Now the promised disputation concerning justice must be given; which is either by itself the greatest virtue, or by itself the fountain of virtue, which not only philosophers sought, but poets also, who were much earlier, and were esteemed as wise before the origin of the name of philosophy. These clearly understood that this justice was absent from the affairs of men; and they feigned that it, being offended with the vices of men, departed from the earth, and withdrew to heaven; and that they may teach what it is to live justly (for they are accustomed to give precepts by circumlocutions), they repeat examples of justice from the times of Saturnus, which they call the golden times, and they relate in what condition human life was while it delayed on the earth. 958 And this is not to be regarded as a poetic fiction, but as the truth. For, while Saturnus reigned, the religious worship of the gods not having yet been instituted, nor any 959 race being as yet set apart in the belief of its divinity, God was manifestly worshipped. And therefore there were neither dissensions, nor enmities, nor wars.
“Not yet had rage unsheathed maddened swords,”
as Germanicus Cæsar speaks in his poem translated from Aratus, 960
“Nor had discord been known among relatives.”
No, nor even among strangers: but there were no swords at all to be unsheathed. For who, when justice was present and in vigour, would think respecting his own protection, since no one plotted against him; or respecting the destruction of another, since no one desired anything?
“They preferred to live content with a simple mode of life,”
as Cicero 961 relates in his poem; and this is peculiar to our religion. “It was not even allowed to mark out or to divide the plain with a boundary: men sought all things in common;” 962 since God p. 141 had given the earth in common to all, that they might pass their life in common, not that mad and raging avarice might claim all things for itself, and that that which was produced for all might not be wanting to any. And this saying of the poet ought so to be taken, not as suggesting the idea that individuals at that time had no private property, but it must be regarded as a poetical figure; that we may understand that men were so liberal, that they did not shut up the fruits of the earth produced for them, nor did they in solitude brood over the things stored up, but admitted the poor to share the fruits of their labour:—
“Now streams of milk, now streams of nectar flowed.” 963
And no wonder, since the storehouses of the good liberally lay open to all. Nor did avarice intercept the divine bounty, and thus cause hunger and thirst in common; but all alike had abundance, since they who had possessions gave liberally and bountifully to those who had not. But after that Saturnus had been banished from heaven, and had arrived in Latium,—
“Exiled from his throne
By Jove, his mightier heir,” 964 —
since the people either through fear of the new king, or of their own accord, had become corrupted and ceased to worship God, and had begun to esteem the king in the place of God, since he himself, almost a parricide, was an example to others to the injury of piety,—
“The most just Virgin in haste deserted the lands;” 965
but not as Cicero says, 966
“And settled, in the kingdom of Jupiter, 967 968 and in a part of the heaven.”
For how could she settle or tarry in the kingdom of him who expelled his father from his kingdom, harassed him with war, and drove him as an exile over the whole world?
“He gave to the black serpents their noxious poison,
And ordered wolves to prowl;” 969
that is, he introduced among men hatred, and envy, and stratagem; so that they were poisonous as serpents, and rapacious as wolves. And they truly do this who persecute those who are righteous and faithful towards God, and give to judges the power of using violence against the innocent. Perhaps Jupiter may have done something of this kind for the overthrow and removal of righteousness; and on this account he is related to have made serpents fierce, and to have whetted the spirit of wolves.
“Then wars indomitable rage,
And greedy lust of gain;” 970
and not without reason. For the worship of God being taken away, men lost the knowledge of good and evil. Thus the common intercourse of life perished from among then, and the bond of human society was destroyed. Then they began to contend with one another, and to plot, and to acquire for themselves glory from the shedding of human blood.
[Striking is the language of the Pollio (“Redit et Virgo,” etc.) in which the true Virgin seems to be anticipated.]140:959
Ulla. Another reading is “illâ,” as though there were a reference to the family of Saturnus.140:960
Germanicus Cæsar, the grandson of Augustus, translated in verse a part of the poems of Aratus. [See p. 36, supra.]140:961
Cicero translated in verse part of the poems of Aratus. [This poet is quoted by St. Paul, του̑ γὰρ καὶ γένος ἐσμέν, Acts xvii. 28. Archdeacon Farrar does not consider the natural and impedantic spirit of the Apostle in suiting this quotation to time and place; and, if it was a common-place proverb, all the more suggestive is the accuracy of the reference to “one of your own poets.”]140:962
Virg., Georg., i. 126.141:963
Ovid, Metam., i. 111.141:964
Virg. Æn., viii. 320.141:965
Germ. Cæs., Arat., 136.141:966
[That is, in his translation of the poetry of Aratus.]141:967 141:968
[Et Jovis in regno, cœlique in parte resedit. For this fragmentary verse we are indebted to our author; other fragments are given in good editions of Cicero. He translated the Phenomena of Aratus in his youth. My (Paris) edition contains nearly the whole.]141:969
Virg., Georg., i. 139.141:970
Virg., Æn., viii. 327.