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Saint Augustine

esse arbitrentur, et quia prohibetur, mala ista exoriri atque abundare contendunt. Sequentes autem quinque adversus eos loquuntur qui fatentur haec mala nec defuisse umquam nec defutura mortalibus, et ea nunc magna, nunc parva, locis temporibus personisque variari, sed deorum multorum cultum quo eis sacrificatur propter vitam post mortem futuram esse utilem disputant. His ergo decem libris duae istae vanae opiniones Christianae religioni adversariae refelluntur.

Sed ne quisquam nos aliena tantum redarguisse, non autem nostra asseruisse reprehenderet, id agit pars altera operis huius quae libris duodecim continetur, quamquam ubi opus est et in prioribus decem quae nostra sunt asseramus et in duodecim posterioribus redarguamus adversa.

Duodecim ergo librorum sequentium primi quattuor continent exortum duarum civitatum, quarum est una Dei, altera huius mundi; secundi quattuor excursum earum sive procursum; tertii vero, qui et postremi, debitos fines. Ita omnes viginti et duo libri, cum sint de utraque civitate conscripti, titulum tamen a meliore acceperunt ut de civitate Dei potius vocarentur.

In quorum decimo libro non debuit pro miraculo poni in Abrahae sacrificio flammam caelitus factam inter divisas victimas cucurrisse, quoniam hoc illi in visione monstratum est. In septimo decimo libro quod dictum est de Samuele: Non erat de filiis Aaron,

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Retractations

maintain that the misfortunes in question owe their existence and magnitude to the prohibition of that worship. The next five books, again, are an answer to such as, though they admit that mortal men were never in the past spared such misfortunes nor will be in the future, and that ill fortune is sometimes greater, sometimes less as it affects different regions, eras or individuals, yet maintain that the worship of many gods, in which sacrifices are made to them, is advantageous because of the life that will be ours after death. In these ten books, then, are refuted those two false notions that are contrary to the Christian religion.

But lest someone reply that we have only argued against the opinions of others but have not stated our own, this is attended to in the second part of this work, which comprises twelve books. When need arises, however, our own position is also stated in the first ten books, and opposing views are also refuted in the twelve later books.

Of these twelve succeeding books, the first four contain the origin of the two cities, the one of God, the other of this world; the second four, their course or progress; the third and last four, their appointed ends. And so all twenty-two books, though they dealt with both cities, yet took their title from the better, with the result that they were called by preference The City of God.

In the tenth book1 it should not have been accounted a miracle when, in the sacrifice of Abraham, a flame was divinely sent from heaven to run between the divided victims, since this was shown to him in a vision. In the seventeenth book2 what is said about Samuel, “He was not of the sons of Aaron,” should

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.augustine-city_god_pagans.1957