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Augustine of Hippo: Patron Saint of Political Criticism

(“The Four Doctors of the Western Church,” Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430), by Gerard Seghers)

“In a brilliant stroke of irony, Augustine’s reading of Roman history not only reveals the many falsities of the Roman imperial mythology but also points the way to Christ and the Heavenly Jerusalem.”

“How greatly and how often can I count those blest who have deserved birth in that happy soil! Those high-born scions of Roman nobility crown their honorable birth with the luster of Rome!” Rutilius Namatianus was the last great pagan imperial Roman poet. His masterpiece, De reditu suo (“A Voyage Home”) was published a few years after the Visigoth sack. The poem eulogizes the glory of Rome in an age of rapidly approaching darkness. This memorializing of the grandeur of Rome, especially in the aftermath of the psychologically traumatic sack by Alaric, was commonplace among the landowning pagan elite, some of whom—like Rutilius—had served Honorius. Despite the sacking of Rome, these ideologues of Romanitas looked fondly back on the city of their dreams and youth.

What makes Rutilius’ poem interesting and engaging is, despite the sack of Rome, it still teems with the spirit of Romanitas and the Virgilian optimism of altae moenia Romae (the high and mighty walls of Rome). He even opines, “Thy gifts thou spread wide as the sun’s rays, as far as earth-encircling ocean heaves.” Rome, according to Rutilius—as it was for Virgil—was still destined to bring civilization and progress to the whole of the world despite the sack.

Alaric’s Sack of Rome was one of the most civilized sacks in human history. Betrayed by the emperor and his cronies, Alaric entered Rome to seek payment for his services (we must not forget that the Romans often employed the so-called “barbarians” for their political and military goals in the fifth century). Alaric was, after all, a Roman general—and his men paid soldiers of the Roman state. In sacking Rome, they mostly stripped the jewels, gold, and treasures of the Capitoline Hill and then made off with their plunder. True, many innocents were caught up in the orgy—but it was a modest pillage by ancient standards (the Vandal sack was far more destructive). The greatest legacy of the Sack of Rome in 410, however, was not the hastening of the collapse of the Roman Empire but the writing of the City of God by Saint Augustine.

Augustine and the Origins of Cultural Criticism

If Rutilius still proclaimed the imperial ideology of Roma Aeterna, it was that Romanized Punic-Berber North African who decisively and revolutionarily broke with what Peter Brown called the hypnotizing “myth of Rome.” Ernest Fortin, putting it succinctly, said that the early books of Augustine’s City of God aimed at “unmasking [Rome’s] vices.” And unmask the manifold vices of Rome Augustine did.

What made Augustine’s critique of Rome so powerful was that it came from an individual who was brought up in the hypnotizing myth of Roman universalism. In his school years, as he recounts in the Confessions, Augustine was lauded by his teachers and classmates as the ideal Roman—even though he was a liar, cheater, and thief. All these things, Augustine later reflects over, were encouraged in the pursuit of glory and victory (just do not get caught, Augustine reminds us). By nineteen, he was professor of rhetoric at Carthage and wielded language in the service of deceit and self-advancement rather than virtue, beauty, and truth. His contacts got him an audience with Rome which he used as a means to escape the suffocating tears and prayers of St. Monica, his mother. But Augustine’s fateful voyage to Italy, and eventually Milan, changed everything.

The Confessions, as I’ve written before, is a pilgrim’s pilgrimage. Not only do we witness Augustine’s interior conversion and pilgrimage to God, we physically witness his pilgrimage to God as well. In Carthage, where he indulged his lust and vanity in a “cauldron of illicit loves,” Augustine tells us of several failed attempts to ascend to God: “I was ‘in the deep mire’ and darkness of falsehood. Despite my frequent efforts to climb out of it, I was the more heavily plunged back into the filth and [joyfully] wallowed in it. During this time this chaste, devout, and sober widow [Monica], one of the kind you love, already cheered by hope but no less constant in prayer and weeping, never ceased her hours of prayer to lament about me to you.”

Of course, Augustine’s pilgrimage to God only begins when he leaves the cesspool of Carthage, the new Babylon of Augustine’s theological imagination. In Milan he has his famous Neoplatonic ascent, but rather than be prideful—like his interlocutor and critic Porphyry in the City of God—Augustine acknowledges just how far away he was from God despite this majestically mystically ascent and vision. He tries but fails to climb to God in Carthage which is the physical “place of desolation.” In Milan, in a garden, he ascends but crashes and burns soon after. In both cases as recounted, Augustine was alone. The vision at Ostia, where he ascends to God with his mother hand-in-hand, reveals the totality of the pilgrim’s progress: Mother and son embrace each other in love and ascend in a journey together to witness the Triune Godhead in its relations of love. Augustine and Monica, united at last, mirror the Trinity which they have long prayed to and sought.

Throughout the Confessions Augustine already shows signs of being a systematic cultural critic. He reflects on the emptiness of Roman education and how it teaches young men to be thieves, liars, and cheats. He reflects on the lusty passions of the games, which overwhelmed Alypius and revealed the hollowness of Stoicism (the philosophy that Alypius was following at the time). He also weeps over the empty promises of Roman high culture while illiterates and beggars “inherit the Kingdom of God.”

By the time Augustine began composing the City of God in the aftermath of Alaric’s sack—which was precipitated by a series of sermons he gave in late 410 and early 411—Augustine the cultural and political critic already had firm foundations. The City of God, however, not only became his magnum opus but also became the first systematic work of internal Western cultural and political criticism ever produced. Where other poets and philosophers eulogized their states and political systems, Augustine, in the first three books of the City of God, takes a hammer and pulverizes the Roman exceptionalism he was once indoctrinated into as a schoolboy.

We are all probably familiar with the basics of the story thanks to our inherited Whig prejudices. Rome was sacked, the pagan critics argued, because Christianity had swept aside the old gods and guardians of the city. With these guardian-gods gone, the city was ripe for pillaging. Christianity, the pagan critics charged, had made Rome weak. As the bloated Whig Englishman Edward Gibbon put it, Christianity made men weaklings and led them to indulge in introspective speculation rather than masculine know-how and do-how.

These critics, unfortunately, were profoundly ignorant of their own history (perhaps not much has changed regarding intellectuals and their vast ignorance masked by continuous social commentary). Augustine, here, does something rather remarkable for a Christian bishop. Rather than pit Holy Scripture against Roman history, he turns to Roman history for his own ammunition in deconstructing the Roman argument. Having been trained as a schoolboy (and often still reading the same authors late at night while a member of the clergy as a guilty and romantic pleasure) to read and memorize Virgil, Cicero, Sallust, Livy, and Lucan, among others, Augustine used Rome’s own vaunted authors against her. Reaching into the wellspring of the Roman writers and historians, Augustine began an arduously painstaking counter-narrative to shatter—once and for all—the idolatry of Roma Aeterna.

The Defeated Gods

Were the gods the cause of Roman greatness? This was the chief and primary argument of the pagan traditionalists in the fifth century. And this was the most straightforward of Augustine’s rebuttals. To put it mildly, Hell No! was his answer.

The gods of Rome were the same gods of Troy who came westward on the back of Aeneas as Augustine reminds his audience by extensively quoting his second love, Virgil. So who were these gods that were placed over custodial guardianship of the city of Romulus? They were none other than the defeated gods who could not even protect Troy from pillage and destruction. Moreover, the gods were so weak that their survival depended on a man—Aeneas. How stupid, then, the Romans must have been to entrust their city to the defeated gods who survived not because of their own power but because of the piety (pietas, duty) of a single man, “Where, then, was the wisdom of entrust Rome to the Trojan gods, who had demonstrated their weakness in the loss of Troy?” Augustine mockingly questions to his critics.

Additionally, citing the venerable Sallust as his Roman authority, “The city of Rome was first built and inhabited as I have heard, by the Trojans.” But Sallust acknowledges, in detailing the backstory of Rome with the Trojans and going back to the Judgement of Paris, that the gods were infuriated by Paris’ adultery— “If, then, the gods were of the opinion that the adultery of Paris should be punished,” Augustine writes alongside Sallust, “it was chiefly the Romans, or at least the Romans also, who should have suffered.”

Here we witness the contradiction of Roman religiosity. On one hand, with their luminaries like Sallust, the Romans knew the adultery of Paris was wrong and the gods disapproved. It was fitting, then, for Paris and the people of Paris (the Trojans who are also the seed of the Romans) to suffer. Yet these same gods who condemn Paris and the Trojans condemn the city they supposedly love, Troy. These petty and weak gods bring about their own destruction, and in doing so, are defeated by the Greeks and their survival depends on the dutiful labor (pietas) of a single man whom Virgil sung laurels of in his epic.

Furthermore, the gods of Rome were the same gods entrusted to the protection of Alba. Alba was Rome’s sister-city, the first city founded by the wayward Trojans according to their own mythology and Rome’s longstanding ally in her youthful years. The destruction of Alba at the hands of the Romans, Augustine reminds us, was a collective reenactment of the individual quarrel of Romulus and Remus (more on that later). The destruction of Alba by Rome was a fratricide of the political and confirmed the divided state of the earthly city against itself, “Alba, the kingdom of Alcanius and the third abode of the Trojan gods, was overthrown by her daughter-city. And the making of one people out of two by the remnants that survived the war was the pitiable coagulation of all the blood which had already been poured out by both sides.”

The gods of Rome were repeatedly defeated and routinely allowed their devotees to be raped, pillaged, and killed. What, then, was the real cause of Roman greatness if not the gods?

Lastly, long before Christianity and long before the birth of Christ when the old gods reigned in their temples, Rome was sacked much more harshly by the Gallic tribes in 390 B.C. The gods, according to Rome’s own historians and history books, had notoriously failed to protect Rome then and protect the other people, disciples, and cities dedicated to them over a near two-thousand year history (dating back to the Trojan War). The gods of Rome were repeatedly defeated and routinely allowed their devotees to be raped, pillaged, and killed. What, then, was the real cause of Roman greatness if not the gods?

The Fratricidal City

We will answer that question in a bit, but it does us well to continue with Augustine’s blistering criticism of Rome from Rome’s own heritage and history books. Augustine may have conclusively shown that the gods whom the pagan romantic traditionalists of his time had said were the cause of the city’s greatness were, in fact, nothing but petty defeated spirits, but the bishop of Hippo did not stop there. He spares nothing within Rome’s sacred mythology to show the emptiness of their imperial ideology. What better place, then, to deconstruct the story of Rome’s physical founding with Romulus and Remus?

In confronting the idea of Roma Aeterna, Augustine bluntly says “the earthly city, which shall not be everlasting…is often divided against itself by litigations, wars, quarrels, and such victories as are either life-destroying or short-lived.” To prove his point, Augustine reaches into the very mythic founding of Rome itself. Cain and Abel might be the most famous fratricidal story in history, but the story of Romulus and Remus is undoubtedly the second most fratricidal story in history.

Offering a mesmerizing side-by-side reading of secular and sacred history, Augustine reflects on both fratricides and what they reveal. One must not forget that in the Biblical story after Cain slew Abel, he and his family found the first cities according to the Jahwist author. It is essential, in Augustine’s reading, to recognize that lust and envy moved Cain to slaughter Abel, “Thus the founder of the earthly city was a fratricide. Overcome with envy, he slew his own brother, a citizen of the eternal city, and a sojourner on earth.” This story is hauntingly recapitulated in Romulus’ murder of Remus.

The two brothers, nursed by the she-wolf, were unable to share in the glory of founding Rome. It is for this reason, Augustine tells us, that Romulus lusted after total glory and slew his brother, “Both desired to have the glory of founding the Roman republic, but both could not have as much glory as if one only claimed it; for he who wished to have the glory of ruling would certainly rule less if his power were shared by a living consort. In order, therefore, that the whole glory might be enjoyed by one, his consort was removed; and by this crime the empire was made larger, indeed, but inferior, while otherwise it would have been less, but superior.”

This fratricide which marks the birth of Rome—to which, Augustine also reminds his critics, the gods did nothing despite Remus being a devotee of those petty Trojan gods we encountered earlier—reveals the bloodlust that drives the earthly city onward (in its perspective) to hell (from Augustine’s perspective). “The quarrel, then, between Romulus and Remus shows how the earthly city is divided against itself; that which fell out between Cain and Abel illustrated the hatred that subsists between the two cities, that of God and that of men. The wicked war with wicked; the good also war with the wicked.” This leads to the sickness that plagues the earthly city and its impossibility to offer healing and justice to those broken and crying souls caught up in the cosmic drama of the libido dominandi that enslaves the earthly city and its most illustrious souls. Those who preach a united city are blind to the reality that the earthly city is divided against itself and quarrels with itself for the lust to dominate itself. There is much tragic irony in this as Augustine noted.

Here it is worthwhile to remind everyone, as many contemporary classicists do, that Roman politics was built on domination. Scipio was “Great” because he defeated Hannibal and the Carthaginians (and this Scipio, who was also extremely religious, was exiled after his patriotic service by the republic which feared him). Pompey was bestowed the epithet “Great” because he conquered the east. Julius Caesar killed and enslaved, conservatively, at least a million Gauls during his campaign—his fame in conquest eventually made him consul and then tyrant. The removal of Caesar and the supposed restoration of liberty was through murder—itself a haunting recapitulation, in various ways, of Romulus’ murder of Remus. Perhaps we, like the blind pagan traditionalists of the past, like to romanticize all this in the name of “progress” and “civilization” just as the Roman propagandists and imperial poets of Antiquity did.

Weeping for Women

One of the most consequential aspects of Augustine’s City of God is the voice he gives to women in his work. While it is true that Augustine, as the writer, speaks on behalf of women, that he takes so much time to discuss the tragic story of female lives in Roman history is remarkable. Not only does he defend the honor and dignity of Christian women raped during the Sack of Rome, he also takes this opportunity to contrast the merciful Christian attitude toward this sensitive subject with the dark and domineering attitude espoused by the Roman cultural and political machinery.

Two horrifying stories about the rape of women take center stage in Augustine’s criticism: The Rape of the Sabine Women and the rape and suicide of Lucretia. Both stories are foundational to the Roman imperial mythos, and both, in Augustine’s eyes, expose the reality of social sin deep in the abyss of the Roman system.

Livy recounts the story of the Rape of the Sabine Women as occurring early in Rome’s history, during the reign of Romulus, when the Romans and the Sabines were rivaling one another for dominance in central Italy. The Romans, lacking women to repopulate, came to the Sabines to marry their virgin daughters. The Sabines refused. What followed was the traumatic episode which displayed Rome’s lust to dominate. Livy writes, “The Roman State had now become so strong that it was a match for any of its neighbors in war, but its greatness threatened to last for only one generation, since through the absence of women there was no hope of offspring, and there was no right of intermarriage with their neighbors.” In order to achieve domination over central Italy, the Romans put on a grand festival (thereafter celebrated every year) wherein the Sabine women came to attend and were forcibly abducted and raped by the Roman men to subjugate the Sabine political class to negotiate a favorable peace on behalf of the Romans.

The Sabines rushed to protect their women but were found in a delicate position. They bowed to the will and iron rod of the Romans, thus becoming a subservient state just like the Sabine women had. The heroism of the Sabine episode was through Hersilia’s plea to prevent bloodshed. Hersilia, as such, was hailed as a hero and ideal feminine figure. But only because she submitted to Roman domination instead of fighting back as the Sabines were doing.

But Augustine sees through this façade as a story of unadulterated force and male libidinal excess at the expense of feminine weakness and mercy, “If the Sabines were wrong to deny their daughters when the Romans asked for them, was it not a greater wrong in the Romans to carry them off after that denial?” And how did Rome reward Romulus for perpetuating this act? They made him a god! That is the worst “fault” which revealed the depravity of the Roman heart, “If one would find fault with the results of this act, it must rather be on the ground that the Romans made Romulus a god in spite of his perpetrating this iniquity.”

The Romans celebrated this event as one that brought peace and prosperity, not to mention securing Rome’s domination over central Italy. Augustine, in contrast, reads the story as one of calamity and domination. When he writes that the fault to be found in the “results” (because the Roman propaganda promoted how “peace” was the “result” of the abduction and rape of the Sabine women), Augustine hauntingly points to how the Romans made a deity out of such an immoral man: Romulus, the murderer of his own brother; Romulus the rapist of women; Romulus the founding father of domination.

But the most famous woman whom Augustine sheds tears for, besides Dido, is Lucretia. More than even the Rape of the Sabine Women, the rape and suicide of Lucretia was one of the most sacred stories in the Roman mythic psyche. Lucretia was a beautiful Roman princess who was preyed upon by one of King Tarquin’s sons. Her story was essential to the Roman myth because her rape and suicide prompted the uprising against Tarquin and the Tuscan kings who had ruled over Rome before the establishment of the republic. In this chronology, Lucretia’s story is the seed sprouting the spirit of Roman liberty.

However, Augustine—as he does throughout the City of God—offers an alternative reading. He notes that Romans and Christians agree on the virtue of purity and chastity. However, that is the only thing the Romans and Christians agree on. Augustine offers consolation to the Christian women raped by the Goths during the sack by arguing that since men had preyed upon them, they were, in essence, still pure and chaste since they had not committed a sin on their own accord. Christians, therefore, approach these women with a spirit of tenderness and mercy aimed at healing and restoration in the midst of the trauma. The Romans, in how they dealt with Lucretia, was exactly the opposite.

The Roman mind was divided against itself—as the earthly city is naturally divided against itself—in dealing with Lucretia. The Romans recognized that she was the predatory victim of a violent and vile man. However, they could not free her of her impurity that resulted from the vile sexual assault. “But this case of Lucretia is in such a dilemma, that if you extenuate the homicide, you confirm the adultery: if you acquit her of adultery, you make the charge of homicide heavier; and there is no way out of the dilemma, when one asks, If she was adulterous, why praise her? If chaste, why slay her?”

Augustine weeps for Lucretia because Lucretia was an innocent victim of sexual violence and social shame. She, like the Christian victims of the Sack of Rome, had done nothing wrong. Yet the Roman social edifice of purity, domination, and glory demanded that she take her life. “[S]he killed herself for being subjected to an outrage in which she had no guilty part,” Augustine vocally insists on pointing the finger at the Roman social system. Her rape ended her purity in the most literal and violent way—so the Romans wanted nothing to do with her. She was belittled and scorned by the Romans for a crime she did not commit. Only after succumbing to the social pressure of her peers did Lucretia thrust the blade of suicide into her broken heart.

Here, then, is the true perversity of the Roman spirit manifested. In her suicide, the Romans who had assailed her suddenly lifted her up as the model Roman woman. This action of quasi-deification shockingly reveals the death-drive at the center of the Roman heart. Death is preferable to life.

Lucretia, in Augustine’s eyes, committed suicide under the restless and relentless social pressure thrust upon her by the very city she called home and the very citizens she called her compatriots. Rather than being able to fly into their arms for intimacy and mercy, she found cold rebuff and scorn which caused her to wallow in isolation and loneliness with her broken heart and body until she was finally overwhelmed by social shame that she killed herself. As Augustine knew well, the two justifications of suicide in ancient Rome were desperata salus and pudor, the latter being suicide from shame. Pudor burdened down Lucretia until she committed suicide. In a display of Augustinian irony, Augustine attempts to shame Rome for its guilt in shaming Lucretia to commit suicide.

Why did the Romans lionize Lucretia? According to Augustine, Lucretia was redefined as a heroine only in her submission to the male mob which shamed her and demanded her suicide. In accepting this pressure, she became the model women broken and bent to male libidinal frenzy (physically and socially). To free themselves of their own guilt and complicity in Lucretia’s death, the Romans rewrote the story to suggest that her “heroic” suicide gave birth to the spirit of Roman liberty. How truly scandalous.

The Real Cause of Roman “Greatness”

Upon examining and deconstructing the pillars of Rome’s sacred myths, Augustine turns to offering his so-called pessimistic reading of why Rome was great. The gods did not cause Rome’s greatness. Contra Cicero, moral virtue did not cause Rome’s greatness either. Anyone looking at the foundational stories of Roman liberty and power, as we just have, should be able to see that. What, then—to return to our earlier question—was the cause of Roman greatness? It was nothing less than the depraved lust to dominate.

Against that 20th century reader of the Roman heart, Julius Evola, Augustine’s reading of the Roman heart did not reveal any deep piety but an empty and wounded heart enslaved by lust and the false pretensions of glory. As he said so succinctly, but perfectly, in his preface, “we must speak also of the earthly city, which, though it be mistress of the nations, is itself ruled by its lust to dominate.” From the first page of Augustine’s monumental epic, he had already prefigured the theme that he would deconstruct through his engagement with the Roman sources: the lust to dominate.

After all, what did all those foundational stories have in common? Aeneas; Romulus and Remus; the Rape of the Sabine Women; the rape and suicide of Lucretia; all are stories moved by death and domination. Roman history, as Augustine tragically pointed out, simply continued this movement unabated. Calamity and death touched every decade of Rome’s history. Nothing had changed—save for the entry of Christ’s Church into this bleak and brutal world, carving out a sanctuary for mercy and hope in a merciless and hopeless world.

The gods were not the cause of Rome’s greatness. Moral virtue was not the cause of Rome’s greatness. Philosophy was not the cause of Rome’s greatness. Rome’s “greatness,” to use that empty word, was premised on her lust to dominate others which saw her arise from a feeble city-state in the middle of the Italian Peninsula to “mistress of the nations” enslaving the nations to its own enslavement to the libidio dominandi. Rome’s unabashed insistence on victory, no matter the cost, led her to the far corners of the world. Rome’s lust for power made her “great.” And the Romans then created terms and concepts like piety, honor, and glory to mask their criminal bloodlust which her propagandists perpetuated into the cultural psyche. Not altogether dissimilar, I might add, to what we do today.

An Exhortation to the Romans

Despite deconstructing the veil of Roman imperialism and universalism, its progressive and civilizing mission, Augustine looked upon the broken and conflictual Roman heart with a deep sense of pity and tragedy. The agonism and the desire of the Roman heart was the universal heart in its fallen condition. In the Roman heart Augustine saw his own heart when a young man in North Africa. “I wanted nothing more than to love and be loved,” he famously said. So too, after washing away all the blood, muck, and mud did Augustine see a wounded and weeping heart seeking love and wanting to be loved. This made the situation even more pitiable and tragic.

Unfortunately, the Roman heart could not ascend because its enslavement to the lust to dominate kept it tied down to the earth and located the pulsating heart of these desires in the base and empty city founded on the crime of fratricide and opened up to Romulus by the sword of war.

The Roman desire for an eternal city; the Roman desire for justice—however distorted their understanding was; the Roman desire for a shared love in a shared morality as Cicero said; and the Roman emphasis on filial duty (pietas), all reflected the wounded heart’s desperation to escape the world of abuse and death toward something heavenly. Unfortunately, the Roman heart could not ascend because its enslavement to the lust to dominate kept it tied down to the earth and located the pulsating heart of these desires in the base and empty city founded on the crime of fratricide and opened up to Romulus by the sword of war. Quoting Virgil—as Augustine was always fond of doing—he cried out to the Romans, “Awake, it is now day; as you have already awaked in the persons of some in whose perfect virtue and sufferings for the true faith we glory: for they, contending on all sides with hostile powers, and conquering them all by bravely dying, have purchased for us this country of ours with their blood; to which country we invite you, and exhort you to add yourselves to the number of the citizens of this city, which also has a sanctuary…Lay hold now on the celestial country, which is easily won, and in which you will reign truly and for ever. For there shalt thou find no vestal fire, no Capitoline stone, but the one true God, ‘No date, no goal will here ordain: But grant an endless, boundless reign.’”

After deconstructing the emptiness of the Roman heavenly mandate, Augustine extends his loving hand in embrace to his fellow Romans and critics to lift them up to the city “incomparably more glorious than Rome.” In a brilliant stroke of irony, Augustine’s reading of Roman history not only reveals the many falsities of the Roman imperial mythology but also points the way to Christ and the Heavenly Jerusalem. If virtue and moral character is the true nature of Rome like the critics were claiming and the Roman historians had promoted and found in men like Scaevola, Scipio, Regulus, and Gaius Fabricius Luscinus, then Christianity is the true religion of the Roman heart since Christianity promotes the very virtue and moral character that luminous writers like Sallust, Livy, and Cicero had praised as the essence of the old Roman republic. Thus, we enter the reality of Augustine the ironist, but that is another story to tell.

Deep in the heart of the Western political and cultural tradition is the seed of self-criticism and deconstruction, planted so wonderfully by that mixed-race North African who became Rome’s greatest critic despite himself being a Roman citizen who had viciously climbed the Roman social ladder. Augustine’s criticism was not made out of spite. It was made out of love and compassion. Augustine reached out to the many wounded souls, Christian and pagan alike, and offered his hand as he did his mother at Ostia to ascend and glimpse the true reality of Love which they all sought. “There,” Augustine consoles his critics and flock simultaneously, “we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise…Now take possession of the Heavenly Country, for which you will have to endure but little hardship; and you will reign there in truth and love for ever.” Far greater is the luster and citizenship of that city than the city sung of by Rutilius.

Paul Krause is a humanities teacher, classicist, and literary essayist. He contributed to the book The College Lecture Today (Lexington Press, 2019), is an Associate Editor at VoegelinView, and is host of the podcast Literary Tales.

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