The City of God/Book VIII

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The City of God
Augustine of Hippo
translated by Marcus Dods

Book VIII
Argument—Augustin comes now to the third kind of theology, that is, the natural, and takes up the question, whether the worship of the gods of the natural theology is of any avail towards securing blessedness in the life to come. This question he prefers to discuss with the Platonists, because the Platonic system is “facile princeps” among philosophies, and makes the nearest approximation to Christian truth. In pursuing this argument, he first refutes Apuleius, and all who maintain that the demons should be worshipped as messengers and mediators between gods and men; demonstrating that by no possibility can men be reconciled to good gods by demons, who are the slaves of vice, and who delight in and patronize what good and wise men abhor and condemn,—The blasphemous fictions of poets, theatrical exhibitions, and magical arts.

Book VIII[edit]

  1. That the Question of Natural Theology is to Be Discussed with Those Philosophers Who Sought a More Excellent Wisdom.
  2. Concerning the Two Schools of Philosophers, that Is, the Italic and Ionic, and Their Founders.
  3. Of the Socratic Philosophy.
  4. Concerning Plato, the Chief Among the Disciples of Socrates, and His Threefold Division of Philosophy.
  5. That It is Especially with the Platonists that We Must Carry on Our Disputations on Matters of Theology, Their Opinions Being Preferable to Those of All Other Philosophers.
  6. Concerning the Meaning of the Platonists in that Part of Philosophy Called Physical.
  7. How Much the Platonists are to Be Held as Excelling Other Philosophers in Logic, i.e. Rational Philosophy.
  8. That the Platonists Hold the First Rank in Moral Philosophy Also.
  9. Concerning that Philosophy Which Has Come Nearest to the Christian Faith.
  10. That the Excellency of the Christian Religion is Above All the Science of Philosophers.
  11. How Plato Has Been Able to Approach So Nearly to Christian Knowledge.
  12. That Even the Platonists, Though They Say These Things Concerning the One True God, Nevertheless Thought that Sacred Rites Were to Be Performed in Honor of Many Gods.
  13. Concerning the Opinion of Plato, According to Which He Defined the Gods as Beings Entirely Good and the Friends of Virtue.
  14. Of the Opinion of Those Who Have Said that Rational Souls are of Three Kinds, to Wit, Those of the Celestial Gods, Those of the Aerial Demons, and Those of Terrestrial Men.
  15. That the Demons are Not Better Than Men Because of Their Aerial Bodies, or on Account of Their Superior Place of Abode.
  16. What Apuleius the Platonist Thought Concerning the Manners and Actions of Demons.
  17. Whether It is Proper that Men Should Worship Those Spirits from Whose Vices It is Necessary that They Be Freed.
  18. What Kind of Religion that is Which Teaches that Men Ought to Employ the Advocacy of Demons in Order to Be Recommended to the Favor of the Good Gods.
  19. Of the Impiety of the Magic Art, Which is Dependent on the Assistance of Malign Spirits.
  20. Whether We are to Believe that the Good Gods are More Willing to Have Intercourse with Demons Than with Men.
  21. Whether the Gods Use the Demons as Messengers and Interpreters, and Whether They are Deceived by Them Willingly, or Without Their Own Knowledge.
  22. That We Must, Notwithstanding the Opinion of Apuleius, Reject the Worship of Demons.
  23. What Hermes Trismegistus Thought Concerning Idolatry, and from What Source He Knew that the Superstitions of Egypt Were to Be Abolished.
  24. How Hermes Openly Confessed the Error of His Forefathers, the Coming Destruction of Which He Nevertheless Bewailed.
  25. Concerning Those Things Which May Be Common to the Holy Angels and to Men.
  26. That All the Religion of the Pagans Has Reference to Dead Men.
  27. Concerning the Nature of the Honor Which the Christians Pay to Their Martyrs.