For it usually turns out that even someone who is not a Christian knows something about the earth, the sky, and the other elements of this world; about the movement and revolution, or even the magnitude and positions of the stars; about the known eclipses of the sun and moon; about the cycles of years and seasons; about the properties of animals, bushes, and other things of the sort. He knows these things, and holds them as quite certain through reason and experience.
So it is terribly inappropriate and destructive—something to watch out for—if a Christian is heard speaking of these things as if he were speaking according to the Christian writings, so that the people who hear him raving like that can hardly keep themselves from laughing.
The worst part is not that the man who is wrong should be derided, but that outsiders should believe that our authors think those things, and rebuke and reject them as ignorant—with great destruction of those whose salvation is our business.
—De Genesi ad litteram, book 1, chapter 19. This new translation is explicitly released into the public domain, which is an open invitation to improve on it.
After quoting long passages from the flattering poetry of Claudian:
Let us now turn from poetry to fact, and see what mark the real Honorius made upon the men and things that surrounded him. None. It is impossible to imagine a character more utterly destitute of moral colour, of self-determining energy, than that of the younger son of Theodosius. In Arcadius we do at length discover traces of uxoriousness, a blemish in some rulers, but which becomes almost a merit in him when contrasted with the absolute vacancy, the inability to love, to hate, to think, to execute, almost to be, which marks the impersonal personality of Honorius. After earnestly scrutinising his life to discover some traces of human emotion under the stolid mask of his countenance, we may perhaps pronounce with some confidence on the three following points.
1. He perceived, through life, the extreme importance of keeping the sacred person of the Emperor of the West out of the reach of danger.
2. He was, at any rate in youth, a sportsman.
3. In his later years he showed considerable interest in the rearing of poultry.
——Thomas Hodgkin, Italy and Her Invaders, Book 1, Chapter 13.
- 27 Oct 2011 History