(Augustine, Christian Doctrine. part 7)

his own conscience, so far as he perceives that he has attained to the
love and knowledge of God and his neighbour. Now all these matters have
been spoken of in the first book.
  15. But as men are prone to estimate sins, not by reference to their
inherent sinfulness, but rather by reference to their own customs, it
frequently happens that a man will think nothing blameable except what
the men of his own country and time are accustomed to condemn, and
nothing worthy of praise or approval except what is sanctioned by the
custom of his companions; and thus it comes to pass, that if Scripture
either enjoins what is opposed to the customs of the hearers, or condemns
what is not so opposed, and if at the same time the authority of the word
has a hold upon their minds, they think that the expression is
figurative. Now Scripture enjoins nothing except charity, and condemns
nothing except lust, and in that way fashions the lives of men. In the
same way, if an erroneous opinion has taken possession of the mind, men
think that whatever Scripture asserts contrary to this must be
figurative. Now Scripture asserts nothing but the catholic faith, in
regard to things past, future, and present. It is a narrative of the
past, a prophecy of the future, and a description of the present. But all
these tend to nourish and strengthen charity, and to overcome and root
out lust.
  16. I mean by charity that affection of the mind which aims at the
enjoyment of God for His own sake, and the enjoyment of ones self and
one's neighbour in subordination to God; by lust I mean that affection of
the mind which aims at enjoying one's self and one's neighbour, and other
corporeal things, without reference to God. Again, what lust, when
unsubdued, does towards corrupting one's own soul and body, is called
vice; but what it does to injure another is called crime. And these are
the two classes into which all sins may be divided. But the vices come
first; for when these have exhausted the soul, and reduced it to a kind
of poverty, it easily slides into crimes, in order to remove hindrances
to, or to find assistance in, its vices. In the same way, what charity
does with a view to one's own advantage is prudence; but what it does
with a view to a neighbor's advantage is called benevolence. And here
prudence comes first; because no one can confer an advantage on another
which he does not himself possess. Now in proportion as the dominion of
lust is pulled down, in the same proportion is that of charity built up.

Chap. 11.--Rule for interpreting phrases which seem to ascribe severity
to God and the saints

  17. Every severity, therefore, and apparent cruelty, either in word or
deed, that is ascribed in Holy Scripture to God or His saints, avails to
the pulling down of the dominion of lust. And if its meaning be clear, we
are not to give it some secondary reference, as if it were spoken
figuratively. Take, for example, that saying of the apostle: "But, after
thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasures up unto thyself wrath
against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who, by
patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and
immortality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not
obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that does evil, of the
Jew first, and also of the Gentile." But this is addressed to those who,
being unwilling to subdue their lust, are themselves involved in the
destruction of their lust. When, however, the dominion of lust is
overturned in a man over whom it had held sway, this plain expression is
used: "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the
affections and lusts." Only that, even in these instances, some words are
used figuratively, as for example, "the wrath of God" and "crucified."
But these are not so numerous, nor placed in such a way as to obscure the
sense, and make it allegorical or enigmatical, which is the kind of
expression properly called figurative. But in the saying addressed to
Jeremiah, "See, I have this day set thee over the nations, and over the
kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw
down," there is no doubt the whole of the language is figurative, and to
be referred to the end I have spoken of.

Chap. 12.--Rule for interpreting those sayings and actions which are
ascribed to God and the saints and which yet seem to the unskilful to be

  18. Those things, again, whether only sayings or whether actual deeds,
which appear to the inexperienced to be sinful, and which are ascribed to
God, or to men whose holiness is put before us as an example, are wholly
figurative, and the hidden kernel of meaning they contain is to be picked
out as food for the nourishment of charity. Now, whoever uses transitory
objects less freely than is the custom of those among whom he lives, is
either temperate or superstitious; whoever, on the other hand, uses them
so as to transgress the bounds of the custom of the good men about him,
either has a further meaning in what he does, or is sinful. In all such
matters it is not the use of the objects, but the lust of the user, that

is to blame. Nobody in his sober senses would believe, for example, that
when our Lord's feet were anointed by the woman with precious ointment,
it was for the same purpose for which luxurious and profligate men are
accustomed to have theirs anointed in those banquets which we abhor. For
the sweet odour means the good report which is earned by a life of good
works; and the man who wins this, while following in the footsteps of
Christ, anoints His feet (so to speak) with the most precious ointment.
And so that which in the case of other persons is often a sin, becomes,
when ascribed to God or a prophet, the sign of some great truth. Keeping
company with a harlot, for example, is one thing when it is the result of
abandoned manners, another thing when done in the course of his prophecy
by the prophet Hosea. Because it is a shamefully wicked thing to strip
the body naked at a banquet among the drunken and licentious, it does not
follow that it is a sin to be naked in the baths.
  19. We must, therefore, consider carefully what is suitable to times
and places and persons, and not rashly charge men with sins. For it is
possible that a wise man may use the daintiest food without any sin of
epicurism or gluttony, while a fool will crave for the vilest food with a
most disgusting eagerness of appetite. And any sane man would prefer
eating fish after the manner of our Lord, to eating lentils after the
manner of Esau, or barley after the manner of oxen. For there are several
beasts that feed on commoner kinds of food, but it does not follow that
they are more temperate than we are. For in all matters of this kind it
is not the nature of the things we use, but our reason for using them,
and our manner of seeking them, that make what we do either praiseworthy
or blameable.
  20. Now the saints of ancient times were, under the form of an earthly
kingdom, foreshadowing and foretelling the kingdom of heaven. And on
account of the necessity for a numerous offspring, the custom of one man
having several wives was at that time blameless: and for the same reason
it was not proper for one woman to have several husbands, because a woman
does not in that way become more fruitful, but, on the contrary, it is
base harlotry to seek either gain or offspring by promiscuous
intercourse. In regard to matters of this sort, whatever the holy men of
those times did without lust, Scripture passes over without blame,
although they did things which could not be done at the present time,
except through lust. And everything of this nature that is there narrated
we are to take not only in its historical and literal, but also in its
figurative and prophetical sense, and to interpret as bearing ultimately
upon the end of love towards God or our neighbour, or both. For as it was
disgraceful among the ancient Romans to wear tunics reaching to the

heels, and furnished with sleeves, but now it is disgraceful for men
honorably born not to wear tunics of that description: so we must take
heed in regard to other things also, that lust do not mix with our use of
them; for lust not only abuses to wicked ends the customs of those among
whom we live, but frequently also transgressing the bounds of custom,
betrays, in a disgraceful outbreak, its own hideousness, which was
concealed under the cover of prevailing fashions.

Chap. 13.--Same subject, continued

  21. Whatever, then, is in accordance with the habits of those with whom
we are either compelled by necessity, or undertake as a matter of duty,
to spend this life, is to be turned by good and great men to some prudent
or benevolent end, either directly, as is our duty, or figuratively, as
is allowable to prophets.

Chap. 14.--Error of those who think that there is no absolute right and

  22. But when men unacquainted with other modes of life than their own
meet with the record of such actions, unless they are restrained by
authority, they look upon them as sins, and do not consider that their
own customs either in regard to marriage, or feasts, or dress, or the
other necessities and adornments of human life, appear sinful to the
people of other nations and other times. And, distracted by this endless
variety of customs, some who were half asleep (as I may say)--that is,
who were neither sunk in the deep sleep of folly, nor were able to awake
into the light of wisdom--have thought that there was no such thing as
absolute right, but that every nation took its own custom for right; and
that, since every nation has a different custom, and right must remain
unchangeable, it becomes manifest that there is no such thing as right at
all. Such men did not perceive, to take only one example, that the
precept, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to
them," I cannot be altered by any diversity of national customs. And this
precept, when it is referred to the love of God, destroys all vices; when
to the love of one's neighbour, puts an end to all crimes. For no one is
willing to defile his own dwelling; he ought not, therefore, to defile
the dwelling of God, that is, himself. And no one wishes an injury to be
done him by another; he himself, therefore, ought not to do injury to

Chap. 15.--Rule for interpreting figurative expressions

  23. The tyranny of lust being thus overthrown, charity reigns through
its supremely just laws of love to God for His own sake, and love to
one's self and one's neighbour for God's sake. Accordingly, in regard to

figurative expressions, a rule such as the following will be observed, to
carefully turn over in our minds and meditate upon what we read till an
interpretation be found that tends to establish the reign of love. Now,
if when taken literally it at once gives a meaning of this kind, the
expression is not to be considered figurative.

Chap. 16.--Rule for interpreting commands and prohibitions

  24. If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or
vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not
figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid
an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. "Except ye eat the
flesh of the Son of man," says Christ, "and drink His blood, ye have no
life in you." This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a
figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our
Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact
that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us. Scripture says: "If
thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink;" and this is
beyond doubt a command to do a kindness. But in what follows, "for in so
doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head," one would think a deed
of malevolence was enjoined. Do not doubt, then, that the expression is
figurative; and, while it is possible to interpret it in two ways, one
pointing to the doing of an injury, the other to a display of
superiority, let charity on the contrary call you back to benevolence,
and interpret the coals of fire as the burning groans of penitence by
which a man's pride is cured who bewails that he has been the enemy of
one who came to his assistance in distress. In the same way, when our
Lord says, "He who loveth his life shall lose it," we are not to think
that He forbids the prudence with which it is a man's duty to care for
his life, but that He says in a figurative sense, "Let him lose his
life"--that is, let him destroy and lose that perverted and unnatural use
which he now makes of his life, and through which his desires are fixed
on temporal things so that he gives no heed to eternal. It is written:
"Give to the godly man, and help not a sinner." The latter clause of this
sentence seems to forbid benevolence; for it says, "help not a sinner."
Understand, therefore, that "sinner" is put figuratively for sin, so that
it is his sin you are not to help.

Chap. 17.--Some commands are given to all in common, others to particular

  25. Again, it often happens that a man who has attained, or thinks he

has attained, to a higher grade of spiritual life, thinks that the
commands given to those who are still in the lower grades are figurative;
for example, if he has embraced a life of celibacy and made himself a
eunuch for the kingdom of heaven's sake, he contends that the commands
given in Scripture about loving and ruling a wife are not to be taken
literally, but figuratively; and if he has determined to keep his virgin
unmarried, he tries to put a figurative interpretation on the passage
where it is said, "Marry thy daughter, and so shalt thou have performed a
weighty matter." Accordingly, another of our rules for understanding the
Scriptures will be as follows,--to recognize that some commands are given
to all in common, others to particular classes of persons, that the
medicine may act not only upon the state of health as a whole, but also
upon the special weakness of each member. For that which cannot be raised
to a higher state must be cared for in its own state.

Chap. 18.--We must take into consideration the time at which anything was
enjoyed or allowed

  26. We must also be on our guard against supposing that what in the Old
Testament, making allowance for the condition of those times, is not a
crime or a vice even if we take it literally and not figuratively, can be
transferred to the present time as a habit of life. For no one will do
this except lust has dominion over him, and endeavours to find support
for itself in the very Scriptures which were intended to overthrow it.
And the wretched man does not perceive that such matters are recorded
with this useful design, that mere of good hope may learn the salutary
lesson, both that the custom they spurn can be turned to a good use, and
that which they embrace can be used to condemnation, if the use of the
former be accompanied with charity, and the use of the latter with lust.
  27. For, if it was possible for one man to use many wives with
chastity, it is possible for another to use one wife with lust. And I
look with greater approval on the man who uses the fruitfulness of many
wives for the sake of an ulterior object, than on the man who enjoys the
body of one wife for its own sake. For in the former case the man aims at
a useful object suited to the circumstances of the times; in the latter
case he gratifies a lust which is engrossed in temporal enjoyments. And
those men to whom the apostle permitted as a matter of indulgence to have
one wife because of their incontinence, were less near to God than those
who, though they had each of them numerous wives, yet just as a wise man
uses food and drink only for the sake of bodily health, used marriage
only for the sake of offspring. And, accordingly, if these last had been
still alive at the advent of our Lord, when the time not of casting
stones away but of gathering them together had come, they would have
immediately made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. For
there is no difficulty in abstaining unless when there is lust in

enjoying. And assuredly those men of whom I speak knew that wantonness
even in regard to wives is abuse and intemperance, as is proved by
Tobit's prayer when he was married to his wife. For he says: "Blessed art
Thou, O God of our fathers, and blessed is Thy holy and glorious name for
ever; let the heavens bless Thee, and all Thy creatures. Thou merriest
Adam, and gavest him Eve his wife for an helper and stay. ... And now, O
Lord. Thou knowest that I take not this my sister for lust, but
uprightly: therefore have pity on us, O Lord."

Chap. 19.--Wicked men judge others by themselves

  28. But those who, giving the rein to lust, either wander about
steeping themselves in a multitude of debaucheries, or even in regard to
one wife not only exceed the measure necessary for the procreation of
children, but with the shameless license of a sort of slavish freedom
heap up the filth of a still more beastly excess, such men do not believe
it possible that the men of ancient times used a number of wives with
temperance, looking to nothing but the duty, necessary in the
circumstances of the time, of propagating the race; and what they
themselves, who are entangled in the meshes of lust, do not accomplish in
the case of a single wife, they think utterly impossible in the case of a
number of wives.
  29. But these same men might say that it is not right even to honour
and praise good and holy men, because they themselves when they are
honoured and praised, swell with pride, becoming the more eager for the
emptiest sort of distinction the more frequently and the more widely they
are blown about on the tongue of flattery, and so become so light that a
breath of rumour, whether it appear prosperous or adverse, will carry
them into the whirlpool of vice or dash them on the rocks of crime. Let
them, then, learn how trying and difficult it is for themselves to escape
either being caught by the bait of praise, or pierced by the stings of
insult; but let them not measure others by their own standard.

Chap. 20.--Consistency of good men in all outward circumstances

  Let them believe, on the contrary, that the apostles of our faith were
neither puffed up when they were honoured by men, nor cast down when they
were despised. And certainly neither sort of temptation was wanting to
those great men. For they were both cried up by the loud praises of
believers, and cried down by the slanderous reports of their persecutors.
But the apostles used all these things, as occasion served, and were not
corrupted; and in the same way the saints of old used their wives with

reference to the necessities of their own times, and were not in bondage
to lust as they are who refuse to believe these things.
  30. For if they had been under the influence of any such passion, they
could never have restrained themselves from implacable hatred towards
their sons, by whom they knew that their wives and concubines were
solicited and debauched.

Chap. 21.--David not lustful, though he fell into adultery

  But when King David had suffered this injury at the hands of his
impious and unnatural son, he not only bore with him in his mad passion,
but mourned over him in his death. He certainly was not caught in the
meshes of carnal jealousy, seeing that it was not his own injuries but
the sins of his son that moved him. For it was on this account he had
given orders that his son should not be slain if he were conquered in
battle, that he might have a place of repentance after he was subdued;
and when he was baffled in this design, he mourned over his son's death,
not because of his own loss, but because he knew to what punishment so
impious an adulterer and parricide had been hurried. For prior to this,
in the case of another son who had been guilty of no crime, though he was
dreadfully afflicted for him while he was sick, yet he comforted himself
after his death.
  31. And with what moderation and self-restraint those men used their
wives appears chiefly in this, that when this same king, carried away by
the heat of passion and by temporal prosperity, had taken unlawful
possession of one woman, whose husband also he ordered to be put to
death, he was accused of his crime by a prophet, who, when he had come to
show him his sin set before him the parable of the poor man who had but
one ewe-lamb, and whose neighbour, though he had many, yet when a guest
came to him spared to take of his own flock, but set his poor neighbour's
one lamb before his guest to eat. And David's anger being kindled against
the man, he commanded that he should be put to death, and the lamb
restored fourfold to the poor man; thus unwittingly condemning the sin he
had wittingly committed. And when he had been shown this, and God's
punishment had been denounced against him, he wiped out his sin in deep
penitence. But yet in this parable it was the adultery only that was
indicated by the poor man's ewe-lamb; about the killing of the woman's
husband,--that is, about the murder of the poor man himself who had the
one ewe-lamb,--nothing is said in the parable, so that the sentence of
condemnation is pronounced against the adultery alone. And hence we may
understand with what temperance he possessed a number of wives when he
was forced to punish himself for transgressing in regard to one woman.
But in his case the immoderate desire did not take up its abode with him,
but was only a passing guest. On this account the unlawful appetite is
called even by the accusing prophet, a guest. For he did not say that he
took the poor man's ewe-lamb to make a feast for his king, but for his
guest. In the case of his son Solomon, however, this lust did not come
and pass away like a guest, but reigned as a king. And about him

Scripture is not silent, but accuses him of being a lover of strange
women; for in the beginning of his reign he was inflamed with a desire
for wisdom, but after he had attained it through spiritual love, he lost
it through carnal lust.

Chap. 22.--Rule regarding passages of Scripture in which approval is
expressed of actions which are now condemned by good men

  32. Therefore, although all, or nearly all, the transactions recorded
in the Old Testament are to be taken not literally only, but figuratively
as well, nevertheless even in the case of those which the reader has
taken literally, and which, though the authors of them are praised, are
repugnant to the habits of the good men who since our Lord's advent are
the custodians of the divine commands, let him refer the figure to its
interpretation, but let him not transfer the act to his habits of life.
For many things which were done as duties at that time, cannot now be
done except through lust.

Chap. 23.--Rule regarding the narrative of sins of great men

  33. And when he reads of the sins of great men, although he may be able
to see and to trace out in them a figure of things to come, let him yet
put the literal fact to this use also, to teach him not to dare to vaunt
himself in his own good deeds, and in comparison with his own
righteousness, to despise others as sinners, when he sees in the case of
men so eminent both the storms that are to be avoided and the shipwrecks
that are to be wept over. For the sins of these men were recorded to this
end, that men might everywhere and always tremble at that saying of the
apostle: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he
fall." For there is hardly a page of Scripture on which it is not clearly
written that God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.

Chap. 24.--The character of the expressions used is above all to have

  34. The chief thing to be inquired into, therefore, in regard to any
expression that we are trying to understand is, whether it is literal or
figurative. For when it is ascertained to be figurative, it is easy, by
an application of the laws of things which we discussed in the first
book, to turn it in every way until we arrive at a true interpretation,
especially when we bring to our aid experience strengthened by the
exercise of piety. Now we find out whether an expression is literal or
figurative by attending to the considerations indicated above.

Chap. 25.--The same word does not always signify the same thing

  And when it is shown to be figurative, the words in which it is
expressed will be found to be drawn either from like objects or from
objects having some affinity.
  35. But as there are many ways in which things show a likeness to each
other, we are not to suppose there is any rule that what a thing
signifies by similitude in one place it is to be taken to signify in all
other places. For our Lord used leaven both in a bad sense, as when He
said, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees," I and in a good sense, as
when He said, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman
took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."
  36. Now the rule in regard to this variation has two forms. For things
that signify now one thing and now another, signify either things that
are contrary, or things that are only different. They signify contraries,
for example, when they are used metaphorically at one time in a good
sense, at another in a bad, as in the case of the leaven mentioned above.
Another example of the same is that a lion stands for Christ in the place
where it is said, "The lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed;" and
again, stands for the devil where it is written, "Your adversary the
devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour." In
the same way the serpent is used in a good sense, "Be wise as serpents;"
and again, in a bad sense, "The serpent beguiled Eve through his
subtilty." Bread is used in a good sense, "I am the living bread which
came down from heaven;" in a bad, "Bread eaten in secret is pleasant."
And so in a great many other case. The examples I have adduced are indeed
by no means doubtful in their signification, because only plain instances
ought to be used as examples. There are passages, however, in regard to
which it is uncertain in what sense they ought to be taken, as for
example, "In the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red: it
is full of mixture." Now it is uncertain whether this denotes the wrath
of God, but not to the last extremity of punishment, that is, "to the
very dregs;" or whether it denotes the grace of the Scriptures passing
away from the Jews and coming to the Gentiles, because "He has put down
one and set up another,"--certain observances, however, which they
understand in a carnal manner, still remaining among the Jews, for "the
dregs hereof is not yet wrung out." The following is an example of the
same object being taken, not in opposite, but only in different
significations: water denotes people, as we read in the Apocalypse,l and
also the Holy Spirit, as for example, "Out of his belly shall flow rivers
of living water;" and many other things besides water must be interpreted
according to the place in which they are found.
  37. And in the same way other objects are not single in their
signification, but each one of them denotes not two only but sometimes
even several different things, according to the connection in which it is

Chap. 26.--Obscure passages are to be interpreted by those which are

  Now from the places where the sense in which they are used is more
manifest we must gather the sense in which they are to be understood in
obscure passages. For example, there is no better way of understanding
the words addressed to God, "Take hold of shield and buckler and stand up
for mine help," than by referring to the passage where we read, "Thou,
Lord, hast crowned us with Thy favour as with a shield." And yet we are
not so to understand it, as that wherever we meet with a shield put to
indicate a protection of any kind, we must take it as signifying nothing
but the favour of God. For we hear also of the shield of faith,
"wherewith," says the apostle, "ye shall be able to quench all the fiery
darts of the wicked." Nor ought we, on the other hand, in regard to
spiritual armour of this kind to assign faith to the shield only; for we
read in another place of the breastplate of faith: "putting on," says the
apostle, "the breastplate of faith and love."

Chap. 27.--One passage susceptible of various interpretations

  38. When, again, not some one interpretation, but two or more
interpretations are put upon the same words of Scripture, even though the
meaning the writer intended remain undiscovered, there is no danger if it
can be shown from other passages of Scripture that any of the
interpretations put on the words is in harmony with the truth. And if a
man in searching the Scriptures endeavours to get at the intention of the
author through whom the Holy Spirit spake, whether he succeeds in this
endeavour, or whether he draws a different meaning from the words, but
one that is not opposed to sound doctrine, he is free from blame so long
as he is supported by the testimony of some other passage of Scripture.
For the author perhaps saw that this very meaning lay in the words which
we are trying to interpret; and assuredly the Holy Spirit, who through
him spake these words, foresaw that this interpretation would occur to
the reader, nay, made provision that it should occur to him, seeing that
it too is founded on truth. For what more liberal and more fruitful
provision could God have made in regard to the Sacred Scriptures than
that the same words might be understood in several senses, all of which
are sanctioned by the concurring testimony of other passages equally

Chap. 28.--It is safer to explain a doubtful passage by other passages of
Scripture than by reason

  39. When, however, a meaning is evolved of such a kind that what is

doubtful in it cannot be cleared up by indubitable evidence from
Scripture, it remains for us to make it clear by the evidence of reason.
But this is a dangerous practice. For it is far safer to walk by the
light of Holy Scripture; so that when we wish to examine the passages
that are obscured by metaphorical expressions, we may either obtain a
meaning about which there is no controversy, or if a controversy arises,
may settle it by the application of testimonies sought out in every
portion of the same Scripture.

Chap. 29.--The knowledge of tropes is necessary

  40. Moreover, I would have learned men to know that the authors of our
Scriptures use all those forms of expression which grammarians call by
the Greek name tropes, and use them more freely and in greater variety
than people who are unacquainted with the Scriptures, and have learnt
these figures of speech from other writings, can imagine or believe.
Nevertheless those who know these tropes recognize them in Scripture, and
are very much assisted by their knowledge of them in understanding
Scripture. But this is not the place to teach them to the illiterate,
lest it might seem that I was teaching grammar. I certainly advise,
however, that they be learnt elsewhere, although indeed I have already
given that advice above, in the second book namely, where I treated of
the necessary knowledge of languages. For the written characters from
which grammar itself gets its name (the Greek name for letters being
"grammata") are the signs of sounds made by the articulate voice with
which we speak. Now of some of these figures of speech we find in
Scripture not only examples (which we have of them all), but the very
names as well: for instance, allegory, enigma, and parable. However,
nearly all these tropes which are said to be learnt as a matter of
liberal education are found even in the ordinary speech of men who have
learnt no grammar, but are content to use the vulgar idiom. For who does
not say, "So may you flourish? " And this is the figure of speech called
metaphor. Who does not speak of a fish-pond in which there is no fish,
which was not made for fish, and yet gets its name from fish? And this is
the figure called catachresis.
  41. It would be tedious to go over all the rest in this way; for the
speech of the vulgar makes use of them all, even of those more curious
figures which mean the very opposite of what they say, as for example,
those called irony and antiphrasis. Now in irony we indicate by the tone
of voice the meaning we desire to convey; as when we say to a man who is
behaving badly, "You are doing well." But it is not by the tone of voice
that we make an antiphrasis to indicate the opposite of what the words
convey; but either the words in which it is expressed are used in the
opposite of their etymological sense, as a grove is called lucus from its
want of light; or it is customary to use a certain form of expression,
although it puts yes for no by a law of contraries, as when we ask in a
place for what is not there, and get the answer, "There is plenty;" or we

(continued in part 8...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01/agdoc-07.txt