De Monarchia By Dante Alighieri Book I Chapter I: Introduction

AGABITI, Pietro Paolo 

And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.Lk


1.All men on whom the Higher Nature1 has stamped the love of truth should especially concern themselves in laboring for posterity, in order that future generations may be enriched by their efforts, as they themselves were made rich by the efforts of generations past. For that man who is imbued with public teachings, but cares not to contribute something to the public good, is far in arrears of his duty, let him be assured; he is, indeed, not “a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season,”2 but rather a destructive whirlpool, always engulfing, and never giving back what it has devoured. Often meditating with myself upon these things, lest I should some day be found guilty of the charge of the buried talent,3 I desire for the public weal, not only to burgeon, but to bear fruit,4 and to establish truths unattempted by others. For he who should demonstrate again a theorem of Euclid, who should attempt after Aristotle to set forth anew the nature of happiness, who should undertake after Cicero to defend old age a second time—what fruit would such a one yield? None, forsooth; his tedious superfluousness would merely occasion disgust.

2. Now, inasmuch as among other abstruse and important truths, knowledge of temporal Monarchy is most important and most obscure, and inasmuch as the subject has been shunned by all because it has no direct relation to gain, therefore my purpose is to bring it out from its hiding-place, that I may both keep watch for the good of the world, and be the first to win the palm of so great a prize for my own glory.5 Verily, I undertake a difficult task and one beyond my powers, but my trust is not so much in my own worth as in the light of the Giver “that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.”6

[1. ] God is “miglior natura” in Purg. 16. 79: “To a greater power and a better nature, ye are free subjects.”

Par. 10. 28: “The greatest minister of nature, that stamps the world with the goodness of heaven.”

Par. 13. 79: “But if the burning love disposes and stamps the clear view of the prime virtue, all perfection is there acquired.”

Cf. S. T. 1. 66. 3; De Trinit. 3. 4.

[2. ]Ps. 1. 3.

[3. ]Matt. 25. 25.

[4. ]Num. 17. 8.

[5. ]1 Cor. 9. 24; cf. Phil. 3. 14.

[6. ]James 1. 5. In Conv. 1. 8. 2 God is called the “Universal Benefactor.”

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