View Full Version : St. Augustine on Government

03-31-2009, 05:50 PM
I don't usually post threads but I was assigned to read The City of God for one of my political science courses and stumbled on a great quote by St. Augustine I wanted to share with all of you.

Book IV: Chapter IV

"Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you who does it with a great fleet are styled emperor. "

I'm not myself a Christian, or at all religious, but I just loved that chapter so much I felt like posting it.

03-31-2009, 05:59 PM
Oh, yes. That passage brings back memories. Every time I read it, it confirms my belief on why it is necessary for all civil governments to be subject to a universal, eternal rule of law.