Avitus to whom this letter is addressed is probably the same person who induced Jerome to write to Salvina (see Letter LXXIX.,(?) 1, ante). The occasion of writing is as follows. Ten years previously (that is to say in A.D. 399 or 400) Pammachius had asked Jerome to supply him with a correct version of Origen's First Principles to enable him to detect the variations introduced by Rufinus into his rendering. This Jerome willingly did (see Letters LXXXIII. and LXXXIV.) but when the work in its integrity was perused by Pammachius he thought it so erroneous in doctrine that he determined not to circulate it. However, "a certain brother" induced him to lend the MS. to him for a short time; and then, when he had got it into his hands, had a hasty and incorrect transcript made, which he forthwith published much to the chagrin of Pammachius. Falling into the hands of Avitus a copy of this much perplexed him and he seems to have appealed to Jerome for an explanation. This the latter now gives forwarding at the same time an authentic edition of his version of the First Principles. The date of the letter is A.D. 409 or 410.

1. About ten years ago that saintly man Pammachius sent me a copy of a certain person's rendering,(6) or rather misrendering, of Origen's First Principles; with a request that in a Latin version I should give the true sense of the Greek and should set down the writer's words for good or for evil without bias in either direction.(7) When I did as he wished and sent him the book,(8) he was shocked to read it and locked it up in his desk lest being circulated it might wound the souls of many. However, a certain brother, who had "a zeal for God but not according to knowledge,"(1) asked for a loan of the manuscript that he might read it; and, as he promised to return it without delay, Pammachius, thinking no harm could happen in so short a time, unsuspectingly consented. Hereupon he who had borrowed the book to read, with the aid of scribes copied the whole of it and gave it back much sooner than he had promised. Then with the same rashness or--to use a less severe term--thoughtlessness he made bad worse by confiding to others what he had thus stolen. Moreover, since a bulky treatise on an abstruse subject is difficult to reproduce with accuracy, especially if it has to be taken down surreptitiously and in a hurry, order and sense were sacrificed in several passages. Whence it comes, my dear Avitus, that you ask me to send you a copy of my version as made for Pammachius and not for the public, a garbled edition of which has. been published by the aforesaid brother.

2. Take then what you have asked for; but know that there are countless things in the book to be abhorred, and that, as the Lord says, you will have to walk among scorpions and serpents.(2) It begins by saying that Christ was made God's son not born;(3) that God the Father, as He is by nature invisible, is invisible even to the Son;(4) that the Son, who is the likeness of the invisible Father, compared with the Father is not the truth but compared with us who cannot receive the truth of the almighty Father seems a figure of the truth so that we perceive the majesty and magnitude of tire greater in the less, the Father's glory limited in the Son;(5) that God the Father is a light incomprehensible and that Christ compared with him is but a minute brightness, although by reason of our incapacity to us he appears a great one.(6) The Father and the Son are compared to two statues, a larger one and a small; the first filling the world and being somehow invisible through its size, the second cognisable by the eyes of men.(7) God the Father omnipotent the writer terms good and of perfect goodness; but of the Son he says: "He is not good but an emanation and likeness of goodness; not good absolutely but only with a qualification, as 'the good shepherd' and the like."(8) The Holy Spirit he places after the Father and the Son as third in dignity and honour. And while he declares that he does not know whether the Holy Spirit is created or uncreated,(1) he has later on given his own opinion that except God the Father alone there is nothing uncreated. "The Son," he states, "is inferior to the Father, inasmuch as He is second and the Father first; and the Holy Spirit which dwells in all the saints is inferior to the Son. In the same way the power of the Father is greater than that of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Likewise the power of the Son is greater than that of the Holy Spirit, and as a consequence the Holy Spirit in its turn has greater virtue than other things called holy."(2)

3. Then, when he comes to deal with rational creatures and to describe their lapse into earthly bodies as due to their own negligence, he goes on to say: "Surely it argues great negligence and sloth for a soul so far to empty itself as to fall into sin and allow itself to be tied to the material body of an unreasoning brute;" and in a subsequent passage: "These reasonings induce me to suppose that it is by their own free act that some are numbered with God's saints and servants, and that it was through their own fault that others fell from holiness into such negligence that they were changed into forces of an opposite kind."(3) He maintains that after every end a fresh beginning springs forth and an end from each beginning, and that wholesale variation is possible; so that one who is now a human being may in another world become a demon, while one who by reason of his negligence is now a demon may hereafter be placed in a more material body and thus become a human being.(4) So far does he carry this transforming process that on his theory an archangel may become the devil and the devil in turn be changed back into an archangel. "Such as have wavered or faltered but have not altogether fallen shall be made subject, for rule and government and guidance, to better things--to principalities and powers, to thrones and dominations; and of these perhaps another human race will be formed, when in the words of Isaiah there shall be 'new heavens and a new earth.'(5) But such as have not deserved to return through humanity to their former estate shall become the devil and his angels, demons of the worst sort; and according to what they have done shall have special duties assigned to them in particular worlds." Moreover, the very demons and rulers of darkness in any world or worlds, if they are willing to turn to better things, may become human beings and so come back to their first beginning. That is to say, after they have borne the discipline of punishment and torture for a longer or a shorter time in human bodies, they may again reach the angelic pinnacles from which they have fallen. Hence it may be shewn that we men may change into any other reasonable beings, and that not once only or on emergency but time after time; we and angels shall become demons if we neglect our duty; and demons, if they will take to themselves virtues, may attain to the rank of angels.

4. Bodily substances too are to pass away utterly or else at the end of all things will become highly rarified like the sky and rather and other subtle bodies. It is clear that these principles must affect the writer's view of the resurrection. The sun also and the moon and the rest of the constellations are alive. Nay more; as we men by reason of our sins are enveloped in bodies material and sluggish; so the lights of heaven have for like reasons received bodies more or less luminous, and demons have been for more serious faults clothed with starry frames. This, he argues, is the view of the apostle who writes:--"the creation has been subjected to vanity and shall be delivered for the revealing of the sons of God."(1) That it may not be supposed that I am imputing to him ideas of my own I shall give his actual words. "At the end and consummation of the world," he writes, "when souls and beings endowed with reason shall be released from prison by the Lord, they will move slowly or fly quickly according as they have previously been slothful or energetic. And as all of them have free will and are free to choose virtue or vice, those who choose the latter will be much worse off than they now are. But those who choose the former will improve their condition. Their movements and decisions in this direction or in that will determine their various futures; whether, that is, angels are to become men or demons, and whether demons are to become men or angels." Then after adducing various arguments in support of his thesis and maintaining that while not incapable of virtue the devil has yet not chosen to be virtuous, he has Finally reasoned with much diffuseness that an angel, a human soul, and a demon--all according to him of one nature but of different wills--may in punishment for great negligence or folly be transformed into brutes. Moreover, to avoid the agony of punishment and the burning flame the more sensitive may choose to become low organisms, to dwell in water, to assume the shape of this or that animal; so that we have reason to fear a metamorphosis not only into four-footed things but even into fishes. Then, lest he should be held guilty of maintaining with Pythagoras the transmigration of souls, he winds up the wicked reasoning with which he has wounded his reader by saying: "I must not be taken to make dogmas of these things; they are only thrown out as conjectures to shew that they are not altogether overlooked."

5. In his second book he maintains a plurality of worlds; not, however, as Epicurus taught, many like ones existing at once, but a new one beginning each time that the old comes to an end. There was a world before this world of ours, and after it there will be first one and then another and so on in regular succession. He is in doubt whether one world shall be so completely similar to another as to leave no room for any difference between them, or whether one world shall never wholly be indistinguishable from another. And again a little farther on he writes: "if, as the course of the discussion makes necessary, all things can live without body, all bodily existence shall be swallowed up and that which once has been made out of nothing shall again be reduced to nothing. And yet a time will come when its use will be once more necessary." And in the same context: "but if, as reason and the authority of scripture shew, this corruptible shall put on incorruption and this mortal shall put on immortality, death shall be swallowed up in victory and corruption in incorruption.(1) And it may be that all bodily existence shall be removed, for it is only in this that death can operate." And a little farther on: "if these things are not contrary to the faith, it may be that we shall some day live in a disembodied state. Moreover, if only he is fully subject to Christ who is disembodied, and if all must be made subject to Him, we too shall lose our bodies when we become fully subject to Him." And in the same passage: "if all are to be made subject to God, all shall lay aside their bodies; and then all bodily existence shall be brought to Bought. But if through the fall of reasonable beings it is a second time required it will reappear. For God has left souls to strive and struggle, to teach them that full and complete victory is to be attained not by their own efforts but by His grace. And so to my mind worlds vary with the sins which cause them, and those are exploded theories which maintain that all worlds are alike." And again: "three conjectures occur to me with regard to the end; it is for the reader to determine which is nearest to the truth. For either we shall be bodiless when being made subject to Christ we shall be made subject to God and He shall be all in all; or as things made subject to Christ shall be with Christ Himself made subject to God and brought under one law, so all substance shall be refined into its most perfect form and rarified into aether which is a pure and uncompounded essence; or else the sphere which I have called motionless and all that it contains will be dissolved into nothing, and the sphere in which the antizone(1) itself is contained shall be called 'good ground,'(2) and that other sphere which in its revolution surrounds the earth and goes by the name of heaven shall be reserved for the abode of the saints."

6. In speaking thus does he not most clearly follow the error of the heathen and foist upon the simple faith of Christians the ravings of philosophy? In the same book he writes: "it remains that God is invisible. But if He is by nature invisible, He must be so even to the Saviour." And lower down: "no soul which has descended into a human body has borne upon it so true an impress of its previous character as Christ's soul of which He says: 'no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.'"(3) And in another place: "we must carefully consider whether souls, when they have won salvation and have attained to the blessed life, may not cease to be souls. For as the Lord and Saviour came to seek and to save that which was lost(4) that it might cease to be lost; so the lost soul which the Lord came to save, when saved, will cease to be a soul. We must ask ourselves whether, as the lost was not lost once and again will not be, the soul likewise may have been and again may be not a soul."(5) And after a good many remarks upon the soul he brings in the following, "<greek>nous</greek> or" intelligence by falling becomes a soul; and by acquiring virtue this will become intelligence again. This at least is a fair inference from the case of Esau who for his old sins is condemned to lead a lower life. And concerning the heavenly bodies we must make a similar acknowledgment. The soul of the sun--or whatever else you like to call it--does not date its existence from the creation of the world; it already existed before it entered its shining and glowing body. So also with the moon and stars. From antecedent causes they have been made subject to vanity not willingly but for future reward,(6) and are forced to do not their own will but the creator's who has assigned to them their several spheres."

7. Hellfire, moreover, and the torments with which holy scripture threatens sinners he explains not as external punishments but as the pangs of guilty consciences when by God's power the memory of our transgressions is set before our eyes. "The whole crop of our sins grows up afresh from seeds which remain in the soul, and all our dishonourable and undutiful acts are again pictured before our gaze. Thus it is the fire of conscience and the stings of remorse which torture the mind as it looks back on former self-indulgence." And again: "but perhaps this coarse and earthly body ought to be described as mist and darkness; for at the end of this world and when it becomes necessary to pass into another, the like darkness will lead to the like physical birth." In speaking thus he clearly pleads for the transmigration of souls as taught by Pythagoras and Plato.(1) And at the end of the second book in dealing with our perfection he has said: "when we shall have made such progress as not only to cease to be flesh or body but perhaps also to cease to be souls our perfect intelligence and perception, undimmed with any mist of passion, will discern reasonable and intelligible substances face to face.

8. In the third book the following faulty statements are contained. "If we once admit that, when one vessel is made to honour and another to dishonour,(2) this is due to antecedent causes; why may we not revert to the mystery of the soul and allow that it is loved in one and hated in another because of its past actions, before in Jacob it becomes a supplanter and before in Esau it is supplanted?"(3) And again: "the fact that souls are made some to honour and some to dishonour is to be explained by their previous history." And in the same place: "on this hypothesis of mine a vessel made to honour which fails to fulfil its object will in another world become a vessel made to dishonour; and contrariwise a vessel which has from a previous fault been condemned to dishonour will, if it accepts correction in this present life, become in the new creation a vessel 'sanctified and meet for the Master's use and prepared unto every good work."(4) And he immediately goes on to say: "I believe that men who begin with small faults may become so hardened in wickedness that, if they do not repent and turn to better things, they must become inhuman energies;(5) and contrariwise that hostile and demonic beings may in course of time so far heal their wounds and cheek the current of their former sins that they may attain to the abode of the perfect. As I have often said, in those countless and unceasing worlds in which the soul lives and has its being some grow worse and worse until they reach the lowest depths of degradation; while others in those lowest depths grow better and better until they reach the perfection of virtue." Thus he tries to shew that men, or rather their souls, may become demons; and that demons in turn may be restored to the rank of angels. In the same book he writes: "this too must be considered; why the human soul is diversely acted upon now by influences of one kind and now by influences of another." And he surmises that this is due to conduct which has preceded birth. It is for this, he argues, that John leaps in his mother's womb when at Mary's salutation Elizabeth declares herself unworthy of her notice.(1) And he immediately subjoins: "on the other hand infants that are hardly weaned are possessed with evil spirits and become diviners and soothsayers;(2) indeed, some are indwelt from their earliest years with the spirit of a python. Now as they have done nothing to bring upon themselves these visitations, one who holds that nothing happens without God's permission, and that all things are governed by His justice, cannot suppose that God's providence has abandoned them without good reason.

9. Again, of the world he writes thus: "The belief commends itself to me that there was a world before this world and that after it there will be another. Do you wish to know that after the decay of this world there will be a new one? Hear the words of Isaiah: 'the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me.'(3) Do you wish to know that before the making of this world there have previously been others? Listen to the Preacher who says: 'the thing which hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.'(4) A passage which proves not only that other worlds have been but that other worlds shall be; not, however, simultaneously and side by side but one after another." And he immediately adds: "I hold that heaven is the abode of the deity, the true place of rest; and that it was there that reasonable creatures enjoyed their ancient bliss, before coming down to a lower plane and exchanging the invisible for the visible, they fell to the earth and came to need material bodies. Now that they have fallen, God the creator has made for them bodies suitable to their surroundings; and has fashioned this visible world, and has sent into it ministers to ensure the salvation and correction of the fallen. Of these ministers some have held assigned positions and have been subject to the world's necessary laws; while others have intelligently performed duties laid upon them in times and seasons determined by God's plan. To the former class belong the sun, moon, and stars called by the apostle 'the creation;' and these have had allotted to them the heights of heaven. Now the creation is subjected to vanity(1) because it is encased in material bodies and visible to the eye. And yet it is 'made subject to vanity not willingly but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope.' Others again of the second class, at particular places and times known to their Maker only, we believe to be His angels sent to steer the world." A little farther on he says: "the affairs of the world are so ordered by Providence that while some angels fall from heaven others freely glide down to earth. The former are hurled down against their will; the latter descend from choice alone. The former are forced to continue in a distasteful service for a fixed period; the latter spontaneously embrace the task of lending a hand to those who fall." Again he writes: "whence it follows that these different movements result in the creation of different worlds; and that this world of ours will be succeeded by one quite unlike it. Now, as regards this falling and rising, this rewarding of virtue and punishment of vice, whether they take place in the past, present, or future, God, the creator, can alone apportion desert and make all things converge to one end. For He only knows why He allows some to follow their own inclination and to descend from the higher planes to the lowest; and why He visits others and giving them His hand draws them back to their former state and places them once more in heaven."

10. In discussing the end of the world he has made use of the following language. "Since, as I have often said, a new beginning springs from the end, it may be asked whether bodies will then continue to exist, or whether, when they have been annihilated, we shall live without bodies and be incorporeal as we know God to be. Now there can be no doubt but that, if bodies or, as the apostle calls them, visible things, belong only to our sensible world, the life of the disembodied will be incorporeal." And a little farther on: "when the apostle writes, 'the creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God,'(2) I explain his words thus. Reasonable and incorporeal beings are the highest of God's creatures, for not being clothed with bodies they are not the slaves of corruption. Since where there are bodies, there corruption is sure to be found. But hereafter 'the creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption,' and then men shall receive the glory of the children of God and God shah be all in all." And in the same passage he writes: "that the final state will be an incorporeal one is rendered credible by the words of our Saviour's prayer: 'as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.'(1) For we ought to realize what God is and what the Saviour will finally be, and how the likeness to the Father and the Son here promised to the Saints consists in this that as They are one in Themselves so we shall be one in Them. For if in the end the life of the Saints is to be assimilated to the life of God, we must either admit that the Lord of the universe is clothed with a body and that he is enveloped in matter as we are in flesh; or, if it is unbecoming to suppose this, especially in persons who have but small clues from which to infer God's majesty and to guess at the glory of His innate and transcendent nature, we are reduced to the following dilemma. Either we shall always have bodies and in that case must despair of ever being like God; or, if the blessedness of the life of God is really promised to us, the conditions of His life must be the conditions of ours."

11. These passages prove what his view is regarding the resurrection. For he evidently maintains that all bodies will perish and that we shall be incorporeal as according to him we were before we received our present bodies. Again when he comes to argue for a variety of worlds and to maintain that angels will become demons, demons either angels or men, and men in their turn demons; in a word that everything will be turned into something else, he thus sums up his own opinion: "no doubt, after an interval matter will exist afresh and bodies will be formed and a different world will be created to meet the varying wills of reasonable beings who, having forfeited the perfect bliss which continues to the end, have gradually fallen into so great wickedness as to change their nature and refuse to keep their first estate of unalloyed blessedness. Many reasonable beings, it is right to say, keep it until a second, a third, and a fourth world, and give God no ground for changing their condition. Others deteriorate so little that they seem to have lost hardly anything, and others again have to be hurled headlong into the abyss. God who orders all things alone knows how to use each class according to its deserts in a suitable sphere; for He only understands opportunities and motives and the course in which the world must be steered. Thus one who has borne away the palm for wickedness and has sunk into the lowest degradation will in the world which is hereafter to be fashioned be made a devil, a kind of first fruits of the Lord's handiwork, to be a laughing stock to the angels who have lost their first virtue." What is this but to argue that the sinful men of this world may become a devil and demons in another; and contrariwise that those who are now demons may hereafter become either men or angels? And after a lengthy discussion in which he maintains that all corporeal creatures must exchange their material for subtle and spiritual bodies and that all substance must become one pure and inconceivably bright body, of which the human mind can at present form no conception, he winds up thus:--"'God shall be all in all;' that is to say, all bodily existence shall be made as perfect as possible; it shall be brought into the divine essence, than which there is none better."

12. In the fourth and last book of his work the following passages deserve the church's condemnation. "It may be that as, when men die in this world by the separation of soul and body, they are allotted different positions in hell according to the difference in their works; so when angels die, out of the system of the heavenly Jerusalem, they come down to this world as a hell and are placed on earth according to their deserts." And again: "as we have compared the souls which pass from this world to hell with those which as they come from heaven to us are in a manner dead; so we must carefully inquire whether this is true of all souls without exception. For in that case souls born on earth when they desire better things rise out of hell and assume human bodies or when they desire worse things come down to us from better worlds; and in the firmament above us likewise there are souls on their way from our world to higher ones, and others who, while they have fallen from heaven, have not sinned so grievously as to be thrust down to earth." He thus tries to prove that the firmament, that is the sky, is hell compared with heaven; and that this earth is hell compared with the firmament; and again that our world is heaven to hell. Or in other words what is hell to some is heaven to others. And not content with saying this he goes on: "at the end of all things when we shall return to the heavenly Jerusalem the hostile powers shall declare war(1) against the people of God to breathe and exercise their valour and strengthen their resolve. For this they cannot have until they have faced and foiled their foes; of whom we read in the book of Numbers(1) that they are overcome by reason, discipline, and tactical skill."

13. After saying that according to the apocalypse of John "the everlasting gospel" which shall be revealed in heaven(2) as much surpasses our gospel as Christ's preaching does the sacraments(3) of the ancient law, he has asserted what it is sacrilegious even to think; that Christ will once more suffer in the sky for the salvation of demons. And although he has not expressly said it, it is yet implied in his words that as for men God became man to set men free, so for the salvation of demons when He comes to deliver them He will become a demon. To shew that this is no gloss of mine, I must give his own words: "As Christ," he writes, "has fulfilled the shadow of the law by the shadow of the gospel, and as all law is a pattern and shadow of things done in heaven, we must inquire whether we are justified in supposing that even the heavenly law and the rites of the celestial worship are still incomplete and need the true gospel which in the apocalypse of John is called everlasting to distinguish it from ours which is only temporal, set forth in a world that shall pass away. Now if we extend our inquiry to the passion of our Lord and Saviour, it may indeed be overbold to suppose that He will suffer in heaven; yet if there is spiritual wickedness in heavenly places(4) and if we confess without a blush that the Lord has once been crucified to destroy those thing's which He has destroyed by His passion; why need we fear to imagine a like occurrence in the upper world m the fulness of time, so that the nations of all realms shall be saved by a passion of Christ?"

14. Here is another blasphemy which he has spoken of the Son. "Assuming that the Son knows the Father, it would seem that by this knowledge He can comprehend Him as much as a craftsman can comprehend the rules of his art. And, doubtless, if the Father is in the Son, He is also comprehended by Him in whom He is. But if we mean by comprehension not merely that the knower takes a thing in by perception and insight but that he contains it within himself by virtue of a special faculty; in this sense we cannot say that the Son comprehends the Father. For the Father comprehends all things, and of these the Son is one; therefore, He comprehends the Son." And to shew us reasons why, while the Father comprehends the Son, the Son cannot comprehend the Father, he adds: "the curious reader may inquire whether the Father knows Himself in the same way that the Son knows Him. But if he recalls the words: 'the Father who sent me is greater than I,'(1) he will allow that they must be universally true and will admit that, in knowledge as in everything else, the Father is greater than the Son, and knows Himself more perfectly and immediately than the Son can do."

15. The following passage is a convincing proof that he holds the transmigration of souls and annihilation of bodies. "If it can be shewn that an incorporeal and reasonable being has life in itself independently of the body and that it is worse off in the body than out of it; then beyond a doubt bodies are only of secondary importance and arise from time to time to meet the varying conditions of reasonable creatures. Those who require bodies are clothed with them, and contrariwise, when fallen souls have lifted themselves up to better things, their bodies are once more annihilated. They are thus ever vanishing and ever reappearing." And to prevent us from minimizing the impiety of his previous utterances he ends his work by maintaining that all reasonable beings, that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, angels, powers, dominations, and virtues, and even man by right of his soul's dignity, are of one and the same essence. "God," he writes, "and His only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit are conscious of an intellectual and reasonable nature. But so also are the angels, the powers, and the virtues, as well as the inward man who is created in the image and after the likeness of God.(2) From which I conclude that God and they are in some sort of one essence." He adds "in some sort" to escape the charge of blasphemy; and while in another place he will not allow the Son and the Holy Spirit to be of one substance with the Father lest by so doing he should appear to make the divine essence divisible, he here bestows the nature of God almighty upon angels and men.

16. This being the nature of Origen's book. is it anything short of madness to change a few blasphemous passages regarding the Son and the Holy Spirit and then to publish the rest unchanged with an unprincipled eulogy when the parts unaltered as well as the parts altered flow from the same fountain head of gross impiety? This is not the time to confute all the statements made in detail; and indeed those who have written against Arius, Eunomius, Manichaeus, and various other heretics must be supposed to have answered these blasphemies as well. If anyone, therefore, wishes to read the work let him walk with his feet shod towards the land of promise; let him guard against the jaws of the serpent and the crooked jaws of the scorpion; let him read this treatise first and before he enters upon the path let him know the dangers which he wilt have to avoid.



Rustics, a young monk of Tailless, (to be carefully distinguished from the recipient of Letter CS.) is advised by Jerome not to become an anchorite but to continue in a community. Rules are suggested for the monastic life and a vivid picture is drawn of the difference between a good monk and a bad. Incidentally Jerome indulges his spleen against his dead opponent Rufinus ( 18). The date of the letter is 411 A.D.

1. No man is happier than the Christian, for to him is promised the kingdom of heaven. No man struggles harder than he, for he goes daily in danger of his life. No man is stronger, for he overcomes the Devil. No man is weaker, for he is overcome by the flesh. Both pairs of statements can be proved by many examples. For instance, the robber believes upon the cross and immediately hears the assuring words: "verily I say unto thee, To-day shall thou be with me in paradise :"(1) while Judas falls from the pinnacle of the apostolate into the abyss of perdition. Neither the close intercourse of the banquet nor the dipping of the sop(2) nor the Lord's gracious kiss(3) can save him from betraying as man Him whom he had known as the Son of God. Could any one have been viler than the woman of Samaria? Yet not only did she herself believe, and after her six husbands find one Lord, not only did she recognize that Messiah by the well, whom the Jews failed to recognize in the temple; she brought salvation to many and, while the apostles were away buying food, refreshed the Saviour's hunger and relieved His weariness.(4) Was ever man wiser than Solomon? Yet love for women made even him foolish. Salt is good, and every offering must be sprinkled with it.(5) Wherefore also the apostle has given commandment: "let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt."(6) But "if the salt have lost his savour," it is cast out.(7) And so utterly does it lose its value that it is not even fit for the dunghill,(8) whence believers fetch manure to enrich the barren soil of their souls. I begin thus, Rustics my son, to teach you the greatness of your enterprise and the loftiness of your ideal; and to shew you that only by trampling under foot youthful lusts can you hope to climb the heights of true maturity. For the path along which you walk is a slippery one and the glory of success is less than the shame of failure.

2. I need not now conduct the stream of my discourse through the meadows of virtue, nor exert myself to shew to you the beauty of its several flowers. I need not dilate on the purity of the lily, the modest blush of the rose the royal purple of the violet, or the promise of glowing gems which their various colours hold out. For through the mercy of God you have already put your hand to the plough;(1) you have already gone up upon the housetop like the apostle Peter.(2) Who when he became hungry among the Jews had his hunger satisfied by the faith of Cornelius, and stilled the craving caused by their unbelief through the conversion of the centurion and other Gentiles. By the vessel let down from heaven to earth, the four corners of which typified the four gospels, he was taught that all men can be saved. Once more, this fair white sheet which in his vision was taken up again was a symbol of the church which carries believers from earth to heaven, an assurance that the Lord's promise should be fulfilled: "blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."(3)

All this means that I take you by the hand and do my best to impress certain facts upon your mind; that, like a skilled sailor who has been through many shipwrecks, I am anxious to caution an inexperienced passenger of the risks before him. For on one side is the Charybdis of covetousness, "the root of all evil ;"(4) and on the other lurks the Scylla of detraction girt with the railing hounds of which the apostle says: "if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."(5) Sometimes, you must know, the quicksands of vice(6) suck us down as we sail at ease through the calm water; and the desert of this world is not untenanted by venomous reptiles.

3. Those who navigate the Red Sea--where we must pray that the true Pharaoh may be drowned with all his host--have to encounter many difficulties and dangers before they reach the city of Auxuma.(7) Nomad savages and ferocious wild beasts haunt the shores on either side. Thus travellers must be always armed and on the alert, and they must carry with them a whole year's provisions. Moreover, so full are the waters of hidden reefs and impassable shoals that a look-out has constantly to be kept from the masthead to direct the helmsman how to shape his course. They may count themselves fortunate if after six months they make the port of the above-mentioned city. At this point the ocean begins, to cross which a whole year hardly suffices. Then India is reached and the river Ganges--called in holy scripture Pison--"which compasseth the whole land of Havilah"(1) and is said to carry down with it--from its source in paradise--various dyes and pigments. Here are found rubies and emeralds, glowing pearls and gems of the first water, such as high born ladies passionately desire. There are also mountains of gold which however men cannot approach by reason of the griffins, dragons, and huge monsters which haunt them; for such are the guardians which avarice needs for its treasures.

4. What, you ask, is the drift of all this? Surely it is clear enough. For if the merchants of the world undergo such hardships to win a doubtful and passing gain, and if after seeking it through many dangers they only keep it at risk of their lives; what should Christ's merchant do who "selleth all that he hath" that he may acquire the "one pearl of great price;" who with his whole substance buys a field that he may find therein a treasure which neither thief can dig up nor robber carry away?(2)

5. I know that I must offend large numbers who will be angry with my criticisms as aimed at their own deficiencies. Yet such anger does but shew an uneasy conscience and they will pass a far severer sentence on themselves than on me. For I shall not mention names; or copy the licence of the old comedy(3) which criticized individuals. Wise men and wise women will try to hide or rather to correct whatever they perceive to be amiss in them; they will be more angry with themselves than with me, and will not be disposed to heap curses upon the head of their monitor. For he, although he is liable to the same charges, is certainly superior in this that he is discontented with his own faults.

6. I am told that your mother is a religious woman, a widow of many years' standing; and that when you were a child she reared and taught you herself. Afterwards when you had spent some time in the flourishing schools of Gaul she sent you to Rome, sparing no expense and consoling herself for your absence by the thought of the future that lay before you. She hoped to see the exuberance and glitter of your Gallic eloquence toned down by Roman sobriety, for she saw that you required the rein more than the spur. So we are told of the greatest orators of Greece that they seasoned the bombast of Asia with the salt of Athens and pruned their vines when they grew too fast. For they wished to fill the wine-press of eloquence not with the tendrils of mere words but with the rich grape-juice of good sense. Your mother has done the same thing for you; you should, therefore, look up to her as a parent, love her as a tender nurse, and venerate her as a saint. You must not imitate those who leave their own relations and pay court to strange women. Their infamy is apparent to all, for what they aim at under the pretence of pure affection(1) is simply illicit intercourse. I know some women of riper years, indeed a good many, who, finding pleasure in their young freedmen, make them their spiritual children and thus, pretending to be mothers to them, gradually overcome their own sense of shame and allow themselves in the licence of marriage. Other women desert their maiden sisters and unite themselves to strange widows. There are some who hate their parents and have no affection for their kin. Their state of mind is indicated by a restlessness which disdains excuses; they rend the veil of chastity and put it aside like a cobweb. Such are the ways of women; not, indeed, that men are any better. For there are persons to be seen who (for all their girded loins, sombre garb, and long beards) are inseparable from women, live under one roof with them, dine in their company, have young girls to wait upon them, and, save that they do not claim to be called husbands, are as good as married. Still it is no fault of Christianity that a hypocrite falls into sin; rather, it is the confusion of the Gentiles that the churches condemn what is condemned by all good men.

7. But if for your part you desire to be a monk and not merely to seem one, be more careful of your soul than of your property; for in adopting a religious profession you have renounced this once for all. Let your garments be squalid to shew that your mind is white; and your tunic coarse to prove that you despise the world. But give not way to pride lest your dress and language be found at variance. Baths stimulate the senses and must, therefore, be avoided; for to quench natural heat is the aim of chilling fasts. Yet even these must be moderate, for, if they are carried to excess, they weaken the stomach and by making more food necessary to it promote indigestion, that fruitful parent of unclean desires. A frugal and temperate diet is good for both body and soul.

See your mother as often as you please but not with other women, for their faces may dwell in your thoughts and so

A secret wound may fester in your breast.(1)

The maidservants who attend upon her you must regard as so many snares laid to entrap you; for the lower their condition is the more easy is it for you to effect their ruin. John the Baptist had a religious mother and his father was a priest.(2) Yet neither his mother's affection nor his father's wealth could induce him to live in his parents' house at the risk of his chastity. He lived in the desert, and seeking Christ with his eyes refused to look at anything else. His rough garb, his girdle made of skins, his diet of locusts and wild honey(3) were all alike designed to encourage virtue and continence. The sons of the prophets, who were the monks of the Old Testament, built for themselves huts by the waters of Jordan and forsaking the crowded cities lived in these on pottage and wild herbs.(4) As long as you are at home make your cell your paradise,(5) gather there the varied fruits of scripture, let this be your favourite companion, and take its precepts to your heart. If your eye offend you or your foot or your hand, cast them from you.(6) To spare your soul spare nothing else. The Lord says: "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."(7) "Who can My," writes the wise man, "I have made my heart clean?"(8) The stars are not pure in the Lord's sight; how much less men whose whole life is one long temptation.(9) Woe be to us who commit fornication every time that we cherish lust. "My sword," God says, "hath drunk its fill in heaven;" (10) much more then upon the earth with its crop of thorns and thistles.(11) The chosen vessel(12) who had Christ's name ever on his lips kept under his body and brought it into subjection.(13) Yet even he was hindered by carnal desire and had to do what he would not. As one suffering violence he cries: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"(14) Is it likely then that you can pass without fall or wound, unless you keep your heart with all diligence,(15) and say with the Saviour: "my mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God and do it."(16) This may seem cruelty, but it is really affection. What greater proof, indeed, can there be of affection than to guard for a holy mother a holy son? She too desired your eternal welfare and is content to forego seeing you for a time that she may see you for ever with Christ. She is like Hannah who brought forth Samuel not for her own solace but for the service of the tabernacle.(1) The sons of Jonadab, we are told, drank neither wine nor strong drink and dwelt in tents pitched wherever night overtook them.(2) l According to the psalter they were the first to undergo captivity; for, when the Chaldaeans began to ravage Judah they were compelled to take refuge in cities.(3)

8. Others may think what they like and follow each his own bent. But to me a town is a prison and solitude paradise. Why do we long for the bustle of cities, we whose very name speaks of loneliness?(4) To fit him for the leadership of the Jewish people Moses was trained for forty years in the wilderness;(5) and it was not till after these that the shepherd of sheep became a shepherd of men. The apostles were fishers on lake Gennesaret before they became "fishers of men."(6) But at the Lord's call they forsook all that they had, father, net, and ship, and bore their cross daily without so much as a rod in their hands.

I say these things that, in case you desire to enter the ranks of the clergy, you may learn what you must afterwards teach, that you may offer a reasonable sacrifice(7) to Christ, that you may not think yourself a finished soldier while still a raw recruit, or suppose yourself a master while you are as yet only a learner. It does not become one of my humble abilities to pass judgment upon the clergy or to speak to the discredit of those who are ministers in the churches. They have their own rank and station and must keep it. If ever you become one of them my published letter to Nepotian(8) will teach you the mode of life suitable to you

in that vocation. At present I am dealing with the forming and training of a monk; of one too who has put the yoke of Christ upon his neck after receiving a liberal education in his younger days.

9. The first point to be considered is whether you ought to live by yourself or in a monastery with others.(9) For my part I should like you to have the society of holy men so as not to be thrown altogether on your resources. For if you set out upon a road that is new to you without a guide, you are sure to turn aside immediately either to the right or to the left, to lay yourself open to the assaults of error, to go too far or else not far enough, to weary yourself with running too fast or to loiter by the way and to fall asleep. In loneliness pride quickly creeps upon a man: if he has fasted for a little while and has seen no one, he fancies himself a person of some note; forgetting who he is, whence he comes, and whither he goes, he lets his thoughts riot within and outwardly indulges in rash speech. Contrary to the apostle's wish he judges another man's servants,(1) puts forth his hand to grasp whatever his appetite desires, sleeps as long he pleases, fears nobody, does what he likes, fancies everyone inferior to himself, spends more of his time in cities than in his cell, and, while with the brothers he affects to be retiring, rubs shoulders with the crowd in the streets. What then, you will say? Do I condemn a solitary life? By no means: in fact I have often commended it. But I wish to see the monastic schools turn out soldiers who have no fear of the rough training of the desert, who have exhibited the spectacle of a holy life for a considerable time, who have made themselves last that they might be first, who have not been overcome by hunger or satiety, whose joy is in poverty, who teach virtue by their garb and mien, and who are too conscientious to invent--as some silly men do--monstrous stories of struggles with demons, designed to magnify their heroes in the eyes of the crowd and before all to extort money from it.

10. Quite recently we have seen to our sorrow a fortune worthy of Croesus brought to light by a monk's death, and a city's alms, collected for the poor, left by will to his sons and successors. After sinking to the bottom the iron has once more floated upon the surface,"(2) and men have again seen among the palm-trees the bitter waters of Marah.(3) In this there is, however, nothing strange, for the man had for his companion and teacher one who turned the hunger of the needy into a source of wealth for himself and kept back sums left to the miserable to his own subsequent misery. Yet their cry came up to heaven and entering God's ears overcame His patience. Wherefore, He sent an angel of woe to say to this new Carmelite, this second Nabal,(4) "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?"(5)

11. If I wish you then not to live with your mother, it is for the reasons given above, and above all for the two following. If she offers you delicacies to eat, you will grieve her by refusing them; and if you take them, you will add fuel to the flame that already burns within you. Again in a house where there are so many girls you will see in the daytime sights that will tempt you at night. Never take your hand or your eyes off your book; learn the psalms word for word, pray without ceasing,(1) be always on the alert, and let no vain thoughts lay hold upon you. Direct both body and mind to the Lord, overcome wrath by patience, love the knowledge of scripture, and you will no longer love the sins of the flesh. Do not let your mind become a prey to excitement, for if this effects a lodgment in your breast it will have dominion over you and will lead you into the great transgression.(2) Always have some work on hand, that the devil may find you busy. If apostles who had the right to live of the Gospel(3) laboured with their own hands that they might be chargeable to no man,(4) and bestowed relief upon others whose carnal things they had a claim to reap as having sown unto them spiritual things;(5) why do you not provide a supply to meet your needs? Make creels of reeds or weave baskets out of pliant osiers. Hoe your ground; mark out your garden into even plots; and when you have sown your cabbages or set your plants convey water to them in conduits that you may see with your own eyes the lovely vision of the poet:

Art draws fresh water from the hilltop near

Till the stream plashing down among the rocks

Cools the parched meadows and allays their thirst.(6)

Graft unfruitful stocks with buds and slips that you may shortly be rewarded for your toil by plucking sweet apples from them. Construct also hives for bees, for to these the proverbs of Solomon send you,(7) and you may learn from the tiny creatures how to order a monastery and to discipline a kingdom. Twist lines too for catching fish, and copy books; that your hand may earn your food and your mind may be satisfied with reading. For "every one that is idle is a prey to vain desires."(8) In Egypt the monasteries make it a rule to receive none who are not willing to work; for they regard labour as necessary not only for the support of the body but also for the salvation of the soul. Do not let your mind stray into harmful thoughts, or, like Jerusalem in her whoredoms, open its feet to every chance comer.(9)

12. In my youth when the desert walled me in with its solitude I was still unable to endure the promptings of sin and the natural heat of my blood; and, although I tried by frequent fasts to break the force of both, my mind still surged with [evil] thoughts.(10) To subdue its turbulence I betook myself to a brother(1) who before his conversion had been a Jew and asked him to teach me Hebrew. Thus, after having familiarised myself with the pointedness of Quintilian, the fluency of Cicero, the seriousness of Fronto and the gentleness of Pliny, I began to learn my letters anew and to study to pronounce words both harsh and guttural. What labour I spent upon this task, what difficulties I went through, how often I despaired, how often I gave over and then in my eagerness to learn commenced again, can be attested both by myself the subject of this misery and by those who then lived with me. But I thank the Lord that from this seed of learning sown in bitterness I now cull sweet fruits.

13. I will recount also another thing that i saw in Egypt. There was in a community a young Greek the flame of whose desire neither continual fasting nor the severest labour could avail to quench. He was in great danger of falling, when the father of the monastery saved him by the following device. He gave orders to one of the older brothers to pursue him with objurgations and reproaches, and then after having thus wronged him to be beforehand with him in laying a complaint against him. When witnesses were called they spoke always on behalf of the aggressor. On hearing such falsehoods he used to weep that no one gave credit to the truth; the father alone used cleverly to put in a word for him that he might not be "swallowed up with overmuch sorrow."(2) To make the story short, a year passed in this way and at the expiration of it the young man was asked concerning his former evil thoughts and whether they still troubled him. "Good gracious," he replied, "how can I find pleasure in fornication when I am not allowed so much as to live?" Had he been a solitary hermit, by whose aid could he have overcome the temptations that assailed him?

14. The world's philosophers drive out an old passion by instilling a new one; they hammer out one nail by hammering in another.(3) It was on this principle that the seven princes of Persia acted towards king Ahasuerus, for they subdued his regret for queen Vashti by inducing him to love other maidens.(4) But whereas they cured one fault by another fault and one sin by another sin, we must overcome our faults by learning to love the opposite virtues. "Depart from evil," says the psalmist, "and do good; seek peace and pursue it."(5) For if we do not hate evil we cannot love good. Nay more, we must do good if we are to depart from evil. We must seek peace if we are to avoid war. And it is not enough merely to seek it; when we have found it and when it flees before us we must pursue it with all our energies. For "it passeth all understanding;"(1) it is the habitation of God. As the psalmist says, "in peace also is his habitation."(2) The pursuing of peace is a fine metaphor and may be compared with the apostle's words, "pursuing hospitality."(3) It is not enough, he means, for us to invite guests with our lips; we should be as eager to detain them as though they were robbers carrying off our savings.

15. No art is ever learned without a master. Even dumb animals and wild herds follow leaders of their own. Bees have princes, and cranes fly after one of their number in the shape of a Y.(4) There is but one emperor and each province has but one judge. Rome was rounded by two brothers,(5) but, as it could not have two kings at once, was inaugurated by an act of fratricide. So too Esau and Jacob strove in Rebekah's womb.(6) Each church has a single bishop, a single archpresbyter, a single archdeacon;(7) and every ecclesiastical order is subjected to its own rulers. A ship has but one pilot, a house but one master, and the largest army moves at the command of one man. That I may not tire you by heaping up instances, my drift is simply this. Do not rely on your own discretion, but live in a monastery. For there, while you will be under the control of one father, you will have many companions; and these will teach you, one humility, another patience, a third silence, and a fourth meekness. You will do as others wish; you will eat what you are told to eat; you will wear what clothes are given you; you will perform the task allotted to you; you will obey one whom you do not like, you will come to bed tired out; you will go to sleep on your feet and you will be forced to rise before you have had sufficient rest. When your turn comes, you will recite the psalms, a task which requires not a well modulated voice but genuine emotion. The apostle says: "I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the understanding also,"(8) and to the Ephesians, "make melody in your hearts to the Lord."(9) For he had read the precept of the psalmist: "Sing ye praises with understanding."(10) You will serve the brothers, you will wash the guests' feet; if you suffer wrong you will bear it in silence; the superior of the community you will fear as a master and love as a father. Whatever he may order you to do you will believe to be wholesome for you. You will not pass judgment upon those who are placed over you, for your duty will be to obey them and to do what you are told, according to the words spoken by Moses: "keep silence and hearken, O Israel."(1) You will have so many tasks to occupy you that you will have no time for [evil] thoughts; and while you pass from one thing to another and fresh work follows work done, you will only be able to think of what you have it in charge at the moment to do.

16. But I myself have seen monks of quite a different stamp from this, men whose renunciation of the world has consisted in a change of clothes and a verbal profession, while their real life and their former habits have remained unchanged. Their property has increased rather than diminished. They still have the same servants and keep the same table. Out of cheap glasses and common earthenware they swallow gold. With servants about them in swarms they claim for themselves the name of hermits. Others who though poor think themselves discerning, walk as solemnly as pageants(2) through the streets and do nothing but snarl(3) at every one whom they meet. Others shrug their shoulders and croak out what is best known to themselves. While they keep their eyes fixed upon the earth, they balance swelling words upon their tongues.(4) Only a crier is wanted to persuade you that it is his excellency the prefect who is coming along. Some too there are who from the dampness of their cells and from the severity of their fasts, from their weariness of solitude and from excessive study have a singing in their ears day and night and turn melancholy mad so as to need the poultices of Hippocrates(5) more than exhortations from me. Great numbers are unable to break free from the crafts and trades they have previously practised. They no longer call themselves dealers but they carry on the same traffic as before; seeking for themselves not "food and raiment"(6) as the apostle directs, but money-profits and these greater than are looked for by men of the world. In former days the greed of sellers was kept within bounds by the action of the Ædiles or as the Greeks call them market-inspectors,(7) and men could not then cheat with impunity. But now persons who profess religion are not ashamed to seek unjust profits and the good name of Christianity is more often a cloak for fraud than a victim to it. I am ashamed to say it, yet it must be said--we are at least bound to blush for our infamy--while in public we hold out our hands for alms we conceal gold beneath our rags; and to the amazement of every one after living as poor men we die rich and with our purses well-filled.

But you, since you will not be alone but one of a community, will have no temptation to act thus. Things at first compulsory will become habitual. You will set to work unbidden and will find pleasure in your toil. You will forget things which are behind and will reach forth to those which are before.(1) You will think less of the evil that others do than of the good you ought to do.

17. Be not led by the multitude of those who sin, neither let the host of those who perish tempt you to say secretly: "What? must all be lost who live in cities? Behold, they continue to enjoy their property, they serve churches, they frequent baths, they do not disdain cosmetics, and yet they are universally well-spoken of." To this kind of remark I have before replied and now shortly reply again that the object of this little work is not to discuss the clergy but to lay down rules for a monk. The clergy are holy men and their lives are always worthy of praise. Rouse yourself then and so live in your monastery that you may deserve to be a clergyman, that you may preserve your youth from defilement, that you may go to Christ's altar as a virgin out of her chamber. See that you are well-reported of without and that women are familiar with your reputation but not with your appearance. When you come to mature years, if, that is, you live so long, and when you have been chosen into the ranks of the clergy either by the people of the city or by its bishop, act in a way that befits a clergyman, and choose for your models the best of your brothers. For in every rank and condition of life the bad are mingled with the good.

18. Do not be carried away by some mad caprice and rush into authorship. Learn long and carefully what you propose to teach. Do not credit all that flatterers say to you, or, I should rather say, do not lend too ready an ear to those who mean to mock you. They will fawn upon you with fulsome praise and do their best to blind your judgment; yet if you suddenly look behind you, you will find that they are making gestures of derision with their hands, either a stork's neck or the flapping ears of a donkey or a thirsty dog's protruding tongue.(2)

Never speak evil of anyone or suppose that you make yourself better by assailing the reputations of others. The charges we bring against them often come home to ourselves; we inveigh against faults which are as much ours as theirs; and so our eloquence ends by telling against ourselves. It is as though dumb persons were to criticize orators. When the grunter(1) wished to speak he used to come forward at a snail's pace(2) and to utter a word now and again with such long pauses between that he seemed less making a speech than gasping for breath. Then, when he had placed his table and arranged on it his pile of books, he used to knit his brow, to draw in his nostrils, to wrinkle his forehead and to snap his fingers, signs meant to engage the attention of his pupils. Then he would pour forth a torrent of nonsense and declaim so vehemently against every one that you would take him for a critic like Longinus(3) or fancy him a second Cato the Censor(4) passing judgment on Roman eloquence and excluding whom he pleased from the senate of the learned. As he had plenty of money he made himself still more popular by giving entertainments. Numbers of persons shared in his hospitality; and thus it was not surprising that when he went out he was surrounded always by a buzzing throng. At home he was a monster like Nero, abroad a paragon like Cato. Made up of different and opposing natures, as a whole he baffled description. You would say that he was formed of jarring elements like that unnatural and unheard of monster of which the poet tells us that it was 'in front a lion, behind a dragon, in the middle the goat whose name it bears.'(5)

19. Men such as these you must never look at or associate with. Nor must you turn aside your heart unto words of evil(6) lest the psalmist say to you: "Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son,"(7) and lest you become as "the sons of men whose teeth are spears and arrows,"(8) and as the man whose "words were softer than oil yet were they drawn swords."(9) The Preacher expresses this more clearly still when he says: "Surely the serpent will bite where there is no enchantment, and the slanderer is no better."(1) But you will say, 'I am not given to detraction, but how can check others who are?' If we put forward such a plea as this it can only be that we may "practise wicked works with men that work iniquity."(2) Yet Christ is not deceived by this device. It is not I but an apostle who says: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked."(3) "Man looketh upon the outward appearance but the Lord looketh upon the heart."(4) And in the proverbs Solomon tells us that as "the north wind driveth away rain, so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue."(5) It sometimes happens that an arrow when it is aimed at a hard object rebounds upon the bowman, wounding the would-be wounder, and thus, the words are fulfilled, "they were turned aside like a deceitful bow,"(6) and in another passage: "whoso casteth a stone on high casteth it on his own head."(7) So when a slanderer sees anger in the countenance of his hearer who will not hear him but stops his ears that he may not hear of blood,(8) he becomes silent on the moment, his face turns pale, his lips stick fast, his mouth becomes parched. Wherefore the same wise man says: "meddle not with them that are given to detraction: for their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?"(9) of him who speaks, that is, and of him who hears. Truth does not love corners or seek whisperers. To Timothy it is said, "Against an elder receive not an accusation suddenly; but him that sinneth rebuke before all, that others also may fear."(10) When a man is advanced in years you must not be too ready to believe evil of him; his past life is itself a defence, and so also is his rank as an eider. Still, since we are but human and sometimes in spite of the ripeness of our years fall into the sins of youth, if I do wrong and you wish to correct me, accuse me openly of my fault: do not backbite me secretly. "Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness, and let him reprove me; but let not the oil of the sinner enrich my head."(11) For what says the apostle? "Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."(12) By the mouth of Isaiah the Lord speaks thus: "O my people, they who call you happy cause you to err and destroy the way of your paths."(13) How do you help me by telling my misdeeds to others? You may, without my knowing of it, wound some one else by the narration of my sins or rather of those which you slanderously attribute to me; and while you are eager to spread the news in I all quarters, you may pretend to confide in each individual as though you had spoken to no one else. Such a course has for its object not my correction but the indulgence of your own failing. The Lord gives commandment that those who sin against us are to be arraigned privately or else in the presence of a witness, and that if they refuse to hear reason, the matter is to be laid before the church, and those who persist in their wickedness are to be regarded as heathen men and publicans.(1)

20. I lay great emphasis on these points that I may deliver a young man who is dear to me from the itching both of the tongue and of the ears: that, since he has been born again in Christ, I may present him without spot or wrinkle(2) as a chaste virgin,(3) chaste in mind as well as in body; that the virginity of which he boasts may be more than nominal and that he may not be shut out by the bridegroom because being unprovided with the oil of good works his lamp has gone out.(4) In Proculus you have a reverend and most learned pre-late,(5) able by the sound of his voice to do more for you than I with my written sheets and sure to direct you on your path by daily homilies. He will not suffer you to turn to the right hand or to the left or to leave the king's highway; for to this Israel pledges itself to keep in its hasty passage to the land of promise.(6) May God hear the voice of the church's supplication. "Lord, ordain peace for us, for thou hast also wrought all our works for us."(7) May our renunciation of the world be made freely and not under compulsion! May we seek poverty gladly to win its glory and not suffer anguish because others lay it upon us! For the rest amid our present miseries with the sword making havoc around us, he is rich enough who has bread sufficient for his need, and he is abundantly powerful who is not reduced to be a slave. Exuperius(8)' the reverend bishop of Toulouse, imitating the widow of Zarephath,(9) feeds others though hungry himself. His face is pale with fasting, yet it is the cravings of others that torment him most. In fact he has bestowed his whole substance to meet the needs of Christ's poor. Yet none is richer than he, for his wicker basket contains the body of the Lord, and his plain glass-cup the precious blood. Like his Master he has banished greed out of the temple; and without either scourge of cords or words of chiding he has overthrown the chairs of them that sell doves, that is, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He has upset the tables of Mammon and has scattered the money of the money-changers; zealous that the house of God may be called a house of prayer and not a den of robbers.(1) In his steps follow closely and in those of others like him in virtue, whom the priesthood makes poor men and more than ever humble. Or if you will be perfect, go out with Abraham from your country and from your kindred, and go whither you know not.(2) If you have substance, sell it and give to the poor. If you have none, then are yon free from a great burthen. Destitute yourself, follow a destitute Christ. The task is a hard one, it is great and difficult; but the reward is also great.



Marcellinus, a Roman official of high rank, and Anapsychia his wife had written to Jerome from Africa to ask him his opinion on the vexed question of the origin of the soul. Jerome in his reply briefly enumerates the several views that have been held on the subject. For fuller information he refers his questioners: to his treatise against Rufinus and also to their bishop Augustin who will, he says, explain the matter to them by word of mouth. Although it hardly appears in this letter Jerome is a decided creationist (see his Comm. on Eccles. xii. 7). But, though he vehemently condemns Rufinus (Ap. ii. 10) for professing ignorance on the subject, he assents (Letter CXXXIV.) to Augustin (Letter CXXXI.) who similarly professes ignorance but seems to lean to traducianism. The date of writing is A. D. 412.

To his truly holy lord and lady, his children worthy of the highest respect and affection, Marcellinus and Anapsychia, Jerome sends greeting.

1. I have at last received from Africa your joint letter and no longer regret the effrontery which led me, in spite of your silence to ply you both with so many missives. I hoped, indeed, by so doing to gain a reply and to learn of your welfare not indirectly from others but directly from yourselves. I well remember your little problem about the nature of the soul; although I ought not to call it little, seeing that it is one of the greatest with which the church has to deal. You ask whether it has fallen from heaven, as Pythagoras, all Platonists, and Origen suppose; or whether it is part of God's essence as the Stoics, Manes, and the Spanish Priscillianists hint. Whether souls created long since are kept in God's storehouse as some ecclesiastical writers(3) foolishly imagine; or whether they are formed by God and introduced into bodies day by day according to that saying in the Gospel: "my Father worketh hitherto and I work;"(4) or whether, lastly, they are transmitted by propagation. This is the view of Tertullian, Apollinaris, and most western writers who hold that soul is derived from soul as body is from body and that the conditions of life are the same for men and brutes. I have given my opinion on the matter in my reply to the treatise which Rufinus presented to Anastasius, bishop of Rome, of holy memory. He strives in this by an evasive and crafty but sufficiently foolish confession to play with the simplicity of his hearers, but only succeeds in playing with his own faith or rather want of it. My book,(1) which has been published a good while, contains an answer to the calumnies which in his various writings Rufinus has directed against me. Your reverend father Oceanus(2) has, I think, a copy of it. But if you cannot procure it your bishop Augustine is both learned and holy. He will teach you by word of mouth and will give you his opinion, or rather mine, in his own words.

2. I have long wished to attack the prophecies of Ezekiel and to make good the promises which I have so often given to curious readers. When, however, I began to dictate I was so confounded By the havoc wrought in the West and above all by the sack of Rome that, as the common saying has it, I forgot even my own name. Long did I remain silent knowing that it was a time to weep.(3) This year I began again and had written three books of commentary when a sudden incursion of those barbarians of whom your Virgil speaks(4) as the "far-wandering men of Barce" (and to whom may be applied what holy scripture says of Ishmael: "he shall dwell over against all his brethren"(5)) overran the borders of Egypt, Palestine, Phenicia, and Syria, and like a raging torrent carried everything before them. It was with difficulty and only through Christ's mercy that we were able to escape from their hands. But if, as the great orator says, "amid the clash of arms law ceases to he heard;"(6) how much more truly may it be said that war puts an end to the study of holy scripture. For this requires plenty of books and silence and careful copyists anti above all freedom from alarm and a sense of security. I have accordingly only been able to complete two books and these I have sent to my daughter, Fabiola,(7) from whom you can if you like borrow them. For want of time I have not been able as yet to transcribe the rest. But when you have read these you will have seen the ante-chamber and will easily form from this a notion of the whole edifice. I trust in God's mercy and believe that, as he has helped me in the difficult opening chapters of the prophecy, so he will help me in the chapters towards the close. These describe the wars of Gog and Magog, and set forth the mode of building, the plan, and the dimensions of the holy and mysterious temple.

3. Our reverend brother Oceanus to whom you desire an introduction is a great and good man and so learned in the law of the Lord that no words of mine are needed to make him able and willing to instruct you both and to explain to you in conformity with the rules which govern our common studies, my opinion and his on all questions arising out of the scriptures. In conclusion, my truly holy lord and lady, may Christ our God by his almighty power have you in his safekeeping and cause you to live long and happily.



This letter is really a memoir of Marcella (for whom see note on Letter XXIII.) addressed to her greatest friend. After describing her history, character, and favourite studies, Jerome goes on to recount her eminent services in the cause of orthodoxy at a time when, through the efforts of Rufinus, it seemed likely that Origenism would prevail at Rome ( 9, 10). He briefly relates the fall of the city and the horrors consequent upon it ( 12, 13) which appear to have been the immediate cause of Marcella's death ( 14). The date of the letter is 412 A.D.

1. You have besought me often and earnestly, Principia,(1) virgin of Christ, to dedicate a letter to the memory of that holy woman Marcella,(2) and to set forth the goodness long enjoyed by us for others to know and to imitate. I am so anxious myself to do justice to her merits that it grieves me that you should spur me on and fancy that your entreaties are needed when I do not yield even to you in love of her. In putting upon record her signal virtues I shall receive far more benefit myself than I can possibly confer upon others. If I have hitherto remained silent and have allowed two years to go over without making any sign, this has not been owing to a wish to ignore her as you wrongly suppose, but to an incredible sorrow which so overcame my mind that I judged it better to remain silent for a while than to praise her virtues in inadequate language. Neither will I now follow the rules of rhetoric in eulogizing one so dear to both of us and to all the saints, Mar-cella the glory of her native Rome. I will not set forth her illustrious family and lofty lineage, nor will I trace her pedigree through a line of consuls and praetorian prefects. I will praise her for nothing but the virtue which is her own and which is the more noble, because forsaking both wealth and rank she has sought the true nobility of poverty and lowliness.

2. Her father's death left her an orphan, and she had been married less than seven months when her husband was taken from her. Then as she was young, and highborn, as well as distinguished for her beauty--always an attraction to men--and her self-control, an illustrious consular named Cerealis paid court to her with great assiduity. Being an old man he offered to make over to her his fortune so that she might consider herself less his wife than his daughter. Her mother Albina went out of her way to secure for the young widow so exalted a protector. But Marcella answered: "had I a wish to marry and not rather to dedicate myself to perpetual chastity, I should look for a husband and not for an inheritance;" and when her suitor argued that sometimes old men live long while young men die early, she cleverly retorted: "a young man may indeed die early, but an old man cannot live long." This decided rejection of Cerealis convinced others that they had no hope of winning her hand.

In the gospel according to Luke we read the following passage: "there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple but served God with fastings and prayers night and day."(1) It was no marvel that she won the vision of the Saviour, whom she sought so earnestly. Let us then compare her case with that of Marcella and we shall see that the latter has every way the advantage. Anna lived with her husband seven years; Marcella seven months. Anna only hoped for Christ; Marcella held Him fast. Anna confessed him at His birth; Marcella believed in Him crucified. Anna did not deny the Child; Marcella rejoiced in the Man as king. I do not wish to draw distinctions between holy women on the score of their merits, as some persons have made it a custom to do as regards holy men and leaders of churches; the conclusion at which I aim is that, as both have one task, so both have one reward.

3. In a slander-loving community such as Rome, filled as it formerly was with people from all parts and bearing the palm for wickedness of all kinds, detraction assailed the upright and strove to defile even the pure and the clean. In such an atmosphere it is hard to escape from the breath of calumny. A stainless reputation is difficult nay almost impossible to attain; the prophet yearns for it but hardly hopes to win it: "Blessed," he says, "are the undefiled in the way who walk in the law of the Lord."(1) The undefiled in the way of this world are those whose fair fame no breath of scandal has ever sullied, and who have earned no reproach at the hands of their neighbours. It is this which makes the Saviour say in the gospel: "agree with," or be complaisant to, "thine adversary whilst thou art in the way with him."(2) Who ever heard a slander of Marcella that deserved the least credit? Or who ever credited such without making himself guilty of malice and defamation? No; she put the Gentiles to confusion by shewing them the nature of that Christian widowhood which her conscience and mien alike set forth. For women of the world are wont to paint their faces with rouge and white-lead, to wear robes of shining silk, to adorn themselves with jewels, to put gold chains round their necks, to pierce their ears and hang in them the costliest pearls of the Red Sea,(3) and to scent themselves with musk. While they mourn for the husbands they have lost they rejoice at their own deliverance and freedom to choose fresh partners--not, as God wills, to obey these(4) but to rule over them.

With this object in view they select for their partners poor men who contented with the mere name of husbands are the more ready to put up with rivals as they know that, if they so much as murmur, they will be cast off at once. Our widow's clothing was meant to keep out the cold and not to shew her figure. Of gold she would not wear so much as a seal-ring, choosing to store her money in the stomachs of the poor rather than to keep it at her own disposal. She went nowhere without her mother, and would never see without witnesses such monks and clergy as the needs of a large house required her to interview. Her train was always composed of virgins and widows, and these women serious and staid; for, as she well knew, the levity of the maids speaks ill for the mistress and a woman's character is shewn by her choice of companions.(5)

4. Her delight in the divine scriptures was incredible. She was for ever singing, "Thy words have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee,"(1) as well as the words which describe the perfect man, "his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."(2) This meditation in the law she understood not of a review of the written words as among the Jews the Pharisees think, but of action according to that saying of the apostle, "whether, therefore, ye eat or drink or what soever ye do, do all to the glory of God."(3) She remembered also the prophet's words, "through thy precepts I get understanding,"(4) and felt sure that only when she had fulfilled these would she be permitted to understand the scriptures. In this sense we read elsewhere that "Jesus began both to do and teach."(5) For teaching is put to the blush when a man's conscience rebukes him; and it is in vain that his tongue preaches poverty or teaches alms-giving if he is rolling in the riches of Croesus and if, in spite of his threadbare cloak, he has silken robes at home to save from the moth.

Marcella practised fasting, but in moderation. She abstained from eating flesh, and she knew rather the scent of wine than its taste; touching it only for her stomach's sake and for her often infirmities.(6) She seldom appeared in public and took care to avoid the houses of great ladies, that she might not be forced to look upon what she had once for all renounced. She frequented the basilicas of apostles and martyrs that she might escape from the throng and give herself to private prayer. So obedient was she to her mother that for her sake she did things of which she herself disapproved. For example, when her mother, careless of her own offspring, was for transferring all her property from her children and grandchildren to her brother's family, Marcella wished the money to be given to the poor instead, and yet could not bring herself to thwart her parent. Therefore she made over her ornaments and other effects to persons already rich, content to throw away her money rather than to sadden her mother's heart.

5. In those days no highborn lady at Rome had made profession of the monastic life, or had ventured--so strange and ignominious and degrading did it then seem--publicly to call herself a nun. It was from some priests of Alexandria, and from pope Athanasius, and subsequently from Peter,(7) who, to escape the persecution of the Arian heretics, had all fled for refuge to Rome as the safest haven in which they could find communion--it was from these that Marcella heard of the life of the blessed Antony, then still alive, and of the monasteries in the Thebaid founded by Pachomius, and of the discipline laid down for virgins and for widows. Nor was she ashamed to profess a life which she had thus learned to be pleasing to Christ. Many years after her example was followed first by Sophronia and then by others, of whom it may be well said in the words of Ennius:(1)

Would that ne'er in Pelion's woods

Had the axe these pinetrees felled.

My revered friend Paula was blessed with Marcella's friendship, and it was in Marcella's cell that Eustochium, that paragon of virgins, was gradually trained. Thus it is easy to see of what type the mistress was who found such pupils.

The unbelieving reader may perhaps laugh at me for dwelling so long on the praises of mere women; yet if he will but remember how holy women followed our Lord and Saviour and ministered to Him of their substance, and how the three Marys stood before the cross and especially how Mary Magdalen--called the tower(2) from the earnestness and glow of her faith--was privileged to see the rising Christ first of all before the very apostles, he will convict himself of pride sooner than me of folly. For we judge of people's virtue not by their sex but by their character, and hold those to be worthy of the highest glory who have renounced both rank and wealth. It was for this reason that Jesus loved the evangelist John more than the other disciples. For John was of noble birth(3) and known to the high priest, yet was so little appalled by the plottings of the Jews that he introduced Peter into his court,(4) and was the only one of the apostles bold enough to take his stand before the cross. For it was he who took the Saviour's parent to his own home;(5) it was the virgin son(6) who received the virgin mother as a legacy from the Lord.

6. Marcella then lived the ascetic life for many years, and found herself old before she bethought herself that she had once been young. She often quoted with approval Plato's saying that philosophy consists in meditating on death.(7) A truth which our own apostle indorses when he says: "for your salvation I die daily."(8) Indeed according to the old copies our Lord himself says: "whosoever doth not bear His cross daily and come after me cannot be my disciple."(1) Ages before, the Holy Spirit had said by the prophet: "for thy sake are we killed all the day long: we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.(2) Many generations afterwards the words were spoken: "remember the end and thou shalt never do amiss,(3) as well as that precept of the eloquent satirist: "live with death in your mind; time flies; this say of mine is so much taken from it.(4) Well then, as I was saying, she passed her days and lived always in the thought that she must die. Her very clothing was such as to remind her of the tomb, and she presented herself as a living sacrifice, reasonable and acceptable, unto God.(5)

7. When the needs of the Church at length brought me to Rome(6) in company with the reverend pontiffs, Paulinus and Epiphanius--the first of whom ruled the church of the Syrian Antioch while the second presided over that of Salamis in Cyprus,--I in my modesty was for avoiding the eyes of highborn ladies, yet she pleaded so earnestly, "both in season and out of season"(7) as the apostle says, that at last her perseverance overcame my reluctance. And, as in those days my name was held in some renown as that of a student of the scriptures, she never came to see me that she did not ask me some question concerning them, nor would she at once acquiesce in my explanations but on the contrary would dispute them; not, however, for argument's sake but to learn the answers to those objections which might, as she saw, be made to my statements. How much virtue and ability, how much holiness and purity I found in her I am afraid to say; both lest I may exceed the bounds of men's belief and lest I may increase your sorrow by reminding you of the blessings that you have lost. This much only will I say, that whatever in me was the fruit of long study and as such made by constant meditation a part of my nature, this she tasted, this she learned and made her own. Consequently after my departure from Rome, in case of a dispute arising as to the testimony of scripture on any subject, recourse was had to her to settle it. And so wise was she and so well did she understand what phi-losphers call <greek>to</greek> <greek>prepon</greek>, that is, the becoming, in what she did, that when she answered questions she gave her own opinion not as her own but as from me or some one else, thus admitting that what she taught she had herself learned from others. For she knew that the apostle had said: "I suffer not a woman to teach,"(1) and she would not seem to inflict a wrong upon the male sex many of whom (including sometimes priests) questioned her concerning obscure and doubtful points.

8. I am told that my place with her was immediately taken by you, that you attached yourself to her, and that, as the saying goes, you never let even a hair's-breadth(2) come between her and you. You both lived in the same house and occupied the same room so that every one in the city knew for certain that you had found a mother in her and she a daughter in you. In the suburbs you found for yourselves a monastic seclusion, and chose the country instead of the town because of its loneliness. For a long time you lived together, and as many ladies shaped their conduct by your examples, I had the joy of seeing Rome transformed into another Jerusalem. Monastic establishments for virgins became numerous, and of hermits there were countless numbers. In fact so many were the servants of God that monasticism which had before been a term of reproach became subsequently one of honour. Meantime we consoled each other for our separation by words of mutual encouragement, and discharged in the spirit the debt which in the flesh we could not pay. We always went to meet each other's letters, tried to outdo each other in attentions, and anticipated each other in courteous inquiries. Not much was lost by a separation thus effectually bridged by a constant correspondence.

9. While Marcella was thus serving the Lord in holy tranquillity, there arose in these provinces a tornado of heresy which threw everything into confusion; indeed so great was the fury into which it lashed itself that it spared neither itself nor anything that was good. And as if it were too little to have disturbed everything here, it introduced a ship(3) freighted with blasphemies into the port of Rome itself. The dish soon found itself a cover;(4) and the muddy feet of heretics fouled the clear waters(5) of the faith of Rome. No wonder that in the streets and in the market places a soothsayer can strike fools on the back or, Catching up his cudgel, shatter the teeth of such as carp at him; when such venomous and filthy teaching as this has found at Rome dupes whom it can lead astray. Next came the scandalous version(6) of Origen's book On First Principles, and that 'fortunate' disciple(7) who would have been indeed fortunate had he never fallen in with such a master. Next followed the confutation set forth by my supporters, which destroyed the case of the Pharisees(1) and threw them into confusion. It was then that the holy Marcella, who had long held back lest she should be thought to act from party motives, threw herself into the breach. Conscious that the faith of Rome--once praised by an apostle(2)--was now in danger, and that this new heresy was drawing to itself not only i priests and monks but also many of the laity besides imposing on the bishop(3) who fancied others as guileless as he was himself, she publicly withstood its teachers choosing to please God rather than men.

10. In the gospel the Saviour commends the unjust steward because, although he defrauded his master, he acted wisely for his own interests.(4) The heretics in this instance pursued the same course; for, seeing how great a matter a little fire had kindled,(5) and that the flames applied by them to the foundations had by this time reached the housetops, and that the deception practised on many could no longer be hid, they asked for and obtained letters of commendation from the church,(6) so that it might appear that till the day of their departure they had continued in full communion with it. Shortly afterwards(7) the distinguished Anastasius succeeded to the pontificate; but he was soon taken away, for it was not fitting that the head of the world should be struck off(8) during the episcopate of one so great. He was removed, no doubt, that he might not seek to turn away by his prayers the sentence of God passed once for all. For the words of the Lord to Jeremiah concerning Israel applied equally to Rome: "pray not for this people for their good. When they fast I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt-offering and oblation, I will not accept them; but I will consume them by the sword and by the famine and by the pestilence."(9) You will say, what has this to do with the praises of Marcella? I reply, She it was who originated the condemnation of the heretics. She it was who furnished witnesses first taught by them and then carried away by their heretical teaching. She it was who showed how large a number they had deceived and who brought up against them the impious books On First Principles, books which were passing from hand to hand after being 'improved' by the hand of the scorpion.(10) She it was lastly who called on the heretics in letter after letter to appear in their own defence. They did not indeed venture to come, for they were so conscience-stricken that they let the case go against them by default rather than face their accusers and be convicted by them. This glorious victory originated with Marcella, she was the source and cause of this great blessing. You who shared the honour with her know that I speak the truth. You know too that out of many incidents I only mention a few, not to tire out the reader by a wearisome recapitulation. Were I to say more, ill natured persons might fancy me, under pretext of commending a woman's virtues, to be giving vent to my own rancour. I will pass now to the remainder of my story.

11. The whirlwind(1) passed from the West into the East and threatened in its passage to shipwreck many a noble craft. Then were the words of Jesus fulfilled: "when the son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"(2) The love of many waxed cold.(3) Yet the few who still loved the true faith rallied to my side. Men openly sought to take their lives and every expedient was employed against them. So hotly indeed did the persecution rage that "Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation;"(4) nay more he committed murder, if not in actual violence at least in will. Then behold God blew and the tempest passed away; so that the prediction of the prophet was fulfilled, "thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.(5) In that very day his thoughts perish,"(6) as also the gospel-saying, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"(7)

12. Whilst these things were happening in Jebus(8) a dreadful rumour came from the West. Rome had been besieged(9) and its citizens had been forced to buy their lives with gold. Then thus despoiled they had been besieged again so as to lose not their substance only but their lives. My voice sticks in my throat; and, as I dictate, sobs choke my utterance. The City which had taken the whole world was itself taken;(10) nay more famine was beforehand with the sword and but few citizens were left to be made captives. In their frenzy the starving people had recourse to hideous food; and tore each other limb from limb that they might have flesh to eat. Even the mother did not spare the babe at her breast. In the night was Moab taken, in the night did her wall fall down.(1) "O God, the heathen have come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have made Jerusalem an orchard.(2) The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth. Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them."(3)

Who can set forth the carnage of that night?

What tears are equal to its agony?

Of ancient date a sovran city falls;

And lifeless in its streets and houses lie

Unnumbered bodies of its citizens.

In many a ghastly shape doth death appear.(4)

13. Meantime, as was natural in a scene of such confusion, one of the bloodstained victors found his way into Marcella's house. Now be it mine to say what I have heard,(6) to relate what holy men have seen; for there were some such present and they say that you too were with her in the hour of danger. When the soldiers entered she is said to have received them without any look of alarm; and when they asked her for gold she pointed to her coarse dress to shew them that she had no buried treasure. However they would not believe in her self-chosen poverty, but scourged her and beat her with cudgels. She is said to have felt no pain but to have thrown herself at their feet and to have pleaded with tears for you, that you might not be taken from her, or owing to your youth have to endure what she as an old woman had no occasion to fear. Christ softened their hard hearts and even among bloodstained swords natural affection asserted its rights. The barbarians conveyed both you and her to the basilica of the apostle Paul, that you might find there either a place of safety or, if not that, at least a tomb. Hereupon Marcella is said to have burst into great joy and to have thanked God for having kept you unharmed in answer to her prayer. She said she was thankful too that the taking of the city had found her poor, not made her so, that she was now in want of daily bread, that Christ satisfied her needs so that she no longer felt hunger, that she was able to say in word and in deed: "naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."(5)

14. After a few days she fell asleep in the Lord; but to the last her powers remained unimpaired. You she made the heir of her poverty, or rather the poor through you. When she closed her eyes, it was in your arms; when she breathed her last breath, your lips received it; you shed tears but she smiled conscious of having led a good life and hoping for her reward hereafter.

In one short night I have dictated this letter in honour of you, revered Marcella, and of you, my daughter Principia; not to shew off my own eloquence but to express my heartfelt gratitude to you both; my one desire has been to please both God and my readers.



Gaudentius had written from Rome to ask Jerome's advice as to the bringing up of his infant daughter whom after the religious fashion of the day he had dedicated to a life of virginity. Jerome's reply may be compared with his advice to Laeta (Letter CVII.) which it closely resembles. It is noticeable also for the vivid account which it gives of the sack of Rome by Alaric in A.D. 410. The date of the letter is A.D. 413.

1. It is hard to write to a little girl who cannot understand what you say, of whose mind you know nothing, and of whose inclinations it would be rash to prophesy. In the words of a famous orator "she is to be praised more for what she will be than for what she is."(1) For how can you speak of self-control to a child who is eager for cakes, who babbles on her mother's knee, and to whom honey is sweeter than any words? Will she hear the deep things of the apostle when all her delight is in nursery tales? Will she heed the dark sayings of the prophets when her nurse can frighten her by a frowning face? Or will she comprehend the majesty of the gospel, when its splendour dazzles the keenest intellect? Shall I urge her to obey her parents when with her chubby hand she beats her smiling mother? For such reasons as these my dear Pacatula must read some other time the letter that I send her now. Meanwhile let her learn the alphabet, spelling, grammar, and syntax. To induce her to repeat her lessons with her little shrill voice, hold out to her as rewards cakes and mead and sweetmeats.(2) She will make haste to perform her task if she hopes afterwards to get some bright bunch of flowers, some glittering bauble, some enchanting doll. She must also learn to spin, shaping the yarn with her tender thumb; for, even if she constantly breaks the threads, a day will come when she will no longer break them. Then when she has finished her lessons she ought to have some recreation. At such times she may hang round her mother's neck, or snatch kisses from her relations. Reward her for singing psalms that she may love what she has to learn. Her task will then become a pleasure to her and no compulsion will be necessary.

2. Some mothers when they have vowed a daughter to virginity clothe her in sombre garments, wrap her up in a dark cloak, and let her have neither linen nor gold ornaments. They wisely refuse to accustom her to what she will afterwards have to lay aside. Others act on the opposite principle. "What is the use," say they, "of keeping such things from her? Will she not see them with others? Women are fond of finery and many whose chastity is beyond question dress not for men but for themselves Give her what she asks for, but shew her that those are most praised who ask for nothing. It is better that she should enjoy things to the full and so learn to despise them than that from not having them she should wish to have them." "This," they continue, "was the plan which the Lord adopted with the children of Israel. When they longed for the fleshpots of Egypt He sent them flights of quails and allowed them to gorge themselves until they were sick.(1) Those who have once lived worldly lives more readily forego the pleasures of sense than such as from their youth up have known nothing of desire." For while the former--so they argue--trample on what they know, the latter are attracted by what is to them unknown. While the former penitently shun the insidious advances which pleasure makes, the latter coquet with the allurements of sense and fancying them to be as sweet as honey find them to be deadly poison. They quote the passage which says that "the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb;"(2) which is sweet indeed in the eater's mouth but is afterwards found more bitter than gall.(3) This they argue, is the reason that neither honey nor wax is offered in the sacrifices of the Lord,(4) and that oil the product of the bitter olive is burned in His temple.(5) Moreover it is with bitter herbs that the passover is eaten,(6) and "with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."(7) He that receives these shall suffer persecution in the world. Wherefore the prophet symbolically sings: "I sat alone because I was filled with bitterness."(8)

3. What then, I reply? Is youth to run riot that self-indulgence may afterwards be more resolutely rejected? Far from it, they rejoin: "let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide.(9) Is any called being circumcised,"--that is, as a virgin?--"let him not become uncircumcised"(1)--that is, let him not seek the coat of marriage given to Adam on his expulsion from the paradise of virginity.(2) "Is any called in uncircumcision,"--that is, having a wife and enveloped in the skin of matrimony? let him not seek the nakedness of virginity(3) and of that eternal chastity which he has lost once for all. No, let him "possess his vessel in sanctification and honour,"(4) let him drink of his own wells not out of the dissolute cisterns(5) of the harlots which cannot hold within them the pure waters of chastity.(6) The same Paul also in the same chapter, when discussing the subjects of virginity and marriage, calls those who are married slaves of the flesh, but those not under the yoke of wedlock free-men who serve the Lord in all freedom.(7)

What I say I do not say as universally applicable; my treatment of the subject is only partial. I speak of some only, not of all. However my words are addressed to those of both sexes, and not only to "the weaker vessel."(8) Are you a virgin? Why then do you find pleasure in the society of a woman? Why do you commit to the high seas your frail patched boat, why do you so confidently face the great peril of a dangerous voyage? You know not what you desire, and yet you cling to her as though you had either desired her before or, to put it as leniently as possible, as though you would hereafter desire her. Women, you will say, make better servants than men. In that case choose a misshapen old woman, choose one whose continence is approved in the Lord. Why should you find pleasure in a young girl, pretty, and voluptuous? You frequent the baths, walk abroad sleek and ruddy, eat flesh, abound in riches, and wear the most expensive clothes; and yet you fancy that you can sleep safely beside a death-dealing serpent. You tell me perhaps that you do not live in the same house with her. This is only true at night. But you spend whole days in conversing with her. Why do you sit alone with her? Why do you dispense with witnesses? By so doing if you do not actually sin you appear to do so, and (so important is your influence) you embolden unhappy men by your example to do what is wrong. You too, whether virgin or widow, why do you allow a man to detain you in conversation so long? Why are you not afraid to be left alone with him? At least go out of doors to satisfy the wants of nature, and for this at any rate leave the man with whom you have given yourself more liberty than you would with your brother, and have behaved more immodestly than you would with your husband. You have some question, you say, to ask concerning the holy scriptures. If so, ask it publicly; let your maids and your attendants hear it. "Everything that is made manifest is light."(1) He who says only what he ought does not look for a corner to say it in; he is glad to have hearers for he likes to be praised. He must be a fine teacher, on the other hand, who thinks little of men, does not care for the brothers, and labours in secret merely to instruct just one weak woman!

3a. l have wandered for a little from my immediate subject to discuss the procedure of others in such a case as yours; and while it is my object to train, nay rather to nurse, the infant Pacatula, I have in a moment drawn upon myself the hostility of many women who are by no means daughters of peace.(2)But I shall now return to my proper theme.

A girl should associate only with girls, she should know nothing of boys and should dread even playing with them. She should never hear an unclean word, and if amid the bustle of the household she should chance to hear one, she should not understand it. Her mother's nod should be to her as much a command as a spoken injunction. She should love her as her parent, obey her as her mistress, and reverence her as her teacher. She is now a child without teeth and without ideas, but, as soon as she is seven years old, a blushing girl knowing what she ought not to say and hesitating as to what she ought, she should until she is grown up commit to memory the psalter and the books of Solomon; the gospels, the apostles and the prophets should be the treasure of her heart. She should not appear in public too freely or too frequently attend crowded churches. All her pleasure should be in her chamber. She must never look at young men or turn her eyes upon curled fops; and the wanton songs of sweet voiced girls which wound the soul through the ears must be kept from her. The more freedom of access such persons possess, the harder is it to avoid them when they come; and what they have once learned themselves they will secretly teach her and will thus contaminate our secluded Danae by the talk of the crowd. Give her for guardian and companion a mistress and a governess, one not given to much wine or in the apostle's words idle and a tattler, but sober, grave, industrious in spinning wool(3) and one whose words will form her childish mind to the practice of virtue. For, as water follows a finger drawn through the sand, so one of soft and tender years is pliable for good or evil; she can be drawn in whatever direction you choose to guide her. Moreover spruce and gay young men often seek access for themselves by paying court to nurses or dependants or even by bribing them, and when they have thus gently effected their approach they blow up the first spark of passion until it bursts into flame and little by little advance to the most shameless requests. And it is quite impossible to check them then, for the verse is proved true in their case: "It is ill rebuking what you have once allowed to become ingrained."(1) I am ashamed to say it and yet I must; high born ladies who have rejected more high born suitors cohabit with men of the lowest grade and even with slaves. Sometimes in the name of religion and under the cloak of a desire for celibacy they actually desert their husbands in favour of such paramours. You may often see a Helen following her Paris without the smallest dread of Menelaus. Such persons we see and mourn for but we cannot punish, for the multitude of sinners procures tolerance for the sin.

4. The world sinks into ruin: yes! but shameful to say our sins still live and flourish. The renowned city, the capital of the Roman Empire, is swallowed up in one tremendous fire; and there is no part of the earth where Romans are not in exile. Churches once held sacred are now but heaps of dust and ashes; and yet we have our minds set on the desire of gain. We live as though we are going to die tomorrow; yet we build as though we are going to live always in this world.(2) Our walls shine with gold, our ceilings also and the capitals of our pillars; yet Christ dies before our doors naked and hungry in the persons of His poor. The pontiff Aaron, we read, faced the raging flames, and by putting fire in his censer checked the wrath of God. The High Priest stood between the dead and the living, and the fire dared not pass his feet.(3) On another occasion God said to Moses, "Let me alone ... that I may consume this people,"(4) shewing by the words "let me alone" that he can be withheld from doing what he threatens. The prayers of His servant hindered His power. Who, think you, is there now under heaven able to stay God's wrath, to face the flame of His judgment, and to say with the apostle, "I could wish that I myself were accursed for my brethren"?(5) Flocks and shepherds perish together, because as it is with the people, so is it with the priest.(6) Of old it was not so. Then Moses spoke in a passion of pity, "yet now if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book."(1) He is not satisfied to secure his own salvation, he desires to perish with those that perish. And he is right, for "in the multitude of people is the king's honour."(2)

Such are the times in which our little Pacatula is born. Such are the swaddling clothes in which she draws her first breath; she is destined to know of tears before laughter and to feel sorrow sooner than joy. And hardly does she come upon the stage when she is called on to make her exit. Let her then suppose that the world has always been what it is now. Let her know nothing of the past, let her shun the present, and let her long for the future.

These thoughts of mine are but hastily mustered. For my grief for lost friends has known no intermission and only recently have I recovered sufficient composure to write an old man's letter to a little child. My affection for you, brother Gaudentius, has induced me to make the attempt and I have thought it better to say a few words than to say nothing at all. The grief that paralyses my will will excuse my brevity; whereas, were I to say nothing, the sincerity of my friendship might well be doubted.



In answer to a question put by Dardanus, prefect of Gaul, Jerome writes concerning the Promised Land which he identifies not with Canaan but with heaven. He then points out that the present sufferings of the Jews are due altogether to the crime of which they have been guilty in the crucifixion of Christ. The date of the letter is 414 A.D.

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