(Augustine, Christian Doctrine. part 4)

that are plainly laid down in them, whether rules of life or rules of
faith, are to be searched into more carefully and more diligently; and
the more of these a man discovers, the more capacious does his
understanding become. For among the things that are plainly laid down in
Scripture are to be found all matters that concern faith and the manner

of life,--to wit, hope and love, of which I have spoken in the previous
book. After this, when we have made ourselves to a certain extent
familiar with the language of Scripture, we may proceed to open up and
investigate the obscure passages, and in doing so draw examples from the
plainer expressions to throw light upon the more obscure, and use the
evidence of passages about which there is no doubt to remove all
hesitation in regard to the doubtful passages. And in this matter memory
counts for a great deal; but if the memory be defective, no rules can
supply the want.

Chap. 10.--Unknown or ambiguous signs prevent Scripture from being

  15. Now there are two causes which prevent what is written from being
understood: its being veiled either under unknown, or under ambiguous
signs. Signs are either proper or figurative. They are called proper when
they are used to point out the objects they were designed to point out,
as we say bos when we mean an ox, because all men who with us use the
Latin tongue call it by this name. Signs are figurative when the things
themselves which we indicate by the proper names are used to signify
something else, as we say bos, and understand by that syllable the ox,
which is ordinarily called by that name; but then further by that ox
understand a preacher of the gospel, as Scripture signifies, according to
the apostle's explanation, when it says: "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox
that treadeth out the corn."

Chap. 11.--Knowledge of languages especially of Greek and Hebrew,
necessary to remove ignorance of signs

  16. The great remedy for ignorance of proper signs is knowledge of
languages. And men who speak the Latin tongue, of whom are those I have
undertaken to instruct, need two other languages for the knowledge of
Scripture, Hebrew and Greek, that they may have recourse to the original
texts if the endless diversity of the Latin translators throw them into
doubt. Although, indeed, we often find Hebrew words untranslated in the
books, as for example, Amen, Hallelujah, Racha, Hosanna, and others of
the same kind. Some of these, although they could have been translated,
have been preserved in their original form on account of the more sacred
authority that attaches to it, as for example, Amen and Hallelujah. Some
of them, again, are said to be untranslatable into another tongue, of
which the other two I have mentioned are examples. For in some languages
there are words that cannot be translated into the idiom of another
language. And this happens chiefly in the case of interjections, which

are words that express rather an emotion of the mind than any part of a
thought we have in our mind. And the two given above are said to be of
this kind, Racha expressing the cry of an angry man, Hosanna that of a
joyful man. But the knowledge of these languages is necessary, not for
the sake of a few words like these which it is very easy to mark and to
ask about, but, as has been said, on account of the diversities among
translators. For the translations of the Scriptures from Hebrew into
Greek can be counted, but the Latin translators are out of all number.
For in the early days of the faith every man who happened to get his
hands upon a Greek manuscript, and who thought he had any knowledge, were
it ever so little, of the two languages, ventured upon the work of

Chap. 12.--A diversity of interpretations is useful. Errors arising from
ambiguous words

  17. And this circumstance would assist rather than hinder the
understanding of Scripture, if only readers were not careless. For the
examination of a number of texts has often thrown light upon some of the
more obscure passages; for example, in that passage of the prophet
Isaiah, one translator reads: "And do not despise the domestics of thy
seed;" another reads: "And do not despise thine own flesh." Each of these
in turn confirms the other. For the one is explained by the other;
because "flesh" may be taken in its literal sense, so that a man may
understand that he is admonished not to despise his own body; and "the
domestics of thy seed" may be understood figuratively of Christians,
because they are spiritually born of the same seed as ourselves, namely,
the Word. When now the meaning of the two translators is compared, a more
likely sense of the words suggests itself, viz., that the command is not
to despise our kinsmen, because when one brings the expression "domestics
of thy seed " into relation with "flesh," kinsmen most naturally occur to
one's mind. Whence, I think, that expression of the apostle, when he
says, "If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my
flesh, and might save some of them;" that is, that through emulation of
those who had believed, some of them might believe too. And he calls the
Jews his "flesh," on account of the relationship of blood. Again, that
passage from the same prophet Isaiah: "If ye will not believe, ye shall
not understand," another has translated: "If ye will not believe, ye
shall not abide." Now which of these is the literal translation cannot be
ascertained without reference to the text in the original tongue. And yet
to those who read with knowledge, a great truth is to be found in each.
For it is difficult for interpreters to differ so widely as not to touch
at some point. Accordingly here, as understanding consists in sight, and

is abiding, but faith feeds us as babes, upon milk, in the cradles of
temporal things (for now we walk by faith, not by sight); as, moreover,
unless we walk by faith, we shall not attain to sight, which does not
pass away, but abides, our understanding being purified by holding to the
truth;--for these reasons one says, "If ye will not believe, ye shall not
understand;" but the other, "If ye will not believe, ye shall not abide."
  18. And very often a translator, to whom the meaning is not well known,
is deceived by an ambiguity in the original language, and puts upon the
passage a construction that is wholly alien to the sense of the writer.
As for example, some texts read: "Their feet are sharp to shed blood;"
for the word  "oxus" among the Greeks means both sharp and swift. And so
he saw the true meaning who translated: "Their feet are swift to shed
blood." The other, taking the wrong sense of an ambiguous word, fell into
error. Now translations such as this are not obscure, but false; and
there is a wide difference between the two things. For we must learn not
to interpret, but to correct texts of this sort. For the same reason it
is, that because the Greek word "moschos" means a calf, some have not
understood that "moscheumata" are shoots of trees, and have translated
the word "calves;" and this error has crept into so many texts, that you
can hardly find it written in any other way. And yet the meaning is very
clear; for it is made evident by the words that follow. For "the
plantings of an adulterer will not take deep root," is a more suitable
form of expression than the "calves;" because these walk upon the ground
with their feet, and are not fixed in the earth by roots. In this
passage, indeed, the rest of the context also justifies this translation.

Chap. 13.--How faulty interpretations can be emended

  19. But since we do not clearly see what the actual thought is which
the several translators endeavour to express, each according to his own
ability and judgment, unless we examine it in the language which they
translate; and since the translator, if he be not a very learned man,
often departs from the meaning of his author, we must either endeavour to
get a knowledge of those languages from which the Scriptures are
translated into Latin, or we must get hold of the translations of those
who keep rather close to the letter of the original, not because these
are sufficient, but because we may use them to correct the freedom or the
error of others, who in their translations have chosen to follow the
sense quite as much as the words. For not only single words, but often
whole phrases are translated, which could not be translated at all into
the Latin idiom by any one who wished to hold by the usage of the
ancients who spoke Latin. And though these sometimes do not interfere
with the understanding of the passage, yet they are offensive to those
who feel greater delight in things when even the signs of those things

are kept in their own purity. For what is called a solecism is nothing
else than the putting of words together according to a different rule
from that which those of our predecessors who spoke with any authority
followed. For whether we say inter homines (among men) or inter
hominibus, is of no consequence to a man who only wishes to know the
facts. And in the same way, what is a barbarism but the pronouncing of a
word in a different way from that in which those who spoke Latin before
us pronounced it? For whether the word ignoscere (to pardon) should be
pronounced with the third syllable long or short, is not a matter of much
concern to the man who is beseeching God, in any way at all that he can
get the words out, to pardon his sins. What then is purity of speech,
except the preserving of the custom of language established by the
authority of former speakers?
  20. And men are easily offended in a matter of this kind, just in
proportion as they are weak; and they are weak just in proportion as they
wish to seem learned, not in the knowledge of things which tend to
edification, but in that of signs, by which it is hard not to be puffed
up, seeing that the knowledge of things even would often set up our neck,
if it were not held down by the yoke of our Master. For how does it
prevent our understanding it to have the following passage thus
expressed: "Quae est terra in qua isti insidunt super eam, si bona est an
nequam; et quae sunt civitates, in quibus ipsi inhabitant in ipsis?" (And
what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad: and what
cities they be that they dwell in.--Num. 13:19) And I am more disposed to
think that this is simply the idiom of another language than that any
deeper meaning is intended. Again, that phrase, which we cannot now take
away from the lips of the people who sing it: "Super ipsum autem floriet
sanctificatio mea" (But upon himself shall my holiness flourish--
Ps.132:18), surely takes away nothing from the meaning. Yet a more
learned man would prefer that this should be corrected, and that we
should say, not fliriet, but florebit. Nor does anything stand in the way
of the correction being made, except the usage of the singers. Mistakes
of this kind, then, if a man do not choose to avoid them altogether, it
is easy to treat with indifference, as not interfering with a right
understanding. But take, on the other hand, the saying of the apostle:
"Quod stultum est Dei, sapientius est hominibus, et quod infirmum est
Dei, fortius est hominibus" (Because the foolishness of God is wiser than
men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men--1 Cor.1:25 ). If any
one should retain in this passage the Greek idiom, and say, "Quod stultum
est Dei, sapientius est hominum et quo infirmum est Dei fortius est
hominum" (What is foolish of God is wiser of men, and what is weak of God
is stronger of men), a quick and careful reader would indeed by an effort
attain to the true meaning, but still a man of slower intelligence either

would not understand it at all, or would put an utterly false
construction upon it. For not only is such a form of speech faulty in the
Latin tongue, but it is ambiguous too, as if the meaning might be, that
the folly of men or the weakness of men is wiser or stronger than that of
God. But indeed even the expression "sapientius est hominibus" (stronger
than men) is not free from ambiguity, even though it be free from
solecism. For whether "hominibus" is put as the plural of the dative or
as the plural of the ablative, does not appear, unless by reference to
the meaning. It would be better then to say, "sapientius est quam
homines", and "fortius est quam homines".

Chap. 14.--How the meaning of unknown words and idioms is to be

  21. About ambiguous signs, however, I shall speak afterwards. I am
treating at present of unknown signs, of which, as far as the words are
concerned, there are two kinds. For either a word or an idiom, of which
the reader is ignorant, brings him to a stop. Now if these belong to
foreign tongues, we must either make inquiry about them from men who
speak those tongues, or if we have leisure we must learn the tongues
ourselves, or we must consult and compare several translators. If,
however, there are words or idioms in our own tongue that we are
unacquainted with, we gradually come to know them through being
accustomed to read or to hear them. There is nothing that it is better to
commit to memory than those kinds of words and phrases whose meaning we
do not know, so that where we happen to meet either with a more learned
man of whom we can inquire, or with a passage that shows, either by the
preceding or succeeding context, or by both, the force and significance
of the phrase we are ignorant of, we can easily by the help of our memory
turn our attention to the matter and learn all about it. So great,
however, is the force of custom, even in regard to learning, that those
who have been in a sort of way nurtured and brought up on the study of
Holy Scripture, are surprised at other forms of speech, and think them
less pure Latin than those which they have learnt from Scripture, but
which are not to be found in Latin authors. In this matter, too, the
great number of the translators proves a very great assistance, if they
are examined and discussed with a careful comparison of their texts. Only
all positive error must be removed. For those who are anxious to know the
Scriptures ought in the first place to use their skill in the correction
of the texts, so that the uncorrected ones should give way to the
corrected, at least when they are copies of the same translation.

Chap. 15.--Among versions a preference is given to the Septuagint and the

  22. Now among translations themselves the Italian (Itala) is to be

preferred to the others, for it keeps closer to the words without
prejudice to clearness of expression. And to correct the Latin we must
use the Greek versions, among which the authority of the Septuagint is
preeminent as far as the Old Testament is concerned; for it is reported
through all the more learned churches that the seventy translators
enjoyed so much of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in their
work of translation, that among that number of men there was but one
voice. And if, as is reported, and as many not unworthy of confidence
assert, they were separated during the work of translation, each man
being in a cell by himself, and yet nothing was found in the manuscript
of any one of them that was not found in the same words and in the same
order of words in all the rest, who dares put anything in comparison with
an authority like this, not to speak of preferring anything to it? And
even if they conferred together with the result that a unanimous
agreement sprang out of the common labour and judgment of them all; even
so, it would not be right or becoming for any one man, whatever his
experience, to aspire to correct the unanimous opinion of many venerable
and learned men. Wherefore, even if anything is found in the original
Hebrew in a different form from that in which these men have expressed
it, I think we must give way to the dispensation of Providence which used
these men to bring it about, that books which the Jewish race were
unwilling, either from religious scruple or from jealousy, to make known
to other nations, were, with the assistance of the power of King Ptolemy,
made known so long beforehand to the nations which in the future were to
believe in the Lord. And thus it is possible that they translated in such
a way as the Holy Spirit, who worked in them and had given them all one
voice, thought most suitable for the Gentiles. But nevertheless, as I
said above, a comparison of those translators also who have kept most
closely to the words, is often not without value as a help to the
clearing up of the meaning. The Latin texts, therefore, of the Old
Testament are, as I was about to say, to be corrected if necessary by the
authority of the Greeks, and especially by that of those who, though they
were seventy in number, are said to have translated as with one voice. As
to the books of the New Testament, again, if any perplexity arises from
the diversities of the Latin texts, we must of course yield to the Greek,
especially those that are found in the churches of greater learning and

Chap. 16.--The knowledge both of language and things is helpful for the
understanding of figurative expressions

  23. In the case of figurative signs, again, if ignorance of any of them
should chance to bring the reader to a standstill, their meaning is to be

traced partly by the knowledge of languages, partly by the knowledge of
things. The pool of Siloam, for example, where the man whose eyes our
Lord had anointed with clay made out of spittle was commanded to wash,
has a figurative significance, and undoubtedly conveys a secret sense;
but yet if the evangelist had not interpreted that name, a meaning so
important would lie unnoticed. And we cannot doubt that, in the same way,
many Hebrew names which have not been interpreted by the writers of those
books, would, if any one could interpret them, be of great value and
service in solving the enigmas of Scripture. And a number of men skilled
in that language have conferred no small benefit on posterity by
explaining all these words without reference to their place in Scripture,
and telling us what Adam means, what Eve, what Abraham, what Moses, and
also the names of places, what Jerusalem signifies, or Sion, or Sinai, or
Lebanon, or Jordan, and whatever other names in that language we are not
acquainted with. And when these names have been investigated and
explained, many figurative expressions in Scripture become clear.
  24. Ignorance of things, too, renders figurative expressions obscure,
as when we do not know the nature of the animals, or minerals, or plants,
which are frequently referred to in Scripture by way of comparison. The
fact so well known about the serpent, for example, that to protect its
head it will present its whole body to its assailants--how much light it
throws upon the meaning of our Lord's command, that we should be wise as
serpents; that is to say, that for the sake of our head, which is Christ,
we should willingly offer our body to the persecutors, lest the Christian
faith should, as it were, be destroyed in us, if to save the body we deny
our God! Or again, the statement that the serpent gets rid of its old
skin by squeezing itself through a narrow hole, and thus acquires new
strength--how appropriately it fits in with the direction to imitate the
wisdom of the serpent, and to put off the old man, as the apostle says,
that we may put on the new; and to put it off, too, by coming through a
narrow place, according to the saying of our Lord, "Enter ye in at the
strait gate!" As, then, knowledge of the nature of the serpent throws
light upon many metaphors which Scripture is accustomed to draw from that
animal, so ignorance of other animals, which are no less frequently
mentioned by way of comparison, is a very great drawback to the reader.
And so in regard to minerals and plants: knowledge of the carbuncle, for
instance, which shines in the dark, throws light upon many of the dark
places in books too, where it is used metaphorically; and ignorance of
the beryl or the adamant often shuts the doors of knowledge. And the only
reason why we find it easy to understand that perpetual peace is

indicated by the olive branch which the dove brought with it when it
returned to the ark, is that we know both that the smooth touch of olive
oil is not easily spoiled by a fluid of another kind, and that the tree
itself is an evergreen. Many, again, by reason of their ignorance of
hyssop, not knowing the virtue it has in cleansing the lungs, nor the
power it is said to have of piercing rocks with its roots, although it is
a small and insignificant plant, cannot make out why it is said, Purge me
with hyssop, and I shall be clean".
  25. Ignorance of numbers, too, prevents us from understanding things
that are set down in Scripture in a figurative and mystical way. A candid
mind, if I may so speak, cannot but be anxious, for example, to ascertain
what is meant by the fact that Moses and Elijah, and our Lord Himself,
all fasted for forty days. And except by knowledge of and reflection upon
the number, the difficulty of explaining the figure involved in this
action cannot be got over. For the number contains ten four times,
indicating the knowledge of all things, and that knowledge interwoven
with time. For both the diurnal and the annual revolutions are
accomplished in periods numbering four each; the diurnal in the hours of
the morning, the noontime, the evening, and the night; the annual in the
spring, summer, autumn, and winter months. Now while we live in time, we
must abstain and fast from all joy in time, for the sake of that eternity
in which we wish to live; although by the passage of time we are taught
this very lesson of despising time and seeking eternity. Further, the
number ten signifies the knowledge of the Creator and the creature, for
there is a trinity in the Creator; and the number seven indicates the
creature, because of the life and the body. For the life consists of
three parts, whence also God is to be loved with the whole heart, the
whole soul, and the whole mind; and it is very clear that in the body
there are four elements of which it is made up. In this number ten,
therefore, when it is placed before us in connection with time, that is,
when it is taken four times, we are admonished to live unstained by, and
not partaking of, any delight in time, that is, to fast for forty days.
Of this we are admonished by the law personified in Moses, by prophecy
personified in Elijah, and by our Lord Himself, who, as if receiving the
witness both of the law and the prophets, appeared on the mount between
the other two, while His three disciples looked on in amazement. Next, we
have to inquire in the same way, how out of the number forty springs the
number fifty, which in our religion has no ordinary sacredness attached
to it on account of the Pentecost, and how this number taken thrice on
account of the three divisions of time, before the law, under the law,
and under grace, or perhaps on account of the name of the Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit, and the Trinity itself being added over and above, has
reference to the mystery of the most Holy Church, and reaches to the
number of the one hundred and fifty-three fishes which were taken after
the resurrection of our Lord, when the nets were cast out on the

right-hand side of the boat. And in the same way, many other numbers and
combinations of numbers are used in the sacred writings, to convey
instruction under a figurative guise, and ignorance of numbers often
shuts out the reader from this instruction.
  26. Not a few things, too, are closed against us and obscured by
ignorance of music. One man, for example, has not unskilfully explained
some metaphors from the difference between the psalters and the harp. And
it is a question which it is not out of place for learned men to discuss,
whether there is any musical law that compels the psalters of ten chords
to have just so many strings; or whether, if there be no such law, the
number itself is not on that very account the more to be considered as of
sacred significance, either with reference to the ten commandments of the
law (and if again any question is raised about that number, we can only
refer it to the Creator and the creature), or with reference to the
number ten itself as interpreted above. And the number of years the
temple was in building, which is mentioned in the gospel --viz.,
forty-six--has a certain undefinable musical sound, and when referred to
the structure of our Lord's body, in relation to which the temple was
mentioned, compels many heretics to confess that our Lord put on, not a
false, but a true and human body. And in several places in the Holy
Scriptures we find both numbers and music mentioned with honour.

Chap. 17.--Origin of the legend of the nine Muses

  27. For we must not listen to the falsities of heathen superstition,
which represent the nine Muses as daughters of Jupiter and Mercury. Varro
refutes these, and I doubt whether any one can be found among them more
curious or more learned in such matters. He says that a certain state (I
don't recollect the name) ordered from each of three artists a set of
statues of the Muses, to be placed as an offering in the temple of
Apollo, intending that whichever of the artists produced the most
beautiful statues, they should select and purchase from him. It so
happened that these artists executed their works with equal beauty, that
all nine pleased the state, and that all were bought to be dedicated in
the temple of Apollo; and he says that afterwards Hesiod the poet gave
names to them all. It was not Jupiter, therefore, that begat the nine
Muses, but three artists created three each. And the state had originally
given the order for three, not because it had seen them in visions, nor
because they had presented themselves in that number to the eyes of any
of the citizens, but because it was obvious to remark that all sound,
which is the material of song, is by nature of three kinds. For it is
either produced by the voice, as in the case of those who sing with the
mouth without an instrument; or by blowing, as in the case of trumpets
and flutes; or by striking, as in the case of harps and drums, and all
other instruments that give their sound when struck.

Chap. 18.--No help is to be despised even though it come from a profane

  28. But whether the fact is as Varro has related, or is not so, still
we ought not to give up music because of the superstition of the heathen,
if we can derive anything from it that is of use for the understanding of
Holy Scripture; nor does it follow that we must busy ourselves with their
theatrical trumpery because we enter upon an investigation about harps
and other instruments, that may help us to lay hold upon spiritual
things. For we ought not to refuse to learn letters because they say that
Mercury discovered them; nor because they have dedicated temples to
Justice and Virtue, and prefer to worship in the form of stones things
that ought to have their place in the heart, ought we on that account to
forsake justice and virtue. Nay, but let every good and true Christian
understand that wherever truth may be found, it belongs to his Master;
and while he recognizes and acknowledges the truth, even in their
religious literature, let him reject the figments of superstition, and
let him grieve over and avoid men who, "when they knew God, glorified him
not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations,
and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise,
they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an
image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts,
and creeping things."

Chap. 19.--Two kinds of heathen knowledge

  29. But to explain more fully this whole topic (for it is one that
cannot be omitted), there are two kinds of knowledge which are in vogue
among the heathen. One is the knowledge of things instituted by men, the
other of things which they have noted, either as transacted in the past
or as instituted by God. The former kind, that which deals with human
institutions, is partly superstitious, partly not.

Chap. 20.--The superstitious nature of human institutions

  30. All the arrangements made by men to the making and worshipping of
idols are superstitious, pertaining as they do either to the worship of
what is created or of some part of it as God, or to consultations and
arrangements about signs and leagues with devils, such, for example, as
are employed in the magical arts, and which the poets are accustomed not
so much to teach as to celebrate. And to this class belong, but with a
bolder reach of deception, the books of the haruspices and augurs. In
this class we must place also all amulets and cures which the medical art
condemns, whether these consist in incantations, or in marks which they

call characters, or in hanging or tying on or even dancing in a fashion
certain articles, not with reference to the condition of the body, but to
certain signs hidden or manifest; and these remedies they call by the
less offensive name of physica, so as to appear not to be engaged in
superstitious observances, but to be taking advantage of the forces of
nature. Examples of these are the earrings on the top of each ear, or the
rings of ostrich bone on the fingers, or telling you when you hiccup to
hold your left thumb in your right hand.
  31. To these we may add thousands of the most frivolous practices, that
are to be observed if any part of the body should jump, or if, when
friends are walking arm-in-arm, a stone, or a dog, or a boy, should come
between them. And the kicking of a stone, as if it were a divider of
friends, does less harm than to cuff an innocent boy if he happens to run
between men who are walking side by side. But it is delightful that the
boys are sometimes avenged by the dogs; for frequently men are so
superstitious as to venture upon striking a dog who has run between
them,--not with impunity however, for instead of a superstitious remedy,
the dog sometimes makes his assailant run in hot haste for a real
surgeon. To this class, too, belong the following rules: To tread upon
the threshold when you go out in front of the house; to go back to bed if
any one should sneeze when you are putting on your slippers; to return
home if you stumble when going to a place; when your clothes are eaten by
mice, to be more frightened at the prospect of coming misfortune than
grieved by your present loss. Whence that witty saying of Cato, who, when
consulted by a man who told him that the mice had eaten his boots,
replied, "That is not strange, but it would have been very strange indeed
if the boots had eaten the mice."

Chap.21.--Superstition of astrologers

  32. Nor can we exclude from this kind of superstition those who were
called genethliaci, on account of their attention to birthdays, but are
now commonly called mathematici. For these, too, although they may seek
with pains for the true position of the stars at the time of our birth,
and may sometimes even find it out, yet in so far as they attempt thence
to predict our actions, or the consequences of our actions, grievously
err, and sell inexperienced men into a miserable bondage. For when any
freeman goes to an astrologer of this kind, he gives money that he may
come away the slave either of Mars or of Venus, or rather, perhaps, of
all the stars to which those who first fell into this error, and handed
it on to posterity, have given the names either of beasts on account of
their likeness to beasts, or of men with a view to confer honour on those
men. And this is not to be wondered at, when we consider that even in
times more recent and nearer our own, the Romans made an attempt to

dedicate the star which we call Lucifer to the name and honour of Caesar.
And this would, perhaps, have been done, and the name handed down to
distant ages, only that his ancestress Venus had given her name to this
star before him, and could not by any law transfer to her heirs what she
had never possessed, nor sought to possess, in life. For where a place
was vacant, or not held in honour of any of the dead of former times, the
usual proceeding in such cases was carried out. For example, we have
changed the names of the months Quintilis and Sextilis to July and
August, naming them in honour of the men Julius Caesar and Augustus
Caesar; and from this instance any one who cares can easily see that the
stars spoken of above formerly wandered in the heavens without the names
they now bear. But as the men were dead whose memory people were either
compelled by royal power or impelled by human folly to honour, they
seemed to think that in putting their names upon the stars they were
raising the dead men themselves to heaven. But whatever they may be
called by men, still there are stars which God has made and set in order
after His own pleasure, and they have a fixed movement, by which the
seasons are distinguished and varied. And when any one is born, it is
easy to observe the point at which this movement has arrived, by use of
the rules discovered and laid down by those who are rebuked by Holy Writ
in these terms: "For if they were able to know so much that they could
weigh the world, how did they not more easily find out the Lord thereof?"

Chap. 22.--The folly of observing the stars in order to predict the
events of a life

  33. But to desire to predict the characters, the acts, and the fate of
those who are born from such an observation, is a great delusion and
great madness. And among those at least who have any sort of acquaintance
with matters of this kind (which, indeed, are only fit to be unlearnt
again), this superstition is refuted beyond the reach of doubt. For the
observation is of the position of the stars, which they call
constellations, at the time when the person was born about whom these
wretched men are consulted by their still more wretched dupes. Now it may
happen that, in the case of twins, one follows the other out of the womb
so closely that there is no interval of time between them that can be
apprehended and marked in the position of the constellations. Whence it
necessarily follows that twins are in many cases born under the same
stars, while they do not meet with equal fortune either in what they do
or what they suffer, but often meet with fates so different that one of
them has a most fortunate life, the other a most unfortunate. As, for
example, we are told that Esau and Jacob were born twins, and in such

(continued in part 5...)

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