October 10, 2010
St. Augustine’s work, The City of God, portrays the Roman virtue and describes it’s affect on the manners of the Romans. Though the people did not worship God, St. Augustine points out that God still blessed them by increasing their dominion. In this text, Augustine finds many aspects of the ethos Roman Empire both admirable and problematic. He does this in a way that gives the reader a better understanding on his views of how to live a life dedicated to God. He also shows the problems of living for other men rather than living for the righteousness of God. Augustine speaks of the manners of the ancient Romans, and shows in what sense it was due to the virtue of the Romans themselves, and in how far to the counsel of God, that he increased their dominion, though they did not worship him. In St. Augustine work I found many aspects of the ethos Roman Empire both admirable and problematic. As you will see Augustine demonstrates many things both admirable and problematic of the Roman Empire in a way to give the reader a better understanding on his views of how to live a successful life towards God. He also shows the problems with living for yourself and not living for the righteousness of God. Augustine writes that the Romans, like many other nations, wanted ultimate glory, power, and rule. They obtained this by being "greedy of praise, prodigal of wealth, desirous of great glory, and content with a moderate fortune." It was through this and the administration of the Empire that they were able to expand and dominate, all while accomplishing so much. "That eagerness for praise and desire of glory, then, was that which accomplished those many wonderful things, laudable, doubtless, and glorious according to human judgment." It was not enough once freedom and liberty were obtained by the Romans, for they wanted domination even more, so much so that it became their greatest desire. "Next to liberty, the Romans so highly esteemed domination, that it received a place among those things on which they bestowed the greatest praise." This is problematic of the Romans, with their stubborn drive for domination. They could never be settled or pleased with what they had. This is an admirable fact about the Romans, with their devotion to glory. It may have been the wrong kind but none the less they were driven to do whatever it took to accomplish the ultimate goal. Augustine, although recognizing that the Romans were powerful and dominating, did this through the corruption of their morals and "did not seek after honors and glory by these arts, but by treachery and deceit. He believed that all men want and desire "glory, honor, and power" but it is in the way that man tries to obtain these things that he is deemed virtuous and good. Both the good man and the ignoble man are alike because they desire these but they differ in the ways they go about obtaining them. This leads me to believe Romans knew wrong from right and continued to do wrong in order to get glory. This is a problematic trait that Augustine displays numerous times in this work. Chapter fifteen, “Concerning the Temporal Reward Which God Granted to the Virtues of the Romans,” discusses the outcomes of the actions of the Empire. The Romans, who sought great glory, were rewarded not by God but by being honored by other men and other nations. Their actions and lifestyle were envied by other countries and that is how they were rewarded. "...and at this day, both in literature and history, they are glorious among almost all nations. There is no reason why they should complain against the justice of the supreme and true God--they have received their reward." Through this it shows the respect for God the Romans had in Augustine’s eyes. He admires the belief and faith he and the people around him have in God even though they did not worship him. In comparison, the people who held their virtues and remained true were rewarded in a different way, according to...
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