Monday, March 25, 2019


The Ape.
A Brief Fable.

One night an ape set a grove | of cedars on fire, | and was then very pleased with himself, | as he found it so enlightening [(hell)]. | "Come, brethren:  see what I can do; | I, — I [can] change night into day!"

His brethren came, great and small, | admired the glare, | and all began to praise [him] clamorously in song [(singen an zu schrein)]: | ["]Long live brother Hans! | Hans [the] ape is worthy of renown, | [for] he has enlightened [(aufgeklärt)] the [whole] region."

     Berlinische Monatsschrift 4, no. 11 (November 1784):  480, translation mine.  I was put onto this by Rémi Brague, The kingdom of man:  genesis and failure of the modern project, trans. Paul Seaton, Catholic ideas for a secular world (Notre Dame, IN:  University of Notre Dame Press, 2018), 213, who, following Peter Pütz (Die deutsche Aufklärung (Darmstadt:  Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1978), 31-32), treats it as a commentary on the Enlightenment.

"true man": "the undiminished and perfect nature" that "the Creator established in us from the beginning" and assumed in order to restore

     "So the proper character of both natures [(Salva . . . proprietate utriusque naturae, the saving property of both natures)] was maintained and came together in a single person.  Lowliness was taken up by majesty, weakness by strength, mortality by eternity.  To pay off the debt of our state, invulnerable nature was united to a nature that could suffer; so that in a way that corresponded to the remedies we needed, one and the same mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus, could both on the one hand die and on the other be incapable of death.  Thus was true God born in the undiminished and perfect nature of a true man, complete in what is his and complete in what is ours [(In integra ergo veri hominis perfectaque natura verus natus est deus, totus in suis, totus in nostris)].  By 'ours' we mean what the Creator established in us from the beginning and what he took upon himself to restore [(quae in nobis ab initio creator condidit et quae reparanda suscepit, what, in repairing, he took up)].  There was in the Saviour no trace of the things which the Deceiver brought upon us, and to which deceived humanity gave admittance.  His subjection to human weaknesses in common with us did not mean that he shared our sins.  He took on the form of a servant without the defilement of sin, thereby enhancing the human and not diminishing the divine. . . .
". . . As God is not changed by showing mercy, neither is humanity devoured by the dignity received [(Sicut . . . deus non mutatur miseratione, ita homo non consumitur dignitate)].  The activity of each is what is proper to it in communion with the other [(cum alterius communione quod proprium est)]:  that is, the Word performs what belongs to the Word, and the flesh accomplishes what belongs to the flesh. . . . As the Word does not lose its glory which is equal to that of the Father, so neither does the flesh leave the nature of its kind behind.  We must say this again and again:  one and the same is truly Son of God and truly son of man."

     Pope Leo I, Letter (Tome) to Flavian (449), as translated in Tanner, vol. 1, pp. 78-79.  Latin from there as well.