmarried, and for the sake of continence put away their wives, and whether believing virgins were at liberty to marry. And again, supposing that one of two Gentiles believed on Christ, whether the one that believed should leave the one that believed not? And in case it were allowable to take wives, would the Apostle direct that only Christian wives, or Gentiles also, should be taken? Let us then consider Paul's replies to these inquiries. Now concerning the things whereof you wrote: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. But, because of fornications, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife her due: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife has not power over her own body, but the husband: And likewise also the husband has not power over his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season, that you may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency. But this I say by way of permission not of commandment. Yet I would that all men were even as I myself. Howbeit each man has his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they have not continency, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. Let us turn back to the chief point of the evidence: It is good, he says, for a man not to touch a woman. If it is good not to touch a woman, it is bad to touch one: for there is no opposite to goodness but badness. But if it be bad and the evil is pardoned, the reason for the concession is to prevent worse evil. But surely a thing which is only allowed because there may be something worse has only a slight degree of goodness. He would never have added let each man have his own wife, unless he had previously used the words but, because of fornications. Do away with fornication, and he will not say let each man have his own wife. Just as though one were to lay it down: It is good to feed on wheaten bread, and to eat the finest wheat flour, and yet to prevent a person pressed by hunger from devouring cow-dung, I may allow him to eat barley. Does it follow that the wheat will not have its peculiar purity, because such an one prefers barley to excrement? That is naturally good which does not admit of comparison with what is bad, and is not eclipsed because something else is preferred. At the same time we must notice the Apostle's prudence. He did not say, it is good not to have a wife: but, it is good not to touch a woman: as though there were danger even in the touch: as though he who touched her, would not escape from her who hunts for the precious life, who causes the young man's understanding to fly away. Proverbs 6:27-28 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk upon hot coals, and his feet not be scorched? As then he who touches fire is instantly burned, so by the mere touch the peculiar nature of man and woman is perceived, and the difference of sex is understood. Heathen fables relate how Mithras and Ericthonius were begotten of the soil, in stone or earth, by raging lust. Hence it was that our Joseph, because the Egyptian woman wished to touch him, fled from her hands, and, as if he had been bitten by a mad dog and feared the spreading poison, threw away the cloak which she had touched. But, because of fornications let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. He did not say, because of fornication let each man marry a wife: otherwise by this excuse he would have thrown the reins to lust, and whenever a man's wife died, he would have to marry another to prevent fornication, but have his own wife. Let him he says have and use his own wife, whom he had before he became a believer, and whom it would have been good not to touch, and, when once he became a follower of Christ, to know only as a sister, not as a wife unless fornication should make it excusable to touch her. The wife has not power over her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband has not power over his own body, but the wife. The whole question here concerns those who are married men. Is it lawful for them to do what our Lord forbade in the Gospel, and to put away their wives? Whence it is that the Apostle says, It is good for a man not to touch a woman. But inasmuch as he who is once married has no power to abstain except by mutual consent, and may not reject an unoffending partner, let the husband render unto the wife her due. He bound himself voluntarily that he might be under compulsion to render it. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season, that you may give yourselves unto prayer. What, I pray you, is the quality of that good thing which hinders prayer? Which does not allow the body of Christ to be received? So long as I do the husband's part, I fail in continency. The same Apostle in another place commands us to pray always. If we are to pray always, it follows that we must never be in the bondage of wedlock, for as often as I render my wife her due, I cannot pray. The Apostle Peter had experience of the bonds of marriage. See how he fashions the Church, and what lesson he teaches Christians: 1 Peter 3:7 You husbands in like manner dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honour unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered. Observe that, as S. Paul before, because in both cases the spirit is the same, so S. Peter now, says that prayers are hindered by the performance of marriage duty. When he says likewise, he challenges the husbands to imitate their wives, because he has already given them commandment: 1 Peter 3:2-3 beholding your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on apparel: but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. You see what kind of wedlock he enjoins. Husbands and wives are to dwell together according to knowledge, so that they may know what God wishes and desires, and give honour to the weak vessel, woman. If we abstain from intercourse, we give honour to our wives: if we do not abstain, it is clear that insult is the opposite of honour. He also tells the wives to let their husbands see their chaste behaviour, and the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit. Words truly worthy of an apostle, and of Christ's rock! He lays down the law for husbands and wives, condemns outward ornament, while he praises continence, which is the ornament of the inner man, as seen in the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit. In effect he says this: Since your outer man is corrupt, and you have ceased to possess the blessing of incorruption characteristic of virgins, at least imitate the incorruption of the spirit by subsequent abstinence, and what you cannot show in the body exhibit in the mind. For these are the riches, and these the ornaments of your union, which Christ seeks.

 

8. The words which follow, that you may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, might lead one to suppose that the Apostle was expressing a wish and not making a concession because of the danger of a greater fall. He therefore at once adds, lest Satan tempt you for your incontinency. It is a fine permission which is conveyed in the words be together again. What it was that he blushed to call by its own name, and thought only better than a temptation of Satan and the effect of incontinence, we take trouble to discuss as if it were obscure, although he has explained his meaning by saying, this I say by way of permission, not by way of command. And do we still hesitate to speak of marriage as a concession to weakness, not a thing commanded, as though second and third marriages were not allowed on the same ground, as though the doors of the Church were not opened by repentance even to fornicators, and what is more, to the incestuous? Take the case of the man who outraged his step-mother. Does not the Apostle, after delivering him, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit might be saved, in the second Epistle take the offender back and strive to prevent a brother from being swallowed up by overmuch grief. The Apostle's wish is one thing, his pardon another. If a wish be expressed, it confers a right; if a thing is only called pardonable, we are wrong in using it. If you wish to know the Apostle's real mind, you must take in what follows: but I would that all men were as I am. Happy is the man who is like Paul! Fortunate is he who attends to the Apostle's command, not to his concession. This, says he, I wish, this I desire that you be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ, who was a Virgin born of a Virgin, uncorrupt of her who was uncorrupt. We, because we are men, cannot imitate our Lord's nativity; but we may at least imitate His life. The former was the blessed prerogative of divinity, the latter belongs to our human condition and is part of human effort. I would that all men were like me, that while they are like me, they may also become like Christ, to whom I am like

 

9. Then come the words 1 Corinthians 7:8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they have not continency, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. Having conceded to married persons the enjoyment of wedlock and pointed out his own wishes, he passes on to the unmarried and to widows, sets before them his own practice for imitation, and calls them happy if they so abide. But if they have not continency, let them marry, just as he said before But because of fornications, and Lest Satan tempt you, because of your incontinency. And he gives a reason for saying If they have not continency, let them marry, viz. It is better to marry than to burn. The reason why it is better to marry is that it is worse to burn. Let burning lust be absent, and he will not say it is better to marry. The word better always implies a comparison with something worse, not a thing absolutely good and incapable of comparison. It is as though he said, it is better to have one eye than neither, it is better to stand on one foot and to support the rest of the body with a stick, than to crawl with broken legs. What do you say, Apostle? I do not believe you when you say Though I be rude in speech, yet am I not in knowledge. As humility is the source of the sayings For I am not worthy to be called an Apostle, and To me who am the least of the Apostles, and As to one born out of due time, so here also we have an utterance of humility. You know the meaning of language, or you would not quote Titus 1:12 Epimenides, 1 Corinthians 15:33 Menander, and Acts 17:28 Aratus. When you are discussing continence and virginity you say, It is good for a man not to touch a woman. And, It is good for them if they abide even as I. And, I think that this is good by reason of the present distress. And, That it is good for a man so to be. When you come to marriage, you do not say it is good to marry, because you cannot then add than to burn; but you say, It is better to marry than to burn. If marriage in itself be good, do not compare it with fire, but simply say It is good to marry. I suspect the goodness of that thing which is forced into the position of being only the lesser of two evils. What I want is not a smaller evil, but a thing absolutely good.

 

12. Having discussed marriage and continency he at length comes to virginity and says 1 Corinthians 7:25-26 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: but I give my judgement, as one that has obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I think therefore that this is good by reason of the present distress, namely, that it is good for a man to be as he is. Here our opponent goes utterly wild with exultation: this is his strongest battering-ram with which he shakes the wall of virginity. See, says he, the Apostle confesses that as regards virgins he has no commandment of the Lord, and he who had with authority laid down the law respecting husbands and wives, does not dare to command what the Lord has not enjoined. And rightly too. For what is enjoined is commanded, what is commanded must be done, and that which must be done implies punishment if it be not done. For it is useless to order a thing to be done and yet leave the individual free to do it or not do it. If the Lord had commanded virginity He would have seemed to condemn marriage, and to do away with the seed-plot of mankind, of which virginity itself is a growth. If He had cut off the root, how was He to expect fruit? If the foundations were not first laid, how was He to build the edifice, and put on the roof to cover all! Excavators toil hard to remove mountains; the bowels of the earth are pierced in the search for gold. And, when the tiny particles, first by the blast of the furnace, then by the hand of the cunning workman have been fashioned into an ornament, men do not call him blessed who has separated the gold from the dross, but him who wears the beautiful gold. Do not marvel then if, placed as we are, amid temptations of the flesh and incentives to vice, the angelic life be not exacted of us, but merely recommended. If advice be given, a man is free to proffer obedience; if there be a command, he is a servant bound to compliance. I have no commandment, he says, of the Lord: but I give my judgement, as one that has obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. If you have no commandment of the Lord, how dare you give judgement without orders? The Apostle will reply: Do you wish me to give orders where the Lord has offered a favour rather than laid down a law? The great Creator and Fashioner, knowing the weakness of the vessel which he made, left virginity open to those whom He addressed; and shall I, the teacher of the Gentiles, who have become all things to all men that I might gain all, shall I lay upon the necks of weak believers from the very first the burden of perpetual chastity? Let them begin with short periods of release from the marriage bond, and give themselves unto prayer, that when they have tasted the sweets of chastity they may desire the perpetual possession of that wherewith they were temporarily delighted. The Lord, when tempted by the Pharisees, and asked whether according to the law of Moses it was permitted to put away a wife, forbade the practice altogether. After weighing His words the disciples said to Him: If the case of the man is so with his wife, it is not expedient to marry. But He said to them, all men cannot receive this saying, but they to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, which were made eunuchs by men: and there are eunuchs, which made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. The reason is plain why the Apostle said, concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord. Surely; because the Lord had previously said All men cannot receive the word, but they to whom it is given, and He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. The Master of the Christian race offers the reward, invites candidates to the course, holds in His hand the prize of virginity, points to the fountain of purity, and cries aloud John 7:37 If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. He does not say, you must drink, you must run, willing or unwilling: but whoever is willing and able to run and to drink, he shall conquer, he shall be satisfied. And therefore Christ loves virgins more than others, because they willingly give what was not commanded them. And it indicates greater grace to offer what you are not bound to give, than to render what is exacted of you. The apostles, contemplating the burden of a wife, exclaimed, If the case of the man is so with his wife, it is not expedient to marry. Our Lord thought well of their view. You rightly think, said He, that it is not expedient for a man who is hastening to the kingdom of heaven to take a wife: but it is a hard matter, and all men do not receive the saying, but they to whom it has been given.

 

13 Let us look at the difference between the cares of the virgin, and those of the married man. The virgin longs to please the Lord, the husband to please his wife, and that he may please her he is careful for the things of the world, which will of course pass away with the world. And he is divided, that is to say, is distracted with manifold cares and miseries

 

14 For it is better to know a single husband, though he be a second or third, than to have many paramours: that is, it is more tolerable for a woman to prostitute herself to one man than to many.

 

16Marriage replenishes the earth, virginity fills Paradise.

 

36 Be not afraid that all will become virgins: virginity is a hard matter, and therefore rare, because it is hard: Many are called, few chosen. Many begin, few persevere. And so the reward is great for those who have persevered. If all were able to be virgins, our Lord would never have said: Matthew 19:12 He that is able to receive it, let him receive it: and the Apostle would not have hesitated to give his advice —1 Corinthians 7:25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord.

 

I can indeed say: Our hinder parts which are banished from sight, and the lower portions of the abdomen, which perform the functions of nature, are the Creator's work. But inasmuch as the physical conformation of the organs of generation testifies to difference of sex, I shall briefly reply: Are we never then to forego lust, for fear that we may have members of this kind for nothing? Why then should a husband keep himself from his wife? Why should a widow persevere in chastity, if we were only born to live like beasts? Or what harm does it do me if another man lies with my wife? For as the teeth were made for chewing, and the food masticated passes into the stomach, and a man is not blamed for giving my wife bread: similarly if it was intended that the organs of generation should always be performing their office, when my vigour is spent let another take my place, and, if I may so speak, let my wife quench her burning lust where she can. But what does the Apostle mean by exhorting to continence, if continence be contrary to nature? What does our Lord mean when He instructs us in the various kinds of eunuchs. Matthew 19:12 Surely 1 Corinthians 7:7 the Apostle who bids us emulate his own chastity, must be asked, if we are to be consistent, Why are you like other men, Paul? Why are you distinguished from the female sex by a beard, hair, and other peculiarities of person? How is it that you have not swelling bosoms, and are not broad at the hips, narrow at the chest? Your voice is rugged, your speech rough, your eyebrows more shaggy. To no purpose you have all these manly qualities, if you forego the embraces of women. I am compelled to say something and become a fool: but you have forced me to dare to speak. Our Lord and Saviour, Philippians 2:6-8 Who though He was in the form of God, condescended to take the form of a servant, and became obedient to the Father even unto death, yea the death of the cross — what necessity was there for Him to be born with members which He was not going to use? He certainly was circumcised to manifest His sex. Why did he cause John the Apostle and John the Baptist to make themselves eunuchs through love of Him, after causing them to be born men? Let us then who believe in Christ follow His example. And if we knew Him after the flesh, let us no longer know Him according to the flesh. The substance of our resurrection bodies will certainly be the same as now, though of higher glory. For the Saviour after His descent into hell had so far the selfsame body in which He was crucified, that John 20:20 He showed the disciples the marks of the nails in His hands and the wound in His side. Moreover, if we deny the identity of His body because John 20:19 He entered though the doors were shut, and this is not a property of human bodies, we must deny also that Peter and the Lord had real bodies because they Matthew 14:28 walked upon the water, which is contrary to nature. Matthew 22:30 In the resurrection of the dead they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but will be like the angels. What others will hereafter be in heaven, that virgins begin to be on earth. If likeness to the angels is promised us (and there is no difference of sex among the angels), we shall either be of no sex as are the angels, or at all events which is clearly proved, though we rise from the dead in our own sex, we shall not perform the functions of sex.

 

40 our Lord was at Cana of Galilee, and joined in the marriage festivities when He turned water into wine. I shall very briefly reply, that He Who was circumcised on the eighth day, and for Whom a pair of turtle-doves and two young pigeons were offered on the day of purification, like others before He suffered, showed His approval of Jewish custom, that He might not seem to give His enemies just cause for putting Him to death on the pretext that He destroyed the law and condemned nature. And even this was done for our sakes. For by going once to a marriage, He taught that men should marry only once. Moreover, at that time it was possible to injure virginity if marriage were not placed next to it, and the purity of widowhood in the third rank. But now when heretics are condemning wedlock, and despise the ordinance of God, we gladly hear anything he may say in praise of marriage. For the Church does not condemn marriage, but makes it subordinate; nor does she reject it, but regulates it; for she knows, as was said before, that 2 Timothy 2:20-21 in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and earthenware; and that some are to honour, some to dishonour; and that whoever cleanses himself will be a vessel of honour, necessary, prepared for every good work.

 

47 A book On Marriage, worth its weight in gold, passes under the name of Theophrastus. In it the author asks whether a wise man marries. And after laying down the conditions — that the wife must be fair, of good character, and honest parentage, the husband in good health and of ample means, and after saying that under these circumstances a wise man sometimes enters the state of matrimony, he immediately proceeds thus: But all these conditions are seldom satisfied in marriage. A wise man therefore must not take a wife. For in the first place his study of philosophy will be hindered, and it is impossible for anyone to attend to his books and his wife. Matrons want many things, costly dresses, gold, jewels, great outlay, maid-servants, all kinds of furniture, litters and gilded coaches. Then come curtain-lectures the livelong night: she complains that one lady goes out better dressed than she: that another is looked up to by all: 'I am a poor despised nobody at the ladies' assemblies.' 'Why did you ogle that creature next door?' 'Why were you talking to the maid?' 'What did you bring from the market?' 'I am not allowed to have a single friend, or companion.' She suspects that her husband's love goes the same way as her hate. There may be in some neighbouring city the wisest of teachers; but if we have a wife we can neither leave her behind, nor take the burden with us. To support a poor wife, is hard: to put up with a rich one, is torture. Notice, too, that in the case of a wife you cannot pick and choose: you must take her as you find her. If she has a bad temper, or is a fool, if she has a blemish, or is proud, or has bad breath, whatever her fault may be — all this we learn after marriage. Horses, asses, cattle, even slaves of the smallest worth, clothes, kettles, wooden seats, cups, and earthenware pitchers, are first tried and then bought: a wife is the only thing that is not shown before she is married, for fear she may not give satisfaction. Our gaze must always be directed to her face, and we must always praise her beauty: if you look at another woman, she thinks that she is out of favour. She must be called my lady, her birth-day must be kept, we must swear by her health and wish that she may survive us, respect must be paid to the nurse, to the nursemaid, to the father's slave, to the foster-child, to the handsome hanger-on, to the curled darling who manages her affairs, and to the eunuch who ministers to the safe indulgence of her lust: names which are only a cloak for adultery. Upon whomsoever she sets her heart, they must have her love though they want her not. If you give her the management of the whole house, you must yourself be her slave. If you reserve something for yourself, she will not think you are loyal to her; but she will turn to strife and hatred, and unless you quickly take care, she will have the poison ready. If you introduce old women, and soothsayers, and prophets, and vendors of jewels and silken clothing, you imperil her chastity; if you shut the door upon them, she is injured and fancies you suspect her. But what is the good of even a careful guardian, when an unchaste wife cannot be watched, and a chaste one ought not to be? For necessity is but a faithless keeper of chastity, and she alone really deserves to be called pure, who is free to sin if she chooses. If a woman be fair, she soon finds lovers; if she be ugly, it is easy to be wanton. It is difficult to guard what many long for. It is annoying to have what no one thinks worth possessing. But the misery of having an ugly wife is less than that of watching a comely one. Nothing is safe, for which a whole people sighs and longs. One man entices with his figure, another with his brains, another with his wit, another with his open hand. Somehow, or sometime, the fortress is captured which is attacked on all sides. Men marry, indeed, so as to get a manager for the house, to solace weariness, to banish solitude; but a faithful slave is a far better manager, more submissive to the master, more observant of his ways, than a wife who thinks she proves herself mistress if she acts in opposition to her husband, that is, if she does what pleases her, not what she is commanded. But friends, and servants who are under the obligation of benefits received, are better able to wait upon us in sickness than a wife who makes us responsible for her tears (she will sell you enough to make a deluge for the hope of a legacy), boasts of her anxiety, but drives her sick husband to the distraction of despair. But if she herself is poorly, we must fall sick with her and never leave her bedside. Or if she be a good and agreeable wife (how rare a bird she is!), we have to share her groans in childbirth, and suffer torture when she is in danger. A wise man can never be alone. He has with him the good men of all time, and turns his mind freely wherever he chooses. What is inaccessible to him in person he can embrace in thought. And, if men are scarce, he converses with God. He is never less alone than when alone. Then again, to marry for the sake of children, so that our name may not perish, or that we may have support in old age, and leave our property without dispute, is the height of stupidity. For what is it to us when we are leaving the world if another bears our name, when even a son does not all at once take his father's title, and there are countless others who are called by the same name. Or what support in old age is he whom you bring up, and who may die before you, or turn out a reprobate? Or at all events when he reaches mature age, you may seem to him long in dying. Friends and relatives whom you can judiciously love are better and safer heirs than those whom you must make your heirs whether you like it or not. Indeed, the surest way of having a good heir is to ruin your fortune in a good cause while you live, not to leave the fruit of your labour to be used you know not how.

48. When Theophrastus thus discourses, are there any of us, Christians, whose conversation is in heaven and who daily say Philippians 1:23 I long to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, whom he does not put to the blush? Shall a joint-heir of Christ really long for human heirs? And shall he desire children and delight himself in a long line of descendants, who will perhaps fall into the clutches of Antichrist, when we read that Moses and Samuel preferred other men to their own sons, and did not count as their children those whom they saw to be displeasing to God? When Cicero after divorcing Terentia was requested by Hirtius to marry his sister, he set the matter altogether on one side, and said that he could not possibly devote himself to a wife and to philosophy. Meanwhile that excellent partner, who had herself drunk wisdom at Tully's fountains, married Sallust his enemy, and took for her third husband Messala Corvinus, and thus, as it were, passed through three degrees of eloquence. Socrates had two wives, Xantippe and Myron, grand-daughter of Aristides. They frequently quarrelled, and he was accustomed to banter them for disagreeing about him, he being the ugliest of men, with snub nose, bald forehead, rough-haired, and bandy-legged. At last they planned an attack upon him, and having punished him severely, and put him to flight, vexed him for a long time. On one occasion when he opposed Xantippe; who from above was heaping abuse upon him, the termagant soused him with dirty water, but he only wiped his head and said, I knew that a shower must follow such thunder as that. Metella, consort of L. Sulla the Fortunate (except in the matter of his wife) was openly unchaste. It was the common talk of Athens, as I learned in my youthful years when we soon pick up what is bad, and yet Sulla was in the dark, and first got to know the secrets of his household through the abuse of his enemies. Cn. Pompey had an impure wife Mucia, who was surrounded by eunuchs from Pontus and troops of the countrymen of Mithridates. Others thought that he knew all and submitted to it; but a comrade told him during the campaign, and the conqueror of the whole world was dismayed at the sad intelligence. M. Cato, the Censor, had a wife Actoria Paula, a woman of low origin, fond of drink, violent, and (who would believe it?) haughty to Cato. I say this for fear anyone may suppose that in marrying a poor woman he has secured peace. When Philip king of Macedon, against whom Demosthenes thundered in his Philippics, was entering his bed-room as usual, his wife in a passion shut him out. Finding himself excluded he held his tongue, and consoled himself for the insult by reading a tragic poem. Gorgias the Rhetorician recited his excellent treatise on Concord to the Greeks, then at variance among themselves, at Olympia. Whereupon Melanthius his enemy observed: Here is a man who teaches us concord, and yet could not make concord between himself his wife, and maid-servant, three persons in one house. The truth was that his wife envied the beauty of the girl, and drove the purest of men wild with daily quarrels. Whole tragedies of Euripides are censures on women. Hence Hermione says, The counsels of evil women have beguiled me. In the semi-barbarous and remote city Leptis it is the custom for a daughter-in-law on the second day to beg the loan of a jar from her mother-in-law. The latter at once denies the request, and we see how true was the remark of Terence, ambiguously expressed on purpose — How is this? Do all mothers-in-law hate their daughters-in-law? We read of a certain Roman noble who, when his friends found fault with him for having divorced a wife, beautiful, chaste, and rich, put out his foot and said to them, And the shoe before you looks new and elegant, yet no one but myself knows where it pinches. Herodotus tells us that a woman puts off her modesty with her clothes. And our own comic poet thinks the man fortunate who has never been married. Why should I refer to Pasiphaë, Clytemnestra, and Eriphyle, the first of whom, the wife of a king and swimming in pleasure, is said to have lusted for a bull, the second to have killed her: husband for the sake of an adulterer, the third to have betrayed Amphiaraus, and to have preferred a gold necklace to the welfare of her husband. In all the bombast of tragedy and the overthrow of houses, cities, and kingdoms, it is the wives and concubines who stir up strife. Parents take up arms against their children: unspeakable banquets are served: and on account of the rape of one wretched woman Europe and Asia are involved in a ten years' war. We read of some who were divorced the day after they were married, and immediately married again. Both husbands are to blame, both he who was so soon dissatisfied, and he who was so soon pleased. Epicurus the patron of pleasure (though Metrodorus his disciple married Leontia) says that a wise man can seldom marry, because marriage has many drawbacks. And as riches, honours, bodily health, and other things which we call indifferent, are neither good nor bad, but stand as it were midway, and become good and bad according to the use and issue, so wives stand on the border line of good and ill. It is, moreover, a serious matter for a wise man to be in doubt whether he is going to marry a good or a bad woman. Chrysippus ridiculously maintains that a wise man should marry, that he may not outrage Jupiter Gamelius and Genethlius. For upon that principle the Latins would not marry at all, since they have no Jupiter who presides over marriage. But if, as he thinks, the life of men is determined by the names of gods, whoever chooses to sit will offend Jupiter Stator.