City of God: Book 2

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Editor's Notes:

Argument: In this book Augustine reviews those calamities which the Romans suffered before the time of Christ, and while the worship of the false gods was universally practiced; and demonstrates that, far from being preserved from misfortune by the gods, the Romans have been by them overwhelmed with the only, or at least the greatest, of all calamities—the corruption of manners, and the vices of the soul.

    1. Of the Limits Which Must Be Put to the Necessity of Replying to an Adversary. 2. Recapitulation of the Contents of the First Book. 3. That We Need Only to Read History in Order to See What Calamities the Romans Suffered Before the Religion of Christ Began to Compete with the Worship of the Gods. 4. That the Worshippers of the Gods Never Received from Them Any Healthy Moral Precepts, and that in Celebrating Their Worship All Sorts of Impurities Were Practiced. 5. Of the Obscenities Practiced in Honor of the Mother of the Gods. 6. That the Gods of the Pagans Never Inculcated Holiness of Life. 7. That the Suggestions of Philosophers are Precluded from Having Any Moral Effect, Because They Have Not the Authority Which Belongs to Divine Instruction, and Because Man’s Natural Bias to Evil Induces Him Rather to Follow the Examples of the Gods Than to Obey the Precepts of Men.

    8. That the Theatrical Exhibitions Publishing the Shameful Actions of the Gods, Propitiated Rather Than Offended Them. 9. That the Poetical License Which the Greeks, in Obedience to Their Gods, Allowed, Was Restrained by the Ancient Romans. 10. That the Devils, in Suffering Either False or True Crimes to Be Laid to Their Charge, Meant to Do Men a Mischief. 11. That the Greeks Admitted Players to Offices of State, on the Ground that Men Who Pleased the Gods Should Not Be Contemptuously Treated by Their Fellows. 12. That the Romans, by Refusing to the Poets the Same License in Respect of Men Which They Allowed Them in the Case of the Gods, Showed a More Delicate Sensitiveness Regarding Themselves than Regarding the Gods. 13. That the Romans Should Have Understood that Gods Who Desired to Be Worshipped in Licentious Entertainments Were Unworthy of Divine Honor. 14. That Plato, Who Excluded Poets from a Well-Ordered City, Was Better Than These Gods Who Desire to Be Honoured by Theatrical Plays.

    15. That It Was Vanity, Not Reason, Which Created Some of the Roman Gods. 16. That If the Gods Had Really Possessed Any Regard for Righteousness, the Romans Should Have Received Good Laws from Them, Instead of Having to Borrow Them from Other Nations. 17. Of the Rape of the Sabine Women, and Other Iniquities Perpetrated in Rome’s Palmiest Days. 18. What the History of Sallust Reveals Regarding the Life of the Romans, Either When Straitened by Anxiety or Relaxed in Security. 19. Of the Corruption Which Had Grown Upon the Roman Republic Before Christ Abolished the Worship of the Gods. 20. Of the Kind of Happiness and Life Truly Delighted in by Those Who Inveigh Against the Christian Religion. 21. Cicero’s Opinion of the Roman Republic.

    22. That the Roman Gods Never Took Any Steps to Prevent the Republic from Being Ruined by Immorality. 23. That the Vicissitudes of This Life are Dependent Not on the Favor or Hostility of Demons, But on the Will of the True God. 24. Of the Deeds of Sylla, in Which the Demons Boasted that He Had Their Help. 25. How Powerfully the Evil Spirits Incite Men to Wicked Actions, by Giving Them the Quasi-Divine Authority of Their Example. 26. That the Demons Gave in Secret Certain Obscure Instructions in Morals, While in Public Their Own Solemnities Inculcated All Wickedness. 27. That the Obscenities of Those Plays Which the Romans Consecrated in Order to Propitiate Their Gods, Contributed Largely to the Overthrow of Public Order. 28. That the Christian Religion is Health-Giving. 29. An Exhortation to the Romans to Renounce Paganism.

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