The City of God

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Author: Saint Augustine  | Date: 413

Chapter 4.

The inferior gods, whose names are not associated with infamy, have been better dealt with than the select gods, whose infamies are celebrated

However, any one who eagerly seeks for celebrity and renown, might congratulate those select gods, and call them fortunate, were it not that he saw that they have been selected more to their injury than to their honour. For that low crowd of gods have been protected by their very meanness and obscurity from being overwhelmed with infamy. We laugh, indeed, when we see them distributed by the mere fiction of human opinions, according to the special works assigned to them, like those who farm small portions of the public revenue, or like workmen in the street of the silversmiths, where one vessel, in order that it may go out perfect, passes through the hands of many, when it might have been finished by one perfect workman. But the only reason why the combined skill of many workmen was thought necessary, was, that it is better that each part of an art should be learned by a special workman, which can be done speedily and easily, than that they should all be compelled to be perfect in one art throughout all its parts, which they could only attain slowly and with difficulty. Nevertheless there is scarcely to be found one of the non-select gods who has brought infamy on himself by any crime, whilst there is scarce any one of the select gods who has not received upon himself the brand of notable infamy. These latter have descended to the humble works of the others, whilst the others have not come up to their sublime crimes. Concerning Janus, there does not readily occur to my recollection anything infamous; and perhaps he was such an one as lived more innocently than the rest and further removed from misdeeds and crimes. He kindly received and entertained Saturn when he was fleeing; he divided his kingdom with his guest, so that each of them had a city for himself, *0115 the one Janiculum, and the other Saturnia. But those seekers after every kind of unseemliness in the worship of the gods have disgraced him, whose life they found to be less disgraceful than that of the other gods, with an image of monstrous deformity, making it sometimes with two faces, and sometimes, as it were, double, with four faces. Did they wish that, as the most of the select gods had lost shame through the perpetration of shameful crimes, his greater innocence should be marked by a greater number of faces?

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Chicago: Saint Augustine, "Chapter 4.," The City of God, trans. Marcus Dods Original Sources, accessed July 14, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DBJGA47BS94APPG.

MLA: Augustine, Saint. "Chapter 4." The City of God, translted by Marcus Dods, Original Sources. 14 Jul. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DBJGA47BS94APPG.

Harvard: Augustine, S, 'Chapter 4.' in The City of God, trans. . Original Sources, retrieved 14 July 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DBJGA47BS94APPG.