Rhetoric and the Cur Deus Homo
It is not my custom to take notes or make markings—alas—in part out of respect for the book; needless to say, though the prose (or more specifically, Fronto’s) lags occasionally, there have been many remarkable passages. (This is pleasure reading for me, otherwise I might have a notebook beside to make jottings.)
Evidently, the young Marcus was assigned to do just such an exercise with an argument against sleep. His letter begins:
Hear now a very few points in favour of wakefulness against sleep: and yet methinks I am guilty of collusion, in that I side with sleep night and day without sleeping: I desert him not, nor is he likely to desert me, such cronies are we. But my hope is that he may be huffed at my indictment of him and leave me for a little space, and give me a chance at last of burning some midnight oil. Now for subtle arguments: of which my first indeed shall be this, in regard to which, if you say that I have taken up an easier theme in accusing sleep than you who have praised it—for who, say you, cannot easily bring an indictment against sleep?—I will counter thus: what is easy to indict is hard to praise; what is hard to praise can serve no useful purpose.
Enough of this trifling which I have indulged in more from love of you than from my own faith in it. Now after soundly abusing sleep, I am off to sleep: for I have spun all this out for you in the evening. I hope sleep will not pay me out.
In the dollar bin, I found a collection of Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), “one of the originators of medieval scholastic philosophy.” A long introduction exhorts the reader to bend over backward to read St. Anselm in a favorable light, and to not take him at his weakest points. It is always hard to comply when one doth protest so much—the book is not likely something that I will enjoy cover-to-cover (even as the Correspondence is turning out to be), but I have already read enough to justify my purchase price. This from a chapter of Cur Deus Homo (XXI, with the heading “How it is impossible for the devil to be reconciled”):
If you carefully consider the scheme of human salvation, you will perceive the reconciliation of the devil, of which you made inquiry, to be impossible. For, as man could not be reconciled but by the death of the God-man, by whose holiness the loss occasioned by man’s sin should be made up; so fallen angels cannot be saved but by the death of a God-angel who by his holiness may repair the evil occasioned by the sins of his companions. And as man must not be restored by a man of a different race, though of the same nature, so no angel ought to be saved by any other angel, though all were of the same nature, for they are not like men, all of the same race. For all angels were not sprung from one, as all men were. And there is another objection to their restoration, viz , that, as they fell with none to plot their fall, so they must rise with none to aid them; but this is impossible. But otherwise they cannot be restored to their original dignity. For, had they not sinned, they would have been confirmed in virtue without any foreign aid, simply by the power given to them from the first. And, therefore, if any one thinks that the redemption of our Lord ought to be extended even to the fallen angels, he is convinced by reason, for by reason he has been deceived. And I do not say this as if to deny that the virtue of his death far exceeds all the sins of men and angels, but because infallible reason rejects the reconciliation of the fallen angels.