Textkit Logo

Aug. Civitate dei, Book 1, ch. 28

Here you can discuss all things Latin. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Latin, and more.

Aug. Civitate dei, Book 1, ch. 28

Postby hlawson38 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 12:29 pm

Context: Augustine reflects in detail on the moral issues concerning women sexually violated by invading soldiers. His point is that a woman violated against her will has lost none of her Christian virtue. He is arguing against traditional Roman tales that praised women who killed themselves out of shame, after such a violation. This must have been highly relevant in view of the recent sacking of Rome, which is the occasion of _The City of God_.

Quamquam et illud non sit tacendum, quod quibusdam, quae ista perpessae sunt, potuit uideri continentiae bonum in bonis corporalibus deputandum et tunc manere, si nullius libidine corpus adtrectaretur; non autem esse positum in solo adiuto diuinitus robore uoluntatis, ut sit sanctum et corpus et spiritus; nec tale bonum esse, quod inuito animo non possit auferri; qui error eis fortasse sublatus est. Cum enim cogitant, qua conscientia Deo seruierint, et fide inconcussa non de illo sentiunt, quod ita sibi seruientes eumque inuocantes deserere ullo modo potuerit, quantumque illi castitas placeat dubitare non possunt, uident esse consequens nequaquam illum fuisse permissurum, ut haec acciderent sanctis suis, si eo modo perire posset sanctitas, quam contulit eis et diligit in eis.


Translation (what I think it has to mean): But, we must not pass over in silence that certain women, who endured such things, might believe that the virtue of sexual continence belongs to the physical body, only while that body remains undefiled by the lust of another; but this is not to be believed [ non autem esse positum] [for] it is by the strength of the will, aided divinely, that both the body and the spirit remain pure; such a mistake has perhaps already been taken away [from these women]. For when they reflect, how sincerely they have served God, and with unshaken faith, they will never think that he ever could desert the ones serving him and calling upon him, and when they cannot doubt how much their purity pleases God, they will see that God will in no way allow these things to destroy their purity, (for) not at all even in that way can their purity pass away, which purity God gave them and loves in them.

Above is what I think it has to mean, but I'm shaky especially about one clause: non autem esse positum in solo adiuto diuinitus robore uoluntatis, ut sit sanctum et corpus et spiritus; I am unsure whether I have found good English for non autem esse positum.
hlawson38
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 563
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:38 am

Re: Aug. Civitate dei, Book 1, ch. 28

Postby Nesrad » Sat Jun 02, 2018 12:59 pm

I think "positum esse" goes with "videri quibusdam", which would mean: and (it seems to them) that holiness of body and spirit is not dependent [non positum esse] on the sole divinely aided strength of the will, (which in these circumstances cannot cause) the body and soul to remain pure, and (they think) that this kind of good (virginity) can be taken away without one's consent; but maybe they have abandoned this mistake.
Nesrad
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 298
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:10 pm

Re: Aug. Civitate dei, Book 1, ch. 28

Postby hlawson38 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:42 pm

Many thanks, Nesrad. Your reading took away the problems that bothered me.
hlawson38
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 563
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:38 am

Re: Aug. Civitate dei, Book 1, ch. 28

Postby RandyGibbons » Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:55 pm

Above is what I think it has to mean, but I'm shaky

I'm shaky too, maybe not so much because of the Latin construction as because I am not always certain I understand Augustine's subtle (way too subtle?) dissection of the variety of ways in which chaste women must have reacted to their rape in the deepest and conflicted recesses of their minds (in the sack of the physical City of God, i.e., Rome, in 410 by the "barbarians").

Here's what I have shakily concluded after re-reading the passage several times. Section XXVIII leaves the issue of the Lucretian/pagan Roman nobility, or not, of chaste rape victims' suicide and is addressed to the surviving victims among the Christian chaste and pious: Non itaque vobis, O fideles Christi, sit taedio vita vestra si ludibrio fuit hostibus castitas vestra (P.G. Walsh's translation: "So faithful followers of Christ, you must not find your life a burden if the enemy has made sport with your chastity"). God's judgements are inscrutable and unsearchable (stylistic element of Augustine's: citing the bible, here Romans 11.33). But Augustine the preacher immediately gives way to Augustine the psychologist: Verum tamen interrogate fideliter animas vestras .... And he proceeds to consider several categories of the chaste.

The first, women who, while chaste, nevertheless may have committed the sin of being a little too puffed up about the chastity. If your hearts have answered yes to this charge, then "you must not be surprised at having lost the virginity which made you seek men's approval ..." (At this point, my mother and my wife and my sister and my daughter and my daughter-in-law, and I in their behalf, want to reach out and strangle this guy.)

To those of you who can say no, this wasn't true of yourselves, well, you must content themselves that ... God's purpose is inscrutable but will reveal itself to your benefit in the final judgement.

But even these chaste and un-arrogant women perhaps have some hidden weakness (aliquid latentis infirmitatis) "which could have swollen with supercilious arrogance if they had escaped humiliation during those depredations". God's plan for these women was to rob them of their untainted bodies "so that good fortune would not corrupt their modesty". (Now the women in my family don't just want to, they actually do reach out and strangle this guy.)

Now your passage. Augustine does not want to leave unmentioned yet one more type, victims who may have counted chastity as a bodily good. First, Nesrad is right, the entire passage continentiae ... auferri is indirect speech, Augustine's mind reading of this particular type ('This is how they may have thought, that ...'). As part of this reconstructed thought pattern, they may have thought that the sanctity of body and spirit is not dependent solely (solo in in solo adiuto divinitus robore voluntatis should be translated adverbially) on divinely aided strength of will (though, according to Augustine, it is).

Because of the accumulation of negatives, as well as my uncertainty sometimes about Augustine's mind reading, I was shaky about the following clause: nec tale bonum esse quod invito animo non possit auferri. 'Nor, they may have thought, was their (bodily) chastity the type of good which cannot be taken away, if their mind refuses assent'. Nesrad, I think that's your understanding too (of the entire passage), though I couldn't entirely tell from your translation. I wasn't sure what you mean by "(which in these circumstances cannot cause)". Also, I would note, the women definitely lost their virginity, just not (according to Augustine) their soul's chastity.

By the way, here is an interesting article by Stephen Greenblatt on Augustine and sex.
RandyGibbons
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 201
Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:10 pm

Re: Aug. Civitate dei, Book 1, ch. 28

Postby hlawson38 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:43 pm

Thanks for your comments, Randy. Augustine definitely gets my attention, makes me uneasy, sometimes embarrasses me, and makes me wonder just what is going on here. He's got the right idea, I think, about people who are being shamed after being physically abused. Within the terms of his religious convictions he makes a strong argument against suicide for any reason.
hlawson38
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 563
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:38 am

Re: Aug. Civitate dei, Book 1, ch. 28

Postby Nesrad » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:10 pm

Yes Randy, my translation is not literal, but that's the idea. From what I remember about this passage from about 5 years ago, Aug. teaches that women cannot lose their virginity unwillingly. He wouldn't agree with Randy when he distinguishes between losing one's bodily virginity and one's soul's chastity. Only the second conditions virginity.
Nesrad
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 298
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:10 pm


Return to Learning Latin