Saturday, August 20, 2016

The modern political liberalism of late antique Rome

"'The laws should punish offences against another's property, not offences against a man's own personal character.  No one should be brought to trial except for an offence, or threat of offence, against another's property, house, or person; but anyone should be free to do as he likes about his own, or with his own, or with others, if they consent.'"

"Quid alienae uineae potius quam quid suae uitae quisque noceat, legibus aduertatur.  Nullus ducatur ad iudicem, nisi qui alienae rei domui saluti uel cuiquam inuito fuerit inportunus aut noxius; ceterum de suis uel cum suis uel cum quibusque uolentibus faciat quisque quod libet."

     Augustine, De civitate Dei ii.20, as trans. Henry Bettenson.  Augustine is channeling Roman pagans "unconcerned about the utter corruption of their country".  I was put onto this by John Milbank, Theology and social theory:  beyond secular reason, 2nd ed. (Malden, MA:  Blackwell Publishing, 2006), 405:  "It is clear, then, that Augustine does not endorse, indeed utterly condemns, every tendency towards a view of personhood as 'self-ownership', and of ownership itself as unrestricted freedom within one's own domain."  Latin from CSEL 40.1, ed. Dombart & Kalb (1899), p. 87 l. 24-p. 88 l. 2.
     And yet, as De civitate Dei ii.20 intimates, this concern for the property, houses, and persons of others was extended only to the superior (and respectably licentious) rich, not prostitutes, their inferiors, or any concerned for and/or expressive on the subject of the true spiritual good of the former.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Wesley and Asbury

Wesley "had great sympathy and even admiration for the working people of England, but it was the sympathy of an outsider.  When he traveled, Wesley routinely lodged with wealthy supporters, who were nevertheless not Methodists, rather than stay in the homes of more humble members.  Asbury never adopted a similar practice.  His early life was more commonplace than Wesley's and he never expected to be treated like a gentleman."

     John Wigger, "John Wesley and Francis Asbury," Methodist history 54, no. 4 (July 2016):  274 (271-284).  On p. 277 is a beautiful paragraph on Asbury as a houseguest and how that "'exposed him, continually, to public and private observation and inspection'" (Ezekiel Cooper) and endeared him to his people.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

"How foolish, a Burgundian knight exclaimed bitterly, were all those lesser men who had risked death to fight a war so easily forgotten by the great."

     "In January 1435, all wrapped in furs against the perishing cold, an illustrious gathering assembled two hundred miles south of Arras at Nevers, between Armagnac Bourges and Burgundian Dijon. The duke of Burgundy had come to meet the Armagnac count of Clermont – newly elevated to the dukedom of Bourbon after the death of his father, who had never regained his freedom after Agincourt. The two men had spent much of 1434 in a battle for control of the border lands between their territories in eastern France; now, however, they had agreed a truce. The fact that the new duke of Bourbon was Burgundy’s brother-in-law, thanks to his marriage years earlier to the duke’s sister Agnes, had done nothing to stop the fighting, but now that diplomatic relations had been restored, Bourbon brought with him to the conference at Nevers another brother-in-law, Constable Richemont, the husband of Burgundy’s sister Margaret. Along with these two Armagnac princes of the blood, King Charles had sent his chancellor, the subtle and experienced archbishop of Reims. It was a happy reunion: so joyous, one chronicler said, that it appeared as though these lords had always been at peace. (How foolish, a Burgundian knight exclaimed bitterly, were all those lesser men who had risked death to fight a war so easily forgotten by the great.)"

     Helen Castor, Joan of Arc:  a history (New York:  Harper, 2015 [2014]), chap. 11 ("Those who called themselves Frenchmen").  Castor's source would appear to be 
Enguerrand de Monstrelet (d. 1453), La Chronique d’Enguerran de Monstrelet, ed. L. Douët-d’Arcq, 6 vols (Paris, 1857–62), vol. 5, p. 108 (or 1434 overall):
Et lors, ung chevalier de Bourgongne, là estant, dist hault et cler:  ‘Entre nous aultres, sommes bien mal conseillés de nous adventurer et mettre en péril de corps et de ame pour les singulières voulentés des princes et grans seigneurs, lesquelz, quand il leur plaist, se réconcilient l’un avec l’autre, et souvent en advient que nous en demourons povres et détruis.’  Si fut ceste parole bien notée et entendue des pluiseurs, là estans, de toutes les deux parties.  Et bien y avoit raison.  Car très souvent en advient ainsy. 
And then a knight of Burgundy, standing there, said loud and clear:  'Among us all [(aultres, others)] are many [who were] badly counseled to hazard and place ourselves in bodily and spiritual peril for the self-interested [(singulières, personal)] desires [(voulentés)] of princes and great lords, who, when[ever] it serves their purposes [(leur plaist, pleases them)], are [this easily] reconciled the one with the other, though [(et)] it often happens, as a consequence [(en)], that we by them [(en)] are left impoverished and in ruins.'  So this comment was well noted and heard by many standing about, of both parties.  And with good reason.  For it happens thus all too often.