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Chapter IX.—God’s Distribution Must Regulate Our Desires, Otherwise We Become the Prey of Ambition and Its Attendant Evils.

For, as some particular things distributed by God over certain individual lands, and some one 18particular tract of sea, are mutually foreign one to the other, they are reciprocally either neglected or desired:  (desired) among foreigners, as being rarities; neglected (rightly), if anywhere, among their own compatriots, because in them there is no such fervid longing for a glory which, among its own home-folk, is frigid.  But, however, the rareness and outlandishness which arise out of that distribution of possessions which God has ordered as He willed, ever finding favour in the eyes of strangers, excites, from the simple fact of not having what God has made native to other places, the concupiscence of having it.  Hence is educed another vice—that of immoderate having; because although, perhaps, having may be permissible, still a limit132132    Or, “moderation.” is bound (to be observed).  This (second vice) will be ambition; and hence, too, its name is to be interpreted, in that from concupiscence ambient in the mind it is born, with a view to the desire of glory,—a grand desire, forsooth, which (as we have said) is recommended neither by nature nor by truth, but by a vicious passion of the mind,—(namely,) concupiscence.  And there are other vices connected with ambition and glory.  Thus they have withal enhanced the cost of things, in order that (thereby) they might add fuel to themselves also; for concupiscence becomes proportionably greater as it has set a higher value upon the thing which it has eagerly desired.  From the smallest caskets is produced an ample patrimony.  On a single thread is suspended a million of sesterces.  One delicate neck carries about it forests and islands.133133    “Saltus et insulæ,” i.e., as much as would purchase them.  The slender lobes of the ears exhaust a fortune; and the left hand, with its every finger, sports with a several money-bag.  Such is the strength of ambition—(equal) to bearing on one small body, and that a woman’s, the product of so copious wealth.

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